CMI article: The strawmen are strong with this one

(Jay Nelsestuen) #1

This is…well, pretty bad. I might have to respond to it in video form.



Sad. It’s not even coherent. I would hardly know where to begin.

It is a good example of the kinds of propaganda from the YEC world which has got to embarrass people like Todd Wood to no end. (Imagine trying to put a respectable academic face on one’s brand of creationism while the public is being bombarded with that kind of silliness. It reads like something a high school youth group would assemble for a “creation conference weekend” with the help of their youth pastor who got excited about such a project from an AIG seminar at the local Bible college.)

(Jay Nelsestuen) #3

It is, albeit, a rather outdated article. From 1995.


Yes. And even the newer stuff from AIG and much of the YEC world reads like “a rather outdated article from 1995.” Seriously. Same old songs and the tunes don’t change much.

I used to attend Morris and Gish events at a nearby Christian conference center in pre-Internet days and you’d be amazed how much of that stuff has been recycled without much change. Yes, the term “theistic evolution” is newer than that but even within this article I see so much stuff from olden days.

If you do a video, I hope you will let us know!

(Jay Nelsestuen) #5

Of course. :slight_smile:

(Casper Hesp) #6

Hi Jay, I think BioLogos already published many articles answering those objections over the years. Maybe they can help you in writing your own response to them. With a few searches I compiled a list of links responding to each of them:

  1. Death as a means of creation?

  2. God’s involvement in evolution?

  3. Evolution and deep time contradicts the Bible?

  4. Original sin is undermined?

  5. Incarnation is undermined?

  6. Adam?

  7. Denying the biblical timescale? (I think there are more relevant articles than this one, but it already provides a preliminary response.)

  8. Denying God’s use of "special creation"

  9. Denying the authority of the Scriptures?

  10. Evolution is without purpose?


You started with a great choice for #1. I’m always absolutely amazed when evolution-deniers actually try to claim that God would never use death for his good purposes. Wow! Good purposes like animal sacrifices? Like in the wages of sin is death? Good purposes like the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our salvation? The death to self that we experience in Christ? You mean the death that we seen in God’s plan virtually everywhere we look?

The blindness of anti-evolution sloganeering has always amazed me.

P.S. The list from CMI is so bad, it burns.

(Mark Twombly) #8

Am I the only one seeing the irony here? If you criticize others for using a ‘straw man’, then don’t do it yourself. I would like to read some specifics from more current articles from CMI. This would be more credible and honest.

On the issue of good coming out of death, to the point, as a Christian you have to be able to explain what Paul says in Romans 5:12: ‘Therefore just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned -’. How do you explain this from an evolutionary point of view? I’m not saying there isn’t a viable explanation - but if the view that this concept stands in opposition to evolution and is so ridiculous, here is your chance not just to state that, but to explain it. It’s one thing to say that the opposite view is crazy, it’s another to give a credible answer as to why. I welcome a credible answer here.

Somerset, NJ

(Jon) #9

First you need to explain how this is a challenge to evolution. Note that this says very plainly death came through sin. It does not say mortality came through sin. The two words are as different in Greek as they are in English, and this is significant.

(Mark Twombly) #10

Thank you Jonathan.

The challenge to evolution is simply this, that death came into the world through sin, and as I understand it, death is a requirement for evolution to occur. For species to adapt and survive, older species have to die, do they not? So the conflict is that sin would have had to enter the world before man had evolved and could sin.

As for the word distinction, I’d appreciate some help to understand what you are getting at. ‘Death’ in Romans 5:12 is the Greek θάνατος, thánatos, with a very straightforward meaning of physical death. I see the word ‘mortal’, e.g. in 1 Corinthians 15:53, is the Greek θνητός, thnētós, appears 6 times in the N.T., meaning ‘subject to death’ (θνητός, thnētós) so the words seem quite closely linked.

1 Corinthians 15:26 says that the last enemy to be abolished is death (θάνατος, thánatos). If death is an enemy, then how can we reconcile this with an evolutionary view of Genesis, where God declares His creation, after the creation of man, to be ‘very good’ (see Genesis 1:31)?



(Jon) #11

Actually it’s reproduction that’s necessary for evolution to occur. Death doesn’t matter so much. But anyway the issue is mortality, not death. Why do animals die? Because they are mortal. Does the Bible say mortality came into the world after sin? No. Does the Bible say animals were created mortal? Yes. Does the Bible say Adam and Eve were created mortal? Yes. Does the Bible say that Adam and Eve would return to the dust because they were made of dust? Yes. All very clear.

Pre-Christian Jewish exposition is equally clear; there is a distinct trend of recognition of the mortality of humans and animals from the start of creation, not a change after the fall.

No, for species to adapt and survive they have to change the allele pool through reproduction. The less fit will die off eventually (and that changes the allele pool too), but that’s not what preserves the species, it’s reproduction that does that.

Of course the words have a common root, but they have very different meanings. What you need to find is evidence that mortality didn’t exist before sin. That’s a big ask. Paul says that death came by sin, and elsewhere in Romans he’s explicit about the death which comes by sin; it’s the eternal death which is meted out at the judgment seat of Christ. That’s the death which is the wages of sin.

It’s a common trick to throw out what Paul wrote (“death came by sin”, “the wages of sin is death”), and replace it with something he didn’t write (“mortality came by sin”, “the wages of sin is mortality”). But that’s not really good Bible study, is it?

Sorry are you saying that mortal people can’t be described as “very good” or something? I’m not sure what you’re getting at. What do you think the Hebrew for “very good” means?

(GJDS) #12

The challenge to any version of evolution stems from the inability for any theory of physical and biological sciences to address the matter of God directly imparting the image of God, and the breath of life, to man.

Once this aspect of the Christian faith is comprehended, arguments from any EC, TE, YEC, OEC, ID etc., cease to have any validity. Romans discusses the law, sin, death, faith and grace, which are all understood in Christ, who was subjected to death and was resurrected. It beggars belief that Christians are involved in controversies on a ToE that cannot possibly be relevant to these tenets of the Faith.

God directly imparts His Image by the DNA of H.sapiens
(Mark Twombly) #13

I think you’ll have to do better than that. Where does it say that man and animals were created mortal? ‘To dust you shall return’ (Genesis 3:19) is post-sin, post-Fall.

As for your distinction between death and mortality, it seems to me you are dangerously close to saying that words have no meaning. There is eternal death which is preceded by physical death for every created being. I just don’t see how you get around the plain meaning of those statements.


(Jon) #14

Right there where it calls them “living creatures”, the term used for mortal creatures in Scripture. Right there where it says that God breathed into Adam “the breath of life”, which is described as the life which is in all mortal creatures, and which returns to God when they die. Right there where it describes Adam as created from the dust of the earth. Right there were Paul says Adam was made of the earth, earthy, and that we have born the same nature as the man who was made of the earth.

Wait, you cut off half off the statement. It says explicitly “for you are dust and to dust you will return”. It does not say “Because you sinned, I am turning you into dust, and to dust you shall return”. It does not say “Because you sinned, I am changing you from non-mortal to mortal”. It says they will return to dust because that’s what they are made of.

On the contrary, I am saying that words do have meaning. Specifically “death” does not mean “mortality” and “mortality” does not mean “death”. You look at the word “death”, and mentally replace it with the word “mortality”. But that’s not what’s in the text. These words are not synonymous, precisely because words do have meaning.

How about that Hebrew term translated “very good”? Shall we return to that? Do you think it’s a term which can’t apply to mortal creatures?

(Mark Twombly) #15

I hesitate to say this, but your arguments have you firmly planted in mid-air. I’ve got nothing else to add here.

(Jon) #16

Would you like to tackle the Hebrew or the Greek? How about starting with that simple Hebrew term for “very good”? Do you think it’s a term which can’t apply to mortal creatures?


The “arguments” are standard issue in any Systematic Theology Dept. at most any evangelical seminary or graduate school. It is hardly anything that’s unique to @Jonathan_Burke.

Strange. The creation was deemed “very TOV”, and only if one allows relatively recent Young Earth Creationist traditions to define TOV is there some sort of issue here. TOV includes the idea of “appropriate” or “just as God intended.” As one of my profs paraphrased it: "Very TOV basically expresses: ‘Nailed it!’ "

Considering how much God designed death into his creation, his justice, and his Gospel (not to mention both OT and NT), I’m always baffled when some pretend that death somehow doesn’t belong in God’s plan for the universe.

(Mark Twombly) #18

If the arguments are so easy and so solid, then I don’t understand why you don’t make them. The Scriptures clearly say that death came through sin (Romans 5) and is an enemy that will eventually be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26). As for the argument that death and mortality are very different concepts, the languages don’t seem to bear that out. I just don’t understand why one of you can’t make a cogent argument here in support of your point. Provide a reference of this ‘standard issue’ from an evangelical source.

(Jon) #19

What is it about the arguments I’ve already made which isn’t clear? I can provide you with additional detail if necessary. The difference between being mortal and being dead is pretty significant. If you’re mortal you’re alive. If you’re dead, you’re not alive. Mortality and death are not synonymous in Greek or English.


I would say so…