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A Christian Perspective on the Origin of Life: Part 1

March 5, 2009

Today I am making my first installment on the subject of the origin of life from a Christian perspective. Due to the enormity of the subject I have decided to make a series of it so as to deal, in depth with the scientific, archeological and historical evidence. I approach this subject with great care so as to not compromise the truth in order to please the masses. There are many who have done so; seeking to appeal to ‘the other side of the aisle’ so to speak. They have twisted and tweaked the evidence or embraced that which they know to be false in order to not rock the boat. But it is interesting that just as in politics; the ‘other side’ makes no concessions, has no intention of making concessions and yields to no offers of a ‘deal’ but rather stands firm in its assertions. Therefore I must also stand firm in the convictions that I have embraced as true and will do to the end, God willing.

 

Before I begin to tackle the subject at hand I must clear the air concerning a statement that has been made concerning the Christian view of life. It has been stated that “Christians have made the extraordinary claim and it is up to the Christians to explain themselves. Christians must supply the evidence to back up their truth-claims. Evolutionists are excluded from this.” They would say that the evidence is in as far as they are concerned. There is no further need of debate on their side. Now is this right? Is all the evidence in? Has the “Theory of Evolution” been declared fact by overwhelming evidence or are there holes in the evidence? Should one side be given a pass while demanding the other side to bend over backwards and defend their position? This is where many stand today.

 

So in our first installment I would like for us to consider a summary of the two positions and see who has the most extraordinary/fantastical position!

 

Christians, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice (and I’m talking about real Christians, not those who merely attend church for whatever reason other than because they love God and have been called according to His purpose) believe the Genesis account of Creation: that God (and real Christians really believe there is such a Being who has made Himself known through what has been made) spoke, and the universe was created with all of the planets and stars and galaxies etc. He then spoke and by the power of His word life arose in all of its manifold forms. Christians believe that God spoke and made mankind and that He did so one time; that is, He didn’t make a lower form of man and then continue to improve upon it till what we see today is the product of this evolutionary process. We believe that God didn’t make prototypes but instead made man right the first time. So the Christian sees God as the catalyst, the Creator of all things.

 

The evolutionary viewpoint, which I will say that I held for much of my early life, is the Big Bang Theory and the ramifications thereof. Let’s examine this process and I will be drawing from my memory from science class in High School. As I recall, at first (and this was somewhere around 5 billion years ago) there was nothing…then some gas appeared and began to swirl around…soon there were many of these gaseous swirls as they continued to split kind of like cells in the body. The gas swirled faster and faster and dust particles began to form in the gas. As the friction increased the gas and dust particles slowly solidified into molten masses. These molten masses then began to slow down and cool while atmospheres began to take shape around them. During this cooling process, condensation from the heat began to form clouds in the newly formed atmosphere which dropped down rain, further cooled the earth and formed the oceans, lakes and streams while geologic upheavals resulted in the vast mountain ranges that we see today.

 

Then, and this was according to my science book, a simple form of life began to form around the shallow eddies of the ocean. These single celled creatures began to multiply and metamorphosis occurred as they grew into many different forms, very primitive at first and then gradually more and more complex. This evolutionary process took billions of years to accomplish as single celled creatures took on more complex forms; from the amoeba to the age of reptiles, then to the age of mammals, continuing to very primitive man and then to man as we know him today. There are those who declare that man is still evolving and that we are looking to see Homo sapien, sapien or a more advanced form of man.

 

I must mention some of the other theories concerning the origin of these simple cells which evolved into what we see and know today. Some scientists postulate that they were formed when lightning struck a mud puddle. Others speak of these simple cells arriving on the backs of crystals, while Francis Crick believed they were deposited here by alien life forms. Professor Dawkins echoed a form of this theory when he stated, (and he prefaced his statement with “No one really knows for sure”) that life could have come from some alien life forms which had arisen through the Darwinian evolutionary process into an advanced race. These aliens may have deposited some self-replicating cells here on earth and these cells began to multiply and take the many forms of life that we see and know today. And so we see that this view begins with nothing, from which something appears. That ‘something’ is completely arbitrary; self created, (unless you hold to aliens depositing life on this planet) self-replicating and self governing. Those life forms which are strong survive and those which are weaker die to make room for more advanced and sturdy ones.  

 

Now of course there are variants to both views of the origin of life. As far as the ‘Christian’ perspective is concerned, (and I say ‘Christian’ loosely here) there are all kinds of compromise ‘solutions’ meant to appease the evolutionary crowd. We have the Theistic Evolutionary Theory which states that God exists and it was He who deposited self replicating cells (replacing the aliens) and then He stepped back (Deism) to watch what happened. There is the Day Age Theory which declares that each day of creation lasted millions to billions of years thus once again seeking to appease the evolutionists and substantiate their claims. The Gap Theory is interesting in that it postulates that verses 1 and 2 of Genesis speak of a ‘first creation’ and that verse 3 begins a second creation; the first having been wiped out. My perception is that all of these views have been postulated by Cino’s (Christians in name only) who care nothing for the Bible, who in fact deny the Scriptural record in order to:

a. Make a name for themselves. b. Try to bring both sides together c. Who knows?

 

Now the similarities of both views are interesting. Both declare that at one point there was nothing…though the Christian viewpoint includes the existence of God in this nothingness. Both declare that life began at a point in time although the evolutionary view states that life began simply and then evolved into more and more complex forms while the Christian view declares that God made all things exactly as He desired and declared them to be ‘very good.’

 

Both views conclude therefore that life does exist (unless of course you are a philosopher who can’t decide what living is or what thoughts are or whatever else he can throw into the mix.) Thanks to Wintermute for directing me to Professor Theobald, I can also include that both sides believe that life came from one original species. The difference of course is that Christians believe that these original species were created by God while those who hold to the Theory of Evolution believe in an original species which evolved into the myriad of life forms (or Moderne Organisms per Professor Theobald) that we see today. The Christian view is that Adam and Eve were the first humans, created by God and told to fill the earth while the evolutionist view would be that humans evolved from these first simple life forms.

 

So in summary; both sides can agree that single celled organisms exist, that Dinosaurs and Wooly Mammoths and the like walked the earth at a point in time and that human beings and multiple forms of animals exist today. What we don’t agree on is the origin of these life forms or the length of time or the reason some species continue while others fail. While those who hold the Darwinian approach speak of billions of years necessary to achieve complex life forms, the Christian, taking the Bible for his guide and doing the math, would come to the conclusion that the world is around six thousand years old or so; give or take a few years.  

This is the end of the first installment as I have sought merely to set the table with the basic foundational truths of each viewpoint. I have not sought to critisize either view but to give a very brief summary of the beliefs held by each. As you can see, both positions make quite fantastic declarations. The question is; who is right, who is wrong? Let the evidence, rather than emotions speak. A note for the atheists; I haven’t quoted one bible passage as of yet. Next week I will begin to examine the archeological evidence concerning both views of the origin of the earth as well as the evidence concerning the origin of man and animals. I believe it will be quite fascinating! 

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. wintermute permalink
    March 5, 2009 7:32 pm

    Re: The Big Bang:

    This is a textbook example of why it’s best to do a little research so you’re criticising actual science, rather than your 20-year-old memories of a high-school class you didn’t pay much attention in.

    What you’re describing sounds far more like the origin of the solar system than the origin of the universe, except that you preface it with “first there was nothing” to make it sounds more ridiculous.

    “Evolutionists”, as you charmingly refer them, have presented plenty of evidence. The claim isn’t that they should be immune to the charge that positive evidence needs to be presented for a claim, but that so much evidence has been presented for so long that it’s really not in doubt any more. Anyone who simply bleats that there is no evidence for evolution is simply too lazy to go and look for it, or afraid of what they will find.

    Here is a highly summarised overview of a tiny proportion of the evidence available. And yet, incomplete as it is, it’s about a week’s worth of reading. There are several excellent books on the matter, if you prefer dead tree format.

    Feel free to read them, if you want to know what evidence has been presented.

    Remember that the great fight that creationists want happened a hundred and fifty years ago, when Darwin published The Origin of Species. At the time, pretty much every biologist in the world was a White, European Creationist of some stripe. And yet, they all eventually came to agree that evolution was a better description of the world than creationism. They were convinced by the solid evidence that Darwin and others provided.

    And in the century and a half that has passed since then, the body of evidence has grown by several thousand papers every year. Have any of these new facts that have been discovered ever supported creationism? Why should an old fight that is dead and buried be revisited just because it interferes with the non-scientific beliefs of a small minority of Christians?

    • March 5, 2009 8:08 pm

      Wintermute;

      I actually did a bit of research and ‘charmingly’ what my science teacher taught me “31” years ago is remarkably unchanged in its definition although there is more discriptive language being used. As for paying attention, I had made up my mind in kindergarten that I wanted to be a paleontologist. I could even spell it back then. But though I know for a fact, due to the archeological evidence that there were dinosaurs and such, I have gone another direction.

      As for my statement that there was nothing at one time; do you believe that there was something before the universe came into existence? Or do you believe that the universe has always existed? The Hindu’s believe this (they call it Brahman: the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe) but scientific research and evidence has led to the understanding that the universe and the solar system and the earth all had a definite starting point. Hence what was called the Big Bang Theory when I was in school. I agree that Evolutionists have presented a lot of evidence to support their truth claims. I was referring to a comment on Mr. Florein’s site by a person who stated that only the ‘creationist’ side was required to present evidence due to the extraordinary nature of the claims being made.

      As to the highly summarized overview, my intention as stated was to merely set the table. I will be using the rest of my time in this series to speak to the issue of evidence for creation, evidence for God, evidience for the Christian faith. All these things are tied together. Why should I believe in Jesus if I don’t believe the truth claims He made. Why should I believe in the biblical record if I don’t believe there is a God who wrote it? There must be evidence to support my truth claims and that is what I intend to present. If at the end of this series, I haven’t proven that there is a God who created all things, then I will shut up and join you and Mr. Florien. This is a promise.

  2. wintermute permalink
    March 5, 2009 7:34 pm

    Gah. The link under “Several” (in the list of books) should go to http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-What-Fossils-Say-Matters/dp/0231139624/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232387590&sr=8-1

    Sorry.

  3. March 5, 2009 8:39 pm

    Hi thanks for a great post. I’ll be back 🙂

  4. wintermute permalink
    March 5, 2009 9:00 pm

    I actually did a bit of research and ‘charmingly’ what my science teacher taught me “31″ years ago is remarkably unchanged in its definition although there is more discriptive language being used.

    You gave an adequate description of the formation of the solar system, though a little muddled on the details. The problem comes with the ten billion years you omitted from the beginning, when you conflated that with the Big Bang. The gas that created our solar system certainly didn’t come “from nowhere”.

    As for paying attention, I had made up my mind in kindergarten that I wanted to be a paleontologist. I could even spell it back then. But though I know for a fact, due to the archeological evidence that there were dinosaurs and such, I have gone another direction.

    There is no archaeological evidence for dinosaurs. There is palaeontological evidence for dinosaurs, though. But even allowing for that slip of the tongue, why does wanting to study the bones of dead animals imply that you’d pay attention to lessons about cosmology? Did you imagine that dinosaurs lived in space, or something?

    As for my statement that there was nothing at one time; do you believe that there was something before the universe came into existence?

    I don’t know. There is a point in time (the moment of the Big Bang) at which our maths breaks down, and it’s impossible for us to make any meaningful statements. What happened before that, or even if the concept of “before the Big Bang” makes any more sense than “north of the North Pole) is an open question. Perhaps the universe is cyclic. Perhaps we are a black hole in another universe. Perhaps our universe was created when two other universes collided. In a couple of decades, we have have some tentative answers to these questions, but right now, we simply don’t.

    I agree that Evolutionists have presented a lot of evidence to support their truth claims. I was referring to a comment on Mr. Florein’s site by a person who stated that only the ‘creationist’ side was required to present evidence due to the extraordinary nature of the claims being made.

    And, in its day, evolution was also an extraordinary claim, and required extraordinary evidence. I’m glad you agree that it has met this burden.

    It does mean that your claim of “Christians must supply the evidence to back up their truth-claims. Evolutionists are excluded from this” would be better restated as “Christians must supply the evidence to back up their truth-claims. Evolutionists have already done so“.

    Has the “Theory of Evolution” been declared fact by overwhelming evidence or are there holes in the evidence?

    That is not an “or” question. Yes, there are holes in the evidence. We’ll never have every single ancestral fossil, mother to daughter, for billions of years. People will always be able to say “if evolution is true, we’d see this, and we haven’t found it yet”. But, that aside, there is a greater body of evidence for evolution than for the germ theory of medicine, or the atomic theory of matter. It’s no coincidence that even those Christians who work in the field almost unanimously accept evolution.

    As to the highly summarized overview, my intention as stated was to merely set the table. I will be using the rest of my time in this series to speak to the issue of evidence for creation, evidence for God, evidence for the Christian faith.

    It would probably help if you had a better understanding of what you’re arguing against. For example, you imply in your post that you don’t accept the standard age of the Earth; this means that you’ll have to explain why so many different and independent lines of evidence all point towards the same ages. True, the rate of atomic decay could have been different in the past, but do you know what evidence that would leave behind, or what steps would need to be taken to ensure that didn’t destroy the world? And even that still leaves things like tree-ring dating to be explained away.

    If at the end of this series, I haven’t proven that there is a God who created all things, then I will shut up and join you and Mr. Florien. This is a promise.

    Proven to who’s satisfaction? Your own? As you already know what will be presented, you know if you will meet that standard, and your promise is meaningless. If you want other people to be the judge of your claims… well, that opens up a whole other can of worms.

    I’m more than willing to read and critique your posts. I do my best to be fair and open-minded, though (as you might have noticed) I’m not always as patient as I should be.

    And who knows? Maybe you’ll convince me. That would make my wife happy, for one thing…

  5. latsot permalink
    March 8, 2009 9:41 am

    > Due to the enormity of the subject I have decided to make a series of
    > it so as to deal, in depth with the scientific, archeological and
    > historical evidence.

    Evidence of what, exactly? This isn’t clear. Evidence works like this:
    you formulate a hypothesis and in doing so you work out what will constitute evidence that the hypothesis is true. You can’t call something scientific evidence unless it is within this context.

    > I approach this subject with great care so as to not compromise the
    > truth in order to please the masses. There are many who have done so;
    > seeking to appeal to ‘the other side of the aisle’ so to speak. They
    > have twisted and tweaked the evidence or embraced that which they know
    > to be false in order to not rock the boat.

    This is a rather worrying statement. When you formulate a hypothesis, it’s important to remain agnostic about whether or not it is true. You don’t cherry pick the evidence that seems to point toward its truth, you actively try to DISprove it. You don’t BEGIN with the truth, you begin with a hypothesis and you end up being closer to the truth than you were when you started.

    > Before I begin to tackle the subject at hand I must clear the air
    > concerning a statement that has been made concerning the Christian
    > view of life. It has been stated that “Christians have made the
    > extraordinary claim and it is up to the Christians to explain
    > themselves.
    > Christians must supply the evidence to back up their truth-claims.
    > Evolutionists are excluded from this.” They would say that the
    > evidence is in as far as they are concerned. There is no further need
    > of debate on their side.

    I hardly know where to begin. First, you seem to have confused at least four concepts:

    1. That extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
    2. That evolutionists claim all the evidence is in
    3. That it is up to Christians to supply the evidence that god exists, and
    4. There is no further need for debate.

    You seem to think these are all the same thing when it is quite obvious that they are not. Let me deal with them one point at a time.

    1. Extraordinary claims certainly do require extraordinary evidence. This is self-evident. If I tell you that my car has been stolen, there would be no particular reason for you to doubt me. Cars get stolen all the time and another theft would hardly be a surprise. If I tell you that my car was stolen by aliens, you would have good cause to doubt me, since there is no evidence at all of a car ever having been stolen by aliens or even that aliens have ever visited Earth. So in order to convince you, I’d have to supply evidence that aliens have visited this planet and that my car is in their possession. I think you’d agree that this would be extraordinary evidence. The claim that god created life is an extraordinary one, whether or not you regard it as true, because we can explain so much (using actual, proper scientific evidence) without needing to invoke a god. The claim that ‘god did it’ therefore requires evidence that god exists, that he created life and that he falsified the evidence to cover his tracks. This is an extraordinary requirement, since nobody else has ever managed to come even remotely close.

    2. Evolutionists do not claim that all the evidence is in. If we did, why would there be so many scientists around the world working on evolution? I think we would agree that there is more than enough evidence to establish evolution as a fact, but we certainly don’t know all the answers yet and we accept without a single caveat that the theory could be overturned by the right kind of evidence (fossil rabbits in the pre-cambrian etc.) This is the exact opposite of closed-mindedness.

    3. The person making the claim needs to supply evidence of that claim. Again, this is self-evident. It is not the responsibility of atheists to provide evidence of the non-existence of god, precisely because generally speaking it is not possible to provide evidence that something doesn’t exist. You can’t prove that there’s no invisible unicorn or celestial teapot or giant green lobsters called Esmerelda and Keith. Anyone can make such a claim and in the absence of evidence, they are all equally valid: claims rest entirely on the strength of their evidence.

    4. Whether evolution is true or not isn’t a matter of debate, it is a matter of evidence. Debate implies that personal opinion is important, when it self-evidently is not. Either there’s evidence for a hypothesis or there isn’t. My or anyone else’s opinions on the matter are entirely irrelevant. In this sense, there is absolutely no need for debate, since debate cannot ever settle the matter: only evidence can do that. However, most scientists enjoy debating the issue, because it is interesting (I’m doing it right now). This shouldn’t be taken by creationists or anyone else as giving some spurious credibility to debate as a tool of science.

    > Now is this right? Is all the evidence in? Has the “Theory of
    > Evolution” been declared fact by overwhelming evidence or are there
    > holes in the evidence?

    These are two different questions, which you have once again confused. There is more than enough evidence for evolution to consider it a fact. There are ‘holes’ in the theory in that there are things we don’t know yet. This doesn’t impact evolution’s status of a fact in the slightest. For that, the hypothesis would have to be falsified as described above. We don’t have to know every detail about something in order to consider it a fact. If, as I suspect, by ‘holes’ you mean ‘problems’ or things that can’t be explained or are based upon false assumptions, then you have a legitimate question. However, even if you manage to show that evolution can’t be true for some reason (which I rather doubt you’ll achieve) that would in no way imply that any particular alternative – such as the claim that the Christian god did it all – is the right one. You’d still need to provide exactly the same evidence that god did it as you would if evolution hadn’t been proven incorrect.

    > Should one side be given a pass while demanding the other side
    > to bend over backwards and defend their position?

    Absolutely not. Scientists demand the same standard of evidence for every claim.

    > This is where many stand today.

    It is, but in precisely the opposite direction to that you claim. The religious expect to make extraordinary claims without providing evidence of any kind and they expect everyone else to respect those claims. They usually expect the law to recognise those claims – and remember, there is no evidence at all to support these claims – and for the religious to receive special privileges such as tax exempt status for their organisations and so on. By contrast, scientists simply require the same standards of evidence of every claim. They don’t expect people to respect their personal opinions.

    > So in our first installment I would like for us to consider a summary
    > of the two positions and see who has the most
    > extraordinary/fantastical position!

    And yet on Unreasonable Faith you claimed that you were going to present evidence of the existence of god.

    > Christians, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice (and
    > I’m talking about real Christians, not those who merely attend church
    > for whatever reason other than because they love God and have been
    > called according to His purpose) believe the Genesis account of
    > Creation: that God (and real Christians really believe there is such a
    > Being who has made Himself known through what has been made) spoke,
    > and the universe was created with all of the planets and stars and
    > galaxies etc.

    So we begin with the No True Scotsman fallacy. Well, I grant that it’s a classic, but it’s hardly worth repeating. The fallacy is one of defining away problems with your claim rather than supplying evidence that it’s true and it is frankly infantile.

    By the way, which Genesis account of creation are you referring to? It seems to me that the two differing accounts are not compatible.

    > He then spoke and by the power of His word life arose in
    > all of its manifold forms. Christians believe that God spoke and made
    > mankind and that He did so one time;
    > that is, He didn’t make a lower form of man and
    > then continue to improve upon it till what we see today is the product
    > of this evolutionary process. We believe that God didn’t make
    > prototypes but instead made man right the first time. So the Christian
    > sees God as the catalyst, the Creator of all things.

    From an evolutionary perspective, it is incorrect to think of humans at the top of some evolutionary ladder or as an improvement in any respect to predecessors. Beginning with this misconception, you are unlikely to understand evolution at all.

    > The evolutionary viewpoint, which I will say that I held for much of
    > my early life, is the Big Bang Theory and the ramifications thereof.

    No, of course it isn’t. The evolutionary viewpoint is that the theory of evolution is true. It is true if the big bang happened and it’s true if it didn’t. The two are logically unrelated.

    > Let’s
    > examine this process and I will be drawing from my memory from science
    > class in High School. As I recall, at first (and this was somewhere
    > around 5 billion years ago) there was nothing…then some gas appeared
    > and began to swirl around…soon there were many of these gaseous swirls
    > as they continued to split kind of like cells in the body. The gas
    > swirled faster and faster and dust particles began to form in the gas. > As the friction increased the gas and dust particles slowly solidified
    > into molten masses. These molten masses then began to slow down and
    > cool while atmospheres began to take shape around them. During this
    > cooling process, condensation from the heat began to form clouds in
    > the newly formed atmosphere which dropped down rain, further cooled
    > the earth and formed the oceans, lakes and streams while geologic
    > upheavals resulted in the vast mountain ranges that we see today.

    This rather fanciful account is incorrect in pretty much every respect but the details aren’t important to the argument. We know that a big bang happened because there is evidence for it. We know how this resulted in things like energy and matter and then in things like stars and planets and so on. We know how planets form and how atmospheres form. All because of carefully assembled evidence. And yet, there is much we don’t know. Scientists admit this without a single caveat and without embarrassment. We’re working on it.

    > Then, and this was according to my science book, a simple form of life
    > began to form around the shallow eddies of the ocean. These single
    > celled creatures began to multiply and metamorphosis occurred as they
    > grew into many different forms, very primitive at first and then
    > gradually more and more complex. This evolutionary process took
    > billions of years to accomplish as single celled creatures took on
    > more complex forms; from the amoeba to the age of reptiles, then to
    > the age of mammals, continuing to very primitive man and then to man
    > as we know him today.

    Once again you seem to have an idea that evolutionists regard Humans as the pinnacle of the evolutionary process, which is simply incorrect. To understand evolution, you need to get rid of this idea. But again, although the details are incorrect, this doesn’t really matter for now. We know that evolution happened, again because of evidence. Loads of it. Fossils, sure, but also lots of other stuff. Molecular evidence alone would be enough to establish evolution as a fact even if we’d never found a single fossil.

    > There are those who declare that man is still evolving and that
    > we are looking to see Homo sapien, sapien or a more advanced form of
    > man.

    Not ‘more advanced’ but different. Evolution isn’t something that stops. We may have eliminated some of the selection pressure by improving our living conditions and health care, but that’s beside the point. Evolution is still happening. This is not a declaration, but a fact supported by evidence.

    > I must mention some of the other theories concerning the origin of
    > these simple cells which evolved into what we see and know today. Some
    > scientists postulate that they were formed when lightning struck a
    > mud puddle.

    No they don’t. Not one single scientist has ever said anything of the kind. You are referring obliquely to experiments by Miller and others showing that if you put a bunch of chemicals in an environment resembling how we think the Earth was four billion years ago, organic molecules spontaneously form. These molecules are not in themselves life or even anything close to it, but they are some of the raw materials of life. The details are complex and stating it as you have is disingenuous in the extreme. There is no single standard model of abiogenesis, but as with the big bang, we’re working on it.

    > Others speak of these simple cells arriving on the backs of
    > crystals, while Francis Crick believed they were deposited here by
    > alien life forms.

    These are again deliberate, gross mischaracterisations of what are actually sophisticated theories. Crick postulated panspermia (it simply isn’t true to say that he ‘believed’ it). It isn’t a particularly ridiculous idea and Crick was entirely aware that it wouldn’t solve the problem of the origin of life.

    > Professor Dawkins echoed a form of this theory when he
    > stated, (and he prefaced his statement with “No one really knows for
    > sure”) that life could have come from some alien life forms which had
    > arisen through the Darwinian evolutionary process into an advanced
    > race.
    > These aliens may have deposited some self-replicating cells here on
    > earth and these cells began to multiply and take the many forms of
    > life that we see and know today.

    Yes, this was also Crick’s position. If life on Earth did come from elsewhere (and there’s no real evidence suggesting it did) then it would still have to have arisen through some evolutionary process.

    > And so we see that this view begins with nothing, from which something > appears.

    Whoah, slow down. These theories do not say that life started with nothing. Once again, the big bang, abiogenesis and evolutionary theories are not logically related. Each could be true or false regardless of whether the other were true or false. You are trying to imply that evolutionists claim life sprang from nothing, which is simply not true.

    > That ‘something’ is completely arbitrary; self created, (unless you
    > hold to aliens depositing life on this planet) self-replicating and
    > self governing. Those life forms which are strong survive and those
    > which are weaker die to make room for more advanced and sturdy ones.

    Not stronger or more advanced (whatever that means) but better able to reproduce in their environment.

    > Now of course there are variants to both views of the origin of life.
    > As far as the ‘Christian’ perspective is concerned, (and I say
    > ‘Christian’ loosely here) there are all kinds of compromise
    > ‘solutions’ meant to appease the evolutionary crowd.

    Are they really ‘meant to appease the evolutionary crowd’ or are they recognising that there’s a great deal of evidence for the scientific view and trying to reconcile the religious approach with the scientific one? Why would they want to ‘appease the evolutionary crowd’? Why would the ‘evolutionary crowd’ wish to be appeased?

    > We have the Theistic Evolutionary Theory
    > which states that God exists and it was He who deposited self
    > replicating cells (replacing the aliens) and then He stepped back
    > (Deism) to watch what happened. There is the Day Age Theory which
    > declares that each day of creation lasted millions to billions of
    > years thus once again seeking to appease the evolutionists and
    > substantiate their claims.

    It would not in any way substantiate our claims because it provides absolutely no new evidence.

    > The Gap Theory is interesting in that it postulates that
    > verses 1 and 2 of Genesis speak of a ‘first creation’ and that verse 3
    > begins a second creation; the first having been wiped out. My
    > perception is that all of these views have been postulated by Cino’s
    > (Christians in name only) who care nothing for the Bible, who in fact
    > deny the Scriptural record in order to:
    >
    > a. Make a name for themselves. b. Try to bring both sides together c.
    > Who knows?

    Yes, who knows? All are examples of pointless pontification to absolutely no end. Wouldn’t it be better to go with the evidence rather than randomly dreamed up ideas?

    > Now the similarities of both views are interesting. Both declare that
    > at one point there was nothing…though the Christian viewpoint includes
    > the existence of God in this nothingness. Both declare that life began
    > at a point in time although the evolutionary view states that life
    > began simply and then evolved into more and more complex forms while
    > the Christian view declares that God made all things exactly as He
    > desired and declared them to be ‘very good.’

    Why are these similarities ‘interesting’? Aren’t they just self-evident?

    > Both views conclude therefore that life does exist (unless of course
    > you are a philosopher who can’t decide what living is or what thoughts
    > are or whatever else he can throw into the mix.)

    Yes….I think we can agree on that.

    > Thanks to Wintermute for directing me to Professor Theobald, I can
    > also include that both sides believe that life came from one original
    > species.

    Sorry, no. This doesn’t make any sense for a lot of reasons. First, a species is a classification of lifeforms, so life itself can’t ‘come from’ a species. Second, species are defined in terms of their gene pools and early life can’t be described as having gene pools. You are confusing abiogenesis with evolution again. I would agree that all life we know about today is descended from a single species, but that is not at all the same thing.

    > The difference of course is that Christians believe that these
    > original species were created by God while those who hold to the
    > Theory of Evolution believe in an original species which evolved into
    > the myriad of life forms (or Moderne Organisms per Professor Theobald)
    > that we see today. The Christian view is that Adam and Eve were the
    > first humans, created by God and told to fill the earth while the
    > evolutionist view would be that
    > humans evolved from these first simple life forms.

    Well…obviously. I don’t understand why you are writing these things down since EVERYONE KNOWS THIS. It’s the whole reason that there is any spurious ‘debate’ in the first place. You are adding absolutely no new, useful or interesting information.

    > So in summary;

    Oh good, a summary of the summary of the summary of the summary….are you ever going to get around to actually saying anything?

    > both sides can agree that single celled organisms exist,
    > that Dinosaurs and Wooly Mammoths and the like walked the earth at a
    > point in time and that human beings and multiple forms of animals
    > exist today. What we don’t agree on is the origin of these life forms
    > or the length of time or the reason some species continue while others > fail.
    > While those who hold the Darwinian approach speak of billions of years
    > necessary to achieve complex life forms, the Christian, taking the
    > Bible for his guide and doing the math, would come to the conclusion
    > that the world is around six thousand years old or so; give or take a
    > few years.

    In other words, the evolutionist approach is to take multiple forms of evidence: geological, fossil, molecular and others which mutually re-enforce each other to suggest very strongly indeed that the earth is several billion years old. The Christian approach is to believe what happened in some old book and ignore all of this glaring evidence. We already know this.

    > This is the end of the first installment as I have sought merely to
    > set the table with the basic foundational truths of each viewpoint.

    And a bizarrely incompetent job you did of it too.

    > I have not sought to critisize either view but to give a very brief
    > summary of the beliefs held by each. As you can see, both positions
    > make quite fantastic declarations.

    Only when you refuse to consider them in the light of evidence. There is no evidence for the goddidit argument, lots for the scientific arguments. As I hinted above, whether a claim is extraordinary or not cannot be deduced out of context. The giant lobster theory is exactly as credible as the celestial teapot or god theories because there is exactly the same amount of evidence for them: zero. By contrast, the scientific theories have a great deal of evidence (or they wouldn’t be scientific theories) so by any logical criteria at all we have to conclude that they are not really such extraordinary claims after all. We understand something (not everything) about how life probably began on Earth and characterising it as ‘life just appeared’ is wilfully disingenuous. You *know* that there’s a lot more to the theories than ‘lightning struck a muddy puddle’. That would indeed be an extraordinary claim, but the *actual* hypotheses – that organic molecules were formed by reactions between chemicals in Earth’s early environment – is by no means so extraordinary, partly because we’ve seen something like it happen in experiments.

    > The question is; who is right, who is wrong? Let
    > the evidence, rather than emotions speak.

    Here we agree.

    > A note for the atheists; I haven’t quoted one bible passage as of yet.

    Neither have you cited one single piece of evidence. Neither have you correctly described any of the scientific theories you claim to characterise. Neither have you made any single point.

    > Next week I will begin to examine the archeological evidence
    > concerning both views of the origin
    > of the earth as well as the evidence concerning the origin of man and
    > animals. I believe it will be quite fascinating!

    I wish I could believe that too, but you make it quite difficult. I’m rather surprised that there might be archaeological evidence pointing at the origin of the Earth. I cannot imagine what that could even mean since archaeology is simply not concerned with the origins of the Earth (or of humans or animals, apart from domesticated species) and can have nothing at all to say on the matter.

  6. wintermute permalink
    March 10, 2009 2:01 pm

    (fossil rabbits in the pre-cambrian etc.)

    To be fair, this could also be evidence of time travel. Given the amount of evidence that supports evolution this might almost be a better explanation, in that we’d only need to throw out most of physics, instead of all of biology.

  7. latsot permalink
    March 10, 2009 2:25 pm

    “To be fair, this could also be evidence of time travel. Given the amount of evidence that supports evolution this might almost be a better explanation, in that we’d only need to throw out most of physics, instead of all of biology.”

    I’ve never trusted rabbits. It would be just like them to invent time travel specifically to annoy me.

    I think I’ll remain a time travel agnostic for the time being, but I’ll be keeping an eye on them rabbits with their beady eyes and carrots-wouldn’t-melt, twitchy-nosed expressions.

    Rabbits in the pre-Cambrian is (as I’m sure you know) a cannonical, if not entirely serious, example of how to falsify the theory of evolution. You’re right that in practice it would take rather more than that, but we’d certainly have some questions to answer.

    I’m sure you’d also agree that there could be nothing more exciting than having questions like this to answer.

  8. latsot permalink
    March 10, 2009 2:29 pm

    @mute:
    “Remember that the great fight that creationists want happened a hundred and fifty years ago, when Darwin published The Origin of Species.”

    This is a nicely made point.

  9. wintermute permalink
    March 12, 2009 12:12 pm

    Rabbits in the pre-Cambrian is (as I’m sure you know) a cannonical, if not entirely serious, example of how to falsify the theory of evolution. You’re right that in practice it would take rather more than that, but we’d certainly have some questions to answer.

    Yes, Stephen J Gould. And I agree that the absence of such a find is strongly predicted by evolution, and it would be good evidence against the theory. But there are (as always) other possible explanations.

    I can just picture, after time-travel is invented, a creationist going back to the Precambrian with a bunch of rabbits, in order to “prove” that the Earth is young.

    I really don’t think it’s likely, but it’s worth poining out that such a find would not instantly topple everything we know about evolution.

    PS: Where is part 2? It’s been a week…

  10. latsot permalink
    March 12, 2009 12:56 pm

    “Yes, Stephen J Gould.”

    I think it was J.B.S. Haldane, wasn’t it, rather than Gould?

    “I really don’t think it’s likely, but it’s worth poining out that such a find would not instantly topple everything we know about evolution.”

    I agree completely, but a find like this would be a smoking gun. It would tell us where we should start looking to potentially falsify the theory. If there were such a find, there would certainly be no shortage of scientists clamouring to do this. It wouldn’t be hushed up or downplayed. We wouldn’t claim that evolution was just a metaphor. We’d be delighted that we had an interesting new problem to work on.

    I second the call for part 2. On unreasonable faith I cast the aspersion that voice would fall mysteriously silent before publishing any evidence. Prove me wrong, voice….

  11. wintermute permalink
    March 12, 2009 1:00 pm

    I think it was J.B.S. Haldane, wasn’t it, rather than Gould?

    Ah, you’re right. My apologies. That Haldane chap said said quite a lot of clever stuff, didn’t he?

    Where did I get the idea it was Gould?

    I agree completely, but a find like this would be a smoking gun. It would tell us where we should start looking to potentially falsify the theory. If there were such a find, there would certainly be no shortage of scientists clamouring to do this. It wouldn’t be hushed up or downplayed. We wouldn’t claim that evolution was just a metaphor. We’d be delighted that we had an interesting new problem to work on.

    Several Nobel Prizes would come from it, no matter how it ended up shaking itself out, that’s for sure.

  12. latsot permalink
    March 13, 2009 6:36 pm

    *tumbleweed*

    come on, voice: you were adamant that you had evidence for god…. can’t you give us a hint about what’s coming in part 2? or are we not going to hear from you again on the matter?

  13. April 30, 2009 5:06 pm

    Latsot,

    Please take the time and consider what I have to say here. I am a Christian. According to one gentleman on Mr. Florein’s Blogsite, because of my biblical worldview/stand/ my ignorance is profound. But I am not a closed minded Christian. I am very willing to listen to evidence! In fact, Mr. Florein and others have placed at my disposal many scientific documents/video seminars (specifically from Yale) and I am currently reading, and viewing this information. I find much of it fascinating and very informative. I have not just ‘thrown it out.” Why? Because there is much evidence from science that is extremely valuable and cannot be discounted.

    Now I declared that I had evidence for the existence of God and I do. The first thing I attempted to do was to establish that the Bible is a historically and archeologically accurate book. These things are true. Some on Mr. Florein’s site poo pooed my acertation either with thoughtful statements, very decently or with outright rage. In other words many have declared the Bible to be worthless by ‘science’ even though the scientific evidence is to the contrary.

    I have suggested the book “The Bible As History” by Werner Keller to demonstrate archeologically the historical accuracy of the Bible which is referred to as “my particular Holy Book.” Some of the conclusions of Keller (the allignment of the stars) are suspect but he has much to say that is wonderfully illuminating.

    I demonstrated and listed both internal (from the Bible itself) and external (from historical outside sources) the historical accuracy of the Bible. This is an important point. If I had cited say, The book of Mormon, you would be able very quickly to point out that there has never been any archeological evidence to support Joseph Smith’s claims. He lists monitary denominations such as the Shum, the Dum-dum, the Onti and others which have never been found.

    In contrast to all of this we have the Bible which actually describes historical figures, historical places and historical facts, and that accurately. The bible was written by over 40 authors during a period of over 1500 years and contains the same consistent message. The manuscript evidence for the bible is staggering when compared to other historical documents. While Homers “Illiad” has some 746 manuscripts, the earliest known one being 1000 years distant from the original, in the New Testament alone there are over 24,000 manuscripts dating from no more than 25 years after the resurrection of Christ. In fact, for the whole bible there are over 40,000 pieces of manuscript evidence which confirm the accuracy of the bible!

    Jesus Himself has been declared even by the liberal “Jesus Seminar” group as a historical figure. I listed men like Josephus who, being a Jewish Priest would have been hostile to Christianity, nonetheless confirmed the historicity of Jesus. The only line in question in his history is the one stating that Jesus is the Messiah. Tacitus the Roman Historian who had nothing to gain by his statement about Jesus still mentions him as one who was crucified by Pontius Pilate.

    In fact, this whole ‘christian thing’ could have been shut down if the Pharisees had just produced the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin and his tomb would have been known by his fellow council members. All they would have had to do was go to the tomb and get the body and put it on display. This would have shut the whole thing down in a hurry. Instead they bribed Roman guards to say that “The disciples stole the body while we were asleep,” a ludicrous statement! I ask you, how much do you see while you are asleep! And this arguement is used by many to this day!

    Consider this exerpt from the discussion I was having with wintermute, LRA, Teleprompter and others concerning the manuscript and external evidence concerning the Bible.

    “The earliest copy of Plato’s work “Tetralogies” is one from A.D. 900, over 1200 years after his death. How can we be sure it is accurate? Aristotle died in 322 B.C. and the earliest copy of his work that we have is from 1100 A.D. Thats a 1400 year span between the original and the earliest copy we have.

    In contrast, the New Testament was written between A.D. 50 and A.D. 95 with the earliest copy of the gospels and the letters of Paul, Peter, Jude and John produced in 125 A.D. that’s only a 25 year span rather than the over a thousand year span for the ‘published’ works of Plato and Aristotle.

    Furthermore, there are only 7 copies of Plato’s work and 49 of Aristotles. Compare this to the over 24,000 manuscripts of the New Testament alone and that rises to over 40,000 when you include the manuscript copies of the Old Testament.

    From the Jewish Historian Josephus we have this statement; “We have given practical proof of our reverence for our own scriptures. For although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured to either add or to remove or to alter a syllable: and it is an instinct with every Jew, from the day of his birth, to regard them as the decrees of God, to abide by them and if need be cheerfully to die for them. Time and again now the sight has been witnessed of prisoners enduring tortures and death in every fomr in the theaters rather than utter a single word against the laws and allied documents.”

    And he is referring to the Old Testament!

    The statement has been made that Josephus wasn’t born until after Jesus died and wrote some 60 years after the event. Ok, people are still writing histories concerning Abraham Lincoln and he was murdered 144 years ago. Does that mean these historians are wrong as they are writing 144 years after the fact. Were the people of the 1st Century AD stupid? I don’t think so!

    Josephus wrote 60 years after the fact. Tacitus and Pliny wrote 100 years after the fact and these men would be considered hostile witnesses (a Jewish Priest/historian, a Roman Senator and a Roman Governor.)

    The gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel was written in 55 A.D. and the letters of Paul began in 50 A.D. You may discount away but your discounting flies in the face of evidence!”

    The accuracy and the historicity of the Bible is beyond question. I would challenge you to do an honest, scientific search of the Bible to see if what I have said is true. If, after you have done so, you still say that it is just “My particular Holy Book” well then, we’ll go no further. But if, after you have done careful scientific research you come to the conclusion that the Bible is historically accurate, then we can proceed to the next question, “Does God Exist?” And using the Bible and science we will see whether or not it can be established that God exists.

    I stated the same thing to Wintermute and LRA and others. I, for my part am actually reading, looking into what you all have suggested and I understand that there is great scientific evidence for life forms which have previously existed but are now extinct. I have never doubted this because it is fact, a scientific fact! When I was a kid everyone knew of the Dodo bird which had been living on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius and went extinct in 1681. Science is what it is. Real, honest science examines the evidence, goes where the evidence takes it and bases its conclusions on the evidence.

    Philosophical science on the other hand, comes to a problem with a preconception. This preconception, used eloquently by Professor Dawkins, is that there is no God, that evolution is a fact and that, even when proven wrong is still clung to as the alternative is unthinkable. I believe that LRA summed up this viewpoint in stating that the difference between not believing in the works of Aristotle and the Bible is that not believing in Aristotle does not condemn one to hell while discounting the Bible does.

    Now I ask you, are you a philosophical Scientist or a real, evidentiary scientist who goes where the evidence, the facts take you? I have stated my case, the first part. If you can establish before my eyes, lay sound, scientific evidence down to discount the Bible, then I would have to go where the science, the evidience takes me! To believe in the Bible when it is clearly proven false would be stupid and I would be a fool, clinging to a myth as the Professor from Yale put it. But if you cannot, then we must face the truth claims of the Bible and go from there.

    We have a choice to make here. And we must base our actions on the evidence. Will the evidence tip balances in favor of Darwin/Dawkins/Gould or will it tip in favor of the Bible?

    Follow the evidence!
    Sincerely,
    Mike

  14. latsot permalink
    May 31, 2009 11:35 am

    Voice.

    I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your comment much earlier.

    >Now I declared that I had evidence for the
    > existence of God and I do.

    *rubs hands* OK, I can’t wait to see if your evidence for god is the same kind of thing you’d accept as evidence of anything else.

    > The first thing I attempted to do was to
    > establish that the Bible is a historically and
    > archeologically accurate book.

    There are two problems here.

    1. There are lots of things in the bible that don’t stand up to historical scrutiny.

    2. Even if they did, it would hardly constitute evidence for god.

    > I demonstrated and listed both internal (from
    > the Bible itself) and external (from historical
    > outside sources) the historical accuracy of the
    > Bible.

    I think you understand why the former is no good. No source can assert it’s own validity. And as I just said, the latter is no help either: if we take the various events in (say) the new testament as read on face value, miracles and all, it doesn’t imply your particular god.

    It would just document things we can’t explain and jerking back into the real world, there is really no reason to explain any such thing. No evidence of miracles.

    > If I had cited say, The book of Mormon, you
    > would be able very quickly to point out that
    > there has never been any archeological
    > evidence to support Joseph Smith’s claims.

    For sure, but I don’t care about that. I care about whether people’s claims that god (any god) are true. There is no archeological evidence to support the bible’s claims (about god) either.

    > In contrast to all of this we have the Bible
    > which actually describes historical figures,
    > historical places and historical facts, and that
    > accurately

    There’s a lot of inaccurate stuff in the bible, including the very obvious contradictions. But not restricted to them: the bible gets lots of things in human history very wrong.

    But this is not the point. If I remember rightly, you claimed to have evidence for the existence of god that did not depend on scripture. Oh dear.

    > In fact, this whole ‘christian thing’ could have
    > been shut down if the Pharisees had just
    > produced the body of Jesus.

    Why would they have produced it? They were jews, not christians. There was no reason to look for the body.

    > The accuracy and the historicity of the Bible is
    > beyond question. I would challenge you to do
    > an honest, scientific search of the Bible to see
    > if what I have said is true. If, after you have
    > done so, you still say that it is just “My
    > particular Holy Book” well then, we’ll go no
    > further.

    So you’re saying you’ll believe what you believe regardless of the evidence? That is *quite* different to what you said when you began this.

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