Skip to comments.Fundamental Evolution
Posted on 09/01/2008 12:21:56 PM PDT by Forscher
Fundamental Evolution: a Biologist reads Genesis
Everybody should read the Bible. Several times. When I was a child, I had to: my mother insisted. So I read. But soon I became so entangled with who begat unpronounceable who, I lost interest. For a time I struggled with seemingly endless tales of pillage, rape, massacre, genocide, and tedious ritual, but eventually I put the book on the shelf, and there it remained for thirty years. The Jehovah's Witnesses drove me back to scripture. My wife and I were living in the Florida Keys. Every so often a group of earnest ladies would appear at the door and exhort us in the name of the Lord. My wife said I should tell them our souls already were saved and shut the door, and for a time I did. But to see them standing on an island almost entirely composed of fossil coral while vociferously denying Evolution tempted me to argue. So as not to appear ignorant, I got the King James version off the shelf and re-read it. I was older, and more patient. Apparently human behavior hasn't changed much in three thousand years. Weapons are different. People aren't. This time I was interested. When the Lords self-appointed Witnesses returned, I was loaded for bear. For one thing, I had discovered there is quite a lot of agreement between scientific theory and Genesis, much more than Id expected. Allowing for technical terms not yet invented in King James's time - let alone three thousand years ago - the First Day sounds a lot like Alpher and Gamows Big Bang. Except for an extended period of darkness before any stars were assembled, ...darkness was upon the face of the deep (Gen. 1:2),the universe did begin with light, And God said, Let there be light (Gen. 1:3.) In the initial hot plasma, there was lots of light, many times brighter than the sun. Whether or not God said, Let there be light, something touched it off. Just what....is a question Science does not yet address. The framers of Genesis had no distinctive terms for gasses and fluids, much less hydrogen. The universe is mostly hydrogen, which means Water-maker. Waters being Gathered together in one place (Gen. 1:9) is remarkably close to current theories of star-formation by the collapse of interstellar gas clouds. The appearance of Dry land(Gen. 1:9) plausibly describes the condensing of a dawn earth from the dust of solar evolution, or proto-continents rising from a primal sea. It is as if somebody told those old prophets what actually happened, and they passed the story on within the limits of their understanding. They did think the sun and moon were created after the earth. That was a bit off the mark. But the original Light didn't come from the sun. They got that right: our solar system is a relatively recent event. Not bad, when you consider they had no notion of the vast Cosmos, or of the earth a tiny sphere drifting in it. Gen. 1:14 through 1:18, followed by 1:13, need only be placed between Gen. 1:8 2 and 1:9, and, without changing a word, the problem is resolved. The creation of the whole universe in six days doesn't work if we are talking about local time. Theologians have quibbled that God's Day might be longer than ours, but that's a bit thin. Moreover, it's unnecessary, if Einstein's Special Relativity theory applies to the expanding universe. The farther away any celestial object is, the faster it has been flying away from Here ever since the Big Bang. At the edge of visibility, astronomers detect objects receding at over 95% of the speed of light. Special Relativity suggests that time there passes about a third as fast as here. If, still farther away, Something is receding at light's speed, its time is standing still. Theologians agree that God must Be everywhere. Doubtless that includes the farthest Cosmos, where, presumably, Something still is hurtling away from us at the speed of light. According to Special Relativity, that Something has not aged since Creation's primal bang. The mean age of the universe could approach zero. Or, in God's universal time, Now could be the evening of the seventh day. Think about what the authors of the Bible had to work with: to them, the sun, moon, and stars were simply lights in the sky. The earth looked flat. The path of the setting sun was a mystery. They had no notion of the actual structure of the Cosmos, or the solar system, or the earth. Yet nowhere in Genesis is it stated that the earth is flat, or that the sun goes around it. Here and there in the Bible there are inconsistencies and improbable tales, but somehow its authors avoided the gross cosmological errors, common to other creation stories, that would totally discredit them. Moreover, the Old Testament is remarkably free of the devils, djinns, afreets, and spirits that festoon Middle Eastern beliefs. For hundreds of years, scriptural passages were passed from generation to generation by word-of-mouth. When finally they were written down, manuscripts were painfully copied and re-copied by hand for hundreds of years more. Languages and meanings of words changed. Inevitably, scribes made mistakes and rewrote passages to match their understanding and beliefs. We know this happened because many old manuscripts with errors and alterations survive. It is a wonder there are not more errors. The parallels between the events described in Genesis and modern scientific theory do look too good to be coincidental. Perhaps most significant: there was a Beginning. That was not always obvious to modern astronomers. Steady-state hypotheses of an eternal universe prevailed until after Edwin Hubbles observation that the Cosmos is expanding. Steady state collapsed for good in 1964, with the accidental discovery by Penzias and Wilson of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (leftover glow from the Big Bang), predicted by Georg Gamow years before. And there was an extended period of Darkness before the stars began to shine. 3 Look at the parallels:
In the beginning... (Gen. 1:1.) - The Cosmos did have a Beginning, only confirmed in 1964, when Hoyles Steady state hypothesis became indefensible.
... and darkness was upon the face of the deep. (Gen. 1:2.) - There was a Darkness before the first stars condensed from clouds of hydrogen gas in the cooling Cosmos.
And God said, Let there be light... (Gen 1:3.) - The initial Light did not come from the sun, which condensed from clouds of primal gas and dust much later.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. (Gen. 1:6.) - The initially homogeneous universe grew clumpy: increasingly dense gas clouds became separated by relatively empty space. The words are different: the meaning is too close for comfort.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear... (Gen. 1:9.) - The sun and a lifeless earth condensed from swirling clouds of gas and dust, long after the initial Big Bang. They did not just pop into being, but were Gathered together from scattered materials. The words differ, but Cosmology and Genesis agree.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit... (Gen. 1:11.) And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit... (Gen. 1:12.) - Land plants came before land animals, and were not created directly: the earth brought them forth. Subtle point, that....
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life...(Gen. 1:20.) - Animal life began in the sea: the waters brought it forth. Plant life too, but, since its mostly microscopic, we had to invent microscopes to find out about that. A lot of those plants also are Moving creatures. Again, no conflict with Science. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind...(Gen. 1:24.) - Land animals came after sea animals and land plants: again, the earth brought them forth: God did not simply will them into existence. There is no conflict with Science. Evolution is just the nuts and bolts of Creation. 4
And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness... (Gen. 1:26.) - Man and woman are created last: the fossil record tells us that Homo sapiens was among the most recent of species to evolve.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground... (Gen. 2:7.) - Human flesh is made of the common elements of earth, a fact not necessarily evident to tribal herdsmen. Genesis got it right.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden...(Gen. 2:8.) - Located somewhere east of Israel, in what we now call the Fertile Crescent," where agriculture began. Human occupation and climate change have reduced much of the area to desert, but it once supported many easily domesticated plants and animals.
And they both were naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.(Gen. 2:25.) - For a time, humans were like other animals: naked, unthinking, unaware of Good and Evil. A powerful evolutionary parable....
That is a most remarkable series of bullseyes. The parallels between science and scripture do require more explaining than the differences. Especially interesting is the location of the Garden of Eden in what is called The Fertile Crescent. The Fertile Crescent (much of which human occupation has helped make a desert) once harbored a unique collection of easily domesticated plants and animals. There, agriculture got a running start, so civilizations developed faster than those in many other parts of the world. From the Fertile Crescent, domesticated plants, animals, and agricultural methods could spread thousands of miles at the same approximate latitude, untroubled by changes in seasonal cycles. Genesis 3, the most powerful parable in the Bible, deals with the consequences of humankind's growing intelligence. Eden is not just a place: Eden is a stage in the evolution of mind. Adam and Eve were like the other animals until they ate the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. After that, God kicked them off the welfare roll and they had to go to work. Oppressed by foresight, Adam henceforth would have to earn his bread in the sweat of his face. Eve would have so much trouble getting her childrens oversized skulls though her pelvis she would bear them in travail: there was an article about that in Scientific American not long ago. All that trouble was a consequence of the swelling human brain, and of the growing knowledge it engendered. Adam's rib? Genesis 3:21-22 tells us God made Eve out of one of Adam's ribs. Supposedly He made Adam out of dust, complete with 5
genitalia, but only later perceived that a woman was needed. Then He took a rib out of Adam (with anaesthetic) to make Eve. Are we to believe the Lord was playing it by ear? The Engineer of the Universe is not so incompetent. It was not until the Middle Ages that perceptive individuals noticed that men and women both have twelve pairs of ribs. Instant consternation! But the Adam's rib story is an improbable biblical embarrassment that should be credited to some unidentified tribal shaman telling stories by a campfire. It doesn't even appear in Genesis 1 or 2. Similarly, Genesis 6:2 tells us That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. Genesis 6:4 continues, ....when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them...! Bouncing baby boys, who would become Mighty men of renown! God had grandchildren? The engaging picture of Gods horny sons pouncing on lucky shepherd girls needs explaining, perhaps by the same tribal shaman, for the Gospels tell us that Jesus was God's only son. There are stories that grew in the telling. For example, there was at least one humongous Flood. Charles Leonard Wooley dug up the evidence while excavating Ur. Under the layers of Urs potsherds he hit a stratum of clay almost ten feet thick. Only a very impressive flood could have deposited it. Under the clay were the primitive potsherds of the pre-flood residents, presumably Noahs neighbors. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered (Gen. 1:20) says the Bible. Fifteen cubits is about twenty-four feet, which is a respectable flood, but it didnt even cover ...all the high hills... (Gen. 1:19) around Ur. Wooley dug a shaft into one of them. At the level of the clay, he found the pre-flood primitive potsherds right under the lowest levels of Ur, with no clay deposit between. Twenty-four feet of water wouldnt get the Ark up on the Mountains of Ararat, either. There is geological evidence for several floods in the Mideast, floods that would have seemed to the inhabitants to cover the whole earth. There is no geological evidence for a universal flood. In clay-tablet libraries of Babylon and Nineveh are two flood stories about legendary kings of Ur. The oldest tells of Atrahasis, warned by a god that another god planned to destroy all mankind by a flood. Atrahasis is instructed to build a ship large enough for his family and animals. According to the legend, the other god was annoyed because noisy people were interfering with his sleep! This story apparently morphed into the Gilgamesh legend, in which Utnapishtim is warned by a god that another god would drown all mankind for their sins. Utnapishtim, too, is instructed to build a ship large enough for his family and numerous animals. The yarn is too similar to Noahs story to be a coincidence. Abraham would have
heard these stories while growing up in Ur. When he left Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31), he would have taken the stories with him. Inevitably, his descendants adopted them and modified them. Another story that grew in the telling is of the Tower of Babel. Ur and Babylon built impressive staged towers called Ziggurats of burnt brick, with Slime (tar) for mortar. By our standards, they werent very high, but they were big. Babylon conquered Judea and enslaved the Jews for fifty-odd years, probably boasting to them that these towers would reach heaven. Having no reason to love the Babylonians, the Jews would have told uncomplimentary stories about them and their towers. But you cant build a tower to heaven. You cant even get there with a spaceship. The ancient Jews, and their Babylonian captors, not understanding the structure of the Cosmos, didnt know that. God would not have been concerned. Genesis 11 begins And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. But Genesis 10 tells us in three places (Gen. 10:5, Gen. 10:20, Gen. 10:31) that Noahs descendants went their separate ways After their tongues, i.e. their languages. Among them was Nimrod, who founded Babel (Gen. 10:10), so they already were speaking different languages. Languages evolve. So do stories. Of course, nowhere in the text does the Old Testament claim to be the inerrant word of God. That is the interpretation of clerics and theologians with an axe to grind. God does not have a by-line. In places (Ezekiel and Jeremiah, for example) we know the authors, but much of the text is without attribute. It is astonishing that Genesis (not its medieval interpretation) avoids most of the preposterous errors common to other creation stories, not that some improbable yarns were included. As history, Genesis 2 doesn't work. It doesn't even agree with Genesis 1: the order of events is reversed. And by any rational standard the Original Sin" notion of Genesis 3 puts God in rather a poor light: until after the first bite of Apple, the Primal Couple could not have known good and evil, so they could not have sinned. But Genesis 3 does not mention sin: it describes consequences, the awesome consequences of the evolving human mind. That is a very sophisticated concept. Nor does it say Eve was tempted by the Devil: it says she was tempted by a snake. That sounds like a leftover bit of primitive animism. Sin is not mentioned until Genesis 4:7, when God reproves Cain. Satan is not mentioned anywhere in Genesis, nor in Exodus, for that matter. Scripture, I told the Lord's indefatigable Witnesses, Speaks in parables. Genesis is evolution in outline. But I couldn't get through to them. They had come to talk, not to listen. Once, in the Costa Rican jungle, I watched a band of monkeys indolently moving along a river bank, with much the air of people on a picnic. In the serene tropical forest, they were as much at ease,
7 and as confident. In that peaceful place, where lost-soul cries of the tinamou bewail the passing of the Mesozoic, it came to me that no monkey ever suffers more than a moment's anxiety or regret. Hungry, they eat the fruit of tree and vine without worrying about next day's fruit. If there is no fruit, they die without understanding why. To each of them, predation always happens to someone else. They have no notion of time and death, for time and death are concepts, and monkeys have no concepts. The world shines as bright in their eyes as in yours and mine, but, until a predator appears, they see nothing in it to threaten them. That is Eden. But humans who hoe their gardens by the river are not in Eden, nor can they see it around them. They must worry about their next meal. They must build a house, hew out a canoe, grub, plant, and harvest the long day through: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread (Gen. 4:19.) And in their hearts they know, beyond all doubt, that one day they must die: ...dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Gen. 4:19.) They have the terrible gift of foresight: to them Eden is forever lost. Such is the bitter fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Knowledge is a real tree, composed of thoughts and concepts instead of wood. Rooted in the first glimmerings of human intelligence, its four-dimensional branches have grown and spread through space and time with the evolution of our species. You and I are favored to live somewhere near the crown of it: how well we understand our position may determine its future growth. And the Tree of Life? You will find its diagram in almost any elementary textbook of biology. It, too, is a real tree, growing and spreading through spacetime with the evolution of life on earth. It has millions of branches, some leading to living plants and animals, others to extinction. One branch leads to you and me. Its roots are in Eden: it behooves us not to cut it down. In summary: there is little inconsistency between Science and what the Bible actually says. The problem is - and always has been - between Science and what opinionated, dogmatic people want to believe the Bible says. There is nothing new about that: the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for pointing out that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the solar system. Assorted sects angrily proclaimed the earth to be flat, right into the 20th Century. Actually, the Bible doesnt say anything about these matters. Similarly, opinionated, dogmatic people proclaim that Science justifies their atheism, denying the possibility of God. But Science doesnt say anything about God. Science deals with how the objective world works. Period. Theology attempts to deal with the far more difficult problem of subjective being, soul, beyond the reach of science because it is directly observable only in ones self.
Science, honestly practiced, is self-correcting. If the earth really is only six thousand years old, eventually scientists will figure it out. At present, the evidence is massive for an ancient and evolving earth. People who refuse to understand that protest the teaching of evolutionary theory because they believe it refutes the Bible. It doesnt. As the massive evidence for Evolution continues to pile up, they only make themselves look more and more foolish. They also obscure the remarkable parallels between Genesis and cosmological and evolutionary theory. That does serious damage to the teaching of both science and important moral lessons of scripture. They defeat their own purpose. Theology proposes an explanation of how the universe began in the first place. And, considering the number of constants that had to be just right for this universe to exist at all, it does look designed. Science does not, and should not, address the question of the nature or existence of the Designer. Nor should theologians assume the Designer to be so incompetent that He needs to monkey with His Design continually to make it work. The subtle workings of Evolution are so complex that we are only just beginning to understand them. They are an intelligent system, so intelligently designed they have worked from the Beginning to produce our Universe, our World, Ourselves.
Special Relativity suggests time does not move equally everywhere in the universe. Mean age of the universe may be much shorter than local time in an expanding universe.
read later - and some formatting would help!
Religion and science work better together than at odds.
Please format into legible paragraphs.
FWIW, There is a fundamental error in evolution. Evolution approaches Scripture from a point of view that that there really isn’t a Creature - Creator distinction. In order to properly understand science, one needs to begin in a proper framework, not begging the question that God really didn’t create man in his own image with body, soul and spirit.
Sorry, that is not the case. Evolution does not deal with scripture at all.
Quite clearly birds started out as birds...Dogs started out as dogs...And humans started out as humans...
Satan is not mentioned anywhere in Genesis, nor in Exodus, for that matter.
But one would have to be biblically illiterate to not see that the serpent in Genesis is that old serpent, Lucifer, Satan...
Assorted sects angrily proclaimed the earth to be flat, right into the 20th Century. Actually, the Bible doesnt say anything about these matters.
It most certainly does...
All science is doing if figuring out what God has already created...And science has a tremendous amount of corrections to make before it gets it right...
Ecc 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Ecc 1:10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
That’s right, it views everything as though the Creation is the Creator.
Well, God called called them fowls...We call fowls, birds...
Lev 11:20 All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
You know of any birds that travel by creeping on the ground, on ALL FOUR??? I can't think of any at the moment...
If God says bats are fowls, then they are fowls regardless of what scientists say...And when God says some of these 'birds' walk on four legs, I'll believe Him...I don't have to see one to believe it...
God made these things...If I can't figure it out, that's not God's problem...It's mine...
Gen 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Lev 11:14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Lev 11:15 Every raven after his kind;
Lev 11:16 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind,
Hmmm...God even shoots down the theory of evolution within a species...
God doesn't use the word mammel...That's a science word...If God says a bat is a fowl, then it's a fowl...
Let's see here...I can either believe you and science, or, I can believe God...Guess who I'm going to believe...
I”m not going to change your mind. Just for the record, you are saying that a hair covered animal with mammary glands is indeed a bird because a 2000 year old, many-times-translated-and-re-translated text says so? Despite the fact that all the other animals mentioned in the relevant passages are indeed birds and bats surely don’t fit in, but you will continue to believe bats are somehow birds.
Fair enough. I don’t care, but that’s just weird.
And FWIW, there are a lot of horrifying little beasties that creepeth upon the earth that have caused much torment and death over the ages. But God saw that they were good.
Something is off here, that no one else has pointed out. This self-written vanity column - with no URL or source mentioned cited - has page numbers and breaks that appear in the middle of paragraphs.
Forscher, can you explain where you cut-and-pasted this from?
Scripture preceded the theory of evolution. Evolution approaches the issues of the origin of life after it has already been provided by God in Scripture.
Evolution begs the question of the origins of life by failing to recognize the Creature-Creator distinction as is provided in Scripture.
Sorry, you still don't have it right.
Evolution does not deal with scripture or origins. It deals with change in the genome.
"Sure. Except when the infallible One screwed up and called bats birds in Leviticus 11:19."Did you get that from the original Hebrew?
The English translation of the OT can be twisted and construed to agree with naturalistic evolution, but a literal reading of the Hebrew cannot.