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Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Noahic Flood - Part One

The Flood of Noah! This will be a multi-part presentation due to not only the various issues involved but anticipation of the numbers of questions that will arise as a result. Here are some links useful to the discussion:

Animals in the Ark?

Geology and the Flood

Problems with the Flood?

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"Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did." Genesis 6:22

Often those who do not believe in the Noahic Flood write on the subject and many times their presuppositions immediately come into play and lead them to fallacy after fallacy. The first fallacy to address is whether Noah had the werewithal to design and build the Ark. Now in this series I will not be posting as an Intelligent Design proponent at all, but strictly from the point of view of a Creationist. Both evidence found in the fossil records and other evidence available to us will be presented, along with Biblical evidence.

The Design of the Ark

The Genesis account tells us that Noah built the Ark according to a design given him by God. The basics of the design that are transmitted to us in Genesis are sketchy at best, we know the dimensions and have a fair idea of what the measurement of a "cubit" might be. We know that a type of wood was the basis for the ship and that some kind of sealing substance, translated as "pitch", was used to keep the wood from rotting and help seal the ship from leaks.

Some have proposed that a "moon pool" may have been part of the design, thus aiding in the disposition of waste products among other benefits. It is a possibility, but we cannot know because the Bible is not specific. We do know that the dimensions of the Ark are wonderfully apt for an oceangoing cargo vessel.

"Korean naval architects have confirmed that a barge with the Ark’s dimensions would have optimal stability. They concluded that if the wood were only 30 cm thick, it could have navigated sea conditions with waves higher than 30 m" (S.W. Hong et al., “Safety investigation of Noah’s Ark in a Seaway”, CEN Technical Journal 8(1):26–36, 1994. All the co-authors are on the staff of the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering, Taijon.)

The exact nature of the wood and the pitch are unknown to us, since the words in the Hebrew are not specific and we cannot be sure of the availability of substances pre-flood. Furthermore, we cannot be certain of the level of expertise held by the antediluvians. It is a subject for a future post, but certainly the belief that they were a primitive people is not in keeping with the store of knowledge represented by mankind immediately after the flood. Modern engineers still marvel at the construction of the Pyramids and there have been blocks of stone found that modern engineers cannot conceive of transporting even today. There is also the matter of artifacts found in coal and deep rock layers that are obviously manufactured, such as jewelry, pots and vases, screws and nails and so on. This subject is a sore point for Darwinists and will not be pursued here. Suffice it to say that God gave Noah a design that he had the capability of following and the capability of manufacturing.

There have been rumors for years that a remnant of the Ark has been found on the side of Mount Arafat. This has never been proven and it is likely that the longer such a item might be exposed to the elements, the less likely it would withstand the exposure and remain available for scrutiny. There would be no need for the Ark to be built so as to last for thousands of years, but rather simply to last long enough to sustain Noah and his shipmates until the voyage was completed.

In any event, the Ark was built specifically to house a certain number of people and animals and to withstand the rigors of a world-wide flood. The dimensions are such that modern engineers concede it could well have done so. One must suspect that God would know enough to design the Ark properly.

The Crew of the Ark

Noah and his wife plus his three sons and their wives. Eight adults entered into the Ark for the voyage, which would last for approximately one year and a good 150 days of which would be "out to sea". As I stated in an earlier article linked above, John Woodmorappe lays out how such a crew would be sufficient for the needs of the care and feeding of the animals on the Ark, even though he takes into account a number of animals I don't believe would have been included.

The Animals

"two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah." Genesis 7:9

Here is another place where Darwinist fallacies abound. Noah did not have to range far and wide to select the animals to place into the Ark, since God sent them to the Ark for Noah. The animals that God selected to enter into the Ark were:

Vertebrate land animals
Some extras of "clean" animals, domestic animals useful to man
Birds

The Bible language helps limit the kinds of animals that were included. No aquatic animals, no insects, no animals not included in the Bible language were needed. The conditions associated with the flood would make the survival of aquatic animals and insects, not to mention most plant life, possible.

God's intents and purposes are clear. He said in Genesis 6:13 the following:

"The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth."

God had no requirement or need to salvage every single species of life that was found in the pre-Flood world. He doesn't make that part of His intent. Rather, He sends to Noah the kinds of animals that He wanted to preserve. God surely knew of the conditions present during the approximate year of the deluge that would allow many varieties of insects and aquatic life and all other kinds of life to survive. The important thing to remember is that there was no requirement that every single animal or plant would survive.

The designation, "kind", is the one used by the Bible and God and is not synonymous with our word for species. Kind came before species and probably our word for "family" as biologists sort out types of life would be the closest approximation. In order for the life we now have on this planet to have been contained in the Ark, that life that could not have been sustained outside of the Ark, there would have had to have been about 16,000 kinds of vertebrates and birds carried along with Noah. Based upon the nutrional needs of these animals, Noah and his family could have theoretically worked in shifts and cared for their needs. It is certainly reasonable, however, that because of both the emotional impact that such a voyage would have on the animals and also the strain of constant care that would be placed upon the crew, that God caused the animals to enter some kind of state of hibernation for a good part of the voyage and that he probably sent along the smallest viable juveniles rather than full-grown adults. Hibernation is part of the life cycle of many animals today. Could God have caused all animals to be prepared to hibernate for much of the journey? It is a logical supposition although there is no evidence to enable us to know one way or the other.

If it was God's intent to repopulate the earth solely from the Noahic family line then He would only have had to include any animals and birds He deemed necessary to make mankind's survival in the manner in which God intended available. Since man had disobeyed God and was under a curse thereby, God apparently included numbers of animals that could be dangerous to mankind among the many that would be beneficial. He would have included kinds of animals that had within their genetic codes the ability to adapt to various climates. We have seen some animals become extinct within the last century. (My father used to lament the passing of Passenger Pigeons, which once flew in great clouds overhead but were hunted into extinction). We have evidence of many animals that have gone extinct in the last few centuries. Nevertheless, the animals that continue to live on are sufficient to inhabit all regions of the planet and populate various planes of the biosphere.

Some question how violent predators could have been included in the ship's manifest of animals without being a great difficulty to the crew and a danger to other animals besides. Yet we have seen that man can tame virtually any animal on earth and teach them to perform various tricks or tasks. Certainly a God capable of creating everything could cause the animals on the Ark to behave according to His specifications.

Destruction and Preservation

The Bible makes it clear that God intended to wipe out the culture that existed before the Flood. It appears that He did, indeed, succeed in that quest. Precious little remains of that which went before, other than the historical narrative and the occasional fossil clue. Neither are sufficient to give us a good idea of what that pre-Flood world was like.

There are clues in the fossil record that the Earth's atmosphere was somewhat different pre-Flood. The physical structure of dinosaur remains seem to tell us that the world included an atmosphere that was more oxygen-rich and that animals, like humans, had longer lifespans. Dinosaurs, being a kind of lizard, likely just continued to grow during their lives and therefore for them to reach such amazing proportions would have had the ability to live far beyond the lifespans of modern animals. However, these creatures should not have been able to live in an atmosphere like we have today.

The geneaologies of mankind presented in the Bible include people who live incredibly long lives. Many, like Adam, live over 900 years. Skeptics like to scoff at these ages. However, in records found post-Flood the ancient patriarchs are said to have lived much longer than man can attain to today.

"My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." Genesis 6:3

The quote above indicates that God made the decision to make a change in the genetic code of man, in order to change his lifespan. Indeed, if one places the subsequent ages of patriarchs as they descend from Noah, their lessing ages fit perfectly into the decay curve one would expect. This decay curve also reflects the changes God enacted in the genetic code and it normalizes about the time David becomes King in Israel. God had changed the world with the Flood and the result would eventually degrade the life expectancy further, as Psalms 90:10 tells us.

"The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away."


One interesting note is that both Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, and his father, Lamech, perished in the year of the Flood. I have speculated that perhaps Methuselah was a righteous man but near the end of his days, so that God withheld the Flood until the time of Methuselah's passing. Lamech, however, in naming Noah displayed some bitterness towards God: "And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.” " - Genesis 5:29. Perhaps Lamech was among those who had turned from God and so was destroyed in the Flood along with all other men.

I do not believe that God created the Universe like a top, that he set spinning and then walked away from, nor do I see it as an intricate machine fashioned by God and that He sits at the controls changing a setting here and there as it runs along. Indeed, I do not believe that God created the world as a self-sustaining entity at all. I believe that the Universe is continually sustained by God and were He to cease to sustain it, it would pass away in an instant.

Hebrews 1:4 (emphasis mine)- "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."

Colossians 1:15-17 - (emphasis mine)- "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

God does not enter into the world to perform miracles at all times, and yet miracles have been performed and He is the One capable to do so if necessary. Some consider the preservation of the Ark through the Flood to be miraculous considering the incredibly violent conditions associated with such an event. The scripture tells us that at it's height the water covered all land to a depth of 15 cubits and surpassed the highest of mountains. No local flood, this. God, knowing this, would have had Noah build the Ark in a location in which the initial influx of water would not have been terribly violent. His choice of Mount Arafat for a final resting place for the Ark doubtless was based in part because this was a location in which the Ark could rest without being battered by waves of the retreating flood and would be found in an area from which the wildlife could go forth and find sustenance and the ability to travel forth from the presence of man.

God certainly could have simply decided to miraculously cause Noah and all the other living beings to have been transported far from the earth and then returned to the post-Flood world. He could have caused all life he wished to delete to have simply disappeared miraculously. He has these abilities. However, the narrative indicates that God merely guided and helped Noah to obey Him. He allowed the cargo and crew to be kept within a container that would be sufficient to withstand all the rigors of the Flood without miraculous intervention on God's part. It has been God's calling card over the years to give mankind the answers and allow them to carry out their lives with the choice to obey or disobey.

God could make cloud formations spell out the name "Jesus Christ" in every language in every sky. He could take the form of a long-bearded old gentleman and appear to each of us individually, assuring us that He actually exists. He could broadcast thoughts like a radio program right into our brains. The need for faith could be completely eliminated so that mankind could simply know. But then, there would no longer be much of a choice, would there? How many of us would willingly choose to defy a God we absolutely know exists, one that could blot out our existence or send us to an endless state of oblivion and torment for our rebellion? Not many, I am thinking.

But God simply leaves us with evidence and His Word. It is up to man to either believe or disbelieve. The Bible is not a collection of mythical stories. It is evidence and instruction from God himself. I am able to take this evidence and along with the evidence of the nature of life itself and the rock formations, the stars, all that I can perceive of the Universe, and from this I am able to conclude that God is, and is the Maker of all I can perceive.

Tomorrow comes the Darwin is Dead Carnival. After that, and the resulting posts from that, will come more on the Flood.

32 comments:

Juggling Mother said...

"There are clues in the fossil record that the Earth's atmosphere was somewhat different pre-Flood"

well yeah - the "dinosaurs" were around for over 80 million years - there were sure to be a few climatic & atmospheric changes during that period!

That's a bit like saying "the evidence of the mammals shows us that the earth is colder during the mammalian period" because you've picked out a fossil of a polar bear and a wooly mammoth!

"There is also the matter of artifacts found in coal and deep rock layers that are obviously manufactured, such as jewelry, pots and vases, screws and nails and so on. This subject is a sore point for Darwinists and will not be pursued here"

evidence please

"there was no requirement that every single animal or plant would survive"

No, but there is obviously a requirement that every animal we see today must have been saved! Even if you claim that only 2 (7) of each "kind" needed to be saved, that still requires as a minimum, felines, canines, bovines, porcine (why did he save unclean animals?), ovine, marsupial, rodents, elephantine, hippopotimae, equine, giraffae.......and on and on and on and on.

Even ypu agree that "there would have had to have been about 16,000 kinds of vertebrates and birds carried along with Noah."

That's a minimum of 32,000 animals. Even if they were all new borns, and therefore a)little, and b) only required milk to eat there would not be room for them all to live in seperate quarters, along with enough food for a year and bit (did Noah know how much food to take abord? Did he guess and hope it was enough? Sloppy thinking on God's part either way). Of course, as new borns they would require more care from the humans, so i'm guessing they must have been "youths" at the least. And the ones that live less thn five years or so needed to be pretty near sexual maturity, as they would need to reproduce either during the voyage or immediately afterwards. Actually they will all need to reproduce fairly soon afterwards as they are going to have fully populated the world within 100 years or so accoring to later biblical stories.

Hibernation is cheating - you can not use the "god made them all go to sleep" argument and claim you are still posting scientific evidence. Very few species hibernate, and none for more than a year.

How did all the plants survive? Or did God repopulate the flora of the world post flood?

Finally "I believe that the Universe is continually sustained by God and were He to cease to sustain it, it would pass away in an instant."

If he is there tinkering all the time. WHY? Why does so much bad stuff still happen? Not people bad stuff, but God bad stuff. Tsunami's, earthquakes, floods, lightning strikes, disease etc. Why do millions of innocent, christian, children die every day, through no fault of their own, or their parents.

"But God simply leaves us with evidence and His Word. It is up to man to either believe or disbelieve."

Again. WHY? yeah, yeah, i get the self determination thing. But that's about how you live your life, not whether you believe or not (I guess it never occured to the scripture writers that some poeple might not believe in God at all - just that some might believe in the wrong God). Why does God want us to have to just believe in him with no evidence? he has put evidence in place for everything else. Why not for his existance? surely he wants to encourage us to believe in him & follow his laws? Yet the vast majority of the world doesn't and this has been true throughout recorded history.

I would say god's not really done a very good job with us has he?

Anonymous said...

"Hibernation is cheating"

Why settle for hibernation?! God could have shrunk them tiny and put them in a state of suspended animation, with the whole lot easily contained in a large box - sorta like those little capsules that you put in water and they turn into giant sponges in animals shapes, right?

That's why: methodological naturalism.

I don't know why a God who is constantly in matters of biological and geological history is theologically more preferable than one who made a world that can tick along fine, for the most part, on its own (indeed, there is a certain strain of mystical Jewish through that holds the creation required the withdrawal of God, to provide room, so to speak). Certainly the question of evil is a thorny one, with various proposed answers that have variously provided much to no solace to the grieving and afflicted. But so? -The point is that modern science doesn't agree. It hasn't found any evidence for this, and much evidence for other models. Sure, you don't have to agree, but I don't see anyone refusing to use computers or cars in protest (not even the Amish, who have different reasons . . .)

-Dan S., who has to get to that nice who we are post . . , oh, yxgpiomu it!

highboy said...

First, tsunamis, natural disasters, all that stuff happens because we live in a now fallen world. Man chose death. According to the Bible, there was a time when these things were not an issue. Second, no one is innocent. Third, there is plenty of evidence that God exists, and none to suggest He doesn't. Creation itself is evidence, unless you believe that it all materialized out of nothing for no apparent reason, which is scientifically impossible in itself. There had to have been a beginning somewhere.

"surely he wants to encourage us to believe in him & follow his laws?"

I have a better question: If God doesn't exist, how do you answer why there is so much evil in the world? People evil, natural evil, you name it. Why all the evil? Or is there really no such thing?

creeper said...

"First, tsunamis, natural disasters, all that stuff happens because we live in a now fallen world."

That may well be, but how does it square with Radar's "the Universe is continually sustained by God and were He to cease to sustain it, it would pass away in an instant"? Not sure.

"Second, no one is innocent."

Of what?

"Creation itself is evidence, unless you believe that it all materialized out of nothing for no apparent reason, which is scientifically impossible in itself."

... and then there's the Big Bang theory. Any particular reason you're leaving that out?

"There had to have been a beginning somewhere.

Why?

"If God doesn't exist, how do you answer why there is so much evil in the world? People evil, natural evil, you name it. Why all the evil? Or is there really no such thing?"

Since this is a rather confusing topic, you'd have to start by defining evil. Some "people evil" can be explained by sociopathy.

xiangtao said...

Highboy, if you want to accuse yourself of some crime for which you can never be forgiven except through some mythical sky parent, that's fine, but please keep your limitations to yourself. Some of us sleep just fine without our guilt.

Anonymous said...

"If God doesn't exist, how do you answer why there is so much evil in the world? People evil, natural evil, you name it. Why all the evil? Or is there really no such thing?"

Well, if no gods or similar beings exist, then for starters there's probably no natural evil, in the sense of natural disasters, etc. Hurricane Katrina wasn't gleefully cackling as New Orleans drowned. The giant chunk of space rock that ended the entire Mesozoic world and apparently incinerated a good swath of North America wasn't some sort of ancient space-born suicide bomber.

People evil? I dunno. There are lots of kinds of people evil, from outright sociopathy, as creeper points out, to more usual evil. It tends to involve being greedy, fearful, willing to hurt others for our our group (whether family, tribe, state, religion, whatever, etc.) Evolution seems just as good an explantion as any here.

And remember, evolution/believing in God isn't necessary an either/or proposition - it's more like global warming/capitalism- two things that might often be linked in someway, but don't necessarily have much to do with each other.

"This subject is a sore point for Darwinists and will not be pursued here"

I gotta remember that one! Of course I did the dishes, darling! But I know how much the whole ;why doesn't he do a fair share of the housework' thing upsets you, so let's not examine the evidence too closely! : )
But seriously - these would be amazing finds, if they could be authenticated.

No one is innocent? Not even little babies?

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

"Tomorrow comes the Darwin is Dead Carnival. After that, and the resulting posts from that, will come more on the Flood"

I read that at first as "After that . . .will come the Flood."

Apres moi, le deluge!

Wait a second, wasn't there some sort of deal . . .?

-Dan S.

xiangtao said...

So if the word "kind" can be approximated by "family" then we do share a common ancestor with chimps, gorillas, etc? Does this mean that there was no need for these great apes on board the ark if they could have simply evolved from Noah's family (variation within a kind, right?)

Anonymous said...

Now I have this image of a gorilla kid asking its mom - ma, if we evolved from humans, how come there are still humans around?

At which point a silverback lumbers over and goes - don't believe any that of that evolution nonsense! We didn't come from humans! They're worse then chimpanzees!

: )

In one of her books - I think Noah's Children: restoring the ecology of childhood - Sara Stein writes about a little ark she's filling with hand-whittled animal pairs, including a pair of Homo erectus.

She's great, incidentally, like someone's favorite cranky opinionated aunt. If you're a gardener, read Noah's Garden: restoring the ecology of our own backyards . . .

And the whole 'nature-deficit disorder' tack - that kids are growing up deprived of contact with nature, with adverse effects is fascinating and worrying - I'm actually applying for a job related to this, but more about that later . . .

-Dan S.

IAMB said...

The conditions associated with the flood would make the survival of aquatic animals and insects, not to mention most plant life, possible.

I believe you still owe me something on this. I'll even go a little easier and we can try some sort of insect instead of a microbe if you want.

Dinosaurs, being a kind of lizard

Not really. Some were... others were more bird-like than reptilian (see theropods). It's about time for the "big lizard" stereotype to die.

And xiangtao is right: by placing your definition of "kind" at the "family level", you have just made apes and humans the same kind. Don't tell your fellow creationists that or you might find yourself lumped in the same camp as me. ;-)

After having spent many years right in the thick of this debate, I've learned from my experience that the vast majority of people who are against evolution are more concerned that is says we are related to apes than they are with anything else. This debate (from the creationist side... again: personal experience... I don't speak for all) is more about pride than science.

Out of the hundreds of times I've had origins conversations, the vast majority of responses from those on the creation side don't start with "Well, God's word says..." or something similar... it's almost always "I didn't come from a monkey!" as if having a chimp for a relative has the magic ability to suddenly make you less that what you really are, despite the fact that you're YOU, with or without the relationship.

Indeed, I had a creationist once who admitted that a child would somehow be less beautiful and special were evolution true. I understand that you don't share this view, Radar, and I'm glad for that. That sort of worldview won't lead to a very pretty place. We may think we're above the other animals on this planet (pride again), but my hunch is that all life is more interrelated than we are even beginning to know.

radar said...

Dan S,

I promise, I don't have the chops to make God reverse his field, so no REAL flood is coming, just some posts to answer some stuff like survival of insects and etc.

By the way, consider that Genesis was written long before any genetics studies were begun, before naturalists began sorting out family and genus and species, long before microbiology had been "invented". It was written as an historical narrative and not a science book. But all that it asserts is plausible. Nowhere does God say he shrunk animals.

"That's why: methodological naturalism."

....is willingly blind to some possibilities. It is possible that God did create and there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that He did. Yet, naturalism precludes any supernatural causes. So if something has a supernatural cause, the followers of methodological naturalism will go on forever seeking for an answer they cannot find.

The wise man allows for any possiblity and then pursues the one closest to the truth. Occam's Razor, anyone?


Mrs A - One could also say that we haven't done a very good job with God. By the way, the "How did Noah fit all those animals in the Ark?" post covered exactly how that amount of animals could be handled even without hibernation. The Bible does not say whether hibernation was involved.

Hibernation is not "cheating", since we see it in nature today. It is not like I made something up out of hand. If I were God, I would have done it that way, but then again I am not so it is speculation only.

The clues specific to dinosaurs was the sizes of their skulls and the openings and the great mass of their bodies. Scientists smarter than me have suggested that such creatures would not have received enough oxygen to survive were they to be in our present world.

You can search for "ooparts" and find all sorts of evidence. Likely 9/10ths of it will not be certifiable and yet there is a great deal of it. Some of the evidence is well certified, however, including the little metal pot that I linked to? Or did I/ Ah, well I will get into that in the Flood series.

Why is there evil in the world? Because we brought it in. Man is good at plotting and producing evil. God thought about wiping evil out by simply wiping man out. Instead, he wiped out the previous culture and began again. But there will be no ultimate end to evil until God puts an end to the age of mankind.

Scripture? The guys who passed the Word along knew it was from God. But some departed from them, or departed from the faith by choice.

Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, would have known Adam and heard the creation story first hand. Noah had this information passed down within his family as recent memories.

For instance, I know a lot about my parents and a great deal of my grandparents. But I had to depend on parents and grandparents to tell me stories of those who went before. But when there is a written record and/or pictures then the historical record can remain accurate.

God made sure the Bible would be preserved and passed down. It is entirely a matter of choice for each of us to believe or not to believe. God is a believer in free choice.

Juggling Mother said...

"Why is there evil in the world? Because we brought it in. Man is good at plotting and producing evil. "

No, sorry radar, but even the most fervant environmentalist can't associate mankinds evils with say, earthquakes, or volcano's.

Why do they happen & kill so many people? Does God not see them coming? Or just not care? Or is he limited to miracles on individual people only? - those are certainly the only ones you ever hear about - usually whilst they are alone!

Oh, and you didn't answer the how did they fit all the animals on the ark question satisfactorarily, since the final conclusion was (I believe) that all the animals would have to be petri-dish sized, which solves all the problems of space, care, food & waste products, but raises a few interesting ideas of it's own.

highboy said...

xiangoato: Nope. You're just as guilty as me and everyone else. How you sleep as a result is your business.

"... and then there's the Big Bang theory. Any particular reason you're leaving that out?"

It doesn't explain anything. How did the Big Bang happen? Or better yet, why?

"Second, no one is innocent."

"Of what?"

Evil.

"Since this is a rather confusing topic, you'd have to start by defining evil. Some "people evil" can be explained by sociopathy."

So define it.

"Why do they happen & kill so many people? Does God not see them coming? Or just not care? Or is he limited to miracles on individual people only? - those are certainly the only ones you ever hear about -usually whilst they are alone!"

You're assuming that God's job is to protect us from those kinds of things. He did once upon a time. Man rejected it. Man continually separates Himself from God, not the other way around. If you read the Bible, you'll also see that God uses natural disasters, even causes some of them, to achieve a specific purpose, and you'll also see plenty of miracles that do not pertain to one person only but entire nations. Also, if we are all just biological accidents, why should we care? Yes, I know atheists have feelings as well, but what makes your idea of love (protecting and saving mankind, kindness, etc...I'm assuming) any different than a "psycho" who expresses "love" through murder and death?

creeper said...

"It doesn't explain anything. How did the Big Bang happen? Or better yet, why?"

The Big Bang so far is a rather elaborate educated guess. Here's the theory as to how it happened.

As to why? No idea. Not sure why this should be of interest, really. I note that Christianity has no answer for this either, btw.

Re. defining evil: I can't come up with a definition of evil that bears some resemblance to either its dictionary definition or its commonly understood meaning and still is supposed to apply to my three-year-old son as being "evil". Perhaps you could propose something.

"Yes, I know atheists have feelings as well, but what makes your idea of love (protecting and saving mankind, kindness, etc...I'm assuming) any different than a "psycho" who expresses "love" through murder and death?"

Simple: one is beneficial to the society of man, the other is not. Though I'm not sure I can think of any examples of this particular hypothetical "psycho" you propose - who did you have in mind?

IAMB said...

It doesn't explain anything.

You might want to offer something to back that up. All you have here is assertion, and that doesn't fly so well. The Big Bang has plenty of evidence... you just have to look it up.

So define it.

Sorry, but this is "shifting the burden of proof". You were the one who said everyone was guilty of evil... it's up to you to prove it, and for that you'd better start with a definition. You make the claim... you support it.

Radar: Occam's Razor says that when more than one possibility explains the evidence equally well, you cut away that which is unnecessary. In this case, supernatural causes get cut because we don't need them. I'm not the philosophy guy, so you'd be better off going over to scienceblogs and asking Janet... she'll tell you the same thing.

Also, beware of putting too much stock in OOParts... the "giant humans" section is a hoot, especially the Meganthropus and Gigantopithecus.

radar said...

IAMB- There is more than one ooparts site, some more reasonable than others. There is wheat amongst that chaff, however, and therefore a problem for long-agers.

Occam tells us to discard the least reasonable or unreasonable possibilities until we get to the one that is left. Darwinists who refuse to even consider the supernatural can discard the best solution before it gets considered. This is why a completely materialistic or naturalistic viewpoint is one that hinders science. You are less of a scientist when you discard an entire realm of possibilities out of hand.

Mrs. A, Allow me to enter into the "evil" discussion. In terms of children, evil = self-centered. We are all terribly self-centered as children. Most of us have the ability to be empathetic and this allows us to have more consideration for others as we age. A sociopath does not have this aspect to his personality and therefore assigns no value to others, viewing them as objects to be used as it benefits him/her.

Some people develop the empathy to be able to value others but choose not to value them as highly. Evil expressed is almost always someone taking advantage of another for personal gain of some kind. An Islamofascist suicide bombs 12 other people into the next life, believing that he is guaranteeing himself a paradise waited on hand-and-foot by dark-eyed virgins and we call it evil. A con man rips off old people by pretending to be a contractor who will do work on their homes. He wants some easy money without the work. They call it evil.

I do grant you that there are some very wicked people who love to torure and torment others but even with these it is because it pleases them somehow to do it. In any event, evil in the form of selfishness is present in toddlers and part of our jobs as parents is to help teach it out of them.

In the case of my children, I presented the love of God to them at an early age and allowed them to understand it. Every single one of them came to me at some point and asked about how to have that personal relationship with Jesus. Some could understand this at age seven or so but one didn't really get it until she was much older. They were all raised with love and consideration and all learned to love and consider others even without knowing God personally. One can be loving towards others and not be a believer. One is more likely to love others and love them genuinely as a believer, I would say. It has been true of me, anyway.

cranky old fart said...

"You are less of a scientist when you discard an entire realm of possibilities out of hand"

Why consider a possibility that cannot, by definition, be proven?

A possibility that says, "goddidit, so we may as well stop right here".

Unless, of course, there is some way to prove or reproduce the Goddidit. And if ya got that, run straight to the patent office as fast as your wings can carry you!

radar said...

No one has proven macroevolution, so should we just quit considering it??

Proving the existence of God...that has given philosophers centuries of discourse. But by definition, a possibility is not proven. Certainties are proven. Possibilities are those things that may or may not be proven, but are under consideration.

cranky old fart said...

And what experiments do you propose towards that end, of proving God?

radar said...

"And what experiments do you propose towards that end, of proving God?"

I don't. In fact, I am pretty sure He didn't set it up so that you could do it. Nor is there any way to disprove God.

On the other hand, evidence that makes it seem likely that there is God is available. So where God enters into science is a matter of understanding how and why things work. But I don't see science actually proving the existence of God. Although there are definitely physicists who believe that they can do it...

highboy said...

"I note that Christianity has no answer for this either, btw."

Sure we do. God.

"I can't come up with a definition of evil that bears some resemblance to either its dictionary definition or its commonly understood meaning and still is supposed to apply to my three-year-old son as being "evil". Perhaps you could propose something."

Sure. Evil is sin, a rebellion against God.

"Simple: one is beneficial to the society of man, the other is not."

That is a matter of opinion, not fact. Some would argue murder does benefit society. Take abortion for example.

"You might want to offer something to back that up. All you have here is assertion, and that doesn't fly so well. The Big Bang has plenty of evidence... you just have to look it up."

Yeah, I have yet to see any evidence anywhere as to WHY the Big Bang happened. Maybe you can explain it.

"Sorry, but this is "shifting the burden of proof". You were the one who said everyone was guilty of evil... it's up to you to prove it, and for that you'd better start with a definition. You make the claim... you support it."

Actually, if you actually learn to read posts before responding to them, you'll see that I asked this question:

"If God doesn't exist, how do you answer why there is so much evil in the world? People evil, natural evil, you name it. Why all the evil? Or is there really no such thing?"

and recieved this response:

"Since this is a rather confusing topic, you'd have to start by defining evil. Some "people evil" can be explained by sociopathy."

Evil is rebellion against God. There is not one person on this planet alive or dead save Jesus, that has never done this.

""And what experiments do you propose towards that end, of proving God?"

I don't. In fact, I am pretty sure He didn't set it up so that you could do it. Nor is there any way to disprove God."

As has been stated, scientists have not proven macroevolution yet either yet some seem willing to accept that. No one is attempting to PROVE God existed. That wouldn't be faith anyway. People do attempt to prove macroevolution and fail.

Juggling Mother said...

highboy - are you a beliver that children are born evil then? and should they unfortunately die before they are old enough to make the personal coice to accept christianity, they will go to hell?

creeper said...

creeper: "I note that Christianity has no answer for this either, btw."

highboy: "Sure we do. God."


Very well.

How did God create the universe?

Why did God create the universe?

creeper: "I can't come up with a definition of evil that bears some resemblance to either its dictionary definition or its commonly understood meaning and still is supposed to apply to my three-year-old son as being "evil". Perhaps you could propose something."

highboy: "Sure. Evil is sin, a rebellion against God."


How does my three-year-old rebel against God? For that matter, how does your newborn baby rebel against God?

If your definition of evil is simply not believing in God in exactly the right way, you're welcome to believing that, but it bears little resemblance to either the dictionary definition nor the commonly understood meaning. I'll gladly admit, however, that you've come up with a definition that would allow you to think of your baby as evil.

Radar's answer (in trying to stretch to make evil apply to three-year-olds) is so watered down as to be almost useless. It is hardly "evil" for a toddler to progress from self-centeredness to learning to share etc.

creeper: "Simple: one is beneficial to the society of man, the other is not."

highboy: "That is a matter of opinion, not fact. Some would argue murder does benefit society. Take abortion for example."


Or the death penalty. Yes, some would argue that certain kinds of "murder" do benefit society, which only supports my point - that that is how we currently settle what is right and what is wrong.

It seems to me that this is moving away from your question, which was: what makes your idea of love (protecting and saving mankind, kindness, etc...I'm assuming) any different than a "psycho" who expresses "love" through murder and death?

Did you have a particular psycho or kind of psycho in mind that does this?

creeper said...

Radar,

"There is more than one ooparts site, some more reasonable than others. There is wheat amongst that chaff, however, and therefore a problem for long-agers."

Which ones do you consider the wheat?

creeper said...

Mrs. A and Radar,

a satisfactory answer to whether all the animals can fit on the ark depends on a clear definition of the kinds, and their actual sizes.

And of course Radar is still skipping a rather significant question re. the Flood scenario - that of marine animals and salinity. I imagine it's quite a stumper for "creation science".

creeper said...

"Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, would have known Adam and heard the creation story first hand."

Adam was not present for most of creation - he missed that week.

creeper said...

"Hibernation is not "cheating", since we see it in nature today. It is not like I made something up out of hand."

Which "kinds" are capable of hibernating?

highboy said...

"are you a beliver that children are born evil then? and should they unfortunately die before they are old enough to make the personal coice to accept christianity, they will go to hell?"

Oops. No, I don't. Sorry, I should clarify that. Children not old enough to make a conscious, heart-felt decision about Christ and die before their time absolutely do NOT go to Hell, nor are they guilty of evil. Anyone capable of making that decision however, is guilty of sin and in need of a Savior.


"How did God create the universe?

Why did God create the universe?"

He spoke it into existence. He created the universe to share in His glory.

"How does my three-year-old rebel against God? For that matter, how does your newborn baby rebel against God?"

They don't.

"If your definition of evil is simply not believing in God in exactly the right way, you're welcome to believing that, but it bears little resemblance to either the dictionary definition nor the commonly understood meaning. I'll gladly admit, however, that you've come up with a definition that would allow you to think of your baby as evil."

The Webster defines evil as merely "wicked, causing distress or harm, a source of sorrow or distress." So seeing as how that is all very vague and still leaves it up to each individual to determine what is good and what is evil, I ask what makes one person's idea of evil any better than the other?

"Or the death penalty. Yes, some would argue that certain kinds of "murder" do benefit society, which only supports my point - that that is how we currently settle what is right and what is wrong."

I'm not sure I follow what you're saying here.

"Did you have a particular psycho or kind of psycho in mind that does this?"

Anyone that feels death is better for their loved one than life.

"a satisfactory answer to whether all the animals can fit on the ark depends on a clear definition of the kinds, and their actual sizes"

Wouldn't he have just taken the eggs, babies, etc?

"Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, would have known Adam and heard the creation story first hand."

"Adam was not present for most of creation - he missed that week."

Moses wrote Genesis. Certain terms used in Genesis prove that Moses and not anyone in prior ages wrote the book of Genesis. Moses used the name Yahweh and he mentions the seventh day-Sabbath (Ex. 16th chp.), clean animals (Gn. 7:2, 8; Lv. 11:47), and Gentiles nations (Gn. 10:5). No one except Israel had knowledge of these terms. Anyone who wrote the book of Genesis, prior to Israel’s exodus out of the land of Egypt, could not have used the terms Sabbath, clean, nor Gentiles because they were not in existence before this time. Throughout the book of Genesis Moses used the name Yahweh of Our Heavenly Father. Now no one prior to Moses knew this. What all of that contributes to the debate, I don't know, but it made me feel smart, if only for a short while.

Anonymous said...

"Radar's answer (in trying to stretch to make evil apply to three-year-olds) is so watered down as to be almost useless"

I agree that the identification of self-centeredness as evil for little ones is dubious at best, but there's a bigger point here - that evil acts often spring from self-centeredness, whether as a pathologically extreme form, or a more everyday failing. Small children more or less have to grow out of self-centeredness, both in terms of brain development and teaching. To say that their developmental limitations are evil is . . . odd, like saying their inability to behave in a grown up manner is immaturity - it is, but it isn't as well. But for people as a whole, you can argue that self-centeredness is a sort of seed of bad actions, from stealing or infidelity on, especially if you regard self-centeredness as having an expanding center, so it could be my family/tribe/nation/race/species over everything else. Of course, you do need some degree of self-centeredness, although this may vary a bit cross-culturally . . .

This fits into the model of morality I talked about earlier, I would think . . .

David Gerrold has a post on the nature of evil (maybe he should be a bit more ambitious?:-) ) where he defines it in a somewhat similar fashion as a kind of thoughtlessness:

But ultimately, we come back to that scene in Schindler's List, where Schindler tells the camp commandant that if he has the power to take life, he also has the power to grant life. He has the ability to be compassionate -- but the conversation fails because the man he is talking to has moved himself beyond compassion to that realm of existence, that way of being for which the word "thoughtlessness" is insufficient. We have no word for it.

In one regard -- and I think you have to have lived with a hyperactive, emotionally disturbed child with poor impulse control to get this -- in one regard, it's impulsiveness. It's like dropping a flowerpot from the fourteenth floor just to watch it fall, without wondering where it'll fall or what it'll fall on. A three year old might do that. A six year old might play with a gun because he's seen gunplay on television. A child whose sense of judgment has not yet developed might behave like that. An adult who has not yet developed an adult sense of judgment might behave like that.


To some degree, I would say, (and whatever else it is) morality is both an organic, wrinkly-gray-brain function (several, really), and a kind of competency. There was talk recently in leftyblogland about studies showing that really incompetent people were so clueless they didn't even realize they were incompetent, but thought they were pretty good (I'm sure everyone can come up with an example or two). A host of odd neurological conditions leave people without any apparent comprehension of what's been lost or changed. David ends his post with a bit about how people commit evil acts don't see them as evil, but as justified - something which isn't always entirely true?, but to the extent it is, seems to fit in here (also, people are good of convincing themselves of things.)

highboy: "Anyone that feels death is better for their loved one than life."
Well, that's going well beyond the definition of a psychopath! One might argue that such a decision is always wrong, regardless of circumstances (ie, young daughter about to be captured by particularly brutal invading army, loved one with a terminal illness suffering constant unbearable pain with no desire for continued life), or not a decision for people to make - but that's still different.

radar: "No one has proven macroevolution, so should we just quit considering it??"
Because, as I understand it, things in science aren't generally proven in the strictest sense of the word, although it might be used anyway - that's more math's job, really - rather, they're more and more increasingly well-supported, or not. At this point, the overwhelming consensus is that evolution is very well supported, and becomes increasingly more so (if with modifications as we learn more) as time goes on.

As you point out, God isn't a matter of proof. But He also doesn't seem to be a question of scientific evidence, either (and some say that is also on purpose, because if you have lots of scientific evidence, what's the point of faith/free will?)

". So where God enters into science is a matter of understanding how and why things work."

How? That doesn't seem to be the case in science over the last few centuries. Why things work - for what ultimate purpose - one might indeed say that's where God comes in, although that's not currently seen as part of science.

" One can be loving towards others and not be a believer."
Oh, thank you! It's nice you haven't excluded everyone who wasn't a monotheist (at best) throughout history from experiencing this fundamental and supposedly universal emotion. Some folks don't seem willing to grant this boon.

"One is more likely to love others and love them genuinely as a believer, I would say. It has been true of me, anyway."

Ah . . . perhaps let's say that for you, becoming a believer was a part/cause of gaining emotional/spiritual maturity, allowing you to do so. I've met people who, it would seem to me, became born-again believers without yet attaining a certain level of such maturity, and whose professed love for others had a very . . . fake? unnatural? dehumanizing feel to it, as if people were being considered mostly as objects (spiritual objects, to be sure) rather than people - the religious equivalent of the kind of guy who's interested in a girl just to the extent that it involves getting her into bed. (Excuse me, miss, my face is up here - could you please stop staring at my soul . . .)

Ydpmkua!
-Dan S.

radar said...

"Radar's answer (in trying to stretch to make evil apply to three-year-olds) is so watered down as to be almost useless"

Not so...in fact I am not trying to make evil apply to three-year-olds. I believe a three-year-old is not capable of entirely understanding evil or good in great depth, and I am certainly not trying to put them in any danger from God.

I am saying, though, that selfishness is the root of rebellion and evil. Just think it through and if you have a counter-argument (which really hasn't been presented) we can go on...

creeper said...

Wow.

"How did God create the universe?"

"He spoke it into existence."


How did he speak it into existence?


"Why did God create the universe?"

"He created the universe to share in His glory."


Why did he want the universe to share in His glory?


"Creation science" is fascinating, isn't it?

xiangtao said...

Ok, here's a counter argument. Selfishness has nothing to do with good and evil, it has to do with nature. Every living being is selfish in that it wants things to be good for itself. This applies also to the most "unselfish" christians. Radar (or Highboy), why is it that you perfrom good deeds (assuming that you do)? Is it for the hope of living a good life in the hope of being rewarded with heaven? Is it for the warm, mushy feeling it gives you? Any way you look at it, every action is in some way driven by a desire to make things better for you. This is natural, not evil.