Which Team do I Cheer for?


If you look at the top of this blog, there is a blurb announcing to the world at large what one would find here, as one wanders about the internet. Specifically it says we are debunking “Evangelical Christianity.”

So all you Catholic Christians, and Fundamentalist Christians and Liberal Christians can breathe a sign of relief. We are not looking to address your beliefs here. Unless, of course, you consider yourself an Evangelical Catholic Christian or Evangelical Liberal Christian, in which case it would appear you are fair game.

But what if I don’t want to debunk Evangelical Christianity? For all I know, Evangelical Christianity is not the most correct depiction of what Christianity is—perhaps I would prefer to focus on what qualifies as the Most Correctest Christianity.

What method is available by which we determine the most correct form of Christianity?


Let me pause for a moment and mention the Burden of Proof. (Half the readers groan, and ALL the readers scratch their heads wondering how that cropped up here.)

I don’t mind having the Burden of Proof. But by its nature, atheism is a negative position, in that it asserts something does not exist. In order for me to even assume the Burden, I must first rely upon the theist to provide me an attribute of their God, or a description, by which I can then argue as to the possibility of such a creature with that attribute or description.

Probably all of us have been involved in the frustrating discussion of:

Skeptic: God can’t do ____.
Theist: But that is not the type of God I believe in.
Skeptic: O.K. Then God cannot be ____.
Theist: Strawman. Not my God, either.

While we can argue all day about who has the Burden of Proof, or what exactly is the Burden of Proof, or what Standard of Proof; in order to even get the discussion off the ground, we have to know at least something about this God.

For example, it would be completely useless for me to spend hours and days putting together a monstrous entry on how polytheism must be incorrect. Those who contribute would shrug, and most (if not all) who read here would equally shrug. That is not the type of God we seem to be discussing.

In order to narrow the field, for purposes of this blog, we focus on Evangelical Christianity. But even so, we often find ourselves discussing with Christians who vary widely regarding literalism, inerrancy, and evolution, let alone more specific doctrines such as election, atonement, age of accountability, and the salvation process. (And don’t even get started on the nature of hell, and who is going there!)

We see discussions, and even heated battles among those who call themselves true Christians as to who has the correct doctrine, who does not, and who is not even close. (I can imagine, in my mind, a set of brackets in which we pit various Christian beliefs against each other, narrowing it down to the “Sacred Sixteen” and eventually the “Final Forsooth” to end with the Champion in the Necessarily Correct and Accurate Article of Faith (NCAAF) tournament.)

Look, I am not saying that merely because we have these various beliefs, and denominational differences, we must assume that every one is wrong. Not at all! It is quite possible that some are far more likely to be true as compared to others. Even the Christians involved would tend to agree with that. The question is—how can we know? What method do we use to determine which is more accurate as compared to the other?

To understand the question, imagine I was interviewing Christians who held a variety of beliefs. I explained I was a researcher for a Hollywood Director. We are working on an upcoming film, and within this film the writers have decided to incorporate a Christian. But (being from Hollywood) we are uncertain as to what that means, so we are performing research and interviewing Christians in the hopes to accurately portray a Christian. We want the character to be as “real” of a Christian as only Hollywood can provide!

What would a Christian say, in order for us to understand and recognize, that their particular list of beliefs—THIS most accurately portrays a Christian? All too often, what we see in our discussions are mere recitals of what a particular Christian believes, and no basis (except one I will deal with in a minute) for why that particular belief is accurate.

We are told (for example) that clearly hell is merely an analogy for annihilation and there really is not an actual lake of fire. But the next Christian informs us that no…hell is an actual place of torture, but that it is not forever and a person will be provided an opportunity to repent. And that the first Christian was not the sort of Christian we should be listening to, if we want the “true” picture of Christianity.

Then a third Christian gives us their recital of their position on hell, that it is both a lake of actual fire, and that it is forever with no opportunity to repent. Further, if we want the most accurate picture of Christianity, we should not be listening to the first two Christians.

But how do I, as a researcher, utilize a method to determine which one is correct?

To emphasize the difficulty to a Christian—imagine you were the researcher. But instead of a Christian, the writers were including a Jewish character. How would you go about determining what is the most accurate depiction of Judaism? Is it Hasidic? Orthodoxy? Conservative? Reformed? Or what if you were to research for the most accurate depiction of a Muslim? What method could you use to determine the “most accurate” of the various sects?

Most likely, after hearing the various positions, each emphasizing their own validity, while equally debunking the other sects; you would fall on one of two swords:

1) Either pick the most innocuous, most common belief among the sects, in the hopes that by commonality, you are close; OR

2) Simply pick the most popular, since there really isn’t any method presented as to determine which is the most “real” or most “correct” form of Judaism or Islam.

Because there IS no such thing as a truly accurate depiction of a truly correct Jew or Muslim. Why is it any different when we view the various competing beliefs within Christianity?

Interestingly, the one basis most often used as to why a person’s particular belief is more likely correct as compared to another is common sense. Reasonableness. Oh, they will argue that it is based upon the Bible, but it is not just the Bible. One’s interpretation OF that Bible will cause different results. And each one is arguing that their interpretation is the most correct. Why? Because it is the most reasonable.

To some, it seems reasonable that all are doomed for hell, and God elected some out for salvation. Others find the concept of limited atonement completely unreasonable, and claim universalism. See, it is not the words of the Bible in which we see disagreement, but how those words are applied.

“Reasonableness” is interesting, because the very foundation of Christianity is based upon things that most would hold as non-reasonable. Expecting a dead person to come back to life is not what we would reasonably argue. The Trinity is not something we can reasonably grasp. A being that is 100% human and 100% God is unreasonable. God, speaking in spurts and starts for a period of 1000 years, then keeping quiet for 400 years then re-starting spurts and starts for 50 years, then quiet for 2000 years when it comes to writings does not make sense.

First we are told to take these items by faith. To, in essence, partially disengage our reasonableness. But once accepted, upon attempting to determine which doctrines are false, we are to fully engage our reasonableness. Why the change in method?

I was reading a blog elsewhere in which the writer criticized a movie for inaccurately portraying Christianity. This thought crossed my mind—if I was commissioned with the task of accurately portraying Christianity—the most correctest form of Christianity: what possible method could I use to explain to those I was answering that I had been able to determine it? Whether it was true or false—at least what I presenting was the closest thing to “true” Christianity that we can show?

For me, the clamor of voices all crying, “My doctrine; not the other person’s” is not a demonstration that they are all false. It is a demonstration that simply reciting what one believes is not a method by which we can determine which one is true. It is a demonstration that when “debunking” another person’s belief, most often the Christian uses logic, and reason and common sense. When I apply that method is when I come to the conclusion that the Abrahamic depiction of God, including Evangelical Christianity, is false.

91 comments:

paul said...

Method. As a christian, my take was, logic or being reasonable could not qualify "GODS WORD"...especially when "God" would purposely choose foolishness in order to confound the wise. Christianity seems more a life of hide and seek. "Seek and you will find...." It seems logic or knowledge is sight and the righteous don't walk by sight, but rather by faith. That faith must must be in the foolishness of the cross. How then does a Christian follow Jesus? "Walk by the Spirit?" I wonder if Christians are ever supposed to 'know' they are right or following Jesus because to know would be to see and to see would be by sight and the righteous just don't use that substance.

MiSaNtHrOpE said...

Faith, by its very definition, is the absence of logic or reason.

Faith is believing in something [God, perhaps, or Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, etc], without or even despite evidence.

This is why Christianity can never accurately be described as "reasonable," because the word "faith" negates any notion of reasonableness. It is not at all reasonable to expect a long-dead man to return, it is not reasonable to favor "Intelligent" Design / Creationism, or that some deity talks to people (that's a symptom of schizophrenia), it is not at all reasonable to condemn the use of contraceptives as sin, it is not at all reasonable to believe that those you despise will burn in a fiery pit for all eternity, because there is NO EVIDENCE for any of these things.

The Bible is not at all "evidence" either. The Bible is a selection of pieces of literature from roughly 6,000 years ago, and worse yet, it does not contain even half of all related works which we have found, let alone those we haven't.

Calvin said...

The Bible alone among all Holy books of the religions of the world strongly exorts readers to test before they believe. This theme of testing before believing pervades both Old and New Testaments and forms the very heart of faith. Faith is a strongly held conviction that someone or somthing is certainly existing, firmly established, constant, and dependable. Faith is a strong and welcome conviction of the truth of anything and anyone to the degree that one places complete trust and confidence in that thing or person. Christian scholars throughout history have noted that wherever the Bible describes a sequence of physical events, it always prefaces that description with statements of the frame of reference(point of view) and the initial conditions and closes it with statements of the final conditions and conclusions about the physical events. Thomas Torrance has both authored and edited books dicussing how Christian theology, Reformed theology in particular, played a critical role in te development of the scientific method and the amazing advances achieved by Western science.

Modern science was concieved, birthed, and flourished within the matrix of Christian Theism.

Alvin Plantinga

SocietyVs said...

"What method is available by which we determine the most correct form of Christianity?"

That's a tough one to answer - since methodology isn't the strong point of a variety of denominations who find very little unifiying factor except the actual texts of the bible itself. I would say the one unifying thing within the total Christian faith is the texts of the NT and Tanakh. If you go there you hit em all. As to what textual variant you use - won't really matter all that much.

You might have to also approach each denomination on the basis of their articles of faith - since this seems to change from denomination to denomination (see official church websites for those articles of faith). It's quite the process but at least you can be exacting on what a denomination does push as a belief set.

DagoodS said...

First of all, calvin, I notice that you did not answer the simple question I asked—What method is available by which we determine what is the most correct form of Christianity?

Perhaps your next comment you can start off with the answer to that question. (What with it being the focus of the blog entry and all.) Let’s deal with what you said, in the meantime:

calvin: The Bible alone among all Holy books of the religions of the world strongly exorts readers to test before they believe.

Well, yes and no. The Bible is (not surprisingly) a bit contradictory on that point. While 1 Thess. 5:21 says to “test all things” apparently questioning God is frowned upon. (Job 38-41)

But let’s assume we are to “test.” What are we to test? Whether a certain portion of the Bible is literal or allegorical? How are we to even know what a section is to be? Is Genesis 1 literal or allegorical. Under the “literal” test it would fail. Under certain “allegorical” tests, it would also fail, depending on how stringent we desire the allegory.

Are we to test it historically? Failure again. And which Bible do we test? Do we test the canon? By what measure do we test to determine whether a book should be included or not? Do we test the text? By what method do we determine, under textual criticism, what the closest rendering is to the original?

Do we test it with science? Or just doctrine? Is it supposed to be accurate historically or is it more important to be accurate doctrinally? Is it supposed to be accurate scientifically?

See, all you have said it wants to be “tested.” You haven’t provided us any direction under how much scrutiny, or how little, or even what measuring rod it is we should use.

It is like a teacher, telling us we have a test, and then asking what the answer to question no. 1 is. We don’t know whether the test is in arithmetic, language, science, or poetry.

More: Faith is a strongly held conviction that someone or somthing is certainly existing, firmly established, constant, and dependable. Faith is a strong and welcome conviction of the truth of anything and anyone to the degree that one places complete trust and confidence in that thing or person.

But what good is it, if the thing in which one has “faith” is incorrect. For the longest period of time, working with the best information they had, scientists had a strong conviction that there must be some substance in space. Ether. Since light was a wave, and waves require a medium by which to travel, it make perfect sense to propose some such substance.

Despite their strongly held conviction—they were wrong as could be.

People had faith that the sun moved around the earth, and the stars were tiny points of light. The claim that the earth revolved around the sun required such a vast distance that it was scoffed at.

They had strongly held convictions—they were wrong as could be.

There are people that are firmly convinced that Jesus was only a prophet. That Allah is god. Or YHWH is God. Or none of them are god(s). I suspect you would agree with me that despite their strongly held conviction—they are wrong as could be.

Christians have fallen into the trap that somehow strength of belief equates to viability of belief—that if you believe it hard enough, it has to be true. Yet amazingly, they disregard the same strength of belief we find on theists who are not Christians.

calvin: A strong conviction; even a welcome conviction does not make a thing true. We look at the conviction, and when it counters the facts, wonder why the conviction must continue. What holds more sway—conviction or facts?

More: Christian scholars throughout history have noted that wherever the Bible describes a sequence of physical events, it always prefaces that description with statements of the frame of reference(point of view) and the initial conditions and closes it with statements of the final conditions and conclusions about the physical events.

I’m not following you here. Can you explain what you mean (perhaps using Numbers 31, for example) and then explain how that is significant? Thanks.

And good on Thomas Torrance and Alvin Plantinga. Curiously the scientific method predominantly employed is metaphysical. In other words, science looks for a natural answer—never a supernatural answer. It is one of the reasons why the Intelligent Designers thump their chests in hopes of re-defining science.

Are you saying that Christian theism is the one to give credit for the naturalistic method? I would dearly LOVE to see you put that together!

DagoodS said...

Actually, SocietyVs, that fact that these various denominations use essentially the same Holy writings is part of the problem.

While I can read on the various denominations, and their articles of faith, what is not provided (as you state) is any method as to why their articles are more accurate than the other persons. And, also as you state, each is using essentially the same Holy writings.

The Pentecostal, with tongues, and healing, and demons a-plenty, traces their basis, origin and foundation back to the Bible. The Quakers, with their quiet contemplation, and the Puritans with their rigidity—again trace back to the same basis, origin and foundation in the Bible.

The Calvinist, the non-Calvinist each tell me their origin is in the Bible. In fact, they can borrow each other’s to point out to me how their particular belief is justified within its pages!

The theistic evolutionist, the Old Earth Creationist and the Young Earth Creationist all ask me to turn to Genesis One--the same Genesis One in support of their position. Which one is more accurate? How can I tell?

The inerrantist points to his Bible, resolving conflicts faster’n a hamburger flipper at McDonalds. The non-inerrantist laughing points out contradictions in the same Bible. The liberal Scholar, conservative scholar, fundamentalist scholar, evangelical scholar--even the mythical Jesus scholar all point to the same book as the basis for their argument.

While I can learn what each denomination states—how could I determine which is the more accurate to the truth? Or is it all a mixed bag, and we just have to land somewhere?

Hallq said...

This is why I've taken to reading the counterpoint serieses put out by Zondervan and IVP, which John mentioned here. The great thing about them is that you learn to argue against all the main takes on a given issue, since that's what the theologians who participate in those debates are doing.

Calvin said...

Dagoods,

I wasn't really responding to your article but to the comment made above mine. We are to interpret the Bible literally unless the context indicates otherwise. We also interpret scripture with scripture. An example would be Genesis chapter one. As Job 38 says there is darkness on the surface of the deep in Genesis 1:2 because there is a thick cloud covering the atmosphere and wrapped arround the deep. When we identify the frame of refernce -the Holy Spirit is hovering over the surface of the waters - the sequence of events can be interpreted correctly. Intelligent Design doesn't offer a testable creation model so I would agree that it's not science. As far as who is right between Catholics and protestants I guess you just have to go to the Bible and find out. When you do that you will find that the Reformer's are closer to the truth. You have to keep testing and going over it until you reach strong enough evidence to come to a conclusion.

Nine Methods for Testing a Worldview.

1. Coherence Test: Is a particular worldview logically consistent?
2. Mean Test: Is the worldview balanced between complexity and simplicity?
3. Explanatory Power and Scope Test: How well does a worldview explain reality, and how complete is the evidence in support of the view?
4. Correspondence Test: Does a particular worldview correspond with well-established, emperical facts?
5. Verification Test: Can the central truth claims of the worldview be verified or falsified?
6. Pragmatic Test: Does the worldviw promote prctical and workable consequences?
7. Existential Test: Does the worldview adress the internal needs of humanity?
8. Competition Test: Can a worldview sucessfully compete in the marketplace of ideas?
9. Predictive Test: Can a worldview successfully anticipate future discoveries?

When these tests are applied we see that Darwinism, Theistic Evolution, Young Earth Creationism, and Intelligent Design all fail. Old Earth Creationism comes out on top.

Jamie said...

The whole "testing scripture" thing is exactly what led me away from it. One day I decided to do just that. Test it. Not by reading Christian apologetics, but by evaluating what "the other side" had to say.

The speed at which my "testable" beliefs crumbled was dizzying. I hope there is a God, but the evidence put forth is pretty shaky indeed.

Calvin said...

Jamie,

What testing led you away from it? The evidence for a creator is strong indeed. You must have gotten ahold of some bad information.

SocietyVs said...

Dagoods, the method I use in general to weed things down to what they 'might' mean is 'interpretation' within context. These are books after all.

For example, someone wants to argue for a creationist design from Genesis like it is a science text - which it most adamantly not (it's more a theological text - or espouses a philosophical position). That kind of sets the boundaries for the Genesis and it's relating texts - within the rest of the book.

Methodoolgy is a tough one if you want to get to the core of 'interpretation' on the NT and the Tanakh and is a very difficult study - for determining best interpretation. If you are looking for an easy answer - get ready - there isn't one and again read each book in context - both within the text and within history (which takes some serious time).

But some things are just obvious and some things seem to be tougher to decipher. For example, the whole tongues thing has very little weight within scriptural context as a standard - even Paul points this out in a letter of his (thus the pentecostalists have very little basis for their arguement - actually none). The Mormons espouse 'baptism for the dead' on the basis of a 'lone scripture' (within a chapter, within a letter, within the whole works of Paul) - which again has a wider context - so they are ignoring something in their interpretation. Again this takes some study to find these little inconsistencies.

But no one said interpretation is an easy thing and a lot of ideas are doctrinated into religion/denominations - some of which I think are questionable. But this is the work of an ardent student to do - and all I can recommend is read the ideas within context - and if that needs further explanation I am open to that.

MiSaNtHrOpE said...

Calvin: I disagree.

What follows from "there is a creator" is:

-Where did it come from?
-What were its motives for creating? (Why did it create?)
-How did it decide what to create?

That's even BEFORE you get to the Problem of Evil and notions of attributes (Benevolence, Omnipotent, etc), or the "correct" way to follow such a creator (which there is no possible way of knowing).

The notion of a creator completely negates possibility of independent animal behavior.

And why must we have a creator? Of course, the Big Bang and recent discovery by a NASA astronaut of how loose particles gather in space is not a moralistic view, but thats not the business of astronomy and physics.

Implying a creator is simply another hole which one digs himself into, especially in this era when we should really know better.

If volume (yelling) won over reason in arguments, even a hint of what democracy or a republic would even exist The Nazis, the Bolsheviks, Saddam Hussein, and the Islamists in Iran would still be in power.

Just because someone believes in something, or has given his or her life for it (a suicide bomber, for instance) does not make it correct.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Calvin,
Very interesting comments.

We are to interpret the Bible literally unless the context indicates otherwise.
And what are some typical indicators for when you should not take the bible literally? I’m thinking of whether the women who discovered the empty tomb told anyone or not and wondering which gospel I should believe. They would seem to be mutually exclusive.

We also interpret scripture with scripture. An example would be Genesis chapter one. As Job 38 says there is darkness on the surface of the deep in Genesis 1:2 because there is a thick cloud covering the atmosphere and wrapped arround the deep. When we identify the frame of refernce -the Holy Spirit is hovering over the surface of the waters - the sequence of events can be interpreted correctly.
Coincidentally this is very similar to Egyptian Mythology which predated the old testament quite a bit, and was probably influential as Egyptians infiltrated that part of the Fertile Crescent.

As far as who is right between Catholics and protestants I guess you just have to go to the Bible and find out. When you do that you will find that the Reformer's are closer to the truth. You have to keep testing and going over it until you reach strong enough evidence to come to a conclusion.
This must be your opinion, I am sure non-reformers don’t see it that way, so now we are back to square one, how do you get a world full of Christians to agree?

This following is very interesting, do mind stating your source please?

Nine Methods for Testing a Worldview….
….When these tests are applied we see that Darwinism, Theistic Evolution, Young Earth Creationism, and Intelligent Design all fail. Old Earth Creationism comes out on top.

Can you show specifically how Evolution fails this please?
If you would, I will try to show how it passes.

Jarrod said...

I wanted to offer coherency as a helpful idea, here. So, the best version of Christianity would have doctrine that holds together most consistently. Yet, most consistently with regard to what? Already Christian opinions diverge: for instance, Protestants say with regard to the Bible alone, and Catholics say with regard to Scripture and Church tradition.

I was also hoping to avoid touching on the question of how we know that we know anything, but it seems actually unavoidable. Good reasons are given in support of differing versions of Christianity, and, of course, good reasons are given in support of non-Christianity. Furthermore, what counts as “good reasons” depends on the evaluator of those reasons. All sides have not only different supporting reasons; all sides have different ideas for what constitutes good supporting reasons. It seems that, eventually, you do run up against an epistemological wall. I think your initial post, DagoodS, could be taken to that wall.

So it’s not a matter of satisfactorily knowing which version of Christianity is right. It’s a matter of convincing people of which version of Christianity seems right.

Unfortunately, I guess, I don’t think there’s a easy solution to avoiding the “you only debunked a strawman Christianty” situation. People already differ on the method to determine the correctest Christianty – how are we supposed to choose a method?

I’ve heard a case made that this apparent inability to appeal to an ultimate, absolute methodology (I think the talk was about morality, though) indicates that no such methodology exists. Hence, no “best” Christianity exists – which might support the notion that Christianity, in general, is false. But I also think of Socrates touching Phaedo’s hair, saying they should not lose hope in finding correct beliefs just because unresolvable contradictions seem to abound.

So maybe Christians should be a bit more gracious when it comes to which versions of Christianity is the best. It seems like an in-house argument, anyways. But I don’t see those accusations that non-believers tackle strawmen going away, either. And I’m not sure that they should.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi SocietyVs,
So where does God enter into all this?
Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that the all knowing, all powerful, timeless superior intellect in the universe would be able to ‘inspire’ his minions to produce a work consistent enough and clear enough to avoid all this need for interpretation and in my view speculation? And where is this god while his children are struggling to sort it all out? All I can see is that it is a puzzle with no solution, causing people to generate theology endlessly to support and explain concepts and anecdotes that were not thought through very well. I think the famous 'Problem of Evil' is a good example of that. I think it is clear that the authors of these scriptures had no idea that they would ever be put together, what a staggering lack of foresight for a God. I think the very fact that all this 'interpretation' is necessary points to the alternate hypothesis that the Scripture are a compilation of Folklore and Oral Tradition inspired by the IDEA and CONCEPT of a God rather than an interactive joint endeavor with a God.

DagoodS said...

Thank you, calvin, for at least putting together a method. More than many do. Once one is proposed, however, we need to look at the method to see how appropriate it is.

I look at three factors:

1) Why is that an appropriate method as compared to others?
2) Is there bias in order to obtain a result in the method?
3) Is the method applied uniformly and consistently?

For example, let’s say we were discussing which country, in the world, contains the most intelligent people. I propose that we use the method that the country with the most Ph.D’s per capita must contain the most intelligent people.

But is that an appropriate method as compared to others? What about countries that have no post-graduate program, or countries that have minimal standards toward obtaining a Ph.D. In other words, is that a valid method for us to use to determine intelligence.

And what if I am biased? What if I already happen to know that America has the most Ph.D’s per capita (I don’t know this for fact, just using it as an example) and I want to demonstrate that America has the most intelligent people? Isn’t the use of this method demonstrated as bias, in that I am deliberately using a method (a questionable one at that) in order to obtain the results desired?

Finally, what if someone points out that I was using data from 2003, and in 2006, it was determined that the Vatican had more Ph.D’s per capita than any other country? Would I stay consistent in my method? Or (as we often see) do I start to add qualifiers such as what a “country” must consist of, or size, etc.? Which would tend to demonstrate the bias, might I add.

So let’s look at your method.

calvin: We are to interpret the Bible literally unless the context indicates otherwise.

As Lee Randolph very aptly points out, this is only the start of a methodology. What are the indicators by which we are to determine “unless the context indicates otherwise.”

Never fear, we fully understand the concept of poetry, proverbs, prophecy and parables. When the author of Psalms 18:2 says that God is his fortress, we are not demanding that Christians produce a castle-shaped God. We understand the use of analogy, and anthropomorphisms, and similarities, etc.

But how, within a text, can we determine what is literal and what is “otherwise”? You refer to Genesis 1:2. Apparently you believe the text has a literal spirit who is literally hovering over literal waters with literal darkness. Yet you are an old earth creationist. Therefore you do NOT agree that Genesis 1 consists of a literal six sequential days. What method do you employ in order for us to consistently determine what is literal in Genesis One, and what is allegorical?

(By the way—we’ve talked on this before. Even IF the spirit was on the waters, it would have seen the sun before the fourth day. You informed us that the Bible informs us to test? We did. Genesis One fails in its sequence. No matter how you want to put the perspective of the entity on the face of the earth, there WAS no atmosphere to contain clouds, prior to such a person seeing the sun.

I get that OEC’s want to claim that there was a cloud cover (or volcanic ash) and that is why on the first day, God “literally” created the sun, but from the earth’s perspective, due to the covering, it was only seen as light. That it took until the third day (whenever that was) for the cloud cover to dissipate, and therefore the sun “appeared.”

Unfortunately, that has been tested. And failed. The earth formed from gases collected which were orbiting the sun. The sun came first—then the earth. And, once formed, it was a rock. A molten rock, to be sure, but still a rock. One with NO (let’s read that again) NO atmosphere. Frankly, you all would be better served by saying it was too bright to distinguish the sun (due to lack of atmosphere) rather than try this cloud covering nonsense.

Can you explain, how a “cloud” could cover the atmosphere and not drift off into space? It is interesting you rely upon geology for the age of the earth, and then immediately abandon it for the formation of the atmosphere. Again, inconsistent in method.)

Curious you hold Job 38 as “literal.” I would generally placed that under poetic. God asks Job what is the dwelling of light, and the place of darkness. Are you saying there is a literal place that light dwells (tested. False) or a literal place that darkness lives? (tested. False) Or that there is a treasury of snow and hail? Or that the heavens have dominion over the earth?

Again, all that I would hold to be poetic allegory, yet you seem to indicate it is literal. Is there a set of criteria we can utilize to determine what is literal and what is not within each passage?

Further, what about all the other areas the Bible has been found contradictory to history. The Captivity, Exodus, the Plagues. Joshua’s genocide, David’s census, Solomon’s temple and palace. Are those allegorical as well? Because if we treat them as literal, and test them, they fail.

calvin: As far as who is right between Catholics and protestants I guess you just have to go to the Bible and find out. When you do that you will find that the Reformer's are closer to the truth.

They say the same. Yet the methodology remains lacking.

Calvin said...

Misanthrope,

The testable creation model that we have answers the how, and the why questions. Not all Old earth creationists have developed a model. This is a particular Progressive Creationist camp that I am refering to. The other questions have been dealt with as well. The creation model withstands the scrutiny of scientific testing and makes future predictions of scientific research. Myths die hard misanthrope and Darwin will soon be dead. Progressive Creationism is taking over. May the Gods of the creation myths of western society fall.

DagoodS said...

SocietyVs,

I must confess a bit of bias toward your method of interpreting within the context. It is what I am most familiar with, and, in some respects, the “default” position in my mind. I often strive to not fall on it out of familiarity.

(For example—what if the Gospel of Mark was written as a fiction? For so long I held it as a historical document, that my first response to such a claim is “preposterous!” But upon reviewing the arguments for it, it is a much more persuasive position that I previously pondered.

If we are to interpret the texts according to what the author intended, and the author of Mark intended a fictional story, based upon Paul’s spiritual Jesus, a traveling rabbi, and the Tanakh, that has a HUGE impact on how we interpret the rest of the New Testament. Food for thought; can we break out of our usual molds, and dare consider other possibilities?)

I agree whole-heartedly with your outlook on Genesis 1 & 2. Can you get the others to agree as well? :-)

I was curious about the pointing out minute portions of scripture being blown into larger doctrines.

We only have two (2) sentences in a whole list of “Evil Things Evil People Do” that refer to homosexuality, yet we see very staunch doctrine on this principle. If one reads the entire list, everyone has committed at least one of those acts (and if you disagree with me—you are committing one right there. Clever trap of mine.)

A very small portion, arguably only in a context of “bad things” yet we see churches dedicated to the proposition of amending constitutions to deny homosexuals marriage.

Only a coupla verses on women teaching in church. Yet again—huge doctrinal positions are flaunted in this regard.

SocietyVs, I guess that just because it is only a small portion of the Bible, does not mean we can ignore it, even in context. And there are other examples of small portions which are blown to gigantic proportions.

Oh, and lets not forget the irony of this. “Inspiration” is based upon one made-up Greek word that no one is quite clear on its meaning, in one sentence that is grammatically malleable, (which means it could mean different things) in a book that was not written by its claimed author, and most probably not by an apostle.

Yet that one little word has given us the basis of the Bible itself. Sometimes those small little clauses can have huge impacts.

Dennis said...

Calvin,

I don't see how progressive creationism could ever replace existing scientific theories.

Science has a built in bias for naturalism.

Let's assume for the sake of the argument that God did create the universe and all of life. Science by it's definition could never come to that conclusion and it is forced to come up with an explanation for our origins that rely on nothing but natural causes. It doesn't matter how many problems you can point out with the TOE, big bang, spontaneous generation, as long as these theories and hypothesises have less problems that any other competing theory, they get science's "blessing" as the truth.

The only way to displace TOE with some form of creationism is to change the definition of science. It isn't about who has more or better evidence, it's about the definition.

Calvin said...

I'm refering to Job where he says God set the sea behind doors and made a cloud it's garment and wrapped it in thick darkness. Genesis One mentions the creation of the universe and then it narrows it's perspective to "the land" God promised Abraham and His descendents. The days of creation are refering to God preparing the promised land. So the days are literal. The days could also be literal and mean a long period of time. A literal interpretation of the Bible means you take the Bible in it's intended context. If there is poetry it is interpreted as poetry. If there are anthropomorphisms they are interpreted as anthropomorphisms.
Since the word day can mean a long period of time (whether the definition is literal or metaphorical) then it would still be a literal interpretation of the Bible if it was interpreted to mean a long period of time. I can provide you sequence of events for the Day Age interpretation but I'm running out of time. I'll do it later if you want. I lean towards the other interpretation though.
In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.

Then at a particular point in time God sets out to prepare "the land" for His people

DagoodS said...

calvin,

I understood where you were discussing in Job 38. I was looking at the context. Just like you told me to. I was testing it. Just like you told me to.

Would you prefer I do not follow your method when attempting to apply your method? That will become difficult fairly quickly, you know!

If you look at Job 38, God is speaking (hopefully) in poetic terms with “treasury” of snow and “dwelling of darkness.” If you are saying God was being literal, then it does not bode well for the knowledge of the Bible’s God.

You used Job 38:8-11 as a basis for the premise that from the perspective of the Spirit of God, in Gen. 1:2, it could see “light” (which was actually the sun) but not the actual son due to the cloudy atmosphere.

You have completely failed in any way to address the problem with when the atmosphere came into being in relation to the sun, and earth. In other words, put these in chronological order:

1) Sun.
2) Earth
3) Earth’s atmosphere.

You are saying that according to Gen. 1:1-2, the order would have be

2) Earth
3) Earth’s atmosphere
1) Sun.

We tested that. It is false.

Anyway, let’s look at what Job 38:8-11 actually says in regards to clouds and atmosphere:

"Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, 'This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!'

All this talks about (poetically, I think most would say) is the sea. Where does it say that clouds covered the firmament? It doesn’t! Note, by the way, that these events took place, according to Gen. 1:9 on the third day, not the first. So even Job 38 does not support your chronology.

This is called the method of looking for a verse that supports one’s position, and cram it in. (You might look at vs 7, by the way, which refers to stars prior to these clouds. Also disrupts your chronology, since according to Gen. 1, the stars would not have appeared until the fourth day.)

I notice you completely failed to provide us any criterion as to how we are to determine when the text indicates something is not to be literal. All you say (fairly unhelpfully):

calvin: If there is poetry it is interpreted as poetry. If there are anthropomorphisms they are interpreted as anthropomorphisms.

If it is allegory, then it is interpreted as allegory. If it is fiction, then it is interpreted as fiction. If it is not inspired, then it is interpreted as not inspired. If it is not within what I want to believe, then it is interpreted as not what I believe. If it is grilled cheese, then it is interpreted as grilled cheese.

Do you see how those statements in and of themselves are unhelpful? You have pre-determined what the verses should be, not surprisingly in line with what you desire, and then tell us they have to be interpreted that way.

I’ll ask again: why? I’ll ask again—how do we determine what parts of Genesis One are literal and what parts are not? You wandered into the “land” being that which was promised to Abraham. There is no literal mention of that. What is your method by which you have wandered into this new venture?

And, can others consistently apply this method elsewhere, or are we left to figure it out as you tell us what it is?

Oh, and “day” in Genesis One meant “day” as in one “day.” Sunset to sunset. Ask any Jew reading his/her own Torah and they will tell you the same. Read Genesis 1:5. Day does not literally mean “age.”

I noticed you missed my question, perhaps you can find time to answer it?

DagoodS: Further, what about all the other areas the Bible has been found contradictory to history. The Captivity, Exodus, the Plagues. Joshua’s genocide, David’s census, Solomon’s temple and palace. Are those allegorical as well? Because if we treat them as literal, and test them, they fail.

Calvin said...

Dagoods

I believe that God created everything in the "heavens and earth" When the Pentateuch and the Old Testament speak of the Promised Land it refers to it as "the land" Verse 2 describes the condition of "the land" before He prepared it for human beings. Having described "the land" as uninhabitable, the author uses the remainder of the account to portray God's preparing the land as a place of human dwelling. The description of "the land" as formless and empty in verse 2, then, plays a central role in the Creation account because it shows the condition of "the land" before God's gracious work has prepared it for humanity's well being. Duet.32 draws on the same imagery to depict Israel's time of waiting in the wilderness before their entry into the "good land". The prophets also drew on the same source to depict God's Judgement of exile. When Israel disobeyed God, the land again became uninhabitable and the people were sent into exile: I looked at the land and it was formless and empty and at the heavens and their light was gone...the fruitful land was a desert. (Jer. 4:23-26). The land after the exile was depicted in the same state as the land before God's gracious preparation of it in creation. The description of the land in Genesis 1:2, then, fits well into the prophets vision of the future. The land lies empty, dark, and barren awaiting God's call to light and life. Job is clearly refering to vs. 2 when I made the clouds it's garment and thick darkness its swaddling band. There is darkness because of the cloud covering. God then seperates the two waters and forms the sky. The clouds are the waters above. God the seperates the clouds and the stars appear. The way in which later biblical writers reuse the terminology and themes of Genesis one suggests the notion of the land is more circumspect than it is usually taken to be. Jerimiah 27:5 shows that the later Biblical writers read Genesis One as referring primarily to the land promised to the Patriarchs and to Israel. It's refering to the preparation as the promised land as the "good land" for humanities dwelling. So, then 1:1 refers to the creation of the universe and 1:2-2:3 narrows the reader's focus to just one small but all important place, the land to be promised to Abraham and his descendents. The phrase heavens and earth is an expression of totality of the present world order.

Your citation of Job really proved my point clearly.

In the beginning God created the Heavens and Earth. (everything)
Sun, moon, stars, atmosphere, earth.


Now "the land" was formless and empty and darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Why it is you don't understand what I am trying to say is a mystery.

Calvin said...

For confirmation of my interpretation of Job see Del Ratchz and other ancient commentaries written hundred's of years ago. I'm not cramming anything. I have researched ancient commentaries on this.

Also for my interpretation of "the land" see John Lightfoote

Calvin said...

John Gill's online Commentary

Job 38:9

And thick darkness a swaddling band for it




which was the case of the sea when it burst ou of the bowels of the earth and covered it, for then darkness was upon the face of the deep, a dark, foggy, misty air, (GENESIS 1:2); and this was before it's seperation from the land and in this order it stands in this account; though since clouds, fogs,and mists, which rise out of the sea are garments to it, and cover it at times and the surrounding atmosphere

Heather said...

Calvin,

**Job is clearly refering to vs. 2 when I made the clouds it's garment and thick darkness its swaddling band. There is darkness because of the cloud covering.**

Except that is how you clearly see it. But for any scholar that you pull up to support your view, Dagoods could do the same, or I could do the same -- for instance, in reference to the firmament, I have scholars that say all people of Moses' time understood that the firmament held back the waters above, and that until the Renaissance, Jewish and Christian writers saw the blue sky as a sea held back by the firmament, and that Jewish writers saw the clouds as something that were filled up by the water above the firmament. Or that when the word 'tehom' is used, it means literal sea, which is what it means when used everywhere else in the Bible. But you would find scholars that disagreed with that.

The problem with saying that JOb is clearly referring to Genesis 2 is, as Dagwoods points out, Job doesn't say that the clouds were covering the firmament. It's simply talking about the sea.

Also, if you're going to read science into this -- when Dagwoods refers to the sun being created first, and then earth as a molton rock. I believe in scientific terms, dry land must form first because it was too hot for water, and water could only form after the Earth was cool. But in Genesis, the ocean (tehom) exist first, and then dry land. Dagwoods, you may know more about this than I.

Calvin said...

Heather,

In the beginning God created the Heavens and Earth - Everything up to about 60,000 years ago.


Now "the land"

understand?

There are Hebrew scholoars that support my view as well

Calvin said...

The light on day one is called "Day" and there was evening and morning One Day. Obviously the sun already existed before day one.

Heather said...

Calvin,

**In the beginning God created the Heavens and Earth - Everything up to about 60,000 years ago.** And you can argue that. But I could also look at Genesis 1, and say that sentence is not an instaneous description, but rather the summary of what the entire chapter is about, and then the entire chapter is 'the beginning.'

But what about the fact that in the scientific view, land would have to come first and then water?

**There are Hebrew scholoars that support my view as well** Which is exactly what I said. Whatever we say to you with scholarly support, you can refute with other scholarly support.

**Obviously the sun already existed before day one. ** Or, it's obvious to you because your viewpoint forces you to read it that way. If we go with the sky was blue because the firmament was holding back water, then no, it's not obvious that the sun was there on Day One.

Calvin said...

Heather,

Please listen to me.

Heavens and earth = the entire history of earth, the fossil record, land, water, molten lava dinosaurs, ape men.


Now at a specific point in time about 60,000 years ago for whatever reason the Promised land is without form and void and darkness is over the surface of the water. There is no life in this area. God is preparing the promised Land for His people


Please tell me you understand

Calvin said...

My interpretation is silent on when land and water first appeared or when the sun was made when the dinosaurs were made when the Cambrian explosion happened. The Bible doesn't tell us those things. It's not tying to be scientific. See?

Calvin said...

The account is identifying the creator of everyting 1:1

With the God of Israel. The God who prepares a land for His people.

I'm not arguing for an instantaneous description

or whether land came before water

Calvin said...

You're not listening to what I'm saying. I'm not trying to give you the precise scientific details of the history of the universe, life, the earth, the dinosaurs, When earth's atmosphere first formed, whether land came before the water.
All of that took place when God Created the heavens and the earth.

The days of creation refer to God preparing the "good land" for His people.

You can disagree if you want to. I Just want you to first understand and get my position correct.

Please

Rich said...

I just want you to think about something, Calvin. I say this with respect for your position and as a person and mean it to be helpful. if so many people are having trouble follwing you is that everyone's fault or yours? Maybe your not being as clear as you think. Instead of stating what you believe or understand, give reasons beyand the statement. Yes you do that sometimes, but by the time you get around to it we are already having trouble understanding why you hold you positions.
someone mentioned in another thread here once, that the earth was already exsisting, maybe from God creating the heavens and earth, and was without form. then God acted upon this planet without form and continued the process of creation. bringing forth the land, which included the promised land as well as the rest of the dry land we have. then continuing to bring plants, animals, and such onto the earth. The days of creation are refering to the whole earth, or did God just put plants and animals on the "promised land"? I believe I understand what you are saying to some extent. you mean to say that there was life all over the earth, except in one particular area, the promised land, which God was holding in reserve to begin his preparation of this piece of earth about 60,000 years ago. At this point God begins his "days of creation" mentioned in genisis? If I missed something, which I am sure I did, please feel free to expand.
Now with regaurd to Dagoods question about determining when to take scripture literally and when to take scripture poetically, ect... Could we please get an example of each case so we have an idea of what to look for in the text that clues us in to when scripture is to be taken literally, ect... does this help?
I did just have another thought for YECs. Is every star we see in the big night sky no more than 6000 light years away? Since we know the speed of light, doesn't it follow that our BIG universe, that we see, is no more than 6000 light years worth of creation?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Calvin: If I, for the moment, accept either your 'old Earth Creationism' or 'theistic evolution,' we have at least three texts purporting to come directly from 'the Creator.' One is the Torah, where he is quoted, one is the Qur'an, where he is supposed to have -- through an angel -- dictated it, and one is the Avesta, which he is suppposed to have delivered in person to Zarathustra. (If you have never read the Avesta, it is available at
http://www.sacred-texts.com/zor/sbe04/index.htm
and following -- and guys, the site needs help and has so much on it, it deserves it)
I would like you to tell me how -- other than the fact that you have grown up accepting it -- you decide which of these is the more accurate, which is the work of 'the creator' and which is merely a man attempting to ascribe his ideas to this creator.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

By the way, when I mention, as I frequently do, Zoroastrianism and the Avesta, this is not merely a quirky eccentricity. The influence of Persia and Persian culture on Christianity and 'rabbinic Judaism' is often overlooked, but Persia had ruled over Israel, and even the language spoken by Jesus, Aramaic, was a dialect of Persian.
And many of the concepts of Christianity were not Judaic in origin but Persian/Zoroastrian.

To pick merely the most prominent, the idea of God having a son who would come and redeem the world is, despite the frantic twisting of Old Testament prophecy, not found in Judaism. It is anathema to it. But, in Zoroastrianism we find the following (in Darnmester's introduction to his translation of the Avesta)
"The world, such as it is now, is twofold, being the work of two hostile beings, Ahura Mazda, the good principle, and Angra Mainyu, the evil principle; all that is good in the world comes from the former, all that is bad in it comes from the latter. The history of the world is the history of their conflict, how Angra Mainyu invaded the world of Ahura Mazda and marred it, and how he shall be expelled from it at last. Man is active in the conflict, his duty in it being laid before him in the law revealed by Ahura Mazda to Zarathustra. When the appointed time is come, a son of the lawgiver, still unborn, named Saoshyant, will appear, Angra Mainyu and hell will be destroyed, men will rise from the dead, and everlasting happiness will reign over the world."

Can anyone find anything in Judaism that so closely resembles the Christian doctrine?

And for those who struggle with the 'principle of evil' (hi, John, still reading us?) is this not a more sensible explanation than the twists and calisthenics of Calvinism and other sects of Christianity?

Not that I am proposing Zoroastrianism as true. merely showing that it has -- except for success -- as strong a claim on being 'the truth' as do the Abrahamic religions.

Dennis said...

Rich said:

I did just have another thought for YECs. Is every star we see in the big night sky no more than 6000 light years away? Since we know the speed of light, doesn't it follow that our BIG universe, that we see, is no more than 6000 light years worth of creation?

This argument is made with the flawed assumption that 6000 years on the earth is the same as 6000 years in outer space. Einstein's Theory of Relativity tells us that time is affected by gravity.

YEC's already have a theory to explain the starlight and time problem:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v17/i2/cosmology.asp

DagoodS said...

calvin,

I’ve asked twice. (Lee Randolph asked once) Yet still no answer.

1) What are the indicators we should use to determine when a text is not literal?

2) What do we do about the other tales in the Bible that are contradictory to History? Flood, captivity, Plagues, Exodus, Joshua’s genocide, David’s millions, Solomon’s temple and palace?

Actually, calvin, although I am not exactly certain what you are attempting to portray, your posts DO reveal your position. It would seem (at least to me) that you will say anything that comes to mind in order to respond to the immediate previous comment, even if it is contradictory to your previous position.

You are now saying that Gen. 1:1 is literal, but Gen. 1:2- 2:3 are allegorical to the Promised Land? What about the literal spirit on the literal water, with the literal hovering and the literal darkness? And the literal days? Are those, now, all allegorical and our previous discussion for naught?

You mention God separating the two waters to make the sky, but that was on the second day. Therefore, you now seem to be agreeing with me (contrary to your previous position) that the atmosphere was NOT formed on the first day, so therefore, the idea that the sun would be obscured by clouds on the first day is impossible. What with the sky not being formed until the second day.

Again, you seem to be all over the board on this one.

Then you completely abandon all positions entirely, saying the Bible is not a scientific book. What happened to our testing it? What happened to your Nine methods and that evolution and YEC “fail” in light of OEC?

Again, you are all over the board on this one. Do we use the Bible for anything whatsoever regarding creationism, or do we disregard it?

calvin: In the beginning God created the Heavens and Earth. (everything)
Sun, moon, stars, atmosphere, earth.


Actually, if you read the Hebrew, it reads, “In the beginning of God’s creating the Heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1 is an introductory description of what is about to occur. The first act of creation is not until God creates “light.” The land and the water were already there.

“Sun, moon, stars, atmosphere, earth.”

Exactly. You (and your Bible) have it in the wrong order. It should be “Stars, Sun, Earth, atmosphere, Moon.” We tested it, just like you asked. It failed.

What evidence do you rely upon, calvin, for an old earth? Most would say geological, (although the cosmological issue of light travel is another) If you use geology, why do you immediately ignore its similar findings regarding atmosphere?

Where do you come up with “60,000 years ago” as the time we start the clock again at Gen. 1:2?

Finally, can you provide a method by which we treat Gen. 1:1 as literal, and the Gen. 1:2-2:3 as allegorical? And how does that method apply to other historical stories in the Tanakh?

calvin, I will keep asking. And every time you avoid this question of methodology, is one more time in which it is patently obvious you have no answer.

We are on three (four counting Lee Randolph.)

DagoodS said...

Heather,

I find OEC’s an interesting position. They accept the science that indicates a 4-5 Billion year earth, but then immediately reject the same science that indicates the order of how things are created.

calvin, apparently, is now abandoning his first contention as to the literalism of Gen. 1:2. Not sure where he fits on the OEC scale.

But most claim that the frame of reference utilized in Genesis 1 is that of a person standing on the earth. They get this from the fact that most of the Bible is written from an equal frame of reference. “Sun setting” for example is really from an Earth-bound perception, not from space, of course.

Then they argue that what we should be amazed about in Genesis one, long before science could ever figure this out, in 1500 BCE, a writer determined the exact order in which the world formed from long ago to present.

If you read the order (flowering plants before fish, birds before reptiles) and then compared it to the fossil record, you probably would be less than overwhelmed with the order. But the Achilles heel of the whole thing is how a person, standing on the ground of earth, would see “light” but not see sun (until after the plants, even!).

Typically, the claim is that volcanic ash and gases spewing from the earth’s surface, “blocked” the sun, so when it came into being, all a person “standing” (if they could) saw was light, not the specific sun from whence it came. Like an extremely overcast day.

(You might notice that they are already off on the wrong foot, since the sun had to form prior to earth. There was no “earth” to stand upon to see the sun come into existence.)

However, the problem is, that even with the volcanic activity, there was no atmosphere by which to keep the gases “in” or to create a cloud cover. They want the earth to look like Venus, when it looked like Mars (only hotter.)

None of them seem to be able to figure this one out. Least none I have come across. How do stand on earth before the sun comes into existence? How do we block the sun before the atmosphere comes into existence? That is why I always ask them to put “sun, earth, earth’s atmosphere” in order.

For a group that prides itself on using science to get an old earth, they sure abandon it when it comes to the order!

You are right. Water could not form on the molten surface, but for a millisecond before it became instant steam. There was a long period of time in which there was no atmosphere, nor anything within the atmosphere, by which to block the sun.

(What amazes me, is that they should claim without the atmosphere, the sun was SO blinding, that all they saw was brightness. Imagine what we would see without the filtering effect of the atmosphere. Still a problem at night time, of course, especially without a full moon.)

DagoodS said...

Dennis: This argument is made with the flawed assumption that 6000 years on the earth is the same as 6000 years in outer space. Einstein's Theory of Relativity tells us that time is affected by gravity.

Can you explain how that would make a star 1.5 Billion light years away to appear to us in only 6000 years?

Thanks.

Rich said...

OK dennis, I read your link and it is interesting. It seems like there asre many more problems in those answers. Not to mention any scientist will scoff at using answers in genesis as science. But I am willing to read with an open mind. They all have possibilities for sure but little evidence to back them up, unfortunatly. And by the way light speed is a constant that remains a constant no matter where you happen to be viewing it from. The whole idea about the speed of light changing, from what I can tell, has little evidence.

Dagoods, and others,
Here's a little of what's there,(at the provided link) for math to show the possibility of light being able to reach earth from waaaayyyy out there in the creation period.

"Let’s do a few simple calculations. Let us suppose that the relative rate of clocks on Earth compared to astronomical clocks during Creation Week was

Equation 1(1)

where t0 represents time on Earth and t represents time in the cosmos (same for all clocks everywhere except on Earth). By integrating over the 24 hours of Day 4 (assuming = 0.003 years approximately), we can calculate the time available in the cosmos for a photon to travel to Earth. It follows from (1),

Equation 2(2)

There is more than sufficient time during Creation Week. And since light now arriving on Earth left the stars some time during Creation Week, it had plenty of astronomical years to nearly get to Earth. The rest of the journey has been made in the 6,000 years since creation. No accelerated speeds have been assumed, just the constant speed of light that has been repeatably measured for the past 300 years. It is not necessary to suppose that light from all stars in the universe arrived by the close of Creation Week, but at a minimum from our own Milky Way galaxy and maybe farther out to the Virgo Cluster of the order of 70 million light years. The specific dilation rate in (1) is an adjustable parameter of the model, which would determine the extent to how far starlight travelled during Day 4."
I really need to log into memory how to use those handy little HTML tags. It's really from too many sleepless nights that I can't do it, thanks Dagoods ;)

Dennis said...

DagoodS,

Sorry if I can't do more than post links here. I'm not going to pretend to be an astrophysicist and explain this in detail.

Time is relative. If we could build a rocket that travels at the speed of light and send an astronaut to an object 10 light years away and back without stopping, this astronaut could make the trip in well under 20 years from the earth's perspective.

Rich,

I agree that Humphrey's model isn't perfect and even AiG acknowledges that it still has some problems.

Since we're using the problem of starlight to criticize YEC, let's also point out that the big bang theory has it’s own light-travel problem. See this: http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v25/i4/lighttravel.asp

Even non-YEC scientists admit to problems with the big bang as you can see in this link from the University of Tennessee: http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/cosmology/bbproblems.html

DagoodS said...

Dennis,

Never fear. I’m just discussing. I happened to have just finished “The Quantum Zoo” so my interest is a bit keen at the moment.

Equally, I am not a physicist, either, so take what I am saying with an extreme grain of salt.

If I understand it correctly, it is impossible to travel as fast as the speed of light. That speed, for all intents and purposes, is the equivalent of “infinity”—a number that cannot be reached. So, in your example, the person would be traveling as close as possible, but not quite, the speed of light.

And, you are correct, as near as I understand, that time is slows at the speed of light. If a person left earth, and was able to travel extremely close to the speed of light, and was gone for 20 years, when he came back, earth’s time would be much different. Within that time, the earth would have traveled around the sun many more times than 20!

The person would leave, be gone for what they think was 20 years, and come back to meet their great-great-great-great grandchildren living! (Probably more than that.) Hence the reason for calling time “relative.”

But we don’t have someone traveling round trip. We have light, coming from a star, making a one-way trip, as it were.

Imagine someone coming from a star 10 light years away. And that person could travel at almost (but not quite) the speed of light. The light from that star would still reach Earth slightly before him/her, right? Or am I missing something?

And if that star went super-nova, it would still take 10 years for us to know it, right?

Thanks, again.

Benny said...

@ Dennis, DagoodS, re: astronaut:

The slowing of time (time dilation) due to traveling at high fractions of speed of light are experienced BY THE TRAVELER, not the rest of the universe.

If an astronaut travels at light speed to an object 10 LY away and back, everyone on Earth would observe that the trip took exactly 20 years. It's the astronaut who would observe that the trip took less than 20 years. In other words, it's the astronaut for whom time has dilated.

So, in context of starlight, light from a star 1.5 billion LY away would take exactly 1.5 billion years to reach us here on Earth. Not 6000 years, or any number less than 1.5 billion. It is only the PHOTONS that would observe the trip to take less time.

Calvin said...

Dagoods,

If you would listen to what I'm saying you would see that I'm not abandoning any literalism. I never have abondoned any literalism.

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth - this sentence includes the whole history of the universe. The writer doesn't give us any details of what God did or how He did it.

Now the perspective shifts to "the land" or the promised land. The 24 hour days of creation are talking about God preparing a homeland for His people.
My interpretation doesn't include a scientific description of the history of the universe. This is what I have been trying to tell you all this time and you keep wanting to argue about the science.
I'm not trying to defend the Day-Age interpretation.
I call my interpretation historical creationism because it goes back to some Medeival Jewish commentators.

Calvin said...

Dagood's,

I don't find the Day-Age interpretation completely compelling because on day three you have seed-bearing plants and fruit-trees appearing where the fossil record has cryptogamic plants appearing at this time. The two seem to be in conflict. Also as you pointed out evening and morning are mostly used literaly to mean sunrise and sunset.
Theese are the problems I find with the Day-Age interpretation.

Calvin said...

The Humphry's model isn't taken seriously by the scientific community. As for the Big Bang it is supported by overwhelming evidence. As time has went on the evidence has gotten stronger. The scientific model that I go with predicts that the evidence will continue to grow stronger and these anomolies will dissapear. Young Earth creationists don't like the Big Bang because it shows that the universe is billions of years old.

DagoodS said...

calvin,

I’ll ask again. My jury, including every Christian, non-Christian, theist and non-theist is very aware that you are either unwilling or unable to answer the question. In fact, tragically, the only person that doesn’t realize it is you.

I am sorry, calvin, but we will get nowhere until you answer this question. We are on four (five, including Lee Randolph)

1) What are the indicators we should use to determine when a text is not literal?

2) What do we do about the other tales in the Bible that are contradictory to History? Flood, captivity, Plagues, Exodus, Joshua’s genocide, David’s millions, Solomon’s temple and palace?

This appears to be your interpretation without any foundation. You have yet to explain how you went from literalism in Gen. 1:1 to allegory in Gen. 1:2, other than repeatedly stating it is so.

Show us. Show us the method by which we can read Genesis and make this determination on our own.


P.S. Thank you Benny for your comment.

Calvin said...

Dagood's,

I'm not focusing on those other things right now.

Genesis is literal when it says that "the land" is formless and empty. The days are literal and the whole account is literal. Where is the allegory? God is literally preparing the "good land" for His people. It's a real place and a real time.
You obviously don't understand what I'm saying.

Heather said...

Calvin,

You keep saying we don't understand, and yet when Dagwoods asks you how we determine whether a text is literal, and how we can determine your interpretation of Genesis is correct, you're not offering him a way. He's specifically asking you for the method you use to determine how to read Genesis in the way you are.

You have yet to say that one person understands you ... but why is the problem us? We all seem to have the same difficulty in understanding your interpretation.

And you can say that you're not using science to read Genesis 1, but you're also saying that obviously there was a sun if there was light. That's reading the text scientifically. For all we know, the source of light was God Himself, given how often the Bible refers to him as light.

Calvin said...

That's weird that you think my interpretation of 1:2 is allegorical when the Hebrew scholar John Saihamer and common sense say otherwise. Are you so concerned with being right that you are this blind to what it is that I'm saying? No Hebrew scholar thinks my interpretation is allegorical. You are the first person I have ever come across to say such a thing. Show me where my interpretation is allegorical.

Calvin said...

Heather,

Would you like me to take you through the whole thing?

Calvin said...

Heather,

Have you ever read Genesis Unbound by John Sailhammer? Or the Pentateuch as Narrative?

Calvin said...

Heather,

The sun, moon, and stars must be included in the usual meaning of the Hebrew phrase Heaven and Earth. They were created in the first verse. Verse 3 describes the appearence of light through the darkness. The division between day and night and evening and morning leaves little room for an interpretation of the light in v.3 other than that of the sun.

Calvin said...

Heather,

Would you like for me to defend the Day-Age interpretation and then we can disuss the science and the order of events in the fossil record? That seems to be the view you are attacking and the one you want me to defend. I really am sorry that you can't tell the difference between allagory, poetry, anthropomorphism, hyperbole, metaphor, figure of speech, and historical narrative.

Let me recommend Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul. It's one of the best books on the subject.

Heather said...

Actually, Calvin, I'd like you to answer Dagwoods' question as to how you are determining what is literal, and what is not. Don't reference sources -- put it in your own words. Because right now, you aren't clarifying yourself, you're repeating statements you've already made. I don't want you to go over the Day-Age interpreation, I'd like to see an answer to Dagwoods question, so we can try and apply the process ourselves and see if we reach your conclusion.

**The sun, moon, and stars must be included in the usual meaning of the Hebrew phrase Heaven and Earth. They were created in the first verse.** No, it is included *by you.* Dagwoods makes a reference earlier that the Hebrew reads, "In the beginning of God's creating the Heavens and the Earth." Which sets up the stage for the rest of the creation, starting with the light and darkness. That puts a different take on the creation story.

**I really am sorry that you can't tell the difference between allagory, poetry, anthropomorphism, hyperbole, metaphor, figure of speech, and historical narrative** First, we haven't been discussing most of those topics, so they aren't relevant. You can't make that claim when we haven't discussed poetry, hyperbole, figure of speech, etc, because you haven't seen how I define those terms. SEcond, as I stated in an earlier post -- we both have scholars who support our views. Third, you're dismissing the research that I've already done, because it doesn't measure up with your world view. Yet when people ask questions as to how you're determining yours, you're not offering support, you're just telling us to read books. Fourth, you said in an earlier post that you weren't assuming I haven't read the BIble. This statement says otherwise.

Calvin said...

Heather,

You have to interpret the Bible in it's most obvious and natural sense by seeking to discover the author's intent and focusing on his word's in their plain most obvious sense, follow the rules of grammar, meaning of words, syntaxt and style, try and be familiar with the customs, culture and historical context at the time, and individual passages of scripture mut harmonize with scripture as a whole.

1. Identify the frame of reference or points of view
2. Determine the initial conditions
3. Perform an experiment or observe the phenomena noting what takes place when, where, and in what order.
4. Note the final conditions
5. Form a hypothesis about the how and the why of the phenomenon.
6. Test the hypothesis with further experiments or observations.
7. Revise the hypothesis accordingly.

This doesn't guarentee objectivity and accuracy, but it helps minimize the effects of oversight, personal bias, and presuppositions. We must always be willing to adjust and fine-tune.

Again, I'm sorry you can't tell the difference between something that is literal and something that is not. I learned that in grade school. Would you like for me to define what literal means?

DagoodS said...

calvin,

Thank you for the method. I will address it in a bit when I have more time. Meanwhile, could you define “literal” for me? I am sure the rest of the crowd here, including Heather, is as smart as a whip and is well-aware of the definition. Unfortunately, I attended a private Baptist elementary school, so you can safely consider me as thick as a post. Define away!

Further, can you explain by example as well? If Genesis 1:6-8 was literal, what does that mean, and if it is non-literal, what would it look like?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Calvin,
Did you know that the Egyptians believed that the world started out as chaos and water? In the beginning there was only water, a chaos of churning, bubbling water, this the Egyptians called Nu or Nun. It was out of Nu that everything began.
Then the Hopi and iroquoi have TREES in thier creation myths that play a vital role.
Does any of this sound familiar?
What do you think about the flood? Have you ever heard of the Epic of Gilgamesh?
In Africa, god created man out of dust, clay and his blood. Have you heard that anywhere before?
Did you ever notice that Daniel in the lions den is very similar to Aesops 'slave and the lion' fable which was written 500 years before daniel?
I'll get into my books and see what else I can dig up.
My point is that genesis is a CREATION MYTH. The Israelites came from the Canaanites, who came from the various other peoples that went ashore and traversed that comparatively lush land. It was a crossroads of cultures, and a crossroads for ideas. That land was like a steak between dogs for the egyptians, assyrians, babylonians and persians for reasons more along the lines of human interests.

Dennis said...

Benny,

You are right and wrong. You are right in pointing out that I had the time dilation flip flopped. Our astronaut would take longer than 20 years, not less (from earth's perspective). You are wrong in stating that our astronaut would notice the time dilation, he wouldn't. It would take 20 years according to his watch.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Calvin,
here is some information on that area from wikipedia.
it is called the fertile crescent and 'the cradle of civilization'.
Fertile Crescent
This is relevant so you can see that the Bible is not unique. It was put together out lots of little pieces written at different times and places and is similar to other writings from other times and places from other cultures.
Folklore. Think of that area like a giant watercooler or a bazaar where people got together and traded stories. It had agricultural and strategic value.

Shygetz said...

Calvin, if you are correct in your interpretation, then one could make the testable prediction that, since the Promised Land was formless throughout the history of the universe until relatively recently when God gave it form for the Garden, it should have different geological, radioisotopic, and fossil features.

Shall we test this prediction?

Benny said...

Sorry, Dennis, but you still have it wrong.

We observe light to travel 20 LY in 20 years, correct? Indeed, that's the very definition of a LY: the distance traveled by light in one year (as observed by us). Traveling at lightspeed means you cover the same distance in the same amount of time as light. So if an astronaut travels at lightspeed, why would we see him take longer than 20 years to cover 20 LY? If he takes longer than 20 years to cover the distance covered by light in 20 years, then he is not traveling at lightspeed.

We would observe the astronaut taking exactly 20 years to make a 20 LY trip. *He* (and his watch) would observe the trip to take less than 20 years. While I don't hold Wikipedia to be the last word on any subject, it does serve as a handy quick reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation#Time_dilation_and_space_flight

DagoodS said...

calvin,

I re-read everything you wrote. At first I thought I was starting to see a glimmer of what you were saying. Then I lost it.

First you said:

calvin: We are to interpret the Bible literally unless the context indicates otherwise. We also interpret scripture with scripture. An example would be Genesis chapter one. As Job 38 says there is darkness on the surface of the deep in Genesis 1:2 because there is a thick cloud covering the atmosphere and wrapped arround the deep. When we identify the frame of refernce -the Holy Spirit is hovering over the surface of the waters - the sequence of events can be interpreted correctly.

Got it. The Bible is literal, unless it indicates otherwise. ‘Course since then we have kept asking how we know it is indicating “otherwise.” You moved to:

More: The days of creation are refering to God preparing the promised land. So the days are literal. The days could also be literal and mean a long period of time

Whoops. The cracks start to appear. You are right that “Day” most times means one rotation of the earth, but on the rarer occasion can mean a long period of time. The phrase, “Back in my day…” comes to mind. Still, I am following this. But then:

More: Since the word day can mean a long period of time (whether the definition is literal or metaphorical) then it would still be a literal interpretation of the Bible if it was interpreted to mean a long period of time.

Now the crack widens. If the definition of the way the author is using the term is metaphorical, how can the word be literal? We are not asking for a “literal” interpretation of the Bible as in what exactly the Bible “literally” says—but rather what happened.

If I say, “She broke my heart” I literally said “She broke my heart.” However it does not mean she literally opened my chest cavity, took out a muscle and cracked it. It is a metaphorical term.

Saying God created “light” when God actually created the sun (ESPECIALLY in light of day four) is metaphorical.

More: The way in which later biblical writers reuse the terminology and themes of Genesis one suggests the notion of the land is more circumspect than it is usually taken to be. Jerimiah 27:5 shows that the later Biblical writers read Genesis One as referring primarily to the land promised to the Patriarchs and to Israel. It's refering to the preparation as the promised land as the "good land" for humanities dwelling. So, then 1:1 refers to the creation of the universe and 1:2-2:3 narrows the reader's focus to just one small but all important place, the land to be promised to Abraham and his descendents.

And at this point the wheels fall off the bus. Is Genesis 1:2-2:3 literally referring to the promised land? If so, that would mean the sun was ONLY formed over the Promised Land. The Fish (even deep-sea creatures?), Birds (Albatross?), crawling animals (Polar bears, penguins, Kangaroos? Not to mention T-Rex, Elephants, Cobras and Alligators) all literally only appeared in the Promised Land?

Or were they created everywhere? And subsequent writers simply used creation as a metaphor for the promised land? In other words, it literally happened, but later people used it as an allegory? Or did God create land, animals, atmosphere, etc. in Gen. 1:1 and the rest he focused on…what?

More: Now at a specific point in time about 60,000 years ago for whatever reason the Promised land is without form and void and darkness is over the surface of the water. There is no life in this area. God is preparing the promised Land for His people

Color me confused. So you are saying that under Gen. 1:1, the rest of the world is fine and dandy, and now God is re-starting the creative process just for the Promised Land?

More: My interpretation is silent on when land and water first appeared or when the sun was made when the dinosaurs were made when the Cambrian explosion happened. The Bible doesn't tell us those things. It's not tying to be scientific. See?

Which would mean you abandoned literalism. Since the Bible literally states when the sun was made, when plants were made, when fish and birds and animals and humans were made.

More: I'm not trying to give you the precise scientific details of the history of the universe, life, the earth, the dinosaurs, When earth's atmosphere first formed, whether land came before the water.
All of that took place when God Created the heavens and the earth.

The days of creation refer to God preparing the "good land" for His people.


So..er…where did God create beetles first? In Mesoamerica or Palestine?

More: If you would listen to what I'm saying you would see that I'm not abandoning any literalism. I never have abondoned any literalism.
In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth - this sentence includes the whole history of the universe. The writer doesn't give us any details of what God did or how He did it.


What is happening in the rest of the verses? Did God obscure the sun from where Jerusalem is today for a long period of time? I truly have no clue what you are saying happened.

More: Now the perspective shifts to "the land" or the promised land. The 24 hour days of creation are talking about God preparing a homeland for His people.
My interpretation doesn't include a scientific description of the history of the universe. This is what I have been trying to tell you all this time and you keep wanting to argue about the science.


Your “interpretation” is just some words strung together. I am still not seeing a method presented. By what method are we to understand that “earth” in Gen. 1:1 means the entire planet, but “earth” in 1:11 means the Promised Land?

A method—give us a method!

DagoodS said...

Calvin,

To your method of: by seeking to discover the author's intent and focusing on his word's in their plain most obvious sense, follow the rules of grammar, meaning of words, syntaxt and style, try and be familiar with the customs, culture and historical context at the time, and individual passages of scripture mut harmonize with scripture as a whole.

Actually, most of this I agree with. (not the last “scripture harmonize with scripture.”) The problem is that we have so little information, that most times all we can do is guess, realizing that we could be totally inaccurate. Can Christianity live with that?

You say “author’s intent.” Which author? The one who orally created the legend of Gen. 1? The one who orally created the legend of Gen. 2? The one who wrote down Gen. 1? The actual writer of Gen. 2? The editor that put the two together?

And, not even knowing who the author(s) are, how can we determine intent? The ONLY thing we have are the words themselves, and it is dangerous to speculate much beyond them.

Words written in a dead language that used a limited vocabulary and grammar structure. No “past, present or future” tense. And customs, culture and history from what period? Are you reading Prup (aka Jim Benton)? This is not a simple path to determine as to what society impacted upon another!

As a non-Christian, we can study, research and come up with the best solution possible. (for me that is Genesis 1 is a legend of how the earth came into being and has as much scientific or historical validity as “She broke my heart.”) The question is whether Christianity can be so liberal. Can they drop the bias of an inspired book? That it has to mean something significant?

Dennis said...

Benny,

Thanks for setting me straight. What we are saying then is that light can travel the distance of a light-year in less than one year (from the light's perspective, not ours).

Benny said...

Yes. The photons would perceive the trip as taking less than one year. Exactly how much less, I shall leave to those who are better versed in physics.

None of which helps YEC, as far as I can tell, unless someone is going to claim that the Bible was written from the perspective of photons?

Heather said...

** I am sure the rest of the crowd here, including Heather, is as smart as a whip and is well-aware of the definition** Well, I'm glad *someone* noticed. ;)

**and be familiar with the customs, culture and historical context at the time,** And if the historical custom was at the time that there was watery chaos in the beginning, as many scholars say, then some of us are right on target. The other problem with the literal/metaphorical are the sections where the authors meant us to literally take it that the Earth was flat and supported by pillars. Yet we don't take that literally, even though cultural context means that we must.

**Words written in a dead language that used a limited vocabulary and grammar structure.** The other complication in using grammar is that greek texts didn't have grammer, or capitlization or any of that. That was left up to the discretion of the interpreter.

**unless someone is going to claim that the Bible was written from the perspective of photons? ** Now that would be interesting to watch someone defend.

Anonymous said...

You built a straw man and are knocking it down. It's simple, read the Bible and see what it clearely says. You can twist "thou shalt not murder" ten ways if you want.

DagoodS said...

Anonymous of 5:45 p.m.

Since you did not address your comment to anyone in particular, it is unclear to whom you are referring. If you are referring to the blog entry (i.e. me) then I will be happy to respond.

Although you raise a curious point. I read my Bible every day. I wonder if I am more faithful and read more of it than most Christians who believe it is the only writing the very God/Creator of the universe provided.

Kinda funny a skeptic more committed to reading the Bible as compared to a Christian, eh?

Calvin said...

Heather,

It's obvious you don't know the art and science of Biblical interpretation. What I have done so far with my interpretation is given you the conclusion. I haven't built my whole case yet.

Dagood's,

I guess it sounded like I was trying to defend the day-age interpretation when I mentioned that one of the possible meanings of the Hebrew word day can mean a long period of time. I guess that's where I threw you off. I gave you a 7 step method I use when I interpret Genesis. By the way Hebrew scholars have also shown that evening and morning can also mean dawn and sunset or twilight. It's pretty much the same as our English expression the dawn of a new age, and the twilight of the Roman empire. I am quite open to this view because of the other scriptures that seem to indicate that this is what the writer intended to say. When developing a correct interpretation of Genesis you have to look at all the creation accounts in the bible and passages that refer to it. Not just Genesis Chapter One. It's clear that you don't understand the difference between a literal interpretation and an allagorical interpretation. Instead of defending the Day-Age interpretation or a different long day interpretation or building a case and clarifying my other interpretation I will refrain right now. I'm a little worn from all this stuff. I need to focus on a test that I have comming up in my Drafting class on Monday.

Also Lee Randolf I have a response to you about the flood and when and where the first civiliztion formed and a response about the the other creation stories of the other religions. I'm completely aware of these things. I appreciate the kindness you have shown when you talk to me.

Also, Heather let me suggest you study your Bible and learn the ABC's of what it says and do better research before you talk to a stud like me that knows pretty much everthing there is to know about the Bible. You obviously need to do your homework before you dialog with someone that has the intellectual power and authority that I do. Keep in mind that man was created first and you need to learn in submission and silence when a man with the intellectual capacities that I have decides to speak. HaHaHaHaHa

I'm just kidding.

I love you Heather

Grace and peace to you through our Lord Jesus Christ who was and is and is to come.

Calvin said...

Dagoods,

Once again and for the last time here is the method being used that I provided and you can't seem to see for some strange and mysterious reason.


1. Identify the frame of reference or point of view.
2. Determine the initial conditions
3. Perform an experiment or observe the phenomenon, noting what takes place when, where, and in what order.
4. Note the final conditions
5. Form a hypothesis about the how and the why of the phenomenon.
6. Test the hypothesis with further experiments or observations.
7. Revise the hypothesis accordingly

Theese steps do not guarantee objectivity and accuracy, but they help minimize the effects of oversight, personal bias, and presuppositions. Since we remain limited in knowledge and understanding, our interpretations will continually fall short of perfection. Therefore we must remain willing to adjust and fine-tune. For this reason the method is best practiced repetitively. After doing steps one through seven we must do step eight and go back and do step one and see if we need to adjust our identification of the frame of reference. Step nine would be to see if, based on steps three through eight, changes or adjustments in our determination of the initial conditions are in order. Steps ten, eleven, twelve, and so on, would proceed in a similar manner. Applying this method to Biblical interpretation keeps us moving closer and closer to the correct understanding. It would move us closer to rightly dividing the word of truth, to unity rather than conflict in establishing sound doctrine.

This is the method

Randy Kirk said...

Obviously there are many interpretations of scripture, and they can't all be right. This does make it hard on you to prove your ex-God doesn't exist. So why not just start with the things pretty much 99% of all Christians agree on.

God is three persons. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is timeless...eternal. He sent his Son, Jesus, to be an atonement for sin, and in so doing gave us a perfect example of love. He provided us with an instruction book for living, which was written by men under the inspiration of men.

God has created everything that has been created by speaking these things into existence.

He offers humans a simple plan for eternal life. Have a relationship with the God who made you, and you will live eternally with Me in the light of heaven. Reject that relationship and you will live eternally in the darkness without me.

The evangelical movement with folks like Dobson and Colson in the lead, are making great strides in focusing the denominations to work together, and to recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a lot yet to do to gain that end.

I would like to invite all of you ex-Christ followers who have created this blog to come and visit my new blog, http://Godvsnogod.blogspot.com where a very robust debate is also taking place on this subject. I will in the next few days add you to my blog roll.

P.S. We are currently discussing tipping points at Godvsnogod, and I noticed that you did not respond to one question above with regard to what tipped you over to un-belief.

DagoodS said...

Thank you for your comment, Randy Kirk,

At this point, this blog entry having wandered into different directions, I fear many will miss it.

The problem with the things that “99% of Christians” agree upon is that I have to pick the right 100 Christians to find out what that is. So far, I have not been so lucky.

It is like those dentist commercials I see. I am assured that 4 out of 5 dentists recommended Crest (c) over all other brands. 10 minutes later, I learn that 4 out of 5 Dentists recommended Aqua-Fresh (c). Either those are the most fickle dentists on the planet, OR, is it possible that someone picked which dentists to use? Probably the Crest (c) Dentists would inform me that the Aqua-Fresh Dentists (c) are not “true Dentists.”

I talk to a variety of Christians, Randy Kirk. Catholics, liberal, literalists, universalists, and some that are far from traditional. While all believe that God brought our universe into existence (I have never met a theist that DIDN’T believe that) I have seen great disagreement among the other items you raise.

However, to not lose what you are saying, I notice that most of these statements are of quite a broad brush. It is when we get into the details, the nuts and bolts of the thing, that we find complete disagreement with no real method to demonstrate which position is the most viable.

For example, you state, He provided us with an instruction book for living, which was written by men under the inspiration of men.

I presume that last word should have been “God” of course. No one knows exactly what “God-breathed” means and although definitions a-plenty will be provided, no one can give a method by which we know which is the correct one.

Among Christians there is disagreement as to which writings should be included within the instruction book (Apocalypse of John?), which paragraphs should be included within even the books that are agreed (Ending of Mark?), which sentences within the paragraphs (Johannine Comma?) and even which texts within a single letter. (1 Thess. 2:7)

Are the writings to be taken literally? Allegorically? Are there inspired writings that were lost? Writings that were included that were not inspired? Are the Gospels historical or mythical? Is Acts historical? Who are the authors of the Pastorals, James, 1 & 2 Peter and Jude?

Is it inerrant?

At best we have universal agreement among the 99% that God did something involving writing. After that, it starts to diverge quickly.

What good is an instruction book, when those who claim it is authoritative do not agree as to what steps are necessary, and in what order?

I could go through your other statements and point out other variances, but that would become repetitive and trite. (If you really find it necessary, I can do so.) I hope you appreciate the point I am making.

Yes, I know certain Christian leaders are attempting to “rally the troops” and join together, setting aside these petty differences. The fact they even had to do it in the first place, are having such difficult doing so and having difficulty maintaining cohesiveness is only demonstrative of the problem I am addressing.

Oh, sure, they will have success for the moment. But if they support the wrong Republican candidate or allow Obama to speak in their church or support the idea of global warming, the flock will leave just as quickly as they came.

Randy Kirk: …I noticed that you did not respond to one question above with regard to what tipped you over to un-belief.

The initial “tip” would be the loss of inerrancy. The final “tip” was the inability to maintain belief in a god when it was apparent that god is a human-made concept.

Not very exciting, eh?

Randy Kirk said...

Can you elaborate on the last tip. What was the last couple of things that aced it for you.

Thanks for the correction re "man" "God." Amusing in that context.

I understand your point with regard to denominationalism, but in order to have an ordered debate we need to start somewhere on the definition. If we can't even decide about the definition of the dabate with regard to the existence of something like the Christian God, then why bother with the details.

Dennis said...

None of which helps YEC, as far as I can tell, unless someone is going to claim that the Bible was written from the perspective of photons?

Benny, I never proposed that this was the answer for the starlight problem that YEC's have. I was just trying to point out that time is relative (it is also affected by gravity). Time is a complex subject and the question "How can we see distant starlight in a young universe?" overlooks that complexity. We really don't know exactly method God used when he created the universe but I feel pretty confident that if God created the universe in 6 days that he was violating physical laws left and right so the distant starlight question just rolls off my back.

For a person who struggles with the idea of a young universe in light of the starlight question, I would direct them to the model proposed by Humphries. No it's not perfect, but as I have already shown the big bang has it's own problems as conceded by even secular scientists.

DagoodS said...

Randy Kirk,

I always hesitate to focus on particular items. It feels as if I am doing an injustice to the entire process. It was not as if one book, or one argument or one person was the precipitating factor, or the final nudge. But, in the spirit of the conversation, I will highlight three (3) things.

1) Humans are not satisfied with not knowing answers, and if unable to determine a solution, will even go so far as to create an answer.

As we look at the history of gods, we see humans unable to understand why seasons change, why one year is hot, another good; one dry, another moist. We see questions as to where life comes from, how planets move, why there is morality, and what happens when we die.

And, also over that course of history, we see gods come and go which track remarkably with the level of technology and information the humans have. When the relationship of the rotation of the earth and the sun was unknown—gods played a part in seasons coming and going. Upon learning of earth’s tilt, these gods were abandoned.

When it was felt the universe was geocentric—gods traveled across the sky in the form of the sun or moon. Heliocentric theory was the death knell of these gods. When only portions of the world were known, gods lived at some unreachable place here on earth. As more of the world was discovered, the gods were moved to the inaccessible heavens. As the heavens were explored, they were moved to inaccessible dimensions. And the previous gods of the earth and stars were no more.

We can compare societies and their development, and directly track how their gods changed as new information was obtained. With the strength of the evidence for an old earth, the “YEC” God is dying—soon to be a memory with Helios. As evolution becomes more supported, equally the theistic evolutionary model of God is strengthened.

Even now, as you are aware, we see the Christian God reverting to “Intelligent Design.” The next debate will be abiogenesis and the Big Bang. The God of creating humans from dust will go the way of Zeus as an explanation for lightening.

Is this unique? As we look back over the course of history, we see human hands replaced with tools. We see tools replaced with trained animals. We see animals replaced with machines. Many examples can be given as to how technology has improved, and what was “standard operating procedure” is abandoned, becoming a historical note. In looking at our past, it is reasonable to assume this course will continue. Already our children no longer learn cursive in lieu of typing. Imagine what our grandchildren will be learning and doing that is not even a dream as of today!

I see the same development with God.

There is nothing unique here. Look at the knowledge we have gained, even in the last century within the Christian world, including manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, archeology, textual criticism, dating techniques, etc. And, perhaps most important of all—the ability to quickly disseminate information around the world through the medium of video, books and the internet.

And equally see how the questions have raised as to the Christian God.

The variance of gods, conforming to the technology of the society that perpetuates that god belief is a good indication it is a human creation.

2) That it is a creature which is solely defended by definition.

Imagine I informed you that life naturally came about from non-life by a chemical process known as “lifiation.” You would ask, “What is the process?” To which I reply, “Oh, we don’t know that, but we DO know it occurred, because by definition ‘lifiation’ is the process by which life came from non-life.”

Would you find that persuasive? I would hope not! Yet that is exactly the conversation I have over and over with theists:

Theist: God is _____. [could be anything, “timeless,” “good,” “perfect.”]
Me: How does that work?
Theist: Oh, we don’t know that because we have finite brains. We define God as being so, and move from there.

Kalaam’s Cosmological Argument is a brilliant description of this. Define God as a Cause that did not begin and voila—you have proved God. ‘Course if we define Energy as a Cause that did not begin, equally we have proved Energy. If we define very small rocks as a Cause that did not begin, equally we have proven very small rocks made the universe.

Now, we may claim that some things simply must be defined, otherwise all conversation breaks down. I would agree. But over and over, as I discuss theism, I am left with a complete inability to verify that the definition is remotely accurate. How can I tell the difference between something that is made up, and something that is true without that ability?

My most common example is this simple question—Can God lie? There is no way for a theist to determine whether that is true or not! Imagine a God that cannot lie. We ask, “Can you lie?” to which it is compelled to respond, “No.” Now imagine a God that can lie. We ask, “Can you lie?” to which it is allowed to respond, “No.” Same question. Same answer. Two very different Gods, indeed!

As theists describe their god to me, time and again, they must revert back to “that is just the way God is” and “we don’t understand. It is a mystery.” If you don’t understand how it works, why is anything you say about it persuasive as to its existence? You aren’t convinced by my “lifiation” why should I be convinced by your “trinity”?

Take this simple premise/conclusion:

1. Jesus is God.
2. Jesus died.
Therefore…God died. Right?

Nope. I am informed there is this thing called the “trinity” which means the natural conclusion I would draw is incorrect. And how does the trinity work? We don’t know. All we can do is define it (loosely) and walk away.

Simply defining it and demanding others accept it (when the theist often refuses to accept the definitions and demands of other theists) persuaded me it was far more likely that the theist was making up this god, as compared to it actually existing.

3) This is more of a personal note. To cover the broad spectrum.

I was raised with the concept that God was a God of love. That desired a personal relationship with me. That performed the greatest act of love imaginable. An act so large the universe itself could not contain it.

God debased Himself, became a mere human (the comparison is always made of a human becoming an ant), suffered, separated himself from God, and chose to die. All for me. Preachers and writers would often insert a story to give us a glimpse of the type of love this is, comparing it to fathers who let their children die so others could live, or lovers dying so their spouses could move on, etc. But then the insistence that even these stories of love pale in comparison to the love that this God gave.

O.K.—I got it and I bought it. Then there reached a point where I was desperately looking for this God. In my mind, with my measly human notion of love, it made no sense that I would be this immersed in an almost frantic search for a God that supposedly loved me, and he would not provide even a whisper of his existence.

I would not treat another internet poster named “Bob” in this fashion, let alone someone I loved. I certainly would NEVER treat my child or my wife in this regard. It made no sense.

Eventually it struck me. When we say “God is love” it does not mean anything like human love. In other words, human descriptions are useless when it comes to God. Doesn’t mean a thing. Another example I often use:

Theist: God is square.
Skeptic: So God has four sides?
Theist: Oh, no. God’s ‘squareness’ is nothing like our ‘squareness.’
Skeptic: Then what information did we remotely gain by designating God as ‘square’?

But when it comes to this scenario we have:

Theist: God loves you.
Skeptic: Oh, so, just as humans do when we love each other, we communicate on terms that our loved ones understand?
Theist: Who are YOU to demand God should have to do that?
Skeptic: Uh…didn’t you just say I am the one that God loves? And don’t you do that with your wife and loved ones? Not out of their demand, but out of your love for them?
Theist: God’s love is not like our human love.

God’s loving me and being completely unresponsive does not compute. God not existing and therefore not responding makes perfect sense.

Randy Kirk If we can't even decide about the definition of the dabate with regard to the existence of something like the Christian God, then why bother with the details.

Ahh—the joys of humanity. To some extent, I would agree that it would be extremely helpful if all the people who title themselves as “Christian” would join together, and, through whatever method they choose, come to some consensus on the definition of the Christian God.

They won’t. Because of our human differences we are perpetually left with a variety of manifestations, even under the heading “Christian God.”

Rather than beat my head against the wall, all I can do is debate with one person at a time, with their particular embodiment of God. And hope that they see by using the same method in which they reject other people’s embodiment, when applied to their own belief, it equally would be non-existent.

If you guys cannot convince each other, and are not persuaded by the other person’s god—why should we be compelled to believe in either?

Benny said...

Dennis,

Benny, I never proposed that this was the answer for the starlight problem that YEC's have.

I thought that's exactly what you were doing when you raised the rocketship example in response to DagoodS's question about how light from a star 1.5 billion LY away can appear to us in 6000 years, but ok.

I was just trying to point out that time is relative (it is also affected by gravity).

Yes, gravity also affects time, but this also doesn't help YEC. Gravitational bodies between us and a star adds delay to the time it takes for light to travel from that star to us. In other words, if a star is 1.5 billion LY away from us, gravitational bodies can only make light from that star take MORE than 1.5 billion years to reach us, not less, and certainly not within 6000 years.

Time is a complex subject and the question "How can we see distant starlight in a young universe?" overlooks that complexity.

That complexity doesn't invalidate the question. It just means that any attempt to answer the question must take the complexity into account. Which, as I've tried to show in my comments, YEC doesn't do.

We really don't know exactly method God used when he created the universe but I feel pretty confident that if God created the universe in 6 days that he was violating physical laws left and right so the distant starlight question just rolls off my back.

That's the great thing about creationism, isn't it? Any time a threatening objection surfaces, one can simply wave one's hands and say, "well, God did it!" Too bad real science isn't that easy.

For a person who struggles with the idea of a young universe in light of the starlight question, I would direct them to the model proposed by Humphries. No it's not perfect, but as I have already shown the big bang has it's own problems as conceded by even secular scientists.

When you say problems, I assume you mean the problems listed in this page you gave earlier:

http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/cosmology/bbproblems.html

When you click on "Next" on the bottom of that page, you get to this page:

http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/cosmology/inflation.html

Which explains that the aforementioned problems are solved by adding cosmic inflation to the Big Bang model. While the details of the mechanism behind inflation is not known, it makes a number of predictions that have been verified by observation and is now considered a part of standard Big Bang cosmology. See here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_theory

I do love the reasoning "theories X and Y both have problems, therefore they are equally valid!" The Big Bang theory does have problems (like the cuspy halo problem), but they are problems that can be addressed through further refinements of the theory or advances in fundamental physics. The close correlation between Big Bang predictions and what we observe in the universe is why it enjoys such great support in the scientific community.

On the other hand, we have YEC, which can't even explain starlight without invoking the "God did it!" card. May I offer instead the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory? I mean, it has some problems, but so does YEC, so by your reasoning they are equally valid.

Dennis said...

Benny,

YEC has attempted to deal with the starlight problem and Humphrey's model which shares a lot of the same evidence as the big bang is one of them. I'm not sure why you keep claiming the creationists ignore the problem. Personally, I find research like what Humphreys has done interesting but my faith doesn't blow with the winds of man's knowledge and is not impacting by arguments like the starlight one.

Science and YEC are somewhat similar. Both start with a bias. YEC assumes a literal interpretation of Genesis and assumes a god. Science assumes a natural explanation for every question and assumes no god. YEC seeks evidence to support their bias and dismisses evidence that contradicts it. Science seeks evidence to support their bias and dismisses evidence that contradicts it. Yes, YEC has a "god did it" card. Science has its own cards too. You just used one when you ignored the problems with the big bang by claiming with certainty that future advances will fix the problem. One of my favorites is "the process moves too slowly to ever be directly observed".

Benny said...

Dennis,

YEC has attempted to deal with the starlight problem and Humphrey's model which shares a lot of the same evidence as the big bang is one of them.

You keep referring to Humphrey's model. Do you mean the model described by this link you provided earlier?

http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v17/i2/cosmology.asp

The article actually dispenses with Humphrey's model, along with others, to promote the new model being presented by the article. Let's call it the Hartnett model, after the author of the article. In the section "A new model", we find this explanation for how Earth clocks ran at 10^-13 times the rate of astronomical clocks:

All of this was maintained under God’s creative power before He allowed the laws of physics to operate ‘on their own’ at the end of Creation Week.

Ah, the "God did it!" card. Which brings us to...

I'm not sure why you keep claiming the creationists ignore the [starlight] problem.

I'm not sure why you keep claiming that I claim the creationists ignore the problem. I recognize that they are trying to answer it, but their best answers are either contradicted by observations, or end up playing the "God did it!" ace card. So no, I would not say that they are ignoring the problem; rather, they are trying to answer it, and failing spectacularly.

Personally, I find research like what Humphreys has done interesting but my faith doesn't blow with the winds of man's knowledge and is not impacting by arguments like the starlight one.

In other words, your faith is not affected by facts?

Science and YEC are somewhat similar. Both start with a bias. YEC assumes a literal interpretation of Genesis and assumes a god. Science assumes a natural explanation for every question and assumes no god.

Given no evidence for X, is it more reasonable to assume that X exists, or that X does not exist? I say that assuming something does not exist without sufficient evidence is not bias, it's simple healthy skepticism. If you disagree, please justify your bias against Buddha, the Norse pantheon, and my Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Science seeks evidence to support their bias and dismisses evidence that contradicts it.

Would you care to justify the use of this ever-popular meme in this context by citing examples of Big Bang dismissing contradictory evidence?

Science has its own cards too. You just used one when you ignored the problems with the big bang by claiming with certainty that future advances will fix the problem.

What I actually said: "The Big Bang theory does have problems (like the cuspy halo problem), but they are problems that can be addressed through further refinements of the theory or advances in fundamental physics." In other words, they are not considered fatal problems for Big Bang, because it's possible to reconcile them with the theory. Nowhere did I claim certainty for the problems being fixed in the future.

One of my favorites is "the process moves too slowly to ever be directly observed".

Right, because scientists don't ever try to prove/disprove a theory through other means if that card gets played. *sarcasm*

Dennis said...

Let's talk about the Oort clouds. Science which assumes the universe is billions of years old doesn't know what to do with comets because they have a very short lifespan (relative to the supposed age of the universe). To address this problem, they have postulated the existence of oort clouds that somehow throw new comets our way every now and then. There is no evidence for the existence of oort clouds. The existence of comets contradicted an old age universe so science just "made up" the idea of oort clouds. This isn't any different than what creationists do. Oort clouds can't be proven or disproved, they are a hypothetical explanation to fix a problem. When creationists run into a problem, they allow God to side step laws of physics. What's the difference? Both side have a way of plugging problems that can't be dealt with.

I'm not sure why you keep claiming that I claim the creationists ignore the problem.
Because of this statement that you made: "On the other hand, we have YEC, which can't even explain starlight without invoking the "God did it!" card."

And another one:
"It just means that any attempt to answer the question must take the complexity into account. Which, as I've tried to show in my comments, YEC doesn't do."

These statements tell me that you believe creationists don't have an explanation beyond "God did it" and that creationists don't understand the complexity of the problem.

I recognize that they are trying to answer it, but their best answers are either contradicted by observations, or end up playing the "God did it!" ace card.

Ok, so now we're admitting that creationists do try to come up with answers. Thanks for correcting your earlier statements.

If find it interesting that you admit that you are not familiar with Humphrey's model but you have already dismissed it as being contradicted by observations.

In other words, your faith is not affected by facts?

Is my faith affected by a fact that has a margin of error? No. I think you are confusing a scientific fact with truth.

Given no evidence for X, is it more reasonable to assume that X exists, or that X does not exist? I say that assuming something does not exist without sufficient evidence is not bias, it's simple healthy skepticism. If you disagree, please justify your bias against Buddha, the Norse pantheon, and my Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Do you believe in oort clouds? Can you tell me exactly what size they are and what they are composed of? If you can't give me these specifics, then oort clouds must not exist. That is exactly the kind of logic you are using here. Just because we can't directly observe creator doesn't disprove it.

I fail to understand why you don't understand the evidence for a creator. Why do you think the vast majority of people believe in some kind of god? It's because they realize that even science's best explanations are self-insufficient. The Big Bang has problems but they are no where near as hard to overcome as the problems with spontaneous generation and macro-evolution. Maybe it just seems that way because the problems with SG and ME are easier for me to grasp.

Would you care to justify the use of this ever-popular meme in this context by citing examples of Big Bang dismissing contradictory evidence?

I don't understand cosmology enough to get into a debate over the problems with it. What I can grasp is that scientists disagree that the big ban theory is viable and I can see their debates and problems they are discussing. You can claim that creationists aren't taken serious but that does not line up with what I am seeing.

Just so that it doesn't appear that I am avoiding bringing up an example of evidence ignored by science, let me present one example that is at least somewhat related to this topic. The moon is gradually drifting away from the earth. We can calculate how close it would have been in the past and we have a problem that the earth moon relationship can not be as old as science needs it to be. No reasonable explanations have been offered (that I am aware of) and the oort cloud doesn't save them this time.

http://www.trueorigin.org/moonjs.asp
http://www.trueorigin.org/moonmb.asp

Benny said...

Dennis,

The existence of comets contradicted an old age universe so science just "made up" the idea of oort clouds. This isn't any different than what creationists do. Oort clouds can't be proven or disproved, they are a hypothetical explanation to fix a problem. When creationists run into a problem, they allow God to side step laws of physics. What's the difference?

Oort clouds can't be proved or disproved? We can estimate its location based on the orbits of observed comets, so I'd say it's a simple matter of sending probes to the estimated locations of the cloud and checking for the existence of comets. If we find a cloud of comets, that would be proof. And if probes fail to find a cloud of comets, then that would constitute dis-proof. This is called falsifiability, and it is one of the differences (since you asked) that separates science from creationism, because God is a singularly unfalsifiable idea.

If find it interesting that you admit that you are not familiar with Humphrey's model but you have already dismissed it as being contradicted by observations.

I actually extracted that statement on the AiG article you linked (you know, the one written by Hartnett whose model you kept mistakenly calling the Humphrey model):

The Humphreys’ model uses an ‘economy’ of miracles and as a result relies heavily on a particular solution of Einstein’s field equations from general relativity to explain the mechanics of the cosmos. In terms of apologetic value, this approach is very appealing but observationally there are difficulties.

...

If this picture was still the state of the universe that we see today, then starlight would be blueshifted (a gravitational effect) and that blueshift would be greater at greater distances from the Earth. This is not what is observed. We, in fact, see redshifts that are small in magnitude compared to the required magnitudes for the needed blueshifts.


Does your lack of refutation mean you agree with my statement that creationist answers to the starlight problem are either contradicted by observations or invoke the "God did it!" card?

Do you believe in oort clouds? Can you tell me exactly what size they are and what they are composed of? If you can't give me these specifics, then oort clouds must not exist.

1. Based on orbits of observed comets, between 50,000 and 100,000 AU from the Sun
2. Comets

Problem solved.

Just because we can't directly observe creator doesn't disprove it.

Oh ok. So by your logic Buddha, the Norse pantheon, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster does exist! Now please explain why you believe in God rather than these deities.

I fail to understand why you don't understand the evidence for a creator. Why do you think the vast majority of people believe in some kind of god? It's because they realize that even science's best explanations are self-insufficient.

I hesitate to presume to know why many people believe in some kind of god, but I would venture to guess that they do so for a variety of reasons, rejection of science being only one of many. In any case, the number of people who hold a belief says nothing about whether that belief is true. To borrow a good example from another thread, is American Idol really the best show on TV?

I don't understand cosmology enough to get into a debate over the problems with it. What I can grasp is that scientists disagree that the big ban theory is viable and I can see their debates and problems they are discussing. You can claim that creationists aren't taken serious but that does not line up with what I am seeing.

I'm certain there is much active discussion on the big bang theory as scientists refine it to account for new observations and findings. That's what science does, refine or discard theories based on evidence. As for creationists being taken seriously... Based on your selection of links thus far, I suggest getting your cosmology from sources other than just creationist venues. I'm sure creationists take themselves very seriously, but that doesn't say much. Have creationist theories been published in scientific journals and put up for peer review, and if so, how'd they fare?

The moon is gradually drifting away from the earth. We can calculate how close it would have been in the past and we have a problem that the earth moon relationship can not be as old as science needs it to be. No reasonable explanations have been offered (that I am aware of) and the oort cloud doesn't save them this time.

5 minutes of searching found this:

http://www.epicidiot.com/evo_cre/moon_recession.htm

Again, if you really want to study a subject, I suggest you look for info from more than just creationist or Christian venues.

DagoodS said...

Interesting discussion. The most startling thing I discovered, while wandering through these questions, was that Bowden (of Dennis’ second link on moon being too young) believes in a geocentric solar system.

He believes that science must bend to what the Bible says, and the Bible does not indicate the earth rotates, but rather the sun moves about the earth.

Dennis, do you believe in a geocentric solar system? If not, how would you go about persuading Bowden that he is incorrect in his reading of the Bible? Would you use science to demonstrate the Bible is inaccurate?

More importantly can you stay consistent in your own methodology by abandoning the Bible when Bowden says you shouldn’t, but subscribing to the Bible when creation science says you must?

In the spirit of the blog entry, what makes your interpretation of what the Bible says about our solar system more accurate than Bowden’s?

Dennis said...

Benny,

Oort clouds can't be proved or disproved? We can estimate its location based on the orbits of observed comets

No you can't. Comets enter our solar system from random angles so this does nothing for helping us determine the location of your hypothetical oort cloud. The comets only help with determining the distance of the oort cloud orbit from the sun.

so I'd say it's a simple matter of sending probes to the estimated locations of the cloud and checking for the existence of comets.

Wrong.

From the University of Louisiana website: "Its location along the great circle is not presently predictable and that will present a problem for detection"

Are oort clouds falsifiable as long as we can continue to make excuses for why we can't see it?

Based on orbits of observed comets, between 50,000 and 100,000 AU from the Sun

How are you going to send a probe into the oort cloud if you don't know how far it is from the sun? NASA can't send a probe with guesstimates. Even if you knew the exact distance of their orbits, you still wouldn't have a precise location.

(you know, the one written by Hartnett whose model you kept mistakenly calling the Humphrey model):

Where did I ever refer to Hartnett's article as Humphrey's model? I looked back and see that when I gave that link to Hartnett's article, I was clearly using it as an example of different YEC models.

Does your lack of refutation mean you agree with my statement that creationist answers to the starlight problem are either contradicted by observations or invoke the "God did it!" card?

No, it means I don't understand the topic enough to form an opinion entirely on my own. I've admitted since day 1 that it appears Humphries model has problems.

Oh ok. So by your logic Buddha, the Norse pantheon, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster does exist! Now please explain why you believe in God rather than these deities.

Maybe another day. At this point in the discussion, that is not relevant. It's my position that the existence of our universe implies a creator and science (which defines itself in such a way that explanations involving a deity can not be accepted) has failed to produce a viable explanation.

I hesitate to presume to know why many people believe in some kind of god, but I would venture to guess that they do so for a variety of reasons, rejection of science being only one of many. In any case, the number of people who hold a belief says nothing about whether that belief is true. To borrow a good example from another thread, is American Idol really the best show on TV?

That's a poor analogy. We're not talking about people's favorite color. We're talking about whether or not people believe in God. I think it is fair to say that each and every one of us has spent a lot of time contemplating the question of God's existence. The fact that about 90% of us believe in God doesn't prove science is wrong but I think it shows that many of us realize that science alone is inadequate to explain our origins.

Based on your selection of links thus far, I suggest getting your cosmology from sources other than just creationist venues.

What a closed minded statement (besides being wrong as I have posted articles from public universities and some of the creationist articles include extensive coverage of their opponents views). I think any study of the debate surrounding our origins should include looking at both sides.

Have creationist theories been published in scientific journals and put up for peer review, and if so, how'd they fare?

If by "creationists theories" you mean theories that invoke God, of course not. Please revisit my previous statements about the definition of science.

5 minutes of searching found this:

http://www.epicidiot.com/evo_cre/moon_recession.htm


Maybe you should have spent more than 5 minutes looking. That's really a poorly written article that lacks citations in many places and makes assertions without backing them up. For example, this article states "The magnitude of tidal friction depends on a combination of the arrangement of the continents and the distance between the Earth and Moon." Got it, the placement of the continents affects the rate of recession but how does this fix their problem? What was the position of the continents in the past and how does this favor them? Couldn't continent placement also hurt their position as well as help it?

The most substance offered by your link is the quote from the geology journal. This is the best this article has to offer and even this seems a little flimsy because it is my understanding the even experts have trouble telling the difference between rhythmites and varves. If they are rhythmites, what method did they use for dating them? We can't tell a whole lot with nothing more than this abstract. Why does this abstract say "Precambrian sedimentary rhythmites may hold a key to the early history of the Earth's rotation"? Does the phrase "may hold the key" indicate some uncertainties? Given that the author of this article is copying and pasting the article's abstract (which is freely available on the internet, the full article isn't) instead of from the full article may indicate that they haven't actually read the article.



DagoodS,

Dennis, do you believe in a geocentric solar system?

No.

If not, how would you go about persuading Bowden that he is incorrect in his reading of the Bible?

I found a website that explains his position better: Bowden's website

It appears he takes verses from the Bible literally when he doesn't need to. Even with our understand of our orbit around the Sun, we will use the phrase "sunrise" and "sunset". I even seem to recall the last time I visited a planetarium of being told about objects that move across the sky. I don't see how this is any different than what the writers of the Bible were doing. They were just using the earth as a reference point.

Would you use science to demonstrate the Bible is inaccurate?

I haven't spent a lot of time studying the arguments against geocentricism, but it would seem difficult to do this using only science. Doesn't evidence of movement require a reference point that is stationary? If so, we don't have that reference point. I've watched geocentrists debate their positions and it's not as easy to refute them as it may first seem.

In the spirit of the blog entry, what makes your interpretation of what the Bible says about our solar system more accurate than Bowden’s?

Because Bowden is forcing a literal translation when there doesn't need to be one. Sure, if Moses had told the all the Israelites to pull up a rock and sit down while he explained how the cosmos worked and then went on to infer a stationary earth, then Bowden would be correct to say that the Bible teaches geocentricism.

Rich said...

I had a question, was Columbus the first to cross the ocean blue, proving the earth to be round not flat, or were there ocean travelers before that crossed both the atlantic and the pacific?

Benny said...

Dennis,

No you can't. Comets enter our solar system from random angles so this does nothing for helping us determine the location of your hypothetical oort cloud. The comets only help with determining the distance of the oort cloud orbit from the sun.

Wrong again. The Oort Cloud is conjectured to be roughly a sphere that envelopes the solar system. Please note the use of the word sphere. So depending on the density and distribution of comet objects in the cloud, any point near the correct radius may allow observation of the cloud. Furthermore, extrapolation of the paths of observed comets may help pinpoint locations where we're most likely to observe portions of the Oort cloud.

From the University of Louisiana website: "Its location along the great circle is not presently predictable and that will present a problem for detection"

Are oort clouds falsifiable as long as we can continue to make excuses for why we can't see it?


Good of you to cite a non-creationist site! But you need to read better. The statement you cited was talking about a hypothesized sub-stellar solar companion that may exist within the Oort cloud, not the Cloud itself. As should be clear from the title of that section. Thanks anyway for the link, which testifies to the progress made in validating the Oort Cloud theory.

Regarding falsifiability, a theory is falsifiable if it is possible to make observations that show the theory to be false. It may be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult, but if we place observers where we think the Oort Cloud should be and there's nothing there, it shows that the Oort Cloud does not exist. Therefore, the Oort Cloud is falsifiable. Now, what observations would satisfy you that God does not exist? As an atheist, I can assure you that I await your answer eagerly!

Where did I ever refer to Hartnett's article as Humphrey's model? I looked back and see that when I gave that link to Hartnett's article, I was clearly using it as an example of different YEC models.

My mistake. You keep talking about Humphrey's model throughout this thread, but the only link you gave which mentions the model is one that refutes it in favor of a new model. It seemed awfully silly to propose a theory as an answer to a problem (as you did in response to the starlight problem) by citing an article that refutes the theory. So I gave you the benefit of the doubt and assumed that you were talking about the new model, rather than one of the rejects. Sorry for giving you too much credit.

Need to run, will pick this up in a bit.

Benny said...

To Dennis, continued from above,

No, it means I don't understand the topic enough to form an opinion entirely on my own.

Yet you seemed quite willing to opine that Big Bang and YEC suffer similarly large problems, despite subsequently being unable to refute that YEC cannot resolve problems like distant starlight without resorting to "God did it!", and being unable to cite fatal problems for Big Bang.

I've admitted since day 1 that it appears Humphries model has problems.

Yet you cite it repeatedly, as if it's the best hope for YEC, despite the one link you gave for it refuting it in favor of a "better" model.

Maybe another day. At this point in the discussion, that is not relevant. It's my position that the existence of our universe implies a creator and science (which defines itself in such a way that explanations involving a deity can not be accepted) has failed to produce a viable explanation.

It is relevant to your charge of an anti-God bias in science. If it is bias to not believe something exists when there is insufficient evidence for it, then you should admit to your anti-Buddha, anti-Norse pantheon, anti-Flying Spaghetti Monster biases. If it is not bias to do so, then your charge is false.

Why does the universe imply a creator? Did the creator have a creator? If not, why is the idea of a creator-less all-powerful creator somehow more acceptable to you than the idea of a creator-less universe?

Science did not define itself such that gods are not accepted. It defined itself such that unfalsifiable claims are not accepted. If you can show how gods can be falsified, science would no trouble giving them consideration.

[American Idol] is a poor analogy. We're not talking about people's favorite color. We're talking about whether or not people believe in God. I think it is fair to say that each and every one of us has spent a lot of time contemplating the question of God's existence. The fact that about 90% of us believe in God doesn't prove science is wrong but I think it shows that many of us realize that science alone is inadequate to explain our origins.

Actually, we're talking about whether a large number of people believing in something constitutes evidence that something is true. Which it doesn't. Something I note you didn't bother refuting. If many people reject science in favor of religion, it merely means that many people found religion more appealing, which says nothing about whether science is inadequate. In your case, I contend that it is your understanding of science that is inadequate.

90% of us are Christians? Wow, I never knew that! Care to support that claim?

What a closed minded statement (besides being wrong as I have posted articles from public universities and some of the creationist articles include extensive coverage of their opponents views). I think any study of the debate surrounding our origins should include looking at both sides.

Which was exactly my point. That's why I said "I suggest getting your cosmology from sources other than just creationist venues". Again, please read more carefully. Not just my comments, but the articles you cite as well. Remember the university link you cited with a list of supposedly fatal problems for Big Bang, when the very next page addressed those same problems?

If by "creationists theories" you mean theories that invoke God, of course [they haven't been published in scientific journals or put up for peer review]. Please revisit my previous statements about the definition of science.

Please revisit my previous statements about the falsifiability of gods.

That's really a poorly written article that lacks citations in many places and makes assertions without backing them up.

If it's that shoddy, feel free to show me rebuttals of the article or assertions made by the article.

Got it, the placement of the continents affects the rate of recession but how does this fix their problem? What was the position of the continents in the past and how does this favor them? Couldn't continent placement also hurt their position as well as help it?

Arrangement of continents affects rate of recession. YEC model of moon recession ignored arrangement of continents, therefore its conclusions are questionable at best and false at worst. Get it?

The most substance offered by your link is the quote from the geology journal. This is the best this article has to offer and even this seems a little flimsy because it is my understanding the even experts have trouble telling the difference between rhythmites and varves. If they are rhythmites, what method did they use for dating them?

If you wish to cast doubt on the paper's conclusions, find some papers that refute it or challenge its methodology.

Given that the author of this article is copying and pasting the article's abstract (which is freely available on the internet, the full article isn't) instead of from the full article may indicate that they haven't actually read the article.

Given the amount of time I've spent in pointing out your citing errors, it amuses me greatly that you are accusing someone else of citing an article without reading it.

With all that out of the way, do you have anything in the way of refutation of the article? As I said earlier, if it's as shoddy as you claim, it shouldn't be too hard to find such refutation. From what I can tell, though, rather than being a fatal problem for scientific cosmology, lunar recession is a weak objection put to rest years ago.

DagoodS said...

Dennis,

I did understand the difference between your position and Bowden’s. That he takes the Bible a little more literally than you do. My question is “How would you persuade him that his reading is incorrect?” Would you merely tell him, without any argumentation? Without any research into the texts? Without any study of when and why and who wrote them?

(And thanks for providing the corrected link.)

Out of curiosity, are you saying that we cannot demonstrate a heliocentric solar system using only science?

And yes, we currently use terms like “sunrise” when actually the earth rotates around the sun. You realize these are vernacular terms that rose up from a long history of how words and concepts develop? I’m not sure how saying humans state things incorrectly, due to human perception, just like the Bible states things incorrectly, due to human perception, helps any claim for divinity of the Bible.

Going back to my question of methodology—a geocentrist is very literal when it comes to the Bible, a Young earth creationist is a little less literal, an old earth creationist is a little less literal and a theistic evolutionist is even less literal. Along this scale of literalism, what method do we use to determine the most correct literal interpretation of the Bible?

If I wanted to take on the best literalist view Christians have to offer—which one is it and why?

Dennis said...

Benny,

This is going to be my last reply. I'm taking Friday off work to begin working on a swing set/play fort for my kids. If there is anything you would like for me to address, just let me know and I will reply to it on Monday. Otherwise, thanks for your time and for correcting some of my misconceptions. Thanks for setting me straight on the oort cloud. From the articles I had read about it, it wasn't apparent to me that the proposed oort cloud completely surrounds our solar system.

In response to the rythmite evidence that supposedly refutes the problem with the age of the moon, you said:

If you wish to cast doubt on the paper's conclusions, find some papers that refute it or challenge its methodology.

So I went and did just that. Take a look at this paper that specifically refutes Williams:

Reply to the comment of G. Williams on Tidal rhythmites and their implications by R. Mazumder and M. Arima [Earth-Science Reviews, 69 (2005) 79–95]

Now that we have cast doubt on the whole paleontology argument, what's left to defend the implications of the physical and mathematical models that show the moon is young? The only thing that might save you is the position of the continents and their impact on tidal friction. As I stated earlier, this is an assertion made by your link with no evidence presented to show that this solves the problem. How do we know that past position didn't make the situation worse? Please don't suggest that all the land mass was positioned at one of the poles for a long period of time without providing evidence for it.

I actually found that article on my own, it wasn't from a creationist site. I will contact some creationist geologist to see if this is a fair rebuttal to Williams paper that has been used as the strongest defense against the creationist's young moon argument. It'll be interesting see where this leads...

Just a few more loose ends...

I never claimed 90% of people are Christians. What I am inferring is that 90% of the US population believes in a god. Research some of the polls. You'll also see that people aren't choosing between science and religion because most people try to mix them (as in some god used the big bang and evolution). I personally believe it's because most people realize that science is woefully inadequate at explaining our origins even if they accept it as true. I suspect that for most people, the big bang isn't enough. They are curious as to how all matter originated in the first place.

You don't believe that science is biased towards naturalism? There are a lot of scientists that hold to doctrine of methodological naturalism. How many scientists have to admit to a natural bias before we can label all of science as biased?

Dennis said...

I did understand the difference between your position and Bowden’s. That he takes the Bible a little more literally than you do. My question is “How would you persuade him that his reading is incorrect?” Would you merely tell him, without any argumentation? Without any research into the texts? Without any study of when and why and who wrote them?

I'm not sure I can give you the kind of answer you are looking for. You want me to provide a methodology that I can blindly apply to any biblical passage and come up with an interpretation consistent with my own beliefs. Common sense plays a role in interpreting anything we read and I don't see how we can plug "use common sense" into methodology. Can you come up with a methodology that you use for interpreting books you read? Do you understand that some decision require judgments that don't fall neatly into an algorithm?

Out of curiosity, are you saying that we cannot demonstrate a heliocentric solar system using only science?

Using science only, easy. You can just point out that the earth must be in motion to keep it from being pulled into the sun. The problem you have is the geocentrist will state something along the lines that it was God's intention for the earth to the center so therefore there is some physical law exception or some kind of counter gravity created to resolve it. Even I will sometimes play the "god did it" card as Benny likes to call it. In a discussion about God and what we see in science, I think it is fair to conclude that if we can demonstrate something is God's will (for example, a global flood) then it is reasonable to allow God to sidestep what appears to be problems (for example, were did all the water come from).

And yes, we currently use terms like “sunrise” when actually the earth rotates around the sun. You realize these are vernacular terms that rose up from a long history of how words and concepts develop? I’m not sure how saying humans state things incorrectly, due to human perception, just like the Bible states things incorrectly, due to human perception, helps any claim for divinity of the Bible.

I disagree, but let me just throw away the "sunrise" example and try another one. When I go to a planetarium, someone who has at least some background in astronomy will put on a show and likely makes statements about "objects moving across our sky". Everybody in the room doesn't interpret that as meaning we are literally standing still. To us, we don't notice the earth moving so it is very convenient for us in casual conversation to make references to the sun, moon, and stars as moving across the sky. Is it "incorrect" for us to talk like this? Of course not! If it's not incorrect for a modern astronomer to talk like this, why does it become incorrect for a person who has a wrong understanding of astronomy to speak the same way?

DagoodS said...

Dennis, I didn’t follow your answer on geocentricism. Since neither of us believe in it, not sure it matters.

Near as I can tell, Bowden relies upon experiments from the early 20th and late 19th centuries. Back when it was posited that aether existed in space to allow light to pass. Subsequent experiments, of course, have destroyed that theory. Not to mention the theory of relativity making it unnecessary.

Dennis: To us, we don't notice the earth moving so it is very convenient for us in casual conversation to make references to the sun, moon, and stars as moving across the sky. Is it "incorrect" for us to talk like this? Of course not! If it's not incorrect for a modern astronomer to talk like this, why does it become incorrect for a person who has a wrong understanding of astronomy to speak the same way?

It doesn’t. But I thought the point of the Bible was that it was inspired by the creator of the universe. Are you saying that a person with the correct understanding of astronomy inspired a human with an incorrect understanding of astronomy to write an incorrect statement about astronomy?

We are constantly looking for a difference in the Bible. Something more than human. And the defense I keep hearing is, “Hey—it is only human.”

Riiiiiggghhhhhttttt!

Benny said...

Dennis,

First, thank you as well for your comments. It has been an educational exchange for me as well. Now, on with the show :)

The Mazumder paper you linked was an excellent read. I admit that I didn't follow it 100%, but it does indeed seem to cast doubt on the conclusions Williams came to. But that alone is insufficient to either refute an old Moon or prove a young Moon.

First, while Mazumder challenged Williams' conclusions, Mazumder has no doubts about whether the moon is older than 6000 years. For instance, his paper here uses tidal rhythmite evidence to analyze properties of the Earth-Moon system from 2.1 to 1.6 billion years ago. So Mazumder doesn't seem to doubt that the moon is billions of years old.

Second, we have numerous pieces of evidence for the Moon being billions of years old. Besides the tidal rhythmite that shows the effects of the Moon on Earth billions of years ago, we also have evidence such as the age of rock samples from the Moon, age of the Moon as calculated by impact cratering anaylsis, and so forth. If someone wants to claim a young Moon, they must refute each and every observation that shows the Moon to be older than 6000 years old.

Yes, 90% of Americans believe in a god or gods. But you said "God", not "a god or gods". To me, God implies one of the big three theistic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism), which is actually 80%.

And why single out Americans, if you want to make an appeal to majority? US is the most religious of all developed nations, and hardly representative of the world population. I believe that of the total world population, 16% are not religious, 84% believe in god or gods, and only 54% believe in God.

You continue to assert that this shows that most people think science is inadequate, and therefore proves that science really is inadequate. First, you still have no support for your claim that inadequacy of science is the primary reason people embrace religion. Me, I think it's because of emotional appeal, upbringing aka indoctrination from birth, and many other facors, not just the idea that science is inadequate.

Second, once again, even IF most people find science wanting, it doesn't mean science IS wanting. Look up "appeal to majority". Remember when people believed that the Earth was flat, or that the Earth was the center of the universe, or phrenology (the theory that the shape of your head reveals your character, personality, criminality)? All were proven false, despite being held by many people at some point. And of course, it was science that put those ideas to rest.

Science is a methodology, it is not any specific theory. The fact is, every facet of modern life attests to the ability of science to explain how the world works. The cars people drive, the electricity that powers home appliances, hell, the very computer you use to enter your comments, all that and more are fruits of science. To claim that science is inadequate because it doesn't yet explain everything is short-sighted, and ignores the ample evidence we have of the power of the scientific method. To then turn around and seek answers from an imaginary being for whom there is insufficient evidence is sheer folly.

Which brings me to your last point, yet another charge of an anti-supernatural bias in science. Many scientists hold to methodological naturalism, sure. But that is not a bias. You never confessed to bias against Buddha, the Norse pantheon, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so I will go out on a limb here and say that you agree that not believing in something because there is insufficient evidence is not a bias. Believing, with your whole heart, that something exists when there is insufficient evidence, now THAT's bias. And trying to bend facts to fit this unfounded pre-conception, as creationism does, is not science. It's make-belief.

Think about how many advances science has brought us, versus how many has been brought by creationism, and that should tell you something about the efficacy of each method for understanding how the world works. The materials and understanding of physics that make possible the swing set/play fort that you'll be working on, were those brought about by science or trying to make the world fit a literal interpretation of the Bible? On that note, I wish you a happy weekend and good luck with a great project :)