Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creationism encounters Christian Pantheism

I encountered a Creationist on my chess site who sent me his talking points on evolution. In my response I tried to reconcile his point of view with mine--did I succeed? I hope so. The Creationist’s talking points are in italics.

Creationist: Some evolutionary scientist refuses creation because they do not want a god. “Professor Richard Lewontin, is an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist and social commentator— He stated “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.” Quote from Lewontin, Richard, Review of The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. In New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.”

Me: It is unfortunate that Lewontin wants to eliminate a god, by which he means (I think) that God as so-conceived by Creationists exists above and beyond and outside of matter and was in existence before the Universe. He believes there can be no proper study of matter which cannot be proven, and since a god cannot be proven he cannot consider it when studying matter. I too do not believe God exists outside of his creation, or existed before his creation. I call God his entire creation, which is everlasting and always was. I see the study of matter and the system by which matter in live form exists and evolves as the scientific study of God.

Creationist: For the creationist the Creation is essential because the Bible states that death came as a consequence of sin but evaluation points to things such as parasitism, suffering, pain, survival of the fittest and death before the fall of mankind. Basically, intentionally or not, death before mankind’s fall implies there is no such thing as sin and no need for a Savior; even when sin and its results are literally evident before our eyes. 

Me: I believe inspired people, not God, wrote the Bible, and that the wisdom it holds in consistent with all the best of human history and human nature; that it is explained (the creation) in the form of stories, myths, analogies, parables, and metaphors which explain truth in clearly understandable terms to everybody. Jesus always used parables to explains truths.

Creationist: One example of the negative effects of the belief in evolution is the valuing of one type of human over another and cheapening of life. The original title of Darwin’s book was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Though evolutionary theory did not invent racism and genocide, it sure gave fuel to the fire. The worst genocides of the 20th and 21st Centuries (click here) by people who embraced evolution and some of its theories. 

Me: The early evolutionary scientists did indeed believe in “lower” races. But that was because they did not understand all races are one species, as they do now, and no one believes that anymore. That thinking was most popular about eighty or ninety years ago.

Creationist: Again, by evolution man’s value is brought down to the level of animals or even lower. There was a study done, in which people were asked if they saw a stranger drowning and their own pet was drowning at the same time, but could only save one, who would you save? Though I do not remember all the details I believe 1/3rd chose saving their pets over a stranger and 1/3rd stated they didn’t know what they world do. I see no moral foundation or base in evolution outside trusting one’s own heart or the heart of others, this I cannot do. I cannot trust my own desires or another’s desires as a base for building morality. Survival of the fittest and materialism are stated by evaluation to be the only absolutes, but from history they are shown not to be a safe functional base for a society. In my view when no principle or values transcend the human heart such as the 10 commandments then society fails and eventually falls. Example the French revolution. 

Me: Man is neither lower nor higher than all the other animals in God’s creation in terms of innate value. All must die so others may live, as consumption of food is necessary to life and death part of God’s plan. “Fit” to survive is   now understood to be only one factor involved in natural selection--all creatures are subject to other evolutionary pressures--luck (being in the wrong place at the wrong time) causes death as well as not being fit, and often the fittest do not survive for this and many other reasons. “Survival of the fittest,”  like sub-human races, is an old and out-dated conception of evolution. God created evolution and death for the purpose of sustaining life (I believe) over immensely long periods of time: how wonderful! I do believe we instinctively recognize such rules as the Ten Commandments and the beatitudes of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount as rules we should live by, because we intuitively recognize rules which will result in our living longer and better lives. I believe the resurrection Jesus spoke of was meant to be a spiritual one, experienced here on earth.

Creationist: The Bible says that mankind’s creation was special and different from the other animals and we were created in the image of God. Genesis 1:24-25, 26-28, 2:7 (click here) In contrast evolution of any kind says, mankind is no different than and is just another evolving animal. Because of evolution Mankind is no longer considered to be made in the image of God and of great value by creation and redemption, but we are thought even to be a blight upon the world. In my opinion, we mankind, are seen, because of evolutionary theories, to be like a herd animal that has lost its predators and needs to be culled. Example 5 min video onJustify Your Existence (click here) or die.
More closely to your question now; some believe in creative evolution, but I believe this theory ultimately diminishes the power and authority of God and diminishes a personal relationship with our creator. 

Me: I believe we have God in each of us, or God “lives” in each of us, and that the fact of evolution, far from diminishing God’s powers, shows God in a greater light, as well as making possible for God to exist in more creatures constantly throughout time. I believe that “in the image of God” is a metaphor (an analogy) to God in that it means we too are creators, our species being able to think about thinking, and therefore able to create. We (and all his other creations) are the way God experiences his creation, his body so to speak.

Creationist: In other words a distant impersonal god who stands afar off, watches ooze form vs. a God who intimately forms man of the dust of the ground, gave man a special time to be with Himself Genesis 2:1-3 (click here) and then lovingly stretches out His hands on the cross to save all who call upon Him.
Or—with evolution a god who cultivates humans by cruelty and blood vs a God who desires to the utmost to save from the power of and to put an end to sin along with its two children; suffering and death. God hates sin and its results. Suffering and death were not His plan for us, but He had a plan to save us from it. “Affliction will not rise up the second time” Nahum 1:9 (click here) and it will not have come in vain to those who call upon His Blessed name. “All things work together for good…” Romans 8:28 (click here) 

Me: Ooze and dust are very similar--an explanation of life-infused matter. The explanation of the cross as meaning death to save mankind is a more recent one. In the days of the early Christians it meant that man’s life was “crossed” by both joy and suffering, life and death--and all opposites, but that if we followed Jesus’s advice we could transcend the suffering and death spiritually, and become like children in that way, reborn.

Creationist: With evolution god would have no claim over us nor close concern for our wellbeing. However, because of Creation Gods has as special claim over us and closeness to us. Genesis 2:7(previously given), Revelation 14:6-7, Exodus 20:8-11 (click here) 

Me: God’s creation IS evolution, and certainly has a claim over us in that, I believe.

Creationist: They can breed bacteria and even splice some jeans but it is still the animal or plant within the limits of the code provide. In my opinion the code came only by the Creator who built in both variety, flexibility in expression of and gave limits to, in the Genome. 

Flexibility and limits are both build into the genome, indeed, obedient to all the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. which are in whole, God’s matter.

Do I believe in evolution? I believe in only one of the 6 types of evolution (Click here) that is “micro evolution” which is small adjustments to environment, climate, and minor outer changes which is observable. But these changes are within a specific “kind”. For example, a salmon is a “Kind” but due to isolation from each other and differing environmental factors the salmon kinds have become many “species”. Principal Pacific salmon species: Sockeye, Chum, Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Chinook, Coho, Steelhead and Pink Pacific salmon species (Click here) As you can see from the picture of the Pacific salmon from the link, that they vary in size, color and even life span but they all have one thing in common, they are all still Salmon. 

In conclusion, while some do believe that the Bible and evolution are mutually compatible from a different view on the creation story, in my small opinion they are not compatible. I do not have a problem with science. I just have a problem with the interpretation of the evidence from the world view or paradigm of evolution. I assert that both sides utilize faith but that the science actually supports a Biblical faith and world view, and that evolution is incompatible with the Bible. 

What do you think?

Me: Whatever we call them, all species evolve and adapt--a wonderful creation of  God!!


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