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Bible vs Darwin

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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Postby AstusAleator » Sun May 04, 2008 7:24 pm

Alex would you say the Church of England (circa Darwin) had more political power and influence than the Roman Catholic during the crusades and/or inquisitions?

alextemplet wrote:the creation story in Genesis seems to me to be a remarkably accurate (although heavily symbolic) narrative of the evolution of life on Earth.


I won't copy and paste Genesis 1 in here, but I'm having a hard time seeing how;

day 1: light and dark (day and night)
day 2: earth and water seperate
day 3: Vegetation
day 4: Sun Moon and stars
day 5: Birds and fish
day 6: Land animals, humans (As well as God's permission for humans to subdue and have dominion over everything else on earth)
day 7: Phew! Day off from all that hard work.

reflects what most scientists theorize as the sequence of evolution. The part where the sun and moon came into existence after vegetation on earth really doesn't seem to fit. Perhaps you're talking about the second creation story (Genesis 2)? The one where man is made before any other living thing?

I can't help but view it as nothing more than a myth of creation, such as exists in every culture on earth.

Don't get me wrong, I love your willingness to compromise between the two, and I wish more people did so. But I think you're really having to stretch to say that Genesis is an allegory for evolution.

alextemplet wrote:The great rivalry between faith and science is largely a false conflict that has been created and fed by both sides as a ploy for power and prestige.


I agree with this. Well said.


If I could, at this point, direct your attentions to a thread I started in the Off-Topic forum called "Dawkins Reviews "Expelled" by Ben Stein." It discusses this divide between church(es) and science(evolution). And I'm afraid the documentary does nothing but inflame the already divisive atmosphere.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue May 06, 2008 4:17 pm

I think one must read the Biblical creation story not so much as a detail-by-detail account of creation but more as an allegory for the creative process. To begin with, it is very easy to understand why the story is written as it is, and it is an almost exact duplication of Sumerian creation mythology. Being a Sumerian himself, Abraham inherited these stories and passed them on to the first Hebrews. The main point of the Biblical creation stories then became to show that it was the Hebrew God, and not some pagan deity, Who alone created the entire universe.

I firmly believe that the Biblical creation story is not a literal account of how the universe came into being, but an allegorical story meant to show everything in existence was created by God. If we accept that the story is mostly symbolic, we can forgive a bit of poetic license on the part of the author if certain details seem out of place to a literal interpretation. That said, there are certain details that seem to hint at an evolutionary process. For example, in both accounts life begins in the water. The first few verses (God said "Let there be light," and there was light.) sounds to me almost like a description of the big bang. And of course, in both accounts humanity is a very recent creation.

A few days ago I was discussing this with a friend of mine, and I asked him how long are the six days of the creation story. He thought they were twenty-four hours. I do not know how long these days are, but I am certain they are not the usual twenty-four hour day we are accustomed to. A day may be twenty-four hours on Earth, but not in other parts of the universe. On Venus, a day is approximately three months; on Mars, twenty-five hours; on Jupiter, only twelve. All these places were created by God, Who exists in Heaven. How long is a day in Heaven? The Bible tells us that a day and a thousand years are the same to God, as each is but a drop in the ocean of eternity. I therefore am convinced that the days of the creation story must represent much longer periods of time.

And therein lies the real heart of the issue, which is the human tendency to interpret God's word in strictly human terms. Perhaps one can be forgiven for thinking only in our own terms, but we must understand that God, being eternal, is not bound by human reasoning. Just as a day to God may be different from our own day, then other certain "inaccuracies" of the creation story may be nothing more than the product of limited human understanding. For example, you mentioned vegetation being created before the sun, which is of course a requirement for vegetation to exist. Perhaps on this day God was creating life not on Earth but on some other planet that already had a star to support it? I of course cannot be certain of this but it's something to think about.

As for your other question regarding the power of churches, yes I do believe the Church of England was more powerful than the Mideval Catholic Church. It is perhaps unfortunate that the Catholic Church is made to shoulder the blame for many things that were not its own doing but instead the work of the various European kings of that time. For example, many of the Crusades were organized entirely by kings acting without or even against the Church's approval; yet although the Church had nothing to do with these events, it is still blamed for them. The same is true of the Inquisition, which was also largely a tool for various kings to oppress their opponents while appearing righteous. No where is this more evident than in the English government's use of the Inquisition to prosecute and execute Joan of Arc, whom the Church had already stated was sent by God an therefore innocent of the charges against her. It is no coincidence that in the years following her death, the Church went to great effort to punish the Englishmen responsible for her death.

The main difference between the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages and the English church of Darwin's day is that the Catholic Church has always been an international organization and thus able to preserve a considerable degree of independence from secular governments. The English church, however, was founded entirely to give the English monarch sole control over the spiritual lives of the English nation. Since the head of the church was also the head of state, the English church was thus little more than a tool for royal policy. Unlike the Catholic Church, it had no power of its own to stand against the government when the government became tyrannical; instead, it could only play along, as it was itself but a tool of government policy. Perhaps it is not right to describe the English church as powerful in its own right, but as a pawn of the government acting behind it, it was certainly a force to be reckoned with.
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Postby AstusAleator » Mon May 12, 2008 11:27 pm

Who needs history textbooks when we have alex? :)

Thanks for your informed response.

My brother is a person that believes in literal creation, as put forth in Genesis. I don't want to get in a big argument with him. I tell myself it's not really worth discussing, or that there's nothing wrong with him believing that. But when it comes down to it, he and others that believe the same way, may be the ones voting against evolution being taught in schools. Or, similarly, voting to force teachers to pass things like ID off as science in the classroom.

I wish there was a way I could get him to see that they really don't need to be mutually exclusive, within a person's life.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue May 13, 2008 12:50 am

Astus, if you can convince your brother to read it, Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth Miller is a great book about the subject of harmony between faith and science. I used to have trouble myself seeing the two as compatible, but Miller's book convinced me otherwise.
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Postby Corax » Thu May 22, 2008 8:07 pm

Hey folks,

I'm new here- just stumbled on the site while surfing the net at lunch.

The opening questions asks if Darwinian evolution is supported or is contradicted by the Bible.

I've read a few books on both sides of the issue, and have a hard time seeing how anyone can twist the words of the Bible in such a way as to make it appear to confirm evolution. There are legions of apologists out there inventing interpretations and excuses to make the Bible (or any other god inspired text) seem relevant. You would be hard pressed to find any book with the same history and topic that couldn't be made to say what you want. The simple fact is, if it were even accidentally true, no one would have to change anything to make it true.

The reason some people think it's okay to say that religion and science are not in conflict, is that they equate faith and knowledge. I don't. Science deals with knowledge supported by facts and logic and reasoning, while religion deals with faith based on deeply held beliefs (with no regard given for facts and logic and reasoning). If religion was concerned with facts and logic and reasoning, it would be science. They are not in conflict as long as they don't try to explain the same thing. As soon as religion tries to explain anything that science explains, only one can be right, and pretending they are both equal but different, is faulty thinking.

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Postby alextemplet » Thu May 22, 2008 9:39 pm

Corax, I would suggest a quick study on theology (literallty the study of God). Most of the great theologians, from Augustine in the 4th century through Thomas Aquinas in the middle ages, right down to John Paul II in our own era, have sought to discover religious truth through facts, logic, and reasoning. No doubt there are many religious belief systems that try to minimize the role of reason (especially evangelical protestantism), however there are many faiths (such as orthodox Christianity) that base their beliefs on solid reasoning. To claim that all religious belief lies forever outside the realm of logic is just plain ignorant.
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Re: Bible vs Darwin

Postby Corax » Fri May 23, 2008 5:40 am

If someone is looking to verify their faith with facts, they'll be forced to either eliminate the facts that aren't working for them, or (mis)interpret them.

You can't have faith in anything and be entirely rational. Faith is the very definition of irrational. So if there are historical examples of people that said rational sounding things, that doesn't mean that they were open to ideas that contradicted their faith. Where their ideas are concerned with morals or the like, it's very possible for them to be as 'right' as anyone. It's where science and religion collide that there are problems.

John Paul II said " "[I]f the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God…Consequently, theories of evolution which…consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man."(http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/project ... nview.html) So the pope thinks evolutions great, so long as the story of his god putting a mind and soul into man is allowed to be included, contrary to any evidence or reason.

How hard would it be to find more irrational ideas from him and the other examples? Not very hard I think.

Since having faith means you are willing to believe something for no other reason than you want it to be true, I don't think anyone with faith in the supernatural can be entirely rational or logical. Not that they are purposely being dishonest, but they are simply forced to limit and change the information they accept.

It's not really ignorant to see how religion clouds the ability to be rational or logical. I know lots of people who are very strong in their faith, and are quite intelligent and rational in most matters. However, they are trapped in their faith, and are completely unable to see anything like evolution without dragging biblical 'truths' into the discussion- making the discussion another attempted conversion. (They're all great friends and people, so there are no hard feelings. We all have a good time actually.)
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Postby alextemplet » Fri May 23, 2008 7:50 pm

In a way you are perhaps arguing against yourself, because it appears that your own thinking is clouded by your predetermined opinions ("faith," if you will) concerning the supernatural (namely, that it does not exist.). This is the great fallacy of atheism, to claim pure logic based on this completely illogical assumption (even in the face of evidence to the contrary).

I again suggest a study of history's major theologians. You are wrong to assume that faith is something one believes entirely because one wants it to be true. A quick study of the lives of these theologians (and countless others) will disprove that in a heartbeat. Augstine of Hippo, for example, spent much of his life trying to avoid religious belief, until the weight of reason and evidence finally overcame his doubt.

If it is religion and science must always be in opposition to each other, or if religion is inherently independent from reason, then I ask you to explain your opinions on the big bang theory. No self-respecting scientist who has studied the evidence is likely to argue against the big bang, yet the theory was originally developed by the Catholic Church as an attempt to prove the existence of God. Indeed, one could argue that the mere idea that everything could have sprung out of nothing (a scientifically impossible concept) is in itself fatal to atheism. Certainly many atheists realized as much, and this is why atheist scientists were so opposed to the big bang for several decades. Yet today we know almost as certainly as science can tell us that the big bang happened. Here we have a prime example of religion and science working hand-in-hand to discover a truth that either one, if operating on its own, would probably never have thought about. If science and religion were as opposed to each other as you claim, I do not think this ever would have happened.
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Postby cracked_doc » Sat May 24, 2008 11:45 pm

Why cant creationists and evolution believers ever reconciliate.....as the saying goes "its not necessary to believe everything you know....the sign of an educated person is that he could entertain a thought in the mind without accepting it...so let the two be at peace from here :D"
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Postby cracked_doc » Sat May 24, 2008 11:47 pm

why m I budging in here uninvited n giving my advice unsought...God knows!!..oops the mods will warn me for making a crap post...
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Postby mith » Sun May 25, 2008 12:22 am

I agree, it's a crap post.
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Re:

Postby alextemplet » Sun May 25, 2008 3:39 am

cracked_doc wrote:Why cant creationists and evolution believers ever reconciliate.....as the saying goes "its not necessary to believe everything you know....the sign of an educated person is that he could entertain a thought in the mind without accepting it...so let the two be at peace from here :D"


I have devoted quite a lot of my time here to trying to establish points not very dissimilar from what you describe.
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