Leaving fundamentalist faith and the compatibility of Christianity and evolution (spin-off)

“Likewise, the Chicago Statement view of inerrancy says that if the Bible says ©reation happened during six mornings and evenings, then by golly God’s word was finsihed after exactly 144 hours”

Hi Chris…

I am confident that you will agree with me that His Word is magestic and alive and applicapble to all generations, and that it is a most worthy endeavor on our part to spend the time to seek the truth He has blessed us with.

Now I do not speak paleo-Hebrew, but as I understand it from Hebrew scholars, the word for evening can also mean “chaos,” and the word for morning can also mean “order.” Moreover, I understand from scientific revelation that time is relative. Therefore six days and six nights from the perspective of the planet we are inhabiting fall into the 144 hour context of a 16 bilion year old universe. Yet there are other parts of the universe where the 144 hour context of six days and six nights constitutes the entire six day old universe.

There are many Jewish scholars who predate Darwin’s theory by many centuries who teach that Genesis gives us two different cosmic clocks, so to speak: one which takes us from the beginning of the universe, time and space, and which is given from the perspective of the beginning of the universe, and the other which begins with the dawn of man (Adam) and is given from our familiar earth based perspective.

Therefore, if we are willing to consider such things, we can easily embrace the inerrancy of a Scripture that speaks of a literal six day universe that is about 16 BYO from our perspective.

Just a little food for thought from an old earth ID fundamentalist Christian.

p.s. the clock is about to strike midnight at the end of day six, brother!

By that definition I am a @deliberateresult version of fundamentalism then.

The only way you could possibly disagree is with several non-sequitors…

Well I do not ascribe to the “grand claims” of evolution.

And modern medicine is not found in scripture.
Computer science is not found in scripture.
Indian food is not found in scripture.

I will make the crazy assumption that these things are all still compatible with a Jesus-centered Christianity.

So this point fails on the facts and basic logic.

That is what the plain reading teaches. God appears to have created life over long periods of time in Genesis. You can take that up with Hugh Ross at Reasons to Believe, because is not really about evolution any ways.

Regardless, you are kinda making my point. In a Jesus centered Christianity, this does not matter so much any ways. We can be wrong about side issues, and look instead to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith.

This is false. The Genesis teaches life was create indirectly. The land and the water give forth plants and animals of many kind. Subject-verb-object. The subject is the land and water, not God. That is the plain reading of Genesis.

I totally agree that evidence exist. I do not, however, think that 1 + 1 = 3 is evidence for God. It is just bad math. That is why I reject ID.

Exactly. That is why I acknowledge evidence.

I do not deny this. Life bears evidence of intelligent design that science cannot see, but we can.

At yet you have not yet produced one place where my faith is not rooted in Jesus. Remember, I do not affirm the grand claims of evolution.

Sounds like you are saying I do not have a Jesus rooted faith.

And if you follow me, I disagree with all of this.

I hold the Bible is inerrant and infallible in all that it affirms. I think they are in error, but their error has nothing to do with evolution.

Please watch one of my Veritas Forums and explain how I deny Jesus.

A reminder of the initial position, before the obfuscating diversions:

>George: As soon as you read Job’s description of snow and hail being stored in warehouses in Heaven, how could anyone claim inerrancy?

> Beaglelady: You can always dance around the issue and claim that it doesn’t really say what it says. It’s a favorite tactic.

So, you allow metaphor in New Testament apocalyptic (the sword in the mouth of the rider on the white horse), and in Jesus’s parables (he is the bridegroom - I take it for granted that your irony is flippant); but call allowing for metaphor in Old Testament wisdom poetry “dancing round the issue” and “a favourite tactic”. Yet the genre is full of such picturesque metaphors not only in Job (eg the description of leviathan) but in Proverbs (descriptions of personified Wisdom and folly) and even the dozen or so wisdom psalms.

So it looks very much as though your “dancing round the issue” is simply sound exegesis against cynical literalism - not that I’d ever suspect anyone here of cynicism, of course.

BTW, here in the UK “bollocks” is considered an obscenity. I don’t know about the US, but you might wish to consider that this Christian blog has an international readership.

@Swamidass

Nicely done! Exactly. The land and the water bring forth life. And ultimately God is behind that, or the same as that. The Hebrew intentionally provides a duplicate intensification of these events … making it clear that God’s work is accomplished via the natural realm…

… like when it Rains. It is God’s rain to make, but nobody doubts that convection currents were also involved.

The poetry is “true,” in that what it means (that God controls the winds and the rains through his mysterious mechanisms, many of which science has since discovered) is true. Taken “literally,” we know that there are no storehouses above the firmament because of astronomy and such, so we interpret those words figuratively, taking them to be a figure of speech used to communicate the above truth.

Perhaps this is arbitrary, but I think it makes sense. The poetry in the Bible is true (because the Bible is true), but since it is poetry, it follows different rules than would a set of propositional statements like a historical narrative.

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Even in this country alone a word can have multiple meanings. Sometimes a word can have both an innocent meaning and a crude one. Therefore, nobody with the first name of “D*ck” should be allowed to register here.

Can’t find Joshua’s original here, but it seems a little disingenuous. Genesis indeed says “Let the earth bring forth”, but then immediately adds “So God made…”.

Any conclusion about direct- or indirect- causation is therefore risky. Michaelangelo could equally say, “Let this marble bring forth David!” and immediately set to work with his chisel.

The meaning of Genesis is, to me, plainly to show the dependance of all life on the earth (which in context, means the ground, eretz, not the planet). It’s as wrong to read secondary causation into Genesis 1 as it is to read a vapour canopy into Genesis 2.

Are you conceding here, Jon, that the canopy actually is a solid dome, then? I ask because I want to make sure this isn’t a typo or just me misunderstanding … perhaps you are here just temporarily “stepping into” others’ shoes and views in order to highlight an hermeneutical inconsistency?

The reason I ask is because if I’m not mistaken you’ve expended considerable effort attacking the solid dome canopy view.

Not at all Merv - I’ve not seen any convincing evidence for a solid dome anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, nor anywhere in the ancient near east, come to that. As you know I’ve done numerous posts on that on The Hump of the Camel, including detailed exegesis of all the “problem” texts (in fact, pretty well all relevant the Old Testament passages). The Hump server seems to be down currently, so I can’t give links. [edit - back online, so interested persons may start here and work forward.]

There is, however, plenty of evidence for solid domes in nineteenth century reconstructions, and for a number of concentric, circular crystal spheres in later Greek “ptolemaic” cosmology, which influenced some Hellenistic Jews such as the Septuagint translators, but that’s also centuries after the event.

No, the “vapour canopy” was a specific idea in vogue amongst YECs for a while, to account for the lack of rain in Genesis 2. A thick canopy of water vapour was postulated, which condensed out eventually at the time of Noah’s Flood. It’s an example of gross speculation, intended to inject a modern (scientific literalist) understanding into the text on scant evidence.

The reading of indirect causation into 1.11 and 1.24 seems to me the same kind of process for a different motive - to accommodate Genesis 1 to evolutionary thinking, quite anachronistically. This is clear in various ways, the first (as I said before) being the parallel of “Let the land produce…” in v25 with “God made… according to their kinds” in v25.

A second parallel with the maritime and air creatures on Day 5 also shows that “processes in nature” are not what is intended at all, for the equivalent of “Let the earth bring forth…” is there “Let the waters teem… and let birds fly in the firmament”; and the equivalent of “God made” is “God created”. This shows that what is in mind is the particular realm and its divinely-created occupants (sea/fish - air/birds - land/animals), and not “natural causation”. Natural (indirect) causation is itself an anachronistic idea, for in the ancient world generally, and not just the Hebrew, personal causation was universal, and there was no concept of “nature” until the Greeks invented “cosmos” many centuries later, and Aristotle (I believe) spoke of “secondary causes” for the first time.

Hence, even in “present” times, Ps 104, far from attributing the initial creation to subsidiary natural causes, attributes the annual growth of crops to God (v14-15) and the creation (bara) of each new genaration to the sending of his Spirit (v30). Plus the active agency of God in all the other things in the psalm. The nearest I can see to secondary causation is that the sun knows when to go down - but that is at the same time when God brings darkness.

In any case, in evolutionary terms the land (eretz) brought forth no new life at all, animal or palant, for it all began in the seas, which conspicuously do not bring forth anything in Genesis.

@Jon_Garvey, you are in the wrong part of Genesis.

I’ll get you the part that @Swamidass is relying upon… to good effect I would say!

@Jon_Garvey, let me help you locate the exact texts:

Gen 1:24
And God said,
Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, [[ “let the earth” << Like so]]
cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

Gen 1:25
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, [[ << like so]]
and cattle after their kind,
and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Verse 25 is an intentional duplicate and “intensification” of how the living creatures were
brought forth … and that God was behind the process as well.

As to your comment about “evolution” occurring in the oceans:
“In any case, in evolutionary terms the land (eretz) brought forth no new life at all, animal or plant, for it all began in the seas, which conspicuously do not bring forth anything in Genesis.”

I think this is a quibble. If the symbolism is God creating, I don’t really see how the Genesis scribe could explain why God was “creating” a Cow in the middle of the ocean.

As it stands, there is a verse about God letting the “waters bring forth” life:

Gen 1:20
"And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life…"
which is then duplicated by

Gen 1:21
"And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth,
which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind,
and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

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@gbrooks9 is right…

@Jon_Garvey’s comment is false.

It says the water gave forth birds and sea creatures of many kinds.

Read the whole passage. I’m quoting from memory to encourage people to actually read the passage and put it here. To be clear, also, I am mirroring the subject-verb-object of hebrew in my paraphrase:

The land gave forth plants of many kinds
The water gave forth sea creatures and birds of many kinds
The land gave forth animals of many kinds
God created…

Which I read as a clear statement that God uses secondary causes to create, and still says that He Himself did the creating. I can’t get more providential than this.

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@Swamidass
@gbrooks9

We have primarily a linguistic thing here, it seems. The devil is in the detail, if we’re going to use detail “bring forth” to imply secondary “natural” causation.

I cite Gordon Wenham’s commentary. “Let the earth produce” in v24 is certainly there (and of the ambiguity I suggest above).

But in v20 the literal meaning is "Let the waters swarm with swarming things (verb with its cognate noun). “Bring forth” is a paraphrastic translation. To quote Wenham:

Usually this stem refers to movement… but it carries with it overtones of abundant fertility.

Regarding birds, the verb is “fly about”, having much the same “swarming” idea.

In verse 11 a similar construction is actually used: “Let the earth grow green with grass” is the closest literal sense Wenham gives it that makes sense in English. Again, fertility and abundance is the issue, not process. Grass grows on the earth, sea creatures swarm in the water and birds in the air, and the earth swarms with animals. Job done.

So why, exactly, would the text wish to introduce any element of self-sufficient creativity through such language?

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Further (to deal with the language as it appears clearly), the word “bring forth” (yatsa) does indeed come as the “response” to God’s command (or deliberation) in v12, providing (according to John Walton) a literary parallel to show the link of Day 3 with Day 6, where yatsa is used in the command/deliberation, and “made” in the fulfilment.

So to summarise the linguistic features of the three passages:

Vv11-12:
Command/deliberation: “Let the land grow green with grass” (or maybe, to show the Heb construction better, “Let the earth grass over with grass”).
Fulfilment: “And the earth brought forth grass.”

V20ff:
Command/deliberation: "Let the waters swarm with swarms… and flyers (uph) fly (oph).
Fulfilment: “And God created…”

V24ff:
Command/deliberation: "Let the earth bring forth living (beings)."
Fulfilment: “And God made…”

V26ff:
Incidentally, note how the words used for man relate to these:
Command/deliberation: "Let us make man…"
Fulfilment: “So God created…”

About that word yatsa, “bring forth”, used only in the fulfilment of v12 and the command of v24, then. Does it imply merely the “fertility” of the earth, as I suggest, or does it contain deep implications about creative secondary causes? Simply check the closest parallels.
Deut 14.22: "all the increase of your seed that the field brings forth year by year"
Ps. 104.14 (the creation psalm): "(Yaheweh) causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth (yatsa) food out of the earth (and wine, and oil, and bread)"
Isa 61.11: “For as the earth brings forth (yatsa) the bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord will asue righteousness and praise…” (don’t forget here Paul’s metaphor in the NT about God giving the increase of the soil for both sower and reaper).

Clearly your garden brings forth its Dahlias in the same way that the earth brought form living creatures, as far as the Hebrew goes. As in Genesis 1 generally, the sense is phenomenological, not ontological.

Now to include providence in this in the general sense that “God providentially makes the land productive” is clearly implicit, though of secondary import, in all these texts, where God’s sole Creatorhood is assumed. To go beyond that to give an impression that the land was given a kind of “co-creator” role (perhaps determining what forms the various vegation or animals would take) goes far beyond the text, and miles away from Israel’s theology.

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@Jon_Garvey

All very nice narrative… but I don’t really see a definitive rebuke of the idea that God is creating by means of the intermediary of natural processes.

One recent posting from a Hebrew scholar suggests that the natural processes actually take precedent over God’s initiative … God lets nature accomplish these ends.

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Well, it would hardly be unusual for an author to fail specifically to rebuke a position he’s never even imagined. I saw that post you mention, but apart from rejecting the idea that one rabbinic interpretation settles the matter, the poster who cited it is simply reading far more into the text than is in there - that’s my opinion as a biblical interpreter for many decades.

Now in the end, there’s no reply to that except for me to point out the details (as I have - but however detailed I make it, it’s always possible to dismiss the cumulative argument as “very nice narrative”, or to use another poster’s favourite non-argument “handwaving”), to point out the anachronism of positing quasi-autonomous natural causes in a text that preceded the concept of nature by at least a few centuries, and to reiterate the inconsistency of a taking concordist approach that seeks to wed late-modern views of nature to ANE Scripture, whilst at the same time pointing fingers at YECs and other concordists for making theological mountains out of molehills of texts.

So I’ve done what I set out to do by treating the text as honestly as I can - others will bring to the text their own presuppositions and make their own judgments, theory-laden or not as the case may be.

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@Jon_Garvey,

Agreed. I think you and I are “more or less” in agreement that you’ve given the issue a treatment thorough enough that others can approach your views objectively, and decide for themselves whether your conclusion(s) is/are persuasive or not.

At the end of the day, there’s only so much satisfaction you can get from a Unitarian Universalist on some matters.

It’s the cross I must bear. (< Hey… see what I did there? Ironic to say the least! :slight_smile:

Nothing personal to you Jon, just where I was when I hit the reply button.

The odd thing is that any information put out by a perfect source of information is limited by the capabilities of the receiver. This is why we require the holy spirit to understand the information reality throws at us. Some people think scientific methodology is enough and everything can be explained by the mathematical language of science. I have not yet seen any math that can transmit emotional information, that can quantify my love and put it into physical units.
The task of the bible was to describe reality in a way that allows it to describe the physical and the emotional reality that shaped the society of the time. To do so it is necessary to use a poetic language that allows people to understand a concept if they can not read or write and that contains a truth that goes beyond the material reality and allows the reader to perceive it where it matters, e.g. in themselves.

If your faith is fundamentalist because it is based on words on a piece of paper (or a screen) it has material foundations and will crumble like the house built on sand. The funny thing of the parable is that the rock upon which to built your house is anything but the stones that you find in the ground. Love provides us with the most gentle forms of touching another persons soul but at the same time is the hardest thing when it comes to comprehension. It contains more energy than the entire universe but can touch you like the stroke of a feather.

The bible was written by primitive goat herders for primitive men as the Hitch would say. Guess in their wisdom they did not consider how primitive men would become when their hearts turned to stone that they could not speak poetic language any more and their minds were blocked to associations that simple words try to convey because they could only see the letters of the words and not their meaning any more - or did they anticipate that even at the end of time there would be still some that read this book with the love of God in their heart so they could still see its eternal truth? Perhaps they were fundamentalists that were founding their faith not just in words written on a piece of paper.

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Marvin, even though not to me, good thoughts.

There’s a need to point out the difference between our concept of poetic, and the ancient world’s. To us “poetry” is something removed from reality, so that Wordsworth doesn’t really write about nature (which is what scientists do), but about his emotional reaction to “reality”. But in some way under the older understanding reality was poetic, and the material, the divine and the subjective belonged together, rather than being divided off into “science” “religion” and “arts”.

As you hint, we’ve lost as well as gained in the transition.

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I wonder if it is perhaps more what you would call figurative language as it goes further than the prosaic language. But then in the age of materialism the transcendence of language has become reduced to its prosaic use.