PCA geologists

[HT: Josh]

Here is a good, fairly brief, article on the conclusive evidence for the age of the earth. It is written by geologists who are members of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). For a more extensive analysis, see The Bible, Rocks, and Time by Young and Stearley, geologists at Calvin College.

Yes, I still find this topic incredibly interesting. There are still several high-profile theologians in American evangelicalism who use Romans 5 — death entered through Adam’s sin, therefore no death/evolution in the natural world before man — as the “evidence” that over-rules the unanimous consent of geologists around the world.

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46 comments

  1. Albert Mohler recently argued for a young earth at R.C. Sproul’s conference. I happened to see it mentioned somewhere and watched it live. It was unreal. He conflated naturalism and evolution through out the talk and basically tied a young earth view to integrity to the gospel itself.

    • Not surprised. I’ve heard/read him do this before. It’s a favorite tactic of YEC advocates; after all, they can’t use science. Actually, I sorta respect Dr. Mohler’s intentional disuse of scientific arguments — he knows that his position is entirely exegetical, not scientific, so he doesn’t pretend otherwise.

    • In a sense, I don’t try to reconcile it, because Paul was working with scientific-historical assumptions that we can no longer accept. Paul was a young earth creationist. The question then, for the dogmatic theologian, is how to re-contextualize the link between sin and death. The context is now evolutionary biology, not young earth creationism. There’s no going back (to a young earth paradigm), so it’s futile to believe otherwise. Apparently, William Dembski’s latest book is an attempt to reconsider Paul’s link between sin and death in the light of evolutionary biology. I haven’t looked into Dembski’s argument in much detail, so I can’t say whether I advocate his approach…but I do applaud his ambition in dealing with this difficult topic.

      By the way, the existence of Adam and Eve is still on the table. I’m not ruling it out, but I don’t have a firm commitment one way or the other.

      • Mike, I’ve heard him say, some years ago now (but within the past five), that he’s inclined toward Doug Kelly’s exegesis of the matter in Creation & Change, which is mainly an argument for a literal seven-day account of creation in Gen 1 but which also includes a chapter on the earth being young (the two are not inextricably bound, of course).

        Yet he holds to it loosely (i.e., not weakly, just not holding others to it), just as he does with respect to millennial views—precisely because he’s held just about every view there is to hold on the subject.

        The last time I heard him say anything about it was some time ago, so really I don’t know his thoughts on the matter as of today.

        FYI, regarding this post, I had a sit-down with Horton and a few others after the conference, and he agreed that Mohler’s conflation was unhelpful.

  2. Out of curiosity, thanks to Mike and Chris’ comments, I just watched Mohler’s presentation on “Why Does the Earth Look So Old?”

    Yeah, it’s pretty bad…a slightly more articulate version of Ken Ham. Though unlike Ken Ham, he did not deal with any scientific arguments, and he dismissed the whole question (at the end of his talk) as known only to God. So, invariably the question remains, why did God create the universe to reveal a natural history of billions of years old? Is God trying to dupe us? What sort of bizarre epistemology is Mohler working with?

    On a side note, I thought it was curious (and laughable) that he was so triumphalistic about the number of Americans who reject evolution and about some increase of Creationism in Europe (probably Muslims, I imagine). I can assure you that my generation (born after 1980) affirms evolution with no qualms. If you take a survey in 50 years about American attitudes toward evolution, the remnants of Creationism will be largely gone outside of conservative evangelical churches.

    • Also, the reason that so many Americans, in these surveys, “reject” evolution is not because they reject evolutionary biology; rather, they reject a bare evolution apart from God or some sense of purposefulness. Of course, many Americans do indeed reject the science, but I don’t think it is quite as high as the surveys indicate. The propaganda (somewhat justified) that links evolution with materialism/naturalism has been fairly successful in America, which explains the relatively high skepticism toward evolution.

    • Kevin,

      I’ll admit that I was a bit flummoxed by the entire discussion. The issue of epistemology was the most confusing to me, so I’m glad you mentioned it. I do not doubt that he has very substantive reasons for his position, but I do hope he clarifies in the near future. It almost seems as if we would have to hold to a strict rationalism of sorts in order to make sense of this position. What role does our experience play in such a scenario? As a young earth creationist friend of mine here at SBTS said to me, “I saw the Grand Canyon last year for the first time and I thought, there’s no way this is 7,000 years old…it looks way older than that.”

      • Thanks, Tyler. I’m glad to hear that you recognize the massive epistemological difficulties with Mohler’s position. It is a perfect illustration of “intellectual sectarianism” and, more importantly, of epistemic nominalism.

  3. Wow, Kevin, your views surprise me a bit.

    Esp. your point on the historicality of Adam and Eve.

    I would be interested to see how you disentangle naturalism from the interpretive moves made in neo-Darwinian evolution.

    I think evolution, in many respects, represents a modern day gnositicism and not science — but instead scientism.

    • I’m not sure how the naturalism of macro-evolution is any different from the naturalism of every eco-system at each moment. In both instances, if they are studied in-themselves according to their intrinsic means of sustenance, then they can be explained according to naturalist (non-theological) methods.

      I really don’t know how the category of “gnosticism” has anything to do with the empirical evidence for long-term evolution. You’ll have to enlighten me on that one…perhaps a future post on your blog?

      By the way, both Barth and Torrance assumed that the general conclusions of evolutionary biology were correct. Barth in particular, if I understand him correctly, sought to transcend the whole question of Edenic historicity by focusing on the present (actualist) Word that is spoken to the Christian in the Genesis narratives. As such, the conclusions of science have little, if any, direct dogmatic importance — certainly not as a controlling scheme “allowing” this or that. Even so, the dogmatician is responsible for respecting the conclusions of the empirical sciences (as able to yield genuine, realist, knowledge).

      • Evolution is a slippery word. Some theses associated with it are better established than others. The antiquity of the cosmos, earth included, the gradual appearance of new kinds of organisms on our planet, are both well supported. I assume modern scientists are right to highlight the role random mutation and differential reproduction have played in forming life’s diversity. But we should remember that thinkers in all disciplines have a tendency to take an idea and run with it. This isn’t bad necessarily. Science proceeds in large part by heroic efforts to reduce vast swaths of varied phenomena to common principles capable of wide application. I don’t think it’s the physical evidence, however, that compels one to go along with today’s all out Darwininism. Humility is called for in the exegesis of the books of nature and scripture alike, and when we just don’t know something, we should admit as much. I suspect we know rather less about life’s origins than we think we do. Thomas Nagel and Raymond Tallis, two distinguished intellectuals and professed atheists, have taken a lot of flak for saying the same thing.

        Do you know Gordon Wenham’s position on whether Adam was an historical person? Henri Blocher, who in other respects is similar to Wenham, is pretty adamant in favor of old fashioned monogenesis.

      • Kevin,

        I see no evidence for macro-evolution; do you have any that you can point me to?

        I only refer to gnosticism, rhetorically; given the elite amount of people who hold to Darwinian evolution, I think it fits with a Gnostic kind of perspective. Of course this little anecdotal jab doesn’t speak against or for the validity of holding to a Darwinian perspective.

        I know Barth and TFT held to an evolutionary perspective; they are allowed to be wrong on some points, eh.

        And that’s just it; I’m not going to respect the conclusions of anyone just because that someone is in an “established” position of apparent “authority” on particular issues. Esp. when the “Science” of today is clearly dependent upon a first order “Philosophy of Science” which is certainly grounded upon a metaphysical footing (which then informs even the most theoretical interpretive decisions). I see holes in the “science;” so I would like to see those holes answered by the emperical sciences, and engaged (not black-balled).

  4. I agree, John, with the necessary caution when it comes to proposed “comprehensive” scientific theories. That’s why I usually add the qualifier of “general” for the conclusions of evolutionary science (i.e., the general framework of the evolutionary scheme is to be accepted). I think the genesis of man in particular is open; however, I have read some interesting journal articles on the genetic evidence for polygenesis.

    I do not know Gordon Wenham’s position on this or any other matter. I should probably check into it.

    • By the way, one of the articles that I read (which was 6 or so years ago) was by a Catholic geneticist at one of the U. of California branches. He argued that the variations in the human genetic code indisputably require polygenesis (i.e., the variety of code in humans today could not have possibly been successor to a single man-woman couple). He thought the evidence was conclusive and had already been confirmed by other geneticists. I don’t know where the issue currently stands in the scientific community, though I assume that polygenesis is the dominant theory.

      • Thanks for the replies. There was a good discussion of polygenesis at the Jesus Creed blog some time back. Also, the ASA had an interesting panel discussion on the topic last year. I’ve heard about the sort of genetic studies you mention, but haven’t studied them for myself. On the other side, supposedly there is evidence of one or more major population bottlenecks in the history of the human race. Our genetic diversity is said to be rather less than that of other species, though not so uniform as to come from one original couple. If scripture said that Adam’s sons married his daughters, this would probably rule out monogenesis. But who knows; if God specially created a spouse for the first man, maybe God specially created spouses for the second and third generations too. Or maybe he did something else entirely. Not being a literalist on early Genesis, I’m reluctant to rule positions in or out unless the evidence is overwhelming (as it is against YEC). I still favor monogenesis because of NT texts like Romans 5 and Acts 17:26, though I recognize there are alternative ways of taking those passages.

  5. Bobby Grow & Iohannes,

    Since the original article concerned geology and not biology, I’m curious whether your general claims expressed above apply to any science which confirms the antiquity of the earth and universe. Just to take one such claim from Mr. Grow:

    I think evolution, in many respects, represents a modern day gnositicism and not science — but instead scientism.

    Substitute ‘geology’ or ‘cosmology’ or ‘atomic physics’ for ‘evolution’. Do they “represent” or imply scientism? Why or why not? If not, then what makes evolution gnostic-y but not the others?

    And Iohannes said:

    Humility is called for in the exegesis of the books of nature and scripture alike…

    Galileo fails your test. But he was right and the best theologians of his day were wrong: Bellarmine, Luther, Calvin. Did later theologians do better exegesis of the Bible and find that “Hey, guess what everybody, Kepler was right after all–the Bible does allow for heliocentrism!”? No, scientists kept making predictions, designing tests, collecting data, and refining their conclusions; the preponderance of the evidence caused the theologians to stop doing astronomy with the Bible. In my opinion, based on the evidence, successful predictions, and integration with other scientific fields, it is past time to stop doing biology with the Bible, too.

    In general, when theologians make claims, humble or not, about the “book of nature,” they get it wrong.

    • Yes.

      I see evolution and naturalism as related realities; i.e. that one needs the other. And that naturalism holds to a metaphysical materialism wherein macro-evolution flows from quite “naturally.”

      Since evolution has a metaphysical grounding, the question has to be, if this metaphysic is compatible with the one that Christianity presents (and assumes)? My answer is that these two are competing and mutually exclusive from eachother; so I see evolution as framed and interpreted by naturalism at odds with the Christian metaphysic and thus incompatible (to me its an either or proposition).

      • Which Christian metaphysic? Which naturalism?

        These are not unitary, homogeneous concepts or doctrines. They’re only mutually exclusive because of the way you’ve chosen to frame them (or accepted the way others have framed them, like Richard Dawkins).

        You say that “evolution has a metaphysical grounding.” Small quibble: implications gleaned by some theorists of evolutionary theory, yes; the facts of evolutionary mechanisms and pathways, no. Scientism is a philosophical doctrine about knowledge and truth. The scientific method is not “grounded” in scientism. One can consistently apply the scientific method and hold that scientism is false (as Francis Collins and Ken Miller do).

        The facts of evolution are “grounded” in the physical, not the metaphysical. Methodologically, biology is limited to material reality, as are all the other sciences. Indeed, phenomena that appear to controvert these limits, such as quantum entanglement, stimulate even more research. Scientists love crazy, surprising phenomena. Biology has its share, too.

        170 years ago, some theologians were *sure* that Wohler’s synthesis of urea, an organic compound, was impossible or outrageous. Why? Because of their metaphysical precommitment to an inviolable boundary between organic and the inorganic material. But irrespective of Wohler’s metaphysics, the results of his methodological investigation were sufficient to refute the theologians.

        For a lark, you might check out the work of Kevin Corcoran, a philosopher at Calvin and a self-described Christian materialist. I don’t know his work that well, but I only point him out to you to show that your two irreconcilable categories might be more porous than you think!

  6. It’s getting late, so I can’t give a substantial response. I will say that, in response to Bobby, I certainly do not agree that scientists are using a first order philosophy of naturalism and, thereby, distorting the data. We are dealing with “data” after all. The philosophy of naturalism/materialism only comes later — after the collecting of data, not before. Thus, evolutionary theory itself is not a speculation, like Plato’s theory of anamnesis; rather, it is empirical and inductive (if not deductive). In itself, evolutionary conclusions are neutral in regard to the existence, attributes, and governance of God.

    I have no reason to suspect the data and the evolutionary conclusions: the conclusions do not require any injection of “philosophy,” “theology,” or “worldview-ism” in order to be faithful to the data. If a philosophy or theology was required as a mediator between the data and the conclusions, then it would not be science and it would not be taken seriously in the scientific community.

    As for the evidence of macro-evolution, I point you to the 99.99% of scientists, Christian and non-Christian, around the world. John Henry Newman liked to use the example of “Great Britain is an island” as a certitude taken on the authority of the vast number of witnesses. Newman had never circumnavigated Great Britain, yet he was justified in his certitude that she was an island. It is a basic epistemological fact that we can acquire knowledge on the authority of witnesses, apart from our own experience or observations.

    • Kevin,

      1) I agree the data comes first. The theory of evolution (which itself, immaterial and intangible as it is) is not emperical; but instead an abstraction (or mental/psychological paradigm) imposed or placed upon the data as an interpretive apparatus. I.e. “evolution” is not emperical, as a concept, and does not just inductively rise out of the data (i.e. a person[s] proposed it as a theoretical explanation for the data, or which the data might be fitted to).

      2) Evolution itself, inherently and definitionally is “philosophical” since it originated from the “mind” of man. A consensus agreement that evolution is hard science does not make it so (this is just appeal to the people). I don’t share your confidence in the “so called” scientific community.

      3) There are hundreds of scientists (and credible, PhD’d tenured folks) who disagree with the “interpretations” of main stream scientists (there is a document that many of them have signed, forget the name of that document which dissents from neo-Darwinians because of the data and scientific evidence). In other words, the credibility of main-stream scientists should at least be questioned since they black-ball people who disagree with the “popular” neo-Darwinian interpretation.

      I don’t doubt the epistemological fact of “witness-hood” (the Apostles and the resurrection case in point); what I wonder about is the “credibility” of those “witnesses” (not because they aren’t genuine people, per se) — I think that is what I am questioning and only takes us full circle.

  7. Joel,

    I think Dawkins exemplifies someone who is representative of a metaphysical materialist: yes. Most neo-Darwinians, that I am aware of, while probably not comfortable with Dawkins’ rhetoric; at the same time are in step with Dawkins, relative to His scientism.

    I would say the DATA of evolution are “grounded” in the physical; but that their interpretation, and what informs that interpretation is grounded in an a priori metaphysical commitment — one way or the other.

    I get your appeal and framing of things through the Galileo[n] analogy; but all that is is suggestive that future data may or may not support a particular theory or hypothesis. It does not suggest that the scientist will always be proven right vis-a’-vis the protestations of the dogmaticians. I.e. It’s possible that the theologians might be right contra the theories proposed by the scientist. In other words, I find this appeal to be at best suggestive; but really an argument from silence.

    I know that there are many Christian theologians that seem to defy all categories (I think of Nancy Murphy off the top); but that only presents interesting case studies, and nothing really substantive.

    I would like to see you answer your questions: “Which Christian metaphysic/which naturalism”. I’ve already given you what I think of that; I would be interested in seeing how you parse a Christian metaphysic that fits with a Christian naturalism that is consonant with the naturalism and interpretive steps of contemporary science.

  8. Hi Joel,

    I am not in fact opposed to macroevolution per se. Sorry if I was unclear about that. The thrust of my comments was that I am unconvinced the evolutionary story is the whole story of our origins. To date there remain some substantial gaps in it, two of which are the initial emergence of life and the appearance of consciousness (or qualia). It was to these I alluded when mentioning Nagel and Tallis. Of course, it is possible these both have naturalistic explanations. However, to insist that they must have naturalistic explanations when as yet we don’t know is to step outside science. If one isn’t committed to metaphysical naturalism, one will be less inclined to exclude other possibilities.

    As for Galileo et al., I do think exegesis/hermeneutics has improved in the past five centuries–natural science isn’t the only field to have made advances since then! 😉

    Cheers,

    John

    • PS (or PPS?)–These pieces may be of general interest:

      tinyurl.com/nagel-article

      tinyurl.com/tallis-article

  9. corrigendum: naturalistic explanations is infelicitous, I should have said natural explanations, or naturalistic-friendly explanations

  10. Bobby,

    There is a sense in which every discipline is imposing theories onto the data, but the theory is then tested/verified against the data. In theology, we do this all the time. Whether it’s federal theology or a particular doctrine (e.g., penal substitution), we test the scheme or doctrine according to its fidelity to the scriptural witness. Likewise, the scientist uses the evolutionary paradigm in order to interpret the data, discovering order, coherence, and efficient causes. The veracity of the general evolutionary framework is accorded by its success in every physical science, from geology to genetics.

    The number of exceptions (those who deny macro-evolution) is not impressive, and those “reports” given by anti-evolution advocates always include some rather dubiously-related Phd’s (e.g., mechanical engineering) in order to bolster their numbers. I think a strong case can be made that it is the anti-evolution side, not the scientific community, that is working with a first order philosophy that determines their interpretation of the data.

    • Yes, but Kevin, just because something is internally consistent does not ipso facto establish any framework as valid or sound (unless we follow a coherentist) theory of truth — exclusively.

      That’s fine, but there are certainly crediblie scientists who are ID who reject macro-evo. on scientific grounds — that there is no credible example of natural selection working as the mechanism (even at the microbilogical level). I suppose both sides have a first order philosophy; then the question (being somewhat dialectical) is which one has the greatest explanatory power relative to the data.

      I’m not impressed with the “numbers” of scientists who think this or that . . . just the facts man 😉 . If we were concerned with the numbers for establishing truth we would have to junk Barth out of hand (he’s rather idiosyncratic given the consensus of most theologians out there).

      peace out. 🙂

      • “just because something is internally consistent does not ipso facto establish any framework as valid or sound…”

        And yet the predictive power of this “framework” is borne out again and again. One of the strongest reasons to believe that evolution is true is the way its specific mechanisms and pathway converge with unrelated lines of evidence from other fields: radioactive decay, genomics, geology, geophysics, and on and on…

        No credible (or incredible) alternative to evolution has been proposed which makes testable predictions that cohere with other well-established bodies of scientific knowledge.

        I’m curious: on what basis do you reject geocentrism? You claim that you’re not impressed with consensus. Very well, what *does* impress you that a nonbiblical physical cosmology is true?

  11. Joel,

    I would need to know more about these “other fields;” and the “evolutionary” evidence that you purport is there. I’ve read just the opposite (like on things like fine tuning; habitability; multi vs. uni-verse; etc.).

    Yes, for example; Dembski has offered his specified complexity which offers a working positive scientific model.

    And just because there is coherence, like I said to Kevin, doesn’t necessarily “prove” anything; it only assumes that it will be true, thus whatever the *data*, it will “work” within the system (to me this is just circular).

    I don’t think ID is necessarily “biblical.” ID assumes a “naturalist” model as much as neo-Darwianism does. It’s what they fill the “gap” in with that is different (i.e. causation). The Darwinist fills the gap with materialistic causation; while ID fills it with an “intelligence” (not necessarily the God of the Bible) . . . like Antony Flew did (he became a plain old “theist” hopefully a Christian one before he passed — based upon what he saw in the ID movement). So both of these are “materialist” in some sense.

    What ticks me off is that ID scientists aren’t allowed to be part of the scientific enterprise (for political reasons). Thus they don’t have a chance to get “peer reviewed” and thus legitimized as offering working scientific models. Which makes it easy for folks like you to discount ID out of hand (simply because the “Academy” rejects it).

    I reject geocentrism based upon the evidence, the data (the emperical observation). For the same reason that I reject macro-evolution.

    • You reject “macro”evolution based on evidence and data? The only way to reach such a categorical judgment is to be unaware of the overwhelming evidence for common descent (the major evolutionary hypothesis that requires what you call macroevolution). Why not browse the rich materials posted by Steve Matheson, a developmental cell biologist at Calvin? Some of it is technical, but he does a good job of breaking it down for us nonspecialists, and in a Christian context.

      • One can entertain doubts about the grand evolutionary narrative without calling into question the evidence for common descent. Michael Behe does just that.

        It seems a rather strong position to maintain that natural causes are sufficient to explain the development of life on earth. The evidence doesn’t rule that out as a possibility, but it is far from proving it to be true.

      • Iohannes, there’s no such thing as knock-down drag-out proof in science. *No* theory, no matter how well supported by the facts, can claim to be irrefutable. But: whatever alternative theory is advanced must do some key things: (1) it must account for the same facts, events, etc., that the old theory does; (2) it must integrate with other well-established theories; (3) it must make testable predictions that are more productive (i.e., lead to the discovery of new things) than the old theory. An alternative to evolution, at a minimum, has to be at least as effective in, say, developing new medication and predicting transitional species (the elaboration of whale evolution is a stunning achievement: if evolutionary theory were correct, whales have to be descended from land mammals who made the transition to an aquatic environment–easily falsifiable predictions–but the evidence found supports the predictions).

        Nevertheless, the original article is about the antiquity of the earth.

        If you’ve read the linked article that Kevin noted, Josh makes an important observation:

        ancient-earth theory is used to find oil, coal, and mineral ore. That to me is more important than the theological considerations in the first excerpt–theologians and pastors can speculate all day about things because it doesn’t actually affect their jobs. It’s really easy to tell a geologist in your congregation to stop believing in the theories he uses every day when you’re not the one who will get fired for not being able to find any new mineral deposits. If you don’t like a theory, you need to find something that does the same job at least as well as the one currently in use.

        The same principle holds for evolution.

      • Jonathan Wells does an excellent job at throwing light on “common descent;” and its problems. I’ll take your assertion on my “unawareness” as a nice rhetorical jab. In order to accept the leaps necessary to interpret the data the way you do (or Steve Matheson does) is to be committed to the naturalist system that we’ve already been discussing. I don’t think the evidence is there; the fossil record is empty, and I see no evidence for speciation whatsover (beyond that: natural selection as a mechanism can’t do the heavy lifting it is purported to do).

        We simply disagree, Joel and Kevin.

      • …for starters, we probably disagree about what counts as “an excellent job.”

  12. Needless to say, I second everything that Joel is saying. Thanks Joel! Once again, I also agree with John about being able to adopt large portions of the evolutionary scheme without necessarily regarding it as comprehensive.

  13. Thanks, Joel. We might have to agree to disagree. I’m acquainted with the principles you cite, albeit mainly through philosophy of social science, one of my areas of study. Like Nagel, when it comes to evidence for the sufficiency of known natural causes to account for the rise and development of life, I just don’t see this as approaching the weight of the evidence for earth’s antiquity. The former thesis involves claims that are much more wide reaching, and substantial rough patches in the evidence remain. Anyhow, even if I can’t persuade you, I wish you well. Blessings in Christ, John.

    • I tried to post a link, but i’ didna work. Yes, you can find me at the devil university, ASU 🙂

      • I was going to try and link your bio too, but it wouldn’t let me. I lived out there for awhile (my Dad and bro still do). I attended a small Bible College out there (in Paradise Valley area) — Southwestern College.

        It’s all coming together now, the “devil university” 😉 .

        I looked at your colleagues slide show — interesting — it seems he engages some of the genetic fallacy with Wells (i.e. spends alot of time trying to discredit his credentials — but I think those stand on their own [unless two PhD’s, one from Ivy, don’t count]).

        Anyway, I think we just disagree, Joes; but thanks for the interaction. Stay cool.

  14. Ok, I came in late s’ok.

    The article says “In other words, God designed the earth intentionally to mislead all those who are unwilling to ignore the obvious history his natural creation reflects. Reformed believers should be quick to reject this possibility on the grounds that it denies the truth of Romans 1:20, where Paul assures us that God’s character is evident in the universe he created. Apparent age makes God a deceiver.” [emphasis mine]

    This suprises me, especially coming from a committee of calvinists. Is this the same God who set (If there was an Adam and Eve. Oh I see your quandry)Adam and Eve in the garden and intentionally sent the serpent(I’ll concede maybe not literal serpent) to deceive Eve. He also hardened Pharoah’s heart to believe that he could prevail against God. Who is man to find fault?

    Most of scripture that is not simple history, if you accept it at all, is a call for man to repent and come to God, which is itself deceptive, because in calvinsist theology no-one is capable of such a move, unless God so moves him. So why even tell a man who has no ability to move, as if he did have said ability?

    So your argument that if you accept God’s explicit message on it’s face of the creation story, you have to believe God is a deceiver, kind of smells.
    Natural law proves that a man could not possibly raise from the dead. So God has deceived the masses, because everyone knows from natural law that it can not happen.
    Then Jesus told the parable of the talents. The man with the fewest talents buried his in the ground because he said “blah blah blah” Jesus in the story did not disabuse him of his delusion, He simply left him to his own logical conclusion. Same with the wealthy young man who asked what good thing he should do to earn Heaven. Jesus left him with his delusion: “sell all that you have and be messianic like me”. If you desire the natural order to confirm your faith in its particulars, that goes along way toward justifying the historic (especially calvinistic)Christian’s treatment of noneuro races. If survival of the fittest (which is what we are talking about) is true, the unfavored races died out. The modern favored races are all northern and western. Hitler convinced many of the reformed of the science of favored races, and it took another western power to defeat him. If evolution explains the rise of modern man, how can you know that it is not ongoing, that some races (e.g. the amer-indian) were not designed by nature to fail? How do you know that God the calvinist did not decree in eternity past that the amer-indian should become extinct? Many thousands of races of proto-man did exactly that, though they cried over their lost children as they watched them die. Maybe starving Bengalies and Haitians is exactly what God has decreed to shock the gene pool?
    You do not know the path that you saunter down. God has given His revelation. If you discount it where learned men cleave to it, the cup of delusion you drink will be your own.

    • I think the motive for “deception” (where the appearance of natural phenomena does not correlate to reality) has to be the distinguishing factor. Thus, we must focus on the “why” part of the question, “Why does God make the earth appear billions of years old, with death coming before the appearance of man?” Without some tenable hypothesis answering why, the question remains valid as an indicator in favor of macro-evolution. It does not “prove” anything one way or the other, but it does work as a probability indicator within a larger epistemology.

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