Hello y’all, I’m Leo.
A while back I found this forum and after surfing a few threads decided to jump into the conversation. I quickly struck up a lively little debate, but school hit hard and I ran out of time to both formulate intelligent answers and devote proper time to assignments. However, I’m back again, having gotten my papers in and my grades out, and I thought I’d resurrect the topics of discussion, as I was enjoying the conversation.
So here we go.
My main point was related to the separation of “science” and “theology” as observed by those both evangelical and atheist. I say observed, because I believe there is no difference, and the two are inseparable. Let me define my terms, as are so often lacking in these playground word fights.
Theology: knowledge of God (the true God, three in one, Creator of the heavens and the earth).
Science: the word literally means knowledge. The subject is not specified, therefore, I will use science in the popular manner, to express both the sum of common human knowledge, and the methods used to collect that knowledge.
Terms I’ll use later:
Natural Selection (NS): Variation within the expressed genes of a certain pool, driven primarily by environmental circumstances. NS leads to a net loss of genetic information as variance is eliminated. Cannot be used to build genomes and only pares down what exists.
Evolution (E): A supposed gain of genetic information leading to development of completely new traits. Distinct from NS in that it leads to a net gain of genetic information, and could be used to build genomes.
Here is my statement: God designed and built all Creation according to His original perfect plan. It can be described by the orderly language of mathematics and shows evidence of His genius handiwork, though has been distorted by the Curse. If theology is the knowledge of God, and science is the knowledge of Creation, then the two are intrinsically linked, inseparable, just as any artist and his painting. As an example, if you found a painting in the woods, no reasonable person would assume it came about by chance, but instead would assume it was painted by an intelligent artist. In summary, separating science and theology is like studying the brushstrokes exclaiming, “What marvelous happenstance!” pretending that there was no artist behind the painting, then going and having tea with the artist later, yet never mentioning his painting.
Now, onto the topic of presuppositions. I made the simple claim that I presuppositionally accept the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch), and indeed all Biblical history as literal and accurate, fit to determine scientific views of the world and the morality by which we live. I don’t have notes on what exact objections were brought up (and I really don’t want to read back through 500+ posts…) so I will endeavor to provide some broad-stroke defenses to what I remember being asked and let you kind folks remind me of the rest.
First, is Genesis 1-11 a “mytho-history” as so many “apologists” seem to believe?
Some posts I read implied that the entire Bible was a mytho-history, not just Gen. 1-11, but for the sake of brevity I shall focus on this limited passage. Very simply, there is no reason to classify the text as “mytho-history”. The wording used is factual and historical, with no hint of the Hebrew poetry that fills Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and other songs present throughout the Old Testament, even those written by Moses. Hebrew poetry takes a very distinct form, and nowhere is it recognizable in the narrative.
Other New Testament writers, and Jesus himself also authenticate Gen. 1-11 as real history. For example, in 2 Peter 3:
“3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
This passage references the event of Noah’s Flood as literal, and compares it to the coming judgement and destruction. If Genesis were mytho-history, then is the coming judgement also mytho-history?
And Jesus in Matthew 19:
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Here Jesus references Gen. 1-2, saying “Haven’t you read?”. If Genesis were mytho-history, why on earth would God Himself reference it as a foundation for moral teaching?
There are many more passages. Luke notes Jesus’s geneaology right back to Adam (that mythical man??) at the beginning of his book. In Luke 17, Jesus references the “days of Noah”, and everyone outside the ark being destroyed, again in reference to coming judgement. There are more references, but I digress.
Genesis 1-11 isn’t “scientifically accurate”. I put the last phrase in quotations for good reason: what man describes as scientifically accurate can change any time something new is discovered, and as such comparing the words of an infallible, all-powering, omniscient God to the miniscule knowledge of men such as us is already a logical fallacy. It’s completely irrelevant if Genesis 1-11 is accurate to what people think they know, but I’ll go farther and say it fits perfectly with what we see in the world today. If Genesis were a theory, I think its predictions have been laid out perfectly (as they would, coming from God).
Isn’t Genesis full of “mythical elements”, like talking snakes and trees with magic fruit and such?
I separated my answer from the question for emphasis: Who decides what’s mythical and what’s factual? The omniscient all-powerful God, or fallible, sinful men, deceived by naught but convincing words, limited by a thousand factors from seeing truth? The answer should be clear.
The movement of the tectonic plates during the Genesis flood would create/require an impossible amount of heat in/from the earth, enough to boil away everything that makes the planet hospitable.
First, I’ll note that the asker assumed heat within the earth’s core was caused by radioactive decay and made an additional statement based upon that, but that theory is not proven in any way, so I will ignore speculation for now. There are two very simple answers here: the first is that God simply did it (His purpose was to destroy every trace of an old world, and He can use whatever mechanism He likes to accomplish His purposes), and the second, after studying available literature, is known as the hydroplate theory, with which some of you may be familiar. The basic idea is that the tectonic plates “float” on a layer of SCW, aiding both the flood waters’ rise and the movement of the plates. There are some pieces of corroborating evidence (black smokers), but this has yet to be proven, and remains a theory. I’ll refrain from quoting papers and lectures as of yet.
Those were the main objections I remember, but let me know if I missed any big ones.
Moving on, we come to, in my opinion, the crux of the matter. There are plenty of reasons to deny the idea of evolution (as distinct from natural selection) in the context of modern science, but beyond that there is one large, glaring, destructive moral issue about accepting evolution. As follows:
If evolution is true, as generally thought of, then God must’ve called death and suffering very good. To go further, there is evidence in the fossil record of death, cancer, arthritis, thorns, and other things that the Bible says are results of the Curse and not part of the natural order. Evolution requires that this record of death and suffering come before human existence, yet God calls creation “very good” after he creates human kind. See the issue?
Going further, the idea of evolution is incompatible with substitutionary atonement. Note that someone can still believe in substitutionary atonement and evolution, and they are redeemed for that belief, it’s just inconsistent, and deviating from their view of the Gospel on account of evolution is indeed heresy.
To go even further, evolution is incompatible with substitutionary atonement because it assumes sin and death before man, undermining the account of original sin, undermining the very purpose for a savior in the first place. If death and sin were called very good by God, then why would we need saving from it? If someone chooses to accept both evolutionary foundations and substitutionary atonement then they may as well believe that we will all be “saved” to an eternity of pain and death. This view is totally inconsistent, which does preclude people from holding it.
In summary, I believe the historical books of the Bible are completely literal, pointing to a Christ who was sent to pay for the sins of all mankind, originated in Genesis, payed for in the Gospels, and will be erased in the coming consummation, along with death and suffering. Without the foundation of a literal Genesis salvation makes no sense, and there is no purpose in life, for if we are saved at all it may be to a “very good” heaven of death and cancer.