The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 1)

From an introductory lecture in the Telos Course “The Doctrine of Man and Sin.”

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet. (Psalm 8:3-6)

According to the Bible, man, here meaning male and female (Gen. 1:27), is a very special part of God’s creation. According to the scientific establishment we are nothing more than advanced animals, newly arrived upon the scene of earth history, without any more significance than a trilobite or a sea-horse.

Most of us are familiar with naturalistic evolution. This is what I was taught from a young child growing up in England all the way through high school. And when I attended college I was taught it there too, even though it wasn’t really part of the business degree I was earning.

I wasn’t a Christian until I was 25, and was not from a particularly religious household, so I believed more or less in evolution, although always in the back of my mind I could not quite understand how life came from non-life. Neither could I grasp how the marvelous beauty and order that we see in life could be accounted for by random unguided particles banging together.

Neither could I quite understand how the theory of evolution could account for the significance that we find in our own lives. We write poetry, we write love songs, we listen to music of one sort or another that expresses our inner emotions, and what we feel about ourselves, and how important we think certain things are to the world and to life itself. We do this all the time; it’s natural for the human being to do it, and I just could not understand how this sense of significance could be part of an evolutionary process.

Why did we evolve to see our own significance and reflect upon it? Why try to better it, critique it, and eulogize it? So there were these things that the “science” did not fully explain to me.

I have listened to and read many evolutionists. I believe that at a fundamental level, Evolution is the creation myth of the secularist, of the unbeliever.

They don’t want to believe in the Creator. They don’t want to believe that there is a God whom they have to face. Therefore, as theologian Millard Erickson tells us in his Christian Theology, (2nd ed. 501 ff.), they have a group of processes into which they pour their faith, which, superficially at least, produce and explain everything that is, including all the diversity of life. All that is needed is “a combination of atoms, motion, time, and chance.” As Erickson says, no attempt is made to account for these givens; they are simply there, the basis of everything else.

Now this is certainly true. Anybody who believes in evolution will not even try to think behind the ramifications of what they’re saying, and will not try to give an explanation for the processes that they say delivered up to us “reality” (which they can scarcely define), as we presently experience it. It is just there they say. It all could have been any other way, but it just happened to be this way.

One famous scientist said that the reason that the world is the way it is, is because it was the way that it is. In other words, just things are the way that they are and there’s no real reason behind it; no personality, no Creator to guide it or to give it any further significance than just accidental occurrences. All of the matter and energy in the universe, and all of the different combinations of it came from a Big Bang, and the far future scenarios for the universe are either freeze or fry. We’re either going to just freeze, as entropy completely disintegrates, or we’re going to fry as the whole thing burns up.

In between the Big Bang and the big freeze there is no significance or meaning other than what we can find in and of ourselves. We make it all up. There is no great explanation, there is no providential plan. Life came from non-life by lightning hitting a mud pond. Scientific laws weren’t laws until after these things conveniently came together. We should not see ourselves as anything more significant than temporary cosmic accidents.

Seven basic (silly) assumptions

“The basic assumptions of evolution are:

  1. Inorganic chemicals gave rise to life (belief in spontaneous generation).
  2. Spontaneous generation only happened once. (They believe it only happened once because it is such an astronomically absurdly impossible thing to even postulate).
  3. All living organisms are therefore related
  4. Single celled organisms [protozoa] gave rise to multi-celled organisms [metazoa]
  5. Invertebrates are all related
  6. Invertebrates gave rise to vertebrates
  7. From fish we get amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.”

(G.A. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution.)

(One wonders if Kerkut really thought through the “implications”!)

Those are the seven basic assumptions that evolutionist make about evolution. Other assumptions are made about reality. For example, that morals, or the laws of thought are culturally-conditioned; that there is a correlation between what is in man’s mind and what is outside of man’s mind, and that correlation can be studied, analyzed, and mathematically predicted in terms of art, architecture, and technology. Or that there is an amazing fine-tuning in the universe whereby the universe itself seems to be particularly the way it is so that life can exist upon this planet. These and other presuppositions that evolutionists have, they don’t really try to see the convenience of at all. Let alone the significance. They just try to ignore them and then move on with their dogmatic assertions on the basis of what they’ve taken for granted.

It boils down to this:

Incoherence evolved into coherence, yet the explanations of coherence devolve into incoherence.

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Mark_Smith's picture

Paul wrote "One famous scientist said that the reason that the world is the way it is, is because it was the way that it is. In other words, just things are the way that they are and there’s no real reason behind it; no personality, no Creator to guide it or to give it any further significance than just accidental occurrences. All of the matter and energy in the universe, and all of the different combinations of it came from a Big Bang, and the far future scenarios for the universe are either freeze or fry. We’re either going to just freeze, as entropy completely disintegrates, or we’re going to fry as the whole thing burns up.

In between the Big Bang and the big freeze there is no significance or meaning other than what we can find in and of ourselves. We make it all up. There is no great explanation, there is no providential plan. Life came from non-life by lightning hitting a mud pond. Scientific laws weren’t laws until after these things conveniently came together. We should not see ourselves as anything more significant than temporary cosmic accidents."

 

1. The entire point of science is to look for natural explanations for natural phenomona...let that sink it if it never has before. Science, by definition, is not looking for "significance" in the philosophical/religious sense. It simply looks for the processes that nature operates with, and tries to use them to explain other observations in nature. As a system it works really well...as evidenced by the computer that you are reading this on.

2. If a scientist takes that seriously then he/she does NOT open their Bible to Genesis 1 for an explanation of how life came to be...they observe nature and see if they can build up a natural explanation for the life we observe around us. That is not a fault of science but a strength!

    a. Now, of course this process of science can potentially be wrong. That is why scientists need to be careful.

3. The really problem is not science, but the philosophy called Naturalism. Naturalism is the belief that everything that exists came to be from natural causes only. There are two basic types:

    a. Pragmatic Naturalism - for the sake of argument ignore any supernatural or spiritual influences and seek natural causes for natural phenomena. This is traditional science and is very effective. You operate ignoring supernatural causes without necessarily denying that they happen at all.

    b. Metaphysical Naturalism - this is the strict belief that NOTHING EXISTS other than natural things. There is no spirit realm, no miracles, no supernatural a priori. Just nature. This is the real thing that Christianity opposes.

4. So, the problem becomes when people who hold to metaphysical naturalism hijack science to turn it into the secular religion.

**My point is that the real villain is not science, but metaphysical naturalism.

5. You have to be careful with this as there is a small but dogged group of scientists who are pantheists...ie the view that the universe is God. The quintessential example of this was Carl Sagan, as you can clearly see if you watch the original COSMOS series of shows, and the recent remake with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Note Neil is most certainly a metaphysical naturalist, and not a pantheist though.

 

Paul Henebury's picture

Mark opines,

"1. The entire point of science is to look for natural explanations for natural phenomona...let that sink it if it never has before. Science, by definition, is not looking for "significance" in the philosophical/religious sense. It simply looks for the processes that nature operates with, and tries to use them to explain other observations in nature. As a system it works really well...as evidenced by the computer that you are reading this on.

2. If a scientist takes that seriously then he/she does NOT open their Bible to Genesis 1 for an explanation of how life came to be...they observe nature and see if they can build up a natural explanation for the life we observe around us. That is not a fault of science but a strength!"

Well, that IS metaphysical naturalism!  The whole point of science as defined by those who reject the Bible's account of creation and reality is to look for explanations which render God's role superfluous.  But you cannot explain how life began by ignoring Genesis.  You appear to advocating the opposite -that a person CAN come to knowledge about origins by observation of natural phenomena.  

I am actually not sure what outlook you are recommending "sink in" with me.  Perhaps you can explain?  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Mark_Smith's picture

My point is science does not start with Genesis 1. That is theology. Science starts with looking for natural explanations for natural phenomena. Science CAN WIND UP at Genesis 1, but it doesn't start there.

 

Mark_Smith's picture

if you see no difference between what I call pragmatic naturalism and metaphysical naturalism, then you reject the entire purpose of science.

 

For the record I am talking about science in general, not evolution in particular. I am a physicist by trade, not a biologist, so I make no claim on expertise in evolution. What I can say is what you wrote above would make for a wholesale rejection of what we know about astronomy, for example. ie "God made it and that's good enough for me". The only way humans can investigate the operation of nature is by looking for natural causes.

Mark_Smith's picture

Which is science?

A- On day 4 of creation God made the stars, Sun and the moon. God made the stars and the Sun to be lights, so they are. That is why they emit light. God made these stars on day 4 exclusively and that happened something like 7000 years ago because that is the rough age we get from Biblical genealogies.

B- Stars like the Sun emit light because they get their energy from nuclear fusion of lighter atoms to heavier atoms. The most common is fusion of hydrogen to helium. We know this is the case because each fusion reaction produces neutrinos that travel freely and without interacting through the Sun and hit the earth in the amount we would expect from our understanding of nuclear physics. The energy produced in nuclear reactions in the core of stars travels to the surface by a slow process of atomic electromagnetic interactions. On average it takes something like 180,000 years for this energy transference to happen. Thus, the light is ancient by the time it hits the surface of the Sun to start traveling to the earth. The physics of these interactions is well understood (witness thermonuclear bombs as evidence). Looking at natural explanations I see no natural reason for the Sun to be only about 7000 years old (since it takes much longer than that for light produced by fusion in the core of the Sun to travel to its surface). At this point it is your theology/philosophy that makes you go further in making decisions about the age of the universe.

Paul Henebury's picture

Mark,

 

I have more to say here, but I want to ask you how 2 Cor. 10:5  & 1 Cor. 10:31 fit in with your "science"? 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

if you see no difference between what I call pragmatic naturalism and metaphysical naturalism, then you reject the entire purpose of science.

 

For the record I am talking about science in general, not evolution in particular. I am a physicist by trade, not a biologist, so I make no claim on expertise in evolution. What I can say is what you wrote above would make for a wholesale rejection of what we know about astronomy, for example. ie "God made it and that's good enough for me". The only way humans can investigate the operation of nature is by looking for natural causes.

Mark,

I don't agree that the only way we can investigate the operation of nature is by looking for natural causes. You are not just a physicist, you are a Christian physicist. As Christians, our investigation begins with the Bible, and then grows from that foundation into nature. God did make it, and He said He made it. That is good enough for the Christian. Now, with that knowledge, we can investigate the natural realm. Christians and secularists use exactly the same data, but they approach it from a different perspective and evaluate it within a different worldview. As a scientist, I am sure you deal frequently with research studies. You know that every quality study has to delineate the researcher's theoretical assumptions and includes an explanation of the researcher's interpretive framework. All scientists, and researchers of other stripes as well, recognize and acknowledge that there is no such thing as "pure" science anywhere because everyone approaches the data with some kind of preconceived viewpoint.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Paul Henebury's picture

Mark wants to interpret God's world using two opposing epistemologies.  He wants to use naturalistic presuppositions to interpret the natural world, but when he takes off his lab coat he wants to interpret himself as a saved sinner whom Christ died for and rose again for within this naturalistically understood world.  Mark, your worldview is like a plate of spam with a blob of ice cream on top (the ice cream being your Christianity).  But if the biblical account of Creation weren't true you would have no foundation for science.  

This is no place to start teaching philosophy, but the ultra-empiricist Hume will not allow the methodological naturalist to pin all his or her hopes on sense-experiences.  It was the Scottish philosopher who said:

“All events seem entirely loose and separate.  One event follows another,but we never can observe any tie between them.”

Hume reduced all claims to knowledge to the level of impressions upon our five senses.  If one could not trace a knowledge claim back to direct impressions it could not be labeled as true.  But his empiricism was so thorough that he argued that no one ever has an impression or perception of a necessary connection (“tie”) between one event and another.  Every event was discrete and on its own.  Any connection we make is out of pure habit (e.g. that the ground is wet after rain).  We don’t actually perceive the connections.  And since all I know is my perceptions (impressions), I cannot claim to know, says Hume, that one thing causes another.  Hence, Hume’s empiricism destroyed causality, unhinged the uniformity of nature, and so undermined the foundation of science.  In showing where naturalistic empiricism leads, Hume showed that truth-claims, either about the nature of the Self or about the nature of the world, cannot be sustained upon such a theory of knowledge.  

Further, Hume says we can only “know” the past.  We can never “know” what will happen in the future.  But it gets worse.  Without the biblical backdrop, the belief that the future will be like the past is a classic case of the fallacy of begging the question!  The person who bases all knowledge on experience has no epistemic right to claim any knowledge about anything in the future.  This is because we cannot sense or test the future.  If one really held to such a worldview why would one do science at all?

Naturalism supports the notion that we must have means of relating to and interacting with the rest of the natural world, and that it is by such means that we likewise gain a store of knowledge.  Why “must” naturalism support this theses?  Why would it not even better support the notion that everything is illusory?  That our minds create our reality instead of giving us direct access to it as it really is? (Kant).

Cows have a direct relationship with the world, but they don’t reflect upon it.  Why does Mark?  And HOW does he? 

I realize the full implications of this will be lost on some, but I ask the reader to think about worldviews and their fallout. They matter.  It is because of the Christian worldview that the West is not like the East in its view of existence (although this foundation is eeking away with the rise of secularism).  

Hume’s philosophy, which is so destructive to a Christian who will not renew his mind (Rom. 12:2) by "bringing EVERY thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), and so refuses to do science to the glory of God [the Creator] (1 Cor. 10:31), is a positive boon to the believer who holds to the sufficiency of Scripture and who begins, not with himself, but with the Word of God.  Hume demonstrates that our attempted autonomy makes us void the Creator’s explanation of reality and replace it with plastic specimens which collapse in on themselves upon examination.

All our knowledge is revelatory.  But there is plenty of false knowledge out there parading around as truth.  And some Christians believe it in the face of God's Word.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Greg Long's picture

Mark, you seem to subscribe to the modernist myth of complete objectivity when observing and interpreting the natural world.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Mark_Smith's picture

each to give me a ONE SENTENCE definition of science (I mean natural science, not social science).

Mark_Smith's picture

each to give me a ONE SENTENCE definition of science (I mean natural science, not social science).

GregH's picture

Mark, I get what you are saying. And you are right. Not sure why saying something like that drives such emotional reaction.

Paul Henebury's picture

you answer my question first...

"Mark,

I have more to say here, but I want to ask you how 2 Cor. 10:5  & 1 Cor. 10:31 fit in with your "science"?"

A little exposition would help, just to make sure your theology is thought out.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I'm not sure why the idea that "if there is a possible natural explanation of an event, it's likely that was the case" is somehow seen as anathema to "Do all to the glory of God," and "bringing every thought in captivity to the obedience of Christ."

Certainly with things that take place in current time, most of us accept the idea that miracles such as we can see in the NT, are no longer the rule now that the canon of scripture is closed.

Also, even with things we can see in recorded history since the events of Genesis, it's still much more likely that the vast majority of those events had "natural" (according to the laws that God himself created and put in motion) causes.  How can it be a problem to look for a natural cause until we realize that the event we are examining was not caused by anything we understand?  Even then, it could still be natural, but something where we just don't understand the science.  As others have stated or implied, there might even be a scientific explanation for how the earth can be ~6-10000 years old but still appear older, but be due to something we haven't discovered yet.

Of course, the difference between metaphysical naturalism and the biblical point of view will be seen when the Christian scientist still trusts what God has said when science doesn't explain it.

Yes, we know that God's word is true and that we have to trust him.  That in no way prevents us looking for "natural" processes (again, also created by God) that can explain what we see in the world around us.

Dave Barnhart

GregH's picture

I am still shaking my head wondering why there is so much angst about Mark's position. The idea that we cannot try to explain things using scientific processes seems eerily reminiscent of the dark ages.

M. Osborne's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

each to give me a ONE SENTENCE definition of science (I mean natural science, not social science).

Natural science is that aspect of mankind's dominion over God's creation wherein mankind attempts to understand what God has revealed about creation through the created things themselves.

If I don't bring the Creator-God and His revelation into the definition immediately, then the very idea of "natural causes" becomes meaningless:

  1. What is nature? Will the bounds of possibility within nature be determined by my prior experience (or our collective experience), or by what God has decreed?
  2. What is causality? Is it a pretty tight hypothesis based on prior experience, or something God has given me reason to expect?

 

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Nick's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

each to give me a ONE SENTENCE definition of science (I mean natural science, not social science).

I think this may be part of the problem.  J.P. Moreland in Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investigation argues against the idea of this single definition.  There is a short review of the book here: http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/index.html?mainframe=/webfil...

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

If a scientist takes that seriously then he/she does NOT open their Bible to Genesis 1 for an explanation of how life came to be...they observe nature and see if they can build up a natural explanation for the life we observe around us. That is not a fault of science but a strength!

I definitely disagree with this statement.  It begs the question why.

1. Is it because science cannot use facts that come from other disciplines?  Science does that all the time.  It assumes causal relationships are real -- a subject of metaphysics.  It assumes mathematical theorems and formulas -- a subject of math.  Neither one can be proven by the scientific method, yet science borrows from them freely.

2. Is it because science cannot allow for supernatural causes?  Why?

If science is an epistemological tool to acquire knowledge, and if it is not the only tool used to acquire knowledge, why would one ignore knowledge from other sources (even supernatural ones) when doing science?  Is the idea to acquire knowledge, or to simply play conformity to some wooden definition of natural science?

Or is it that we are dealing with two types of knowledge: "scientific" knowledge and "non-scientific" knowledge?  What happens when they contradict each other?  Are we talking any longer about True truth, or about relativistic truth?

If a Christian scientist is trying to think God's thoughts after Him, and if God says Christ rose from the death, why would a Christian scientist ignore what God says and try to find a natural cause for Christ's resurrection?  In the same vein of thought, if a Christian scientist is trying to think God's thoughts after Him, and if God says He created man from the dust and woman from man, why would a Christian scientist ignore what God says and attempt to find a natural explanation of how humans came to be?

Just having focus vision on what science presumably is supposed to be, without considering the larger epistemological issues (and how they affect the Christian life), misses the reasons why people disagree with some of Mark's statements.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

GregH wrote:

The idea that we cannot try to explain things using scientific processes seems eerily reminiscent of the dark ages.

GregH,

Who said this?

All I have seen anyone say is that we cannot use science to explain anything when it is divorced from the Word of God. As I understand it, the position Mark has described, and I haven't seen him claim it as his own yet, goes beyond using science that is based on the foundation of what God has already authoritatively said and instead, replaces God with science. In one, God is the authority and science is the useful tool that remains subservient to what God has said; in the other, science is the authority and God is entirely removed from the equation.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Mark_Smith's picture

what I will say is that since Copernicus and Tycho Brahe science has been about observing natural phenomena, and seeking natural explanations for those phenomena. To "do science" a person

1- observes nature

2- formulates a hypothesis that is an explanation of nature by means of natural explanations that also makes a testable prediction

3- conducts an experiment to test that hypothesis

4- the results of the experiment either confirms the prediction of the hypothesis or rejects it

The above is science. That is how it is done. Is it perfect? No. Is it the only way to study the world? No. But that above is what science is and doing anything else is not science! I say that boldly because it is a categorical and definitional fact.

Now, what many of you want to do is jump to the philosophical/religious ramifications of science. That is a whole different ball of wax.

Mark_Smith's picture

I live a moral life that others can see. I share my faith in Jesus Christ with others. I read the Bible and don't hide it! I pray for others.

What I DO NOT DO is start with Genesis 1 and try to "prove the Bible is true". As I stated above science is looking for natural explanations for natural phenomena. One person stated that science should be about dealing with what God has revealed to us about nature...Did God reveal to us that nuclear fusion is the source of energy for the Sun? That bacteria and viruses cause disease? That creating sanitation systems is a good idea? That the Moon is made entirely of material from the crust and upper mantle of the Earth?

Nick's picture

Mark,

I don't think anyone denies that your definition of science is what most people refer to as science.  And for the sake of argument, let's grant that definition is adequate for the way things are today (a debatable point, see Moreland's book in my previous post).

But is that really what is being debated?  You can tell us until your face turns blue what most people think about science, but I personally don't care about that.  I care about what science ought to be for a Christian.  I care about how to think like a Christian.  And let's face it, in the Western world we all have been so indoctrinated in a secularist mindset that if we are honest with ourselves, we have a lot of growth to do in this area (I certainly do).

I cannot accept the concept of ignoring what God says as something acceptable for a Christian -- in any area of life.  The final authority is Scripture in all it speaks of.  Now, I may not practice that perfectly (in fact, I do not).  But I cannot accept that concept despite of my personal failures in this area.

Furthermore, I do believe that the Christian ought to start with the Word of God as primary in his thought process.  I agree with others here, and with VanTil, that the foundation and epistemological ground for all thought is found in Him.

God bless,

Nick

Mark_Smith's picture

1. Joe is sick. What caused it? God's will. He is provident over His creation. Done. This is what people thought for millenia until science began looking for a more practical way to prevent disease.

2. How does the Sun produce light? God willed it when He spoke on day 4 of creation. Done.

 

I can go on and on with this line of reasoning. 

Greg Long's picture

Mark, no one is arguing for what you are arguing against. Two words: straw man.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Wayne Wilson's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

1. Joe is sick. What caused it? God's will. He is provident over His creation. Done. This is what people thought for millenia until science began looking for a more practical way to prevent disease.

2. How does the Sun produce light? God willed it when He spoke on day 4 of creation. Done.

 

I can go on and on with this line of reasoning. 

I don't think you should go on this way, brother. This view of earlier generations is not supported by history. People have known about disease and sickness as a natural phenomenon and called for doctors for millennia. The Greeks took very practical measures to contain plague. Did they have the kind of insight into the mechanics of disease we have? No.  But they did treat disease based on observation and what seemed to work. They also prayed. Just as we do. 

What I DO NOT DO is start with Genesis 1 and try to "prove the Bible is true". As I stated above science is looking for natural explanations for natural phenomena. One person stated that science should be about dealing with what God has revealed to us about nature...Did God reveal to us that nuclear fusion is the source of energy for the Sun? That bacteria and viruses cause disease? That creating sanitation systems is a good idea? That the Moon is made entirely of material from the crust and upper mantle of the Earth?

I wouldn't start there either, but these days the subject often comes up. We'd better be ready to tell them something. Oh, yes, and as far as "sanitation systems being a good idea?"  The Lord does seem to have been ahead of science by a long shot on this one.  Deut 23:12-14.  In fact, the disease control methods found in the law, and all the washings required, does make one think now that maybe bacteria and viruses were very much on the Lord's mind.

GregH's picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

1. Joe is sick. What caused it? God's will. He is provident over His creation. Done. This is what people thought for millenia until science began looking for a more practical way to prevent disease.

2. How does the Sun produce light? God willed it when He spoke on day 4 of creation. Done.

 

I can go on and on with this line of reasoning. 

 

 

I don't think you should go on this way, brother. This view of earlier generations is not supported by history. People have known about disease and sickness as a natural phenomenon and called for doctors for millennia. The Greeks took very practical measures to contain plague. Did they have the kind of insight into the mechanics of disease we have? No.  But they did treat disease based on observation and what seemed to work. They also prayed. Just as we do. 

What I DO NOT DO is start with Genesis 1 and try to "prove the Bible is true". As I stated above science is looking for natural explanations for natural phenomena. One person stated that science should be about dealing with what God has revealed to us about nature...Did God reveal to us that nuclear fusion is the source of energy for the Sun? That bacteria and viruses cause disease? That creating sanitation systems is a good idea? That the Moon is made entirely of material from the crust and upper mantle of the Earth?

I wouldn't start there either, but these days the subject often comes up. We'd better be ready to tell them something. Oh, yes, and as far as "sanitation systems being a good idea?"  The Lord does seem to have been ahead of science by a long shot on this one.  Deut 23:12-14.  In fact, the disease control methods found in the law, and all the washings required, does make one think now that maybe bacteria and viruses were very much on the Lord's mind.

There is absolutely no question that during the Middle Ages up until the Renaissance, "medicine" was not only rudimentary but often guided by mysticism instead of anything remotely scientific.

And of course God knew about diseases 4,000 years ago. But could we have really built what we know about medicine from the OT law? 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

1. Joe is sick. What caused it? God's will. He is provident over His creation. Done. This is what people thought for millenia until science began looking for a more practical way to prevent disease.

2. How does the Sun produce light? God willed it when He spoke on day 4 of creation. Done.

 

I can go on and on with this line of reasoning. 

Mark,

To echo what Greg Long posted, this is not what anyone is saying. In fact, your post doesn't agree with your own title. Your title more accurately reflects where the comments have been - STARTING with God. Your examples end with God and ignore the intellect and resources God has given us as humans and told us to use. Unfortunately, the other alternative you have posited has been to ignore God and rely entirely on the intellect and resources God has given us and told us to use. The biblical responses is to start with God, recognizing that whatever He has said is true and authoritative, and then build on what is revealed by using our intellect. This whole idea of worldview and perspective is completely missing from your posts, but it is the heart of Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10. The lenses through which we look at the evidence play a significant part in the conclusions we draw.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Wayne Wilson's picture

GregH wrote:

 

Wayne Wilson wrote:

 

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

1. Joe is sick. What caused it? God's will. He is provident over His creation. Done. This is what people thought for millenia until science began looking for a more practical way to prevent disease.

2. How does the Sun produce light? God willed it when He spoke on day 4 of creation. Done.

 

I can go on and on with this line of reasoning. 

 

 

I don't think you should go on this way, brother. This view of earlier generations is not supported by history. People have known about disease and sickness as a natural phenomenon and called for doctors for millennia. The Greeks took very practical measures to contain plague. Did they have the kind of insight into the mechanics of disease we have? No.  But they did treat disease based on observation and what seemed to work. They also prayed. Just as we do. 

What I DO NOT DO is start with Genesis 1 and try to "prove the Bible is true". As I stated above science is looking for natural explanations for natural phenomena. One person stated that science should be about dealing with what God has revealed to us about nature...Did God reveal to us that nuclear fusion is the source of energy for the Sun? That bacteria and viruses cause disease? That creating sanitation systems is a good idea? That the Moon is made entirely of material from the crust and upper mantle of the Earth?

I wouldn't start there either, but these days the subject often comes up. We'd better be ready to tell them something. Oh, yes, and as far as "sanitation systems being a good idea?"  The Lord does seem to have been ahead of science by a long shot on this one.  Deut 23:12-14.  In fact, the disease control methods found in the law, and all the washings required, does make one think now that maybe bacteria and viruses were very much on the Lord's mind.

 

 

There is absolutely no question that during the Middle Ages up until the Renaissance, "medicine" was not only rudimentary but often guided by mysticism instead of anything remotely scientific.

And of course God knew about diseases 4,000 years ago. But could we have really built what we know about medicine from the OT law? 

Interesting, Greg, how you turned Millennia (Mark's claim) into "the Middle Ages up until the Renaissance" and not only changing the time frame of the discussion, but limiting it to Europe.  Bad form.  

As to the law, I was simply pointing out that the law absolutely had a "sanitation system." Do you deny this?

Paul Henebury's picture

Just to remind everyone: Mark said,

"If a scientist takes that seriously then he/she does NOT open their Bible to Genesis 1 for an explanation of how life came to be...they observe nature and see if they can build up a natural explanation for the life we observe around us. That is not a fault of science but a strength!"

My answer: if "scientists" try to come up with a natural explanation for the origin of life they will come up (and DO come up) with a lie!  Not only that but it is a preposterous and incoherent lie. 

Now Mark wants a definition of natural science.  As the Bible teaches that the natural (which has its own integrity) depends on the supernatural (creation and providence anybody?), it will not do to define science reductionistically to exclude God.  This is especially the case since, as Kepler and Newton recognize, and as one or two commenters here do not, that creatures made in God's image (Gen. 1!) we should be thinking God's thoughts after Him.

Thus, a definition of natural science would be something like,

"Natural science is the pursuit of truth about the natural world through observation and experimentation."

If the Truth points to God - which in the end it always does - then that must be part of science.  That does not mean that we go looking for supernatural explanations for phenomena we come across in the world (despite Mark's caricature).  Rather, we do as Adam did when he named the animals: we observe and analyze and identify.  Then we give glory to God like 1 Cor. 10:31 says we should!

If we push the Creator to the margins when talking about origins we are NOT Bible believers.  Mark seems to think that the Bible is a Book for spiritual renewal, but is not to be taken seriously as the Word of the Creator which tells us about Him, His world, and our place in it.  

Now, may I invite Mark to get back either to my comment regarding the failure of empiricist epistemology without God (Taking Too Much For Granted'), or repair to the actual post itself. 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Mark_Smith's picture

probably my final ones on this.

1- I do NOT think the Bible is only spiritual and not about the natural. I agree wholeheartedly that the natural world, as the Bible reveals to us from God, is from the spiritual.

2- One person asked about OT sanitation. I agree the rituals had handwashing and such, but was the purpose to avoid disease or as a sign of holiness? God never said "thou shalt not pee upstream from your drinking water" did He?

3- I do NOT think that scientific reasoning is necessarily THE BEST WAY or THE ONLY WAY to understand nature.

4- What I am saying is that science looks for natural explanations for natural phenomena. Period.

5- What I am saying is WHEN you look to the Bible to constrain or change your explanations of the natural world you are no longer doing science, but applying your religious beliefs to your observations. That is potentially OK by the way...just recognize what you are doing.

   Example: The one I gave earlier was where does the Sun get its energy from. Science has concluded that the Sun is about 5 billion years old and gets its energy from nuclear fusion. If your reading of the Bible is young earth creationist, then you have a problem with this. Chip Van Emmerick has proposed that the universe just looks old and God made Sun that looks like it has been working for billions of years but really hasn't. That is fine...and could be right for all I know, BUT IT IS NOT SCIENCE!

6- Another problem with using your religious beliefs to guide your explanation of the natural world is the potential that your hermeneutics and exegesis might be wrong. I'll use the drastic example of YEC. What if it turns out that your interpretation of the Bible is wrong? Then you have used your view to guide your natural explanations. Just being honest, it is extremely difficult to find natural explanations for how the universe came to be and only be 7000 years old. Why bother making galaxies billions of light years away when there is no way for the light to get to earth in that time naturally? Why power the Sun by nuclear fusion, which takes over 100,000 years for the energy to get to the surface, when the universe is young. Why make the universe look old? What YEC does is make science useless in understanding nature. So you basically abandon science if you are YEC.

7-Be careful with Kepler and Newton. They were Christians, but the world was a different place in the 17th century. If you read Johannus Kepler, actually read his stuff and not just quotes out of books about him, he was a mystic and had strange notions about God using geometric shapes to establish planetary orbits. This has morphed in modern times into the "harmony of the spheres" where people actually think the orbits of planets are musical noted....Kepler's mother was a "potion maker" who was threatened to be burned at the stake after the incident where Kepler took off with Tycho Brahe's planetary measurement data. There is also a reasonable chance Kepler had a role in Tycho Brahe's odd death because Brahe was keeping Kepler from seeing the data.

Isaac Newton was not a Trinitarian and had other odd doctrine. Had he not been a famous scientist he would've been burned at the stake!

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:
6- Another problem with using your religious beliefs to guide your explanation of the natural world is the potential that your hermeneutics and exegesis might be wrong. I'll use the drastic example of YEC. What if it turns out that your interpretation of the Bible is wrong? Then you have used your view to guide your natural explanations. Just being honest, it is extremely difficult to find natural explanations for how the universe came to be and only be 7000 years old. Why bother making galaxies billions of light years away when there is no way for the light to get to earth in that time naturally? Why power the Sun by nuclear fusion, which takes over 100,000 years for the energy to get to the surface, when the universe is young. Why make the universe look old? What YEC does is make science useless in understanding nature. So you basically abandon science if you are YEC.
Mark,

I'm only going to interact with this one point. Your "what if" is flawed by assumption. While it's true that someone could misinterpret the Bible and draw faulty conclusions, it is equally true that someone could misunderstand, misrepresent, or simply abuse science and get faulty conclusions. However, what is not equal is the starting point. With the Bible, you are starting with the infinite, immutable, infallible, inerrant, authoritative and sovereign Author while in science you are starting with the finite, fallible, and constantly changing human reason. The fact that someone might make a mistake with the Bible is no reason to avoid it or exclude it from the conversation. You continue to argue for an entirely objective scientific process, but there just isn't any such thing. Everyone, including every scientist, evaluates the data from a preconceived worldview. It is disingenuous to argue that the Christian has to pretend to check his worldview at the door while the humanist is free follow the dictates of his own worldview. It is the very worldview of the humanist that tries to redefine science into something that pretends the supernatural doesn't exist. It is no coincidence that the modern scientific explosion, including the development of the scientific method of investigation, began at the same time as the reformation. I am sorry that you seem to have such a hard time understanding YEC, because it absolutely does not abandon science, but it does keep science in its place. You have reversed the roles and declared science infallible as the source of truth by which man must shape his understanding of scripture. Man is now god, and God must answer to man. What a loss.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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