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Chance vs. God:
The Battle of First Causes

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First, listen to this 9-minute clip:

Launch Player  |  Download  |  Full Sermon

Here's the topic for today's discussion:

Secular evolutionary theory abandons God as the first cause, replacing Him with chance. But, what is chance? Where does chance get the power to bring everything we now see into existence?

As John has said, chance is nothing, and out of nothing, nothing comes. Chance is the first cause of the evolutionary dream world; it’s the creator-god of modern, secular mythology. And just like the myths of old, when it’s weighed, it’s found wanting.

In the comment thread below, start by testing this statement: Theistic evolution (or any Old-Earth theory) keeps chance as the first cause, but changes its name to “God;” it keeps evolution as the means, but changes its name to “creation.” Agree or disagree? Make your case.

Second, can a Christian adapt an unbelieving paradigm (i.e., evolutionary theory, caused by chance) and still maintain that (1) God is the sovereign Creator, and (2) Genesis 1-3 is His historical narrative of how the world came to be?


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#1  Posted by El Amigo De La Playa  |  Sunday, May 16, 2010at 6:27 AM

> Theistic evolution (or any Old-Earth theory) keeps chance as the first cause, but changes its name to “God;” it keeps evolution as the means, but changes its name to “creation.”

-Agree:

-It looks like "chance" is just another "Baal"... It looks like our society is worshiping their new Baal and teaching it to our kids... Therefore, the lukewarm Christians, who keep compromising with "nowadays Babylonians" are simply trying to patch a bit of "Christianity flavor" on top of today´s trend, so they can appear as reasonable folks in the medias, while straight-forward Bible-believing Christians are always ridiculed by "Babylon medias"...

Lukewarm Christians are ashamed of the Truth, so they try hard to mix it with trendy theories to make themselves appear smarter in the eyes of men...

It is basically Daniel saying he will eat all Babylonian food, it is ok, he´ll just pretend he does it in the name of the Lord...

>Second, can a Christian adapt an unbelieving paradigm (i.e., evolutionary theory, caused by chance) and still maintain that (1) God is the sovereign Creator, and (2) Genesis 1-3 is His historical narrative of how the world came to be?

-Once a Believer is lukewarm, he can slide all the way down this slippery slope and invent whatever needs to fit his sin. It starts with stating Genesis 1 doesn´t really mean what it says, & then the sky is the limit...

Brethren, let´s remain firm in the Word of God, let´s encourage one another ! I am weak, but my fellow Christians make me strong. I am weak but the Holy Spirit makes me strong. I am a sinner but the blood of Jesus cleaned me.

Thank you John MacArthur to speak out loud & clear about the literal 6 days Creation, please keep doing it !

Thank you also, bloggers with different views, as it serves us well to dig deeper & understand the full veracity of the Word !

God bless you all from Dominican Republic :)

#2  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Sunday, May 16, 2010at 6:33 AM

Hi Folks:

Webster defines the verb "chance" as "without design or expectation". The noun as "An event that happens, falls out, or takes place, without being contrived (i.e. invented, planned, or devised), intended, expected, or foreseen; an accident." The dictionary also uses the word "Fortune" as in "What Fortune may bring" as a substitute word. This is the sense which you hear evolutionist speak of "chance" while they define it as an "accident". Dawkins is the most notable character to speak in this way of "Chance". I think that the attributes which evolutionist place on chance seem to be like those the Greek's gave to Tyche the goddess of chance. Just a thought.

#3  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Sunday, May 16, 2010at 7:22 PM

Paul brought home the fact that God is the first cause, the on-going sustainer, and the culmination of everyting. He did this in Acts 17:

24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being...

and in Romans 11:

36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

With brevity God is simply known as the Alpha and Omega...pretty much sums up the issue at hand.

#4  Posted by Carmen González  |  Sunday, May 16, 2010at 10:31 PM

Hey, "El amigo de la playa"! I was reading your reply and I couldn't help, but smile when I saw that you were from D.R. Very well put if I may say so.

Lovely surprise to bump into a Dominican here on John's Blog. Blessings to all...

#5  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 5:47 AM

Hi Folks:

John was right on the money. In mathematics "chance" requires a "set" of "something" to work from. When the set is not even a "zero" because there is no "place" to hold, this is where chance is suppose to start and make something out of nothing. Francis Schaffer use to say that if evolution were true we would have had to come out of Nothing-Nothing, and illustrated it by placing a "something" on a chalk board and whipping it off the board. Something comes from "something". Nothing comes from nothing. And Something cannot come from nothing. Chance cannot play a role, in terms of probability mathematics, when there is not a "set" to start with.

It is really sad that atheistic evolutionist in this sense are theist, the "god" chance does so much for them in bring about a world for them to play "god" in. They can deny their god exist and "chance" does not care because they operate by its rules and laws. They can deny "Reason" but use it for their cause. "Logic" is there as well, helping them to make sense of a meaningless universe where something came from nothing-nothing. "Thinking themselves wise they became fools..." Just a thought.

#6  Posted by Michael Thatcher  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 5:53 AM

Someone compared the odds of random chance creating anything as intricate as the human eye to the liklihood of the unabridged dictionary being printed by an explosion in the print shop. Even secular empirical evidence rules out "chance".

#7  Posted by John Adams  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 6:16 AM

There is so much more to this than can be said on here. However, you have to at least be honest about the data - http://biologos.org/blog/signature-in-the-pseudogenes-part-2/

#8  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 6:50 AM

John, as we have discussed before, data has to be interpreted. It doesn't stand out on its own sufficient means to meet the challenge. A person pours meaning into it. If you are to begin with the presupposition that common descent is true, of course you will spin the data to tell that story much like the stealth atheists at Biologos are doing.

The first comment by Malcolm is precious, "Christian anti-evolutionary organizations" are accused of never wrestling with the data and distorting and misrepresenting the facts. As if the Biologos people have no agenda.

Before Malcolm made such an ignoramus of himself by writing what he wrote, it would had been helpful for him to at least do a Google search and see what real biblical creationists believe about the subject. Honestly, it is exhausting having to do the leg work for lazy theistic evolutionists:

http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j21_3/j21_3_118-127.pdf

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v3/n1/smell-of-change-pseudogenes

http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i3/pseudogenes_genomes.asp

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v2/n1/exogenization-vs-endogenization

#9  Posted by Jun Park  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 9:52 AM

> Theistic evolution (or any Old-Earth theory) keeps chance as the first cause, but changes its name to “God;” it keeps evolution as the means, but changes its name to “creation.”

Disagree, I don't believe in old-Earth theory.

Due to the nature of Science itself, it lacks the ability to prove a miracle. Because once it becomes a miracle, it automatically means that it's out of touch of Science.

Science is powerful only when it is repeatable and stable to reproduce the result under the same situation. For example, to prove God's miracle, it would've been like 'EVERY TIME GIDEON PRAYS, the dew has to fall where he prays to fall'. Now that's not right, because that makes God become like a specimen, contained within a box and trying to prove his own existence.

And the true-history-of-what-really-has-happened consists of great deal of miracles which was not local but through out the whole surface of this Earth. Therefore, Science tries to explain all what's really happened, then they have no choice but to invent this whole new idea of evolution and old-earth theory which does not contrast 'the limited evidence or knowledge they already acquired' from this repeatable phenomenena world of theirs. Suppose they try to explain Gideon's dew miracle. They would have no choice but to say 'the floor had some kind of dew protective mechanism on the first day, and the dew had the dew protective on the other day', which totally does not involve God to explain the miracle.

So, I believe that 'Science, which it lacks the ability to prove God's miracle from the first place, tried to prove the creation so hard, it went mad and invented this idea of Old-Earth Theory'.

And when it comes down to the Evolution, Evolution is actually quite consistant with all the other theories that we have in the biology era. When a biologist actually set up a hypothesis they want to prove from an experiment, they set up a hypothesis which is consistant with the theory of evolution, and they actually do not find a serious contradicting evidence. (except for the... relying on a chance, but that they can't run THAT experiment...)

I think the Theory of Evolution is sound and well formed theory itself. But it's just being used wrong, to disapprove God to be the creator of us. I say 'We evolve, but we just don't evolve that much. Just because we evolve, that doesn't mean it's the sole cause of our very own existence'. Plus, God commands the all being to 'Be fruitful and increase in number', and I see evolution as all-living-organism's faithful obedience to God's command. For me, 'all the living organisms are DESIGNED by God, and they CAN'T EVOLVE AT ALL' doesn't make sense, either. They evolve, but not as much as the scientists say.

> can a Christian adapt an unbelieving paradigm (i.e., evolutionary theory, caused by chance) and still maintain that (1) God is the sovereign Creator, and (2) Genesis 1-3 is His historical narrative of how the world came to be?

Yes... and No, I think it depends on how we see the 'chance' or 'evolution'. More than that, how we define and understand what 'science' is.

I am a physics major myself, and I know the science isn't as rock-solid as many people think. Once people truly know what science really is, it shouldn't bother them to believe God is the sovereign creator and Genesis 1-3.

And, I'm not saying 'Once you learn more and more about Science, you have no choice but to admit there's an infinitely intelligent being that created the whole universe and runs it'. No, and you can see the clear example from Dr Richard Hawkins. When people hit this 'infinite mystery of the very own existence of our universe', many people would still not run towards God. They would run into Anthropic principle.

What I'm saying is 'The very fundamental foundation of science is like a mud, not a rock'. The stuffs that we find from the high school science is rock-solid. They are the stuffs that are very well-defined, and rock-solid consistant with other stuffs. (theory of evolution is very consistant too, it's consistant within the limited world of theirs at least) But when you get deeper and get to the very fundamental foundation of science, it's not rock-solid. It follows the exact description from Matthew 7, 'house on sand'. So, once people study the science enough and realize that the science is a house on sand, it wouldn't cause people not to believe '(1) God is the sovereign Creator, and (2) Genesis 1-3 is His historical narrative of how the world came to be'. It depends on, how well people understand the mud-like foundation of science.

#10  Posted by Lois Dimitre  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 11:25 AM

Regarding the first statement on TE (or an old-earth theory):

I agree in the sense El Amigo De La Playa wrote in Post#1:

--"It [theistic evoution] is basically Daniel saying he will eat all Babylonian food, it is ok, he´ll just pretend he does it in the name of the Lord..."

El Amigo's comment helps illustrates a point made by Dr. Humphreys in his paper, "Timothy Tests Theistic Evolution", CEN Tech. J., vol. 11, no. 2, 1997 - http://www.trueorigin.org/rh_timothytest2.pdf

Below is an excerpt which makes the case better than I could:

Humphreys writes:

"...A more accurate epithet for theistic evolutionism would be [i]Scriptura sub Scientia[/i], ‘Scripture under Science’...[This] is an attitude which eviscerates (disembowels) the usefulness and authority of Scripture...

...[i]Scripture sub Scientia[/i] sets a precedent for cloaking one’s own ideas with the appearance of Biblical sanction. It would be far more honest for theistic evolutionists to throw out the Bible completely and concoct their own religious texts. But it would be even better if they would abandon their compromise with evolutionism and embrace the Word of God without reservation!..."

~"Cloaking one's own ideas with the appearance of Biblical sanction" brings me to the second set of questions asked. A Christian may attempt to hybridize an unbelieving paradigm (in this case, evolutionary theory) with Biblical truths (God as sovereign Creator and Genesis 1-3 as historic narrative) but the result always misses the mark. It is the sin of compromise and frankly, idolatry of man's wisdom over God's.

In my opinion, TE is a form of idolatry as defined and explained in J.C. Ryle's sermon, "Idolatry" (1 Cor 10:14, "Flee from idolatry")

Updated, revised manuscript by Tony Capoccia http://www.biblebb.com/files/ryle/warn8.htm

Ryle, explaining what Idolatry is said:

--"Idolatry is a worship, in which the honor due to the Triune God, and to God only, is given to some of His creatures, or to some invention of His creatures..."

Ryle continues:

"...It is not necessary, for a man to formally deny God and Christ, in order to be an idolater. Far from it. Professed reverence for the God of the Bible and actual idolatry, are perfectly compatible. They have often been done side by side, and they still do so. The children of Israel never thought of renouncing God when they persuaded Aaron to make the golden calf. "Here are your gods," they said, "who brought you up out of Egypt." And the feast in honor of the calf was kept as a "festival to the LORD (Jehovah)" (Exodus 32:4, 5).

Jeroboam, again, never pretended to ask the ten tribes to cast off their allegiance to the God of David and Solomon. When he set up the calves of gold in Dan and Bethel, he only said, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt" (1 Kings 12:28).

In both instances, we should observe, the idol was not set up as a rival to God, but under the pretense of being a help—a steppingstone to His service. But, in both instances, a great sin was committed. The honor due to God was given to a visible representation of Him. The majesty of Jehovah was offended. The second commandment was broken. There was, in the eyes of God, a flagrant act of idolatry."

#11  Posted by Cliff Gould  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 12:24 PM

Evolution... it's means of improvement or advancement is death "survial of the fittest." For "theistic evolution" to be biblical most of the 7 days of creation must occur after the fall of man and the curse of death. With true biblical creationism, God's world was "good" and he rested after the 6th day. With no death there can be no evolution. Either you believe the Bible or you don't, there is no compromise, "theistic evolution" (like Jumbo-Shrimp) is an oxymoron. Natural Selection on the other hand is a different story, it just shows the variability of God's perfect creation.

#12  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Monday, May 17, 2010at 11:05 PM

To take away the miraculous act of God in creation (the literal rendering of Genesis 1-3) necessitates the substitution of either a god who chooses to use time and his ever so slow transformation of living organisms to bring into being what we see today or a non-god called chance and time, much, much time. Either one are gods man can live with. They are limited in power and glory. Such gods are impersonal and no doubt are not holy. With such gods surely there would be no day of judgment and certainly there could be no eternal hell. It took either one of these gods much time after all to make what exists today. Either one of these gods expectations of man could not be very great.

These are not the true God who has revealed Himself in scripture. They give us the revelation of His attributes including His Holiness, the revelation of His will, the revelation of His eternal decrees including His eternal judgment of sin, the eternal damnation of unregenerate sinners, and His plan of redemption and ultimate glorification of His elect through Christ. This leads me to the second question. Through the redefinition of biblical terms “professing Christians” can believe and do just about anything. The real question is will God own them to be His? Throughout the scriptures, the test of salvation has always been faith in the revelation of God. Faith has always been linked with actions corresponding to what God had revealed to man. Abel recognized God’s use of a blood sacrifice in the covering of his parents’ nakedness while Cain leaned on his own understanding motivated by an exaltation of self. Noah believed what God had revealed and acted accordingly and for 120 years was mocked and laughed at. Abraham believed God and actually offered up Isaac on the alter concluding that God would have to raise him from the dead. James uses the latter example as an example of what biblical saving faith actually is, as opposed to the “belief” of demons! (James 2:19-21) I am both shocked and grieved to see those posting on this site giving evolutionists believing “Christians” assurance of their salvation. Jeremiah warned his countrymen of coming judgment. All the other prophets were leading them into futility by speaking smoother things than God would allow and speaking peace, (Jeremiah 23:16, 17). God had not sent them. If He had they would have announced His words to them and turned them from their evil ways (see Jeremiah 23:21, 22). The prophet Ezekiel has a warning to those who give false assurance see Ezekiel 13:9, 10.

Those of you who hold to a low view of creation (an old earth view) you no doubt hold to a low view of what it is to be a Christian. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. The old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) A new creation! The very same word! Behold! The new birth is an absolute miracle by God (2 Corinthians 5:18). Everything out of nothing spoken into existence in the creation, what glory, what majesty! Behold! What wonder, what glory, what mercy, what transformation! A vile wretched sinner at war with its creator is now in humble submission and love, a devoted slave of its redeemer. Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.(see John 3:5, 6) You must be washed by the water of the Word. No! More than that, you must be born again of the incorruptible seed of the living and abiding Word of God! (see 1 Peter 1:23) It is a contradiction for a person to be miraculously born again of the living and abiding Word of God and then reject the veracity of that same Word of God and believe a lie. If you reject the testimony of God’s Word you can be sure of this; God will not acknowledge you on judgment day.(see Luke 9:26) What will you think of the wisdom of fallen man then. You have forfeited your soul for such a cheap price. May God grant you a heart of repentance and give you a heart of flesh. May He put His law within you and write it upon your heart to the praise of the glory of His grace. –His Unworthy Slave

#13  Posted by Garrett League  |  Tuesday, May 18, 2010at 12:27 PM

I agree with J.Mac's critique (and R.C.'s) on chance. They are right on. Saying something happened because of chance is like saying someone chose something because of "free will," which of course explains nothing. It's just a label for mystery. However, I think he/this blog may be drawing some unnecessary conclusions.

"Secular evolutionary theory abandons God as the first cause, replacing Him with chance."

Materialism, not "secular evolutionary theory" (not sure what the "secular" modifier implies) abandons God as 1st cause, but evolutionary theory does no such thing. In fact, evolution says nothing about the origin of the universe at all, or the origin of life for that matter. Nor does it say everything came about by blind chance (even Dawkins in "The Blind Watchmaker" says that is a false hyperbole) because natural selection is by definition a non-random process. Plus, good Calvinists that we are, we know nothing occurs by chance since God has declared the end from the beginning.

"Theistic evolution (or any Old-Earth theory) keeps chance as the first cause, but changes its name to 'God;' it keeps evolution as the means, but changes its name to “creation.” Agree or disagree? Make your case."

I find it depressing, not that Christians are still debating whether or not the earth is more than 6-10,000 years old, but that Christians who have adopted an OEC position are still accused of merely baptizing chance and atheism with bible talk. This is disservice to the many respected folks who have spent a lot of study and prayer on shaping a biblical approach to the fact of a 4.5 billion year old earth. Because there are so many respected OEC theologians, even many that are Reformed, to ask if they "keep chance as the first cause" while merely changing chance to God by sleight of hand is to ask a seriously uncharitable question. Of course they don't. So yes, I disagree. T.E.'s and OEC's do not, in any way, make chance a first cause, nor do they conveniently relabel it God. Now for my case.

For starters, no T.E. or OEC actually says that. No theist says that chance got us here, but rather the outworking of God's plan. So explicitly, the case is closed. Even implicitly, there is a huge difference between T.E./OEC and materialistic evolution. Just ask any good materialist; saying evolution was "planned," in any way, is a big no no. We were not intended to be here. This, I think, is a philosophical question, but even on a scientific level, folks like Simon Conway Morris have some good evidence that humans were inevitable. As for OEC, well they reject evolution, so the criticism applies to them even less.

"Second, can a Christian adapt an unbelieving paradigm (i.e., evolutionary theory, caused by chance) and still maintain that (1) God is the sovereign Creator, and (2) Genesis 1-3 is His historical narrative of how the world came to be?"

(1) No. A Christian cannot accept a sovereign God and also accept that we got here by chance alone (though, neither does any evolutionist as I pointed out). However, evolution itself is not an inherently "unbelieving paradigm." Dysteleological, materialistic evolution, yes, but minus the materialism, evolution is just a sound scientific theory. (2) As for accepting Genesis as a historical narrative of how the world came to be, that is a much stickier situation. My short answer is no, if by "historical narrative of how the world came to be" you mean YEC. And it seems everyone here conflates the two. But yes, you can obviously be T.E. and OEC and accept "Genesis 1-3 is His historical narrative of how the world came to be?" But, as always, the devil is in the details, and we will never agree on what the implications of saying Genesis 1-3 is "historical narrative" are, nor will we ever agree on what it means for the text to describe "how the world came to be." I agree that there is, on some level, real history communicated and that Genesis describes how the world came to be, I just think it's description cannot be, properly speaking, scientifically falsified, though I suppose, at bottom, it's historical claims could, granting a degree of rhetorical/conventional/linguistic/theological license in retelling the events, as any robust understanding of inspiration does. In this sense, Genesis 1-11 should not be divorced from history. We really did fall, but clearly that fall is recast in Genesis in ANE themes and invested with a cosmic significance that may not always have a 1 to 1 correlation with modern science. This is just taking the text in context.

#14  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, May 18, 2010at 1:51 PM

Garrett,

I was hoping you'd have an opportunity to respond to my last comments in "Uniformitarianism, Part 2" before the comments closed. Feel free to respond to those here since the overall topic is the same.

Point of clarification: I think "secular evolutionary theory" is differentiated from theistic evolutionary theory.

What OEC or TE folks don't realize is that they have bought a home built on sand in the middle of a storm.

Evolution began as a philosophical system stemming from simple observation, not true scientific inquiry. As technology increased and new methods of scientific study became available, scientists started with the premise of evolutionary theory, and interpreted the data in light of that philosophical premise. In other words, evolution began as a presuppositional rejection of the miracle of creation (which enabled them to study it), then as scientific methods improved it began with the assumption that creation was a natural event and therefore subject to scientific study. The scientific study, with its philosophical theory in hand, tested and found sufficient evidence to support their theory. Of course the scientific study itself is already rigged against the Bible because it rejects that it is miraculous. Scientists find explanations for evolution just like other people explain OT miracles (e.g. parting of the Red Sea) naturalistically.

Having rejected the miracle of creation and developed the natural explanation of evolution, Christians assume that science is right and therefore abandon biblical presuppositions for atheistic ones (albeit implicitly).

Christians have first bought the evolution house not realizing that it stands on the sand of anti-supernaturalism and was built with faulty blueprints. But the house looks firm, so it seems like a safe buy.

When we point out the sand and the original blueprints, TE and OEC folks decry the sand and the blueprints. They adamantly declare that evolution can stand on its own regardless of the sand and the original blueprints. But saying so doesn't make it so.

TE and OEC folks didn't wake up denying Scripture and embracing science. Rather, they created a plushy interpretation of Genesis that fits the mold of evolution. Where evolution has holes (origins), God fits.

Back to you, Garrett. We understand that TE and OEC do not accept chance as a primary cause. What we are saying is that because they know it wasn't chance, they necessarily put God there. I'm curious... what Christian has ever been the initial proponent of evolutionary theory. Were there any? I don't know... though I don't think so. It seems like Christians came late in the game and found a way to fit God in the theory.

You've again mentioned that evolution is not inherently unbelieving. Since science is naturalistic by definition, how is it not unbelieving? If it is such a sound theory, then why do many scientists reject it? When I think of a sound theory, I think of gravity, orbits of planets, and the like. Evolution is a philosophical interpretation of evidence that presuppositionally rejects God's miraculous explanation. You believe evolution primarily because you reject the long-standing literal interpretation of a miraculous creation.

You accept a non-literal, unverifiable ANE interpretation of Genesis 1 because it fits your evolutionary paradigm. The interpretation of Genesis 1 that you accept claims to be literal, but if it is so literal, why has it been non-existent for so long? Walton bases his interpretation of Genesis 1 not out of grammatico-historical literal interpretation, but out of a historical-critical interpretation that places his understanding and interpretation of other ANE literature as the cultural foundation upon which he interprets Genesis 1.

You stated that whatever historical character Genesis 1-3 portrays cannot be scientifically falsified. Do you realize that evolution cannot be scientifically verified? It is a theory of past events based on a biased pre-understanding of history. In other words, evolution cannot be objectively verified. It can only be verified under the subjective presupposition that Genesis 1 is not a miracle.

I'll add this, though it really isn't part of the discussion. The presuppositions that Christians use to reject a normal interpretation of Genesis 1 are the same presuppositions as those who reject the veracity of the Gospels and who are searching (for the 3rd time) for the "Historical Jesus".

#15  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Tuesday, May 18, 2010at 7:17 PM

Can a sovereign God use chance to accomplish His purpose? He does not, according to His Word.

The Creator, Sovereign God revealed in scripture is the one who declares “the ending from the beginning” as stated in Isaiah 46:10. He goes before and behind us (Psalm 139:5) and wherever we go, His hand guides us (Psalm 139: 10) A sparrow does not fall to the ground apart from His will (Matt. 10:29).

His plans “stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)

There is no “chance” indicated by these verses but only the sovereign will of a loving Creator.

Garrett (#13) states "I find it depressing, not that Christians are still debating whether or not the earth is more than 6-10,000 years old, but that Christians who have adopted an OEC position are still accused of merely baptizing chance and atheism with bible talk. This is disservice to the many respected folks who have spent a lot of study and prayer on shaping a biblical approach to the fact of a 4.5 billion year old earth."

Garrett, this sounds like you are trying to shape the infallible Word of God to fit in with a belief (not fact) of fallible men. Jesus prayed that His disciples would be sanctified by the Word (John 17:17), not manipulate it to fit the ideas of the day.

We are to approach God with humility and reverence and we should approach His Word in a similar humble manner.

#16  Posted by Garrett League  |  Tuesday, May 18, 2010at 10:48 PM

#14 Gabe:"The scientific study, with its philosophical theory in hand, tested and found sufficient evidence to support their theory."

Agreed. How assuming natural causes for the origin of species establishes philosophical naturalism is beyond me.

"They adamantly declare that evolution can stand on its own regardless of the sand and the original blueprints. But saying so doesn't make it so."

So you cannot consistently accept evolution as the best explanation of the data without also accepting philosophical materialism? You and Dawkins are at one on that point. This is why I would caution Christians considering the field of biology. Honestly, sometimes it's really difficult. You will inevitably come to a big fork in the road and will have to face big opposition either way. Maybe that's why more Christians don't go into that field in the first place. Too much grief.

"I'm curious... what Christian has ever been the initial proponent of evolutionary theory. Were there any? I don't know... though I don't think so."

Asa Gray, just to name one. Read "Darwin's Forgotten Defenders."

"Rather, they created a plushy interpretation of Genesis that fits the mold of evolution."

Ok, now you're just being insulting. Walton doesn't even accept evolution. You disagree? Fine. But give credit where credit is due and don't just write it off as an ad hoc, compromised position (there are geocentrists who would say the same about you). Honest scholars of the ancient texts disagree with you on this. No more hitting below the belt please.

"You've again mentioned that evolution is not inherently unbelieving. Since science is naturalistic by definition, how is it not unbelieving?"

Once again, it is strictly agnostic; it says nothing pro or con on the question of the supernatural. It can't. Hence, it is neither believing nor unbelieving.

"If it is such a sound theory, then why do many scientists reject it?"

In reality, many don't. Virtually all biologists accept it. If "many" scientists reject evolution, then I would submit that you must also say that "many" historians deny the historicity of Jesus, but of course you won't do that. And you shouldn't because many don't, just some on the fringe of mainstream opinion. I think "many" is the wrong word. More like "virtually none," "less than 1 out of 100" or "very few." Look the stats up yourself.

"Evolution is a philosophical interpretation of evidence that presuppositionally rejects God's miraculous explanation"

This argument frustrates me to no end (even though I have no major beef with presup. apologetics). I'll grant your claim, for the sake of argument. You know how much, as a scientist, I care? Not very much at all. I don't care where the idea came from, who thought of it, why they thought of it, or what they they were trying to prove. Really, It makes no difference to me. You know what really counts at the end of the day? Does it work. Scientists are pragmatic (and skeptical) to the extreme. The scientific process is ruthless. The question is, is it true? Does assuming this paradigm make sense of all the relevant data? Can it make useful predictions that turn out, upon investigation, to be true? YEC, on these questions, fails miserably. I wish it weren't the case, but it just doesn't line up with the cold, hard facts. If you assume it to be true, almost nothing makes sense. I know that's counterintuitive, but it's true. Assume the earth is no more than a few thousand years old and try and make sense of the data from biology, geology, astronomy, anthropology, archeology, etc. It just can't be done. I know I couldn't do it. I don't know how the hand full of Phds at AiG do it (well, I've read their articles, and I don't think they actually DO do it!). I don't want to waste my life trying to do it, in tears and frustration. I've tried for too long. Trust me, if I could disprove evolution, or find some compelling evidence for YEC, I'd be a saint; a very special place in heaven would await me. Plus, the guy who dismantles Darwin would go down in history as one of the most important scientists to ever live. It would be HUGE. But I just can't! Here's something to think about; someone here is SERIOUSLY wrong. 6,000 and 13.7 billion aren't even remotely close. Now if you think the bible mandates YEC, then good for you. But don't tell me that the only reason I accept evolution is because of some presupposition. No, it's because of the evidence in support of it. What you're argument boils down to is "Well, that's just your naturalistic interpretation of the evidence!" Is that how you treat the bible? "Well, that's just your interpretation of Genesis." Of course it is! The questions is, is it the correct interpretation! If you can look at all the evidence and say "You know, when you assume a 6,000 year old earth, all the pieces fit together quite nicely!" then I say, good for you. I've tried my hardest and I honestly, sincerely cannot see it (and, O, how I've tried!!!). Maybe I'm just not smart enough to be a YEC, because I look at the facts and say, "Good luck Kan Ham! You're a greater man than I." Let's just say I don't envy the person who has to explain modern science without and old earth or evolution.

"In other words, evolution cannot be objectively verified."

Gabe, evolution IS falsifiable. But, as all scientists know, you cannot ultimately "objectively verify," 100% prove ANYTHING in science. It's all based on inference, and so it's always, theoretically, subject to revision once more data comes in. If it ain't falsifiable, it ain't science!

"The presuppositions that Christians use to reject a normal interpretation of Genesis 1 are the same presuppositions as those who reject the veracity of the Gospels and who are searching (for the 3rd time) for the "Historical Jesus"

And guess what? Assume a naturalistic explanation for the resurrection and NOTHING makes sense! If you think my hermeneutic will allow me to go liberal and start denying all miracles you're just committing a slippery slope fallacy. Sorry, but the cases are just not analogous. If you think there's no difference at all in how one reads Genesis 1 and the gospels, then I think you're being way too simplistic/reductionistic. It's like saying if I deny I literal 1,000 year millennium I'm a liberal spiritualizer who can make the text say whatever I want. Sorry, but the text itself won't let me do that.

#15 Mary: "Garrett, this sounds like you are trying to shape the infallible Word of God to fit in with a belief (not fact) of fallible men."

Mary, you're simply trusting in the fallible interpretations of men. The bible therefore really cannot be understood. Hmm, that doesn't work, does it? Fact is, fallible people can get some things right. I think evolution is one of them. Plus, if you don't think you interpret the bible in light of modern scientific discoveries, then why does your biblical cosmology differ so much from Luther's in the 16th century? You think modern cosmology had anything to do with it?http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c6/MartinLutherCosmology-Tiny.gif

#17  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Wednesday, May 19, 2010at 7:58 AM

Garrett,

Actually, I am relying on the Holy Spirit to help me understand scripture and guide me in truth as we are promised in 1 John 2:27 and John 14:26. I also follow the example of the Bereans who "searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."(Acts 17:11) I also heed the warning to "not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)

I reject evolution because scripture clearly speaks of a sovereign creator God and it tells of history unfolding according to the plans of God not according to randomness.

#18  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, May 19, 2010at 12:08 PM

Garrett,

Science is agnostic only in that is does not "preach" a particular view of God. However it is atheistic in its practice. You have already admitted this in the case in prior discussion. The field of science necessarily assumes there is no supernatural explanation. It is necessarily atheistic in practice. That is all I'm saying.

If a scientist showed up at the scene of the feeding of the five thousand while the disciples were passing out the bread and fish, they would take samples and necessarily conclude that the fish were caught in the lake and cooked, and that the bread was harvested and baked in normal fashion. The disciples could argue until they were blue in the face that Jesus created the fish and bread from nothing, but the scientist has enormous scientific evidence the contrary. The scientist a priori rejects the miraculous claim thereby making the evidence point in the direction of a natural explanation. This is exactly what you and all evolutionary scientists do. You a priori reject the miraculous claim of Scripture. The existence of evidence is only meaningful to you because you have already rejected a supernatural explanation.

I think you understand the relationship between miracles and science, but you don't apply it. You would agree that science cannot affirm the miraculous. But before the scientist can make that claim, he has to affirm that a miracle happened. If he doesn't not affirm that a miracle happened, then he will discover a natural explanation. Now that natural explanation will be a far cry from what actually happened, but it will satisfy the naturalistic interpretation of the evidence.

I am not surprised that there is evidence for evolution. I don't care that there is evidence for evolution. The natural evidence for evolution is meaningful only if you reject God's description of how He miraculously created.

In case this isn't clear in your mind, YEC is not a scientific position (at least not in my mind). I would never try to prove YEC on the basis of scientific evidence. You would obviously disagree with those who try to use scientific evidence to prove YEC, and that is fine. My argument for YEC is not based in science or extra-biblical evidence. My argument for YEC is deeply rooted in the plain normal sense of Scripture. Therefore I wish you would argue this issue biblically.

There are lots of people having this argument at the scientific level. I'm not interested in that and I honestly wouldn't go there. I want to stay at the biblical level. In a previous post I commented on what I see are fatal flaws in Walton's interpretation of Genesis 1. I also said that in order to accept his interpretation, it would need to be verified by other Scriptures that refer to creation and the biblical passages that seem to clearly take Genesis 1-3 as materialistic creation history need to be dealt with.

To make it easier, I'll paste the issues you must deal with biblically if you are going to reject a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. For the sake of discussion I'll stop talking about science for now. Let's just deal with the text of Scripture.

Many passages refer to Genesis 1-2 as God's act of creating matter in history, not just God creating order. See Genesis 6:7, Deuteronomy 4:32; Isaiah 40:26, 42:5, 45:8, 12, 18; Colossians 1:16, Revelation 10:6. How does the argument in Hebrews 4 make any sense unless Genesis 1 is a literal 6-day creation with one day of rest? By your interpretation the author of Hebrews completely missed the point of Genesis 1! In Mark 10:6 Jesus references Genesis 2 at a historical point in time.

With regard to "bara", though it absolutely necessary to look at usages, the primary determiner of meanings of word is context. Further, it is critical ot understand that all words have a range of meaning. A word does not mean the exact same thing in every case. It may be nuanced or it may have a completely different meaning. Context is king. Walton makes the mistake of looking at all the usages, establishing an overarching general meaning which he then specifically places onto Genesis 1. If you think about his interpretation logically, creating function and order is not the meaning of bara, it is the result. Walton is taking the result of the act of bara and turning it into its meaning. Of course in order to come to this conclusion, Walton has to ignore Genesis 1 and gives only examples that support his theory. Walton comes up with his meaning from other places and then imposes that meaning on Genesis 1 without regard to the fact that in Genesis 1 there was no pre-existing material to work with. Take Genesis 1:21, for example. God bara'd the great sea creatures and every living thing. Exodus 34:10 and Numbers 16:30 are other examples that doesn't meet Walton's criteria. In Psalm 51:10, what is the function or purpose being created there? If you use a concordance or Bible software to look up all the usages of "bara", you will quickly see that Walton is ignoring many usages. John Walton takes the result of bara in some contexts and makes that into the meaning in Genesis 1. That is not good hermeneutics or exegesis.

With regard to his interpretation of the creation of light. Notice first of all that the command is "Let there be light", and the result was "and there was light." I'm not sure how "and there was a period of time" fits into that equation. One of his slides says, "physicist's light cannot be seperated from darkness." Well, a physicist may not be able to seperate light from darkness, but I wouldn't put it past God. Additionally the word for "seperate" can also mean "distinguish" which is exactly what we see God doing by calling one day and the other night. Now when the light sources are created, then there is a kind of separation.

In this lecture (and another one I have heard) Walton merely states how the ANE universally thought without exception, but he doesn't back it up with other examples. In his discussion of "raqia" (expanse), he again asserts that it always and only refers to something solid, therefore that is what it must mean here. Well that isn't what it means in Psalm 19:1, or Daniel 12:3. John Walton doesn't mention those references in his lecture.

In his discussion of Day 3, he states that God doesn't create anything. That assertion is true only in his interpretation. From the creationist perspective God creates vegetation (there were none prior).

As I think about how John Walton tries to explain that "bara" means to bring order and function, he seems to forget that God actually created. He gives examples of what God "bara's": Jerusalem, male and female, nations, etc. And he proclaims "these are all functions and order!" What he neglects is that they are still things God created.

In other words, his explanation does nothing to explain how his interpretation is exclusive to the literal meaning. Everything God created, perhaps did indeed bring function and order, and perhaps possibly that was the communicative intent, but God still created those things--material or not.

Walton repeatedly states that materialistic creation is simply not the concern in the text, but rather function and order. Well it may not be the primary concern, but it is the necessary foundation for function and order. This is restating what I said in my previous post that his interpretation, even if true, is not exclusive. He claimed it to be, but didn't show how.

You tried to defend against my charge that his interpretation is not allegory. Well I stand by that charge because he claims his interpretation to be exclusive to the literal historical narrative of the text. Since his interpretation is not borne out of the linguistic character of the text but rather the philosophical mileu of the times, I don't yet see how it isn't allegory.

#19  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Saturday, May 22, 2010at 12:10 PM

Hi everyone, I have been enjoying the discussions, I am almost caught up, phew! A lot of it went over my head (glad to know not only me) but I guess it's ok. I still believe that He created everything and that His Word is true.

Grace and Peace,

E.