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What Is Life/Non-life in Nature?
self | June 23, 2008 | Vanity

Posted on 06/23/2008 3:05:46 PM PDT by betty boop

What is Life/Non-life in Nature?

by Jean F. Drew

Everywhere we see the “behavior” of life/non-life (death) in nature; but that doesn’t tell us what life/non-life IS.

Darwin’s theory of evolution doesn’t help with this question. It presupposes the existence of life axiomatically, and then proceeds to speak of the origin and evolution of species. Its fundamental assumption is that biological evolution is a wholly naturalistic, material process governed by the laws of physics and chemistry, with random variation and natural selection as the principal drivers of the system. Central to the Darwinist view is that life forms — species — evolve into completely other, more complex species; and this is so because all living beings are members of a Tree of Life that is rooted in a single common ancestor (the theory is silent on where the common ancestor came from).

But Darwinist theory doesn’t tell us what life is, or where it came from, just how it evolves (or speciates) under purely materialistic and naturalistic constraints. It is not a theory of life, and I think Darwin would agree with that.

This does not prevent theorists from speculating that, given the preferred scientific cosmology of a material universe of infinite size and unlimited duration — no beginning, no end — anything that can happen, will happen in time. Therefore, it is plausible to suppose that life itself may have originated from random chemical reactions that somehow “lucked out” and “stuck,” giving us the origin of life and its ubiquity and persistence henceforth.

The important point is that Darwinism rests on a certain cosmology, or world view. That worldview is increasingly being falsified by modern physics. (See below.)

It seems doubtful that an investigation carried out at the level of physical chemistry can demonstrate the emergence of life from non-living matter. This is called abiogenesis, which describes the situation where non-life (inorganic matter) spontaneously bootstraps itself into a living organism.

Miller and Urey attempted to demonstrate abiogenesis under laboratory conditions, using simulated lightning strikes on a suitable “pre-biotic soup.” They got a bunch of amino acids. But amino acids are the building blocks of living systems, not living systems themselves.

Wimmer got a better result in his attempt to create a polio virus, a living organism. He actually succeeded! But his “recipe” involved far more than the material “cell-free juice” he used as his culture: He introduced information into the mix: Wimmer began with the information sequence of RNA which he synthesized to DNA (because RNA cannot be synthesized) and then synthesized the message from DNA to RNA. When he added the message to a cell free juice, it began transmitting and duplicating. And he got himself a polio virus — a living being….

But the important thing to bear in mind is that, although Wimmer was successful in creating a living being, he was not the author of the information that led to this result. It was already “there” — and no scientist claims to know its source. Indeed, physics so far has been unable to locate any source for this type of life-generating information within the physical world. In other words, scientists recognize the indispensable requirement of information to living systems, they see that it is indeed “there”; but they cannot say how it got there, or from whence it came.

Consider also that the universe itself seems to be “informed,” in the sense of displaying evidence of some remarkable “fine-tuning” that guides its evolution. Physical chemistry itself rests on, is informed by, deeper principles: the physical laws, which in turn depend on certain ubiquitous universal constants — the speed of light; the value of pi; Plank’s constant; Plank time; the resonance precision required for the existence of carbon (a necessary element for life); the explosive power of the Big Bang precisely matched to the power of gravity (its density precisely matched with the critical density of the universe); the delicate balance in the strong nuclear force; the precise balancing of gravitational force and electromagnetic force; the meticulous balance between the number of electrons and protons; the precision in electromagnetic force and the ratio of proton mass to electron mass and neutron mass to proton mass; the Big Bang’s defiance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and gravity’s cumulative effect; etc., for examples.

If the universe were at bottom “random” in its evolution, these instances of evident fine-tuning would be inexplicable. The fact is we cannot say whether a system is random or not without knowing its symmetrical properties.

The “fans of random” speak and act as if they think the problem of symmetry is irrelevant to their concerns. Yet to the extent that they recognize the universe conforms to physical laws (and usually they do), the symmetry problem cannot be obviated. For laws demonstrate the property of what mathematicians call symmetry. A symmetry of some mathematical object — and the physical laws are inherently mathematical structures — is any transformation that preserves the object’s structure.

A practical application of the principle of symmetry can be found in Einstein’s observation (in his 1905 paper on Special Relativity, the same that gave us his magnificent unification of mass and energy, e = mc2) that the laws of nature are the same for all observers, regardless of their particular space-time positions.

It is evident that there are symmetries in nature, and also that mathematics has been amazingly successful in teasing them out. A favorite story is Reimann’s geometry of curved spaces. He “created” this geometry at a time when no one believed that geometry could be other than flat (Euclidean). So Reimann put his geometry on the shelf where it sat for about 50 years, gathering dust. Then a friend of Einstein pointed him to Reimann’s geometry (and Ricci’s tensor) as possible keys to the elucidation of the problems of special relativity. And they exactly did the trick.

Indeed, mathematicians have been so good at doing this sort of thing — creating mathematical systems with an eye to symmetry, and finally beauty — that Eugene Wigner marveled about “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” in its ability to model and describe nature.

At this point, it seems useful to widen our purview and revisit cosmology, for now we are speaking of the universe as a whole, and cosmology is the branch of knowledge that deals with the universe as an integrated and (some would say) even living system (in some fashion).

Cosmology is conventionally defined as: (1) a branch of philosophy dealing with the origin, processes, and structure of the universe; and (2), the astrophysical study of the structure and constituent dynamics of the universe, with a particular eye on the construction and modeling of a comprehensive theory that describes such structure and dynamics. The latter is the scientific approach. Note that (2) does not explicitly address the question of origin.

Indeed, questions of origin, both of the universe and of life, seem to be troubling to many scientists. Historically, their preferred cosmology has been the eternal universe model, wherein the universe, thought to be infinite in size, just always was, having no beginning or end; it just goes along in periods of expansions and contractions in a sort of self-conserving “boom and bust” cycle forever (no second law of thermodynamics to bother it).

Now in an infinite, eternal universe, anything can happen. And so this “classical perspective” of biology anticipates that the origin of life involves “random chemicals reacting for eons and finally lucking out, resulting in a living cell coming together,” as Harold Morowitz explains it.

But then satellite observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation starting in the 1960s provided striking evidence that the universe actually had a beginning. That is, it is not eternal, and it is not infinite. The CMBR — which is universal in extent — is thought to be the “echo” of the original “big bang,” which constituted the creation event of the universe in which we live, and which powers the cosmic space-time expansion. Thus the universe truly can be thought to have “initial conditions.”

The troubling thing about the big bang/inflationary universe theory is the suggestion that the universe was either created out of nothing, or if it was created out of something, then there’s no way we can detect or prove that cause. Using a “time-reversal symmetry transformation” here — running evolutionary time “backwards” like a videotape played in reverse — the laws of physics break down at the Planck Era — 10–43 of the first second following the big bang. “Prior” to that, there is no space, no time, no physical laws of nature, no matter; it’s pure nihil: Nothing.

The nothingness “before” the creation of the universe is the most complete void that we can imagine — no space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration or eternity, without number — it is what the mathematicians call “the empty set.” Yet this unthinkable void converts itself into the plenum of existence — a necessary consequence of physical laws. Where are these laws written into that void? What “tells” the void that it is pregnant with a possible universe? It would seem that even the void is subject to a law, a logic that exists prior to space and time. — Heinz Pagels

Which of course is precisely what Genesis says: The Creation is “ex nihilo,” initiated by and proceeding according to the Word, the Logos of God, Who Is the Law of the Void as well as of the Creation, the “logic that exists prior to space and time.”

Evidently this is not a scientific statement, though I believe it is a truthful one. Still it is true that some physicists (and biologists) find the idea of a beginning of space and time out of nothing deeply disturbing for whatever reason. Taking into effect the evidence that leads to this conclusion, some have sought a “non-theistic” explanation for the phenomenon of the Big Bang. This cosmology grudgingly acknowledges that the universe did have a beginning, postulating its origin as a random fluctuation in a universal quantum vacuum field. But of course, this line of reasoning is silent about where the universal vacuum field itself came from in which a random fluctuation can occur, or how time and space got started so that events can occur in it.

This view (non-theistic cosmogenesis) is fallacious, however, because sudden quantum appearances don’t really take place out of “nothing.” A larger quantum field is first required before this can happen, but a quantum field can hardly be described as being “nothing.” Rather, it is a thing of unsearchable order and complexity, whose origin we can’t even begin to explain. Thus, trying to account for the appearance of the universe in a sudden quantum fluctuation doesn’t do away with the need for a Creator at all; it simply moves the whole problem backward one step to the unknown origin of the quantum field itself. — M. A. Corey

Whether your cosmology is philosophical or scientific, ultimately it rests on an unknown that is directly unknowable, a mystery. Scientists just as much as anybody else ponder the origin question, despite the fact that their formal methods cannot help them much there.

Cosmologically speaking, scientists get much better traction with the problem of constructing and modeling a comprehensive theory that describes, not the origin, but the structure and dynamics of the universe. But even here, they run into “mysteries.” Such as evidence for the almost eerie fine-tuning of the universe necessary for the inception, evolution, and support of Life. As Freeman Dyson put it, “The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”

Take just one example from among many, the just mentioned universal vacuum. Because the vacuum is not “nothing,” it has energy, specifically “vacuum energy” — the energy content of empty space. Ian Stewart notes:

As it happens, the observed value [of vacuum energy] is very, very small, around 10–120, but it is not zero.

According to the conventional “fine-tuning” story, this particular value is exactly right for life to exist. Anything larger than 10–118 makes local space-time explode; anything smaller than 10–120 and space-time contracts in a cosmic crunch and disappears. So the “window of opportunity” for life is very small. By a miracle, our universe sits neatly within it.

But Stewart is a tough-minded mathematical scientist, and so evidently feels constrained to add:

The “weak anthropic principle” points out that if our universe were not constituted the way it is, we wouldn’t be here to notice, but that leaves open the question why there is a “here” for us to occupy. The “strong anthropic principle” says that we’re here because the universe was designed specially for life to exist — which is mystical nonsense. No one actually knows what the possibilities would be if the vacuum energy were markedly different from what it is. We know a few things that would go wrong — but we have no idea what might go right instead. Most of the fine-tuning arguments are bogus.”

What a relief that Professor Stewart thinks that only “most” of the fine-tuning arguments are bogus, and not all of them! One of the things likely to “go wrong” under his scenario would be the end of life as we know it on this planet, and with it intelligence. But other than that, his is a respectable argument, even though it would probably be entirely moot under different values for the vacuum energy, since intelligent beings probably would not then be around to entertain it.

There is an abundance of evidence from the precision of the fundamental values of the universe that contradicts the theory that a universe compossible with life can arise (or indeed actually rose) from an “accident.” Just as “nothing comes from nothing,” the laws of nature cannot have been established via a random process. There is nothing implicit in the meaning of “random” that contains any motive spring for it to generate order, organization, higher complexity. It is simply “random”; i.e., it reflects no law in its behavior. The people who say that the universal evolution is nothing more than the effect of a process of matter in its motions and “pure, blind chance” — as Nobel laureate Jacques Monod claims — rely on the same reasoning that says, if life can be spontaneously generated from non-life, then similarly order can come from disorder.

Which is the same sort of problem, it seems to me, involved in all the multiverse and parallel universe and “panspermia” cosmologies one finds littering the landscape these days. The latter — panspermia theory — seems to be a particular favorite of atheists such as Francis Crick and Sir Fred Hoyle.

Panspermia theory holds that life on Earth was seeded here by space aliens. I gather anything that avoids the conclusion that the universe, and Life, is a divine creation, and thus has a spiritual dimension (which would include such things as intelligence, law, information, etc., all the “non-phenomenal” aspects that “tell” phenomena “what to do”) is what is being sought in such fanciful imaginings. Such theories seem ultimately designed to forbid anything that is immaterial from having causal impact in the universe. But if you say that, then where does physical law fit in, where mathematics, or logic, or intelligence, or information? Not to mention the evident universal constants? None of these are material entities.

But the fact regarding these exotic cosmologies is, not a one of them can be falsified, or subjected to replicable experiments. All these cosmologies are works of pure philosophical imagination dressed up in the language of scientific jargon.

However, that doesn’t mean the adherents of such imaginative speculations are bad scientists. Here’s Sir Fred Hoyle, a “non-Darwinian evolutionist,” contented atheist, and honest thinker:

No matter how large the environment one considers, life cannot have had a random beginning… there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in (1020)2000 = 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.… the enormous information content of even the simplest living systems… cannot in our view be generated by what are often called “natural” processes,… For life to have originated on the Earth it would be necessary that quite explicit instruction should have been provided for its assembly… There is no way in which we can expect to avoid the need for information, no way in which we can simply get by with a bigger and better organic soup, as we ourselves hoped might be possible a year or two ago.

Information is the key to life, just as it is the key to the fundamental structure and evolution of the universe, from the beginning. One conjectures the universe has the structure and dynamics it has because these were “programmed” in at the beginning. And this structure evidently was primed for life.

Again, this is what Genesis tells us: The Universe has an intelligent cause that is outside of space-time. Physics and biology acknowledge the necessity of information for the rise and maintenance of life, but assign no cause for this information within spatiotemporal reality. But if it cannot be found “there,” then where can it be found?

See Genesis. And consider this observation, from Albert Einstein:

“The natural law reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”

Scientists recognize so well that the universe has fundamental structure that they are encouraged to propound “grand unified theories,” GUTs, or “Theories of Everything.” The standard model of physics today recognizes four fundamental forces in nature: the nuclear strong, the nuclear weak, electromagnetism, and gravity. So far, all have been conveniently “reconciled together,” or unified — except for gravity, which continues to resist being fitted into any kind of “grand unified” model thus far.

Regarding the four fundamental forces, here are some more interesting thoughts from Ian Stewart:

Other types of forces could in principle give rise to other types of universe, and our ignorance of such possibilities is almost total. It is often claimed that without the particular forces we have, life would be impossible, proving that our universe is amazingly fine-tuned to make life possible. This argument is bogus, a wild exaggeration based on too limited a view of what constitutes life. Life like ours would be impossible — but it is the height of arrogance to assume that our kind of life is the only kind of organized complexity that could exist. The fallacy here is to confuse sufficient conditions for life (those aspects of our universe on which our kind of life depends) with necessary ones.

It is interesting that here Stewart reduces life to the definition, “organized complexity.” The description appears to be general enough to encompass everything (everything material at least), yet at the same time, is useless to provide insight into the living nature of actual, particular living beings.

Be that as it may, it seems Stewart is working to a doctrine, to a particular world view, in giving his analysis. And he seems to recognize this in what follows:

The view that a Theory of Everything must exist brings to mind monotheist religion — in which, over the millennia, disparate collections of gods and goddesses with their own special domains have been replaced by one god whose domain is everything. This process is widely viewed as an advance, but it resembles a standard philosophical error known as “the equation of unknowns” in which the same cause is assigned to all mysterious phenomena…. “Explanations” like this give a false sense of progress — we used to have three mysteries to explain; now we have just one. But the one new mystery conflates three separate ones, which might well have entirely different explanations. By conflating them, we blind ourselves to this possibility.

When you explain the Sun by a sun-god and rain by a rain-god, you can endow each god with its own special features. But if you insist that both Sun and rain are controlled by the same god, then you may end up trying to force two different things into the same straightjacket. So in some ways fundamental physics is more like fundamentalist physics. Equations [brief enough to fit] on a T-shirt replace an immanent deity, and the unfolding of the consequences of those equations replaces divine intervention in daily life.

Despite these reservations, my heart is with the physical fundamentalists. I would like to see a Theory of Everything, and I would be delighted if it were mathematical, beautiful, and true. I think religious people might also approve, because they could interpret it as proof of the exquisite taste and intelligence of their deity.

Exactly so — that would be my takeaway!

To sum up, it appears that a model of the universe that stipulates that all that exists — life and non-life — is simply the product of random transformations of “matter in its motions” has been falsified by modern physics. To the extent that information — which presupposes intelligence — plays a role, we have to acknowledge that other, immaterial factors are at work. Which of course we do, to the extent we realize and acknowledge the universal existence of physical laws, of finely-tuned cosmic values, and of the symmetries in nature. To do so, we have to put a check on randomness as a possible explanation for the nature or structure of things.

But we cannot eliminate randomness altogether. In the final analysis, it seems to me the universe lives in the dynamic tension that obtains between that which is changeless (the symmetry), and that which is changeable (a symmetry-breaking event). Or as Leibniz put it, at the level of fundamental universal principles the universe must consist of something that does not ever change, and something that is capable of changing.

For example, consider the first and second laws of thermodynamics. The first is a conservation law — matter cannot be either created or destroyed — that is, matter is unchangeable; i.e., it is “symmetrical” under all known conditions. The second law “breaks the symmetry” of the first; and if it couldn’t do that, then probably nothing would ever happen in our universe.

The most amazing thing to me is that evidently, as a consequence of such a fundamental tension, we live in a “guided” universe, but not a wholly deterministic one.

And the Guide does not seem to reside in the system — at least, as far as science can tell.

Thus it seems to me if the Guide could construct a universe finely-tuned and primed for life on the most global scale — i.e., that of the whole universe — then it should be child’s play for this Source to prime and guide any living (or non-living) sub-unit of the universe — preeminently biological creatures; and of these, Man above all.

Given that the universe evidently has been left deliberately incompletely determined, or underdetermined (Planck’s constant reminds us of this), then not only the “free development” of nature has been left intact (subject only to the natural symmetries), but so also has human free will been left wholly intact.

Given the splendors of natural reality, and the uncanny facility that man has for exploring and understanding them, really all I can say is: I am on my knees in gratitude, thanks, and praise, and all glory be to God — in Whom we live and move and have our Being.

TOPICS: Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science; Theology
KEYWORDS: abiogenesis; crevo; darwinism; genesis; symmetry
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To: ahayes


I think The Lord burned the insult gene out of Angel-Gal some years ago.

Sounds like an eye of the beholder phenomenon, to me.

621 posted on 08/12/2008 8:29:56 AM PDT by Quix (key QUOTES POLS 1900 ON #76
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To: ahayes

Those who bet on God and His Word are not disappointed.

We shall see when ALL the data is in.


622 posted on 08/12/2008 8:31:11 AM PDT by Quix (key QUOTES POLS 1900 ON #76
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To: Quix
I think The Lord burned the insult gene out of Angel-Gal some years ago.

I've been on way to many Christian forums to believe that hooey. Many times obnoxiousness is positively correlated with one's perceived relationship with the Lord. I'd much rather debate someone who's smarter than thou than someone who's holier than thou.

623 posted on 08/12/2008 8:34:41 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: Quix

That we will. LOL.

624 posted on 08/12/2008 8:35:02 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: ahayes; Alamo-Girl; betty boop

Alamo-Girl is smarter than most hereon but will never write in such a tone. She virtually never to never defends herself.

She never writes in a holier-than-thou tone or attitude because she never feels that way.

Welllll, never that anyone beyond her hubby would know.

Any perceptions otherwise are some sort of problem in the eye of the beholder.

This psychologist may be a bit biased but I’ve known her for many years and have found the above to be always true about her.

625 posted on 08/12/2008 8:40:42 AM PDT by Quix (key QUOTES POLS 1900 ON #76
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To: Quix
Perhaps you feel that way because you're on her side. To me the above post seems quite condescending. I can do condescending, but if I do I usually try to either do it directly to you or way behind your back, not on the same thread talking to someone else. Unless I'm really ticked. ;-)
626 posted on 08/12/2008 8:47:25 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: ahayes
[ What would be gained from discussing the biblical text??? Shocking! :-D ]

NO.. what would be gained by "wrangling" scripture..

627 posted on 08/12/2008 9:41:09 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: ahayes; Alamo-Girl; Quix
Wild guess, but this could be due to the fact that Christianity has much greater influence politically in the US than Judaism and Islam.

Well jeepers, some "wild guess" -- of course it does! America is a Christian nation at its root, as is evident if you bother to study our history and founding documents, especially the Declaration of Independence.

Please see my tagline....

628 posted on 08/12/2008 10:07:58 AM PDT by betty boop (This country was founded on religious principles. Without God, there is no America. -- Ben Stein)
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To: Quix
Thank you so very much for all of your encouragements and exhortations!
629 posted on 08/12/2008 10:49:51 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138; Soliton
I didn't start the discussion of slavery . . .

No, I did, as part of my answer to Soliton’s proposition that “Muslims are just as likely to be right as the Jews and Christians.” In suggesting a test of that assertion, I asked who was it, Christian or Moslem, that now eschews slavery and who was it, Christian or Moslem, that lead in the drive to abolish the institution, and who was it that still follows the practice and even defends it. You interjected yourself into the conversation at this point (which is fine - your thoughts are always welcome – but it’s rather poor of you to then complain that you didn’t start the conversation as though that was of some relevance). You wandered about a bit, even suggesting a divertimento presumably in the hopes that I would go galloping down your sidetrack, but, when I didn’t, you could not, in the final analysis, bring yourself to answer the question.

I didn't start the discussion of how wicked the adherents of a religion can be.

You Didn’t!? It seems to me that was what your entire message # 498 was all about. We must think that it was, in fact, the sole reason for your participation. You even went so far as to hint that it actually was Charles Darwin who ended slavery in Western Civilization.

I merely point out the the wickedness of religious adherents is proportional to the amount of worldly power they wield.

Which thought brings us around to the question of the degree of influence Christianity has had on America, which you haven’t yet answered. Since the collective wisdom de jure is that America is unreservedly and irretrievably evil, then it must be that Christians have had, and do now have, a great hold on the American imagination.

You implied Christianity confers some special worldly moral force, and I point out this is nonsense.

Whoa, just a moment. Now you’re suggesting that Christianity has had no influence on America. Decide. A great influence, or no influence at all . . . Oh, wait, I know . . . if it’s something ‘bad,’ blame it on those evil Christians . . . if it’s something ‘good,’ deny that any credit should accrue to Christianity. Then your only problem is to get everyone to agree on what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’

630 posted on 08/12/2008 11:33:40 AM PDT by YHAOS
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Some Christians were against slavery, some for it. Some Christians faught to abolish slavery, aome fought for it. Reverend Berkeley, the guy the liberal town is named after, was a Christian apologist for slavery.

It’s funny you chose to compare with Moslems and not Jews. Jews have been responsible for much less death and destruction than Christians. By your logic, their religion would be the true one, and they deny Christ was the messiah.

631 posted on 08/12/2008 11:39:48 AM PDT by Soliton (> 100)
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To: ahayes; Quix; betty boop; hosepipe
Your distinction between “Adamic” men and “non-Adamic” men is unorthodox and extrabiblical. It is a distinction that the Bible does not make. The word neshamah is used in the Old Testament to refer to any member of the human species (including pagan civilizations such as the Hittites and Canaanites, Deut. 20:16-17) and expanded upon in the Flood account to include any other air-breathing creature. Any other interpretation is simply not in the text. The biblical account does not give any room for such flights of fancy.

I personally eschew all of the doctrines and traditions of men across the board, so calling my beliefs “unorthodox” is of no consequence. They are however, altogether Scriptural and are the leanings I have in the Spirit.

As I have testified before, Scriptures are Spiritual per se - they contain the words of God - and therefore, they cannot be discerned like ordinary words. The people Christ is addressing below were physically hearing Him but they could not spiritually hear Him:

Why do ye not understand my speech? [even] because ye cannot hear my word. – John 8:43

And again,

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. - I Corinthians 2:14

The significance of earthy genealogies in Scripture begins with Adam and ends with Jesus Christ.

And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was [the son] of Heli, .... [snip] .... Which was [the son] of Enos, which was [the son] of Seth, which was [the son] of Adam, which was [the son] of God. – Luke 3:23-38

And again,

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. – John 4:22

From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures are "about" family - God's family. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit who makes each of us Christians alive in Him.

The meaning of life, the purpose of our existence, is not this heaven and earth but the next heaven and earth when we will be gathered as His family to live with Him forevermore.

From Genesis 2 to Christ, the family story centers on Adam and his descendants. The first narrowing of the family was in the Noah Flood where only 8 of the descendants of Adam survived. The next narrowing was in Abraham’s being called. Then Israel.

And to Israel, God promises because they made Him jealous, He would extend His promise to those who were not a people – which is us. That is the prophesy of Christ bringing in the Gentiles as written in the Song of Moses (Deut 32).

They have moved me to jealousy with [that which is] not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with [those which are] not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. – Deuteronomy 32:21

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but [rather] through their fall salvation [is come] unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. – Romans 11:11

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd. – John 10:16

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, [they are] enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, [they are] beloved for the fathers' sakes. – Romans 11:18-28

Thus the Song of Moses is sung in heaven along with the Song of the Lamb:

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints. – Revelation 15:3

Effective with Jesus, God being enfleshed to atone for our sins, the nature of the “family” is no longer narrowed to those who were descendants of Adam, who was a "living soul" because of the breath of God (neshama). Earthy genealogies no longer matter because God's family now consists of those who were born anew by the Spirit as an adopted child of God.

So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit. – I Corinthians 15:42-45

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. - Romans 8:9

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. – John 3:6-7

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:12-13

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: - Romans 8:15-16

And thus the old genealogies which were vital to Adamic men do not apply to us Christians because Our Father art in Heaven:

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. - Titus 3:9

Returning now to the term neshama and what it means vis-a-vis the ancient Jewish understanding of soul and spirit and life:

1. nephesh – the will to live, the animal soul, or the soul of all living things which by Jewish tradition returns to the “earth” after death. In Romans 8, this is seen as a whole, the creation longing for the children of God to be revealed.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. - Genesis 1:20

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. - Romans 8:19-22

My musing is that the life which is in an amoeba, anthrax spore, daffodil, fish, etc. is in the physical Creation and not the spiritual Creation. There is not an afterlife for each of these autonomous living biological entities but rather as a whole, there will be a new heaven and new earth.

2. ruach - the self-will or free will peculiar to man (abstraction, anticipation, intention, etc.) – by Jewish tradition, the pivot wherein a man decides to be Godly minded or earthy minded.

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. - Genesis 2:3

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. - Romans 8:5-6

My musing is that this is man's conscience, will and mind which sets him apart from other forms of life. He has a sense of right and wrong and he chooses. Among all of life forms, man chooses to honor or dishonor the dead. And he is especially willful and self-serving.

3. neshama - the breath of God given to Adam (Genesis 2:7) which may also be seen as the “ears to hear” (John 10) - a sense of belonging beyond space/time, a predisposition to seek God and seek answers to the deep questions such as “what is the meaning of life?"

And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. - Genesis 2:7

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. – John 10:4-5

My musing is that these are the elect chosen from the foundation of the world. The ones Christ is bringing "home" to be members of His family forevermore. Every man has ruach but not every man has neshama.

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. – John 6:65

4. ruach Elohim - the Holy Spirit which indwells Christians – the presently existing in the “beyond” while still in the flesh. This is the life in passage : "In him was life, and the life was the light of men..." (John 1)

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. - Genesis 1:2

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. - Romans 8:9

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. - Colossians 3:3

To God be the glory, not man, never man.

632 posted on 08/12/2008 11:53:18 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop; marron; Quix; MHGinTN; Marysecretary; js1138
Me to JS: “The only opinion you’ve expressed is that Christians (and Jews?) are wicked, blood-thirsty wholesale murderers. Moslems would agree with you on that proposition. It must be, then, that you side with the Moslems. So, it looks to be the case that you roam the halls of FR looking for a fight with Christians (and Jews?).

You: ”Seems to me that focusing angst on Christians is rather typical around here - and "out there" as well.

The reason is rather basic, I think, and found in an old saw: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” And the angst is directed to what the anti-Christian wants the world’s concept of Christianity to be. It is a propagandist effort.

633 posted on 08/12/2008 12:02:44 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: ahayes; betty boop; Quix
Wild guess, but this could be due to the fact that Christianity has much greater influence politically in the US than Judaism and Islam.

That is certainly true but if that is the reason for the anti-Christianity sentiment I have observed, then obviously the debate is neither intellectual nor academic but rather, it is about earthy power.

And I see you have the "obliquely insult others" Religion Forum shtick down pat.

Thank you, I do try to not make things personal.

And you might have noticed that "insult" is rather built-into theological debate because it seems every time a new belief springs from another one, both sides insult each other as matter of doctrine.

But most importantly, the spirit of anti-Christ is insulted by the words of God Himself.

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. - I John 2:22

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying], Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. - Psalms 2:1-5

The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good. - Psalms 14:1

To God be the glory!

634 posted on 08/12/2008 12:07:40 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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It is a propagandist effort.


I apologize, I should have pinged you to my post 634.

635 posted on 08/12/2008 12:09:34 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: ahayes

What’s condescending?

Is there a thin-skin around?

I’m just relating facts and observations as I’ve experienced them relative to Alamo-Girl . . . her habits, her character etc. as I’ve observed them as a psychologist and as a Christian brother.

If rationalizing my professional opinion as a bias helps your biases—help yourself.

636 posted on 08/12/2008 12:14:07 PM PDT by Quix (key QUOTES POLS 1900 ON #76
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To: Alamo-Girl
I personally eschew all of the doctrines and traditions of men across the board

Why? Just because something is accepted doctrine or is a traditional interpretation does not mean that it is worthless. It's often quite the opposite. In Christianity many ideas achieved the level of doctrine because they were much debated and consistently shown to be the positions best supported by the Scripture.

As I have testified before, Scriptures are Spiritual per se - they contain the words of God - and therefore, they cannot be discerned like ordinary words.

The trouble is that you are discerning meanings to these words that have not been detected by the majority of Christians at the present time and through the past. Either God is not so good at communicating his thoughts, or he speaks specially to you among many, or you have a creative mind and may draw conclusions that are not really supported.

637 posted on 08/12/2008 12:16:20 PM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: Alamo-Girl

EXCELLENT, as usual. Thx.

638 posted on 08/12/2008 12:17:41 PM PDT by Quix (key QUOTES POLS 1900 ON #76
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639 posted on 08/12/2008 12:18:08 PM PDT by Quix (key QUOTES POLS 1900 ON #76
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To: Quix
What’s condescending?

Would you consider a post by a Christian to a non-Christian saying, "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God" as condescending? (AG has at least not said this recently, so just speaking in general terms.) If not, I guess there's not much point in talking about this.

If rationalizing my professional opinion as a bias helps your biases—help yourself.

Why should being a psychologist make you less vulnerable to human frailty than others? If that were so, psychiatrists wouldn't ever need psychiatrists.

I've been in the position where a person has been a jerk while arguing on my side and I've overlooked it, only to realize in a different context, hmm, that person really is kind of a jerk. Hopefully I will remember this! :-D

640 posted on 08/12/2008 12:21:35 PM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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