How Not to Argue Against Evolution

(Matt) #225

How is it that whenever we start talking about evolution we end up talking about abiogenesis. I can’t say this clearly enough. THESE ARE NOT THE SAME THINGS. For evolution to work at all we need self-replicators. How self replicators arose is a big question and as this discussion shows, not at all a settled one. Most working scientists I read admit this. We have some ideas, but really no clear theory or consensus at all. But I thought we started out talking about Young Earth Creation, here. The idea that the entire world, all rock, all life etc. is less than 10,000 years old or so, that all life was specially created and that life doesn’t share common ancestors outside of the ill-defined genetic “kinds.”

MOST thinking scientists of various philosophical persuasions are uncertain about how life began. But VERY FEW reject the 4.5 billion-year earth and the shared descent of all life. Even supposed creationist heroes like Behe and Stephen Meyer don’t dispute it. The “Old Earth” Creationist community does have some limited support among working scientists, and sometimes the criticisms they bring are useful, I think.

This is an important place to note that we use the word “evolution” to describe BOTH a collection of data in need of explanation (genetic, fossil, geologic evidence) and a scientific theory proposing a mechanism that explains that data. Even though the evidence for the shared ancestry of all life is overwhelming, there certainly are questions about the mechanisms. I follow this stuff at least a little bit, and parts of the scientific community are all abuzz right now about “evolution 2.0.” Sure, there is a camp of old-school darwinists who sometimes appear dogmatically committed to traditional natural selection explanations, even though there’s plenty of reason to think that’s at best only part of the story.

No matter what your philosophical or religious commitments are, I hope we can agree that we need more real science here. I think some small segments of the big-tent creationist community are making some limited progress in pushing toward real theories that fit our data. But then the whole thing is made a laughing stock by the young earthers. I’m sorry, but these are not defensible beliefs. You can’t build a theory by taking potshots at someone else’s. You can’t find truth by uncritically spreading lies.

(Tim Teichman) #226

I find it interesting that there are ongoing and vehement arguments made here against evolution.

Made in response to an article titled “How Not to Argue Against Evolution”.


You are not describing the mind-body mystery in the above. There’s no mystery in what causes death. People who wrote the Biblical narrative with all of the references to “sleep state” didn’t really know what the brain was for as an organ. I’m sure many guessed, but the generic consensus was that thinking was done by the heart. Aristotle, for example, thought that brain was a body-cooling organ. And I don’t blame him. Anatomy is complicated.

Hence, we still carry those cultural and linguistic misconceptions in our language when we describe the heart to do something it doesn’t, which is thinking. And not it wasn’t a metaphor at the time. People actually thought that heart was doing thinking. Some of the most intelligent and educated people at the time thought that too.

So, looking back… we know much more about the causes of death, since we can determine these with forensic autopsies with certain degree of accuracy. And we actually hang our justice system on that accuracy. Likewise death isn’t that complicated when it comes to understanding it as a cessation of brain function, most of the time due to asphyxiation caused by organ failure.

That’s the thing… I’ve tried to understand it over the years of being a part of Adventist church, and there’s no “layer of metaphoric interpretation” that I can find to connect it to what we know and understand about death? To me it seems to be a euphemism for “I have no idea what happens, so I’ll replace it with a metaphor for sleep”. But that euphemism is somewhat misleading, especially in the awkward scenarios where there’s no body left intact to point to “sleep-like” state, and it’s scattered around the forest, or digesting in some animal’s stomach. It’s not a very peaceful picture that “soul sleep” attempts to paint. I get why it exists. It’s comforting to many while rejecting dualism, but if we shoot for accuracy I think we should stop using it. Since sleep and death are two very different states. Likewise, describing “soul sleeping” when body is absent … is somewhat problematic IMO.

I think you may not because you view it through the lens of assumption about cultural commonalities that shifted into metaphors that people today assume mean something else. I already gave you an example of “thinking with a heart”. We know people don’t think with the heart, so we assume that people didn’t really mean “actual heart”. But they did. They meant thinking with the actual heart. Hence you can’t really accurately translate conceptual meaning. You can approximate words, but much of the conceptual meaning has shifted quite a bit.

Of course, you are right, what makes Biblical narrative so appealing is the fact that it leverages long-lasting cultural archetypes to paint moral lessons. And all of us can relate to some “inherently human” concept that transcend time and language.

On the other hand, you have to remember that Bible alone was not the reason for why Christianity was popularized. I would argue that politics of Roman Empire had more to do with forceful popularization, because most of the Europe at that time had no desire to convert, and followed their own localized religions.

So, again, you are speaking about these issues without contextual introspection as to how these came to be as though people around the world ran to and adopted Christianity with arms wide open. Most of the massive spread of these ideals was rather forceful in nature. Of course, subsequent generations accepted that as normal and perpetuated the subsequent “Christian” cultures.

Pre-Constantine Christianity was VASTLY different in all, organizational structure, function and narrative focus than what it is today. And whenever we read the Biblical narrative today, one already reads it through the lens of cultural ideals that are circularly derived through a rather broad history of that feeds that narrative. So, it’s difficult to separate the inbred cultural appeal from the genuine appeal to the “human spirit” that you are talking about.

So, there isn’t a simple way to look at it.

Bible isn’t a standalone “conceptual mine”. It depends on conceptual understanding of any culture that attempts to read it. Again, going back to the “heart example”. If a culture has no metaphorical reference for associating heart with thought, then it becomes a rather absurd and incomprehensible narrative as to why the writers refer to the heart. Imagine for a second, as a crude example, the Biblical writers instead thought that people think using their sexual organs. While there is some cultural equivalence as a metaphor for men, Biblical narrative would be a rather awkward read if pastors would get up and read “From your testicles all sorts of evil intentions flow”, or “Above all, guard your testicles”. I know it’s rather crude, but I’m trying to show you what it’s like not to have viable conceptual references.

And Biblical narrative is filled with these agrarian metaphors. The visions of God on a “throne” with a “crown”, or riding horses, etc, etc, etc. At certain point the culture shift enough to warrant explanations and disclaimers as to how these relationships actually played out in that culture, because these are not as obvious as you think, unless you do have a cultural framework that incorporates the concepts.

See the above for a little context of what I meant.

I think we are getting into political debate realm and ideology, and I really don’t want to downgrade this conversation to that. I’d have to write way too much in order to explain why I disagree with you. USA is certain the better place to be for people like myself who can work and buy freedom. For other people, it’s a never-ending spinning about in the generational debt and poverty spiral, with a corporate culture that’s oriented toward exploiting that spiral one penny at the time.

The Adventist church, while more charitable, still adopts similar model of taking much and providing very little in return to the local communities which it claims to care for. So, I’m not really certain that if one looks at actions of Jesus while on Earth, that the church models their behavior with those activities in mind. It’s not a question whether “can we do better”, but rather a question of “what are we doing exactly?”

See my points about death. Yes, abolishing of death is a great message. People still have the rest of their lives to live after that, and we still see them dying? So it’s not exactly message about abolition of death, but a religious promise of abolition of death that one has to believe in, right? I hope that’s not what you think Christianity is ultimately about - a ticket to resurrection.

(Lizwi Alpha Ntuli) #228

That is something to think about. I have noted sad things from those who defend church positions and those who question them: the arrogance that we hold the truth. The scholars have this condescending attitude towards traditional interpretations and seem to think that their views, since they are backed by science, are accurate. On the other hand, traditional interpretation defenders have this inherent anger at the scientists, and are quick to launch their own missiles…

We are all groping in the dark folks. Science does not know it all, neither does religion. The antagonism that exists between the two is unfortunate considering that scientists are studying nature, which according to SOP is the second Bible. A dose of humility would help from both ends. Being in church leadership does not accord anyone with omniscience in interpreting Biblical truth. Similarly, passing a geology class does not necessarily mean that you have powers to lecture to everyone…

God is the author of truth and he imparts fresh gems of truth to all those, whether scientists or theologians, who acknowledge their ‘finiteness’ and are willing to learn…

(George Tichy) #229


(George Tichy) #230

The way I was immersed in the SDA environment in my childhood and youth developed in me a constant sensation that the Devil is always around me trying to deceive me and do me harm.

For some reason I don’t feel the same attitude from my “good angel” who is supposed to protect me from the bad guy. Here is the guy in red attacking me, and the guy in white is somewhere at the corner of the room having pity on me…

(George Tichy) #231

Yes, but only the people on the left were honored by being called “fools” by @ajshep from the pulpit. I still feel honored…

(Jeffrey Kent) #232

I believe the whale comment can be attributed to Jonathan Wells, a creationist.

(Steve Mga) #233

Regarding Duality of the Human, that was “cooked up” by the Greeks. Saying there
was a separation of the Body and the Spirit. Then they “cooked up” the gods of
Hades, and the crossing of the river Stix on the rowboat to work the fires.
The persons who wrote the Bible did NOT look at the human in this way.
Then when GREEK IDEAS later came into the Church, this Duality of the Body and
Soul was made one of the MAJOR Doctrines of the Church. The praying to the Saints,
the ETERNAL TORMENT of the wicked with all the pictures painted, and when the
printing press arrived, the pictures printed and sold. And the ability to sell Indulgences
and to GIVE Indulgences for Masses, for Pilgrimages, for money, etc.
When Protestantism came in, it gave up Indulgences, but DID NOT give up Duality of
the Human. So non-Catholic preachers can preach a person to heaven at the funeral.
One WILL NOTICE at funerals, NO ONE is ever preached INTO HELL. No matter how
evil they were.


Too special.

Way too special.

Our unconscious psychology has us hoist on our own petard.

Just my opinion.

The Great Controversy: Theory or Reality?
(Tim Teichman) #235

I seriously think we are not - that is an egocentric self-absorbed fantasy.


Well, but before science came around, the ENTIRE UNIVERSE used to rotate around us!

(Tim Teichman) #237


Also a fantasy.ŒŒŒŒŒŒŒŒŒŒŒ


Getting burned at the stake for saying otherwise was a true nightmare however…

'Course that was all back in the day where as Trump so truthfully put it, Christians were in the forefront of abolishing civil rights…

(Ikswezdyr) #239

It’s foolish to argue against evolution with those who are truly knowledgeable about it. I may study it pro and con but will never know enough detail to debate it. There are as many theories of evolution as there scientists and pop science does get it wrong at times (the descent of man picture is not accepted by most scientists because of its inaccuracy–but the public is not aware of this.) There are plenty of books out there written by scientists who do believe in creationism and can debate it from scientific data if one is interested. I have never thought the earth was young by human time nor did I learn this is school. I think it came from CRI. The Bible doesn’t address what came before or even during life as we know it. I don’t think God felt it was important…

(Ikswezdyr) #240

I know plenty of evangelicals and none of them believe Trump is “their leader on earth.” Let’s start by not bearing false witness or stereotyping believers. Do you ever read Christianity Today? It’s evangelical and a far cry from your profiling. Sorry to get off the subject, Spectrum, but couldn’t let this nonsense or prejudice go by.

(George Tichy) #241

Sure, not ALL evangelicals support Trump. But I believe most of the public have seen large chunks of them openly supporting him. And I mean several of the major, most influential groups. It’s been on the news - the real images, not just reporting.

Not even the Hollywood video, or over 8,000 lies (and counting fast), or the lies during the SOTU have been able to stop them from supporting an immoral individual. Trump is their guy, this for sure…

Go figure…

(Any evangelicals here who support all that???)

(Kim Green) #242

" If you don’t believe in a young earth because evidence show age, and pain, disease, and death, don’t believe that someday we will become immortal and have an indestructible body because it is impossible from our point of view today."

All very subjective I suppose…somethings have more “proof” than others. :slight_smile:

(Patrick Travis) #243

For the role of president but not for a pastor. Great POTUS. Great SOTU.
I look for a person capable of leading addressing a wide range of problems.
I find him very capable.
He IS my president and not my spiritual leader. It seems some desire that of their President. Not me.


This should help you understand that:

The founder, Billy Graham, stated that he wanted to “plant the evangelical flag in the middle-of-the-road, taking the conservative theological position but a definite liberal approach to social problems”.

Now that sounds like Trump doesn’t it?