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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Darwin and Genesis - Whom do you trust?


Cartoon courtesy of Spaceport.co.uk

Just as we begin this series, an ugly truth is revealed once again. There is a herd of humanity who does not realize that their worldview is not just the obvious truth. Blogger Mark Shea explains how this plays out in the biological sciences:


We *never* look at the text of Hamlet, or Michaelangelo's David, or the code for Windows XP and try to give an explanation for these things as products of non-reason. The only time we do it is when we look at the staggeringly specified complexity of living systems. And we do so in obedience to a dogmatic philosophy of materialism. Here alone, in obedience to the priesthood of the Atheism of the Gaps, acolytes must crush their normal tendency to intuit the obvious by repeating the Spiritual Exercises of St. Francis Crick and reciting the creed: "Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved."

Note that word, "rather". It speaks volumes about the metaphysic being promulgated.

As to examples of specified complexity in biology, there are not ten but ten billion. There is no living system that is *not* highly complex and highly specified.

Then I get a mysterious question: "Isn't a rattlesnake fang/venom system complexly specified? Yes or no? Do you know? Does the DI? Do they care?"

I'm not sure what that means. Is my interlocutor suggesting that this system is *not* enormously complex and extremely specified? Is he saying that a good God would never make venomous snakes? Beats me. Then, in crowning incoherence, DI [Discovery Institute, an ID think tank] is compared to Jimmy Swaggart. But that's not an ad hominem argument or anything.



Worldview rears its rather significant head. Allow me to repeat the basics of worldview as we move forward, courtesy of Probe Ministries -

Components Found in All Worldviews

...First, something exists. This may sound obvious, but it really is an important foundational element of worldview building since some will try to deny it. But a denial is self- defeating because all people experience cause and effect. The universe is rational; it is predictable.


As I post on Genesis and Darwin, I will be presenting evidence from my point of view. The information will be neutral, the way it is perceived will be to a great extent based on your own preconceptions. If you deny that you have a point of view, you have not even begun to understand yourself, let alone the bigger questions of life.


Second, all people have absolutes. Again, many will try to deny this, but to deny it is to assert it. All of us seek an infinite reference point. For some it is God; for others it is the state, or love, or power, and for some this reference point is themselves or man.


Or for some of you, the magical Zeitgeist.



Third, two contradictory statements cannot both be right. This is a primary law of logic that is continually denied. Ideally speaking, only one worldview can correctly mirror reality. This cannot be overemphasized in light of the prominent belief that tolerance is the ultimate virtue. To say that someone is wrong is labeled intolerant or narrow-minded. A good illustration of this is when we hear people declare that all religions are the same. It would mean that Hindus, for example, agree with Christians concerning God, Jesus, salvation, heaven, hell, and a host of other doctrines. This is nonsense.


Thus, if you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and accept only parts of the Bible, as you research the Bible you will come to a dead end logically. Logic dictates that you trust the Biblical account of creation along with the Christ or you must deny them both in my opinion. We shall be addressing that in this Genesis/Darwin series


Fourth, all people exercise faith. All of us presuppose certain things to be true without absolute proof. These are inferences or assumptions upon which a belief is based. This becomes important, for example, when we interact with those who allege that only the scientist is completely neutral. Some common assumptions are: a personal God exists; man evolved from inorganic material; man is essentially good; reality is material.


So if you profess to believe that there is no God and no supernatural, you are not stating facts but simply professing your faith. You will find yourself unable to prove it but instead will filter the information you encounter through the filter of your faith and thusly your world view is in operation!

"The opportune appearance of mutations permitting animals and plants to meet their needs seems hard to believe. Yet the Darwinian theory is even more demanding: a single plant, a single animal would require thousands and thousands of lucky, appropriate events. Thus, miracles would become the rule: events with an infinitesimal probability could not fail to occur .... There is no law against day dreaming, but science must not indulge in it."

Grasse, Pierre-Paul (1977) Evolution of Living Organism Academic Press, New York, N.Y., p. 103


"Evolution is unproved and improvable, we believe it because the only alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable."

(Sir Arthur Keith, a militant anti-Christian physical anthropologist)


~~~~~~~


I was asked why God said it was okay to murder male prisoners of war. Deuteronomy 20 is not understood without reading the books of Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers. However, to make a long story short God had created an entire Universe for the primary purpose of being able to create mankind. Mankind rebelled and eventually God decided to destroy the planet and start over again with the one remaining family that stayed faithful to Him.

That would the the family of Noah.

Now over time the descendants of Noah had largely abandoned belief in God again and had begun to partake in activities that were particularly vile to God, especially things like baby sacrifices to idols. One portion of the earth, the area known as the Promised Land or Canaan, had been given by God to the descendants of Abraham and had been taken over by people who believed in false gods and lived very sinfully. They had the choice of believing in God and joining His people or leaving the land. There were many that refused. God would order the children of Israel to kill off every inhabitant of any sex in that case.

Deuteronomy 20 is a set of rules of engagement for warfare. Lets look at verses 1-18 -


1-4 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."

So this is, as I said, a section of instruction concerning warfare. Keep in mind that the books of the Law were a code of governance and not simply religious instruction, as some would think. They were in fact the very first legal statues in human history.

5-9 The officers shall say to the army: "Has anyone built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may dedicate it. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her." Then the officers shall add, "Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too." When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they shall appoint commanders over it.


The above may seem odd to you, but God wanted soldiers who were willing to fight for their nation and not anyone half-hearted or unprepared.

10-15 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.


Militarily, if a foe had attacked you once, they might well attack you again unless you wiped out their military (the men). If they capitulated to you, voila, you put them to work. Within the nation of Israel, it was available for foreign servants to eventually become part of the nation and no longer be considered an outsider.


16-18 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.


These nations defied God and refused to move out of the land that God had given to Abraham and his children, the children of Israel. God intended for the Israelites to wipe them out and their evil practices with them.


As it happens, Israel did not obey completely, some of the people and their livestock were not killed and some of their practices were carried forward within the community. This would lead to much unhappiness and death and sorrow in the future for Israel, because they did not follow God's instructions.


Now there is no instance in which other peoples were not given a chance to avoid conflict with God's people. Those who did not care what God wanted wound up getting their butts kicked and Deuteronomy 20 was a blueprint for the kicking.

I suggest that those who feel that God is cruel and unusual check out the standard operating procedures for non-Israeli armies back in Biblical times. One might argue that God set the standard for ethical warfare in the days before Christ.

But most important to understand is that the people who were engaging in the most evil practices were promoting ungodly behavior that God intended to wipe from the face of the Earth, activites that God had prohibited and, as Creator, had the right to prohibit. You may choose to not believe in God, but if God is really the Creator then He has every right to set standards of behavior and exact punishment for misbehavior as He sees fit.

So next post we go back to Genesis and consider the creation narrative in comparison to Darwinism by reading chapter one and verse two...

2 comments:

Chaos Engineer said...

I suggest that those who feel that God is cruel and unusual check out the standard operating procedures for non-Israeli armies back in Biblical times. One might argue that God set the standard for ethical warfare in the days before Christ.

Hmmm. I think you've started travelling down a dangerous road.

Yes, the rules of war described in that part of Deuteronomy aren't too far from the customs of the time. Killing some of the inhabitants of a city and enslaving the rest was pretty common, and completely slaughtering all the inhabitants of a city wasn't unheard of if you wanted to send a message to the surrounding cities.

But customs have changed over time. By the 1940's, most people were completely horrified when Germany and Japan revived those bronze-age rules of war. (Side note: The dominant Japanese religion was Shintoism, a polytheistic faith with elements of idolatry, and was probably similar in some ways to the religion of the Ancient Canaanites.)

The Bible gave conflicting advice on how to handle them. The Old Testament seems to suggest that we should have committed genocide on the Japanese and the Germans, maybe allowing some of the Germans to survive as slaves if we were feeling generous.

The New Testament seems to say that we should have just "turned the other cheek", responding to the attack on Pearl Harbor by inviting the Japanese to bomb someplace on the East coast. Vengeance belongs to God, and He'd avenge the attacks in His own way and on His own time.

But we took a third path: We went to war, destroyed the German and Japanese leadership, educated the civilians about their poor choice of governments, helped them form new governments, loaned them some money to rebuild, and then left to let them get on with their lives.

That seems like a wise decision, but I can't find any precedent for it in the Bible.

That's why I say you're traveling down a dangerous road. It sounds like you're saying, "Well, the Old Testament rules are good for a Bronze-Age tribe that's surrounded by genocidally-hostile neighbors. And the New Testament rules are good for a persecuted minority trying to survive in the middle of the Roman Empire. But we're not in either of those situations, so we need a different set of rules."

I mean, think about it! If you start saying that the Biblical rules of engagement aren't relevant to modern warfare, then you might start saying that Biblical sexual rules aren't appropriate for modern civilization. (Given the high population, low infant mortality rate, and access to birth control.)

You might even start saying that we can't just blindly parrot moral rules out of a book; that we need to look at how those rules affect our lives and change the ones that are causing problems. I think the technical term for that is "Situational Ethics".

Anonymous said...

Amen to chaos engineer's comment above. This is what I was touching on earlier when I said that the insistence of Radar and others that their morals are absolute doesn't hold water. It's actually quite relative. Mass murder is acceptable in some cases, for example if the people in question (who are God's children, no less) do not bow before God.

Radar's counter-argument that this was specific to a certain time in history already concedes relativism. Not only that, but exactly how is this different from a current strain of Islamic fundamentalism that aims to annihilate the infidels?

And not only that, the tribes/nations etc. that were subjected to this were not given a moral/spiritual choice at all: they either had to convert to belief in the god of this invading army (and become slaves to them) or die. Does that sound like the action of an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent supernatural being or the justification of a human tribe out to survive and expand? It reminds me a bit of "This is SPARTAAA!", but with "God's army" in the place of Xerxes' army.

"Now there is no instance in which other peoples were not given a chance to avoid conflict with God's people. Those who did not care what God wanted wound up getting their butts kicked and Deuteronomy 20 was a blueprint for the kicking.".

What lovely euphemisms you have in play here - keep in mind that the bold parts refer to becoming slaves to "God's people". In a conflict of "Give me liberty or give me death", your argument is in favor of mass murder of those who desire freedom.

How is this absolute again?

"One might argue that God set the standard for ethical warfare in the days before Christ."

One wouldn't get very far with such an argument, seeing as it includes mass murder and slavery. If that's setting the standard, is that something you'd want to boast about?

"But most important to understand is that the people who were engaging in the most evil practices were promoting ungodly behavior that God intended to wipe from the face of the Earth, activites that God had prohibited and, as Creator, had the right to prohibit."

Mass murder not evil enough, eh? God: not as evil as the other guys. Or: It's OK If You Say God Told You So.

-- creeper