Subject: Religion and creation Topics: }Creationism deserves equal time because evolution

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From: jwm@APLSTAR.JHUAPL.EDU (James W. Meritt) Subject: Religion and creation Topics: }Creationism deserves equal time because evolution is only a theory. }The doctrine of evolution is atheistic and therefore immoral. }Competition for survival implies "strife, hatred, war, and death." }The great complexity of nature shows it was designed. }The Bible says so. }The Bible is accurate on other points, so it must be accurate on creation. }(referring to a genesis "day") }Later Biblical characters (Moses & Paul) refer to the fact of creation }Even Jesus Christ believed in the Genesis record of creation. }It is imposssible to believe the Bible and to believe in evolution. }it is almost impossible to believe in God if one believes in evolution. }many evil social doctrines it has spawned. }Fall of man: Records say civilization was man's original condition. }Place of man's origin: Evidence confirms origin in one locality. }Order of events in creation matches what an observer would have seen: }Earth is unsupported (Job 26:7) }Earth is round (Isaiah 40:22) }Water cycle is described (Eccl. 1:7) }History is accurate. }The Bible is harmonious throughout. }Numerous prophecies fulfilled. }Religion's views on creationism: }The Bible Has Two Creation Stories }bible is always right }- Creationism deserves equal time because evolution is only a theory. But a theory in the scientific sense of the word, meaning that it explains a wide range of phenomena and that there's lots of data to back it up. Creationism, on the other hand, isn't even a theory; it's an assertion. "Equal time" in what? In schools in general, or in science classes? Science classes are suppose to teach science. There are two criteria for this: 1. It must be falsifiable i.e. there must be some way to show that the theory is incorrect. The theory must be testable. Evolution is, in that there can be things specified which, if they can be verified, would disprove evolution. Creationism allows no such test. 2. It must be able to make predictions i.e. it must be able to tell you how something WILL occur (and then you must be able to verify the accuracy of the prediction). The theories which compose evolution are useful in this regard in that they have made predictions concerning population densities, physiologies, chemistries, fossil find forecasts,... Creationism does none of this. At best, its "predictions" are either in the past (already happened) or unverifiable. As a BTW: A Creationist posting was made on talk.religion.christian, (a moderated group) but no rebuttal was allowed from any evolutionist. }- The doctrine of evolution is atheistic and therefore immoral. Unlike creationism, evolution doesn't require the acceptance or rejection of any religion. In fact, many theists believe in evolution. The doctrine that atheism is immoral is bigotry, and therefore immoral. Competition doesn't imply hatred or war. } Competition for survival implies "strife, hatred, war, and death." The Soviets did have a problem along these lines. Lysenko in particular disbelieved in natural selection for these reasons. He got charge of the Soviet Union's grain production. Their agricultural industry has almost recovered... }- The great complexity of nature shows it was designed. Laws require a } lawmaker; organization requires an organizer. No, it doesn't. The patterns within a kaleidoscope are very complex, and extremely organized (in the sense of symmetrical patterning) but are not designed. }- The Bible says so. In the resolution from the 67th General Convention of the Episcopal Church acted in September 1982 to "affirm its belief in the glorious ability of God to create in any manner," rejected "the rigid dogmatism of the 'Creationists' movement," and supported "scientists, educators, and theologians in the search for truth in this Creation that God has given and entrusted to us." Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences before its meetings on Cosomology and Cosmogony in October 1981, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the statement of Pope Pius XII that the universe was created "millions of years ago" directly contrary to creationists views. The Pope declared that "The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise..." }- The Bible is accurate on other points, so it must be accurate on creation. Leviticus 11:113,19 and Deuteronomy 14:11-18 list fowl, and both have bats in the list with heron, lapwing, and bat closing off the list. The bat is not a bird. Leviticus 11:6 has a hare chewing its cud. Rabbits do no such thing. Leviticus 11:21-23 lists things with four legs. Among the list are locust, beetle (cricket in some translations), and grasshopper. Psalms 58:8 says "as a snail melts..." Snails do not melt. Gen 1:20-21 has the waters bringing forth Gen 2:19 has them coming from the ground. Maybe some one should tell them about eggs? Genesis 30:39 cattle looking at pilled rods conceive and bring forth ringspeckled, speckeled and spotted calves. changing the characteristics of a descendant by showing them a rod just doesn't work... Matthew 4:8 ..took upon a high mountain and shewed all the kingdoms of the world. 1. Geology - rock simply isn't strong enough for such a megamountain. 2. astromical bodies are spherical, and you cannot see the entire exterior surface from anyplace. Genesis 3:14 "...and dust though shalt eat all the days of thy life." Snakes, while built low, do not eat dirt. }(referring to a genesis "day") it ALWAYS (Morris's stress) refers to }a twenty-four-hour day. So much for the appologists... }Later Biblical characters (Moses & Paul) refer to the fact of creation, not }the myth. Are we to take people that we have no independent record of as authoratative references in the only document they ARE mentioned in? This is like Santa Claus in _The Night Before Christmas_ testifying as to the veracity of the "visions of sugarplums". }Even Jesus Christ believed in the Genesis record of creation. ibid, though this is clearly an attempt at pleading from authority. }It is thus absolutely impossible to believe in the Bible as the complete }and literal Word of God and to believe in the theory of evolution. But, }more than that, it is almost impossible to believe in a personal God of }any sort if one believes in evolution. The Pope doesn't agree with this statement. Nor do many other leading religious figures. They will be glad that this civil engineer pointed it out for them... }The atheistic and satanic character of the doctrine is evidenced in the }many evil social doctrines it has spawned. What?!?! Talk about irrelevant mud-slinging!!! } - Fall of man: Records say civilization was man's original condition. Which records are these? The Old testiment? And of course. Without the civilization you don't have the records. So "as far back as they go" is civilization. When there isn't civilization, the records quit going. This one is very interesting, it reveals the core prejudice of christian, and other, origins, that man is fallen from some primordial grace. The evolutionary evaluations of origins avoids the opposite prejudice as well, that evolution is always progressive. It says that the idea of progress in the condition of a lineage is misleading; change is reflected in adaptation and specialization which may be by turns sucessful or lethal. } - Place of man's origin: Evidence confirms origin in one locality. Observing population distributions takes divine inspiration? One successful group spread and killed off the less successful ones. Supports evolution, too. OK Bible scholors, where does Moses say man came from? The claim here of proof of God's inspiration is wrong, even if Moses got it right. Man came from Africa, despite years of searching for human ancestors in Europe and Asia. Evidence says Man came from Africa, despite years of searching for human ancestors in Europe and Asia. } - Order of events in creation matches what an observer would have seen: } 1: Beginning, 2: an earth in darkness, 3: light, 4: atmosphere, 5: dry } land, 6: plants, 7: discernable sun, moon, stars, 8: sea and air } creatures, 9: beasts, 10: man. The actual order should be more like 1: beginning, 2: light, 3: sun, stars, 4: atmosphere, 5: earth, 6: dry land, 7: sea creatures, 8: moon, 9: beasts (amphibians and reptiles), 10: fruiting plants (which is what Genesis specifies), 11: air creatures, more beasts, 12: man. I'm not sure the order is exact (the moon may have come earlier, for example), but it is more accurate than the Genesis version. } - Earth is unsupported (Job 26:7) Job 38:4 says Earth has a foundation. Job 26:11 says heaven is supported by pillars. } - Earth is round (Isaiah 40:22) Matthew 4:8 ..took upon a high mountain and shewed all the kingdoms of the Not on a round surface he didn't... } - Water cycle is described (Eccl. 1:7) Job 38:22 says that snow and hail are kept in storehouses. } - Good sanitation practices are given (Deut 23:13, Num. 19:11-22, etc.) People aren't stupid. They could have figured these out without divine aid. } - History is accurate. Not unsurprising. It was written while the history was current events. } - The authors admit their human failings (Deut 32:50, Acts 19:20, etc.) This is true of lots of writings, even some USENET articles. Besides, does it make sense to claim that a book is infallible because its authors admit that they are fallible? } - The Bible is harmonious throughout. Given the amount of editing it went through, you would expect it to be reasonably harmonious, but it still contains contradictions. For example, Matt. 27:5-8 vs. Acts 11:18-19 and Matt. 1:16 vs. Luke 3:23. } - Numerous prophecies fulfilled. Prophecies weren't meant to predict the future. The word originally meant "divinely inspired speech." Not until 1300 did it come to mean "predicting future events." [Oxford English Dictionary] Besides, there are lots of mundane ways to predict the future: (a) Make the wording sufficiently vague that, with proper interpretation, it could apply to practically anything. (b) Predict something which has already happened. (c) Rewrite history to say that your prediction was actually fulfilled. (d) Give no time limit for the prediction. (e) Predict something which is extremely likely to occur. (f) Make so many predictions one of them is bound to occur. Later, edit out those that failed. (g) Predict something that you yourself can cause to happen. All of the predictions below can be fit into one or more of these categories. Religion's views on creationism: ================================ In the resolution from the 67th General Convention of the Episcopal Church acted in September 1982 to "affirm its belief in the glorious ability of God to create in any manner," rejected "the rigid dogmatism of the 'Creationists' movement," and supported "scientists, educators, and theologians in the search for truth in this Creation that God has given and entrusted to us." Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences before its meetings on Cosomology and Cosmogony in October 1981, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the statement of Pope Pius XII that the universe was created "millions of years ago" (in european millions is american billions. directly contrary to creationists views. The Pope declared that "The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise..." >From _Theology Today_, October 1982, 39(3):249-59 "Creationists have set themselves apart from other Christians by intimately interweaving their story of the "who" of creation with the "how" of creation. For them, it is the flat earth problem all over again. Creationists have taken a theory of creation which is testable and tied it to an inherently untestable story about God. In the process, they have declared a testable theory to be also inherently untestable." ... "Creationists follow a predictable pattern as they find it easier to deny physical evidence than to deny God. Physical evidence, no matter how overwhelming, can be dismissed as the work of the devil." (writer is a Presbyterian layman who has organized conferences on Genesis and Geology held at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico) "Christianity and Crisis" (April 26, 1982) 42:108-15 (referrring to the absure (widely held opinion) Arkansaw law) The authors of the rkansaw law sought to separate the Creator implied by Creation-Science from the notion of "religion". This is an approach to the "first and worst" Christian heresy - the denial of monotheism. ... Clever - if it is a religion, it is not a science and should not be treated as one. If it is a science and not a religion would be a Christian heresy. If they use the Bible to support their "science", by the words of their Bible they shall burn. By Fasther Bruce Vawter, a Roman Catholic read this paper at the Conference on Creationism inAmerican Culture and Theology held at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago on October 9, 1982. (extracts summarized - you go read the whole thing if you want) His objections are: 1. creationism seriously misconstrues the meaning and purpose of the Bible, both in part and in whole. 2. creationism introduces a false dichotomy between religion and science by assuming that belief in a Creator God is incompatable with an acceptance of the scientific hypothesis that existing life-forms came into being through an evolutionary process. 3. So called creationism or creation science is a concept both theologically and philosophically unsound, derived from bad premises. He then proceeds to preach on these points. Some relevant points: a. "Biblical inerrancy" - definitely not one of the authentic heritages of mainline Christianity b. Creationists appear to be as unqualified to talk about science as Scientists are to talk about religion (to wit, almost none) by Nahum M. Sarna. Was teacher at University of London, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and since 1967 has been Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis University. extracted from his "UNDERSTANDING GENESIS" The first biblical account of creation may be found in Genesis 1:1-2:4a. Within the literary framework are described the divine activities within a seven-day period The second biblical account of creation (2:4b-24) opens with "When the Lord God made ..." and goes through how the entire surface of the earth was watered by a flow that owuld well up through subterranean springs. The main topic of this account is the formation of man and his placement in the garden of Eaden. (my note: -2- accounts.) "Biblical man, despite his undoubted intellectual and spiritual endowments, did not base his views of the universe and its laws on the critical use of empirical data (my aside - ie.e not scientific method) Rather, his thinking was imaginative, and his expressions of thought were concrete, pictorial, emotional, and poetic (my aside - get thee behind me, literalists!) Hence, it is a naive and futile exercise to attempt to reconcile the biblical accounts of creation with the findings of modern science. Any correspondence which can be discovered or ingeniously established between the two must surely be nothing more than mere coincidence." #> the Creationist young-earth agenda does great damage to #> Christianity itself, because it makes Christianity seem ridiculous to #> many intelligent and informed people. "Another possible danger is that in presenting the gospel to the lost and in defending God's truth we ourselves will seem to be false. It is time for Christian people to recognize that the defense of this modern, young-Earth, Flood-geology creationism is simply not truthful. It is simply not in accord with the facts that God has given. Creationism must be abandoned by Christians before harm is done. The persistent attempt of the creationist movement to get their points of view established in educational institutions can only bring harm to the Christian cause. Can we seriously expect non-Christian educational leaders to develop a respect for Christianity if we insist on teaching the brand of science that creationism brings with it? Will not the forcing of modern creationism on the public simply lend credence to the idea already entertained by so many intellectual leaders that Christianity, at least in its modern form, is sheer anti-intellectual obscurantism? I fear that it will." [_Christianitiy and the Age of the Earth_, by Davis Young, Zondervan 1982. p. 163.] #> When I made my comment about "anybody" being able to interpret Scripture #> in his own way, I was stating a fact of life. In our society, thank God, #> we have a First Amendment that gives Joe, me, you, and everyone the #> _right_ to interpret Scripture in any way that conscience dictates, no #> matter how foolish or inconsistent it might seem to others. # #And the right to "engage in Science" no matter how foolish or inconsistent #it might seem to others? Absolutely .... but that don't make it science #does it, nor absolve Dr. Gish from being labeled a cretan here. Dr. Gish also has the RIGHT to submit his scientific ideas for publication in refereed journals. He chooses not to do so. Joe Applegate (and Snake Handlers, and you, and I) also have the RIGHT to submit our ideas on Biblical interpretation for publication in scholarly journals. These journals have the RIGHT to reject articles that do not measure up to the standards of the field. I certainly agree with you that scholars have standards that they apply in their fields. Not any interpretation of Scripture would be acceptable to a scholarly journal. But the point is, scholars do not and should not dictate people's personal beliefs about religion. #The lesson may be to clearly indicate that the basis for your position when #unsupported by sufficent evidence is one which is arrived at through certain #metaphysical and philosophical assumptions (faith). You may then specify #why you believe that your assumptions (faith) are reasonable .... you may #not preceed your statements with, "We know ..... ". When evolutionary #scientists (at least many of the ones I've read or encountered) master #this discipline perhaps then .... Science has nothing to do with "faith." Science makes no claim that the conclusions that it arrives at are "true," NO MATTER HOW STRONG THE EVIDENCE MAY BE. On the contrary, it ASSUMES that they may not be true and has invented a procedure to test these conclusions, the only possible results of which will either be to show that they are NOT true or to determine that "further research is required." If someone says that science has "proved" that such- and-such is true, then that is indeed "faith," but it has nothing to do with science. Religious aspects of the Creation/Evolution controversy are appropriately directed to this group, I believe. I've no interest in debating this issue, but only want to suggest some reading for those who are interested in pursuing the topic. Relatively few books discuss the religious (rather than the scientific) side of the controversy, and I believe that this short list includes the best of them. _Is God a Creationist?_, edited by Roland Mushat Frye (New York: Scribners, 1983), is a collection of essays by people of various religious persuasions: Conservative (Davis Young, mentioned by Rob Day), Roman Catholic (Pope John Paul II), Middle-of-the-Road (Conrad Hyers) and others. Although none of the contributors takes the young-Earth Creationist side, it is a relatively well- balanced book on the whole. The editor is Schelling Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton. _The Meaning of Creation_, by Conrad Hyers (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984). Hyers is a middle-of-the-road theologian who argues that Creationism is not only bad science, but also poor theology. I found it provocative reading. The author is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota. _Science and Earth History_, by Arthur Strahler (Buffalo: Prometheus 1987) is probably the most authoritative and complete discussion of all aspects of the C/E controversy. Although most of the book is devoted to scientific issues, the first 80 pages or so discuss philosophical and religious aspects. This book has an excellent index and exhaustive references, and is the book I recommend to those who only want to read one book on the subject. Strahler is Professor Emeritus of Geology, and former Chair of the Department of Geology, Columbia University. _Evolution and the Christian Doctrine of Creation: A Whiteheadian Interpretation_, by Richard H. Overman (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967). This you may have to look for. I found it in the university library. Liberal theology. Finally, I want to second Rob Day's recommendation that Christians who are concerned about the effects of Creationism on Christianity ponder what Davis Young says in his book, _Christianity and the Age of the Earth_. Mysteriously allowed to go out of print by its publisher (the religious house Zondervan) soon after it came out, the book is now available again from Artisan Sales, PO Box 2497, Thousand Oaks CA 91360 for only $8.50 postpaid. Young is a knowledgeable geologist who, although doubting evolution itself on religious grounds, nevertheless firmly opposes young-Earth Creationism as scientifically invalid. }The Bible Has Two Creation Stories A close reading of the first few chapters of the Bible reveals not one, but two different -- and contradictory -- stories of creation. These are from two of the (at least) four traditions that are interweaved in the first books of the Bible, the Priestly and Yahvist traditions, out of the set that includes the Elohist and Deuteronomist traditions. This conclusion is reached by consideration of stylistic elements (for example, the Priestly tradition is heavy on statistics, the Yahvist and Elohist traditions refer to the Deity as "Yahweh" and "Elohim", respectively, and the Deuteronomist tradition is found in the Book of Deuteronomy), and is generally accepted by non-literalist Biblical scholars (for a good introduction to the historical background behind the Bible, see _Asimov's Guide to the Bible_, both volumes). Here is the order in the first (Genesis 1), the Priestly tradition: Day 1: Sky, Earth, light Day 2: Water, both in ocean basins and above the sky(!) Day 3: Plants Day 4: Sun, Moon, stars (as calendrical and navigational aids) Day 5: Sea monsters (whales), fish, birds, land animals, creepy-crawlies (reptiles, insects, etc.) Day 6: Humans (apparently both sexes at the same time) Day 7: Nothing (the Gods took the first day off anyone ever did) Note that there are "days", "evenings", and "mornings" before the Sun was created. Here, the Deity is referred to as "Elohim", which is a plural, thus the literal translation, "the Gods". In this tale, the Gods seem satisfied with what they have done, saying after each step that "it was good". The second one (Genesis 2), the Yahwist tradition, goes: Earth and heavens (misty) Adam, the first man (on a desolate Earth) Plants Animals Eve, the first woman (from Adam's rib) Then, there follows the story of the serpent leading Eve, and Adam, to eat that (unspecified) fruit, and get expelled from the Garden of Eden, whereupon that serpent was ordered to crawl on its belly (no mention of how it moved about before that). The Deity is referred to as "Yahweh" here, and creates plants, animals, and finally Eve for a lonely Adam. Yahweh seems to be trying to fix his creation as he goes, with not too satisfactory results -- his prime interest commits a big no-no (why not simply create a psychological inhibition to eating forbidden fruit? It would probably be more reliable). Neither tale, it must be said, has much resemblance to the geological record, but in all fairness to the inventors of these tales, the geological record only became clear in the nineteenth century. I am not denying that one can come up with a Bible interpretation that somehow harmonizes these two tales, but such an interpretation would require rejection of the dogma of the literal truth of the Bible -- two contradictory statements cannot be true at the same time. The first of the two stories is sometimes claimed to be a good match; "Let there be light" supposedly means the Big Bang. But the Big Bang happened well before the Earth even existed. There are other discrepancies. The Sun is almost certainly slightly older than the Earth, and the Moon is as old as the Earth, or a bit younger (from current theories of planetary formation; the time differences are ~100 million years out of 4.6 billion years). The stars have no single age, but have been forming ever since the galaxies came into existence (or even before!); some are older than the Earth, some younger. The order of appearance of various is terribly mixed up. Though blue-green algae are much older than any multicelled animal, the first land plants appear ~400 m.y. ago, as opposed to the first sea animals ~600 m.y. ago. Flowering plants (the most common land plants) appeared about ~120-150 m.y. ago, well after the first land animals appeared, animals appear; flying insects after early wingless ones, pterodactyls after proto-dinosaurs, birds after certain small carnivorous dinosaurs, and bats after early placental mammals. Some sea animals are descendants of land animals; consider (partially aquatic) otters, seals and sea lions and walruses, penguins, alligators and crocodiles, and sea turtles and (completely aquatic) whales and dolphins, sea snakes, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs. The second of the two stated that humanity originated in the Garden of Eden or a garden in Eden (depending on which translation you read). "Eden" turns out to be some marshland near where the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers flow into the Persian Gulf. And where did humanity actually originate? Charles Darwin proposed Africa because that's where our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees and gorillas, live. This hypothesis turns out to be correct for nearly all of the hominid species, including _Homo sapiens_. All the earlier hominid species, the Australopithecines and earliest _Homo_, are found only in Africa; later species, like _Homo erectus_ and _Homo sapiens_, seem to have originated in Africa and spread to other parts of the world. }bible is always right There are further scientific difficulties in the Bible, In one of the Books of Kings, there is a reference to a "molten sea" with a diameter of ten cubits and a circumference of thirty cubits. This would imply that pi = 3. Though this is certainly a convenient approximation (5% too small), it is not exact. Thus, one part of the Bible is not "absolute truth". In the part of Leviticus which lists proscribed animals, we find that rabbits (or hares, depending on the translation) chew the cud and that grasshoppers have four legs. Since rabbits twitch their noses, that might lead to the misunderstanding that they are ruminants; but the number of legs possessed by grasshoppers should have been easy to find, since several people in the Bible reportedly ate grasshoppers, and one can always count the number of legs a grasshopper has before eating one. But this may have been an extrapolation from knowledge of larger multi-legged animals. There is also the classification of bats as birds, even though a bat looks a lot like a mouse with front legs turned into wings, and most other "birds" don't. Finally, I note that the New Testament contains the view that disease is caused by demonic possession and can be cured by exorcism. Jesus himself was something of an exorcist. He drove some demons into the Gadarene swine, and drove them into a lake, which suggests that he may have been unable to destroy these demons. He even states in his Sermon of the Mount that his followers ought not to brag about such accomplishments as how many demons they exorcised. Maybe the reason that crucifixes are supposedly so effective in driving out demons is because they duplicate the effect of Jesus the Exorcist. One wonders what effect the symbols of other religions would have -- has anyone ever tried exorcism with a Star of David or a star and crescent or a Hindu mandala or a Yin-Yang symbol or a statuette of the Buddha or a miniature Greek temple column or an Egyptian ankh or a Hammer and Sickle?


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