Why I changed my mind


(John Dalton) #181

What is odd though is that two perspectives are required–one in which billions of years is a feasible time scale, and one in which a couple of thousand years has any relevance. Certainly possible for an all-powerful God, but still odd to me. Even going down to a far smaller scale, that of relatively recent human evolution, I find it strange that for the bulk of it intervention seemed relatively passive, until a more relatively recent time when direct intervention seemed to become a pressing necessity.


(George Brooks) #182

@fmiddel

Now you are just being rhetorical. He may have been King of the Gods, but metaphysically he was not Yahweh, or anything close to Yahweh. He was not the author of morality. In fact, morality was something inherent to the Universe … which even the Gods had to obey…


#183

Sure. I’m not saying Greek polytheism was monotheism. It would probably fit better in pantheism.


(James Schramm) #184

I’m not understanding what you are trying to say here but, again, it seems to miss the point.

IMO, the majority of Christians believe the following:

God is a perfect Creator
God’s ultimate creation is man in order to worship Him
The entire universe was created specifically for man
And, as i have found out, now a number of people believe that the perfect way to create the universe was to let it ‘bake’ for billions of years. Couldn’t have been done any other way.

I am challenging those assertions. I may be wrong but I see nothing to demonstrate they are accurate.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #185

God is the Perfect Creator. When we think about perfection, we think about God’s power, but we need to think about God’s wisdom also. God’s ways are not our ways, so we cannot hold God to our values.

There are basically two ways to build something. You can build a house by building a house, or you can build a house by developing the tools, the workers, and the industry needed to build that house.

One way you have a nice house, but you have done all the planning and work, so no one else benefits from the house. You have done the right way, but the selfish way. The other way many people benefit.

God’s ultimate creation is humanity, made in God’s own Image, so humans can share God’s creative, rational, and spiritual nature. Again God could have created humans ex nihilo, but God did not.

Instead God created them the same way God fashioned a home for us on planet earth, step by step. This has the additional benefit, not incidental I expect, of creating a huge diversity of creatures as the earth evolved in many forms.

The entire universe was created specifically to be an incubator and home for humankind. The death of early stars provided the heavy elements needed for the evolution of people. It is fine tuned for life and not to fly apart.

Philosophy is not based on historical change, nor is science. Only Christianity is a historical faith. God does not create all at once. Even the Genesis 1 takes 6 “days.” Gradual change is real and good, even if we don’t like it.

A big part of this argument is death. Is death per se evil, even though God created our universe as finite and therefore subject to death. A big part of who we are is that humans are mortal.

If mortality is evil then, we are evil. If there were no death then there would be no need for anyone else than the original human beings. Arguing against death is arguing against ourselves.

Instead God gives us the gift of Eternal Life when we do what is good and right so we gain the benefits of a limited life and eternal life with God. Sadly many people are not interested in living a good life, but only living a selfish life.


#186

I can understand why you believe this if you start with a belief in God as creator. However, if you don’t start from that assumption how would you arrive at the position that the purpose of the universe is to produce humans?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #187

Check.

I agree a lot of Christians might sign on with this one … but I’m guessing this is more our hubris speaking than any actual Scriptural teaching. There are scriptures that do place us in high value indeed relative to other creatures here on earth … extrapolating that out to say we’re the best thing that happened in the entire universe … I don’t think any of us talk that way when we’re sober, and scriptures certainly don’t support it.

Check.

See reply above. If this is taught in scripture, I’d like to see where.

In my own vast experience creating universes, I usually like to make sure the oven is pre-heated to 350, (don’t do 400 like some recipes call for – it will burn on the outside while it is still mushy in the middle). After about 2 billion years, let it cool for another billion before serving. Maybe you have more experience creating universes than I do, though. I’m always up for learning.


(James Schramm) #188

I think Psalm 8 could potentially answer both of these points:
5 You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their[g] feet:

I think you’ve backed yourself into a corner here. You’ve agreed that God is the perfect Creator. Which means He can not create something imperfectly. The fact that the universe appears to be very old and that our solar system came along billions of years later is the only way it could have been done according to you. You have no other option. Ironically, if we were to bring a YEC they would tell you that you are completely wrong and likely not a true believer. Personally, I think a 6,000 year old universe is a ridiculous position. And I certainly don’t see perfection in the old age model. But like you, I’m always up for learning. If you can demonstrate that your model is perfect in every way, I’m listening.


(Phil) #189

Forgive the intrusion, but I think @Mervin_Bitikofer is saying that it is the way it was done, not that it is" the only way it could have been done. "


(Mervin Bitikofer) #190

That’s the Psalm I had in back of my mind too as I was responding. “… rulers over the works of your hands; …” I think could be understood (both then and now) to be a highly provincial or limited domain (i.e. here on earth). I can’t imagine that even the Psalmists of that time would have imagined us as being rulers over the starry skies [what we now understand as the cosmos] as well. And even here on earth our “rulership” is more of a stewardship than any kind of sovereignty. I think a good scriptural case can be made for that in any case.

There really isn’t any corner for anybody to be backed into so far as I can see. An imperfect creature like myself cannot presume to know what the perfect God (not at all a creature) would consider good. And it was just “good” I believe that was the adjective assigned to creation – not “perfect”. So while I maintain God is perfect (even this ‘assessment’ coming from a mere human creature is more humorous than profound), it doesn’t entail that all creation must be considered perfect. If this (in your eyes) makes God less than perfect, then so be it … I’ll take your critical evaluation in that regard about as seriously as I take my own above. My conviction isn’t something that I feel compelled to demonstrate – it isn’t even scientific, nor do I feel a need to try and frame it that way. It’s a starting point; a presupposition.

So I guess all I’m saying is that you seem to want to play the human engineering/science game of saying “well if this was any good, then it should have been done in the way and with the timetable that I and my 21st century friends all agree would have been much better.” The proper Christian response to that (IMO) should be: “so much the worse for all these critics; good luck with their continued efforts; and give the end of Job a good read when you decide you’re ready to see how God responds to self-appointed critics.”

Added edit:
You are correct that your challenges will or do carry some traction with some creationists who, like you, have taken up this mantle of judgment about just how God is or is not allowed to work or communicate with us in Scripture. So you could be forgiven for thinking that the same argument ought to carry weight among thinking Christians here.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #191

First of all belief in God as the Creator is not an assumption, it is an understanding of the universe which is based on revelation and logic.

The Greeks did not believe that God was the Creator, but that humans as thinking beings were superior to the rest of the universe.

Darwin taught us that through evolution the universe produced humanity,


(George Brooks) #192

@Relates

Roger,

Well, actually, “belief in God as the Creator” is both.

Is this how you were raised? To quibble over word choice in virtually every sentence?
Did you correct your parents about the words they chose?

It would be one thing if your correction was correct.

But quite clearly to some, “belief in God as the Creator” is, in terms of linguistic logic, an assumption from which other conclusions are derived.

The Number One definition for this word in Dictionary.com is:
Assumption: ( as·sump·tion )
noun

  1. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
    “they made certain assumptions about the market”

Why would you berate @T_aquaticus over a word choice that is, in fact, rather perfectly on point?


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #193

@gbrooks9,

I strongly disagree. I cannot speak for you, but I can speak for myself and people I know well. I do not accept as fact as true without proof that God/YHWH is the Creator of the universe. We have just been talking about how the Big Bang Theory is proof that God is the Creator, so how can I say that this is assumed, that is accepted without question.

When we say the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth…” we are declaring that this is a belief, based on revelation justified by reason, not an assumption.

My parents taught me to think critically and not along with the kind of serious mistake in thinking that you and @T_aquaticus make here. It is what it is, which is not an assumption by your definition.


(George Brooks) #194

@Relates

I think you do unnecessary harm to your intellectual interrogatives when you apply so many of your own rules to everyone around you.


(Richard Wright) #195

Hello James,

I’ll tackle all your mistakes here at once. :wink:

Again, it matters not what % of the universe is inhabitable for humans. Even for an atheist, in considering God creating the universe for men to worship him, the % of inhabitable universe is a non-factor, since you wouldn’t know how many humans God wanted to create or in how many places, to begin with. More deeply, the real #, whatever is it, is only a consequence of this incredibly wonderful physical paradigm. Which has quarks coming together to make sub-atomic particles, which make atoms, which make molecules, which make or can be made to make almost any kind of material or structure, including an amazing being we call Homo Sapiens. Along with the physical laws which work on the special properties of this matter, you have galaxies, black holes, dark energy, etc. It’s simply a matter of the essence of this physical paradigm that only a few planets will have the prerequisites for intelligent life. But it’s not a theological problem at all. As I said in my last post, though the bible is neutral on intelligent alien life, it makes complete sense to a Christian believer to have us be the only ones here, or so far away that we can’t communicate to others, since it is very difficult as it is for humans to fully focus on God, the way Jesus requires, in this world. Discovered alien life would be a major distraction. Look at the lack of physical descriptions of Jesus in the NT, there is more in Isaiah 53. Give God credit for being intelligent, he created this universe and left out almost all extraneous information on the physical representation of his son since he knows the weaknesses of humans (that was for free). In my view, the fact that we can’t even get a bleep of a transmission from anyone in deep space makes perfect spiritual sense. But all that matters not, nobody has any right to say that the % of habitable universe is an evidence against God, because no one outside of Himself has any idea how many intelligent life forms he wanted this universe to evolve.

How can anyone possibly say that this universe was created in an, “non-omnipotent” fashion? That is completely illogical based on the evidence. Maybe you are unaware, but the upper-limit estimate of the size of this universe 100 billion light years from one end to the other. Do you know how large a light year is? Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. At that incredible speed, it would take a photon 100,000,000,000 years to get from one end to the other. A LY in miles is ~5,879,000,000,000. Imagine 100 billion of those. That distance is unfathomable to humans, it’s only something we can write on paper. And this universe is expanding at a rate faster than the speed of light. And this universe contains, at latest estimate, 200,000,000,000 galaxies, each with 10 million to 1 trillion stars each. But, according to you, somehow something that large, massive and powerful is, “non-omnipotent”? It’s hard to put into words how utterly wrong-headed that notion is. You could just as easily state that God created this huge universe with only 1 planet evolving life to show us how special we are and how fragile life is.

“Competence” is a non-starter philosophically, but I’ll indulge you a little bit. Before I get into the details, let me quote from the high priest of positive atheism, Richard Dawkins. Describing a God that created a universe to evolve life, he said that such a god couldn’t exist because it would necessarily have to have an intelligence, “beyond understanding” to pull it off. To him, that excluded that possibility of God existing, because God would be too, “complicated” to account for. He completely botched that argument but it’s beside the point. Let me repeat, he said that God would have to be unimaginably intelligent to create the life-creating universe that you call, “incompetently” made. So, the length of time that it took us to get here is completely irrelevant to anything. As with % of habitability, length of time to get us here is only a consequence of the wonderful physical paradigm that God (or whatever) gave us and created us with. But what difference does it make for us? The world we inhabit, and our experiences would be exactly the same. God could have created us instantaneously if He had wanted to, but theologically he couldn’t have. That’s because in this paradigm, things change over time. If we were, “created” instantaneously, physical things would still evolve and change. Scientists would face a major discordance in what they would find and what they know they should find. And God at one point could be accused of being deceitful, creating something instantaneously that should have evolved to arrive at that point. It simply doesn’t make sense to create the universe of this physical paradigm, instantaneously. And that is just one angle. Creating a 100 billion light year large universe instantaneously takes out the 13.8 BY history that we know it has, removing a fair amount gravitas of this creation and putting man too close to the beginning, and in a sense to God, when it’s clear, to me anyway, that this place was created to see how great God is and to put us in our proper place in His creation. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway. Many people think that such a gradual, nuanced plan to get us here such as cosmological and biological evolution as a divinely-inspired work of art.


#196

Science taught us that through gravity and other forces the universe produced Jupiter. Does that mean the purpose of the universe is Jupiter?


(James Schramm) #197

I’m curious if this has been your position throughout your Christian life, or were you once an YEC and then changed that position based on the science?


(James Schramm) #198

You do realize that we’ve only known this for about 30 years? We didn’t even know that there were other galaxies until the 1920s. And we certainly didn’t how many galaxies until the Hubble in 1990. Was that God’s perfect plan?To wait until the the end of the 20th century to demonstrate his omnipotence through the size of the universe?

Let me quote a couple of Christians:

This was Ken Ham’s exchange with Pat Robertson.

Pat Robertson: “The truth is, you have to be deaf, dumb and blind to think that this Earth that we live in only has 6,000 years of existence, it just doesn’t, I’m sorry. I think what we’re looking at is that there was a point of time after the Earth was created, after these things were done, after the universe was formed, after the asteroid hit the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs — after that, there was a point of time that there was a particular human being that God touched — and that was the human that started the race that we are now part of.”

I’m assuming that is pretty close to your position.

Ken Ham: “Really Pat Robertson? You mean there is no way God, the infinite Creator, could not have created the universe in six days just six thousand years ago?,” Ham rhetorically asked. “God could have created everything in six seconds if He wanted [to]! And it’s not a matter of what you think anyway — it’s a matter of what God has clearly told us in His infallible WORD!”

I’ll ask you same question I did Mervin; Did you always hold this position or were you an YEC at one point and then changed because of the science?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #199

I was never a deliberate YEC, though my parents might have defaulted to that I suppose had it been an issue pressed upon them. They didn’t run in circles where these kinds of things were argued about, neither of them having college degrees. And my own education (including two years at a Mennonite college) never pushed anything remotely like what we call “YEC” now. None of my professors had or encouraged the attitude that scriptures are only to be understood “this one proper way”. So while my own thinking has almost certainly evolved, I have always thought in terms of deep time. My views on evolution probably evolved more, though ID was not the militantly polarized “whipping boy” back then as it has become now.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #200

I know you wrote this to others, but since you seem interested in general answers to this question, I hope it’s acceptable if I jump in.

I’m not sure what you’re expecting here in terms of answers.

But as for me, I grew up in a very small town that was not yet polarized (at least, not as I experienced it) by the Culture Wars and strident YECism. I never even heard of YEC until college (and there, I was incredulous to find actual YEC Christians… at a top-tier school). I grew up in a science-positive home where we had Scientific American and National Geographic issues in plentiful supply. I had an organic chemistry set to tinker with in middle school and learned about (for instance) fractals, Messier numbers, the Fibonacci sequence, and computer coding in Basic at an early age.

During a crisis of faith precipitated by other life events, I engaged with a Christian mentor who — previously unbeknownst to me — held strongly YEC beliefs. He pointed out what he saw as the incompatibility of evolution and orthodox Christian faith, and this aggravated my crisis of faith and extended it by multiple years.

Several years ago I finally came to peace with the matter, and embraced the evolutionary creationist position of my youth. This process took a long time and required lots of reflection mostly about epistemology and Biblical exegesis. I had already been convinced of the science from a young age but it took a while for me to find the harmony between it and my faith. I’m still on that journey, actually, but it’s not the point of conflict and source of angst that it once was.