Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!)

We can all argue about whether Jesus was a parthenogenetic being produced without physical insemination, and whether he became reanimated a few days after death, but getting direct evidence for those “miracles” is well-nigh impossible, and so we argue against them on the grounds of improbability.   But there’s one bedrock of Abrahamic faith that is eminently testable by science: the claim that all humans descend from a single created pair—Adam and Eve—and that these individuals were not australopithecines or apelike ancestors, but humans in the modern sense.  Absent their existence, the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces.

Unfortunately, the scientific evidence shows that Adam and Eve could not have existed, at least in the way they’re portrayed in the Bible.  Genetic data show no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too many different kinds of genes around for that to be true.  There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago.  That’s as small a population as our ancestors had, and—note—it’s not two individuals.

Further, looking at different genes, we find that they trace back to different times in our past.  Mitochondrial DNA points to the genes in that organelle tracing back to a single female ancestor who lived about 140,000 years ago, but that genes on the Y chromosome trace back to one male who lived about 60,000-90,000 years ago. Further, the bulk of genes in the nucleus all trace back to different times—as far back as two million years.  This shows not only that any “Adam” and “Eve” (in the sense of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA alone) must have lived thousands of years apart, but also that there simply could not have been two individuals who provided the entire genetic ancestry of modern humans. Each of our genes “coalesces” back to a different ancestor, showing that, as expected, our genetic legacy comes from many different individuals.  It does not go back to just two individuals, regardless of when they lived.

These are the scientific facts. And, unlike the case of Jesus’s virgin birth and resurrection, we can dismiss a physical Adam and Eve with near scientific certainty.

But of course this causes much consternation for Christians—as it should for Jews, though they don’t make much noise about it.  The Templeton-funded accommodationist organization BioLogos, founded by Francis Collins and dedicated to harmonizing evangelical Christianity with scientific truth, has been in a tizzy about Adam and Eve, publishing a lot of articles about how to reconcile the science with the Biblical claim that the pair was the ultimate source of human sinfulness.  And that sinfulness, of course, is the reason why Jebus was so important.

A new BioLogos piece on Adam and Eve, written by president Darrel Falk, discusses the controversy and ways to harmonize these incompatible views. It uses as its starting point an interesting article in the latest Christianity Today, “The search for the historical Adam” (what about Eve?). You can access that article free online.  I’d recommend reading both  the 6-page Christianity Today article and Falk’s gloss on it, for both show, better than anything else, the problems that scientific data pose for Christianity—particularly American evangelical Christianity.  The Christianity Today article poses the problem starkly:

So is the Adam and Eve question destined to become a groundbreaking science-and-Scripture dispute, a 21st-century equivalent of the once disturbing proof that the Earth orbits the sun? The potential is certainly there: the emerging science could be seen to challenge not only what Genesis records about the creation of humanity but the species’s unique status as bearing the “image of God,” Christian doctrine on original sin and the Fall, the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, and, perhaps most significantly, Paul’s teaching that links the historical Adam with redemption through Christ (Rom.5:12-19; 1 Cor.15:20-23; and his speech in Acts 17.

Pastor Tim Keller, a participant in a BioLogos workshop on evolution and Adam and Eve held last November (!), says this:

“[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work “covenantally’—falls apart. You can’t say that Paul was a ‘man of his time’ but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching.”

That, of course, is the whole problem about reinterpreting palpably literal parts of the bible as “metaphor” when science shows that they’re wrong.  But given the inventiveness and deviousness of the theological mind, there is simply nothing that can’t be conveniently reinterpreted as a metaphor.  I suppose that if we were to get evidence that Jesus either didn’t exist, was born after human copulation, or simply rotted in the tomb, that whole saga would also be reinterpreted as metaphor.  But there are some stories so critical to Christian faith that many believers aren’t willing to see them as metaphorical.  Jesus, of course, is one, but so is the tale of Adam and Eve.

The Christianity Today piece notes a couple of ways to deal with what seems to be an insuperable problem. All of them, of course, regard seeing Adam and Eve not as the literal parents of humanity, but as some kind of metaphor.  Perhaps they’re just a metaphor for our inherent sinfulness (but I, for one, refuse to believe that I am just a primate born inherently sinful). Or perhaps there was a group of ancestors that could go under the metaphorical name of “Adam and Eve.” Alternatively, perhaps there was such a literal pair, but they were only the metaphorical ancestors of humanity.  This last notion seems to be the position that most of BioLogos commenters have accepted.  But in his piece, Falk emphasizes, once again, that the organization doesn’t have a consensus view on Adam and Eve:

The Christianity Today cover story is important because it engages the Church in one of the most important questions of all: was there a historical Adam and Eve? There has been much discussion of this point on these pages and although we strongly encourage ongoing discussion, BioLogos does not take a position on the issue.

BioLogos does not take a position? That is sheer intellectual cowardice.  Of course there was no literal Adam and Eve: the genetic data show unequivocally that humanity did not descend from a single pair that lived in the genus Homo.  And this organization—founded by Francis Collins, geneticist and bigwig in the Human Genome Project, won’t take that stand?  I don’t know if BioLogos sees this, but this kind of equivocation on an absolute scientific fact makes the organization look ridiculous in the eyes of the rational.  (I suppose accommodationist organizations like the National Center for Science Education don’t mind this inability to honestly accept modern science.)

Falk goes on to discuss the several ways to force Christian theology into the Procrustean bed of genetic facts, trying to claim that in some way Adam and Eve had a literal existence.  The funniest suggestion is the “Federal Headship” model:

Although The BioLogos Forum has raised the issue and encouraged discussion, we also urge caution. The “Federal Headship” model that accepts the scientific findings while at the same time holding to the historicity of a real first couple has not yet been carefully worked out by theologians. The reason that we haven’t had many articles of that sort is because we haven’t been able to identify theologians who are looking at the question from that perspective.

What can you say to that except “LOL”?  And Falk calls for the great minds of theology to work on this problem?! Elebenty!  (What Falk means, of course, is he wants some slick person to make something up that allows for a historical First Couple while still accepting the genetic data):

The purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity. We are in complete agreement with Richard Ostling (the author of the aforementioned article) and the Editors of Christianity Today that working through the historicity question is of the utmost importance to the Evangelical Church. Within the framework outlined above, it boils down to theology not science, and we urge the Church to reserve judgment for a while. Let’s keep both possibilities before us. Here’s hoping that some of our greatest theological minds will work on the question of what a model based on “Federal Headship” would look like. Here’s also hoping that some of our finest theologians will continue to work on how the view of a non-historical Adam would address some of the issues that puzzle and concern most evangelicals.

The last paragraph of Falk’s piece, which out of mercy I won’t quote here, is his usual lapsing into JesusSpeak.

The idea of the “greatest theological minds” working on this issue should make us laugh and cry at the same time.  What a waste of human effort!  But, in the end, this palaver about Adam and Eve shows the incompatibility between not only science and faith, but between BioLogos and true evangelical Christianity. No matter what those fine theological minds come up with, it will never be widely accepted among evangelical Christians.  A literal Adam and Eve is an item too important to be seen as a metaphor, for it’s a bedrock of Christian faith.  Falk and Collins should be ashamed of their organization’s involvement in such a stupid enterprise.

BUT. . . we can help them!  Like Michael Ruse, let’s lend our brains—and our considerable expertise in theology—to this enterprise, so we can relieve these poor Christians of their burden.  For an autographed paperback edition of WEIT, in one short paragraph propose your own theological solution:

What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

You cannot answer that these issues are irreconcilable; remember, you’re being a theologian who is trying to help the Christians, and so have to propose a solution that sounds superficially plausible.  If possible, write it in theologyspeak, too, and try to give it a name as interesting as “The Federal Headship Model.”  I’ll hold the contest open for a week, and then award the prize.  Entries will be judged on how well they conform to modern and sophisticated theological thinking.

545 Comments

  1. Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    Easy. Throw the whole bible out! :)

    • jgoltz
      Posted August 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      HAHAHA! Yea and then what basis for morality should we look too? Maybe that of Richard Dawkins who sees morality as a product of “social evolution”? In “his world”, there is no moral foundation!! Good thing our country was not founded but such smart people like yourself :-) Don’t believe me? Just turn on the television and listen to what is going on in this country. As the crosses are removed, so is the morality and that which made our country great.

      • articulett
        Posted August 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Yes, secular industrialized nations are much healthier: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

        And it seems that by just about every measurement, atheists are as more or more moral than their theistic counterparts. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-do-americans-still-dislike-atheists/2011/02/18/AFqgnwGF_story.html

        I know most theists have been indoctrinated to believe that their magical beliefs are necessary for morality, but the actual evidence shows that atheists are moral without it. Of course, facts don’t matter when you have faith, eh?

        Believing in an invisible creator of “original sinners” and the hell in which to punish them and their descendents (unless they believe the right unbelievable story) is not really conducive to morality. Who’d have guessed it?

        • skeptic
          Posted September 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things move together, statistically speaking, this does not mean that one causes the other, or vice versa. Both could be caused by a third factor, or it could just be a spurious correlation which means exactly nothing. So beware of anyone that draws grand conclusions from this set of facts.Speaking of which, Rosa Brooks, in an opinion piece in the LA Times today, understands this intellectual sin. Halfway through, she states “Although correlation is not causation, Paul’s study offers much food for thought.” Except that her piece is titled “The dark side of faith” and continues in the first paragraph:

          “IT’S OFFICIAL: Too much religion may be a dangerous thing. This is the implication of a study reported in the current issue of the Journal of Religion and Society, a publication of Creighton University’s Center for the Study of Religion.”

          Thank God Brooks isn’t jumping to conclusions. To be fair, Ms. Brooks later says:

          “And while Paul’s study found that the correlation between high degrees of religiosity and high degrees of social dysfunction appears robust, it could be that high levels of social dysfunction fuel religiosity, rather than the other way around.”
          Also, two of his criteria for measuring religiosity are the percentage of the population that accepts evolution, and a literal belief in the Bible. Belief in creationism and biblical inerrancy is largely a characteristic of American-style fundamentalist Christianity. So Paul really isn’t measuring the level of religiosity, but of conservative Christianity, which is a set of beliefs largely originating in the US. Small wonder the US is the outlier.

          • articulett
            Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t say atheism made people more moral; it’s just that people claim that you need religion to be moral, and these studies show otherwise. I agree that a third factor is involved, and I think it is likely to be I.Q./Education as both are inversely related to religiosity.

            • Pat
              Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

              The internet is very useful for exposing lies and deception due to ready access to information. Sometimes it also creates them, a growing problem mankind must resolve somehow.

              However, the overwhelming evidence of the scourge of humanity invented/created/cultivated by religion in the form of deception is something which cannot be missed when considering morality. Neither purists nor atheists have been able to explain the onslaught of the mentality underlying the trafficking of children, the use of children as sacrifice, as sexual objects, etc., or the number of children who become victims to such horrendous cultural inflictions.

              There appear to be so many in so mnay different locales that one wonders whether humans are bisexual by nature, omnisexual, or simply sexual by nature, and it remains for the culture of his habitation to impose upon him a sexual persuasion – heterosexuality or homosexuality or bisexuality.

              If morality can be found to be rooted in this peculiar problem of childhood pedophila, surely there must be a method for scholarly thinkers to reach the root of this problem, and mankind’s inability to reconcile it. That can has been kicked down the road for 2,000 years, and remains unresolved, flourishing time and again from silence, and the incentive to disguise predators within the constructs of goodness, yet retaining access to potential victims.

              It is by this deceptive mechanism that mankind may be said to be immoral despite using religion as the invisible cloak that continues to allow predators to practice their sinful craft.

              Like the big, big, big, commercial being aired just now, someone smart must say small in order for society to see the possibilities of eradicating its own methods of silent subterfuge.

              If marriage, childbearing, and natural course of human events does not appear to be as “normal” as it should, it is likely that there is a reason for it, and it’s probable that human intervention is at the root of the problem, in this case, perhaps years of devious attempts to destroy it – in the name of pleasure, profit, and power?

              Hiding pedophiles doesn’t cure their disease once it becomes ingrained. That much we know. Preventing the disease may be the only cure, and it may not respond to drugs like the AIDS vaccine or any other convention except the sunlight of exposure through hypothesis to discover its roots. Why children are forced into churches to adopt religion before the age of reason may just be the problem in its stark reality of a danger that church going parents may not be aware. But that doesn’t account for the number across the world for whom churches are not sources of this horrible problem. Because it dots the landscape of all human societies, tribal or not, there is a need to discover its roots to find a cure.

        • skeptic
          Posted September 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

          “that their magical beliefs are necessary for morality.” Even Sam Harris has admitted that objective morals exist. Although he is wrong and cannot prove that they exist apart from God, I commend him for his honesty because this objective truth is inescapable. This being said, even if you took out all of the religion in the world, morality would still exist and I am aware of that. The question is, where does it come from? If there is such a thing as evil, there must be such a thing as good. If good and evil exist, there must be a basis at to judge what is evil and what is good. The only way for a basis to exist is to posit a moral law giver. If God does exist we indeed have a sound argument for objective moral values and duties. If God does not exist, we do not have a sound argument for objective moral values and duties. “Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)

          • articulett
            Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

            Sam Harris says that “objective” morals exist in so far as we can measure morality. For example, if we think low infant death rates are a sign of morality in a society than those places with the lowest infant death rates would be the most moral by such a measurement. If we think people should have freedom so long as they are not harming others, then societies that give people the most freedoms might be considered the most moral. If we think threatening kids with hell is immoral, then societies with the fewest adults threatening hell would be the most moral. Get it? Or has theism affected your reasoning? If religion helped make people more moral, then we should be able to measure something that showed this affect. But there doesn’t appear to be anything.

            Of course if some god is the creator of everything… and that everything includes evil, suffering, tragedy, pain, anguish, hell, etc… then it doesn’t say very much for that god– especially if that god is thought to be omniscient and would, thus know in advance, that he was creating such things… even more-so if that god was omnipotent and could have created a better system or a world without suffering (which an omnipotent being could surely do). Certainly such a being would not be worth worshiping nor would I consider such a being “omnibenevolent”.

            I think all religions are myths and that there is nothing supernatural. However, it appears you can get humans to believe all sorts of wild things by promising them salvation, threatening them with hell, and giving them a god created in their own image. As far as the evidence is concerned, however, there is no measurable evidence that any invisible/divine beings exist. Humans evolved to be agency detectors… it’s been evolutionary advantageous to assume agency because false positives don’t threaten our lives– whereas, being too skeptical could have cost our ancestors their lives. So unless you fear eternal damnation for not believing in Adam and Eve, there really is no reason to try and make sense of the story. Unless… maybe you make a living selling “salvation” or preaching or having people invest in some brand of magical beliefs.

            From my perspective, you are dealing with infantile morality if you are treating others well due to threats of hell or promises of salvation. Perhaps theists really do need such threats and promises. However, it appears atheists are able to be as moral or more moral without sky fairies and invisible zombie saviors. If you need your beliefs to keep from doing evil, then by all means I want to encourage you to keep them. However, I will point out, that even threats of hell don’t seem to be enough to keep clergy from diddling kiddies. Of course, I guess such actions didn’t bother jesus-god too much since he never mentioned it in the top 10… though he did think it important to keep the sabbath day holy and not worship graven images. You also aren’t supposed to have any gods “before him” which is why Muslims find the whole Jesus as god thing to be blasphemous. Did you know the bible god also seemingly endorses slavery and sending bears to maul children for teasing prophets? I suppose you are able to justify and reason out an explanation for those things too, aren’t you. From my subjective perspective it seems like you’re getting your morality from some entity who is more immoral than anyone I know… that is, if the magical book he is said to have inspired holds any truth at all. Myself, I think Christians are clearly as delusional as they think the Scientologists must be.

            • Ye Olde Statistician
              Posted September 1, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

              Sam Harris says that “objective” morals exist in so far as we can measure morality.

              If he thinks morality can be “measured,” he is a fool.

              OTOH, the atheist philosopher Richard Rorty wrote, in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, “For liberal ironists, there is no answer to the question ‘Why not be cruel?’ – no noncicular theoretical backup for the belief that cruelty is horrible. … Anyone who thinks that there are well grounded theoretical answers to this sort of question – algorithms for resolving moral dilemmas of this sort – is still, in his heart, a theologian or metaphysician.”

              And Alex Rosenberg, in “The Disenchanted Naturalists Guide to Reality,” asserts that naturalism denies the existence of objective moral value, of beliefs and desires, of the self, of linguistic meaning, and indeed of meaning or purpose of any sort. All attempts to evade this conclusion, to reconcile naturalism with our common sense understanding of human life, inevitably fail, and we just have to learn to live with that. A belief in meanings and purposes is what puts us on a “slippery slope” to religion.

              Stanley Fish and Fred Nietzsche pointed out that the “English flatheads” (Nietzsche’s phrase) were smuggling in concepts from the defunct religion.

              We find similar conclusions from Sartre, Nietzsche, and others.

              For the contrary view – that atheists and others can behave morally – see Paul’s letter to the Romans 2:11-16, which forms the basis for natural law theory. The irony is that many who rely on natural law to behave morally deny the existence of natural law (except for inanimate objects).

              IOW, you are following St. Paul and medieval Christian doctrine rejected by the great atheists of the 20th century.
              + + +
              if we think low infant death rates are a sign of morality in a society… If we think people should have freedom so long as they are not harming others… If we think threatening kids with hell is immoral…

              But, pace Stanley Fish, why exactly should we think those things? What if we were to think that racial hygiene is a “sign” of morality and societies that purify their racial makeup are more moral? What Fish pointed out was that the decisions as to what is moral must logically precede such secondary formulas.

              • Posted September 2, 2011 at 6:06 am | Permalink

                God damn but you’re an obnoxious overeducated moron.

                Look, it’s trivial.

                If you’re a threat to others, those others will work to counter the threat you pose to them, which in turn costs you. Considering there’s one of you and the whole rest of the population of them, you simply can’t win.

                If a small group of people pool their resources, they’ll be far more successful than a similar number of isolated individuals.

                So, there you have it: only idiots harm others, and it’s in your own best interests to help others.

                And there’s absolutely need for zombies with intestine-fondling fetishes to figure any of this out. And angry giants who tend magic gardens with talking snakes? Please. Grow up.

                Indeed, if you think about it for even half a minute, it should become blindingly obvious that the best you could possibly hope for from the sort of despotic overlord you so fervently wish were real is for you to achieve the status of a pet. The only other two options are to be ignored if you’re lucky, or to be the fattened calf fit for a feast.

                What is it with Christians being so desperate to be sheep? Don’t they know what shepherds do to sheep?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • whyevolutionistrue
                Posted September 2, 2011 at 6:10 am | Permalink

                Let’s tone down the invective: no “morons” please!!!

                thx

                –the management

          • mike w
            Posted September 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

            Please stop invoking God as the moral judge. God is a child murderer.

      • articulett
        Posted August 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        The healthiest and most peaceful nations are increasingly atheistic: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12811197

      • Big Arnie
        Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Well, let us look at morality in the bible. Stoning people for apostasy, working on the Sabbath, adultery, stoning your unruly children, slavery, genocide, Ripping women open and dashing their babies against walls? I don’t think I want that kind of morality. I think I would prefer a morality that has been discussed, reasoned and rational. After all, A Christian can do all kinds of horrific things and all they have to do is pray for forgiveness. An atheist, on the other hand, has only to follow the golden rule. Atheists don’t need a book to tell them it is wrong to hurt others. It is innate in all of us.

      • Chad
        Posted June 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        morality… interesting word when it comes to the bible which causes wars spreads. and it was written by a bunch of racist, sexcist, and homophobic people in a backwards ass time that has almost no relevance in todays world.

      • Big Al
        Posted February 20, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        To believe without religion one can have no morals is absurd. Morals are innate and without them the jews could never have made it as far as Sinai and the ten commandments. (There were actually 613 laws including the ten commandments.)

    • albert
      Posted September 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      I think the answer is easy. In some Islamic books we read: before Adam and eve there were creatures like human but with different race. Adam and eve’s two sons got marid to two girls whose race were different from Adam and Eve.
      Then the female gen in human must be older than
      male gen.because the oldest gen from a male, is Adam’s gen and the oldest gen from a female is from a different race which is of course older

      • omarzellal
        Posted March 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        I believe in that Theory too…

  2. Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    I hope the author wouldn’t mind if I translate this text for my website. I thought before that genes disprove Eve and Adam, but not in this way, that they link to different time frames.

    • baggerone
      Posted August 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      The different times support the Biblical account, since all modern women trace their matrilineal ancestry all the way back to Eve, but men trace their patrilineal ancestry back to Noah, who of course lived much later than Eve.

      • articulett
        Posted August 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Mitochondrial Eve is thought to live over 100,000 years ago… possibly 200,000 years ago. Y chromosome Adam is between 60,000 and 90,000 years in the past. I don’t really think these time frames correspond with anything biblical. Of course, the geology doesn’t support the flood at all either nor does it look like any place on earth was ever “paradise”.

        • baggerone
          Posted September 1, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          Calling it “Y chromosome Adam” assumes without evidence that there was never a time when the human population was reduced to one couple with their three sons and daughters-in-law. To a Bible believer, we’re not talking about “Y chomosome Adam” but “Y chromosome Noah”.

          • Posted September 2, 2011 at 2:55 am | Permalink

            The evidence against such a severe and recent population bottleneck is pretty strong. Do you have any evidence to support such an outlandish idea?

          • Big Arnie
            Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

            Oh yes, Noah was the drunk who was sodomized by his incestuous sons. Now there is a great beginning for us all.

  3. Drew
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    Ignore the biblical story as though it’s a fairy tale.

    • articulett
      Posted August 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes… or consider it a myth the way one considers the creation stories of other religions, eras, and cultures.

  4. Kevin
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Good grief, what nonsense.

    I wonder, how did the Catholic Church reconcile its geocentric dogma with the clear and compelling evidence against it?

    We know that it persecuted Galileo. We know that it took 400 years for it to finally admit that it was wrong and Galileo was right. But what about in the interim? Were there grand conferences of theologians trying to reconcile the biblical view of geocentrism with the clear unassailable facts? Did someone propose that geocentrism is a metaphor for our place in “god’s heart”?

    Claptrap. 400 years of claptrap.

    Are we talking this type of time scale for Adam and Eve as well? Well, then in the year 2411, we can expect an “apology” from the Church with regard to a literal Adam and Eve.

    Seriously, once Galileo was proved right, once the Earth was no longer the center of the universe, that should have been “it” for religion. No, we’re not special — we’re just an interesting little bit of cosmic dust. The universe was not created with us in mind.

    But no — our egocentrism is so strong that we can’t accept the blindingly obvious.

    • GM
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Actually that (the shredding of Christianity to pieces by the brutal facts of life being incompatible with its core claims) should have been done 150 years earlier by the discovery of the New World with a whole different race of people living there who had never heard of Jebus.

      There has been a little bit written on the subject but not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity as to how exactly they made this fit the story…

      • lamacher
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Are you aware of ‘The Discovery of Mankind. Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus’, by David Abulafia? Yale Univ press, 2008. It deals with this very issue. What struck me was the recurring arrogance and inhumanity of the Catholic Europeans during these encounters. The fact that the natives were completely naive regarding Christianity at first baffled the invaders, but soon they realized that these people were a huge field to be reaped ‘for Christ’ as well as exploited as slaves. Remarkable! And disgusting.

        • jonny
          Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          It’s always seemed to me that the “edge” enjoyed by Christianity in that most insane of all human insanity (war) has always been:

          “WE WILL HORRIFY YOU. YOU WILL NOT SEE OUR INSANITY COMING.”

          I base this on reading how Moses had to kill off the Chosen People to imprint the Chosen People’s children with his image of hatred, fear, zero questions tolerated, zero complaints, just misery, laws that made no sense (designed to cause misery), emotional corruption, and then the payload:

          “Kill these people. Take whatever you want. Destroy anything you don’t need. If you complain you’ll die. But it’s okay, they went against their LORD.”

          Children on the battlefield.
          Sociopath slaughters.
          Massacres of defenceless women and children.
          Taking slaves.
          Taking virgin children for sex slaves.

          The horror of this religion. Why are they being tolerated. No one can see their insanity coming. They’ve screamed the entire world insane. Game over?

    • jay
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      This will be a much tougher sell. Geo-centrism is not essential to Catholicism or Christianity, whereas special creation and original sin are at the core of Christianity, as well as Islam and Judaism.

      • Kevin
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        400 years ago, it certainly was.

        That’s why it was a heresy. That’s why Galileo was sentenced to house arrest, and just barely avoided the stake.

        It was central to church dogma. The Earth was fixed, immovable, center of the universe, and created by god especially for the use of mankind.

        It took them 400 years to find a way to talk themselves out of the inconvenient facts. Slaying “heretics” left and right along the way.

      • Stolen Dormouse
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        Sound the buzzer! Bring the hook! Original sin is *not* a core belief of Judaism. In fact some of the rabbinic thinkers [not recent ones!] conclude that without what is called “the evil inclination” (desire to posess things, for example), economic progress would not be made. However, they also talk about the need for balance between the “good inclination” and the “evil inclination.”

        The same for Satan, who, in the few references (i.e., The Book of Job) is described as working for God to test the faith of humans, rather than being a separate power center.

        I don’t know enough about Islam to comment.

      • Paul D.
        Posted June 5, 2011 at 3:55 am | Permalink

        Judaism actually denies the notion of original sin and teaches that all people are born sinless and pure. And since they invented the Adam story, they oughta know. :)

        • Posted June 5, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

          Eh, as with pretty much all religious myths, the basic idea is a Jungian archetype that long predates the canonical version or even any of the easily-identifiable predecessors.

          The Jews no more invented Adam than the Christians invented Jesus…or the Romans invented Bacchus, or the Greeks invented Orpheus, or….

          Cheers,

          b&

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Tis sad to say, but I’ve seen a creationist claiming that general relativity proves that geocentrism was right and Galileo was wrong… (sigh)

      • markr1957
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        But it’s fair to say that a lot of theists attempt to use theories they demonstrably don’t understand to ‘prove’ something or other – I’ve seen various attempts to use Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem to ‘prove’ one thing or another about god and/or Christianity.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:35 am | Permalink

      Did someone propose that geocentrism is a metaphor for our place in “god’s heart?

      *giggles*

      Hey, you’re good at this!

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted August 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Careful. The ban was lifted in 1830, shortly after empirical confirmation was obtained on the two factual objections to heliocentrism; viz., the lack of stellar parallax and the lack of eastward deflection of falling bodies. Historians of science are clear on this, and even ol’ Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, after investigating the affair, concluded that “the Church had the better case.” Namely, they held to the old requirement that scripture must be interpreted metaphorically when there is certain evidence against narrative-literal readings. But they did insist on the evidence being certain before abandoning settled science.

  5. Alex, adv. diab.
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I hereby throw my invisible gauntlet.

  6. Uncle Bob
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    As with all good apologetics, its all about the big bang, don’t you know.

    The garden of Eden was actually in a different plane of existence, and when God kicked Adam And Eve out of the garden, there was no place to place them that wasn’t divinely perfect, so can’t have that. So God fused Adam and Eve into a singularity, and bang! There starts the preamble to Genesis 1.

    ….granted, it would *appear* they got the order of creation a tad mixed up, but this is easily explained. There were many bangs.

    • Uncle Bob
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      This has an added bonus of not only offering original sin for all humans, but the entire universe. It is hard to guilt trip a star or a galaxy, but the church could always use some more, either way.

    • Douglas Kirk
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      I like this insatiable cosmic banging hypothesis….

      • articulett
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:36 am | Permalink

        Me too– it sounds sexy and sciencey.

    • wilzard
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Would that mean that Adam was a positively charged particle of some kind and Eve negatively charged? Hence when they were kicked out of heaven, since they were no longer perfect, and put into the physical realm their oppositely charged beings kerploded and created the entire universe? I could see some theologian thinking this plausible… lol

      • articulett
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:37 am | Permalink

        Yeah… Adam really meant “atom”.

  7. Michieux
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I hold the story of Adam and Eve and “The Fall” as an allegory of our evolution from animal to human, with the inception of human consciousness represented by “eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge”. Simple, really.

    • Alex, adv. diab.
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Allegory shmallegory, either tell me their address and social security number, or you aren’t even close to the ballpark ;)

    • AMcKay
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry. I’m a Christian, and I realize that this is an inane and farcical ‘contest’ for non-Christians, but these theories are just absolute nonsense.

      Are you honestly trying to insinuate that Adam and Even were ‘unconscious’ and on level with animals until the forbidden fruit was eaten?

      • Kevin Anthoney
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        The competition’s open to you, too, you know. If you can come up with a way to reconcile Adam & Eve with the known scientific facts that isn’t complete nonsense, please post away.

        If you can’t, you might like to ponder why not.

      • Posted June 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        Michieux is insinuating that the “forbidden fruit” represents the inception of consciousness.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      So Jesus was crucified for an allegory?

      Doesn’t this lead to the question as to whether Jesus was an allegory?

      If Jesus was an allegory, then what is Christianity based on?

      How do you tell whats real from an allegory?

      • skeptic
        Posted September 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        I am a Christian and completely agree with you.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        How do you tell whats real from an allegory?

        You may find some assistance on this point from Augustine of Hippo, here:

        http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/12022.htm

        Keep in mind that the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches between them account for about two-thirds of all Christians; so what they teach ought to be given perhaps even more weight that Bill and Ted’s Excellent Bible Shack, whose traditions extend all the way back to last Tuesday.

        Pace the naive-literalists, the four traditional reading protocols are: historical/literal,
        allegorical,
        tropological/moral, and
        anagogical.

        Thomas Aquinas explained matters (including the usual objections) here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm#article10

        Hope this helps. You’d probably like his “selfish gene” explanation of the inheritance of original sin, too.

  8. CS aka "Happy Cat"
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    The answer is simple. Adam & Eve did exist, although not in YEC terms. They were early ancestors whose descendants mated many,many,many times over the course of eons with the Nephilim in Genesis (Legendary Biblical heroes, later called giants; also identified with the sons of Elohim [lit. "the gods"]. Xtians later equated them with the fallen angels. Not sure why.) Anyway…

    The Nephilim “species” contributed all the masses of genetic material that our sinful Original Couple did not possess.

    As for the last bottleneck, that was just “Teh Flud”. And it was eight people, not 10,000 – 15,000. It just looks that way because with so few people, those pesky, horny Nephilim doubled down on some human “interaction”.

    I can haz ebolishun buk?

    • Glynn Woodbury
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      No!

      Not incomprehenible enough for theology.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      Well, I like it!

      But I’m not the judge.

  9. Drew
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Or how about “The Multi-germic Theory”

    God created Adam and eve roughly 160,000 years ago but imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had evolved through natural processes but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brain to interact with a soul.

    • Drew
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      sorry that should have been 140,000 years ago.

    • GM
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      That’s some good creativity…

      Problem is that it doesn’t solve the problem of reconciliation of science with faith because it is pure creationism.

      • Tulse
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        Not really “pure” creationism, in that it doesn’t completely deny scientific evidence, just that the appearance of the evidence is deceiving. It’s a variant of the Omphalos approach — the world does indeed look the way it does (contra naive Creationism), but the way it looks is deceptive.

        • GM
          Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          IMO the adjective “pure” applies to creationism no matter whether it is Young or Old.

          Yes, it is the YEC version that’s the most outrageously silly one and that people usually think of when the term “creationism” is used, but the Old Earth version is just as much “creationist” as the young one – God made it happen the way he wanted it.

          • Drew
            Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            It may appear to you as just pure creationism but it isn’t. You see our expert theologians assure us that it’s quite distinct from creationism.

            It’s very different but you’re just too dogmatic to see the difference.

            • GM
              Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

              OK, call me dogmatic, but I simply don’t see it. God did it = creationism.

              • articulett
                Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:45 am | Permalink

                It’s the step-child of creationism… god did it via science rather than magic (except for the first part).

      • Drew
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        no you see everything else evolved but man did not, and god made it look as though man had evolved by having the F1 generation be genetically diverse enough that you can’t scientifically tell that there were only two human people that started the whole thing off, and yet similar enough to existing hominins that the evolutionary line appears unbroken.

        • Drew
          Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects.

      • Drew
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Or we could also try this.

        Roughly 140,000 years ago God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes, but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brains of the offspring also to interact with a soul. One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors. It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 that the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects.

        • GM
          Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          Still creationism.

          God must have created those germ cells out of nothing.

          • Nicolae C.
            Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            GM, you are aware that these posts are a reply to Jerry’s contest to make up some plausible-sounding-to-Christians BS to reconcile actual genetics with the Adam and Eve story, and not something that people are actually proposing, right?

            • GM
              Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

              Yes, I am. But I think there must be the added condition that whatever the proposed “solution” is, it is not obviously a creationist one. Because isn’t the purpose here to reconcile science with religion?

              Claiming that God created anything ex nihilo violates that requirement :)

              • Nicolae C.
                Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

                Any solution which involves God doing anything is creationist on some level, and the only people who care that much about the creationism inherent in the story aren’t in the target demographic anyway.

                The people who want crazy stories so they can reconcile science with religion aren’t going to give a damn about the presence of ex nihilo creation, they just want a believeable-to-them story where God makes Adam and Eve but the genetic evidence still looks like it does.

              • GM
                Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

                I know that :)

                I am just pointing out that you haven’t done any reconciliation that can be scientifically accepted if you propose anything of that sort, because, if you are Francis Collins, for example, you would immediately lose whatever little justification you had before not to be called a creationist

              • Nicolae C.
                Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

                “if you are Francis Collins, for example, you would immediately lose whatever little justification you had before not to be called a creationist”

                Most theistic evolutionists already accept occasional interference by God into the affairs of the universe, such as to insert a soul, do miracles, or to get the Big Bang going, and in a lot of mainstream views theistic evolutionists aren’t creationists because they are, at least on the face of it, Down with Darwin. If Francis Collins endorsed any of the better goofball suggestions in this thread, I suspect it’s far more likely that he’d receive accolades from accomodationists and theistic evolutionists for his ingenious reconcilation of Science and Genesis. Most of the people who would think he’s a creationist are the people like us who already think he is one.

              • articulett
                Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:53 am | Permalink

                Yes, I think the goal of this contest is to make it so Jesus didn’t die for a metaphor.

                Adam and Eve have to be real for “original sin” to be real. Original sin is supposed to be the thing that made god create suffering, pain, hell, etc. Jesus was supposed to save the people (who believe in him) from the hell god created for original sinners and their descendents to go to as punishment.

                Of course Jesus is god so none of it makes sense anyhow, but we’ll save that conundrum for another contest.

  10. Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty simple: Adam and Eve were real people, but they were loaded up with lots of extra genetic diversity so that their offspring would only seem to have derived from a breeding population of many thousands instead of the biblical two individuals.

    How this seeming genetic diversity happened involved some subtlely divine genetic manipulation that mere man is frankly not ready to understand but which arrogant, atheist scientists will exploit to further their godless agenda.

    • GM
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      And again, here we come back to good old creationism :)

      Yes, it makes up a good story but in the same time it is indistinguishable from creationism as it is essentially a “God did it” answer

    • jay
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I realize you are talking tongue in cheek, but before someone takes it seriously: you cannot be ‘loaded up with diversity’ Each chromosome has at most 2 different genetic configurations at each position (or else both the same). At most you can carry the separate genetics from two different peopld.

      • Patrick
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Adam and Eve were polyploid. Duh.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      I think that theists will definitely adapt the second part of your explanation.

  11. Desnes Diev
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    Schizophrenia?

    Desnes Diev

  12. Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    Well first we have to recognise that no ‘reconciliation’ as such is really necessary. All that is required is “Oh! Look over there! The Pope!” *waves hands* GODDIDIT.

    Q.E.D.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:05 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

      God wants you to have faith… it’s what he wants most of all– he sacrificed his kid for you and all he’s asking for in return is a little faith… what right have you got to ask for evidence or a story that makes sense? If he wanted you to make sense of things he wouldn’t have been a 3-in-1 monotheistic god. Jeez!

  13. Joe Francis
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    so monophyletic common descent is not a viable option for the origin of humans?

    • gillt
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I would imagine monophyly refers to populations not a single breeding pair.

      • Patrick
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Monophyly refers to groupings of species.

  14. Khoth
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Transubstantiation.

    Adam and Eve did literally exist, in substance, 50 000 years ago. However, through a process too sophisticated for you to understand, they were physically indistinguishable from a group of 10000 people. Possibly the talking snake was transubstantiated too – our top theologians are still working on that one.

  15. J
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    As I was raised a Catholic I thought I’d give my proposed explanation an ex cathedra theme:

    Upon pondering these perceived problems between the teachings of our most glorious and holy Scriptures and the lesser revelations garnered by humble man, divine revelation has been granted through communication and communion with the Holy Spirit that, as has been taught since the first days of our following of Christ, we are all brothers & sisters in Christ and children of God, who is also Christ. While evidence borne from the modern studies that God has allowed us to divine suggests that some of the bodies of men may not be made from the same codes through which Our Lord shaped the first sinful man Adam, spiritually in Christ & through Our Father in Heaven we are all descendants of Adam & the woman Eve & through Christ we are redeemed.

    Ok so it’s not a short paragraph but marks for theatre & impenetrability/room for future manoeuvre?

    • Kevin
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      +1 … so awful, a Ratzinger could have done it.

    • Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      That must be the right explanation: I don’t understand it.

    • jonny
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      This strikes me as quite exceptional. I’d been reading page after page of the most ludicrous insulting dogma written in “Answers to Questions” on catholic.com – just nauseating, migraine-headache inducing drivel.

      This would fit right in with everything I’d just been reading.

      It’s funny. It made me want to stop thinking. Strange.

  16. L Rosenblood
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The Growing Grace Gap

    It is ironic that modern evolutionists, who ostentatiously parade their penchant for accepting the evidence no matter what is says about the nature of the world, nonetheless are beholden to assumptions that require the universe to be unchanging.

    In Eden, humanity was pure, unspoiled, and immortal. Only after the Fall did imperfections pollute our bodies, minds and souls. As time passes, we move further from that perfect state of Grace we enjoyed at our Creation. The Fall was not only a single event that ejected us from the Garden of Eden – it is a continuous process, ever Falling, ever more distant from God – the Growing Grace Gap. And thus so we suffer from more genetic birth defects, disease, suffering, and death.

    Adam and Eve were living, physical, and contemporanous. One was older than the other. Just as Methuselah lived to 969, Adam and Eve lived much longer than our current human life span.

    Once erroneous assumptions have been cleared away, all our scientific progress and evidence clearly point to the Truth as written in the only source that ultimately matters: The Bible.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      ooh Bravo!

      It doesn’t really rectify the facts with the story– but it obfuscates in just the right way.

      *applause*

  17. Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Ooo, oo, I’ve got one!

    God’s just a liar and he made up the Adam and Eve story to justify his various screw-ups in designing humans. He still must be obeyed (being a jealous God and all) if you want to avoid a one-way ticket to fiery damnation, so Christianity is still salvaged. It’s just that God was bullshitting us about the cause of the original sin thing. It was really a series of engineering errors.

    Jesus’ sacrifice was still required to free us from sin, but we don’t have sin because Adam ate an apple, we have sin because God’s a shitty engineer. Think of Jesus as a crack customer service representative sent to do necessary repairs in the field. And think of repentance as a call to tech support.

    Problem solved!

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:11 am | Permalink

      Yep! You solved it.

      But I don’t think they’ll go for it because they’ll be afraid the shitty god will send them to hell for thinking him a shitty god.

  18. Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    No reconciliation is needed.

    I remember wondering about Adam and Eve as a child. And I wondered about it, because the story came across as a fable, a “Just So” story. If we don’t have to reconcile the Kipling story on “How the Elephant Got its Trunk” with science, then we don’t need reconcile the Adam and Eve story with science.

    The real puzzle is that otherwise seemingly intelligent people can take what is so obviously a fable, and allow themselves to be conned into believing that it is literal history.

    • Kevin
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      …and sadly, those people vote.

      • phalacrocorax
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        That really depends on which country they are.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:14 am | Permalink

      So why was Jesus crucified? Who was he sacrificed to and for and why was it necessary?

    • jonny
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Could it not be possible that they aren’t really as implausibly stupid as they pretend to be? I mean, there are other possibilities worth considering no?

      I can imagine some people who treasured Numbers 31:17-18 pretending that the rest of the insanity they were cool with. Anything for the virgin women children, who they get to keep for themselves.

      The thing is, I grew up in an ultra-religious world. Every single Christian I speak to knows less than 1/10th of the Bible I know from childhood. They’re not interested in the Bible. They’re not interested in hearing bits of it proved or disproved. I think they’re interested in something else.

      I think the answer is in Numbers 31:18 and the 11th Commandment.

      Commandment XI: Thou Shalt Not Rape.

      I think everything else is the greatest confidence trick played on vassals in history.

  19. Sven DiMilo
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That’s as small a population as our ancestors had

    Really? But a bottleneck implies a reduction from a formerly larger population. Surely if we push far enough into the past and approach our Speciation/Ensoulment Event we get much smaller populations.
    Right? Either Homo sapiens is unique among known animals for evolving via gradual anagenesis in a relatively large admixed metapopulation, or there was an allopatric cladogenetic split. If the latter, the original founding population of Modern Humans could/would have been small, possibly on the order of a few Original Women and one or a few Original Men.
    Adam and Eve are thus revealed as only quasimetaphoriocal, standing in for the small group of our Founding Breeders.
    Later bottlenecks and mitochondrial/Y coalescence are therefore red herrings in the search for Adam(s) and Eve(s).

    I will accept a cashier’s check only.

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Not fair. You wrote it in biologyspeak, not in theologyspeak.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:28 am | Permalink

      Yeah, but you are probably pushing back into creatures that Christians wouldn’t consider “human”. We’re supposed to be created in god’s image… are you trying to imply god was an ape? And are apes capable of sin? Doesn’t this mean that chimpanzees might well have souls too? Doesn’t this mean that Christians should be trying to save their souls?

      Surely, there’s a pair of creatures that all living people can trace their ancestry directly to– but if they don’t look much like the paintings of Adam and Eve, then I don’t think Christians are going to buy into the idea that they are the real Adam and Eve, but who knows.

      But I think your reconciliation has potential.

  20. M31
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Well, no matter what they come up with, here’s a translation:

    LALALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALALALA

    There. What do I win, again?

  21. KP
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Um, y’all are forgetting the additional bottleneck after the great Flood. Remember, all of humanity was reduced to 8 people (but N(e) = 6 because Noah and his wife did not have any more offspring after the Flood).

    All of their genes might still have ancestors in Adam and Eve, but theoretically they would have acquired some novel mutations that resemble much older genes or genes acquired from mating “outside” the direct “lineage” of A&E with some of those other Homo sapiens that were “around” prior to A&E and during the building of their “lineage” from Seth to Noah.

    Plus one could imagine that a few of A&E’s original genes would have been lost in people that didn’t survive the Flood. Thus, making all of Noah’s descendents carriers of genes acquired through 1) non-assortative mating with other H. sapiens from earlier human evolution, 2) novel mutations that “resemble” the older genes, and 3) loss of genes more representative of A&E’s genome due to the 2nd bottleneck after the Flood.

    Do I win? That started out as a reminder of the 2nd bottleneck and then I saw how easily it could be twisted into a theologically sound, convincing-sounding argument, and got “creative.”

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:37 am | Permalink

      No, no, no– because that second bottleneck would have to show up in the genes.

      And the Noah story can be a metaphor… Christianity doesn’t rely on it. But how do you justify Jesus’ crucifixion not being a metaphor if Adam and Eve(and thus “original sin”) are a metaphor?

      Great story– but the goal is to make it so that Jesus didn’t die for a metaphor. There has to be some real Adam and Eve who committed some real original sin for Jesus’s crucifixion/resurrection (the foundation of Christianity) to make sense.

      Please try again.

  22. R J Langley
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I haven’t worked out the ins and outs yet, but I wonder if we can trace the ancestry of the apple back to around the same time mitochondrial Eve walked the earth? Maybe she cultivated the first modern apple (using a dead snake as some sort of rudimentary tool), and then 50,000 years later Adam ate it.

    Sorry, I’ll go away and think on it.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:40 am | Permalink

      Oooh…
      I like it! Dead Snakes make good fertilizer too.

      But wrong contest.

  23. freedtochoose
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    1. “…a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago…” Would someone guide we who are spectators to a scientific reference for this?

    2. “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?” That depends on your view of mythological stories. As a metaphor with no relation to fact, it poses something to consider about how humans are to live with their gift of thought, reason and language. If facts are my province, it must be dismissed. If I see myself as the mind cop of the universe then I must rail against anyone who has a dissimilar view.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:55 am | Permalink

      http://tinyurl.com/66t5b4h

      Are you passively-aggressively suggesting that someone here sees themselves as the “mind cop of the universe” or is railing against someone with a dissimilar view?

  24. Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    What really strikes me, is that in all six pages of the Christianity Today article, not one word is spent on how any of the proposed “solutions” should be evaluated, on how we should choose among them. There is no method that could tell you which version should be preferred. No principle of parsimony, no test, no possible falsification. They can’t even admit what the nature of the game they’re playing is: make up stuff while staying as close to the original story as possible.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Yep, and these are the same clowns that point to Evolutionary Theory and shriek, “It’s only a theory.”

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:45 am | Permalink

      It’s the game every believer in the supernatural plays: “how can I glom the magic I believe in onto the facts that are?”

      When you imagine yourself saved for what you believe what else can you do?

  25. palefury
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    OK this is my best shot:

    Once upon a time there was a male homo sapiens called Y-chromosome Adam, he arrived one day –POW- in a puff of holy smoke. Actually it took somewhere between a millisecond and 5 million years for Adam to be transformed from a lowly great ape to a superior human, but there was definitely a puff of holy smoke. Then god thought this was good, but not confusing enough, so he took Adam and sent him back through time. OK time travel is physically impossible because it would require more than infinite energy to send a person back through time, but if anyone has more than infinite energy, its god right!

    Back in time mitochondrial Eve was cloned from Y-chromosome Adam’s rib, and through some god influenced error in chromosome replication she obtained a second X chromosome, and therefore developed as a female homo sapiens. Adam got Eve pregnant with quadruplets, and god arranged a shotgun wedding, so that the quadruplets would not be born out of wedlock. There were no other homo sapiens to invite so they invited a bunch on vegetarian animals, including the T-rex/dragons, the unicorns and the lol cats and so on.

    Then there was this whole thing with the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge and original sin and what-not.

    So god was not so happy after all this, so he sent Adam back to his own time. He also made both Adam and Eve bipedal, so that they would have lower back problems and so that child birth would hurt more. Eve then had her quadruplets, which she named Cain, Abel, Seth and Eve junior. A few generations in, there were a lot of genetic diseases popping up due to the inbreeding, so god introduced some extra genetic variation to fix the problem, because he is perfect and never makes any mistakes.

    When Adam got back to his own time, there were already people there, which were his descendants. He thought the females were pretty, but didn’t like the males much so he started a war with them, and killed most of them off. (Adam had some time to learn ninja skills during all this time travel he was doing, it is not instantaneous you know). Then everyone else lived happily ever after, apart from natural disasters, bubonic plague, smallpox, war and so on.

    It all makes perfect sense if you don’t think about it.

    • Jacob
      Posted June 5, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Nice one! Kinda like LOST meets theology.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      If theology-speak were like this, it’d be so much more entertaining! My vote for honorary mention–LOL category. “Eve junior” !!

  26. Sajanas
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Lets see, here’s my try

    Adam and Eve were father and daughter, as Eve was created ‘from his flesh’, and were the first conscious, intelligent humans. God granted them residence in his garden, on the provision that they not mate, lest they continue to pass on the genetics for intelligence. This is the ‘apple’. They of course did, and were cast out, and their incestuous offspring interbred with the remaining near-humans, spreading the genes for intelligence, but not more than that.

    I think that’s gross enough to be a biblical story, and it will last until they do an evaluation of the genes responsible for intelligence and trace their lineage to different points, by which point we’ll likely not be worrying about theology much anymore.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      That works for me.

      Then “original sin” becomes incest.

      Whatever the reconciliation it seems like it’s going to have to involve people with souls living at the same time as people who are as soulless as the rest of the animals.

      I think I’d want to be one of the soulless folk, because then you don’t have to worry about eternal damnation for believing the wrong story about creation or being born in original sin or whatever.

  27. Tim Byron
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Clearly, modern genetic analyses have failed to account for the extreme difference in the ages to which the earliest men lived; the Bible describes Adam as having lived for 930 years; similarly many of his male descendants – Noah and Methuselah lived for lengthy periods of time. However, the Bible does not record the length of the lives of Biblical women; Eve may have only lived a tenth of the life of Adam. It is likely that the different lifespans of men and women accounts for the variation between the ages of Mitochrondial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam. As to the genetic diversity present in humanity, while it is left unmentioned in the Bible, God had designed Adam so that his sperm, instead of containing simply two sets of chromosomes, as in modern humans, actually carried at least 15 different chromosomal variations. Thus, Cain and Abel effectively had different chromosomes except for the Y, which God left the same so that future Christian scientists would be able to see the glory of his work. Of course the point of this was to avoid the effects of inbreeding that can occur in limited genetic pools. So, as you can see, a closer reading of the Bible easily accounts for the genetic data.

    • KP
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      But Cain and Abel are both dead ends for the lineage. Cain killed Abel and none of Cain’s lineage survived the Flood. Only Seth’s lineage to Noah survived the Flood. We should really be talking about whether all the genes fit the bottleneck at the time of the Flood.

      • Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Adam and Eve are pivotal figures in the whole “creation of humanity” and “original sin” themes.

        Many Christians will give up on the worldwide flood but hold to the existence of Adam and Eve because of their theological importance.

        • KP
          Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          And my reply to those people is that the whole Adam and Eve story is flawed. Genesis 3 says that A & E don’t know the difference between good and evil, so how are they supposed to recognize evil in the form of the talking snake? Now, the response to this, of course, is that A & E still disobeyed God which is the Prime Directive 1.0.

          BUT: Where did the talking snake come from? Nothing existed until God created it, so God must have created the talking snake and therefore God created evil, thus setting A & E up to fail.

          It is for this reason that I do not accept responsibility for any ridiculous concept of “original sin.”

          • KP
            Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            I meant obedience is Prime Directive 1.0

          • Grania
            Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            Also, The Land of Nod, with it’s handy wife for Cain to maek sexytimez with.
            Where did she come from? UFOs? Sky-hooks? Fallen Angels? Stunted Giantess?

            Either Adam & Eve are the progenitors of *everyone* or they are not. Strangely enough, Genesis 4:17 proves they are not.

            P.S. When I asked my local Catholic priest about this he frowned and said it was “not important”.

            P.P.S. “not important” is code for “Stop asking me questions you know I can’t answer. Go away.”

            • Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

              Well, as soon as you start down the path of really trying to make sense of any of it, you run into the inescapable observation that Genesis is a story about a magic garden with talking animals and an angry giant.

              Either you’re gonna take the apologetic approach and defend ( / reinterpret / distort / whatever) it with the goal of making it appear to not be completely totally batshit insane, or you’re perfectly safe in dismissing it out of hand.

              There’s really not much point in arguing over plausible explanations for the origins of the “dragon silk” that makes up the emperor’s robes, after all, when it’s not just the emperor’s clothes that’re invisible but the emperor himself.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Grania
                Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

                That’s all very well, but show me the Catholic priest who does not deliver a sermon on original sin at least once a year. Even the ones who only approach the Old Testament with a 10 foot barge pole do it.

                It’s the thing that pisses me off the most about theologians and enlightened liberals with their metaphorical whatnots and disclaimers & waivers about cultural histories. This is their foundational text. If it ain’t true, it ain’t true. End Of.

              • Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

                The next time you confront somebody like that, ask if Jesus has read the Bible. Not, of course, “Did Jesus read the Bible during his ministry?” but rather, “Has the Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father and who will judge the living and the dead — has that Jesus read the Bible?”

                Either he has, in which case he can’t possibly be upset about people reading it as the literal word-for-word honest-to-God Capital-T-Truth™…which means he’s okay with people literally believing in magic gardens with talking animals and angry giants, talking plants that give magic wand lessons to reluctant heroes, and zombie slasher porn with intestine fondling…or he hasn’t read the Bible. And if even Jesus hasn’t read the Bible, why should we bother?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • articulett
                Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

                How do we know god was a “giant”. I thought he was an invisible guy who occasionally shapeshifts into a burning bush or his own son? I had realized “giant” was on his resume. I thought he was “appearing” to Adam and Eve as a voice in their head or something.

              • Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

                How do we know god was a “giant”. I thought he was an invisible guy who occasionally shapeshifts into a burning bush or his own son? I had realized “giant” was on his resume. I thought he was “appearing” to Adam and Eve as a voice in their head or something.

                You’re making the mistrake of assuming that the Bible is a single coherent work written by a single author with a consistent cast of characters, when nothing could be further from the truth.

                It’s an anthology assembled over a span of centuries from oral myths that date back millennia. And those myths come not only from a multitude of cultures but from the blended mix of cultures that resulted from various military conquests and political compromises.

                The modern theological synthesis of a monolithic insubstantial Platonic ideal of a god as being the “man behind the curtain” in all of the Bible’s stories is a relatively new invention.

                Indeed, there a number of different gods in the Bible, each with their own names. You’re just so used to seeing all of those names as synonyms for the same character that you don’t realize that it’s actually a pantheon.

                There’s El, the elder patriarch of the council / brotherhood of the Elohim (think the Semitic equivalent of the Olympians), who’s the mover and shaker in Genesis. His name gets translated as “God.”

                There’s YHWH, a really nasty jealous brute of a war god, who dictated the Commandments to Moses and whose priests won some key political struggles. His name is translated as “the LORD.”

                Adonis makes a very frequent cameo, most famously as “Adonai” in the Sh’ma and anywhere else the tetragrammaton appears in the Torah when read aloud.

                Anyway, if you go back and re-read Genesis 2 and 3, you’ll find all sorts of references to El and / or YHWH planting a garden, molding clay, chatting up the pottery, and even walking in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve hide from him in the bushes, causing him to exclaim, “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

                As to the giant bit?

                Genesis 6 makes clear that El’s sons were giants who lusted after human women. It’s the half-men / half-giants (aka demigods) they begat who prompted YHWH to drown all the kittens for some incomprehensible reason. If El’s sons (and grandsons) were giants, it stands to reason that El himself was also a giant. That, and it’s the only thing that even remotely makes sense from a literary / storytelling perspective. I mean, you don’t really expect a bunch of drunk goatherders to be telling stories about the midget who molded the original humans from clay and then booted them from the garden, do you?

                Cheers,

                b&

            • Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:58 am | Permalink

              The usual answer to “who was Cain’s wife?” that came up in Bible class was “it must have been his sister”. And everyone was OK with that.

              (I’m from Louisiana, where that sort of thing is tolerated.)

              • phalacrocorax
                Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

                That seems to be Ken Ham’s answer, too. Catholics seem to be divided on this matter (he married his sister vs. Cain’sstory is bullshit).

              • GM
                Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink

                Funny how “I didn’t come from no monkey” is constantly on Christians’ minds while nobody gives “I am an inbred product of incest” much thought…

              • Diane G.
                Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

                Hey, any ol’ port in a storm.

          • Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            “BUT: Where did the talking snake come from? Nothing existed until God created it, so God must have created the talking snake and therefore God created evil, thus setting A & E up to fail.”

            Isn’t the snake to be identified with Lucifer (the light-bearer) a fallen angel? But whether he is to be identified with Satan, I know not. Looks as though they’ve scrunched several different creation myths up together.

      • Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        I was about to make the same point. There “are” nine generations (of absurd duration) between Adam and Noah.
        Adam was 130 when he begat
        Seth (105)
        Enosh (90)
        Kenan (70)
        Mahalalel (65)
        Jared (162)
        Enoch (65)
        Methuselah (187)
        Lamed (182)
        Noah (502!…Shem)

        What are the genetics of having two such bottlenecks? Wouldn’t they tend to concentrate genetic anomalies?

  28. Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    “The purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity.”

    Which is BioLogos’ main problem: they’re creationists.

    BioLogos has asserted a conclusion, “there can be harmony between yadda yadda,” and now they’re on a quest to find data to support their conclusion.

    What happened to the scientific method? Oh, that’s right, Templeton. Sorry, my bad.

  29. Tim Byron
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I just want to point out that last post of mine *was* parody! I also considered arguing that the Genesis story was simile rather than metaphor, in that it’s *like* the modern genetic story if you squint hard enough.

  30. M31
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Atheists are again attacking Christianity with their naive and mundanely physical interpretation of genetic evidence, which shows that bodily descent cannot be traced to only two individuals. However, the essence of God’s gift to Man is the soul, and its moral susceptibility. Sin, and therefore, grace, come with this gift, which was first given, as we know, to two individuals in what we may call Edenic Ensoulment. Top theologians are now working on how the propogation of the soul among ancient populations occurred, and reconciling this with the evidence for the Out of Ararat theory of human genetic diversity.

    • Andrew B.
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      “Top theologians are now working on how the propogation of the soul among ancient populations occurred,”

      “…but aren’t terribly interested in finding an answer, as their field only requires they provide the APPEARANCE of scholarship instead of actually producing any verifiable conclusions.”

      • M31
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        but of course. . .

        I was using “top theologians” in the Weekly World News sense, viz., “top scientists prove bat boy is real!”

  31. penn
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Jesus often taught with parables, so it is likely that the authors of the old testament would as well. The story of Adam and Eve is meant to convey that as humans developed intellectually and social we naturally developed a sense of morality. This is the knowledge of good and evil spoken of in the Genesis account. This knowledge made us responsible for our actions and thus truly capable of sin for the first time. We could no longer naively live a natural life, red in tooth and claw like the other animals without divine judgement. We are now held to a higher diving standard to use our free will to the do right and avoid doing wrong. The characters Adam and Eve were just invented to make a more relatable narrative.

    That is the sort of argument I would have made back when I was Catholic.

    • JBlilie
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      You were a bad jack-Catholic!

      It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

      In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

      The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390).

      http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp

      • GM
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Seem like they leave no room for doubt :)

        In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

        • GM
          Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          Ooops, messed up the copy-paste and the formatting. Anyway, it’s a masterpiece of theological thought

      • penn
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure I was a bad Catholic, but I don’t think I know many Catholics who accept a literal Adam and Eve.

        • articulett
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

          If there is no literal Adam and Eve then Jesus died for a metaphor.

          • Posted June 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            LOL, articulett, you must stop saying that. He didn’t die for “Adam” per se. He died to save humanity from a state of being (separation from God) that is said to originate with Adam. However, if Adam were shown to be an allegorical representative of humanity in said state, defining the state through a parable showing the line of demarcation between innocence and a state of knowledge (the gaining of that knowledge is the actual event of “the fall”) however such state naturally came to be, then His dying is still to rescue humanity from that state. There does not *have* to be a singular Adam for humanity to naturally be in a state of separation from God, and therefore sinners in need of redemption. Again, not making an argument about whether such things are actually true, but making the distinction that Adam’s singular existence need not be the point upon which the death of Christ and its purpose hinges.

            PS: I’m still reading through the other entries (obviously) Not very impressed so far. It’s been more of an exercise in ridicule than anything else. Disappointing. I don’t know why I expect better, but I do. Silly me.

            • Tulse
              Posted June 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

              There does not *have* to be a singular Adam for humanity to naturally be in a state of separation from God

              If humans are in such a state naturally, then they were created that way by their god, and thus are not responsible for their “separation”. It is only if such separation is a choice, at least by their progenitor, that they can be seen as responsible for their sin.

          • penn
            Posted June 6, 2011 at 4:07 am | Permalink

            Well, that’s exactly how I’ve heard it explained by my father and others. They say that the Genesis story tells us that we were created by God, and at some point people chose to disobey God, and we were thus cursed by sin until saved by Jesus.

      • Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        “Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents”
        The certainty of faith!!!! Wow….

        • Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

          It makes you wonder how they define “revelation”. Didn’t Harold Camping use some revelation to help him calculate the date of the Rapture?

  32. Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    I propose the Temptation Model: Satan put that story into the Old Testament to tempt people into believing in a false story. It even works for every other Bible story that might cause problems. It solves everything!

    • Tyro
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      I keep thinking of David Brin’s retelling of the Lord of the Rings, with Sauron being the leader of a technological, race-blind, tolerant community. Gandalf and the other wizards were an anti-science religious group that invaded and overpowered them, sending Middle Earth back into a dark age.

      The reason Sauron and others are so over-the-top evil is because the “good” guys were so dogmatic and, as victors, they wrote the histories and smeared opponents.

      It makes me wonder what the bible would look like if it was written by the devil. After all, we only know God is good and loving by what he says, not what he’s done (eg: flood & kill all life on the planet).

      • Tulse
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Tyro, I think you just invented gnosticism.

  33. Kevin Anthoney
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Easy. Y-chromosome Adam wasn’t actually Adam but Noah, whereas mitochondrial Eve was actually Eve. This would come about if all the men on the boat were descended from Noah (his sons), but some of the women (his wife and his son’s wives) weren’t.

    I don’t know what the bible says about who was on the ark, so this might have to be crowbarred in somewhat, but that’s situation normal in theology.

    • Kevin Anthoney
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Just to flesh this out a bit, what we need is for all the men on the ark to be descended from Noah while the most recent common ancestor of all the women needs to be Eve. The former is easy – the men are all Noah and his sons. The latter is more difficult at first glance because you’d think the women would be from the same tribe or at least the same general area, and therefore be quite closely related too.

      But then we realise that pairs of animals were coming in from all over the world, so what must have happened is that a women from somewhere exotic came riding in on one of the kangaroos or T. Rexes or something, got married to one of Noah’s sons, and thus ended up on the ark. Problem solved.

      • Kevin Anthoney
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:43 am | Permalink

        Got it. 140,000 years ago, there was a man called Adam and a woman called Eve, who God decided to make his chosen couple and gave them souls. To make sure their children also had souls, he made sure they were passed on via Eve’s mitochondria, and pledged to ensure that Eve’s mitochondria were the ones that became fixed in the human population. Then came the Fall, and Eve’s soul became tainted with Original Sin, which was passed on to all her descendents – i.e. everybody – via her mitochondria.

        About 60,000 years ago, the world was very corrupt, what with the Fall and everything, so God hit upon a Plan. He found a good man (Noah) and attempted to “flood” the human race with Noah’s goodness by fixing his Y chromosome in the same way he’d fixed Eve’s mitochondria earlier.

        • Kevin Anthoney
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:55 am | Permalink

          Oh yeah, name. I call it the Soul Transmission by Eve’s Actual Mitochondria In Noah’s Genome model, or STEAMING for short. And merge the two paragraphs into one – I want to win this thing.

          • Kevin Anthoney
            Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:37 am | Permalink

            Final presentation version.

            This is my Souls Transmitted by Eve’s Annointed Mitochondria, Innoculated by Noah’s Genes, Bringing Us Life, Love and Soulful Harmony In Testimony model.

            140,000 years ago, there was a man called Adam and a woman called Eve, who God decided to make his chosen couple and gave them souls. To make sure their children also had souls, he made sure they were passed on via Eve’s mitochondria, and pledged to arrange that Eve’s mitochondria were the ones that became fixed in the human population. Then came the Fall, and Eve’s soul became tainted with Original Sin, which was passed on to all her descendents – i.e. everybody – via her mitochondria. Then about 60,000 years ago, the world was very corrupt, what with the Fall and everything, so God hit upon a Plan. He found a good man (Noah) and attempted to “flood” the human race with Noah’s goodness by fixing his Y chromosome in the same way he’d fixed Eve’s mitochondria earlier.

            • Diane G.
              Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

              You win the title acronym award. :D

              • articulett
                Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

                Definitely.

                Plus the science works… And then the folks at DI can get to work discovering the which mitochondrial genes are involved in the soul.

  34. Tyro
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    God created Adam and Eve, pure and in his own image. They dwelt in safety and tranquility in the Garden of Eden until they succumbed to temptation by the snake, Satan. When they were cast out, they left the good graces of God and sank into the clutches of the devil.

    In this Fallen world, the devil created many creatures to further tempt Adam and Eve, to draw them apart and to poison the pure genetic gift God blessed them with. As a cruel joke, the devil didn’t base these bodies on the pure form of Adam, but used apes, stretching and folding them till they stood and resembled True Man, like a misshapen mutt might resemble a wolf. Yet the devil is strong and these creatures could breed with God’s creation, yea though their genes were corrupt and they were broken from brain to body.

    Atheistic scientists today see this as a “breeding population” of “early humans” but we know the Truth, brothers and sisters. This was punishment for our Sins, that God’s blessing should be diluted and lost! When so-called scientists look at or genes today, what do they see? Do they see the purity of Adam and Eve which was with us at the beginning, when God walked amongst us and shared with us his wisdom and Love? No, they see a mess, a decayed remnant. Why brothers and sisters, they even say there are viruses there, yea in our very genes that we might pass our curse along to our children before they are even born.

    Do not be confused. Adam and Eve were real, live people. The first with souls, the first humans to walk this earth. Their traces are lost to science, drowned out by Satan’s creations but we know, sisters and brothers, we know the truth!

    In Jesus’s name, blahdy blahdy blah.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:10 am | Permalink

      Excellent.

      I think that if I were a theistic evolutionist, I could buy this.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        Seconded. Well done, Tyro.

  35. abb3w
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The problem with asking “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?” is that no criteria have been given for how one way is measured as better than another way.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:18 am | Permalink

      We do so have criteria. The most popular reconciliation wins.

      For this purposes of this contest, the winner is the reconciliation story Jerry likes best.

      And for theists the winner is whatever the most people can agree upon so they can keep imagining faith and science are compatible.

      We’re just helping the “sophisticated theologians” out.
      We can pull things out of our nether regions just as effectively as they can, can’t we? Well, some of us can, anyhow.

      • abb3w
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        I said the criteria weren’t given, not that they didn’t exist.

        For myself, I consider as a more interesting question what criteria the theists are using (actually, as opposed to giving as rationalizations after the decision is made) to measure the merit of reconciliations, albeit probably harder than asking for examples of possible reconciliations.

  36. Andrew B.
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    “The purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity.”

    Ignoring, however, that harmony includes both of consonance AND dissonance.

  37. Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I haven’t yet developed a full reconciliation, but I have decided that mine will prominently feature quantum entanglement. Now that I have decided where I want to go, it’s time to fill in the details to get there, just like a theologian.

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      You could say Adam’s chromosomes were a quantum superposition of ten thousand different genomes. Don’t know if this solves more problems than it creates, though.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:22 am | Permalink

      Ah yes… QM is always good for showing how certain supernatural things could be real… plus it’s so sciencey sounding!

      “QM says that the world is much weirder than we know– therefore my woo is true!”

      That’s a most excellent starting premise, and I’ve read that Ken Miller likes QM references.

  38. Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Sir, this discussion much heartens me as it provides an opportunity for me to propound the theory put forward by the brilliant yet now sadly obscure theologian Franck Remis. A couple of notes on Remis first (b.1922-d.1982). Based in Insl, Austria, he can trace his intellectual lineage directly back to the Turbingen school. While he was relatively unknown even in his own country, his theory was considered so controversial (ie, heretical) that very few traces remain (the Catholic Church took care of that). Remis was one of the first people to realize how DNA and genetic theory (early as it was in those days) directly provided the proof of the historical accuracy of Genesis. Of course, like all great theories, his explained so much more than just Adam and Eve as you will see. Interestingly enough, in his last years, Remis referred to himself as an ‘Evolutionary Theologist’. I have to confess I am not myself a theologian so am unable write as if I am one, as required for this competition, but you will soon see that Remis’ theory is brilliant, clear, obvious and explanatory in its nature.

    His theory was known as the ‘Trinitum-Populae’ and was based on some very simple biblical observations
    1) The doctrine of the Trinity in fact was first introduced through “God, Adam and Eve”
    2) Every layman is familiar with Gods word that “a day is like a thousand years”. The significance of this is that God communicates simply (“a day”) so that we can understand Him but actually creates “complexity” (a thousand days). How else could we poor mortals understand him.

    Adam in fact is not a single person but the name of a tribe (not a single person – a thousand persons). God recognized that a single tribe alone would not have the necessary genetic diversity so created a second tribe (the “Eve” tribe – another thousand people). This theory provides answers such as:
    a) Adam and Eve mating to create fertile offspring with the necessary genetic diversity
    b) No need for incest within the early Adam and Eve family – since God created tribes, not individual people
    c) The “bottleneck problem” (which Franck realized early on) simply does not exist
    d) There was enough genetic diversity to create a viable, ongoing population
    e) The “tree of knowledge” of which the bible speaks is actually the ‘family tree’ of the two tribes, it in fact explains that the sin that befell Adam and Eve was due to the knowledge that each other existed. As is true through all human history, two tribes, with different lineages, will fight each other – this is where our misery has come from.

    Like I said, brilliant, clear, obvious and explanatory in its nature.

    • GM
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Where does evolution fit in the story?

      God created the “Adam tribe”. God created the “Eve tribe”.

      Isn’t that Old Earth Creationism that BioLogos is supposed to stay away from?

      • Grania
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        “Like I said, brilliant, clear, obvious and explanatory in its nature”

        No it is not. It is just as made-up as every other interpretation. This one has made some attempt to backwards-engineer his own rudimentary understanding of biology into it. Revisionist history, nothing more.

        Plus, seeing as Remis knew darn well that the Genesis story had been taught as literal fact, and was always intended to be understood as literal fact; he makes no attempt to explain why he suddenly knew that all previous theological understandings of the text were wrong, other than the harsh fact that the hammer blows of modern science were making a mockery of this infantile story.

    • jay
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      The problem with this is like the problem with many other theological ‘explanations': it’s completely ad hoc. There is nothing in the Bible that supports that interpretation, there is nothing in the physical world that supports that interpretation. You need to completely gloss over what the Bible and science say to even make this look like it works.

      • articulett
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:31 am | Permalink

        Well yeah…

        The whole idea of the game is to come up with an ad hoc account. This one fails because you can’t have Jesus dying for a metaphor and this makes original sin a metaphor.

    • JBlilie
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Too bad scientists can’t just make shit up like that (and be taken seriously (seriously)).

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Could this be an elaborate Poe? Checking out “Franck” & “Remis” on Urban Dictionary makes that seem possible…

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Or, rather than a Poe, simply a well-done contest entry…

  39. Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    This thread is just Poe’s law in action, isn’t it?

  40. Evan Guiney
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Simple solution:

    I’m reminded of a point Dawkins made in the ancestors tale, along the lines of: trace back ancestry far enough, and you reach a point where everyone alive on the planet is either ancestor to *all* of todays humans, or ancestor to none of them (if you’re not familiar with the idea, think about if for a second).
    So: Suppose, my kind theologian, that one of these ancestral pairs were Adam and Eve. God, of course, simply looked down at where the evolution of homo sapiens had proceeded at that point, and said “yes, they look about ready”. He, in his White Bearded Greatness then exactly duplicated two humans, but by transmogrifying mud and a rib, respectively (He can do that, He’s God). Of course, he also added a new, “dominant” soul, which also carried sin (A soul is sort of like a gene, but made out of soul-ish stuff, and invisible. This theory requires souls to be like *dominant* genes). As Adam and Eve interbred with the rest of the existing homo sapiens, everything proceeded normally, except that any offspring who could trace their ancestry back to Adam and Eve had an added bonus: soul and sin! Finally, by today, everyone alive can trace ancestry back to Adam and Eve (and to a whole bunch of other early humans). Thus, Adam and Eve were created *exactly* as the bible says, by God, but in perfect harmony with some genes having coalescence times *far earlier* than that creation.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:39 am | Permalink

      Yep,

      we don’t need to trace our ancestry to them back by genes… we can trace them back by souls and sin. They were the “original sinners” god created.

  41. Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve tried, I just can’t do it. Apologetics just makes me sick.

    • Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      The proper solution, of course, it to read the Bible literally, as the work of a pre-scientific people. Solves all problems. No gymnastics needed, it can still be enjoyed (if that’s your thing). It can even be looked at for “wisdom”.

  42. Prof.Pedant
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden (a spiritual place, sort of like a suburb of Heaven, or a really really nice Purgatory). They sinned and were consequently kicked out of the Garden of Eden and into the physical world. Spiritually we are all descended from Adam and Eve, genetics only tests the relationships between the physical bodies that God – A Being Beyond Time – prepared for us. Genetics, being a mundane physical science, does not look at how our souls are related and therefore is unable to ascertain that we are all indeed descended from Adam and Eve as we are told in the Holy Bible.

    [How did I do?]

    • Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Looks like you beat me to it….

      b&

    • Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Yes, Eden could be the sub-lunar realm, the lowest part of heaven that mirrors the earth, only without corruption. That is actually pretty good. The being kicked out of Eden is them being thrown down to earth, at which point their souls inhabited humans, turning us from just animals into a man with a heavenly nature.

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Just need to explain where the land of Nod fits in this universe (it is supposed to be on the East of Eden).

  43. Mark
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    Adam and Eve literally existed – they were the first pair of Homo Sapiens to whom God made himself known.
    They literally sinned against him by eating the fruit from a tree he told them not too, and were cast out of fellowship with him.
    When their son Cain whines that “people” will kill him, he is referring to other Homo Sapiens.
    Adam and Eve are the “parents” of all humanity in a spiritual sense. Their relationship with God (both the positive aspect and the consequences of their sin) was eventually spread to all Homo Sapiens (a relatively small population at the time) through proselytization, marriage, and birth. Because of this, Paul can say that sin spread to all through Adam.

    Is this paragraph short enough? If I were an evangelical Christian who also believed in evolution, I think this is how I would reconcile it in my mind.

    • Mutating Replicator
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Mark, as a committed evolutionist and troubled but still-professing Christian (barely), this one gets my vote!

      • Mark
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Thanks! I’m just past the still-professing Christian part…

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      I’m afraid this could become the standard Christian explanation. The only downside is that it eliminates the need for all those incestuous relations in the first generations. I think many a preacher grew fond of these bits.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      In this version it sounds like the soulless humans who God never made himself known to are better off than the ensouled ones that can suffer infinitely for finite sins.

      Does an omniscient deity have any excuse for knowingly making original sinners and then punishing them (and their descendents)for what he knew they’d do? And if he’s omnipotent and can make perfect people like Jesus– then why not just do that from the get go? Why create sin suffering pain and then try to fix it with floods and crucifixion of deities etc. It makes gods power, benevolence, and knowledge seem less than omni.

      I do think the most popular reconciliation will involve the ensoulment of later humans– the spiritual ancestors of all mankind… souls can’t be a metaphor– they have to be real things for Jesus-god to have any relevance at all.

      • Mark
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think my statements necessarily imply that the rest of humanity was soulless.
        Nor does it necessarily need a God is who is omniscient in the sense of knowing everything that would ever happen…

  44. Mark
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    P.S. I didn’t read any of the comments above, so any similarities are coincidental…

  45. jose
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Adam and Eve are an example, a fable, an analogy, a parable. They are fictional characters in a story whose objective is to teach something about human nature. My take.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      So Jesus died for a parable? Or was he a parable too?

      • jose
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        I talked about that in the comment I linked :-)

        • articulett
          Posted June 4, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

          Yep. He was a metaphor too.

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      “Actually, the whole story is silly, but at least we could use some of the fables in the bible. “

      Dunno, I prefer fables that don’t end in long genealogies, and the moral of the whole Eden story also sucks. Talking animals are always welcome, though.

  46. Xray
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Somehow I think this is all tied up in the brilliant insights of Ray Comfort, who pointed out that it’s highly unlikely that a male and female of a species could have evolved at the same time (it being random and all). So women evolved from monkeys first. Men, brutes that they are, evolved later.

    • M31
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      So why are there still female monkeys?

      • jose
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        There aren’t. It’s all an illusion created by the Devil to make you believe in evolution and thus take you to hell.

        • articulett
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          :)

  47. Maverick
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I think one of the minor Jewish approaches to this problem (the major one being: blablablabla-I-can’t-hear-you-blablabla) is that Adam and Eve were not the only human beings around (only Adam and Eve were somehow “special”).
    There’s a whole lot of problems with the approach, but the lack of a 2-person bottleneck isn’t one of them. There could have been tens of thousands of people at the time, and Adam and Eve are not the progenitors of the entire race today, but they could have existed (except for the whole “being created by a God that doesn’t exist” thing).

    • Kevin
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Yes, an apologist recently proposed this “solution” to me.

      Adam and Eve were the first Jews. Cain killed Abel and went to the land of Nod, where there were plenty of non-Jews walking about.

      Seems quite special pleadish to me, but it was proposed as a serious solution.

  48. Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    As the progress of Science ever marches on, it continues to reveal glorious new facts about how God Created us and our world.

    In particular, contrary to an overly simplistic and naïve reading of Genesis, it has become clear that the species Homo sapiens sapiens was born from a large and diverse population of a variety of individuals. Though there are particular traits here and there that can be traced to a single individual, it is now clear that there does not exist in history a single pair of humans from whom all others are descended.

    The conclusion is inescapable: Adam and Eve did not walk this Earth.

    How, then, are we to reconcile these facts with the narrative revealed to us in Genesis? If Adam and Eve are mere myth, whence comes sin? And, without their sin, of what use is Jesus’s sacrifice upon the Cross?

    While many well-meaning scholars attempt to salvage the Bible through tortured re-interpretations of Scripture to come up with suggestions that Adam and Eve are metaphorical representations of human nature — a sort of psycho-religious id, if you will — most who encounter such theories invariably find them unsatisfying. If Jesus died for a metaphor, his death — and, indeed, his very life — might as well have been metaphorical as well.

    The answer, as it turns out, is really quite obvious.

    We know from the Bible that Eden was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31). Indeed, Eden may rightfully be described as next to Heaven itself in its goodness. Even in common parlance, the two are often conflated. Yet, Science has revealed that the infant Earth, in the Hadean Era in particular, far more resembled a scene from Dante’s Inferno than a garden paradise.

    Further complicating matters is the endless and ever-unsuccessful quest to locate the actual Garden somewhere in the Middle East.

    But why should we limit God to the surface of a single out-of-the-way planet orbiting one of a hundred billion stars in one of a hundred billion galaxies? Indeed, why should we limit Him to physical reality at all?

    Nobody would seriously suggest, in this day and age, that Heaven is to be found on the outer moons of Uranus or that Hell is literally under our feet somewhere beneath the Earth’s crust, yet to this day it is almost universally accepted that Eden, that almost-Heaven, must still be thought to have been somewhere not far from Baghdad. Clearly, this concept is not merely unsupportable, but almost laughable in its naïveté.

    And, so, we come to our answer: just as Heaven and Hell are not to be found within range of a NASA probe, neither is Eden somewhere accessible by plane, train, or automobile (or boat or submersible or rocketship or mine-borer). Eden, instead, existed alongside Heaven and Hell outside of time and space in what might colloquially be referred to as the “spirit realm.”

    And if Eden was not on and of this Earth, so too it becomes apparent that neither were Adam nor Eve. They were very real — as real as the Angels of Heaven and the Demons of Hell; but they were not primitive primates grubbing around in the dirt. And they were our ancestors, yes, but our spiritual ancestors. We trace our souls back to them, but not our genes.

    Exactly how the expulsion from the spiritual world of the Garden to the physical world of Earth took place remains a Mystery to this date. Scripture does not give us the details. We do have Genesis to thank for the artistic interpretation of the event, but we can hardly rely upon it for every niggling little detail in literal accuracy. Imagine what your own transition from the mortal coil to the glorious splendor of Heaven (or, potentially, a less wholesome alternative) will be like, and ponder whether any words would be adequate to the task. Adam and Eve experienced much the same but in reverse; that as detailed a record survived through the ages to reach us is itself as great and mysterious a miracle as any other God has graced us with.

    And so, look not for Adam and Eve in the genome, any more than you would look for Heaven in a telescope or Hell in a mineshaft or Eden in an architectural dig under Sadr City. Rather, look for them in your hearts and in Scripture. Open your heart to Jesus, and he will show you both the Sins they left us with and the Salvation he offers to those who would but drink from his cup.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Observer
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Almost too good.

      • Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        As long as it’s good enough to get me that book, that’s all I care about….

        b&

        • articulett
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:06 am | Permalink

          You got my vote.

          That was awesome.

          Adam and Eve were as real as god– and just as ineffable apparently. It’s a story that even this atheist can’t find fault with.

        • articulett
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:05 am | Permalink

          Plus it makes it so Adam and Eve really were created in god’s “image” being invisible (immaterial) and all. And who’s to say they aren’t immaterial talking snakes? All immaterial organisms are possible outside space and time, right?

          Heck all the stuff in the bible that makes no sense with the evidence or human understanding probably took place in that realm outside space and time where seemingly non existent things exist.

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Wasn’t is supposed to be a short paragraph?

      • Posted June 3, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        When was the last time you encountered a theologian who was capable of brevity?

        Cheers,

        b&

        • phalacrocorax
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

          Fair enough. I guess sophisticated theology cannot be summarized in a single paragraph.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      A-MEN!!

      Say it, Brother Ben!

      (I particularly like the “we know from the Bible” clause.)

      • Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Thanks!

        I was tempted to add a few more Bible quotes, but couldn’t be arsed to bother to look them up….

        b&

    • Sastra
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Sounds good; you’ve got the cadence about right, too.

  49. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    In the beginning was The Word and The Word was ‘Yaweh: Landscape Gardener To The Universe’.

    He spoke the soft and hard landscaping into existence and added some water features. He added some lights too. Finally he added some specimen meat robots. He set the time so that it was always one long Sunday afternoon.

    Realising that the meat robots were boring, Yahweh put on his Genetic Engineer Coat of All Colours (white) and cloned the most whinging meat robot, known as Adam. Yahweh tinkered a bit to make the second one a bit prettier. This one he called Eve.

    Unfortunately the meat robots broke out of their programming (to merely look decorative in the walled garden) and started to reprogramme themselves with additional code from a nearby tree.

    Yahweh was so upset that they were spoiling his Grand Design that he jumbled the existing designs so that the two meat robots could only replicate themselves inaccurately. He also invented time (and lots of it) and sent Adam and Eve back in time so that their later replications would have chance to learn understand that you don’t mess with the Garden and that you should Keep Off the Grass.

    Introducing a great deal of time into The Garden resulted in a cold snap which caused many of the plants to lose their leaves temporarily, which is why sending Adam and Eve back into the newly invented past is known as The Fall.

    Adam and Eve’s replicants eventually spread throughout the world, but their programming never came back into specification, so Yahweh had to take further action to clean up The Garden. But that, of course, is another story.

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I quite enjoyed your explanation for the Fall, but I think there’s too much sci-fi for mainstream Christianity in it. Maybe you could sell the rights to the Scientologists.

  50. Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Adam and Eve were the first *real* humans – ie. they had souls. The rest of the Homo sapiens population were just smart apes at that point; but all of Adam and Eve’s descendents also had souls, and so were also *real* humans (the one drop rule?).

    Thus some of their genetic material was inherited from other lineages; thus the absence of a severe bottleneck is solved; thus the inbreeding problem is solved; thus the question of where Abel’s and Cain’s wives came from is solved. Bingo.

    I’m not going to abuse my brain enough to dress it up in theology-speak though.

  51. Robert Estrada
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I think you are all over complicating the problem. The time honored method for reconciling conflicts with religious dogma is to brutally repress the knowledge of the facts and the people who possess them. Shorter, kill the scientists.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      But if you come up with the right reconciliation you don’t have to kill the theistic evolutionists like Francis Collins–

      instead you can convince the world that religion and science are perfectly compatible– and then you only have to kill the atheist scientists.

      Less work, no?

      • Robert Estrada
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps but less fun given the tendencies I inherited from my ancestor “Tommy The Torquer”.
        Oh no! I meant designed with!

  52. 386sx
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Absent their existence, the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces.

    Not really, because they can mataphoricate the story. They can have it however they want (just like when you go to Burger King® and order up a Whopper, you can “have it your way”, although they do charge for the extra cheese though.) All it takes is a little creative metaphorification.

  53. JBlilie
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Here’s hoping that some of our greatest theological minds will work on the question of what a model based on “Federal Headship” would look like.

    How about: “Here’s hoping some of our greatest minds will suggest what evidence that would support the “Federal Headship” model should look like.” (!!!!)

    But, I forgot, this is religion, not rationality. Just make some shit up, baby!

  54. Moewicus
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Adam and Eve are the ground of being. They are the necessary precondition for humanity to exist, but did not exist themselves. Therefore they existed without existing in our existence by the necessity of our existence.

    [/sophistication]

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      They are ineffable– which makes them the clear and obvious ancestors of our ineffable souls.

  55. JakeH
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    My entry, inspired by the “modern” and “sophisticated” theological “thinking” of Paul Tillich

    The Just-Make-It-A-Subject-Or-Abstract-Concept-Rather-Than-An-Object-And-Capitalize-It School of Theology Solution

    Adam (and Eve) is the Ground of Being. We are wrong to conceive of Adam (and Eve) as simply a being, rather he is Being Itself. Thus, to speak of the genetics of Adam (and Eve) is to apply a concept from an alien language game to religion. (And science, after all, is faith too) One cannot say that Adam (and Eve) did not exist due to overwhelming genetic evidence, for he is Pure Existence Itself. In fact, we cannot say that Adam (and Eve) is disproved by genetics, as he is True Genetics Itself.

  56. Ken Pidcock
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    The last paragraph of Falk’s piece, which out of mercy I won’t quote here, is his usual lapsing into JesusSpeak.

    Don’t listen to Jerry. Do read Falk’s last paragraph. It’s the movingly plaintive cry of a cult member trying to come to grips with the realization that his leader is a con artist. Let’s not be too hasty to judge and all that.

    Let’s see what our theologians and philosophers come up with…

    Yes, let’s.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      It was sad reading over there. They keep speaking as if god were a fact… as if they can make it a fact and make him happy that they believe in him by stating what god did so matter-of-factly. It’s so non-scientific. Can you imagine how crazy it would sound to them if you inserted some other god?

      And then more ignorant Christians butt in and try to tell them not to believe that evolution stuff. But if they don’t believe that evolution stuff– then they have to reconcile the facts with their god– and that makes their god a trickster god– who purposefully deceived his creations– particularly scientists because the evidence keeps accumulating for evolution and none of the evidence ever ever discounts it.

      Theistic evolutionists such as Collins and Falk are in a weird position because they really believe they have immortal souls. And Christianity tells them that these immortal souls can suffer forever unless they have faith. But the facts aren’t faith promoting. The facts don’t care what they think they are saved for believing. Believing in things and wanting them to be true can’t make them true.

      They’ve learned to associate everything that is good with Jesus-god and all that is bad with “not enough faith”. So they must everlastingly try to make it all fit so that they never ever lose faith– the consequence (in their head) is ETERNAL anguish. That’s a huge motivator to keep the faith.

      I want to shake them and say “You don’t have to try and reconcile anything because there is no eternal anguish awaiting those who don’t have faith. There is no more evidence for immortal souls than there are for fairies– go see for yourself. Neuroscience is showing us that the soul is an illusion of the brain! Don’t you think science would have run across a smidgen of evidence for souls if they were real? Wouldn’t there be tons of scientists testing and refining that evidence for their own benefit as well as the fame and fortune it would bring them? What could be more important? You can focus on what is true without having to worry about having faith to please an invisible sky judge. You cannot experience anything after death because you need a brain to experience anything. And, as far as the scientific evidence is concerned, the immaterial beings you do believe in are just as unlikely to exist as the immaterial beings you don’t believe in.”

      But, I know from experience, that such a message would just turn me into the bad guy– one of those uncivil new atheists that are spend their time harming important causes and raining on peoples faith parade.

      So they spin their stories to ameliorate the discomfort of cognitive dissonance –just like every believer in ever supernatural thing throughout time has done.

      How can you give them a clue when they think the consequences for accepting that clue is a loss of salvation and/or eternal damnation?

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 4, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

        Well said.

        • articulett
          Posted June 4, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink

          thanx!

  57. Helena Constantine
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I don’t see what the problem. Satan made a large population of human beings. God gave souls to two of them, Adam and Eve. Real human beings are descend from Adam and Eve, and have souls. They also have white skin. Fake human beings are descended form Adam and eve, but from those soulless, fake demonic counterfeit human beings. They either have dark skin, or are Jews.

    And the good part is, thousands of evangelical Christians the world over already believe this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_identity

    http://www.ucumberlands.edu/academics/history/files/vol3/BlakeWilliams91.htm

    • articulett
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 1:19 am | Permalink

      Scary stuff.

      I think all major white supremacist groups consider themselves Christian.

      But the genetics of their belief don’t match the facts (according to their beliefs all white people descended from a 6000 year old Adam who was the first white guy) and they don’t accept evolution. Plus there was no “first white person” unless maybe you are talking about the first human albino. Although we see color, humans are a blend of “races” (not a real scientific term) and the pigmentation of skin is not the best clue to our ancestry– we all come from the same people– and before that we come from the same apes.

      This sort of explanation can and does work on the ignorant, but people like Francis Collins couldn’t use it. The goal is to make the facts fit with Genesis– not to make the bible fit with the notions of white supremacy groups.

      I think that most of us here are well aware that the bible can used to justify pretty much anything. But how are theistic evolutionists going to square the FACTS with what they imagine themselves saved for believing?

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 4, 2011 at 1:43 am | Permalink

        OTOH, if she was trying to just be satirically funny (as opposed to a prize competitor), I think she succeeded rather well. :)

        • Helena Constantine
          Posted June 5, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          that is often my intention.

  58. Patrick
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    There is a basic problem with the argument against the existence of Adam & Eve based on coalescence. I don’t think there’s anything in the bible to indicate that the most recent common ancestor for any given locus would be Adam or Eve, or that all loci share the same most recent common ancestor.

    For instance, we’ve got “mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosome Adam”. Those people are obviously not the beginning of human mitochondrial and Y-chromosome lineages, but merely the most recent common ancestors of extant genetic diversity in human mitochondria & Y-chromosomes, respectively. So, do “mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosome Adam” both have ancestries tracing back to an earlier pair of individuals? Yes; barring multiple origins of life, -any- pair of living things will share a pair of ancestors (or a single ancestor, in the case of asexuality in the ancestral lineage involved). Well, there you go: -that- pair of individuals is Adam & Eve. Now we just need to expand that reasoning out to the rest of the genome…

    Obviously this would be a rather silly exercise, but it seems an obvious avenue for BioLogos types to pursue. Coalescence of existing genetic diversity to a large set of individuals is entirely consistent with the existence of an earlier pair of individuals that is the common ancestor of the set of “locus-X Adams/Eves”. Finding that pair of individuals (let’s call them “metacoalescent Adam” and “metacoalescent Eve”) is just a matter of coalescence at an among-locus rather than within-locus level. This would also complicate significantly any attempts to infer population size at the time of metacoalescent Adam and metacoalescent Eve. They predate extant human genetic variation, so AFAIK there’s no way to use patterns in that extant variation to infer anything about population size.

    The problem anyone trying to seriously pursue the idea that this pair of individuals is actually Adam and Eve would encounter is whether this pair of individuals was, in fact, human (they almost certainly weren’t), but, what the hell, it’d push the biblical/reality incongruence back a ways and muddy the waters substantially. I think that’s about as good as the BioLogos folks can hope for.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      I think this is the second most likely route they will choose… I think the first is ensoulment of a designated Adam and Eve later in the evolutionary process– the parents of our last common ancestor. God can insert his magic into the scientific enterprise at any point after all. He could have done the big bang, let things unfold for billions of years and then started started his magical plans for this little planet with a poof of magic here and there.

  59. Dr. I. Needtob Athe
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    “What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?”

    An undocumented miracle took place as the human race grew from Adam and Eve. Genetic information was deliberately altered by God over the course of many generations to provide diversity in the human race, until the population reached a size where divine intervention was no longer needed. God finally completed this project with the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus, after which he allowed the natural laws of heredity to take over while he tended to other matters. Of course this intervention is not documented in the Bible because, at the time the Bible was written, mankind lacked the knowledge to comprehend it.

  60. Solomon Wagstaff
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    As others have said, the ‘original sin’
    part & the ‘genetic bottleneck’ part can be distinct. There’s some indication in Genesis that the garden of Eden did not contain the whole of mankind (IIRC, Seth got his wives from ‘East of Eden’)but it did contain the only humans who walked with YHWH–he was evidently trying to upgrade to a strain of primates with whom he could converse, & the experiment went horribly wrong.

    • M31
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm, upgrading a strain of primates? Black monolith to the courtesy phone, please.

  61. alias Ernest Major
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    As I understand the matter, the Catholic Church have committed themselves to “monogenesis”, that is a literal Adam and Eve ancestral to all living humans, but not to a literal Garden of Eden, nor a literal Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, nor (critically) that this literal Adam and Eve were the only Homo sapiens alive at that time.

    If that is indeed the case, then we can note that the estimated date of the latest common ancestor of all living humans is more recent that the traditional date of Adam and Eve (even if you may have inherited no DNA from that ancestor). Any couple in the ancestry of that individual, or any other sufficiently recent indivual who is a common ancestor or all living humans, meets that minimal definition of Adam and Eve.

    One can further postulate that “Adam and Eve” were the first ensouled humans, and that ensoulment is inherited. As a soul is a supernatural entity, without demonstratable impact on the natural world, there is no conflict with scientific knowledge (only with Occam’s Razor); that the inheritance of ensoulment doesn’t follow known genetic mechanisms isn’t a problem as the soul is outwith the purview of science.

    I think that the Catholic Church has made a tactical mistake in incorporating a literal Adam and Eve into doctrine; if they tried the above reconciliation, I suspect that many people will find that it fails the laugh test, and also that the implications – e.g. that a human population could contain both ensouled and soulless individuals – will give them all sorts of theological problems.

    As to Genesis, my position is that we cannot reconstruct the intended meaning of the compilers of the Pentateuch at this remove, but that the contradictions between the two creation stories at the start of Genesis is a strong hint that it wasn’t intended as literal history. And in particular I can’t see why one would treat Genesis 3 as part allegory and part literal history, rather than wholly allegory. (Of course, even if we could reconstruct the intended allegorical meaning, there’s no a priori reason to expect it to be true.)

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink

      Your explanation is my bet at how Christians will end up rectifying conundrum.

      They’ll say that the last common ancestor of all humans was the biblical Cain– his parents were the first ensouled folks, Adam and Eve. We get the sin (that Jesus-God, in his infinite wisdom, created and was crucified to save us from) passed down to us because we can all trace our ancestry to that guy.

      It will all fall apart, of course, as it becomes increasingly obvious that souls are an illusion of the mind (which pretty much makes gods irrelevant)– but it should work to seal the cracks of cognitive dissonance for a while and distract Christians so that they don’t have to try and make sense of 3-in-1 god that ends up being his own father.

      I have long wondered what mental flip flops Francis Collins was doing in his mind to make it so that his invisible savior didn’t die for a metaphor. My guess is that he just didn’t think about it much, and now he and others who imagine religion and science to be compatible are forced to think about it because those gnasty gnu atheists have brought the subject up.

  62. Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I introduce the Doctrine of the Polymilinity-

    One of the ways Adam and Eve were made in God’s image is that like Him, they could each be a single person yet also multiple people, at the same time. Just as God is equally the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, Adam was a single person yet also many thousands of separate men, living over thousands of years. The same is true of Eve also being thousands of women. This doesn’t mean anything so crass as a hive mind, as Jesus didn’t have the same knowledge as the Father. Yet they were still a single person of a single substance.

  63. Carl
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    (The Theology of godly Genes) Before god made humans he made neanderthals and a ape like ancestor but he was upset with his creation so he decided to breed the ape like ancestor and neanderthals together. Which in turn created the human but in order for it to work he had to interbreed many a generation of ape like ancestor and neanderthal. Finally after many generations he was happy with a female and a male specimen so with that he decided to put them in a special place called the garden of Eden.

  64. Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    *cracks fingers*

    Okay, let’s see:

    When the first proto-Eukaryote incompletely ingested the first Ricksettia relative that was to become the mitochondrion, Adam was the proto-Eukaryote and Eve was the proto-mitochondrion, as evidenced today by the fact that we can identify maternal-only inheritance through mitochondria to this very day.

    The quantum essence that was Adam and Eve was entangled, and passed to every subsequent generation.

    Aeons later, a human couple near the Euphrates suddenly observed one another after eating some fruit, causing an observation forcing them to realize that they both were naked, this measurement collapsing the entire chain of entanglement all the way up and down the descendents of the first Eukaryokte.

    This is why we have original sin and the origin of black and white thinking, corresponding to quantum states |0> and |1>.

  65. Diane G.
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Though seated in an office chair, she appeared locked in a swoon, dipping to the final desperate measures of a music only she could hear. Her leg was extended across the floor to the tape recorder beneath her desk, her back supplely arched, her arm stretching behind her to grasp the distant telephone.

    ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/magazine/25woods.html )

    Oh, wait! Wrong imbroglio.

  66. Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Mark -> Sin is a meme? :)

    It seems as though that might imply that you can avoid being the inheritor Adam and Eve’s sin and folly simply by rejecting or avoiding the memetic package in which it comes.

  67. mental reservation
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Theory of Transcendental-Ontological Profoundness

    If we allow ourselves to broaden our perspective to transcend the narrow borders of mistaken rationality, we can clearly perceive the ephemerality of realness. Just as the union of the egg and that other nasty generative cell dualifies the chromosomes, the advent of man, as exemplified in Adam, obfurbicates the ὅπως ἐστίν of genetic variabilitation in our species.

    qed

  68. Daniel Schealler
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    (This is a first draft – I still need to dress it up in theologianese)

    Theological Genetic Paterfamilias

    A sophisticated theological approach to harmonizing the Biblical Adam and Eve with the science of genetics.

    From the bible, it is very clear that God created Adam before He created Eve.

    So the ‘mitochondrial Eve’, while an interesting genetic curiosity, is not necessarily the same person as the biblical Eve.

    As the bible teaches, the Biblical Eve would have been the companion of the biblical Adam – and this research suggests that the biblical Adam and the genetic Adam were likely the same person.

    So once evolution had produced a flesh ‘house’ in the form of Adam that God could use – which has been poetically summarized as forging life from clay and breathing it into life – God would have imparted that particular individual Adam and his Eve with ensoulment, creating the first true humans-with-a-soul from which all others have descended.

    This also provides a very pleasing explanation of where the descendants of Adam and Eve would found their wives and husbands – the un-souled but genetically nearly identical protohumans from which population Adam originally sprung.

  69. Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Contest Entry:

    Real Answers in Genesis

    It is now apparent that Genesis was written in such a masterful way that it can give guidance and insight throughout the ages, from the primitive ANE tribes to the sophisticated theologians of today. Because the ANE people did not have any understandings of science, the understanding of human origins via literal Adam and Eve were quite sufficient to understand how God created humans as the most significant beings in all of creation. It is therefore not surprising that the writers of the gospels and the writings of Paul would reflect a literal interpretation since again there was no scientific understanding of human biology. Today however, we know that Adam should be translated as “human” or “humankind” and that Eve means “giving life” and thus it is clear that Genesis is referring not to two humans but to the emergence of the human species, just like the emergence of all species as understood by evolutionary science. Hence, no conflict with science. However, it is also clear that John’s declaration “In the beginning was the Word” points to the human ability for language which was requisite for God’s special creation to be able to interact with him. Since language was also the cause of the human separation from God, and thus the need for a New Adam and a New Word – Jesus.

    whew…

  70. Robert Hagedorn
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Adam and Eve? Do a search: First Scandal.

  71. Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    (I don’t speak theologian.)
    Courtesy.
    The sin brought in death, but before the sin the human life had no end. Some 140.000 years ago, Eve opened her eyes.
    There was no reason for her to die. She was perfect, as you can guess since she was godlike. After having looked at his perfect creature for hundreds of years, god found the sight pretty boring. He ordered an ape to pay her a call. He had chosen a handsome model of the adam assembly line, in fact, the same model as the one he had taken to create the woman, the best model in this category; but she refused it.
    God started to do DIY, to twist, to fix and, 80.000 years later, the last adam ape disappeared, replaced by the first adam man. (He took the name of the assembly line.)
    Eve accepted him, despite the age difference, that was not visible. Only genetic data could show that Adam was younger than his wife, and since she always claimed the contrary, nobody knew until recently.
    The Bible reads that Adam is the older in order not to be harsh to Eve. That proves, once more, that women have a privileged place in god’s eye.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      It has a nice anti-mysogynistic bent… plus it foreshadows the fact that we all start out female in the womb.

  72. Aqua Buddha
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Existential dispersion model

    A false dichotomy prevails in this debate, one in which a human Adam is said to either exist or not exist. A more nuanced formulation, informed by recent advances in theology, envisions Adam as the sum total of human genes that coalesce by some divinely delineated point in our genealogy. This point(the exact time of which is unknown to us, as is true of all temporally indexed divine interventions), corresponds to the moment at which the Almighty bestowed the soul upon mankind. Biblical Eve is an overdetermined formulation of this same concept. And the Lord saith “set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal” (Ezekial 4:20).

    • Mutating Replicator
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      I love the gratuitous, entirely irrelevant Bible passage as a conclusion. Well played!

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:48 am | Permalink

      Schrodinger’s Adam– very sciencey!

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Bravo!

    • jonny
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      This is great.

      +2 to the delightful conclusion.

  73. Papalinton
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you say:
    “(What Falk means, of course, is he wants some slick person to make something up that allows for a historical First Couple while still accepting the genetic data).”

    This is the modus operandi and the fundamental ‘mission’ of BioLogos. There is no other possible way the christianities are going to be able to ground the mythos.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:45 am | Permalink

      You underestimate the creativity of those who imagine themselves saved for what they believe… (and damned for loss of faith.) Such folks have quite the incentive to get science and salvation to grok. After all, they believe their immortal souls are at stake.

      Plus, look at what a great start they have with all the examples here. Surely they’ll come up with something to keep the faith. I have faith that the faithful will find a way to hold on to their faith.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        I have faith that the faithful will find a way to hold on to their faith.

        And unfortunately, your faith is FAITHSCIENCE, sensu JAC.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          , etc., reserved for Ceiling Cat, I see.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

            Gah, CG is powerful!! Let’s see… less-than-bracket sub greater-than-bracket is reserved…

            • Diane G.
              Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

              CC. Which would be in a very tiny font if I dared try…

  74. wilzard
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    Believers just have to convince themselves that the story of Adam and Eve deals with the burgeoning consciousness humans were developing as we evolved. Eating from the tree of knowledge is a metaphor for humans learning agriculture, building cities and living in structured societies. As humans became more sedentary, it allowed humans to accumulate more physical possessions… leading humans away from a simpler society of hunter-gatherers where most belongings were probably shared. Adam and Eve, in that way, could be a founding couple of some tribe that decided to settle down somewhere in the middle east and build a city…

    lol

    • articulett
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      But what did Jesus die for? If original sin is a metaphor then it leads to the question of whether Jesus was a metaphor too. We can’t have that.

  75. Posted June 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    When Genesis was written, the authors borrowed from mythology of the region. There can be no expectation of the document being historical, if the contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 wasn’t sufficient in and of itself to indicate as such. So the expectation of this being a literal historical event is untenable; as it wasn’t what the authors had intended who wrote it.

    The power of mythological narratives is that they tell an underlying truth, not a retelling of historical events. It’s a comment on our self-awareness, the introspection of our nature – in effect the Genesis account is the birth of the distinction between how we are and how we ought to be. The allusion to the problem of painful childbirth is symbolic of the consequence for having large brains; a fact perhaps not known explicitly to the authors but nonetheless a directly observable consequence today. Who, in our modern scientific age, could deny the link between brain function and the mental capacities that fill the opening pages of Genesis? It fits perfectly in our understanding ruminating from the biological and psychological sciences that the events portrayed fits with the Genesis account.

    Knowledge and self awareness, in other words, fit with our evolutionary history.

    Such an account leaves Adam and Eve not as people (as they were not intended to be), but allegorical devices to make a point about the human condition. Adam and Eve have a spiritual truth about them, not a literal bestowing of the soul, but symbolise our fallen nature. But fallen nature, in this sense, isn’t a literal death. Rather fallen nature refers to our failure to live up to ideals that the mind is capable of realising. It is the differential between reality and the expectation thereof, with us falling from the perfection that ideally we would like to see.

    Jesus, in this sense, represents a means to achieve the idealised state of the human condition. The perfect man – the god-man – through his sacrifice at the hands of our vices and fallen nature brings about a path to redemption. Jesus is the path to salvation, through actualising the potential within us all; Jesus is the idealised form of what man ought to be. To place our fallen nature onto him, to see ourselves in the face of the god-man, is to achieve salvation. Jesus offered a way we can achieve redemption through the sinless life, by putting our faith into the god-man, we push ourselves away from our fallen nature and more towards who we wish to be.

    God, who Created everything, through Jesus has made sense of the human condition that was embodied into the personas of Adam and Eve. They aren’t literal people, no geneticist is going to find Adam and Eve in our DNA any more than any neuroscientist is going to find the Cartesian soul, but they are real – they are real in the sense that matters: they are the embodiment of the first steps taken towards our own divinity and towards us being in the image of our Creator. Adam and Eve illustrate the problem that Jesus solves.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink

      Yeah– what Kel said. (But Jesus is real, right? And really died and resurrected right? What problem did Jesus solve again?)

  76. marcello
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Coalescent theory relies on neutral mutations and drift, i.e. randomness, which is obviously a manifestation of Satan’s power of corruption and deception. Before the fall Adam and Eve were free of corruption, the product of perfect design (what scientists call ‘adaptations’). There is no doubt that, if one had looked into their genes, the signs of adaptations would have been manifest. After the fall Satan disrupted the work of God introducing randomness; genetic drift ensued. Thus, not only did Satan threaten to destroy the plan of Creation; he still aims at perverting Man’s power of inquiry through deceptive evidence. And unless scientists are prepared to recognize this fact they will think that their population genetics models reflect a reality that was not affected by the fall, thus falling prey of Satan’s powers of deception.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:56 am | Permalink

      It’s such a bummer that the Omniscient One didn’t realize this was how things would turn out when he created Satan.

      • marcello
        Posted June 4, 2011 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        Yes, we might say that He was (at the time of the events) omniscient but not omniprescient. He reminds me of a steretype liberal who believes that people’s undistorted, informed, rational, free behavior will be for the good of everyone. Jesus’s story can perhaps be read as a failed attempt on his part to commit suicide.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 4, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

          It strikes me that I can insert “conservative” for “liberal” in your second sentence, and it reads just as well. *smile*

          LOL at your third!

  77. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Ad’m and *ve where the two Grays that saved humanity by kidnapping, experimenting on* and releasing 10,000-15,000 individuals with fertility problems. They were nominally parents.

    ———-
    * Funny, I thought those were anal probes and what not. Well, I guess I leave that to the theo-ufo-logians.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:00 am | Permalink

      This has been my suspicions all along. I also think that Bigfoot might be involved.

  78. anatman
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    simple enough. adam and eve were of course real and they were the ancestors of all humanity. their genes, with a few mutations (and the genetic load of original sin) were in all early humans. as a result, the noah bottleneck made little difference. when the tower of babel was built, while he was confusing the languages of the people of the world, god also confused the gene pool, creating the genetic diversity we see today. as this was basically a punishment for hubris, he also made the genes appear to have wildly different ages and to seem to date back to a fictional time before the creation. at the same time, he created fossils and spurious remnants of ancient civilizations to humble paleontologists, geologists, and archaeologists. he probably also cast the stars which had of course, been little lights in a crystal sphere, out into newly created space and set the speed of light barrier to make them appear older. so much for astronomers. quantum weirdness is of course a way to teach physicists the error of their ways by hiding his direct control of everything from prying eyes, just as the appearance of evolution is meant to misdirect biologists.

    • anatman
      Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      p.s. when the sun stood still for joshua that was god changing the solar system from geocentric to heliocentric.

  79. Ichneumonid
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Taking an approach which totally disregards the genetic evidence, and for that matter, any known theological considerations, but is just SO totally scientific (Warning: gratuitous quantum stuff follows!)

    The many theologies model

    A consequence of quantum theory is the many worlds hypothesis. That is, every particle in the universe occurs in every possible location leading to an infinite number of universes in which all possible outcomes are realised. In at least one of these universes (actually an infinite number – this is the really neat thing about infinity, everything is infinite!) there actually is an Earth in which humans are descended from just two ancestors, Adam and Eve, and, remarkably, everything that is described in the Bible actually happened! Unfortunately, the minor shortcoming of this hypothesis is that there is no evidence that any of this actually happened in our particular universe. However, God in His infinite infiniteness, is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent in all of these universes and (I know this is the bit that doesn’t quite get me there) momentarily has confused our universe with another (does God get Alzheimer’s?) and so has inadvertently given His followers on this Earth the wrong information. But wait, this is where God’s test of faith comes in! HE knows this is NOT the universe where all that occurred, but has set this as a test for us, so that we can come to truly know Him through faith alone.

    /end crap

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      My vote for the most LOL award.:D

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      I like it! Quite sciencey!

      Woud an omniscient being know that he will get Alzheimers… and then forget because of the Alzheimers?

  80. qbsmd
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    My entry:
    Eden is described as a perfect paradise; obviously, due to the geological and biological processes we know, earth never contained such a place. Therefore the garden story occurred in heaven and Adam and Even were some kind of proto-souls, “thetans” if you will. The “fall” was a literal fall to the plane of existence were earth is, and suffering was always common. After this, these thetans imprinted onto an unspecified number of hominids at an unspecified time. After this time, these hominids and their children had “souls”.

    I’m pretty sure this preserves all the science, due to being unfalsifiable, allowing whatever you like to happen in an inaccessible “reality”. I think it also preserves more theological stuff than the current literalist story: one can say that Jesus allowed re-entry into the garden, i.e. heaven, thus truly ending the state of punishment for the appropriate thetan elements.
    As an added bonus, this version allows the possibility of Adam and Eve having ancestors of different species on different planets and provides the groundwork for reconciliation with Scientology.
    I can haz buk?

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s ultra ecumenical.

  81. Chris McNeely
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Q: What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    A: It would seem that the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts would consist in affirming a dualistic creation. In this dualistic creation theory, God does indeed create, ex nihilo, as pure gift, a universe, which is by definition a good creation. In this theory, the Angels, as created beings whose teleological goal is to carry out God’s creative plan for this universe, actively help with the manifestation of God’s plan, as a contractor and construction workers carry out the design of an architect. However, one Angel, Lucifer, rebels against his appointed telos and attempts to usurp God’s aseity; that is, he forgets his created nature and decides to, if you will, out-create the Creator. Lucifer leads a war against God, with the assistance of other rebellious Angels, during the course of which the universe is damaged in some permanent manner; in this way planets once inhabitable became barren wastes. The outcome of this heavenly rebellion follows the familiar Miltonic narrative, and is consistent with traditional Christian glosses upon certain scriptures, such as Isaiah 14:12, but with this difference: the pre-Adamic life we now know existed, based upon the best science of the past 150 years or so, was created by Lucifer and not God. But, being a created being, rather than the Creator Himself, Lucifer’s creations could only be terrible simulacrums of God’s creative plan, parasitic imposters: dinosaurs, australopithecines, or apelike ancestors, rather than the rational man and woman, Adam and Eve, capable of free choice and bearing the imago Dei. God’s free decision to create Adam and Eve stands in contradistinction to the miserable failure of a creation wrought by Lucifer and his demons. In this way special creation, as testified in Genesis, can remain an inviolable standard of Christian faith, and need fear no further assaults from naturalistic assumptions or materialist ontologies.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Oh, that’s gotta be great! It put me to sleep just like the real thing!

  82. Phosphorus99
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    “Today I made an experiment in hermetic glass vessels in order to determine whether the mass of metals increases from the action of pure heat. The experiment demonstrated that the famous Robert Boyle was deluded, for without access of air from outside, the mass of the burnt metal remains the same.”

    Mikhail Lomonosov (1753) on the Phlogiston Theory

    Whether the TOL can be salvaged as central trend in the evolution of multiple conserved genes or this concept should be squarely abandoned for the Forest of Life image remains an open question

    O’Malley MA, Boucher Y. Paradigm change in evolutionary microbiology. Stud. Hist.
    Philos. Biol. Biomed. Sci. (2005) 36:183–208.

    “Küppers [77, pg. 166] makes the same point as Jacques
    Monod [57], Ernst Mayr [54, 55], and Hubert Yockey [72,
    78], that physics and chemistry do not explain life. Niels
    Bohr argued that “Life is consistent with, but undecidable from physics and chemistry”[63]. What exactly is the missing ingredient that renders life unique from inanimate physics
    and chemistry? The answer lies in the fact that life, unlike
    inanimacy, crosses the Cybernetic Cut”.

    The ‘Cybernetic Cut’: Progressing from Description to Prescription in
    Systems Theory – David L. Abel
    Primordial BioCybernetics/BioSemiotics, Program Director, The Gene Emergence Project, The Origin of Life Foundation,Inc. (A U.S. Science Foundation), 113 Hedgewood Dr. Greenbelt, MD 20770-1610, USA

    What will the next hundred years reveal ?

  83. Patrick
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to believe that so many people will accept a theory on faith, but not the bible.

    First, the mitochondrial clock that they use to determine Eve’s placement in history was based on guessing the number of mutations and time needed for evolution from our last supposed ancestor. Then using the actual number of mutations found, they calculate the age of Eve. Actual studies show a much higher rate of mutations, some rates putting Eve as recent as 6-10 thousand years ago, which puts “Adam” around the time of Noah.

    Then again, recombination in the mitochondria may destroy the basis for determining a mitochondrial Eve.

    The site below has more information.

    http://www.mhrc.net/mitochondriaEveModel.htm

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      From that site:

      Actually, there are papers on different peoples of the world that say the same thing. do research on this.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Sentences in red ending with a full stop followed by 21 exclamation marks lend a lot of credibility to a text.

      • Patrick
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Great, a Patrick who’s a nut. Maybe I’ll go by “aspidoscelis” on here…

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          “Whiptail” would be a little catchier. :-)

          A research interest?

          • aspidoscelis
            Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            Not really a research interest, but I do like the little buggers. It’s a username I use on a couple of other sites, too.

  84. Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Well, being a practicing Christian myself, I believe I’ll take a crack at this :)

    The Human Awakening Theory:

    God created the universe perfect, a closed, self-perpetuating, self-correcting, dynamic creation. Existing outside of time he knew the end from the beginning. He set into motion the natural processes that would eventually bring about the rise of Man. The story of Adam and Eve is an allegory designed to illustrate the loss of innocence in the dawn of Self-Awareness. This self-consciousness is illustrated in God’s question, “Who told you you were naked?” Rather than maintain their innocence (animal-like innocence, operating on instinct) they ate the fruit of knowledge, gaining Self-Awareness. From that self-awareness came conscience, value, morality. They were “banished” from the “Garden” (a state of continued innocence) in that once that knowledge, that self-awareness was gained, it could never then be given up or lost. From that self-awareness came self-interest, and from that self-interest came sinfulness (the tendency to fulfill our selfish desires at the expense of others) which, having once awakened to this self-awareness, became the natural state of all human beings.

    Best I can do off the cuff – interesting article. Too bad writers on both sides have to be insulting rather than simply informative, but such is life.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Without meaning to sound insulting, did you read the last 4 words of the contest question?:

      What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

      • Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Well, you failed. But to what are you referring? You, apparently having far superior cognitive powers than I, could just say why you think my example doesn’t jive with genetics rather than being snarky.

        • Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          Diane is amply capable of replying for herself, but I can’t help but notice that you start by suggesting the story is allegorical but then retelling the story as if it were literal.

          Is it literal or allegorical? If literal, how do you explain the lack of evidence for a genetic bottleneck in our DNA? If allegorical, what sense does it make for Jesus to have died for an allegory?

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            There is a literal and an allegorical aspect to the story. I don’t see where my “retelling” should be taken literally. It was a short and quickly written paragraph.

            To begin with, Human beings have a sense of self-awareness, self-consciousness, that is probably the most distinct aspect of our humanity vs. the other earthly species. That self-awareness is the root of all spiritual discourse.

            If the Judeo-Christian tradition holds that the self is inherently sinful, and the “knowledge of good and evil” is the line of demarcation between innocence and sinfulness, then an explanation of the allegory as written in Gen. 1-3 would focus on the spiritual “truths” it is intended to illustrate while still respecting the science that denies any sort of literal interpretation of the passage. In other words, a “bottle-neck” isn’t necessary to use an allegorical man/woman to illustrate man’s need for a savior as the Christians believe.

            The self-awareness is the linchpin, Gen. 1-3 serves as a picture of the contrast between perfect animal innocence and self-knowledge. The nature, breadth, graduality, and timing of such awareness isn’t cogent to the argument. We are self-conscious beings, and in the Christian mindset, that is where sin lives.

            I’ve probably just muddied the issue rather than clarified, but we try. This typing box is really small a couple comments in!

            • Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

              First, your assertion that humans are the only self-aware animals is on damned shaky ground. Not only is there strong research overwhelmingly demonstrating that our closest relatives, Pan troglodytes, are self-aware, there’s a lot of research showing that all sorts of other species, possibly even including invertebrates, are self-aware to some degree or another.

              But, never mind that.

              You’re asserting that Genesis is a fiction, that none of it ever actually happened and that it’s only meant to illustrate general principles about humans. Correct?

              So…where does this self-awareness come from?

              You’ve already ruled out Adam and Eve as potential sources. As far as science is concerned, self-awareness is a purely computational phenomenon. When we finally build a self-aware computer or genetically modify a chimpanzee to have intelligence sufficient for even you to acknowledge its self-awareness, will both need to accept Jesus’s redemption to avoid Hellfire and damnation?

              Or will Jesus frustrate our efforts in such a way that only humans will ever be capable of self-awareness?

              Or is self-awareness something that can only come to an entity by Jesus’s divine fiat?

              Cheers,

              b&

          • Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Oh, sorry – and by that explanation, what we’re being saved from by Jesus’s substitutionary death is our state of sinfulness which makes us unworthy of relationship with God.

            Now let’s be clear, I’m not asking anyone to believe this, but the question which Diane seems to think I didn’t read, is to formulate an explanation that doesn’t deny what we know about genetics. Said explanation would be for believers, would it not?

            • Posted June 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

              Said explanation would be for believers, would it not?

              Since religious belief is entirely independent from both evidence and logic, I can’t think of any reason why you need bother yourself with pretending to reconcile your beliefs with anything other than whatever makes you feel good when you think about them.

              The purpose of Jerry’s exercise is to present a plausible-sounding theological argument that includes a non-alegorical Adam and Eve and doesn’t obviously reject the well-established body of genetic evidence. Since theology is also largely irrelevant to beliefs, I again don’t see what place they have in this discussion.

              Cheers,

              b&

            • articulett
              Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

              Where did sin come from? Who were the original sinners? Who created sin? Who/what did Jesus die for? Who is being saved from what and why via the crucifixion of Jesus-god?

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 4, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

          Well, you failed. But to what are you referring? You, apparently having far superior cognitive powers than I, could just say why you think my example doesn’t jive with genetics rather than being snarky.

          Well, good thing I decided not to use my original query regarding your competence with reading comprehension, then. But in retrospect, I should have asked if you’d read the rest of Dr. Coyne’s post, in addition to the contest question, and esp. his call for a theological explanation of these inconvenient truths (see paragraphs 2-4) for those evangelicals for whom nothing but a literal Adam and Eve will do.

          Heck, if “it’s an allegory” was all the answer here sought, this contest should instead by a lottery. Easiest. Answer. Ever.

          Even a cursory reading of this post reveals that Dr. Coyne has already essentially dismissed your contention within it. Just substitute “allegory” for “metaphor.”

          Then, see the above responses to you as to why the all-purpose allegory solution doesn’t cut it with respect to subsequent Christian dogma.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 4, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

            “by a lottery” should be “be a lottery”

      • Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps it’s the fruit part of it – left out a line, explaining that eating of the fruit is symbolic of achieving self-awareness? If that’s not it, then please explain…

        • articulett
          Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

          If Jesus died for allegorical sin, then how do you know his resurrection isn’t an allegory too? How do you know which bits of the bible are factual and which are allegories?

          By the way, if there was no such thing as an immortal soul, would you want to know or continue to believe in such things?

          • Posted June 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

            Clearly the life/death/burial/resurrection of Jesus, if such occurred was witnessable, whereas the creation and all of prehistory up until the development of language was not. The question of Jesus’s resurrection is an issue of the reliability of the witnesses who recorded the source material. Not to mention that there is much in the structure of the Genesis account that lends itself to allegory, heavy symbolism, the structure of days for stages, the refrain at the end of each stage. Whether Moses at the time of writing would have understood it to be allegory or scientific fact is immaterial, in that he would still have been recording that which was handed down to him through ages of oral tradition.

            • Posted June 4, 2011 at 5:35 am | Permalink

              Clearly the life/death/burial/resurrection of Jesus, if such occurred was witnessable[...]

              Clearly so — which is why we should be so thankful to the many authors and scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls, who lived and wrote in Jerusalem before, during, and after the time of Jesus’s ministry, for their ever-so-lucid observations of all that went down.

              There’s Philo, too: Herod Agrippa’s brother-in-law, the Jewish philosopher who merged the concept of the Logos into Judaism, and a diplomat who was part of an embassy to Rome in the early ’40s to petition Caligula to stop unjustly crucifying Jews. His eyewitness testimony is surely indispensable.

              And who could forget Pliny the Elder and his obsession with the supernatural or all those Roman satirists whose stock in trade was the humiliation Jesus heaped upon Pilate and the Sanhedrin?

              Why, with such a detailed contemporary record, one might almost be forgiven for thinking it impossible that something as momentous as the actual manifestation of an archetypal Pagan demigod — virgin birth, water-into-wine, social upheaval, spectacular unjust execution followed by an impossible resurrection and an ultimate triumphant ascent into the skies, and all the rest — could happen right under their noses without nary a one noticing a thing. I mean, it’d be silly to suggest that the very first mention of anything like that would occur decades later in the turgid prose of a self-described hallucinatory epileptic who prided himself on the fact that he wasn’t anywhere near the scene, wouldn’t you think?

              Whether Moses at the time of writing[...]

              Erm…you do know that Moses is as much a fictional character as any other in the Bible, don’t you? I mean, that’s been well established and pretty much universally accepted even by much of the religious community for close to a century by now. And the myth that Moses actually wrote the Pentateuch has been known to be an example of midrash for far, far longer. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a mainstream rabbi who thinks of that bit as anything other than a child’s story.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • eheffa
                Posted June 11, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

                Great Summary Ben!

                The only thing worth adding is that dating the epileptic’s writings (who BTW seemed largely ignorant as to the actual details of the earthly Jesus’ words & deeds) or dating the anonymously written Canonical gospels to a few decades after the purported events is a real problem. For all we know they could be all be second century midrashic fictions. No other writers even seem aware of these works until the middle of the second century at best. To call the life, death & resurrection of Jesus an historical event is pretty dubious.

                -evan

    • Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Let’s re-focus on Coyne’s request for a paragraph that would make the Adam and Eve story align with genetics in a manner that a ‘progressive’ xian could say, ya, I can accept that. Many contributors have wandered far afield, not without some interesting and humorous comments [BG comes through as per usual]. However, Anthony’s take is similar to the ‘sophisticated theology’ that I tried to pass off in #69, in that Adam should be understood as ‘humans’ and then all of the other minor details like sin, souls, etc. naturally fall into place :-)

      • articulett
        Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        Yes, we should ask Anthony which of the above stories aligns most closely with his beliefs on the subject.

        Remember the rules of the game– you can’t have Jesus dying for an allegory or it opens up the question whether Jesus-god is an allegory too.

        The evidence is conclusive– the earth is not young and we did not descend from a single pair of humans (Unless god/Satan/Xenu is a trickster or we’re in a matrix, etc.)

        Our last common female human ancestor lived tens of thousands of years before our last common male ancestor. There is no literal Adam and Eve. So who were the first people with souls that could suffer forever? Who were the were the “original sinners” that Jesus is said to die for? Who are the people responsible for making the rest of humanity have to have faith –lest they suffer forever? (according to the Bible) When did they live and what made them different from all the other people around at the same time?

        • Posted June 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t had the time to look them all over, but I’ll peruse some of them tomorrow :)

          One minor point, and one that Ben didn’t seem to ken at the moment, for which I would blame my clarity (or lack thereof) and not his or your ability to understand :) – Jesus wouldn’t be dying for an allegory. Jesus would be dying for a reality which is defined by an allegory for lack of a more sophisticated means of relating the concept that man is born fallen… Well, more on that tomorrow, as well as delving into Ben’s responses, as I don’t want to leave that hanging. Cheers all :)

          • articulett
            Posted June 4, 2011 at 12:00 am | Permalink

            Okay, thanks.

            And could you tell us what bothered you most about Ben’s interpretation?

            You are a great sport!

      • Posted June 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for understanding. I enjoy Ben’s input, but it seems to me he’s missed the point, which was to create a Christian-palatable interpretation that did not deny the genetic science as we know it. Maybe tomorrow we can have a little fun and explore some of the details, as it’s great exercise, plus it’s just the friendly thing to do. But it’s late, and I don’t think I’ve the energy at the moment.

        • Posted June 4, 2011 at 5:59 am | Permalink

          I enjoy Ben’s input, but it seems to me he’s missed the point, which was to create a Christian-palatable interpretation that did not deny the genetic science as we know it.

          Eh, that’s not quite the point. Quoting from Jerry:

          No matter what those fine theological minds come up with, it will never be widely accepted among evangelical Christians. A literal Adam and Eve is an item too important to be seen as a metaphor, for it’s a bedrock of Christian faith.

          [...]

          What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

          You cannot answer that these issues are irreconcilable; remember, you’re being a theologian who is trying to help the Christians, and so have to propose a solution that sounds superficially plausible.

          Get it?

          Literal Adam and Eve, not metaphorical and / or allegorical. Reconciled with the genetic facts in a way that Evangelicals might find palatable, in language that they themselves might use.

          You know? What BioLogos thinks its whole mission is?

          That you yourself agree with us that Genesis is a faery tale is irrelevant; you’re one of those liberal Christians who already pays lip service to the Theory of Evolution. You’re not part of BioLogos’s target audience or the target of Jerry’s challenge. Indeed, once you start considering large swaths of critical foundational portions of the Christian canon as mythological fantasies, you’re only a hop skip and a jump from Dawkins’s own position as a “cultural Christian.”

          The exercise here is to (perhaps snarkily) “help” those who haven’t grown up past being afraid of the monsters under the bed to hold tight to their cherished fantasies while giving them a plausible-sounding way to vaguely acknowledge that light switches are more a manifestation of electronics than sorcery.

          None of us seriously thinks that this is anything but an exercise in mythmaking; if we did, we’d all be Christians swimming in Templeton money! The point isn’t to actually solve the problem; that’s just silly — as silly as thinking that a recently-resurrected zombie would get a kick out of ordering one of his thralls to fondle his intestines through his gaping chest wound with an excuse about proving that he’s really a zombie.

          No, the point is to predict (and perhaps preempt) what those wacky loons will come up with next.

          Cheers,

          b&

  85. Miles
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    The rate of mutation was higher in the past. This explains both how there is too much mutation to have happened in the given time frame by current rates, and it explains how Adam and Noah and Methuselah et al lived so long, but then expected lifespan plummeted when nasty deletrious mutations peaked and lifespan stabilized when mutations decreased. Cause everybody knows mutations are bad.

    Or the devil did it.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      Why not gremlins? Or Xenu? Or one of those lesser gods that the 3-in-1 Jesus-god said we shall not have before him?

  86. Fraser H
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    When referring to Adam as the first man, we are referring to the fact that all men today can trace themselves to Adam, and a similar situation regarding women and Eve. However, it is obvious that Eve had to have her own “Adam”, and Adam his own “Eve”. Original sin is the reason why Eve’s “Adam” is not the genetic ancestor of all humans. The ineffable nature of god, and a woman’s frailties, caused Eve’s infidelity to Adam, thus sinning against God’s command. This infidelity is why Eve’s “Adam” is no longer represented in the genetic lineage. There was a real Adam and Eve, 140,000 years ago. But the imposition of sin into this world explains the divergence with the scientific evidence.

    Ok, so I got misogyny, condescension and ineffable in there. I failed to use metaphor, which probably counts against me. I submit this paragraph of outrageously burning stupid to the competition. I also believe that you should send me a copy of WEIT in any case as compensation for the trauma I just experienced trying to reason like a theologian. I think I need to throw out part of my brain.

    • marcello
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      You seem to imply that Eve mixed up with lots of beastly, non-human beings before some of her descendants started to mate with Adam’s descendants only. This suggests sexual selection in favor of Adam’s descendants. And, perhaps unexpectedtly, it provides a solution which does not attribute that perverted sexual behavior to Eve. Indeed, since sexual selection on the Y chromosome goes against the increase of male-only genetic diversity, one can mistakenly conclude that the most recent common ancestor of all males is closer to us than he actually was. (The bible obviously hints at this explanation with its many references to male polygamy)

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      A bit of a martyr complex, buddy… maybe the religious stuff is wearing off on you.

      Don’t you think others have suffered as much as you trying to get it all to make sense.

      But (for the record) I like your story. U can haz ciberr kissiz xoxoxox

  87. Sastra
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?

    I haven’t read all the other entries, but here is mine:

    Evolution occurred, exactly as scientists claim. However, Adam and Eve were not homo sapiens: they were a different species, specially created. When their son Cain managed to nevertheless mate with a human, a dominant gene with a special “sin” trait was quickly passed throughout the human species. It acted like a virus.

    It is possible that one day this gene will be found. It is also possible that it did not pass through the entire species, and this explains why Christianity isn’t accepted by so much of the world’s population: these people are without the sin trait, and thus don’t feel the need for salvation.

    However, along with the trait for sin comes a direct descent from the hand of God. The descendents of Adam and Eve have all chosen to become or remain Christians, because they can sense both their state of sin, and the small remaining trace of their special creation by God.

    • articulett
      Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      I like it… I think “sin” and “soul” are linked. I think I’m without either genes so I don’t have to worry about trying to reconcile faith stories with facts. I don’t have an immortal soul that can suffer forever for not believing in the right thing.

      Lucky me!

  88. Phosphorus99
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Could the concept that the information technology which,at least in part, defines living organisms arose from
    the laws of physics and chemistry modified by the influence of natural selection be shown to be as ridiculous as the phlogiston theory.

  89. Deepak Shetty
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Adam and Eve were banished from Eden. After which Adam/Eve mated with ancestors of primates who at that time were a close enough genetic match. Only those offspring who themselves mated with kane and abel and carried on eventually evolved into what we now know as humans (and because adam’s and eve’s genes were directly created by God they eventually overrode all the primate genes so that about 10000 years ago there is no genetic difference between adam/eve and humans.

  90. Sam
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    All the problems with the Adam and Eve story in Gen 2 are resolved and can be also acceptable to science if one realizes that the original humans were created LONG before Adam.

    The First creation in Gen 1 is the creation of the ancestors of all humanity EXCEPT the Jews. Adam and Eve of Gen 2 are the ancestors of the Jews. From them came Abraham and Israel, Moses and Jesus.

    Thus Adam was created 6000 years ago is OK with science….. since it is only Adam not humanity….humanity was created long before that according to Gen 1.

    The flood and 8 people is only an allegory to the bottle neck as far as Jews are concerned not all humanity.

    Original sin only applies as far as the people of Israel are concerned and whoever wants to hang on to their shirttails in HOPING for YHWH’s love or attention.

    The rest of humanity has always from the start been left alone and YHWH never bothered them or with them. They were there only as EXTRAS in the cosmic MOVIE.

    Europeans who have been sold on Jesus are totally DECEIVED by PAUL. According to Jesus himself (Mathew 15:21-28) he only ever cared to “save” the “lost sheep of Israel” not the gentiles. Jesus’ disdain to “gentiles” is strewn all over the New Testament (e.g. Matthew 5:47, 6:7, 6: 32, 10:5 , 18:17 just to mention a few).

    So all this science stuff is OK and is not in any way contradictory to the Bible. The Bible is only about the descendants of Adam who are the Jews but not the rest of humanity of whom Cain was afraid when YHWH condemned him to roam the earth Gen 4.

  91. Nick
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Sadly, one often encounters ‘esteemed’ members of the so-called ‘scientific community’, demanding that the faithful answer to scientific concepts such as ‘genetic’ and ‘reconciliation’. Prof. Coyne’s challenge is as unoriginal as it is banal. 

    However, as modern, sophisticated theologians have been aware of for some time, to speak of ‘genetic facts’, and other such scientific buzzwords, arrogantly assumes that there are indeed facts of the matter to argue! It is not uncommon for ‘scientists’ to commit such ontological fallacies. 

    One wonders why Prof. Coyne has not demanded a reconciliation of the story of Adam and Eve to ‘phrenological’ facts, or to the ‘fact’ of alchemy! This is of course, until one remembers that these ‘scientific’ dogmas (which is surely what they were), were discredited long ago!

    So, let Mr. Coyne and his army of militant atheists demand ‘reconciliations’ to non-existent ‘facts’ (phrenology indeed – what was he thinking!). The discerning, educated, faithful community that I am pleased to be a part of is too smart to play that game. 

    • Nick
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Oh, and I’m aware that the above post doesn’t fit the criteria of the competition, but I couldn’t help myself.

      • GM
        Posted June 4, 2011 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        So that means it wasn’t serious…

        Ah, caught off guard by Poe’s law once again :(

    • GM
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      Wow! Simply wow…

      Somewhere above in that thread, Galileo was mentioned. Were the scientific facts in that case just “buzzwords” given that the Church itself finally admitted it was wrong (even if it was almost 4 centuries later)?

      And does it mean that you think that all scientific facts that contradict the Bible story must be wrong? There are plenty of counterexamples that are quite hard to argue against….

      • Posted June 4, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

        Woah, there, cowboy! This is a thread explicitly for Poes.

        Nick’s offered up a very plausible and predictable Christian response for his entry in Jerry’s competition, even if it’ll get automatically disqualified for not adhering to the criteria.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • GM
          Posted June 4, 2011 at 6:22 am | Permalink

          Yes, I realized it after I posted…

      • Nick
        Posted June 4, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Wow, my first attempt at a Poe and it’s worked a treat! Looks like watching those William Craig debates has come in useful for something after all.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Bravo! Great theology-speak! (I esp. liked the way you threw in “ontological fallacies.”)

      As to not meeting the criteria of the original question–since when have theologists (or politicians) worried about that?

  92. Andrei
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Here is my entry.

    — Exegesis of Genes and Genesis —

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, then He commanded the water and the earth to bring forth the vegetation and all kinds of living creatures, this way starting the evolution. After a while the early hominids evolved, including the proto-humans. Then God created a garden in the land of Eden, and a man in his image. He made man out of clay or dirt, which means He took all the best genes from the population of proto-humans, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. He also created a female human out of the same genetic material, and so the first pair of true humans were made, Adam and Eve. Their genetic make-up was perfectly compatible with the one of proto-humans, but the selection of the best genes determined their extended longevity and fertility. They also received immortal soul, which made them the first earthly creatures capable of direct communication with God. The Tree of Knowledge was intended to provide them with the knowledge of right and wrong and make them God-like creatures. Its fruits were intended to be consumed after the humans multiply enough, but Adam and Eve were too hasty, and after they ate the fruits, the only choice was to let them and their descendants to breed with the proto-humans. It was relatively easy since their lifespan was very long and they were fertile all the time due to the perfect choice of genes. However the genetics of proto-humans was not so perfect, and eventually their descendants lost the ability to communicate with God. Besides, they started to interbreed with other hominid species such as Neanderthals. At this time God decided to make the Great Flood to get rid of the unwanted genetic pollution. The survivors all had immortal souls but only few of them were capable of communicating with God directly. The Resurrection of Jesus finally opened a way for the spiritual rebirth and restoration of the direct link between God and humans.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Great title!

  93. Posted June 4, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Here’s a shot at your competition. Hopefully it makes as little sense as most theology, although I tried to make it *sound* plausible for those eager to find a reconciliation. It can be called “trangressional declination” if that’s suitably over-the-top. :)


    As St. Paul explains, “through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:12). Though man was created in the perfect image of God, Adam’s transgression removed humanity from the eminence of God’s grace and introduced sickness, disease, and death into the genetic material, causing a rapid decline in genetic quality. And as “the Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20), God introduced Mosaic Law for the express purpose of increasing human transgression so that humanity’s chance to receive His grace would increase. But this increase in transgression further contributed to the decline of human genetic material. It is because of the genetic degradation experienced by humans since original sin until the present day that our modern genome appears inconsistent with the history of our ancient ancestors. God’s gift of expedited justification necessarily entailed the transgressional declination.

    P.S. The scary thing is that whichever entry wins might actually be used by some fundies to make a case for Adam and Eve! Of course, what a great thing it would be to point out that they had to resort to getting it from atheists who were *forcing* a solution out of thin air!

  94. Phosphorus99
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Nick.

    The paragraph competition is likely to be an exercise in futility. Not because all scientific facts are invalid or will become invalid but because life is an information based technology and the Darwinian / reductionist construct on life is not consistent with present understanding about semantic / prescriptive information. Living organisms are distinguished from inanimate objects by the presence of prescriptive information. This suggests that the Darwinian / reductionist construct on life is likely to have the same future as the phlogiston theory.

    • Tulse
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Living organisms are distinguished from inanimate objects by the presence of prescriptive information.

      Isn’t DNA all about information? What do you mean by including the specifier “prescriptive”?

    • phalacrocorax
      Posted June 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      In this case, what you’re saying is equivalent to “I totally agree with this article from The Onion”. Nick’s comment was a parody of your kind of reasoning.

  95. Phosphorus99
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    - Excerpts From the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy –

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-biological/

    For many biologists, the most basic processes characteristic of living organisms should now be understood in terms of the expression of information, the execution of programs, and the interpretation of codes.

    There is no consensus about the status of these ideas, and the result has been a growing foundational discussion within biology and the philosophy of biology. Some have hailed the employment of informational concepts as a crucial advance (Williams 1992). Others have seen almost every biological application of informational concepts as a serious error, one that distorts our understanding and contributes to lingering genetic determinism (Francis 2003).

    One possibility is to argue that genes and other biological structures literally carry semantic information, and their informational character explains the distinctive role of these structures in biological processes. Another possibility is to treat the appeal to meaning and information as an analogical one. Here the idea is that language, coding systems, computer programs and other paradigmatically information-exploiting systems can serve as useful models for biological systems. If we take this second route, our task then is to identify the similarities between the cases of semantic phenomena used as models and the biological systems we seek to understand, and to show how those similarities are informative. If we think of genes or cells as literally carrying semantic information, our problem changes. Paradigm cases of structures with semantic information — pictures, sentences, programs — are built by the thought and action of intelligent agents. So we need to show how genes and cells — neither intelligent systems themselves nor the products of intelligence — can carry semantic information, and how the information they carry explains their biological role.

    • Posted June 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      So we need to show how genes and cells — neither intelligent systems themselves nor the products of intelligence — can carry semantic information, and how the information they carry explains their biological role.

      And philosophers wonder why scientists think philosophy is useless.

      You see, “information” doesn’t exist as some sort of platonic ideal. We have computation and communication, both of which occur as part of purely physical processes. Any concept of information arises as an emergent phenomenon from computation and communication, and the only real purpose it serves is as a conceptual model to help humans get a sense for what’s going on.

      Ultimately, there’s no information (in the sense you’re thinking of) in the genome — or anywhere else in the universe, for that matter. All there is are complex physical and chemical reactions that result very predictably from the initial conditions in exactly the way current theory predicts. It’s just that DNA crystals are a bit more elaborate than water crystals (snowflakes) which are, in turn, more elaborate than carbon crystals (diamonds).

      Your complaint really only makes sense with the presupposition of dualism…and, since dualism violates the laws of thermodynamics, I don’t think we need worry about it overly much.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Phosphorus99
        Posted June 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        What are your thoughts on the following by David L Abel. Please see also ” The Cybernetic Cut” by the same author :

        http://www.scitopics.com/The_Cybernetic_Cut.html

        http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:A3Xn3dFWMw4J:www.benthamscience.com/open/tocsj/articles/V002/252TOCSJ.pdf+the+cybernetic+cut&hl=en&gl=jm&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESglQhy3IcLnC76sjp_5imNAQQE0L6HGXHBhj6NwJRqQ8EgvOY0N9nfn7eJIK5JOJvkwHXgCcrMoET_M3Whwn77Jx8JxFTyGDpsdK4zJL8AMzaVn6gf8zvdD0u3pUzYzAwERIDw1&sig=AHIEtbT6ufwKY99lqHWGdUew7X1hmibG9g&pli=1

        Semantic (meaningful) information has two subsets: Descriptive and Prescriptive. Prescriptive Information (PI) instructs or directly produces nontrivial formal function (Abel, 2009a). Merely describing a computer chip does not prescribe or produce that chip. Thus mere description needs to be dichotomized from prescription. Computationally halting cybernetic programs and linguistic instructions are examples of Prescriptive Information. “Prescriptive Information (PI) either tells us what choices to make, or it is a recordation of wise choices already made.” (Abel, 2009a)
        Not even Descriptive semantic information is achievable by inanimate physicodynamics (Pattee, 1972, 1995, 2001).

        scientific literature.

        • Tulse
          Posted June 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

          How is genetic information not reasonably described as “instructions”?

          • Phosphorus99
            Posted June 5, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

            Genetic information is regarded (by some) as instructions but not information as the concept of information implies purpose which , philosophically, is not allowed in science.
            This position is likely to come under increasing scrutiny however. The launch of the Journal of Biosemiotics by Springer is instructive :

            http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/evolutionary+%26+developmental+biology/journal/12304

            * Traces the rapid growth and evolution of the discipline of biosemiotics
            * Presents peer-reviewed research into signs, communications and information in living organisms
            * Bridges biology, philosophy, linguistics and communications

            The journal Biosemiotics provides a platform for exceptional peer-reviewed papers that is as broad as the rapidly growing discipline for which it is named. Its coverage spans a range of disciplines, bridging biology, philosophy, linguistics and the communication sciences.

            Conceived in the insight that the genetic code is a language as old as life itself, and grounded in the study of signs, of communication and of information in organisms, biosemiotics is evolving today toward the challenge of naturalizing not only biological information but also biological meaning, in the belief that signs and codes are fundamental components of the living world.

            Biosemiotics offers an advanced forum for the exchange of ideas on this exciting new area of biological theory. It serves a readership comprising biosemioticians themselves, along with interested researchers in disciplines from social semiotics to community ecology, from communication science to artificial intelligence.

            • Tulse
              Posted June 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

              Genetic information is regarded (by some) as instructions but not information

              So instructions are not information? Didn’t you just write “genetic information“?

              I honestly don’t understand your broader point here.

        • Posted June 5, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

          What I think is that it’s meaningless philosobabble by somebody who’s overthinking what’s going on.

          Even when you do have a computer chip, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an elaborate silicon crystal.

          And even when you do hook it into the motherboard and assemble the rest of the computer, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an interesting sculpture.

          And even when you do plug it into the wall and flip the switch, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an elaborate heatsink.

          And even when you do see these words appear on the screen, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an arrangement of colored lights.

          And even when you do read these words, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is a change in the biochemical composition in your brain.

          Even Shannon’s laws don’t set out limits on data transfer; rather, they set out limits on the physics of the propagation of changes in matter and energy. There are limits to how fast a wave can propagate that depend on the characteristics of the medium it’s traveling in; similarly, there are limits on how that wave can be modulated as it’s traveling. That’s it.

          All this nonsense about specifically prescribed infomogrification becomes meaningless the instant you step out of Plato’s Cave and actually have a look at what’s going on.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Phosphorus99
            Posted June 5, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

            “And even when you do see these words appear on the screen, you still don’t have any information; all you’ve got is an arrangement of colored lights”.

            Does the arrangement of colored light have significance,does it transfer meaning and if so how does it do so and what should we call this phenomenon ?

            • articulett
              Posted June 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

              It transfers meaning to material brains that evolved to extract information from some kinds of meaning.

              If accepted that souls are as much an illusion as gypsy curses would you be pursuing this obfuscating path of discussion– or is this your way of keeping the faith that you think is necessary for salvation alive?

            • articulett
              Posted June 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

              Out of curiosity, is this how YOU rectify the bible with the genetics (which you don’t seem to have a very good grasp of)? Is god the programmer of DNA? What do you think of the broken vitamin C gene we share with other apes? Why would god put broken code in the genome– or am I getting too off topic here?

              From my perspective, your writing seems like gobbledy gook that helps you keep the faith; are other theists taking it seriously? How about anyone who doesn’t believe in immortal souls?

              Is there a way for you to succinctly state how it rectifies your faith with the facts or not?

              • Phosphorus99
                Posted June 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

                To the best of my knowledge the bible says nothing about genetics.
                In my understanding the incident about Jacob and the flock are as much about genetics as the incident with Joshua and the sun standing still is about cosmology.
                For the sake of the discussion immortal souls are not relevant. Seeking truth does not and ought not to have a pre-determined end.
                I am not a geneticist but a medical doctor,a radiologist to be precise. I am fascinated by “living things / Life” which I believe are the most complex things in the known universe.

                Is it reasonable to believe that if the information technology paradigm of life is true it rings a death knell for the Darwinian paradigm ?
                What are your views on the concept of information in living organisms.

                Why is there no consensus on this in the biological community ?

                Is there a better place to raise these issues than on this blog ?

                http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-biological/

                For many biologists, the most basic processes characteristic of living organisms should now be understood in terms of the expression of information, the execution of programs, and the interpretation of codes.

                There is no consensus about the status of these ideas, and the result has been a growing foundational discussion within biology and the philosophy of biology.

              • Tulse
                Posted June 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

                In my understanding the incident about Jacob and the flock are as much about genetics as the incident with Joshua and the sun standing still is about cosmology.

                The point of bringing up Jacob is that in this incident the Bible does very clearly lay out a mechanism for inheritance, one that is clearly wrong.

              • articulett
                Posted June 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

                I have a Masters in Genetics, and I don’t understand what you are talking about. The genetic evidence more than confirms evolution in stunning detail.

                I don’t have to worry about souls or bible stories, so I’m free to follow the evidence. But this is a blog about people who believe in Jesus– what do they tell themselves Jesus died for since clearly we did not all descend from a single couple… none of the evidence support the genesis account of the bible. Jesus is supposed to have died for original sin. Christians imagine themselves saved for believing this, right– and damned for disbelief. So how are Christians who understand the evolutionary facts going to rectify those facts so that there are “original sinners” who committed “original sin” making god create a hell that Jesus-god is supposed to save believing Christians from.

                That’s the topic of this post. Your confusion about genetics really isn’t. But I bet you can (have) found a welcome audience among those eager to disbelieve in the science showing that evolution is a fact.

                The evidence for evolution just keeps piling on– even as people like you remain ignorant… just like it does for heliocentrism, germ theory, and atomic theory. Your confusion about the issue doesn’t change the facts.

                Francis Collins understands the facts. How is he going to rectify those facts with his beliefs about original sin?

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:05 am | Permalink

            I didn’t think it possible, but you’ve outdone yourself in this exchange, Ben. Bravo–and thanks. I needed that clarity.

            • Posted June 6, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

              Thanks.

              I actually owe a great deal of that explanation to a tangential discussion here some weeks ago. I had had it in my head that there ought to be some sort of direct one-to-one relationship between matter / energy and information…say, a minimum sub-microscopic atomic configuration that would represent something akin to a fundamental bit. Then somebody pointed me in a direction that made me realize just how silly that was: you could have the sun blink in morse code at a frequency of one hour, and there still wouldn’t be any information contained therein if you didn’t understand morse code. Or, if you did understand morse code, but the transmission were encrypted and the encryption key had been destroyed, there still wouldn’t be any information.

              That was the point where I realized that there simply isn’t any such thing as “information” in the abstract sense…only computation and communication. And both are most firmly grounded in physics — they’re just special cases of atoms and photons getting jiggled around in particular ways.

              Cheers,

              b&

  96. phalacrocorax
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I won’t post a link here, but people at Uncommon Descent are already copying your ideas. Apparently, they approve of it:

    And I have to say, some of the answers are quite good.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 5, 2011 at 12:32 am | Permalink

      OMG, that’s unbelievable! When the author got to the part about “not caring where [his] ideas came from” as long as they were good ideas, I just about died. Folks, go have a look. Opening graf of post:

      Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Tyro, Drew, Ray Moscow, Andrei, Dr. I. Needtob Athe, Anatman, Chris McNeely, Marcello, John Salerno, Miles, Mark, TheShortEaredOwl, Solomon Wagstaff, Evan Guiney, KP, Sven DiMilo, Patrick, Kevin Anthoney, Ftfkdad, Happy Cat, Prof. Pedant, Ben Goren, Qbsmd and Tim Byron. Most of these guys are card-carrying atheists, but by the time you’ve finished reading this post, you’ll absolutely love them.

      • Posted June 5, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        Damn, that’s one dain-brammaged puppy.

        For me, the money quote is this:

        Funnily enough, it turns out that atheists can do a better job of defending key religious doctrines than religious believers themselves.

        Well, duh. For us, it’s just fanfiction, and it’s already been well established that we know the canon better than those who think it’s real.

        Who would you expect to do a better job at writing a Star Trek short story: the physics lecturer who ate it up as a kid, or the nutjob who’s looking up all the Cochranes in the phone book to see if they’ll finish the Warp drive before the Vulcans arrive?

        That he could write that sentence and not realize what it says about the relative intellectual positions…well, come to think of it, that’s about par for the course.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • articulett
          Posted June 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Dembski says: “many Intelligent Design proponents are religious believers, and this post is on a topic that will interest those who are.”

          I’d say ALL intelligent design proponents fail to understand evolution because they imagine themselves special or saved for believing the creation stories of their religions. If they understood that immortal souls were as much an illusion as gypsy curses, then I don’t think any of them would be doing the mental gymnastics required to claim that that life on our planet was “designed” by an invisible 3-in-1 deity who formed the universe with human life in mind.

          I think it’s funny how they talk as if god and souls were facts. It’s as if they understand that if they didn’t talk this way, these things would no longer exist– that they exist only in the material brains of the indoctrinated.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

            I know! Do you think if we challenged Dembski to come up with “ID proponents” who are not “religious believers” he could produce anyone? (Well, I suppose we’d have to rule out any supernaturalists–there would no doubt be some woo-ists who claim not to be godbots…)

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

          For me, the money quote is this:

          Funnily enough,…

          Oh, indeed. That sentence stood out in blinking neon lights. SPOING! There goes the ol’ irony meter.

      • articulett
        Posted June 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        For many of us, I’m sure the expertise comes from years of trying to get the facts to fit with faith in our own minds–

        If you believe in an immortal soul that can suffer forever for lack of faith– then you spend a lot of time shoring up whatever faith you imagine will save you.

        I think those mentioned should pat themselves on the back for lessening the fear of hell for the faithful. It’s a hard job trying to continually get oneself to believe things that have no bearing on reality.

        As a bonus, more theists stuck in the quagmire of faith will read this blog, and a few seeds of critical thought might be planted so that some will find their way out of the mental miasma.

        All in all a big win for everyone! Congratz to those mentioned. I’d be jealous if I’d contributed a “reconciliation”, but so many here did such a great job that I cede before trying.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

          …more theists stuck in the quagmire of faith will read this blog, and a few seeds of critical thought might be planted…

          Optimism–I like it! :D

          …but so many here did such a great job that I cede before trying.

          Ditto. I knew that would be the case before I even started to read the entries.

    • Posted June 6, 2011 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      I was about to post that link, but I see several have already seen it.

      We’re (in)famous! I suppose we’ll see our own joke arguments coming back as actual pro-ID/creationist debate positions now.

    • Posted June 6, 2011 at 2:34 am | Permalink

      OK, here’s the link: http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/so-you-dont-believe-in-adam-and-eve-ask-an-atheist-for-advice/

      (JAC, if this is against WEIT rules, sorry — and please delete.)

    • Andrei
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Maybe it’s time for atheists to take over the field of theology the same way they did with science…

  97. Curt
    Posted June 5, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The correct way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts is to utilize the correct understanding of how genetic information is acquired and passed on.

    Fortunately, the Bible provides a clear lesson on this very topic – see Genesis 30:25-43. In this story we learn that the current scientific understanding of inheritance is wrong and that the correct mechanism for inheritance is “The Inheritance of Observed Properties”, or IhOP. In short, IhOP is the theory that organisms acquire the properties of objects that are observed during mating. Jacob utilized IhOP to manipulate the genetics of Laben’s goat herd by placing spotted sticks in the view of the mating goats which resulted in the birth of spotted goats.
    Understanding IhOP solves the apparent riddles of genetics and Genesis by showing that the genetic diversity in the human genome is not a result of gradual mutations. Instead, the diversity exists because different human populations spread across the globe (both during the initial dispersal from the Garden of Eden and after the divinely forced dispersal at the tower of Babel) and had sex in different environments which caused different modifications to the genome. For example, Nordic populations had sex in snowy areas which resulted in a fair/blond complexion, Asian populations had sex in the presence of rice grains which resulted in narrow eyes, African populations had sex almost exclusively at night due to excessive day time temperatures which resulted in dark coloration. These confirming examples could be multiplied almost endlessly.

    Once again, we see that the Bible itself contains the key to unlocking the “mysteries” that are foisted upon it by the claims of science. Utilizing the direct teaching of scripture (IhOP) shows that no such “mystery” exist.

  98. Dave
    Posted June 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Catholic doctrine on the issue can be found here:

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp

  99. Phosphorus99
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    Why Machine-Information Metaphors are Bad for Science and Science Education
    Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry
    Science and Education, Online October 2010 | DOI: 10.1007/s11191-010-9267-6

    Abstract: Genes are often described by biologists using metaphors derived from computational science: they are thought of as carriers of information, as being the equivalent of “blueprints” for the construction of organisms. Likewise, cells are often characterized as “factories” and organisms themselves become analogous to machines. Accordingly, when the human genome project was initially announced, the promise was that we would soon know how a human being is made, just as we know how to make airplanes and buildings. Importantly, modern proponents of Intelligent Design, the latest version of creationism, have exploited biologists’ use of the language of information and blueprints to make their spurious case, based on pseudoscientific concepts such as “irreducible complexity” and on flawed analogies between living cells and mechanical factories. However, the living organism = machine analogy was criticized already by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. In line with Hume’s criticism, over the past several years a more nuanced and accurate understanding of what genes are and how they operate has emerged, ironically in part from the work of computational scientists who take biology, and in particular developmental biology, more seriously than some biologists seem to do. In this article we connect Hume’s original criticism of the living organism = machine analogy with the modern ID movement, and illustrate how the use of misleading and outdated metaphors in science can play into the hands of pseudoscientists. Thus, we argue that dropping the blueprint and similar metaphors will improve both the science of biology and its understanding by the general public.

    • Tulse
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Care to actually summarize the paper’s argument? Or just Hume’s criticism? I’m not impressed by the mere citation of papers (or even the provision of an abstract) — if you want to engage in debate, you need to be the one presenting the arguments (from whatever source you think appropriate).

      And it might be helpful to confine this discussion to a single thread here, rather than always creating top-level comments.

      And I’d find it very beneficial if you could explain again why you are so focused on “information” — what do you think this issue demonstrates? Are you arguing that only the Christian god can provide meaning, or is there something else you think is going on?

      • Phosphorus99
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        I am on a singular thread.
        It is the concept of life as
        some type of information technology.

        Is this a reality or is it an illusion ?

        How do we determine which paradigm is correct?

        If life is in fact some type of information technology what are the implications for the blogs on this page ?

        Do you think that the journal of Biosemiotics is a worthwhile enterprise?

        • Tulse
          Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

          If life is in fact some type of information technology what are the implications for the blogs on this page ?

          First, explain why DNA is not an example of information (or, if it is, why you think it did not come about naturally).

          • Phosphorus99
            Posted June 6, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

            I give no personal opinion. As a radiologist I do not have the scientific background to do so. I am asking questions based on perusal of the literature.

            I am not claiming that DNA is not an example of information as we understand the concept.
            I am citing literature which indicate that some biologists and philosophers of biology insist that DNA should not be regarded as information. This seems to be Pigliucci’s position and is this position is referred to in the article in the Stanford Enclyclopedia. Persons like Pigliucci think that using the information concept even as a metaphor is not only wrong it is bad for science.

            Other scientists seem to disagree with Pigliucci, also cited in the article in the Stanford Enclyclopedia. These individuals include David Abel and the persons behind the Journal Biosemiotics.

            My impression is that if the information technology concept is correct, statements such as :

            Not even Descriptive semantic information is achievable by inanimate physicodynamics (Pattee, 1972, 1995, 2001). (from Abel)

            and

            If we think of genes or cells as literally carrying semantic information, our problem changes. Paradigm cases of structures with semantic information — pictures, sentences, programs — are built by the thought and action of intelligent agents.

            (the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy)

            make the Darwinian / reductionist construction on Life impossible.

            • Posted June 6, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

              Well, isn’t it obvious, then?

              We know that life exists.

              We know that the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection is the best-evidenced theory in all of science.

              You yourself admit that this semantic genome nonsense you keep citing is incompatible with the previous two facts.

              Even a grade student shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out the answer.

              What’s got you hung up is that you’ve stretched the analogy waaaaaay past the breaking point.

              Are there similarities between genetics and information technology? Obviously, unquestionably.

              Can some of the techniques developed to study the one be usefully applied or adapted to study the other? Sure — happens every day.

              Does the fact that programs (mostly) have programmers mean that genomes need geneticists? Well, now you’ve gone right off the deep end. You’ve built a sky castle out of moonbeams and faery wings, completely unsupported by any actual real-world evidence.

              I’ll give you a hint: anybody who claims that the ToE is bunk is exactly as much of a crank as anybody who claims to have a perpetual motion machine and — with a bit of seed money — is ready to revolutionize the world.

              If you don’t know why the ToE is on such solid ground, you need to read both Jerry’s book and Dawkins’s latest masterpiece. Or, just take an evolutionary biology class at your local institution of higher education.

              Cheers,

              b&

            • Posted June 6, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

              Information theory does not apply well to the TOE. There’s no sender, no original message, no signal, no transponder, no intended receipient, etc. The basic mistake is assuming there is some sort of signal that someone is trying to transmit accurately, but life doesn’t work that way.

              True, DNA can be represented by information, but it seems to me (no expert) that variations in the genome, e.g. those caused by mutations, would actually increase the total information in that genome, if by “information” we mean a digital representation of all its variants.

              • Phosphorus99
                Posted June 6, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

                I agree that mutations would alter the information but that is hardly the challenge that the reductionist’s theory faces. As I understand it
                the challenge ,from the point of view of information theory, is the initiation of the language within which the mutations must work .

                Please see David Abel at :

                http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:A3Xn3dFWMw4J:www.benthamscience.com/open/tocsj/articles/V002/252TOCSJ.pdf+The+Cybernetic+Cut&hl=en&gl=jm&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESglQhy3IcLnC76sjp_5imNAQQE0L6HGXHBhj6NwJRqQ8EgvOY0N9nfn7eJIK5JOJvkwHXgCcrMoET_M3Whwn77Jx8JxFTyGDpsdK4zJL8AMzaVn6gf8zvdD0u3pUzYzAwERIDw1&sig=AHIEtbRwj0pcWq3sHSk_wo1ep4yGCYn3Dw

                CONCLUSIONS
                The Cybernetic Cut is a fundamental divide of reality.
                The law-like orderliness of nature along with the seeming
                chance contingency of heat agitation and statistical quantum
                reality lie on one side of the divide. Choice contingency lies
                on the other. Choice contingency is the ability to choose with
                intent what aspects of being will be preferred, pursued, selected,
                rearranged, integrated, organized, preserved, and
                used. Chance and necessity cannot generate choice contingency.
                The Cybernetic Cut can only be traversed through
                nonphysical, formal, purposeful, decision-node choicecommitments.
                Such choices are instantiated into physicality
                using dynamically-inert configurable switch-settings. Most
                of what is really interesting in presumed objective reality
                requires traversing the Cybernetic Cut, not just the epistemic
                cut of Pattee, to generate and/or explain.
                Physicodynamics possesses no ability to choose with
                intent at decision nodes, to assign meaning to symbols, to
                ascribe value to functionality, or to pursue utility. Infodynamics
                (trying to reduce information solely to physicality)
                provides no mechanism for the spontaneous generation of
                prescriptive information, including genetic instructions required
                for metabolic organization and life. Algorithmic optimization
                requires traversing the Cybernetic Cut. Physicalism
                provides no plausible explanation for, and no empirical
                evidence of, unaided self-organization [46] despite use of the
                term in hundreds of published papers.

              • Diane G.
                Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

                LOL! OK, Alan*, out from behind the curtain. You had us going there for a while…

                (*Sokal)

                (Reply to P99’s Abel abstract posted above…)

              • Tulse
                Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

                As I understand it
                the challenge ,from the point of view of information theory, is the initiation of the language within which the mutations must work .

                Hey Phosphy, try this.

  100. Phosphorus99
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    “We know that the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection is the best-evidenced theory in all of science”.

    Why then does Allen MacNeill of the Evolution List claim :

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2009/11/modern-synthesis-is-dead-long-live.html

    It has been almost exactly a century and a half since Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published, and half a century since the conference at the University of Chicago where the “triumph” of the “modern evolutionary synthesis” was celebrated. So, isn’t it a little odd that some well-respected scientists and historians of science are proclaiming in this celebratory year that the modern evolutionary synthesis is dead?

    For example, Eugene Koonin, senior investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, and National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, has published two essays on the current status of the “modern evolutionary synthesis”:

    The Origin at 150: Is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight?
    Trends in Genetics, 25(11), November 2009, pp. 473-475.

    Abstract: The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin and the 150th jubilee of the On the Origin of Species could prompt a new look at evolutionary biology. The 1959 Origin centennial was marked by the consolidation of the modern synthesis. The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair. The hallmark of the Darwinian discourse of 2009 is the plurality of evolutionary processes and patterns. Nevertheless, glimpses of a new synthesis might be discernible in emerging universals of evolution.

    “You yourself admit that this semantic genome nonsense you keep citing is incompatible with the previous two facts”.

    I did say that the concepts are incompatible but I did not say that the concept of a ” semantic genome” is nonsense. Rather, I believe that this is what is required to be proven and not assumed.

    • Tulse
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Did you actually read the website you cited? Did you actually read the article you mention? Do you know what they say?

      This quotemining and citation-carousel is getting mighty tiresome. How about actually engaging in argument for a change?

      • Phosphorus99
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        I have and have the items in front

        of me.

        The websites are cited to
        facilitate easy reference to them.

        Please take a look and let us know your thoughts.

        • Posted June 6, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          We’ve told you our thoughts. Repeatedly.

          You’re citing some references with obvious fatal category errors and you’re misrepresenting other references in a way that implies they’re committing those same category errors when in reality the opposite is the case.

          Why don’t you start defending the implications you’re making, rather than trying to get everybody to go on a wild goose chase?

          The purpose of these types of discussions isn’t to line up a bunch of references to support vague assertions; it’s for individuals to discuss topics with each other, in their own words, with no more than the usual occasional short quote or reference for emphasis.

          You’ve yet to write anything in your own words describing why Dumbski’s blatherings about specificationated informationatics shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. What makes you think you don’t deserve to be dismissed out of hand even more readily?

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Phosphorus99
            Posted June 6, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

            As I have said I am a medical doctor, a radiologist with a fascination with living things. I have no scientific training in the biological sciences. I have come across these concepts in my reading (really a hobby)

            Shouldn’t these ideas be ventilated on a Blog called ” Why evolution is true” ?

            • Posted June 6, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

              They’ve been ventilated. Repeatedly.

              If you have something new to add, please add it.

              If you don’t understand why we’ve been dismissing them, ask for clarification on the specifics of what you don’t understand.

              If you disagree with our facts or reasoning, explain your disagreement.

              But your argument-by-quotemining is both tedious and pointless.

              I also have to wonder: how on Earth could you get an MD without having to take (and pass) a fair amount of biology, at least as an undergraduate?

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Phosphorus99
                Posted June 6, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                We will leave it there.

                Cheers

            • Posted June 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

              I thought pre-med students had to take, and pass, a few biology courses.

              • Phosphorus99
                Posted June 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

                Of course I did biology etc up to and through medical school but I speak of post-graduate work and research in biology.

              • Posted June 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

                One doesn’t need a postgraduate background in biology to know that the TOE is not “in crisis” or that information theory is not a valid way to critique the TOE. This is very basic stuff.

  101. markr1957
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Here’s one – god created humankind with a fatal flaw, in that we love sex so much we can’t say no even when we have no ability to feed the offspring.
    To try and fix his screw-up god then invented a whole book of ridiculous superstitious nonsense, in the hope that humankind would spend so much time arguing over how ridiculous the storybook was that they’d forget how good sex is.

    • Sam
      Posted June 23, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      And do not forget KILLING each other over interpretations of nuances of the fables in it that even if they have too much sex the offspring are wiped out anyway to maintain the ecological balance.

  102. Robert MacDonald
    Posted June 9, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Adam and Eve were lovers who ran away, like Michael York and Jenny Agutter in Logan’s Run.

  103. newly enlightened
    Posted June 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    …can someone explain the logic behind the notion that because Adam & Eve are a metaphorical story, that it means there is no such thing as “original sin” and Jesus died for a metaphor?

    If their story is a metaphor, I still see how the concept of “sin” could exist as a “real” thing for humanity (that’s at least what I expect Christians to say at least) and so Jesus died for what Adam and Eve represent, not what actually happened to them.

    I’m not sure if this qualifies as an entry, but that would be my take (as others have stated) to spin it as a metaphor for the metaphysical existence of sin in our lives. The outward expression of “sin” in just the ‘spiritually bad fruit’ produced of our fallen nature…sin itself, like God, extends beyond the material framework we operate in and so no one gives a f##k if it actually happened to two literal people.

    …I appeal to that which can not be (dis)proven.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      “…can someone explain the logic behind the notion that because Adam & Eve are a metaphorical story, that it means there is no such thing as “original sin” and Jesus died for a metaphor? ”

      yes.

      original sin = original sinner.

      otherwise, it wouldn’t be original.

      “The outward expression of “sin” in just the ‘spiritually bad fruit’ produced of our fallen nature”

      who fell first?

      how?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      “God, extends beyond the material framework we operate in”

      and where’s the logic underlying that conclusion?

  104. Daretoask
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    How about this idea: Historical Creationism (from “Genesis Unbound” by John Sailhamer)
    “…Genesis 1 and 2 …both literal and historical. They recount2 great acts of God. In the 1st act, God created the universe we see around us:earth, sun,moon,stars,plants, animals. Biblical record of that act=Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning,God created the heavens and the earth”. We don’t know how long he took, could have been billions of years or far less… The 2nd act starts with Gen 1:2, biblical narrative of God’s preparation of a land (specific area, same land later promised to Abraham, same land given to Israel after exodus from egypt) for the man and woman made in his image, which he would create next. Genesis 2 tells us that God made this man from the soil (2:7), and woman from man’s side (2:22)…making it quite clear that human beings have no biological antecedents…the first man and woman were genetically identical (2:23)(from same first body) When God made the woman, he did not have to breathe into her nostrils the breath of life because she was already alive from the life of the man…” Could this be why we don’t find so-called “different” female genetics till later?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      actually, it rather looks like the female condition is the ancestral one.

      “maleness” is what evolved later.

  105. Mike Benner
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    It occurs to me that the single female supposedly from 140,000 years ago from mitrochondrial dna supposedly could be the physical Eve, and the male of the Y chromosomes from 60,000 to 90,000 years ago might not the physical Adam, but could be the physical Noah.

    Now we’ve got the problem of supposedly thousands of years discrepancies differing with a biblical account of under 1,000 years between Adam and Noah’s flood, but you also have people living very long periods of time compared to now, which if true, meant that there was something different with the genes.

    Of course, a global flood “higher than Mt. Everest” is impossible for many scientific reasons, and if your protocol is that what we see today is pretty much how things were hundreds of thousands of years ago too in terms of atmosphere and topography and isotopic concentrations, the conclusions of a scientific impossibility make sense. However, Mt. Everest is rising (about 2 feet every ten years currently). At its current rate of rising, it would have been at sea level only 145,000 years ago. What if its rate of reaching for the heavens has slowed considerably? Then, maybe only 12,000 years ago, the mighty mountains of the earth we see today were under water or high hills. Possible, no? Hard to change our paradigm, but what is the evidence that tens and hundreds of thousands of years ago there were massive mountains visible? The Andes are rising considerably too, and “scientific” methods indicate that water trapped in higher elevations based on isotopic concentrations were from much lower elevations near sea level. How can this be? Okay, this contradiction doesn’t fit the scientific model, so there must be another explanation, because the biblical explanation must be rejected at all costs and the new and updated method of science invented and accepted. Fine.

    We also have the population bottleneck(s). The author says the facts show a bottleneck in my Noah time period, as time is calculated with so called scientific means. If you are at all even handed in your scientific thinking, then human population doubling say every thousand years (from current data it is growing MUCH faster than that, but we want to leave plenty of room for bottlenecks) in just 40,000 years starting with only two people, you’d have over 1 Trillion (not billion) souls. What evidence is there that so many “bottlenecks” occurred in population growth? Where are all these people and evidence of people who had to have lived to give you all the gene diversity you say is needed? On the one hand you have 10,000 to 15,000 individuals retrospectively predicted from gene studies, but you’ve got no population growth with all these extra bodies around at least 50,000 years ago. Why not hundres of trillions of people then? No room for them? Maybe the doubling time is right, and the estimates are very far off, because an unknown factor relating to how the Earth was long ago is not understood properly today?

    Just as the Catholic Church bigwigs beat up on Galleleo, it is also true that within the last 100 years, scientists have stated that it was impossible for a curve ball to curve, based on their data.

    Now you know nothing of why all these people didn’t procreate effectively, and bottlenecks are readily accepted, but you reject out of hand that a big flood could have wiped them out with just a remnant preserved.

    mb

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      “It occurs to me that the single female supposedly from 140,000 years ago from mitrochondrial dna supposedly could be the physical Eve”

      that’s not what the term “mitochondrial eve” refers to.

      since the rest of your post revolves around a similar misconception, I would suggest fixing that one first, before trying again.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      “scientists have stated that it was impossible for a curve ball to curve”

      next you’ll state that scientists claimed that bumble bees can’t fly?

      never happened.

      stop lying.

      • Mike Benner
        Posted August 30, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        I am not lying. Some scientists are still staying that a curve ball does not break, but curves completely consistently throughout and what the batter sees is merely an optical illusion appearing to be a break to the batter.

        I do not say not to consider physics, or any other branch of science.

        Theoretically, science looks and sounds good, but there are other forces acting on the thrown ball besides gravity from the Earth and initial spin rotation and velocity. Theory does not perfectly transcend or explain physical or spiritual realities.

        Galileo went looking for trouble in leaving his field of expertise as a layman theologically, and there were problems with his theory which his scientific contemporaries did not agree with. Some pretty savvy scientific people actually believe the church had the better science of the day. He believed the Sun was stationary, and everything else revolved around it, no?

        It is my belief that a real person of science realizes his infinite capacity for ignorance, and very finite capacity for thorough understanding, but keeps on trying.

        • Tulse
          Posted August 30, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          Theoretically, science looks and sounds good, but there are other forces acting on the thrown ball besides gravity from the Earth and initial spin rotation and velocity.

          Any non-material forces? Or are you just saying that the physical forces acting on a thrown baseball are complex, and our understanding is currently incomplete but in principle able to capture its behaviour? Because I think that latter statement is pretty much accepted by everyone.

  106. Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    There are two extremes in the evolution vs. creationism confrontation that should be avoided on grounds of reason alone. The first is that, since evolution disproves the creationist claim that the human race descended from one particular man (Adam) and one particular woman (Eve), therefore the whole biblical story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces. I was taught in a Catholic grammar school—as early as I can remember—that the biblical account of Adam and Eve was a story, or myth similar to other creation myths, that conveyed the relationship between humanity and its creator, a relationship that has been borne out by the events of history. The Fall of Man—or Original Sin—was not formalized until the time of St. Augustine. Never was I taught, as a Catholic, that there is any discrepancy between evolution and my spiritual beliefs, except those that, perhaps if misused, discredited the dignity of human beings (eugenics, racial differences, mental deficiencies). Those holding this extreme belief think that religious believers are simpletons, or equivalently, that the religious belief of simpletons is representative of religious belief at any level.
    The second extreme is that, since science is in conflict with some religious beliefs—for example, the religious belief of some that the earth is thousands instead of millions of years old—and since science advances via paradigms that can change, therefore (since God is assumed unchangeable) science is wrong. Basically, this says that since science can be in error (hypothesis testing is its very nature), and since religious truth is unalterable, that science is subservient to religion. Those holding this extreme belief are beyond persuasion.
    If these extremes are to be avoided, then those arguing for the religious position must admit that much that is written in scripture (for example, St. Paul’s ideas of Adam and Eve) is simply wrong given our understanding of how humans originated. On the other hand, the those arguing for the secular position should realize that, despite the fact that our male and female ancestors lived thousands of years apart and had different ancestors, this proves nothing about the meaning of human life or its relationship to a Creator (for example, St. Paul’s metaphysical ideas about humanity’s salvation remain valid, whether or not Adam and Eve were specific individuals).
    Let the discussion proceed in between these two extremes. I believe the result will be mutual enlightenment and mutual delight.

    • Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      On the other hand, the those arguing for the secular position should realize that, despite the fact that our male and female ancestors lived thousands of years apart and had different ancestors, this proves nothing about the meaning of human life or its relationship to a Creator (for example, St. Paul’s metaphysical ideas about humanity’s salvation remain valid, whether or not Adam and Eve were specific individuals).

      Woah there, cowboy!

      Who and / or what is this “Creator” you write of and how do you know what you think you know about it?

      Let’s get that bit settled before we go off discussing his haberdashery.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted August 19, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Your comment, I think, proves my point (which perhaps could have been better stated): Who and what the Creator is (or was) is a different question than the reality of Adam and Eve’s physical existence (which has been disproven). In other words, whether or not there is a Creator is a metaphysical issue, and not a scientific one. My personal view of creation favors the ideas of Spinoza (and subsequently Einstein).

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      “since evolution disproves the creationist claim that the human race descended from one particular man (Adam)’

      Actually, that has more to do with molecular and population genetics of humans being completely inconsistent with single origins.

      it has nothing to do with evolution, per se.

      if you’re going to argue for some kind of middle ground, at least stop trying to invent the middle ground you want to stand on.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      “that there is any discrepancy between evolution and my spiritual beliefs”

      then whoever taught you did a poor job of elucidating accepted catholic dogma.

      the issue is simple:

      what is the central tenent of the very purpose behind the existence, death, and resurrection of Christ, as stated by Catholic Dogma?

      if christ did not die for our sins, then there is no original sin, and thus no original sinner.

      thus the story of adam is not even useful as an allegory, and thus also the story of Jesus likewise is not even useful as an allegory.

      the very core concept underlying xianity itself, let alone Cathalocism, crumbles.

      your rationalizations do not change this very simple fact.

      • Posted August 19, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        Thanks for your comment(s). Once again, if I may repeat myself. The issues you speak of, such as Christ dying for our sins, St Paul explaining salvation, etc. etc. are “metaphysical” issues, not scientific issues. Any scientific explanation of (legitimate) dogma is futile (and misplaced) because science and theology operate in different realms (the physical and the spiritual). One might as well try to scientifically prove or disprove why I believe the sunset is beautiful.
        On the other hand, when dogma overreaches and tries to explain material processes that contradict the tenets of science, then it must be corrected or rejected.
        The Catholic Dogma I holds resides in the two great commandments of Judaism–to love God and our neighbor. I apologize if that does not agree with your perception of what I should believe, but all metaphysical dogmas, in my humble view, must subject themselves to these.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      …and lastly:

      “mutual enlightenment ”

      enlightenment implies useful knowledge

      which useful, unique, knowledge does your concept of religion or a creator bring us, exactly?

      what is applicable about it?

      what does it explain? what does it allow us to predict?

      somehow, I see the metaphysical contribution to this “middle ground” as being a bit on the… vacuous side.

      • Posted August 19, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Interesting questions, and I thank you again. My religious beliefs give meaning to my life, as they do to countless others. I agree wholeheartedly that any religious beliefs that lead to violence of any sort must end up in the dustbin of history. If the remaining religious views are eventually proven wrong as well, then at least they will have been part of the evolutionary process we are experiencing; at the very least, is it not amazing that we are nothing less that the elemental particles of the universe so arranged so as to contemplate the universe itself?
        I do not presume to convince. I believe there is room for brotherhood, and enlightenment, and delight, in discussions about science and theology. Reason must prevail, on both sides of the issue.

  107. Mike Benner
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Mostly, the primary forces are physical forces I suspect. But, there could be others too. I do not know, and do not know if knowing with certainty is possible. Does the presence of a batter simply present to swing, whether swinging or not swinging, affect the ball in flight? If swinging, then is there a physical force, at least in part, opposite that of the ball’s force? Do the thoughts of the batter physically have any affect on the ball in flight? Do the thoughts of the cather, or the movement of the catcher’s mitt affect the ball in flight? Are there complex wind patterns affecting the ball, such as the design of the stadium, the amount of buzz in the stands, even a jet plane flying overhead affect the ball in flight?

    If the primary forces are so well understood by modern science regarding the throwing of a baseball, and the physical motions so predictable, given a measured release point, velocity, and direction of spin, then modern science should be able to build a mechanically and optically perfectly proficient machanical batter who always hits a ball pitched over the strike zone for a home run, every time, every strike pitch, no matter who was pitching to the mechanical batter.

    My theory is that the mechanical man would make contact regularly with many foul balls, hitting a good amount of home runs, but also would strike out very often, despite the fact that it was never once fooled by the deception of the pitcher optically.

    • Tulse
      Posted August 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Does the presence of a batter simply present to swing, whether swinging or not swinging, affect the ball in flight?

      No.

      If swinging, then is there a physical force, at least in part, opposite that of the ball’s force?

      Huh?

      Do the thoughts of the batter physically have any affect on the ball in flight?

      No.

      Do the thoughts of the cather, or the movement of the catcher’s mitt affect the ball in flight?

      No.

      Are there complex wind patterns affecting the ball, such as the design of the stadium, the amount of buzz in the stands, even a jet plane flying overhead affect the ball in flight?

      Possibly.

      Next question?

  108. Mike Benner
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I disagree substantially:

    Yes. The ball is pushing air in front of it on its journey and so is the bat while swinging at it. Both the bat and the ball create a breeze. Air has mass and when you swing a bat through it, you displace some as does the ball traveling through it. Physically, when you sit in a chair, the ground pushes back an equal amount to your weight sitting in it, or you’d keep right on sinking into the earth.

    Yes. The catcher is stirring the air when he moves his glove, causing air movement. Air movement affects ball traveling through that air movement. It takes longer to fly an airplane at normal cruising speed against the wind than with it, and if directional changes are not figured in, planes will be blown off flight path. Even a sniper shooting a high speed projectile (bullet) has to estimate wind influence. Air movement can affect both the ball when close and the batter swinging through it.

    Maybe a little.

    Maybe a little.

    Yes. Baseball stadiums have peculiar wind patterns sometimes because of their design. On average home teams win more games than while on the road. Doesn’t the actual data over decades of seasons support the theory that the fan buzz in the stadiums affect the outcome of games — more rooting for the home team versus the traveling team affects the ball slightly giving the home teams a clear statistical advantage compared to their overall record? Why are other factors so readily accepted out of hand as the advantage without considering other physical possibilities, such as fan influence on the ball itself? What scientific evidence is there with these alternative theories? Not only are the home teams winning more, they are doing it with statistically fewer offensive innings at home, since they don’t have to bat in the ninth if they were already winning.

    Doesn’t gravitational theory indicate an attraction between mass? Why not gravitation attaction playing some small role between the ball and the batter and the bat and the catcher and the catcher’s mitt? Must we dismiss gravitational theory altogether on here? If so, how can we accept the ball eventually falling back to earth again? Earth gravity only accounts for 100.00000% of all gravitational effects? How do you know this scientifically?

    If it was as cut and dry as you seem to think, the great scientific minds ought to be able to build the mechanical batter who never misses a home run with any strike pitch and never swings at a ball either. My hypothesis is that science isn’t perfect enough with all of the minds and technology to date to even hit home runs all the time with a baseball in motion. But, I’m supposed to trust it completely when it comes to predicting when the earth came into being, and when man started walking around?

    Science has its benefits, and its methods, its tools, and processes that are wonderful to think about and to aim to incorporate into study and to be beneficial, but it has its limitations, and it always will.

    mb

    • articulett
      Posted August 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Whatever limitations science has in understanding reality, these limitations are not better addressed by religion, superstition, appeals to the supernatural or any other kind of magical thinking. Such approaches might “feel” like “answers” to the indoctrinated, but they are likely to make it very difficult to understand the actual answers as they are discovered. Those who think rain dances cause rain are unlikely to delve into the finer points of meteorology.

      Just because science cannot explain something sufficiently for you to understand, does not mean your “woo” is true any more than it means some conflicting faith or myth or New Age fairytale is true. Your explanations might make you feel more secure in your religious beliefs, but I doubt they have much bearing on those who really want to understand our origins nor do they have much bearing on those who don’t feel like their salvation depends upon them believing a certain creation story.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted August 30, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Science is not about understanding, it is about knowing, and is one way of knowing among many. Consider a grape. The farmer knows what a grape is. So does the connoisseur, the chemist, the poet and the broker. “How would it be desirable, necessary, or even conceivable,” asks Chastek, “to know even grapes by a single universal method or system?”

        It isn’t even good science, when we consider the huge methodological gulf between biology and physics. When we have described in exquisite detail the physics of vibrating string, acoustics, and so forth, have we “understood” Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata?

        The Adam and Eve myth isn’t even about the origin of species, but rather about the origin of sin; so there is no more a conflict than between musical composition and culinary arts.

        • Diane G.
          Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:36 am | Permalink

          Consider the lily:

  109. Mike Benner
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Genesis 1: 26 And God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’
    27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

    Notice that a literal interpretation of these verses indicates the plurality of God. US, OUR, OUR. Whoever God IS, and however HE did it, HE was a WE when it came to creating man, according to the creation account. Hence, you have intrinsic built in genetic diversity in the making of Adam and Eve. The creation account doesn’t say how God did it, how plural God is, except that man was made from the dust of the ground initially, and that the finished product is made in the image of God, with built in traits demonstrating the plurality of God, since the makers were plural, acting in unison as one Creator, making man in His image.

    No reconciliation is necessary.

    mb

    • articulett
      Posted August 30, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Yeah we know all about theological math… god is 3 beings in one… except not really because he’s no being at all… because he’s immaterial and indistinguishable from a mythological entity… except that he becomes a singular when Christians want to think of themselves as monotheistic… but he’s a jealous god and wants you to have no other gods before him so there might be lots of them… only many say there is only one god and that “everyone prays to the same god”… or maybe not, because Muslims think it’s blasphemous to refer to Jesus as that god. Jesus the god the god of the old testament per trinitarian beliefs– and also his son!

      Confused? It’s just all part of the mystery– who are you to think you can understand God?

      I think the evidence is pretty clear that all gods (and other invisible/divine/magical beings) are inventions of the human mind.

      • Mike Benner
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        I don’t see it that way at all.

        God demonstrates pluralistic attributes in the scriptures, but is ONE Lord. I don’t know if there are only three attributes of the Divine God or more, because the scriptures speak of the seven spirits of God. Early scriptures actually say Holy (7x) and not (3x). Trinity as a word does not exist in the Bible. There is also imagery in scriptures of four living beings with the faces of a Man, an Ox, an Eagle, and a Horse. However diverse God is, maybe with just three and maybe more personifications, He is plural in attributes and personifications, yet, He is still one Lord and the scriptures say this clearly.

        The point I was making was that a literalist from the scriptures has built in diversity in the creation of man. The scriptures do not say how God did it, except that man was made from the dust of the ground.

        One problem I have with the genetic timeline is the assumed generational periods. Though the genes point to many generations, what looks like a generation, may merely have been a minute as man measures time in God’s Petri dish in the process of making Eve and not 30 years or so per generation as we measure time today. Hence, it is possible that Eve (looking older because there is more generations) is younger than Adam, though she looks older.

        The scriptures have God taking a rib from Adam to make Eve. So, one possibility here is that God made a species dna extraction, followed by God’s intervening genetic changes on an accelerated basis in God’s Petri dish. Though it looks from the genes that a generation took thirty years or so, you may have had 100 such Petri dish generations in an hour as humans measure time, and that some of the genes never lived outside the Petri dish. Likewise, you have Adam’s genetic makeup being formulated in God’s diverse Petri dish. Likewise, you’ve got other genetics of the species (created before Man was) made in God’s Petri dish before the little fishes ever swam around in the sea.

        So, you’ve got a diverse God (greatest biologist team ever) creating diverse creatures much more quickly than it seems based on what a generation takes living it out, for the simple reason that God’s Petri dish is a paradigm outside linearly thinking geneticists. God’s ways are higher. It is that simple, though God’s ways are infinitely complex in man’s eyes, and cannot understand it. A lot of the ancient genes science is looking at could have happened in God’s lab in a short period of time, and the genes never even walked around in human beings (or swam around in the case of fishes) until God was done perfecting them in the lab.

        The simple science is valid based on its assumptions, but its ancient conclusions are wrong chronologically because God doesn’t need thirty years to make a generation’s worth of genes in a man, or a fish, or a bird. It only takes a minute or so in God’s Petri dish.

        All is well.

        • Tulse
          Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

          The scriptures have God taking a rib from Adam to make Eve. So, one possibility here is that God made a species dna extraction

          To paraphrase that profound theological thinker, James Tiberius Kirk, “What does God need with a rib?” Or “a species dna extraction”, for that matter? Isn’t your god supposed to be omnipotent? Why is it then extracting DNA, when instead it could just poof a female homo sapien into existence?

          Honestly, would you even come up with this profoundly convoluted ad hoc justification if the science were different? Isn’t this just special pleading, designed to prop up a story that bronze age sheep herders told each other around their campfires?

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

            Why is [God] then extracting DNA, when instead [he] could just poof a female homo sapien [sic] into existence?

            Doctrine since at least the days of Augustine of Hippo was that God had endowed material bodies with natures, and these natures were capable of acting directly upon one another; and that they did so in a lawful manner ["the common course of nature."] Collectively, these beliefs were called “secondary causation.”

            This was a primary reason why natural science emerged in Christendom and not in the House of Submission (where occasionalism was the rule after the ash’ari aqida overcame the mu’tzalites) and in China (where concatenation was the rule after Confucianism overcame the Moists).

            Compare this sentiment:
            “We believe [rain] is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.”
            — Mohammed Yusuf

            with this:

            It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth. In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come.
            — Augustine, On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11

            Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.
            — Aquinas, Summa theologica, I.72.1.repl 3

            IOW, species were brought forth by the powers inherent in nature “from the beginning.” They do not “poof.”
            + + +
            a story that bronze age sheep herders told each other around their campfires?

            Ah, the “ignorant Jews” theory.

            Of course, it does not occur to a late or post-modern to wonder if an ancient text might have been about something other than the concerns of the late and post-modern ages.

            In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.
            — Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
            Contra Faustum manichaeum

            • Tulse
              Posted September 9, 2011 at 6:23 am | Permalink

              IOW, species were brought forth by the powers inherent in nature “from the beginning.” They do not “poof.”

              You’re not arguing with me, but with Mike Benner, since he’s the one suggesting that his god worked outside of the “the powers inherent in nature”. Although I must say it is refreshing to see you argue for what is essentially Deism.

              a story that bronze age sheep herders told each other around their campfires?

              Ah, the “ignorant Jews” theory.

              So you’re going to resort to naked accusations of anti-Semitism? I said absolutely nothing about this being solely restricted to Jewish bronze age sheep herders. Heck, the biological and cosmological understanding of the Egyptians of this period was no better — it’s just that these days no one uses their theology to run their lives and the lives of others. You’re merely deflecting the issue with a cheap and nasty rhetorical device. It is really unbecoming of you.

              • Ye Olde Statistician
                Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

                I must say it is refreshing to see you argue for what is essentially Deism.

                Actually, it’s not. The argument was made and accepted by Christians in the Late Roman Empire (cf. Augustine or the Alexandrian catechatical school) and taught during the Middle Ages (cf. just about anyone from Adelard of Bath through Nicholas of Cusa, and the Thomist tradition). It is one of the Questions addressed in Thomas’ Summa theologica, whether matter has seminal powers (seminal meaning inborn or natural). Neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Eastern Orthodox Church (which didn’t get as much into the syllogism thingie) taught an Age-of-Reason Deist God.

              • Tulse
                Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

                That’s true historically, but the actual content of the claim is that your god works through the “powers inherent in nature from the beginning”. That sure sounds like Deism to me (and sure sounds like it rules out miracles, since those are violations of those inherent original powers).

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

              Oh, COME ON.

              You’re going to compare Augustine to Yusuf?

              you really think that makes ANY SENSE?

              you’re a dishonest hack.

              • Ye Olde Statistician
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

                you’re a dishonest hack.

                Ah, the joys of rational discourse among the cult of the cerebral. Somehow – perhaps by divine revelation – you know this.

                You’re going to compare Augustine to Yusuf?

                Unfair, I know. Gus was a big brain, and I doubt the same could be said of Yusuf. So, how about al-Ghazali:
                “…our opponent claims that the agent of the burning is the fire exclusively;’ this is a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of the burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the disconnexion of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action, and what is the proof that it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning, when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only a simultaneity, not a causation, and, in reality, there is no other cause but God.”
                — The Incoherence of Philosophy

                Or ibn Khaldûn:
                “The problems of physics are of no importance for us in our religious affairs or our livelihoods; therefore we must leave them alone.”

                Are they heavy-weight enough? Al-Ghazali was perhaps the single most influential thinker of the Ash’ari aqida. Ibn Khaldûn was also pre-eminent in philosophy and history. To this day, in Jordan, keeping books on natural philosophy and other topics in your home will be viewed with suspicion by pious neighbors.

                Or do you object to the doctrine of secondary causation? That is simply historical fact. See Edward Grant’s God and Reason in the Middle Ages or Toby Huff’s The Rise of Early Modern Science: China, Islam, and the West for some background.

          • Mike Benner
            Posted September 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            Look, I don’t need to explain why God used dust to make Adam and a rib from Adam to make Eve. God didn’t poof either into existence. According to the scriptures, he made them both out of material He’d already made.

            My reconcilation theory is that not only was Adam the first actual human, but the first test tube baby.

            Once Adam (Very goodly made according to God) was finalized, why would God start all over with new DNA from scratch? He took a little rib DNA, zipped through a few hundred or more generations in the Petri dish until that was very good too, and then Eve came along shortly afterwards.

            This idea that God is lazy, not too bright, ineffecient when working on something, and sits around when there is work to do is more akin to Captain Kirk than my notions.

            The point is that everything we see in the genes did not necessarily have to be lived out in beings taking thirty years. You don’t have to like it, just as I don’t have to like the initially inexplicable gene diversity with mitochondrial Eve, based on everyone tested so far, which is far from everyone alive.

            • Tulse
              Posted September 9, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

              Look, I don’t need to explain why God used dust to make Adam and a rib from Adam to make Eve. God didn’t poof either into existence. According to the scriptures, he made them both out of material He’d already made.

              Your criteria for labelling something “poofing” are obviously stricter than mine — taking inanimate dirt and magicking into life with organs and blood and skin and bones is pretty much “poofing” in my book. The fact that your god used some dust that it had previously poofed into existence (I think we can agree that the label applies there) is really irrelevant to me.

              Once Adam (Very goodly made according to God) was finalized, why would God start all over with new DNA from scratch?

              Um, because your god is supposed to be omnipotent, and thus all actions are as one to it — there is nothing “easier” or “simpler” about using a rib, since your god supposedly can just will literally anything to happen.

              The point is that everything we see in the genes did not necessarily have to be lived out in beings taking thirty years.

              So your god falsifies the appearance of the universe? Effectively lies to humanity? Nice guy…

              • Mike Benner
                Posted September 13, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

                No, I don’t think God falsifies the appearance of the universe, and there is nothing deceitful about God.

                Because man does not understand something does not mean God is deceiving him.

                For instance, because we can detect stars tens of thousands, even millions of light years away from earth, we conclude that the starlight we see on Earth was in motion through space millions of years ago (Otherwise, How could we see the light from the stars?) Logical in man’s eyes since the stars are a million light years away or more, since we know what the speed of light is. It is a constant and it is supposedly impossible for anything to move faster than the speed of light. The math works. So case closed, right?

                God’s ways are higher.

                We can see the light from stars currently a million light years away from us much more quickly than in one million years. It is not that we can’t do math, but a simple matter of God’s methods being superior and more efficient. In other words, man presumes observations to be unchangeable facts, but presumes wrongly.

                God’s ways are higher, much higher.

              • Tulse
                Posted September 13, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

                We can see the light from stars currently a million light years away from us much more quickly than in one million years. It is not that we can’t do math, but a simple matter of God’s methods being superior and more efficient.

                So, just to be clear, you think the speed of light is not constant?

                And, I presume, you are a Young Earth Creationist, since pretty much only such folk get worked up about the speed of light connecting with the age of the universe. Am I correct?

                God’s ways are higher, much higher.

                I have no idea what this means, and I strongly suspect you don’t either.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

              My reconcilation theory

              that’s not a theory.

              It’s not even an hypothesis.

              hell, it’s not even a coherent idea.

              not sure what to call it except bullshit?

  110. skeptic
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know where the actually research is that deals with this article? Not saying that it is not factual research but it helps to see and learn about it rather than read an abstract. . K Thanks!

  111. Mike Benner
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I thought the point of the exercise was to seek to reconcile Science with Scripture — specifically the Adam and Eve of mitrochondrial and chromosomal lineage which science predicts must necessarily have lived in different time periods, with the Genesis account.

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted August 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      reconcile … the Adam and Eve of mitrochondrial and chromosomal lineage which science predicts must necessarily have lived in different time periods, with the Genesis account.

      That’s quite simple. Even when read by naive-literalists, the account does not insist that the progenitive couple were necessarily the aforesaid mitrochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam. Surely, Adam and Eve had ancestors and their sundry mitochondria and chromosomes were inherited from them.

      Thomas Aquinas wrote that “original sin” [that is the “origin” of sin} was passed on by “the semen” from generation to generation and cited examples of inherited characteristics as analogies. They didn’t know about “genes” back then, but this was a remarkably close guess. And since he identified the origin of sin with concupiscence, it would be fair to call his guess that of a “selfish gene.” He thought it was a weakness in human nature to which all were subject, rather than an offense committed by a particular person.

      The other interesting thing is that there is nothing in doctrine that requires disbelieving in other ancestors. Even the Bible, for those who read like fundies, tells us that the children of Adam found wives. How could they do this if there were no others? Perhaps even 9,998 others.

      The quantifer shift fallacy is between:
      A. “There is one man from whom all humans are descended.”
      and
      B. “All human beings are descended from [only] one man.”
      Doctrine requires belief in the former, not the latter.

      Hope this helps.

      • articulett
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Are you seriously claiming that “original sin” or “ensoulment” is passed on genetically? Do you think god tweaked the DNA of the those imperfect creations who failed his little test (as any omniscient being would surely know they would) and that this DNA and/or the expression of it can be detected, mutated, duplicated, deleted,and passed on like all other DNA? Or is it magically hidden and protected?

        Do you think Adam and Eve suddenly became homozygous for the “sin” trait so that god could ensure all their descendents would inherit it? Why wouldn’t he just tweak their DNA like he did with the “original sinners” or whatever it is he did when they failed his little test? Or maybe god was working his magic when he ensured the “original sin” trait didn’t die out when Adam and Eve’s descendants mated with their distant cousins who didn’t have the trait. Or did Adam and Eve inherit their original sinning genes from their ancestors like they did their other genes –in which case god could work his magic to ensure that all future peoples’ were homozygous. But then we’d want to see which genes that we have that Neanderthals don’t unless they were included in the whole story too. You don’t seem to have given this much thought.

        Do you know how “selfish genes” work? The gene would code for something that preferentially allows the organism holding it to passed it on. It doesn’t mean that the organism possessing it would be selfish. If a gene colored an organism so it was better camouflaged, for example, that organism might be less noticeable to predators and more successful in hunting then others– and thus, live to pass on the gene that helped it out. This would also be true with genes that enhanced the sex drive or made a creature more likely to have mating opportunities too. Your religion seems to have confused you on this issue if you think Aquinas made a “remarkably close guess”. He didn’t. You just don’t understand genetics as well as you think you do.

        What a bizarre god you are forced to believe in in order to make your faith align with the facts.

        What excuses do you give for your god knowingly coming up with such a lame plan when he’s omnipotent? Also, why the Jesus thingie if he was omniscient and knew how things would turn out? If he can make perfect people like Jesus– why not just do that in the first place? And how in the world do you reconcile all this with a benevolent god worthy of worship? I’m no god, but even I recognize the immorality in punishing infinitely for finite misdeeds –as well as the immorality of holding people responsible for the misdeeds of ancestors or making one person pay for the sins of others. Your religion seems to have made you willing and eager to justify the unjustifiable.

        I guess you gotta do what you gotta do to keep the faith… lest you suffer the consequences, eh?

        (Also, when you repost, use the same name; I think sock puppets are illegal around here.)

        • Ye Olde Statistician
          Posted September 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          Are you seriously claiming that “original sin” or “ensoulment” is passed on genetically?

          No, I am simply reporting that Aquinas considered such characteristics as a generalized tendency toward X to be in some fashion heritable, and that among them he included the general human tendency toward selfishness known as “original sin.”

          This has nothing to do with whatever you mean by “ensoulment.”

          + + +
          Do you think god tweaked the DNA of the those imperfect creations who failed his little test …?

          There is nothing magic about genetics, although there may be things hidden, in the sense of “not yet manifest.” According to traditional belief, God is the author of natural law, so there is no reason to tweak anything.
          + + +
          Or did Adam and Eve inherit their original sinning genes from their ancestors like they did their other genes

          An animal’s behavior is not selfish in the moral sense, because being unable to conceptualize, it has no knowledge of good and evil and so cannot choose to turn away from the good. In the sense of a genetic “groundwork,” your suggestion has some merit.
          + + +
          we’d want to see which genes that we have that Neanderthals don’t unless they were included in the whole story too.

          Michael Shermer suggested in his collection of skeptical articles, Science Friction, that Neanderthals were animals, given that their toolkit changed very little for the whole term of their existence. This is more like instinctual behavior than intellection.
          + + +
          Do you know how “selfish genes” work?

          Yes. Survivors survive and humans retroactively find some adaptive benefit to explain their survival. However, Dr. Dawkins, in his book of that name, deliberately equivocated on the term and very clearly intended human selfishness until more accomplished philosophers pressed him on it, whereupon he retreated temporarily to a mere technical description of how survivors survive.
          + + +
          If a gene colored an organism so it was better camouflaged…

          I am inclined to agree with you that evolution is teleological, but many materialists, like Fodor, disagree vehemently.
          + + +
          I’m no god…

          No foolin.

          I recognize the immorality in punishing infinitely for finite misdeeds

          Do you suppose that an attempted assassination of, say, the president of the US would be dealt with more severely than the attempted murder of Ye Olde Statistician? As regards punishment, in addition to the seriousness of the offense, one takes account of the status of the one offended. Besides, the punishment is self-inflicted, as it requires a persistent and willful turning away from the good.
          + + +
          holding people responsible for the misdeeds of ancestors

          Actually, if you followed the reasoning, this is not the case. It was that the original turning away from the good was something that was human nature, insofar as humans have a rational form, and nor merely a sensitive form. That was the part where, lacking a term for “genome,” Thomas described original sin as the transgression of the human species, qua species; that is, where all humans were considered as if “one man.”
          + + +
          making one person pay for the sins of others.

          In traditional theology, that would be regarded as a sin against justice. But to recognize a sin against justice you would first have to recognize an absolute morality in which justice was one of the seven cardinal virtues. Etc. etc.
          + + +
          when you repost, use the same name; I think sock puppets are illegal around here.

          I was not aware of using a different name, but a search revealed that I had inadvertently signed on once with a different screen name. My apologies.

          • articulett
            Posted September 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

            Wow, has your faith twisted your understanding of genetics. Look, I understand that you “need” to believe because you fear a “loving” god who will punish you forever if you don’t believe, but I’m still going to try and give you a tad of a clue in case you ever are actually interested in what science has discovered. Also, I realize there are others who may read these words and they might benefit even if you cannot.

            First of all, although each theist imagines that theists of their “brand” are getting their morality from god, the evidence shows that everyone’s “god” seems to think exactly what they think:

            http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/01/0908374106.abstract

            http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/30/creating-god-in-ones-own-image/#more-740

            Moreover, whenever we attempt to measure morality (using homicide rates, teen pregnancy, drug use, etc), atheists perform as well or better than their theistic counterparts. So though each theist imagines themselves more moral than those who don’t believe as they do –and presume that their morality comes from god– they don’t agree with each other and according to brain scans, their morality is coming from a voice in their head that they, then, call “god”.

            This explains sects, holy wars, different translations and interpretations better than an omnipotent being who could have been clear because he was omnipotent (and who should have known that his creations would be failures due to his omniscience.)

            And whatever morality is, theists don’t seem to have any more of it than anyone else by any measurable means– so belief in invisible universe creators is clearly not necessary for morality. Moreover, if there were an objective morality from some invisible guy– theists have no clue what it is, but they all imagine that their particular morality comes from such a being! Even Fred Phelps. And radical Muslims. And those doing honor killings. And those persecuting people they think are “witches”.

            You are still terribly confused about the selfish gene. Organisms don’t survive and then get explained… they survive because the information that built them (DNA) built an animal that lived long enough and had what it takes to pass on it’s genes to the next generation who had a chance to do the same. There really is nothing teleological in this unless you believe in a super cruel god who could poof creatures into and out of existence, but instead just watches as most life forms become food for other life forms without ever passing on any genes at all. Camouflage is not teleological. It’s just that if you are an albino or don’t blend in– you become food and die… or maybe you can’t catch prey because you are too easily spotted, etc. In Africa, albinos are thought to be cursed and are witches– http://news.discovery.com/human/canadian-man-fights-african-witchcraft-murders.html All the prayers in the world don’t help because it’s your holy book that advised “thou shall not suffer a witch to live”. So, albinos are less likely to pass on genes. So are homely people. And people without a sex drive. And people who die in childhood because they were born in an area where there were parasites and diseases (presumably created by a god who preferred the survivor of parasites over his human creations in many cases.)This seems to be a very cruel “design” if you ask me. Your god’s overpopulation control plan appears to involve disease, starvation,fighting, and death in infancy.

            Evolution is very easy to understand, but theists seem to have a particularly difficult time understanding this simple concept– and I think that is because you guys “need” to believe in god. You can’t let yourself understand because you know that understanding threatens your faith: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/evolution-threatens-christianity/2011/08/24/gIQAuLVpbJ_blog.html But all the faith and excuses in the world cannot make your 3-in-1 deity real… it can, however, keep you from understanding some of the coolest things we humans have discovered. Although, it’s humbling to realize humanity is not the reason for the universe, it’s pretty amazing to be able to revel over the fact that we, alone among the life on our planet, can understand how we came to be.

            Theists imagine they understand evolution, but when they talk about it, it’s clear they are very very confused due to their need to keep the faith. But I understand… and you are old… so maybe it’s best that some believers keep themselves confused on the subject. I understand why the Biologos folks want to make their faith align with the facts; they don’t want to consider that their supernatural beliefs might be as wrong as the supernatural beliefs they reject. It’s too frightening for them to examine this possibility. And so many have to pretend that faith and facts are perfectly compatible.

            I want to add that I find it quite immoral that theists like you can justify eternal torment for a finite crime. I think this is vile. And if the god you believe in is the god of the bible (the one that sends bears to maul 42 children for calling a guy bald), then you have learned to justify a monstrosity and to see it as good– the work of a beneficent human being even. I blame your faith for this. It appears all manner of immoral things can be justified by religion. I also submit, that any human who acted like the god of the bible would rightly be considered a monster by the majority– not a moral guide. If someone had a bear maul your kid or decided to make your kid suffer forever because they didn’t believe the right unbelievable story or asked you to kill your kid as a loyalty test, I don’t think the excuses you make for your god would fly.

            Thankfully, most theists are more moral than the gods they claim to get their morality from.

            It appears that you need no evidence at all to confirm what you imagine yourself saved for believing, but simple information and evidence regarding evolution gets twisted or won’t compute when it threatens your faith.

            I don’t know what it is you think humans are inheriting from “Adam”– and I don’t think you really know either. Yeah, yeah– “sin”– but by what mechanism? What exactly is “sin” and how is it inherited and why didn’t the other humans around at the time have it and wouldn’t it be better not to inherit such a thing if it leads to the possibility of eternal torture? Wouldn’t it be better never to be born than to be born with the possibility of suffering forever for not passing the right nebulous rubric? How is Aquinas making a “good guess”? What do you think of Allah’s plan to send people to hell for worshiping Jesus as a god? Do you think this makes Allah less moral than the god you believe in? Does anyone but you understand what you are talking about? Does anyone but you think that your faith is helping with your morality– To me, it looks like it’s training you to justify the unjustifiable in order to maintain faith in a being who isn’t very likely to exist– exactly like those believer in religions/cults/superstitions you reject.

            • Ye Olde Statistician
              Posted September 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

              There really is nothing teleological in this

              Of course there is. That was Fodor’s complaint, and Fodor is an atheist. He did not understand Aristotle’s telos, and I suppose neither do you.

              Without telos, there would be no natural laws, period. Unless there is something in A that “points toward” B, there would be no reason why A should cause B “always or for the most part.

              a super cruel god who could poof creatures into and out of existence, but instead just watches as most life forms become food for other life forms

              a) What is “bad” about life “forms” becoming food for other life “forms.” Kindness to the lamb is cruelty to the lion.

              b) When Thomas Aquinas wrote of the origin of species in passing, he wrote:
              “Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.” Now “the powers which the stars and elements received at the beginning” are precisely their natural powers; and if by putrefaction we include mutation, we aren’t too far off the mark. Noting that God had commanded the earth and the sea to bring forth the living kinds, Augustine concluded in the long ago that matter itself had seminal powers inherent to it. This doctrine of secondary causation became standard in Christendom and forms the basis of natural science. In traditional Christian doctrine species do not “poof” into existence.

              Camouflage is not teleological.

              Fodor’s complaint was that it must be. If it is not teleological, then it isn’t camouflage, it’s only white fur. [He was using the polar bear as an example.] Despite pious mouthings about how telos isn’t there, camouflage does in fact work “always or for the most part” toward the end of concealment. Otherwise, natural selection wouldn’t work as a natural law.
              + + +

              Organisms don’t survive and then get explained… they survive because the information that built them (DNA) built an animal that lived long enough and had what it takes to pass on it’s genes to the next generation

              As soon as you say “information” you are invoking teleology, because a cascade of identical material particles have no information content as such. Consider the following pattern on your screen:
              H
              There is nothing in the matter that requires it to represent the sound “en” (if it’s Cyrillic) or “aitch” (if it’s Latin) or even the cross-section of an I-beam. Information does not inhere in the matter itself. Hence, there is no way of telling from the DNA what will or will not be “advantageous.” Only after the fact of reproductive success can it be so judged. That’s why Kimura’s theory of evolution – neutral selection – may count as much or more than so-called natural selection.
              Furthermore, living things have a drive to go on living; and this results in creatures seeking out uses and environments to exploit their own traits. Thus, a panda with a protruding wrist bone that learns how to strip bamboo with it gives the appearance that the protruding wrist bone (the false “thumb”) is “advantageous.” It is incautious at best to consider the niche as permanent. (That’s why an Aristotelian theory of evolution would be far more complete.)
              + + +
              it can, however, keep you from understanding some of the coolest things we humans have discovered.

              Not really, considering that those cool things were largely discovered in Western Christendom. In fact, three Key Kool Things in modern science were heliocentrism (Copernicus, a canon), genetics (Mendel, a monk), and the Big Bang (Lemaitre, a priest). So it does not appear to have gotten in their way all that much.

              You have a much better case with Islam, which fell victim to the occasionalism of the Ash’ari aqida, esp. al-Ghazali. Best exemplified by the recent statement:
              We believe [rain] is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.
              — Mohammed Yusuf
              whereas William of Conches wrote back in the 12th cent.
              [They say] “We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.” You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has He ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.
              + + +

              I don’t know what it is you think humans are inheriting from “Adam”

              A genome.

              “sin”– but by what mechanism?

              Thomas thought it might be by genetic inheritance, but also because all men participated in human nature.

              What exactly is “sin”

              A deficiency in a good. cf. Aristotle, The Nichomachean Ethics.

              why didn’t the other humans around at the time have it

              What other humans? Oh, you must mean the other 9,999 hominids, who were bodily identical but lacked the mutation that enabled conception and volition, i.e., the rational form. It seems unlikely that the necessary mutation, whatever it may have been, would have occurred simultaneously in 10,000 different hominids of the same generation. The mind leaves no fossils.

              wouldn’t it be better not to inherit such a thing?

              Maybe so, but it’s too late for that. It seems to have been a direct consequence of free will. You may think it better not to have a free will; but then you may be one of those compelled by the forces of physics to believe he has no will. In which case, you cannot help but answer as you do.

              • Posted September 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

                Such cruelly incompetent gods it is whose altars you bow down before! All-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving…and, yet, not a one of them can think of any other way for the lion to draw sustenance than by eating alive the lamb, or for the herd to itself avoid the starvation of overpopulation than by being eaten alive by the lions.

                Were your gods under the jurisdiction of any Western government, they would be imprisoned for many years for cruelty towards animals. Upon release, a condition of probation would be absolute avoidance of all contact with any animal whatsoever.

                You dare preach your “morality” towards us, declare it to flow from such filth as you worship! Even Michael Vick is a paragon of virtue compared to the least of your gods. He, at least, acknowledges his crimes and willingly engages in active and productive atonement for them. Your gods do naught but make pareidolic cameos on burnt toast and dog butts.

                Grow up, little boy. Your imaginary friends are not worthy of anybody’s company.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • articulett
                Posted September 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think you can have free will with an omniscient deity either… How could you do other than he’d already know you would do? And it would be evil to make people whom you knew in advance would be suffering forever because of the choices you knew they’d make. What would be the point unless you were a sadist? If your invisible buddy is exists and is omniscient, he’s made himself unworthy of worship by anyone except the most brainwashed (which he’d have known about, of course… no need to flood the earth or premeditate the murder of his son… or make a hell– if he’s omnipotent he could have just poofed his mistakes out of existence just like he poofed them in.) Of course I’m not the one trying to make myths make sense.

                I think free will is incoherent though when I was a theist I sort of believed in it. But I was more rational than you. Do you think the priestly pedophiles CHOOSE to be attracted to kids? And don’t you think molesting children is immoral even though the bible god never mentioned and in fact seems to endorse it in passages: “They waged war as god had commanded them and killed every male. But they kept the women as captives and took their wealth as spoil. Moses was enraged. ‘So you spared the women? Kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse and kill every little boy, but keep the virgin girls for yourself. Divide them up evenly.'” Num. 31:7, 14 How do you know this is immoral or do you think it’s perfectly moral since your objective moral giver seems a-ok with it? — At least he is per the magical book you think God wrote or inspired, right? What excuse do you give him for allowing that passage to stay in. He’s omnipotent, right– so why allow passages that an omniscient god would know would lead to horrors?

                Is there anything you could not be persuaded to do if you were persuaded to think that your eternity hinged upon it? Can your brain make anything “moral” so long as god does it or asks it or says it– or, at least, you BELIEVE he did? If so, congratulations. You understand the Inquisitors and the Nazis. You can do immoral things while imagining yourself more moral than everybody who doesn’t believe as you do. You can even imagine you are going to live happily ever after for doing so!Just like him: http://www.deceptology.com/2011/09/what-compelled-him-to-kill. You can’t prove he wasn’t talking to god– and you believe that god communicates with mortals… god works in mysterious ways… how do you know this isn’t one of them? Doesn’t your god want you to prove your faith and how can you prove your faith other than by doing something you’d never do if you didn’t believe god commanded it?

                The bible passage above shows that your god is fine with child slaughter on some occasions– along with slavery, misogyny, and stoning for not keeping the Sabbath day holy– and he doesn’t command people not to rape or torture– these didn’t make the top ten “thou shall nots”, so I guess that’s okay too per your “objective morality” so long as your objective moral giver doesn’t command against it, right? As long as the voice in your head commands it, you can tell yourself it’s coming from god! Or maybe you are just one of those believers who would do vile things if you weren’t afraid of being punished forever… in which case, for the sake of humanity, I encourage to delude yourself as need be. The rest of us don’t need magic books to guide us on such topics.

                I was going to link you to this talk of Dawkins because it’s very good and I thought that maybe even you could get a clue that there is no teleology in things like camouflage… there’s just death to those who haven’t got the genome needed to survive and pass on the genes in the genome. It’s not very nice, but nature doesn’t have the goal of niceness. It doesn’t have any goal at all. I don’t think you can get a clue; you imagine you know more than those who might give you one. You think you understand evolution better than those who teach it. But others can learn: http://richarddawkins.net/videos/642753-richard-dawkins-at-the-university-of-maryland and this talk is excellent– so I wanted to post it for anyone else who might stumble upon these words in the future.

                I was raised with religion and I tried to make sense of that nuttiness for years. I was never as good at lying to myself as you are. I had to stop thinking about the subject to keep a modicum of faith, but I couldn’t stop thinking for very long. Like many other rational people, I concluded that the scientific facts made much more sense than trying to believe in any god… any god who uses evolution to bring about species is cruel, slow, wasteful, and unneeded– not to mention prurient since who else would be interested in flower sex and insect sex and octopus sex all those years before humans came on the scene and all those incidence when no human is watching?

                I think religion is really dangerous because it makes people feel like they “know” something they do not “know” at all while keeping those same people ignorant and afraid of the truth and those who would share it. Religionists give their allegiance to people who claim to know things they cannot know and denigrate those who would show them the evidence that would could deprogram them. I look forward to a time when the majority of humanity doesn’t believe in invisible beings– whether they call them gods, demons, souls, incubi, or fairies. Then they won’t be forced to utilize their brain power to try and make lies into “higher truths” for fear that their “soul” will suffer forever for not having faith. I think it’s crazy when the Muslims spread this meme and crazy when the Christians spread it– though I can see why this is a “selfish meme” that easily propagates itself in the human vector. Chain letters work on a version of this meme– but the stakes are higher in religion. Religions tells you you have an immortal soul that will suffer forever unless you believe: (insert unbelievable creation myth)–Or in the case of Scientology, it’s only billions of years of suffering– which is not even a fraction of eternity.

                Humans didn’t get a genome from “Adam”– we’d have gotten half of a genome… and that would be a quarter of his 2 parents genome and an 8th each of his 8 grandparents genomes and so on back in time until they started being the same people– so I want to know where is the part that comes in that Jesus had to die for? Or did Jesus die for a metaphor? Did Jesus-god know in advance that this was going to be the plan before he made the universe– or billions of year later when he made earth… or billions of years after that when he started directing the evolution of some of his primates… or was it after the “original sinners” sinned metaphorically or whatever?

                Is Jesus god? Is he the god of the old testament– the god of Genesis? If so, why do you think so? Is that god supposed to be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent as well as being the immaterial universe creator and uncaused first cause who made the universe so he could enact this little passion play on this little planet at this point in time? Do you think life is a pass/fail test where you will live happily ever after if you BELIEVE the right thing in this life and suffer forever if you don’t? Is that moral to you? If you didn’t believe in this god would you be raping and pillaging and doing any vile thing you could get away with?

                If souls weren’t real, would you want to know? Or would you want to keep on continue believing they are? Would that affect your faith in god? If they are real, don’t you think science should be able to test them, distinguish them from an illusion (like we have with x-rays, for example) and refine knowledge on them like we have with everything else known to exist as more than an abstraction(like “disappointment”)? Or do you think god and souls are akin to an abstraction?– That you can only “understand” them through “feelings” “faith” and “revelation”? Until or unless there is evidence for some afterlife, why should any person interested in the truth care about what anyone else believes happens after death or how they reconcile these magical stories with the facts? Why should the people here care how you reconcile your theology than you care how a Muslim or Scientologist or Mormon reconciles theirs? Shouldn’t the only people trying to reconcile the bible with the facts are the people who believe that their eternity depends upon them doing so?

                You read Shermer… do you know he says “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.” The hijackers were smart enough to learn to drive airplanes– and yet vulnerable enough to believe that they were on their way to paradise on 9-11. Why shouldn’t an outsider conclude that your afterlife beliefs are as likely to be as wrong as theirs are? Couldn’t they be as potentially dangerous? Couldn’t they make you similarly closed off to actual facts?

                And I don’t believe in the myth that Christianity is responsible for science any more than I believe in your invisible savior http://nobeliefs.com/comments10.htm So while that might make you feel “holier than thou” (as I’m sure your appeals to Fodor do as well) –to me it’s like a Scientologists who really thinks that Scientology has the secrets for a better world. You’re doing what Shermer would predict believers in “woo” like you would do. You are doing your damnedest to make the facts fit in with the story you feel “saved” and “special” for believing in.

                To reiterate, I don’t believe in any invisible beings or divine truths. When you say things like “it’s too late for that” you are cluing me in to how your indoctrinators brainwashed you– to me it’s like any other myth, superstition, or delusion. You speak of things that are factual that are not.

                And information doesn’t mean teleology– that is, the information copiers and processors do not need to have any awareness of what they are doing or how nor the goal. I dog doesn’t need to know why it feels the urge to hump. Bacteria don’t need to know anything to divide… Water doesn’t need to know anything to crystallize when the temperature gets low enough. Flowers don’t need to know how to trick insects into pollinating them. All sorts of things become internet memes without the meme makers having a clue that they are making and spreading memes… and “evolving” the language and the internet and technology as they do so.

                You just have a need to see teleology… it’s a natural thing in children and religion ennobles such childish thinking in adulthood– it tells you your salvation depends upon it. I would recommend a great book if I thought you actually were interested in understanding this… but I think you need to hang on to your faith for now. So I shall let you.

                But I want to recommend the Dawkins link for anybody actually interested in evolution and human origins. Such people are likely to feel more awe than they ever did with religious tales.

              • articulett
                Posted September 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

                I found the Fodor quip about polar bears… I suggest you get your science information from scientists in the future and not philosophers, though Fodor’s colleague and fellow philosopher, Simon Blackburn, answered him quite well and succinctly. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n20/jerry-fodor/why-pigs-dont-have-wings :

                “Similarly Fodor triumphantly asks whether it is being white or being the same colour as the environment that is good for polar bears. A brief look at the life of polar bears, and other bears, and animals such as ptarmigan or mountain hares that change colour with the seasons, forces just one answer. Camouflage helps across the board; being white only helps when it coincides with it.”

                Is this beyond your understanding?! (Is this “teleological” to you?)

                Jerry Coyne (a real scientist) also gave a great response, but I’m guessing you only read far enough to support your hope that natural selection is in question or too keep yourself from understanding natural selection because it puts your faith in question. You also seem to be trying to convince yourself that belief in your myth is essential for morality which, I’m guessing, shores up your faith when evolution feels threatening…(otherwise it’s hard to figure why you went on that tangent.)

                I address people like you in the hope that I may inoculate others from becoming like you. I think your religious beliefs have done you a disservice and ennobled your ignorance. Your need to see the bible as the work of a divine being has kept you from understanding some profound information about our origins unearthed and amassed over time by real people –without heavenly guidance and hampered at every step by those (like you) who claim to “know” things they can not know. To me, keeping people ignorant is immoral.

                For those who want to understand evolution, I suggest sticking with the scientists– the people who teach it to many like Jerry or Dawkins or Myers or even theist, Ken Miller (I wonder how he addresses the Adam and Eve conundrum?)

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 6, 2011 at 2:02 am | Permalink

                articulett, you’ve been doing yeoman’s work and one helluva job here. Bravo!

          • articulett
            Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

            If you want to imagine that “original sin” is genetic, you are better off thinking of it passing through Eve in the mitochondria DNA because the entire genome of mitochondria is passed on while only half the of the nuclear DNA is passed on in gamete formation (the making of sperm and eggs). I know it doesn’t fit your bible story as well– but your version is really really stretching it too. If “Adam” had his “original sin” mutation in his Y chromosome, then only his male descendents would carry it. If it was in his X chromosome it could only be passed on to his daughters (did he have any?) and it would likely disappear through the generations as they mated with non carriers. And this would be true of all the autosomes. No single gene of Adam is likely to be passed on to all his descendents as they mated with outsiders. If the tainted allele was on the first chromosome for example, and all of Adams kid’s had the mutation on both chromosomes (from mom and dad), his grandchildren would only have the “original sin” gene on one chromosome since Adam’s kids’ mates would not have the allele. And so Adam’s grandkids would only have a single copy of the allele and their offspring would have only a 50% chance of inheriting it and given normal genetics, the gene would likely die out in his descendents or remain in just a few lines of descent– not in everyone! –Unless god is sticking around making sure all of Adam’s descendents get the booby prize… but if you’re going to invoke magic, why not go all out– maybe the “orginal sin” allele is a magic, immaterial, invisible gene… kind of like god himself and the souls he plans to torture forever if the owner doesn’t believe the right unbelievable tale. Of course developing such a trait seems like a crazy thing to do with omnipotence– it’s not fitting of a benevolent deity and rather lame for an omnipotent one, don’t you think? I mean, the dude is supposed to have superpowers beyond belief– and that’s what he does with them?!

            Naturally (pun intended), there is no need to try to make the bible story fit the facts unless you have a vested interesting in making yourself believe the bible is true– or that it really was inspired by a divine being… in which case any story that sort of works for you is as good as any other, I suppose. I don’t think these tortured explanations work except for those who gain something from promoting belief or those who are afraid they’ll be punished in hell for not buying it. And maybe they work for those who are afraid of admitting that they don’t know or understand how humans got here too. Some people would rather believe a lie than admit to not knowing.

            Myself, I think it’s much healthier to accept that the bible is not the work of an invisible omnipotent magical universe creator who holds your “eternity” in his hands. I don’t think the 3-in-1 Jesus-god story makes any real sense at all, and I don’t think anyone would believe it without the promise of salvation and the threat of hell. I think it’s time for humanity to grow up and leave this primitive myth behind along with all the others we’ve outgrown.

            But if you wish to discuss the issue further, let me suggest the newer thread on the topic: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/adam-and-eve-theologians-squirm-and-sputter/ or you can argue for your version of events on Jason Rosenhouse’s blog: http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2011/09/what_does_original_sin_mean_in.php This thread is old and the contest is over and I’m unsubscribing because I don’t much care what the various believers in the supernatural believe.

            Remember though, just because you can twist the facts and your story to kind of get it to make sense to you… doesn’t mean it has a chance in hell of being true. I can’t prove that aliens haven’t abducted missing children, for example, but all the differing alien scenarios about what COULD have happened don’t make alien abduction a likely explanation for any missing children– nor should anyone interested in finding a missing child actually take such scenarios seriously. The same goes for bible stories. They aren’t really for those who want to know what is true– they are for those who imagine they’ve accessed “higher truths” and will be rewarded for believing certain things and/or those who are afraid that they’ll suffer unless they keep the faith. As a theist, you may feel compelled to rationalize your magical beliefs, but I don’t feel compelled to be an audience to your rationalizations.

            • Ye Olde Statistician
              Posted September 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

              there is no need to try to make the bible story fit the facts unless you have a vested interesting in making yourself believe the bible is true

              Nah. There’s a second reason. Someone makes a blanket statement that it cannot be reconciled.

              • articulett
                Posted September 8, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

                Oh, I think so long as you invoke magic, anything can be reconciled.

                We could be in a Matrix imagining this whole thing. A literal genesis could be real and god could have planted dinosaur bones and made the earth look old and made evolution look real right now to the DNA.

                Or the Scientologists could be right and religion could bee part of an evil brainwashing plot by Thetans.

                With magic, all things are possible.

              • articulett
                Posted September 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

                “right down to the DNA”

                And “be” not “bee”

                It’s time for me to unsubscribe from this thread.

        • articulett
          Posted September 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          Oops…

          More facts to work into your magic story: http://www.livescience.com/15911-humans-interbred-extinct-relatives.html

          And it involves concupiscence!

          It seems to me you are bending over backwards to imagine that a selfish gene means selfish creature… but selfish genes are in plants too… and bacteria– they are just genes that build organisms that are good at passing those genes on. Trees have evolved ways to get the most sun in the environments they find themselves in, for example. Bacteria who are just a wee bit more resistant to antibiotics can flourish where their lesser endowed kin cannot. The genes involved in coding for this tendency are preferentially passed on; they’re “selfish”; they code for traits that give them a greater likelihood of being passed into the next generation allowing for the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. I’ve explained this concept to high schoolers and they can understand it without making your mistake. A creature dies the same species it is born as. But some genes get copied into the future, and so long as these genes are involved in building organisms that preferentially survive and reproduce, they will be part of what evolves. Each new life is set in an environment to see if it will survive to pass on it’s genes or not. Most don’t– those that do are part of the life we see today. In this way creatures evolve to fit their environment– and humans who are good at finding meaning (even when it is not there) might confuse this fit with seeming design.

          I think you are being willfully ignorant when you said “Dawkins deliberately equivocated on the term and very clearly intended human selfishness”– he didn’t intend that at all; it’s just that your faith addled brain caused you to believe such a thing so you wouldn’t compute the actual message. Religionists hear what they need to hear to keep the faith. Dawkins didn’t equivocate; you are just can’t let yourself understand. Muslims make the same error.

          And Neanderthals cooked their food: http://humanorigins.si.edu/research/whats-hot/neanderthals-ate-plants-too So did the “hobbits” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_floresiensis. I suspect the Denisovans did too. I think this would put them in the same category as us– intelligent animals. But we are all animals– even those who really, really want to believe that the universe was created so they could exist. (Even those who imagine they have objective morality that they imagine comes from on high.) Any life form that thinks could assume that the purpose of life was for them to exist because they are born into a world that looks like it was made for them– it takes additional intelligence to understand that life evolved to fit the environment and not the other way around. It would do so on any planet that evolved life.

          I’m sure Shermer would agree, but I think it’s interesting how you interpreted him so as to make your faith story fit more easily in your mind. You did the same with Dawkins. And I have no doubt you’ll continue doing the same no matter how often you are corrected.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            you are bending over backwards to imagine that a selfish gene means selfish creature

            Dawkins’ plea that we should strive real hard to overcome our selfishness indicated that he was playing both sides of the street. Dawkins has never been too keen on logical consistency or philosophical coherence.

            Perhaps you are correct, and selfishness is not a genetic trait.
            + + +
            If you read Shermer’s article, he was deliberately puncturing the balloon of philo-Neanderthalitis. You don’t have to believe him. Another article in the same volume had historians howling in laughter.
            + + +
            Trees have evolved ways to get the most sun in the environments they find themselves in

            Damn, there’s that telos thingie again.

            http://thomism.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/notes-on-evolution-and-teleology/

            + + +
            Each new life is set in an environment to see if it will survive to pass on it’s genes or not. Most don’t

            “Set”? By whom? Who will “see”?

            “Most don’t?” That got to David Stove, an atheist philosopher from Australia. He noted that it has never been true of human beings that “most don’t” survive, for any reasonable value of “most.”

            The paper appeared in an Australian philosophy journal now hidden behind a paywall, but a copy was posted here:

            http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/838691/posts?page=51

            + + +
            humans who are good at finding meaning (even when it is not there) might confuse this fit with seeming design.

            Oh dear. We have discovered the chisel and no longer need the sculptor. If the meaning is not necessarily there, but humans “see” it only because they are hard-wired to see it, you have undermined the basis for natural science.

            + + +
            Neanderthals cooked their food… I think this would put them in the same category as us– intelligent animals.

            Ah, the culinary theory of intelligence. First of all, what are the empirical facts versus the ladder of inferences that led to “Neanderthals cooked”? Not too long ago, DNA “proved” that humans and Neanderthals never mated. Now the DNA “proves” that they did. Perhaps these are examples of the “meaning” that humans are so good at finding.

            we are all animals

            Duh? The definition of man as “a rational animal” has been standard since before the Scholastics.

            It would do so on any planet that evolved life.

            Which planet would that be?
            + + +
            The confusion stems from using the term “intelligence,” which is equivocal and could cover a wide range of behaviors entirely explicable through sensation, perception, memory and imagination. However, this was not the Aristotelian or Thomistic usage, which held that human uniqueness lay in the ability to abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars. A brief summary can be found here:

            http://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/what-really-are-uniquely-human-traits/

            Hope it helps.

    • articulett
      Posted August 31, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Actually it would be to reconcile it with an original couple… there is not a first couple of humans we can all trace our lineage back to… that is, there were many other humans that existed during the time of our last common ancestor which produced descendents that our ancestors would have mated with.

      To go back to the most recent couple from whom all humans alive today descended you’d have to go back before the common ancestor we shared with Neanderthals and Denisovans (which are different species) since humans alive today carry some of their genes even though their species no longer exists. We’d have to trace back to the last primate couple from whom all of the current genes in the population descended.

      The bible doesn’t mention non-human bipeds… the writers seemed unaware that such beings once existed and were our ancestors.

      So who were the “original sinners” from whom all humans today would have “inherited original sin” from? Or do you think jesus-god just picked a couple from the many thousands of humans that were around at a certain time to ensoul… –allowing the others to enter oblivion when they died just like all other animals? That’s kind of weird, because then that means an omniscient god knowingly and purposefully made beings that could suffer forever. That doesn’t seem very fitting of an omnibenevolent being. What could possibly be the reason for such a thing? Was he eager to play out his little crucifixion passion play to save those who believed in the story or what?

      No matter how you spin it, it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all in light of the evidence, you know? I don’t know how you get from the jesus-god of the bible to an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, invisible universe creator without some major contortions in logic.

      I think it makes much more sense to see these stories as myths and to conclude that there are no invisible/divine beings and that humans cease existing when they die just like all the other animals they descended from.

  112. Ye Olde Statistician
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    God damn but you’re an obnoxious overeducated moron.

    Ben, mi amigo, it’s nice to see some things are invariant in the world of general relativity! Let the reasoned debate begin!

    Look, it’s trivial. If you’re a threat to others, those others will work to counter the threat you pose to them

    So, if the Germans believe that Jews are a threat,… what? They are right, considering there’s the whole rest of the population of them and only a relatively few Jews? I’m curious whether you apply this methodology uniformly, or whether it is simply an argument-of-convenience.

    idiots… zombies… intestine-fondling fetishes… angry giants… magic gardens… talking snakes… Grow up… despotic overlord…

    I stand in awe of the powers of reason and science.

    What is it with Christians being so desperate to be sheep?

    Actually, Rorty, Rosenberg, Fish, Sartre, Nietzsche, and others are/were atheists. It was they who claimed that an objective morality was simply theology sneaking in through the back door. OTOH Paul of Tarsus, and the church doctrine that built on him, contended that morality is not only objective but is accessible to human reason. Your reasoning as regards a majority “protecting” themselves against Jews or Robin Hood or Jean Valjean is not well-grounded, but are at least indicative of the traditional Christian position.

    In any case, this wanders a bit from the topic, which is whether original sin is inherited genetically as Thomas Aquinas mentioned, and whether 10,000 ancestors precludes the possibility that there were two among them.

    In this respect it is useful to note that traditional theology holds only that all men are descended from one ancestor, not that there is [only] one ancestor from which all men are descended. That is what is called a quantifier shift. IOW, the existence of an Adam does not preclude the existences of Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. After all, even the mythic story mentions Adam’s children as finding wives (perhaps among the others of the 10,000).

  113. Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Okay, Okay . . . let me see here:

    If the genetic information in the article above is to be trusted, tracing back everyone’s mother’s mother’s mother’s . . . etc. leads to one woman 140,000 years ago.

    On the other hand, following every father’s father’s father’s . . . leads to one man 60,000 to 90,000 years ago.

    So if I am to believe those two pieces of data, I have to believe that 50,000 to 80,000 years after the great-grandmother of all women showed up, some man appeared in the gene pool, who somehow managed to displace the male lines of every single other man from the previous 50,000 to 80,000 years.

    That’s bizarre. What kind of mechanism led to this guy being able to erase tens of thousands of years’ of the genes left by all the other men?

    Anybody wanna give that one a try?

    • TheOFloinn
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      No, neither one “displaced” anyone. Having one ancestor does not preclude having many others. For example, you and all your cousins and second-cousins are descended from a single great-grandfather. But you still have three other great-grandfathers – and so do all your cousins, and they might not all be the same great-grandfathers. The religious doctrine of common descent taught that “all men are brothers” well before science discovered how that might be so. We are indeed all of one species.

      This has nothing to do with Mito-Eve or Chromo-Adam, who are singular in being strictly matrilineal or patrilineal. The religious doctrine states only that all men are descended from Adam, not that they are descended by strict patrilinearity or matrilinearity.

    • articulett
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      This is easy enough for even for many Christians to understand– you just have to actually be interested in the subject instead of assuming there isn’t an answer; it also helps if you don’t imagine yourself “saved” for believing in a particular magical version of events.

      http://tinyurl.com/3tsoszh

      http://biologos.org/questions/the-mitochondrial-eve (Christian website mentioned in OP that tries to reconcile scientific facts with religious teachings.)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Adam

      http://www.chartsgraphsdiagrams.com/evolution/mitochondrial-eve.html

      You’re welcome.

  114. The OFloinn
    Posted September 6, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    @Ben
    Such cruelly incompetent gods it is whose altars you bow down before!

    I’m sure you could have done a much better job.

    under the jurisdiction of any Western government

    IOW, those governments derived from Old Christendom.

    You dare preach your “morality” towards us

    I have not preached any morality at all. Although you have been doing quite a bit of it. It is irrelevant to the actual point: whether the genetics that postulates a breeding population of 10,000 dudes and dudettes is incompatible with a myth about the first couple with a rational soul; IOW, between the “origin of species” and the “origin of sin.”

    • Tulse
      Posted September 6, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I’m sure you could have done a much better job.

      If I were truly omnipotent? Absolutely. Or are you saying that your god couldn’t do any better, was constrained in some fashion? Because that doesn’t sound much like omnipotence to me.

  115. Ye Olde Statistician
    Posted September 6, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Apologies. I accidentally posted earlier under a name I usually reserve for other topics. Dagnabbit.

    @articulett
    I don’t think you can have free will with an omniscient deity either…

    That my wife knows what I will order has nothing to do with my freedom of will when I order breakfast. A free judgment is not necessarily an unpredictable one.

    Since it relates to the Adam and Eve business: Freedom of will follows logically from incompleteness of knowledge. The will is the appetite for products of the intellect; i.e., for concepts. But you cannot desire what you do not know. When we know something with absolute certainty, such as “2+2=4″, our will cannot withhold consent, but is determined toward it. When we know something incompletely, like “world peace” (what exactly does it look like? how will it be achieved? etc.), the will is free to choose different means of achieving it. Think of “free” in the sense of “play” in mechanics. Don’t try to make it more complicated.

    Do you think the priestly pedophiles CHOOSE to be attracted to kids?

    That didn’t take long.

    Ans. No more so than teacher pedophiles or uncle pedophiles (saving only that the priests involved were oriented toward teenaged males). They can only choose whether to ACT on those impulses. The difference is between cannot and can not. Please don’t suppose that the Scholastics never considered the effect of habit (which term for them included inborn and cultural, as well as personal predispositions). That a faculty may be impaired does not mean the faculty is not present.
    + + +
    Can your brain make anything “moral”

    No more than my hand can make me steal.

    You understand the Inquisitors and the Nazis.

    Probably better than you, for you likely only use them as myths with which to support your world-view. History is always local and particular and does not behave well for those with Grand Theories.

    Of course I’m not the one trying to make myths make sense.

    Well, except for the myth of the Inquisition or the myth of Nazism.
    + + +
    The bible passage above shows that…

    You fundamentalist types are always going on about proof-texts. Remember, the Orthodox Church grounds itself in the Holy Traditions, not in the Bible per se. (The Roman Catholic Church uses the phrase “The Bible and the Traditions.”) Both differ drastically from the atheists and Protestants, who go for the Sola Scriptura thingie.

    there is no teleology in things like camouflage… there’s just death to those who haven’t got the genome needed to survive and pass on the genes

    I agree that natural selection has a basically negative role: an interesting side effect of death. But how can this be unless there is something in the [trait] that “points to” survival? A lack of telos would mean a lack of “towardness” and this in turn would mean that no thing would lead to anything else in particular. It’s one thing to explain the → in A→B, but one must explain why the → points to B and not to C or D or nothing at all.

    Polar bears hunt seals by lurking near seal holes, waiting for the seal to stick its head out, then whacking it. Since the seal cannot see the polar bear at all beforehand, of what use then is the “camouflage”? Summer hunting is different, but in the summer, white fur is precisely less useful.

    spread this meme

    I thought you didn’t believe in invisible beings that controlled our lives. Heck, even Dawkins has backed off from this notion.

    Humans didn’t get a genome from “Adam”– we’d have gotten half of a genome

    Cf. http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/silva.htm

    If souls weren’t real

    Then nothing would be alive, since the word used by those who wrote of such things was anima, which means “life.” To ask ‘habet res animam’ (has this thing a soul) thus means ‘is this thing alive?’ The remaining question has to do with the powers and operations of the soul.

    do you think god and souls are akin to an abstraction?

    To ‘abstract’ is to ‘pull out.’ Thus, by observing empirical facts like adaptations, mutations, and death one may abstract the concept of ‘natural selection.’ Anima can be observed empirically: for the most part, one may verify that a thing is alive (animate) and not dead or inanimate. God, however, like gravity and natural selection, must be abstracted from empirical experience. Or perhaps grasped intuitively, the way Maxwell grasped electromagnetism.

    Why should the people here care how you reconcile your theology

    Because the blog-owner posed it as the question for this thread. Unless there was never an intention actually to explore the question and it was always meant as a kerygma of faith on your part.

    I don’t believe in the myth that Christianity is responsible for science

    So all those historians of science were wrong? See Huff, Grant, Lindberg, and others for the preconditions laid down in the Middle Ages. See here for an example where a religion really did stifle science: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/why-the-arabic-world-turned-away-from-science and Huff for an explanation why science never even got started in China.

    I would no more rely on a site calling itself “nobeliefs” than I would rely on one calling itself “answersingenesis.” Peas in a pod.

    And information doesn’t mean teleology… information copiers and processors do not need to have any awareness of what they are doing or how nor the goal.

    Of course not. Why should they need to be aware? The telos of a stone in free fall is to achieve a location of minimum gravitational potential, but a stone does not know that it does so. (See: potential functions, equilibrium manifold, attractor basins, etc.)

    I said at the beginning you probably did not understand telos, and my intuition seems born out by the empirical facts. Ink marks on paper or bits in a pile of plastic and silicon or sound waves in the air are just that: meaningless energy particles. Searle pointed out that nothing is a computer in itself, but only if people regard or use it as a computer. My tea mug here on my left is a computer executing the instruction “sit there and do nothing.”

    Without telos, efficient causation makes no sense, and there would be no natural laws.

    I want to recommend the Dawkins link for anybody actually interested in evolution and human origins.

    Dawkins is an excellent source for evolution. He may not be an Eisley or a Gould, but his skills as a science popularizer are considerable. That, however, does not qualify him in physics, or theology, or philosophy, or even barbecue sauce.
    + + +

    OTOH, I note that you (and more so, Ben) seem to believe all sorts of unobservable things about me, dedicating whole essays to the subject, but with no empirical evidence whatsoever. Ben, e.g., seems to believe that I am preaching morality. This and the need for tendentious and at times invective language dampens my own belief in your dedication to rationality and empiricism.

  116. DNW
    Posted September 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    What amuses me is the persistence of those aggressive atheists, who keep emotionally referring to “our ancestors” with the same kind of kumbaya singing, torso swaying transport and fervor which their kind usually reserve for progressivist camp meetings; wherein their more practical aim is preserving the conditions that make it possible for them to fill their government issue rice bowls from the public tap.

    I guess it is then, after all, understandable why it’s so important to them that there somewhere be found, even if it’s only in their own mythology, a “we” to definitively reference.

    Yet, “we” obviously don’t on the most recent genetics findings, all share the same ancestors. Archaic ancestors are not equally shared by all of what we call modern populations. Are you by any chance, six percent “Denisovan”?

    That goes pretty far back.

    Maybe what we need to do is go yet further back in order to find that critical social solidarity fulcrum point; and that’s “the why” behind the Great Apes currently being the beneficiaries of attempts by some to get them recognized as “persons”?

    Or maybe certain differences don’t morally matter, not being critical to liver function or something. And why divide humanity – or the “ins and outs” up on the basis of a lactase persistence gene, or an opposable thumb?

    Just because Bobo can’t digest cow’s milk or run a lathe, doesn’t mean he ain’t your brother no matter how heavy.

    Still, in accepting the notion of random evolutionary development, is it clear on logical grounds why some humans, if we still may use the word, might not have something akin to a “Ghost in the machine” (apologies to Ryle) within them, which others do not?

    And even if it is not actually possible, should anyone find the concept of their so having such, “morally” objectionable?

  117. Ye Olde Statistician
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    With magic, all things are possible.

    How fortunate then that no magic is invoked.

    Well, except for supposing that some mutation conferring ‘sapience’ occurred all at once in 10,000 separate hominids. That seems a bit magical.

    Far more likely, it seems, that in a population of 10,000 hominids, one individual was born with the mutation (assuming it was such) and like a dominant gene, it spread through the population in subsequent generations.

    People who have hammers tend to see only nails; so the distinction between biologically human and metaphysically human is easy to overlook.

    • Tulse
      Posted September 9, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      the distinction between biologically human and metaphysically human is easy to overlook.

      That’s naked question-begging, as what is at issue is precisely whether there is a difference between biologically human and “metaphysically” human (whatever that last phrase is supposed to mean).

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 9, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Metaphysically, man is a rational animal. Biologically, he is only an animal. This makes it difficult to explain systems of physics, speculative mathematics, some conversations on this thread, and the cave art of Lascaux.

        Reason is the capacity to abstract immaterial universals from concrete particulars. That is, from Fido, Rover, Lassie, and Rin Tin Tin, to abstract “dog.” As Aristotle put it, it is to known not only flesh, but what flesh is. Alas, there are no fossils of reason, and so it is invisible to that method of knowing.

        Hope this clears it up for you.

        • Tulse
          Posted September 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          Metaphysically, man is a rational animal.

          What do you mean by “metaphysically”? It is true that humans (including women) are animals, and that some of us demonstrate rationality, but I’m not sure why that counts as a “metaphysical” claim — does any concatenation of two qualities make it “metaphysical”? “Man is an animal who chews gum” — is that a metaphysical claim as well?

          Reason is the capacity to abstract immaterial universals from concrete particulars.

          That’s one definition. And there is evidence that some non-human animals have at least a rudimentary capacity to do this (e.g., African Grey Parrots).

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

            Metaphysically, man is a rational animal.

            What do you mean by “metaphysically”?

            That which “stands behind physics.” The state of being rational is not a physical thing like, say, chewing gum.

            “Man is an animal who chews gum” — is that a metaphysical claim as well?

            No. It is a physical act.

            Reason is the capacity to abstract immaterial universals from concrete particulars.

            That’s one definition. And there is evidence that some non-human animals have at least a rudimentary capacity to do this

            It’s the definition, and not to be confused with things like “intelligence,” or “knowing lots of stuff,” or “uses tools,” or “solves problems,” and so on. Any behavior that involves dealing with a concrete particular on a concrete basis, like bending a wire to hook something, can be accounted for by sensation and memory/imagination.

            Because rational thinkers, when they form concepts, will almost always also form accompanying images, and because concepts are always abstracted from particulars received through the senses, it is easy to confuse imagination with the intellect, perception with conception. It’s the difference between the concept of triangularity and any particular triangle you may imagine when you conceive it.

            There is a short explanation here why your parrot dethrones Descartes, not Aristotle:

            http://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/10/11/what-really-are-uniquely-human-traits/

            That is why when Augustine speaks of the “extraterrestrials” of his day – the blemyae, sciopods, centaurs, pygmies, etc. which travelers claimed lived “somewhere far away” – he said that no matter what their shape, color, size, etc., if they had the gift of reason, they were [metaphysically] human. So circling back to your first question, H. sap. is biologically human, but both he and ET would be metaphysically human. If there are any ETs. But then, there really were pygmies; so who knows?

            But also we are wandering far afield from the topic, which is whether genetics has dethroned the idea of common decent and origin-al sin. Quite clearly it dethrones a naive literalist, fundamentalist view of the myth, but it does not address the actual teachings of the Orthodox or Catholic churches, and perhaps not of the Oriental or Coptic churches, either.

            • Tulse
              Posted September 9, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

              Chewing gum is a physical act. “Being a gum chewer”, or “having a propensity for chewing gum” is not — it is property.

              It’s the definition, and not to be confused with things like “intelligence,” or “knowing lots of stuff,” or “uses tools,” or “solves problems,” and so on.

              How about “can count”, or “can identify the quality that differs among several similar objects”? Alex the Parrot could do those things.

              Because rational thinkers, when they form concepts, will almost always also form accompanying images, and because concepts are always abstracted from particulars received through the senses, it is easy to confuse imagination with the intellect, perception with conception.

              This cognitive psychologist is really unimpressed with medieval scholasticism about the mental.

              he said that no matter what their shape, color, size, etc., if they had the gift of reason, they were [metaphysically] human

              Again, that is question-begging. There is no reason to call rationality “human”, and to do so is to assume the issue at hand. Why don’t we just call it “rationality”, and admit that it is possessed to greater or lesser degree by various organisms on this planet.

              • Ye Olde Statistician
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

                ‘Tisn’t question-begging, ’tis definitional. You [or someone] asked the difference between biologically human and metaphysically human. The answer is that the latter would consider ET to be human. Or even Alex the Parrot, should his handler’s projections be factual. The former could regard different races as “not real humans” at least until the science of genetics rode to the rescue and proved the doctrine of common descent had been right all along. Consequently, the existence of 10,000 biological hominids does not preclude the presence among them of two metaphysical humans.

                For that matter, neither does it preclude a biological determination that a “sapience mutation” more likely arose first in one individual rather than simultaneously in 10,000.

                How about “can count”, or “can identify the quality that differs among several similar objects”?

                Or his handler could, and read those meanings into the empirical behavior. Could Clever Hans the Horse also count? There was no attempt to deceive on the part of his handler. Of course, “can count” involves only perception of physical objects and memory, and “identify the quality that differs among several similar objects” is also a feat involving only sensation and perception of concrete particulars, plus a bit of imagination.

                There is a different between “a behavior that seems to involve counting” and “grasping the concept of quantity.” Let me know when Alex can count without having concrete particular objects. Or can “identify the quality that differs among” single, married, divorced, and widowed women.

                This cognitive psychologist is really unimpressed with medieval scholasticism about the mental.

                Too bad, because A-T forms a more coherent grounding for science. Perhaps when psychology becomes a science, matters may appear differently. The meaning of facts depends on the theory through which they are viewed as well as the other facts available. Until then, can you cite an example of grasping a concept without forming a mental image (visual, aural, etc.)? That is, a counterexample to the contention you objected to. Or could it be you imagine that only imagining takes place and no grasping of concepts at all? Yet, how can one explain higher math in that case?

                Chewing gum is a physical act. “Being a gum chewer”… is not — it is property.

                “Intending to chew gum” is certainly a mental act. “Having a craving for gum” is a mental potency. “Being a gum-chewer” is impossible without in fact having chewed gum. The A-T model certainly accounts for them: a sensory appetite does not involve the rational faculties.

                It might also be useful to understand what the medieval scholastics actually wrote – they were not all of one mind on such things – than to rely on a vague notion of “medieval=double-plus ungood.”

              • Tulse
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

                ‘Tisn’t question-begging, ’tis definitional.

                Right, but your “definition” is question-begging. I can say that cats and washing machines and the Treaty of Westphalia are “metaphysical humans” by my definition, and you presumably would say that’s absurd. You have not defended why reason makes one a “human” (even metaphysically), rather that just “a being that reasons”. You are importing meaning in the use of the term “human” that is unjustified, and assumes what is at issue. Thus, question-begging.

                Regarding Alex, the research on his capabilities is extremely solid. And being able to count, especially random objects, is not just a matter of “perception of physical objects and memory”, it is also recognizing that an abstract quality (namely, “number” or “quantity”) applies to a set of any objects. That’s reasoning by any reasonable definition.

  118. Ye Olde Statistician
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I can say that cats and washing machines and the Treaty of Westphalia are “metaphysical humans” by my definition, and you presumably would say that’s absurd.

    No, I would say that you have no metaphysical grounds for doing so. Aristotle and other ancient pagans had good reason for defining humans first as animals, and secondly as a particular subset of animals, viz., rational animals. It’s also worth pointing out that the A-T view of animals as having imagination would not regard Alex the Parrot as especially surprising. The Scientific Revolutionaries and positivists, like Descartes, Hume, and the rest, would be flabbergasted.

    It always astonishes me how quickly people will surrender empiricism.

    why reason makes one a “human” (even metaphysically), rather that just “a being that reasons”.

    It is not reasoning per se, but the capacity for rationality; that is: the ability to grasp abstract concepts (e.g. the concept “being” or the concept “being rational”), to put them together into complete thoughts (e.g., “all men are rational beings”), and to reason from one thought to another in accordance with the laws of logic (e.g., “All men are rational” + “Socrates is a man” = “Socrates is rational”). This differs in kind, from sensation + imagination, which we share with non-human animals. Concepts have a universality and determinateness that no sensation or mental image can have even in principle.

    being able to count, especially random objects, is not just a matter of “perception of physical objects and memory”, it is also recognizing that an abstract quality (namely, “number” or “quantity”) applies to a set of any objects. That’s reasoning by any reasonable definition.

    See above. It probably means that the parrot’s handlers are pulling abstractions from the pure empirical facts of the parrot’s behavior, i.e., applying meaning to them. Let Alex count when there are no physical objects before him.

    Materialists are often insufficiently materialistic. Recognizing that this, that, and the other will get you a reward does not mean that you grasp the concept of “three.” We must learn better to distinguish the pure material facts from the abstractions we automatically apply to what we perceive. This is not easy.

    • Tulse
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      Aristotle and other ancient pagans had good reason for defining humans first as animals, and secondly as a particular subset of animals, viz., rational animals.

      Sure, but we’re also bipeds, and a particular subset of them, featherless. So?

      It’s also worth pointing out that the A-T view of animals as having imagination would not regard Alex the Parrot as especially surprising. The Scientific Revolutionaries and positivists, like Descartes, Hume, and the rest, would be flabbergasted.

      And Darwin would have expected it and be delighted, since he presumed humans had developed from other creatures. I know you describe yourself as “Olde”, but you might try reading some science (and philosophy) after the 1700s.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 11, 2011 at 3:21 am | Permalink

        Tulse & Ichthyic: expressing my appreciation to you both for continuing to support the side in face of the stupefying tenacity of this benighted theist.

      • articulett
        Posted September 11, 2011 at 5:22 am | Permalink

        Good job… but it’s probably best to let the theists battle it out.

        Mike Brenner believes that the first humans were poofed from dust that god poofed out when he was in the process of universe creation (and I guessed he poofed ERVs and the mutated Vitamin C gene and the Chromosome 2 fusion thing during his poofing so that smart people could be tricked into believing evolution– which makes him an evil “trickster god”… –which is fitting with the god of Genesis.)

        And “olde” think god evolved humans on this planet just so they’d get rational enough to sin and damn all their descendents to hell… except for future generations who applauded god for the little passion play he was going to enact whereby he impregnates a virgin with a carnal version of himself so that she can give birth to her rapist’s son… who is also the rapist himself who was born to be a sacrifice to the god that created him (and the god that he is)so that future sinners don’t have to go to the hell god knowingly created for the sins he knew his imperfect creations would make. He could have made all perfect people like Jesus or had the universe be all heaven all the time for all sentient beings… but he’s a wacky sadistic god– or maybe just in incompetent not, so benevolent, not so omniscient one– an advanced alien type god– or maybe just the deists laid back god that sets the universe in motion and walks away… but sets the timer on 14.5 billion years so that “orginal sinners” eventually evolve on one little planet around one little which god thinks will make a great stage for the crucifixion-atonement play he has planned.

        I’d like to see this conversation. This is what goes on at Biologos. I think this sort of “discussion” is what will make Christianity implode from the inside. Mike won’t swallow any facts that threaten his faith… “olde” will accept the facts, obfuscate when needed and insert his magic fairy into the equation amidst gaps.

        But now they’ve been forced to think about the story… and the Christian story doesn’t make any sense– with or without a literal Adam and Eve.

        On Dembski’s side representing the fundies, we have Mike Brenner– on Collins side representing the accomodationists is “olde”. Can accommodation give a clue to the clueless? Do people who feel saved for their faith purposefully keep themselves from really understanding evolution in order to keep the faith? Can the obfuscate enough to get a fundie to maybe consider that evolution might be a fact (and the earth might be as old as scientists say.) How will future Christians reconcile their faith with the ever amassing facts? How much more will Christianity splinter before being relegated to the pile of myths past?

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Sure, but we’re also bipeds, and a particular subset of them, featherless.

        But clearly something essential distinguishes humans from a plucked chicken.

        (Cf. “essential” vs. “accidental”)
        + + +
        …”the A-T view of animals as having imagination would not regard Alex the Parrot as especially surprising. The Scientific Revolutionaries and positivists, like Descartes, Hume, and the rest, would be flabbergasted…”

        And Darwin would have expected it and be delighted, since he presumed humans had developed from other creatures.

        Why would Darwin have “expected” that a predecessor species would possess the same powers as the successor species? That B evolved from A does not mean that A has the attributes of B. Heck, Darwin distinguished white men from those he regarded as “lesser” races, so it is not entirely clear that he would have blurred the line between humans and Alex the Parrot.

        Of course, if you have empirical evidence of what Darwin “would have” believed about Alex, be sure to present it.

        I do not understand why the zeal of your beliefs drives you to deny obvious empirical facts. Is it for fear that they would lead to the horrid G-word? Rest assured: you can believe all the facts without taking them any further than that.
        + + +
        you might try reading some science (and philosophy) after the 1700s.

        What empirical evidence do you have that I have not? Or does empiricism not matter? A few weeks ago, I was reading Whitehead’s Principle of Relativity and its applications to physical science. Does that count?

        We have come through 400 years of philosophical squid ink, only to begin quietly resurrecting Aristotelian principles under other names. Darwinism, with its essential teleological nature, was a primary driver in this re-examination; but the physicists with their potential functions and attractor basins, not to mention dark matter, have contributed, too.

        Truly, a philosophy that rejects causation in favor of correlation, as Hume did, is not friendly to natural science, which seeks the causes of natural phenomena. A philosophy like Kant’s that replaces knowledge of an actual empirical world with knowledge only of one’s own interior thoughts cannot be good news for those seeking to know the empirical world. The disappearance of “universe” from Hegel, Sartre, and others should worry those who want to learn about the universe. Fortunately, most scientists until recently were pragmatic. They gave lip service to the rejection of form and finality even while they quietly assumed “an irreducible hierarchy and patterned structure actualizing natural things” and “the regularities and lawlike tendencies of natural beings.”

        • Tulse
          Posted September 12, 2011 at 6:10 am | Permalink

          clearly something essential distinguishes humans from a plucked chicken.

          Lots of things distinguish a human from a plucked chicken, but what counts as “essential” is “relative” to one’s concerns.

          (Cf. “essential” vs. “accidental”)

          Again, you might read some philosophy after Aristotle. And for someone who touts “empiricism”, you sure seem to retreat back to Scholasticism in a heartbeat.

          Of course, if you have empirical evidence of what Darwin “would have” believed about Alex, be sure to present it.

          How about:
          “the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.”Descent of Man

          Seriously, his second-most-famous book is all about how human faculties and capabilities are generally continuous with those of other species. Again, you should read something after 1700.

          Of course, I should also note that ultimately it doesn’t matter what Darwin would have personally thought (except perhaps as a note of biographical interest). What matters is how his theoretical work applies. Unlike your apparent veneration of “Ille Philosophus”, what matters is not the man, but the ideas, and how right or wrong they are.

          A few weeks ago, I was reading Whitehead’s Principle of Relativity and its applications to physical science. Does that count?

          Excellent — that gets you up to 1922.

          Darwinism, with its essential teleological nature

          It’s official — you really don’t understand evolution.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 12, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

            for someone who touts “empiricism”, you sure seem to retreat back to Scholasticism

            But Scholasticism was empirical. It is Kantianism and its successors that have retreated into idealism. Face it, if you really believe that your only real experience is with the thoughts inside your own head, what hope do you have of knowing anything about the empirical world.
            + + +
            “…Darwinism, with its essential teleological nature…”

            It’s official — you really don’t understand evolution.

            More likely, it’s official that you don’t understand telos.

            The Darwinian engine has two strokes:
            1) Species “strive to the utmost” to reproduce. “In a world already possessed,” this results in far more offspring than can possibly survive.
            2) In the “struggle for existence” those better fit for their jobs will survive proportionately more often than those less fit. As a result, successive generations tend to become better fit to their environment.

            Both the “striving” and the “struggle” imply an ends-directed process; viz., “to reproduce offspring” and “to continue living.” That is, there is a “towardness” in the process. If not, natural selection would not lead to evolution or the origin of species, but to white noise.

            (On a more general level, natural selection tends “toward” greater fitness for its niche; and on the broadest level, evolution per se tends “toward” the origin of species.)

            If only evolutionary theory were mathematized like the hard sciences. But it’s not clear if it is even possible to do so.

            • Tulse
              Posted September 13, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

              Scholasticism was empirical.

              What?! That is completely absurd. Scholasticism (as traditionally defined) was all about doing “critical” analysis of the works of other authors (often the Bible). There was no empiricism as we usually define it in Scholasticism. To the extent that Scholasticism had any sort of coherent actual philosophy (as opposed to tradition), it was Rationalism, which is hardly empirical.

              It is Kantianism and its successors that have retreated into idealism.

              Again, you seem to misunderstand the area you’re discussing — Kantianism is not “idealism”, at least not as traditionally defined. Kant does lay out what he argued are the necessary non-empirical qualities necessary for understanding the world, but he did that precisely to provide a foundation for understanding the world.

              (And I find it not a little hilarious that someone touting “essential” features is arguing against idealism.)

              The Darwinian engine has two strokes:
              1) Species “strive to the utmost” to reproduce.

              You are once again engaging in presupposing your argument. Species don’t “strive” to reproduce — it is simply that those species that do reproduce go on to make more of their species. You might as well say that crystals “strive” to grow bigger, or that water “strives” to flow downhill. Do you think there is purpose in an avalanche?

              2) In the “struggle for existence” those better fit for their jobs will survive proportionately more often than those less fit. As a result, successive generations tend to become better fit to their environment.

              “Struggle” is again importing a term that is primarily metaphorical (and yes, it has been used by evolutionary biologists in the past, but in this metaphorical sense). Organisms with mental states presumably do “struggle” to survive in a literal sense, but it is absurd to say the same about the majority of organisms on the planet. Again, those organisms that happened to act in certain ways, or have certain qualities, ended up producing more organisms with those behaviours and qualities. There is nothing any more teleological here than when a river carves a path through the lowest contiguous sections of land. “It’s amazing! Look at that river strive to flow downhill! How did the river know those bits led to the sea? It must be struggling to reach the ocean!”

              Both the “striving” and the “struggle” imply an ends-directed process

              A rock “strives” and “struggles” to get to a lower potential energy state. A crystal “strives” and “struggles” to grow bigger in a solution. I am “striving” and “struggling” to make sense of your muddled understanding of philosophy and absurd characterization of science. Only in the last instance is there any teleology happening, and even in the last case I’m not sure there is a clear end.

              • Ye Olde Statistician
                Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

                Tulse
                Scholasticism (as traditionally defined) was all about doing “critical” analysis of the works of other authors (often the Bible). There was no empiricism as we usually define it in Scholasticism. To the extent that Scholasticism had any sort of coherent actual philosophy (as opposed to tradition), it was Rationalism, which is hardly empirical.

                TOS
                The Aristotelian maxim was “nothing is in the mind unless it is first in the senses.” Read for example Oresme’s discussion of the possible motion of the earth, which repeatedly cites empirical experience: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/ufhatch/HIS-SCI-STUDY-GUIDE/0040_nicoleOresme.html Or consider Theodoric of Fribourg, who correctly determined the cause of the rainbow as refraction through raindrops by filling glass balls with water and conducting experiements. Roger Bacon determined that the speed of light was faster than the speed of sound by observation of a distant blacksmith, noting that the hammer strike could be seen before it was heard.

                What they did lack were two things: a) instruments to make measurements of qualities other than weights and extensions (and only very crudely, of time); and b) mathematical notation (since the privileging of mathematics in the discourse of science was a key element of the Scientific Revolution). It was Oresme who invented the + sign.

                Perhaps you are using a different definition of empiricism?

                Tulse
                Species don’t “strive” to reproduce

                Darwin
                “Every single organic being around us may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers.” and “Each organic being is striving to increase at a geometrical ratio.”
                — The Origin of Species (1st ed., 1859), p. 66, 78-9. Both passagesare repeated in all later editions published in Darwin’s lifetime. He also says the same thing in other places.

                However, “species strive” was a synechdoche for “the individuals of a species strive”

                You seem to be confusing this with “conscious intent.” That would be true only of the animals, in particular the higher animals.

                Tulse
                You might as well say that crystals “strive” to grow bigger, or that water “strives” to flow downhill. Do you think there is purpose in an avalanche?

                YOS
                I said there is telos in nature. Everything works toward an end, “always or for the most part.” Otherwise there would be no regularities in nature, no natural laws. Natural selection would lead to random results, not to species better adapted to their niche, and there would be no evolution of the results. However, one does not normally say “strive” of crystals, since they are animated from the outside, not from an internal principle. Living things have intention of a sort; inanimate things are moved from the outside. The telos of an avalance is to minimize its gravitational potential. Being inanimate, it does not know it does this; but it does it every time. It is so dependable, we can express it in mathematical laws from the hard sciences.

                But I have cautioned you against this error – confusing telos with conscious intention – before. Perhaps you did not read the previous comments.

                Tulse
                Organisms with mental states presumably do “struggle” to survive in a literal sense, but it is absurd to say the same about the majority of organisms on the planet.

                YOS
                “Struggle” need not be conscious. Plants struggle to survive, sending out roots or branches and so forth, protists likewise; but no one says they have “mental states.”

                Tulse
                those organisms that … act in certain ways, or have certain qualities, ended up producing more organisms with those behaviours and qualities.

                YOS
                Of course. For the organism, the telos is reproduction. Otherwise natural selection would produce random results rather than evolution and origin of species.

                Tulse
                There is nothing any more teleological here than when a river carves a path through the lowest contiguous sections of land. “It’s amazing! Look at that river strive to flow downhill! How did the river know those bits led to the sea? It must be struggling to reach the ocean!”

                YOS
                A river is inanimate. It does not “know” anything. Nevertheless, it does seek out the path of minimal gravitational potential. A river never flows uphill. (Not all rivers reach the ocean, btw.)

                Tulse
                A rock “strives” and “struggles” to get to a lower potential energy state. A crystal “strives” and “struggles” to grow bigger in a solution. I am “striving” and “struggling” to make sense of your muddled understanding of philosophy and absurd characterization of science. Only in the last instance is there any teleology happening, and even in the last case I’m not sure there is a clear end.

                YOS
                I cautioned at the beginning that you likely did not know what telos is. A long time ago, Descartes discarded telos because his program (and that of his contemporaries) was to seize power over nature for the manufacture of useful (and profitable) products. To do this, one need know only the efficient (agent) causes and (to a lesser extent) the material causes. Those will tell you what buttons to press to bend nature to your will. (Boyle’s list of the most pressing problems of science in his day is instructive: Only a couple of them are scientific problems. The remainder are technological problems — “a ship that can sail under water and a ship that can never be sunk” — or male fantasies — “the recovery of youth, or at least its appearance.” Science is all about Hair Club for Men??? Archimedes would have laughed himself sick.)

                But one consequence of the success of this program is that the exclusive focus on efficient causes for near 400 years of philosophical squid ink has conditioned us to think of causes solely in terms of efficient causes. Hence, the others have become invisible. It’s like restricting ourselves to telescopes alone, and then declaring that microbes do not exist.

                Telos is called “the cause of causes” because is there were nothing in A that “pointed toward” B, there would be no efficient cause by which A→B “always or for the most part.” Hence, when a scientist investigates nature with the confidence that there is a natural law to be discovered, and not chaos, he is showing reliance on final causality. They just won’t say so. They’ll use terms like “information” or “encoding” or (in physics) “attractor basins.”

                Evolution makes far more sense when the teleological behavior of living things is taken into account.

              • Tulse
                Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

                I said there is telos in nature. Everything works toward an end

                And if you insist on that, I believe we have come to the end of productive discussion.

  119. Mike Benner
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Luke 28:40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

    Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    Both Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus agree with Ye Olde Statistician.

    They didn’t consider creation struggling so absurd.

    mb

    • Tulse
      Posted September 13, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Both Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus agree with Ye Olde Statistician.

      Well there you go then. Jesus said it, you believe it, that settles it.

      They didn’t consider creation struggling so absurd.

      Remind me again what their experience in biology is?

      And, for that matter, remind me again what stones “crying out” has to do with organismic evolution?

    • Posted September 13, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Jesus of Nazareth? You mean the Zombie of Zion, who lead the great assault of the undead on Jerusalem in ’33? The one that didn’t make it into the “historical” records until the second century?

      Fictional characters in a children’s faery tale book that opens with a story about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry giant failing to find the absurdity in bawling boulders should come as a surprise to nobody. What continues to astonish me, personally, is how anybody who needs to take off his shoes to count his age can take seriously even a single word in that bad joke.

      Cheers,

      b&

  120. Mike Benner
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

    As for this Jesus person, the scriptures say that He was creator of all things. If true, this would make his knowledge of biology remarkably comprehensive, half as much as yours perhaps.

    If the biblical account is true, this Paul guy, being from Tarsus, was no philosophical dummy, and was quite determined for a long while to destroy whatever movement this Jesus guy had begun. One day the lights went out and he found himself talking to the supposedly dead Jesus guy, and had a major attitude adjustment. He even went so far as to state that some 500 persons had seen the dead guy alive again as well.

    Admittedly, Paul was neither creator, nor a biologist, though I suspect that Darwinian concepts were not on the syllabus at Tarsus U.

    • Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Oh, yessireebob, the Biblical account is 100% absolutely completely true.

      Say…I’ve got some prime Arizona beachfront property for sale — real cheap, what with the real estate crash and all. You want in on the deal? It’s your chance of a lifetime to become filthy, stinkin’ rich. What’ve you got to lose?

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Tulse
      Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      As for this Jesus person, the scriptures say that He was creator of all things.

      Which scriptures? The Bhagavad Gita? The Qur’an? The Avesta? The Torah? The Edda? The Kitáb-i-Aqdas? The Evangelion? Dianetics? The Pearl of Great Price? The Kojiki? The Ginza Rba? The Necronomicon?

      Why should we believe what your scripture says? After all, the one I follow states very clearly: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’ lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”. Surely you agree that’s true, right?

      • Mike Benner
        Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Oh, there’s plenty of ways to dance with the devil.

        • Tulse
          Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          But you didn’t really address the issue. How do you know your scripture is right when there are so many others, some of which explicitly say that yours is wrong?

  121. eheffa
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Mike:

    “If the biblical account is true…”

    That’s the crux of the issue. By all independent examination it simply ain’t true. The Colossions passage you quote was written by a forger & the gospel passages you quote are also written by undated, anonymous writers- long after the supposed events they are documenting. It is wishful thinking at best & more likely pure fiction of the bullshit variety.

    If the Biblical god exists, he is a truly pathetic communicator & given to misrepresenting the facts.

    -evan

  122. eheffa
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Mike:

    “If the biblical account is true…”

    That’s the crux of the issue. By all independent examination it simply ain’t true. The Colossions passage you quote was written by a forger & the gospel passages you quote are also written by undated, anonymous writers- long after the supposed events they are documenting. The Bible is not a reliable source of factual information: it is wishful thinking at best & more likely pure fiction of the bullshit variety.

    If the Biblical god exists, he is a truly pathetic communicator & given to misrepresenting the facts.

    -evan

  123. Mike Benner
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Josephus, no fan of Jesus, wrote of him not later than 66AD.

    • Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Ha! What a joke.

      Seriously, dude. You have got to be one of the must gullible marks on teh innertubes.

      I mean, even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits it’s a forgery — never mind Origin who bitched about Josephus’s ignorance of Jesus.

      You sure you don’t want to take me up on that offer of Arizona beachfront property? I assure you, it’s far more legitimate than your silly zombie death cult playdate club. And when did they ever give you a chance to make loads of money?

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        [If we had a preview, that would read, "Origen." Sorry.]

        b&

        • Mike Benner
          Posted September 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          I’m not a young earth creationist and do not read their materials. I don’t know how old the earth is, and neither do you.

          Universe could be old, could be young. If it took God a billion years to make the stars as we measure time, and for their lights to be visible to earth, and he called that billion years a day, it doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact, it exemplifies his eternal nature to my way of thinking. If God made it all happen in two hours so that LIGHT initially traveled at exponentially fast rates when it ORIGINATED, and subsequently decayed into stable wavelengths and travel rates in a vacuum at c speed that we see today when the creation power source ceased after the initial firing, it is fine with me as well. Or, that light was superantigravitated away from the power source in the very beginning, that’s fine too. Light has been filtered down to around 44 mph, so it is possible to slow it down, and its speed is a function of the medium it passes through. If there was God the creator in the beginning, who says there couldn’t have been a dark ether void through which light’s speed was c to the Cth to the Cth power so that light was exported throughout the creation really, really fast? Once light was originally released through it, the dark ether void collaped inescapably into black holes, leaving vaccum appearance of outer space. Once released, light speed drops down dramatically to where it is stable and travels at the rapid, but more measurable speeds we have today. I can think of numerous reasons the universe and the earth must be very old, but can also see possibilities of a much younger universe and a younger earth as well.

          If I’m gullible (and the evidence is overwhelming, right?), so be it. Already own Arizona beachfront property I bought real cheap near Scottsdale. All property was beachfront property at one time anyway, since it was all under water in the great flood. There have been offers to double and even to nearly triple my money after seven years, despite a bad real estate market in Az., but I’m holding out for the seventy fold increase, and maybe even one hundred fold since I’m blessed by God, and he works in mysterious ways. Not looking for any more real estate on earth, but thank you for thinking of me.

          • articulett
            Posted September 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

            We actually do know the age of the earth… just like we know that Venus exists and that the carbon in our bodies comes from stars. There’s this thing called science, and it’s responsible for wonders like the computer you are typing on, modern medicine, air travel, the Hubble telescope, dentistry, indoor plumbing, electricity, etc. It allows us to know things that the writers of your magic book did not know and could not know.

            What we don’t know (even those who imagine they do know) is whether any invisible/divine beings exist. As far as the evidence is concerned, the invisible divine beings you imagine yourself saved for believing in are no more likely to exist than the invisible/divine beings you readily dismiss as imaginary or mythological. Really. You have no more claims to divine knowledge than the Mormon Prophet or Reverend Moon or a Muslim extremist.

            I do feel for you– you “need” to make yourself believe, because you imagine you will suffer forever if you don’t, right? But I don’t think you’ll have any success at convincing those who are actually interested in what is true.

            For the record, earth is 4.55 billion years old. The universe is 13.73 billion years old. This is a fact whether you comprehend it or not. We DO know this. Even if your indoctrinators would like you to believe otherwise.

            And there was no “great flood”… even if you really, really believe there was. There is no one that is going to “save” you so you can live happily ever after for believing the right unbelievable story. (This is also true for the Muslims who believe they are going to paradise while those who blaspheme Allah by worshiping Jesus as a god are going to hell.) The earth is not the center of the universe even if you believe with all your might that it is– and the universe was not created so you could exist even if it “feels like” it was. There are no gods nor demons nor angels nor gremlins nor eternal invisible realms nor ghosts nor fairies nor magical beings of any sort. Wanting things to be true and believing them to be true doesn’t make them true.

            I sincerely hope you grow beyond your magical thinking one day, as there are fabulous things you can discover that ARE true… and WERE true even when you didn’t believe them– and they will be true, even when you no longer exist. The evidence for the things that are objectively true keeps amassing and getting refined and honed, so faith is not necessary. The only punishment for not believing it is ignorance like yours –and like other superstitious people have. But right now, you are too afraid that your loving god will punish you forever unless you believe the right magic story with the right fervency –and you’ve left yourself no way to move beyond your brain washing.

            • Ye Olde Statistician
              Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

              There’s this thing called science, and it’s responsible for wonders like the computer you are typing on, modern medicine, air travel, the Hubble telescope, dentistry, indoor plumbing, electricity, etc.

              The Wright Brothers were not actually scientists. There is a tendency on some parts to credit Science! with the triumphs of engineering and tinkering. It’s a mixed bag. We get airplanes to deliver atomic bombs; we get wonder drugs and nerve gas; profitable products and pollution. This is because of the Baconian/Cartesian revolution in which science was subordinated to industry and engineering, and its object was reimagined as “mastery and control of the universe” rather than “knowledge for its own sake.”

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

                *looks to see where the Wright Bros were mentioned*

                hmm.

                methinks you have just created yet another strawman argument.

                There is a tendency on some parts to credit Science! with the triumphs of engineering and tinkering.

                one, most engineering IS based on the findings of science, otherwise, building things would engender much more randomness than it actually does.

                two, you are employing a strawman argument, in that noboody ever said that all things are the products of science.

                for example, the requirement of humans to drink water is hardly the result of a scientific observation.

                now if you want to argue that science does NOT play a significant role in modern engineering, then go ahead and try.

                that would be a gas.

                I’ll enjoy repeatedly torching your inevitable false equivalencies.

                or, I could just head you off at the pass and ask you what courses are required for a degree in engineering these days (hint: there is a lot of math and physics involved for good reason).

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

                There is a tendency on some parts to credit Science Engineering! with the triumphs of {simple reinforced observation] engineering and tinkering.

      • Tulse
        Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits it’s a forgery

        And you believe the papist claptrap that comes out of the wicked mouth of the Whore of Babylon? Geez, Ben, no wonder you’re going to hell.

        • Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          What you mean, “going”? I’ve been living here for ages!

          Drop by and visit sometime. Just grab the next handbasket on Good Intentions Road. Fare is steep — thirteen pieces of silver for cattle class, two gold coins for the chauffeured ride — but the trip is quite scenic either way.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

            What you mean, “going”? I’ve been living here for ages!

            do make sure you catch the never-ending campy sci-fi film festival while you’re there.

            I hired Joel Hodgson to host it.

            If you can’t find a guide, just go back to the main entrance, turn around, go right past the shark tanks, and you can’t miss it.

  124. Ye Olde Statistician
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    *looks to see where the Wright Bros were mentioned* hmm.

    Try looking here:

    There’s this thing called science, and it’s responsible for wonders like … air travel,

    There is a tendency to confuse Science! with Engineering and even with Mathematics. Occasionally, one sees Science! even confused with simple reinforced observation. But a man who observes that two kinds of rocks when struck together will produce a spark is not doing Science. Science means finding out why those two rocks make a spark.

    Most engineering has not been based on Science until very recently in history. (It was only in 1834 that Rev. Wm. Whewell coined the term “scientist,” because it was only then that it was becoming a profession, rather than a hobby of the well-to-do.) What scientific degree did Edison have, for example? Of course, engineers have always used mathematics, but Mathematics is not Science, either. In some of the items called out, Engineering made something work and Science followed after, explaining it. In other cases, Science unfolded a principle and Engineering followed, making it work.

    Engineers today must study physics as well as math; but it is ahistorical to project this situation into the past and claim indoor plumbing or air travel as the fruits of science.

    But all of this is a vast digression, and we ought to wind it up or return to the topic.

    “Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum.”
    — M. Tullius Cicero, De Oratore, sec. 120
    (“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.”)

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Ichthyic was referring to air travel. The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk barely made it as far as the wingspan of a 747. Besides, I’m pretty sure they had at least a bit of knowledge gained from the works of Carnot, Watt, and many others.

      “To be ignorant of what has been discovered since the dawn of the Enlightenment is to remain always an idiot.”

      — Ben Goren

      But never mind. You suggest we should cut to the chase. I agree.

      Kindly present for us, right here, right now, one single piece of positive evidence supporting that laughable piece of childish fantasy about Adam and Eve. Not one piece of evidence that’s not inconsistent with it, but one piece of evidence that actually raises the chances that it’s not pure bullshit.

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      There is a tendency to confuse Science! with Engineering and even with Mathematics

      repeating yourself doesn’t make you any more accurate.

      repeating yourself doesn’t make you any more accurate.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        But all of this is a vast digression

        uh huh.

        in fact ALL of your posts consist of little else.

        I carefully note that you did not address the consequent of your claim that I posted, involving the fact that learning to drink water for sustenance doesn’t count as engineering.

        in short, if you want to ascribe the Wright bros model to random chance, and call that engineering, you’re simply wrong.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          by the way, to help you on your way to seeing that you example of the Wright bros is actually a terrible one to “prove your point”…

          I would ask you if you really know who inspired them to start looking into flight to begin with?

          and who inspired that person?

          and who inspired that person?

          and once you get there…

          what do you find?

          yup.

          SCIENCE, BITCH.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

            A bald assertion is not an historical demonstration; and “inspiration” is not science.

            Now, if you’re willing to equate science with simple knowledge (scientia) so as to include military science, political science, and all the rest, fine. But Poincare (a real scientist, btw) pointed out that a pile of facts was not a science any more than a pile of bricks was a house.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

            see:

            Orville and Wilbur

            ^
            Otto Lilienthal

            ^
            George Cayley

            look ‘em up.

            What did George Cayley do?

            here’s a clue:

            science.

            why do I mention this?

            two reasons.

            one, like I said, the OP NEVER MENTIONED THE WRIGHT BROS. No, they mentioned air travel.

            YOU mentioned the Wright bros.

            but, like many engineers I have met (whether you are one or not), you seem to want us to think that engineers come up with their ideas, or implement them, with no scientific background needed.

            this is a MUCH more common fallacy than the reverse case you proclaim.

            In fact, I’ve met engineers who work for oil companies that haven’t a clue about the geological and paleontological science underlying the methods they utilize, and so conclude that science had little to do with the methods they employ.

            ignorance is no excuse, not in their case, and not in yours.

        • Ye Olde Statistician
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          Who ascribed the engineering and test piloting by the Wright Brothers to random chance?

          I have no idea why you think learning to drink water for sustenance would count as engineering. Seems more a natural instinct to me. (And teleological, at that: “for” sustenance.) Now, building an aqueduct to bring that water into Rome, that’s engineering. (And especially good examples, too. The drop is precisely calculated, even though they did not have a theory of gravity or hydraulics. They did not know about water head, so the standard calix was wrong, but all-in-all, the Romans were excellent engineers.

          Not much in the sciences, which they regarded as impractical. (Nor did they do much in the way of new mathematics.) There were no notable additions to Greek natural philosophy until the Middle Ages. Pliny and Macrobius were encyclopediasts, collecting facts and lore willy-nilly; but they were not themselves natural philosophers.

          • articulett
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

            I’m willing to consider all systems of knowledge about objective reality that demonstrably work to be science. If we can understand, refine, and hone our information on a subject– be it air travel, space, DNA, magnetism, x-rays, technology, etc. I consider it science. Science is about the stuff that is true for everybody no matter what they believe. Air planes fly whether you believe they will or not. One doesn’t need to understand X-rays for them to work. Venus existed long before humans did; science is our method for understanding more about this planet as well as our own. Science is the best tool we have for understanding objective reality (the natural world). I don’t really consider political science to be science unless you are measuring objective information (what percentage of self described atheists are opposed to the death penalty compared to self described theists, for example.) But I can see why many religionists like to obfuscate understanding on the subject. Science works; religion does not. Religionists have been indoctrinated to believe that their religion is “another way of knowing”– the facts don’t support such a claim, but with enough obfuscation, many can be lead to believe otherwise. (You, for example.) This appears to be especially true if you can get people to think they will live happily ever after for believing the right unbelievable story– and that they will suffer eternal torment if they doubt. See the Muslims if you have any doubts.

            I consider religions on par with myths, stories, fables, opinions, ideals, legal institutions, governments, economic models, superstitions, etc.– things that are not science… These things may incorporate science or have measurable aspects about them, but they are not paths to understanding objective reality in themselves though people may BELIEVE otherwise. In my opinion, religion steals credit for what science does… religionists utilize science for their own benefit … obfuscate it when it makes their “prophets” seem wrong… and denigrate it when it threatens “the faith” they want others to “believe in”. Religions, like all of the above, are human constructs; they require the material brains of humans to exist (though there is evidence that other animals develop rudimentary superstitions if they are able to associate cause and effect… pigeons will try to recreate movements that they think might have caused food pellets to drop from the sky, for example.)

            I think it’s more than obvious that your indoctrination is compelling you to denigrate and obfuscate the understanding of science so that your religious beliefs seem like a good or true or a method of finding out something objectively factual –when it’s more than obvious to most of us that your religious beliefs are no more good or true or useful than the religious beliefs you reject (such as those of Scientologists… who like to imagine that their religion is scientific.) In your mind, if you can find fault with science, your religious beliefs “win”. I’m sure the same is true with the Muslims and Scientologists and the Greek Myth believers of yore. Anyone outside the superstitions can see that these are clearly not methods for finding out about reality –though humans are vulnerable to confusion on the topic and will adhere to stories that “seem” like explanation and then confirm these biases (as you’ve demonstrated.) I thank you for illustrating this tendency to those who may stumble across this webpage in the future.

            I think a lot of us were probably like you back when we believed in the supernatural. So, rest, assured, we understand why you are trying to shift the conversation to “problems with science” rather than the likelihood of your particular magical beliefs being true. You illustrate why faith and fact are not as compatible as the Biologos folk would like to believe. Each believer has to come up with their own ad-hoc explanation as to why the facts don’t really sit well with the stories they imagine themselves saved for “believing in”… and when that doesn’t work so well they are stuck trying to convince themselves that science without the input of their magical beliefs is “evil”.

            Your digressions, however, are getting increasingly bizarre. If you weren’t so desperate to shore up our faith, you might be able to engage in an honest conversation and actually learn something instead of playing this weird semantic game you feel compelled to play.

            Obfuscating understanding of science does not and can not make your Jesus-god real nor can it save the Adam and Eve story from becoming yet another myth humans once mistook for historical fact.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        Do you claim that the objects and methods of mathematics are the same as for natural science? Forsooth! Eight years in math, wasted.

  125. Mike Benner
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Your age estimates as to the age of the Universe involve much guesswork, though mathematically intricate guesswork, based on empirical measurement and assumptions presumed to be constant throughout time. You can infer astronomical ages in the billions of years as to the age of the universe, but you ASSUME things to do so with your measuring sticks, that may not be actually FACTS, as in immovably and unchangeably TRUE.

    The Big Bang Theory is one method of explaining the universe. Let’s see how the theory goes… In the beginning, just before the beginning second, there was NOTHING. In the tiniest fraction of a second later 10**-46 seconds (or thereabouts), infinitely compressed matter in an infinitely small place at astronomically high temperatures (from theoretical calculations, not empirical) began expanding suddenly out of the nothing point of singularity some 13.73 billion years ago to produce what we can observe today. And it is an indisputable fact!
    These ages are inferred from some empirical measurements and other theories about how matter behaves, and with much retrospective four dimensional, theoretical calculating. One of Einstein’s cornerstones was that the speed of light cannot be exceeded – it is nature’s maximum. The big bang theory goes so far as to state that the powerful expansion of supremely hot and compressed matter emerged out of the point of singularity (infinitely small). Then, prolonged cooling ensued, because the theoretically calculation model ran into stability problems due to the unverifiable but predicted high temperatures, at just 10**-17 seconds (or very close), so that matter, whatever it was then, became more stable (and went through a several thousand year cooling state), and the big expansion was on!
    So, 13,729,996,999 years plus a fraction of a second later, here we are. And so, based on the Hubble constant, and other chosen cosmological parameters assumed by the theorizers, such as homogeneous and isomorphic expansion, the great expansion was on. And it was not a hostile “big bang” explosion, but a controlled inflationary (but just briefly) explosion (because it has to be because the model falls apart otherwise). So, the point of singularity emerging out of the nothing gave birth eventually to matter everywhere it exists, and here we are, and this THEORY is a FACT, way too complicated for an indoctrinated physics major of old to even contemplate, no matter what. Stellar formation, heavy elements as things cool off, etc. Later accidental life, eventually man (Oops, there’s another theory, I mean fact!) And you say my faith is founded on shaky ground, nothing more than myth.
    Steven Hawkins and other scientific minds say there is continuity in the theory, you believe it, and that settles it! Talk about faith!

    They theory predicting a supposed 13.73 billion is a fact, though you have not personally verified every piece of data by fellow adherents, ignored the limitations of assumptions made (assumed to be true), and the theory is a scientific FACT, and anyone who questions the validity of any data or assumptions?) is just a lost sheep to religion.

    I have one itty bitty question. Why can’t the folks who did all this calculating, observing, time-space bending calculating indisputably accurate down to .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 of one second, pinpoint the exact location where this godless Genesis took place (since it is isomorphic and homogeneous), and come up with an exact start date as we measure time today (say in elapsed seconds from complete universal nothingness to September 23, 2011 GMT at 12:01AM) and location of the origin of the Universe? We can watch the national debt clock move, and the genesis clock would be a whole lot more scientifically important as the universal time clock of everything! When and where EXACTLY did the BIG BOOM start booming? Since it is a fact that the expansion has occurred homogeneously since 10×-17 of second one, we can perform Redshift analysis on numerous stars much closer to earth, and find the point of origin of everything, since rates of galactic recession are known and perfectly predictable, Hubble is always constant and can be applied everywhere, to determine the universal point of original FACTually?

    We know for a FACT that the universe is exactly 13,730,000,000 years old, because you say so. Have you noticed that the universe is getting much older in just the last 50 years, based on the supposedly best scientific minds as time goes on? You actually can graph the “scientifically factual” age of the earth versus when they said so, and develop a mathematical model for that data, because we know what the scientific folk said about the age of the universe, and when they said it. Heck, I might even have been one of them saying it. The age of the universe is getting older at an ever increasing rate, with no “flattening” trends graphically over just the last fifty years, and the slope of the curve upward is very steep indeed of late.

    The plain truth is the supposed facts of the age change regularly in the science realm, are changing all the time as reported, though in truth, nothing has really changed, only scientific interpretations, and understanding, and lack thereof. Your FACTs might even be off a jot or atomic tittle, and maybe even considerably off, whether you believe it or not, no matter how sincerely you believe your figures are correct.

    Just yesterday, there was a new report from Switzerland about neutrinos being repetitively measured at exceeding the speed of light. The doggone little neutrinos (heck, they didn’t even used to exist!) travelled between Switzerland and Italy, and arrived faster than the speed of light. What? Clearly, this is impossible, because there are scientific theories (FACTS right?) that exclude this possibility, and Einstein’s theories say the speed of light is the maximum! FACTS cannot be wrong! It must be some religious people manipulating the data….(But, they are such morons! How would they even know what to manipulate?)

    I see you’ve got a religious “chip on your shoulder.” I can’t fix that for you. As a very young person, I believed that evolution was the way man came about, because that is what the indoctrinators taught me. It made sense, because great minds of the age had figured all this out, and to my own way of thinking there was simply not even the possibility of a young universe, based on the light from distant stars taking so long to get to earth. Been there, done that.

    Later, whether you believe I did or not, I met the Master, who pointed out the foolishness of supposedly wise men trying to confine Him to the “God doesn’t exist box.” He does not abide there. When I looked inside that box, He was not in inside! He overcame my objection to how can a pure message come from an impure messenger by revealing that He alone is the Message. Very simply, I know Him. My faith in the Master does not fade because the earth appears to be four billion years old from heavy element radioactive rate of decay predictions, or 10,000 years old as men measure time. Therefore, I am not a young earth creationist and do not fit in that box, but that does not mean I cannot conceive of possibilities where the earth is very much younger, and could be that young. If the speed of light is not the maximum speed permissible in nature (this was an indisputable scientific fact just two days ago, but now there is contrarian empirical evidence — So how could I know about it weeks ago?), the big bang theory and others need some serious tweaking at the least.

    The measuring sticks show what they show, and the theoretical models show what they predictably compute, but the models, however elaborately conceived and expressed, are not FACTS. They are very interesting and titillate the human mind, but are much less than facts, even if you believe they are much more. This is true, whether you believe in God, infinitely compacted singlularity, or whether you believe your Mom used to make outstandingly delicious blueberry pancakes.

    You say, what I believe does not change the facts, and I could not agree more. What you believe is true or not true does not change the absolute TRUTH.

    mb

    • articulett
      Posted September 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      But your method for finding out the truth is on par with a Scientologist’s method for finding out the age of the earth. Those who are actually interested in the age of the earth use science. Science is the only proven method we have for refining and honing information about such things. We didn’t learn about other planets from scriptures and we sure as hell aren’t likely to figure out the age of our own planet (or the universe) using such.

      When science is on the correct path it allows us to predict new evidence and refine our knowledge about objective reality. This is how we’ve been able to hone in on the actual age of the earth. Of course a magical god or demon or interplanetary alien could have made it all look old to fool us– or we could be in a matrix, but those who are actually interested in the truth, dismiss such unfalsifiable claims for obvious reasons. Belief that some fable is a higher truth that must be believed is a very very poor method for finding out about objective reality but a common meme used to get people like you to confirm their biases on the subject so that they can feel like they “know” something without actually having a clue. You feel like you need to believe something to be saved; those who aren’t saddled with such a delusion are much freer to pursue the actual evidence.

      This is why people who are interested in the truth get their science from scientists and not theologians. Scientists have a vested interest in the truth; theologians have a vested interest in imagining that they’ve already accessed it and convincing others of the same. Science has built in error correcting mechanisms. When it comes to supernatural beings and claims, there is no method for telling a truth claim from a misperception, delusion, or competing unfalsifiable claim.

      When I want to understand something scientific, I go to experts on the subject– not self appointed experts on invisible beings.

      • Richard Hoban
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Hmmm…he definitely is not asking you to forsake scientific inquiry, just pointing out that it may have as many weaknesses as non-scientific inquiry.

  126. eheffa
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    mb,

    Your master appears to be somewhat challenged in terms of accurately documenting his activities and interactions with his ultimate creation; man. The Bible can be shown to be nothing more than wishful thinking masquerading as the word of god. Full of contradictions & falsified history, it is a human creation through and through. Unlike Science which is self-correcting, Biblical literalism can only drive its thick head deeper into the sand.

    The god of the bible is a human construct. Get over it & move on.

    -evan

  127. Freddy Rattler
    Posted February 24, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    However amusing the religionists may seem as they wallow through efforts to reconcile their beliefs with ‘reality,’ it is as amusing to me how the arrogance of certain scientists lull them into a suspicious sense of their own self-(or should that be “science-)righteousness. It is as dangerous for science to presume theological ignorance and outright lying about reality automates the efficacy of their views on ‘ultimate reality.’ I do, however, love how the dispassionate scientific method reasonably represents Humanity’s love of enquiry and discovery.. where ever it takes us. It would really be wonderful to know all we can about who, what, where, and why we are.. for better and/or worse.

    • shiva
      Posted July 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      you do realize that there is a difference between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, do you not? scientists do not presume that theists and woo people are ignorant and/or liars, they simply acknowledge that these people have yet to meet their burden of proof.

      • articulett
        Posted July 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        The same could be said about those who believe in witches or demon possession.

  128. randy tallman
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    is it possible that all rh- blood came from 1 couple?…children of men and children of adam,not the same people as assumed.at the time of adam,many humans already existed for thousands of years,rh+ humans,children of men.rh- blood is not of earthly origin and dates back to about 10,800 years

  129. Neva Sultzer
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Ok so I am thinking about removing my site from Tumbler and get it to a WordPress site. I believe this is a wordpress site right? If it is, may I ask where you got the theme? Thanks a bunch!

  130. JWS
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    The Bible and Science do not conflict. Even though genetic markers go back before Adam and Eve, and who’s to say Adam and Eve didn’t live thousands of years, after all they were initially sin free and presumably would have lived for eternity if it wasn’t for their sin. I believe God breathed his spirit into Adam and Eve, thus the creation of humans with God’s Sprit. Looking at Science, Adam and Eve were probably created 50,000 years ago by God. Scientists have no means of detecting God’s sprit within the DNA, so there is no conflict. Christians are fixated on the 24 hour day. Heck, the solar day wasn’t even conceived until between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians. For all we know one of God’s years could be a billion years. It is clearly the misconception of time that puts the Creationists at odds with the Evolutionists. And who’s to say God didn’t create Adam and Eve through evolution before he breathed his spirit into them? During Noah’s time, what was the population of descendants from Adam and Eve , a few thousand? Obviously a flood could have wiped out all the descendants of Adam and Eve except for Noah and his gang. You can easily prove the current world population starting from approximately 2500 B.C. considering nominal birth rates. Yes, everyone on earth is a descendant from Adam and Eve, the first pair of humans to receive God’s Spirit.

    • Tulse
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      You can easily prove the current world population starting from approximately 2500 B.C.

      You mean after the unification of the Upper and Lower Egyptian civilizations?

      Seriously, have you studied any archeology?

  131. Ian Clark
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Great comments….I didn’t read all the replies however one must bring into account the silly Noah story……this compounds issue….

  132. Paul Walters
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I for one am a scientist in love with an evangelical woman. I believe that an omniscient God designed the world to look and operate AS IF it adhered to all the principles demonstrable and deducible according to our experience and reasoning. We cannot “prove” articles of faith, by definition. If they were provable they would not require faith. As far as the choice to believe testimony, in a line back to the events about which testified, it is a decision I make to believe the testimony so transmitted.

  133. Alan
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    All religion is severe Delusional MENTAL ILLNESS! A delusion that there is an imaginary
    MALE Deity who judges and punishes and rewards us for proper or improper behavior is insane!
    Humans cannot deal with their animal instincts and SEX, so they make up rules to cope with
    them and call this Religion. Humans are the only creature that can contemplate their death. They
    fear death and cannot cope with the thought of it. Religion is a COPING mechanism that allows
    humans to get through the day without the panic that they are just like any other primate on the
    Earth, except that they know they will DIE and their powerful sexual and violent behavior has to
    be tamed and controlled or they cannot function as a society.
    Humans wrote the Torah, Bible, Koran and other holy books.
    How can GOD have gender? ..always referred to as a MAN–HE, HIM, HIS, KING etc.? Why
    would god who created the sun, the earth, and formed man out of dust –need a human woman
    Mary to create a son? Why would god allow the torture of his son to forgive bad actions of
    people thousands of years later? Belief in this silly fantasy/fable is a delusion and total insanity!

    • Mike Benner
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Some excellent questions mixed in with your doubting comments. There are answers.

    • Posted July 26, 2012 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      “A delusion that there is an imaginary
      MALE Deity who judges and punishes and rewards us for proper or improper behavior is insane!”

      However it will all be far too real and full of terror for some people when the day of judgement arrives and each person has to account for their deeds done during this lifetime. God is real and no imaginary being, make no mistake about that.

      God chose to give mankind free choice as to what he thought, did and believed and knowing that manakind would fall by the wayside due to sin, sent his son to die for any who would believe in him so that they might be able to enter heaven. Millions have believed this and despite allthe rubbishing of the Bible by some, those millions will be in heaven while the scoffers find themselves in hell, a place of eternal punishment. There will be nothinbg imaginary about that when it happens. And when thbe day arrives it is too late to change your mind about who God is, or Jesus Christ his son. Those things are determined ion this lifetime and you either share the “reward” or the punishment as the case may be for all eternity.

  134. g.heiden
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Christianity aka Jesus incorporated has really lost any moral high ground that the historical Jesus may have left them. the story of Christianity is full of non-sense only a true believer who was brainwashed could swallow w.o puking. He was God or Son of God..why has tho forsaken me? forgive them for they know not what they do. You would think they love and respect Jesus so much they would even pay heed to what he supposedly said and agreed to have said. If he WAS God or Son of God how could the Jews have killed him? Even if some Jewish priest under the thumb of Rome was involved he states forgive them as of course Jesus would say because that’s what he was about. But no Jesus Incorp. went about exterminating innocent Jews in the world’s greatest case of guilt by association and evil propaganda. They in effect bathed Jesus in his own peoples blood as well as other Christians blood. It was the Christians by these sordid acts that have killed the spirit of Jesus and his good name over and over through history. Jesus is perhaps the most abused figure in the history of mankind. Believe me he never wanted to be a pagan war God bringing his faith to followers by threat of death and burning at the stake.

  135. Mark
    Posted August 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Sigh.. Most of Western Protestant Christianity sees the account of creation in the Bible book of Genesis as a literal account. This book was written approximately 3500 years ago in a different culture, with a different mindset, and in such a way as to describe things that are difficult at best to fully understand. If one looks to Eastern Orthodox Christianity they may see a different WAY of understanding such writings but I won’t go into detail on that subject now.

    The Genesis account of creation is not written to scientifically enlightened people such as we think we are (wait another 500 years and they’ll be laughing at us too ;-) )

    If reading the creation account symbolically speaking one can easily reconcile science and religion in this matter. The “7 days of creation” were very likely not 7 literally days but rather 7 eras, or 7 periods of time, or 7 billion years, etc. For instance God says “let there be light” on the 1st day but creates the Sun on the 4th day, therefore it’s not possible that the light spoken of when it says, “in the beginning God said let there be light and there was light” was even light as we know it (especially not sunlight). This speaks of something else. I can go on and on.

    In the same way Adam and Eve were very likely not 2 literal people. the word “Adam” in Hebrew means, “Man”. It’s not his name. when it says “God made man out of the dust of the Earth” we may get an image of a God in the sand forming a man like one would at the beach, when this COULD denote some more “evolutionary” means by which God formed man. The creation would be consistent with the way God does things even now… We can say, “God made a tree” so there’s a seed, it has the “blueprint” of the tree and the tree “forms” by the process that God created, as opposed to a tree suddenly appearing out of thin air. Because the tree came from the seed doesn’t mean God didn’t make the tree or because it didn’t just appear it means that God didn’t have His hand in it.. He made a PROCESS by which it occurs. Same with reality itself, same with time and space, which are a created thing. God exists outside of time and space (incomprehensible to out intellect) and created time and space and exists within it as well. We don’t look for Him within time and space using our physical eyes and our intellect to perceive Him, we use our soul, our inner being. We have to understand these things on more than one level. We use out intellect and our “heart/soul” and can then comprehend a little better the creation account… God said, “let us make man in our image and in our likeness” “make and female He created them” In God’s likeness we ourselves also exist in and outside time and space. Our body is clearly physical, and we think with our mind and yet we are also spirit. The entire thing works together as a whole. If we understand these things then “let there be light” can make more sense, and we can grasp God and the creation account of Genesis more clearly and less literally so as not to see it as a scientific recount of “how God made the creation”

  136. Mike Benner
    Posted August 21, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Okay, So, if we assume God exists, and does so outside of time and space (unless he chooses to insert himself in time and space – completely his choice),

    What stops Him from bouncing around between the days and evenings of creation, disappearing and reappearing whenever and whereever He wishes in the creation grid, doing some work on the sixth day say while in time and space, and then back to the fourth day say in time and space to make the Sun, and then back to the first day in time and space to make stars billions of light years away (and back out of time and space, taking DNA say from 4:00PM on the sixth day and then inserting some of it at 11:00AM on the sixth day when he made Adam using future DNA from one of Adam’s descendents to make it look like Adam and Eve couldn’t have lived at the same time and that Eve was much older than Adam, when in fact Eve was made from Adam) getting everything just right so that it would be very good indeed on the end of the sixth day, and then going back to the first day (re-entering time and space in His infinite wisdom and perfect plan and timing) allowing creation to work perfectly the way He planned the end from the beginning for the next 144 hours as man measure’s time and then took a rest?

    Even though it looks to man like it took billions of earth years, it only took God 144 earth hours.

    You’ve come so far, why not just a little further and believe the creation story as it is written?

    He’s God man. Can’t he do whatever He wants if he exists outside of time and space? He is laughing pretty hard right now, I bet you at all the dummies who are sure the evidence indicates he doesn’t even exist!

    Benner

    • eheffa
      Posted August 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      ‘He’s God man. Can’t he do whatever He wants if he exists outside of time and space?’

      For such Super-Being / Can do Anything type God, he’s a remarkably poor communicator. Imagine him hiding behind this overtly flawed & contradictory ragtag collection of human scribblings we call ‘The Holy Bible’.

      No, it doesn’t appear even remotely likely.

      – evan

      • Mark
        Posted August 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        The reason it may seem to some as “contradictory” or “ragtag scriblings” is not because God is a poor communicator but rather because it was written by humans of an entirely different language that scarcely exists anymore , in a style totally other than the way us modern, westerners would write and we read an English translation of this from our own viewpoint.

        For example: John 16:13 says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth”. There’s no plural word for “you” in the English language (except slang, like “y’all” or terms like “you all” or “you guys”). The original word in that verse is plural for “you”. So as a post-modern, Western (independent) thinking, English speaking/reading American we read that as if Jesus is telling us directly that the Spirit will lead us as an individual into all truth apart from the rest of the Church, or independent of anyone else, when really He’s saying the Spirit will lead y’all (or “you guys”) into all truth. We also read it, as we do with much scripture, as if he’s addressing us, the reader, personally even though he was speaking directly to the Apostles and we weren’t standing there with them at the time. These language and cultural (and mindset) barriers contribute to so many splits that have led to the many thousands of denominations and independent Protestant churches.. each reader of scripture believing that they have the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture independent of each other and independent of the Traditional interpretations of the historical Church and the teachings of the Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils. Along with Sola Scriptura (“scripture only” in Latin, which is an idea that developed in the Protestant movement which is the false notion that only scripture is necessary for fully understanding God and the Church, etc) this creates disconnectedness from the foundational teachings of the predecessors of the Apostles and the wisdom of the Church Councils. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit doesn’t guide the lives of each individual Christian filled with the Spirit? No.. but not to create Theology and doctrine apart from the others and the historical Church.

        So we can see that one word translated into our language and read through the filter/lens of our self-sufficient/independent mindset can cause complete havoc. This is not God miscommunicating, this is a human flaw.

        • eheffa
          Posted August 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          Sorry Mark; but, now you sound like a mother making excuses for why her son got an ‘F’ on his term paper. It’s a poor effort. To suggest that the creator of the genome and quasars couldn’t communicate clearly when it came time to reveal himself to humans is nothing more than post hoc rationalization – trying to make excuses for this incredibly flawed account. Sorry, but that’s not a tenable assertion. (I too BTW, once felt compelled to defend the Biblical account as “God’s Word’ but I’m not drinking the Koolaid anymore…I decided to look at the evidence with an open mind & be honest with the results for the first time in my life. It fails any sort of test of veracity.)

          Face it, this man-made work we call the Bible is so poorly written and ambiguous that it has caused immeasurable strife and violence as god’s ‘holy’ people fight each other to the death over what they imagine god must have meant when it says: “__________”.

          (‘Jesus wept.’ Why? because he knew that he was incapable of explaining himself in clear enough terms to avoid what we have subsequently seen in Northern Ireland or Bosnia or African villages where they torture their demon possessed children. You name the time and place and I can show you the poisonous legacy of this holy Bullshit.)

          It’s BS. It’s OK to come out into the light & call a spade a spade.

          -evan

          • Mark
            Posted August 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

            Even, I appreciate your honest approach to attempting to understand reality. I’m actually not “defending” anything but rather stating the facts as I understand them to be. The creation account in Genesis is a simplified way to explain something that would be difficult for humans of it’s time (1500 BC) to comprehend. These people would not have understood evolution, adaptation, genes, microbes, etc.

            In fact it was Galileo who was imprisoned under house arrest for 2 years for heresy by the Roman Catholic Church of his day because he said the earth goes around the sun. The Catholics held that the sun went around the earth because A) it appeared that way and B) the bible said in the book of Joshua that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and it did so far a day. To me this doesn’t disprove the fact that an event took place but rather than it was perceived and written down by humans, they had the science wrong, and God didn’t correct them when they wrote it down but rather allowed humanity to understand the science of it later on in history. Galileo was victim to the same religious ideology that exists in modern American Protestantism when it comes to “how” to read the Bible.

            Why would this not be the case with the creation account?

            It seems you are replying to my posts from a protestant christian (perhaps evangelical) background having been told the bible is written by the hand of God Himself and without being tainted by humanity. please don’t project that on me, I’m not that person. ..and if I came across that way then my communication was flawed (forgive me for that).

            God seems to reveal things to humanity as humanity progresses. The things we explain to our 3yr old child are different than how we explain to our 17yr old. The things we understand now will be a laughing stock to some 500 years from now when they look back at our 1 dimensional understanding of science while they are engaged in harnessing quantum physics and understand quantum mechanics and spiritual things make even more sense to them than they do to us.

            Humanity is in a progression and God allows us to discover as we grow. It’s people’s trying to conceptualize God and spiritual things using intellect (because that’s how we deal with time and space) that often causes a problem. Example: trying to comprehend God Himself intellectually is not possible because our intellect is finite and God is infinite. Furthermore using intellect to KNOW God is not possible because the intellect is not for that purpose.. That is like trying to teach a computer to love. Any concept of God is a mere idol because it’s less than what He is because He is infinite and the mind is finite. So.. people conceptualize Him and create an idea of Him and then fight other groups who have created a different idea of Him and so we can religious wars, divisions, etc.

            God is perceived through the soul/heart (nous in greek) but we are so used to functioning solely using our intellect that we miss something major. Does this mean we don’t try to comprehend? no.. we’re not mindless BUT the mind has it’s place and that is to function within spacetime and God is known in another realm. So we know about Him but can’t KNOW Him solely using intellect.

            The creation account is as symbolic as the revelation at the end of the bible. It’s not a book merely about “end time events” it’s a spiritual book that has information that far surpasses most people’s ability to comprehend. Perhaps it will be crystal clear to a 25th century human or perhaps not but nonetheless it’s people, who in their arrogance, think they must understand everything about those writings, but really don’t, who create madness by misinterpreting and misrepresenting it. This kind of thing creates atheists and people who shun God.. people aren’t shunning God, they’re shunning who and what they’ve been told by others that He is.. the God of other people’s imagination.

            So… did God leave humanity lost? no… after spending 14 years in evangelical Christianity and bucking up against what felt like a ceiling of not being able to go further with God and my spiritual like both theologically or experientially .. I have personally found that Eastern Orthodox Christian Theology makes the most sense of these things. The Orthodox Church is the only Church that can lay claim to not being a product of a split and so there’s a rich theological heritage dating back to the time of Christ, that makes the most sense of God… at least to me (I’ve now been there 7 years)

            Anyway, I appreciate your replies to my comments. It’s always a pleasure to talk to thinking people. I’m not one who “blogs” but I came across this site researching a subject of for a friend and threw in my 2 cents.

            All the best…

            • Tulse
              Posted August 22, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

              The creation account in Genesis is a simplified way to explain something that would be difficult for humans of it’s time (1500 BC) to comprehend. These people would not have understood evolution, adaptation, genes, microbes, etc.

              “And lo, in the depths of time, out of the clay and mud and earth did the first creatures appear, smaller than a mustard seed would seem to a man across a large field. These creatures begat others, and of their progeny some were strong and some were week, some were small and some were large, some could eat of what they found and some could not, some could rend their foes and some could not. Those ill-suited perished, winnowed as a shepherd will slaughter those sheep who are weak but allow those who are strong to breed. And those who lived begat others, and so on unto the fullness of time, until their offspring did cover the earth and sea and sky in multitudinous form, all shaped and formed by the eons of their ancestors and the places they inhabited, just as the sheep of the field and the grains of the crops have been shaped by husbandry over many generations.”

  137. Mike Benner
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    okay evan, what is the MOST contradictory item in the ragtag collection of human scribblings in your opinion?

  138. Timothy Guy
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I would like to know the specific science that is able to accurately date genetic information. let me clue you in. it doesn’t exist. is complete supposition no different than religion.

    There is no scientific process to accurately tell the age of mitochondrial DNA *period* bottom line at some point in history the genetic information points to a single male and single female that we all come from.

    • Mike Benner
      Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Hi Timothy

      I’ve always thought trying to accurately date these types of things simply had to involve guesswork – a guess average longevity, a guess on how often DNA “errors” occur, with major cumulative error potential.

      Yet, the supposed geniuses who have determined that the genetic Adam and genetic Eve did not live at the same time and couldn’t possibly have gotten together. Okay, so who was the genetic Eve (who is 25,000 years older supposedly), getting together with to have offspring with no man on the scene? Oh, there was a man, but that man is not the father of anyone alive today, and the genetic Adam came much later. Who was keeping genetic Eve busy (and obviously having children through subsequent generations) for all that time? Eve and her offspring were having children (presumably) for 25,000 years, and then finally the 800th or so generation of Eve, finally came across the genetic Adam, the father of us all. Then, all other lines eliminated, except for genetic Adam line. I see…Seems quite the statistical anomaly to have Eve reproducing for 25,000 years to get to genetic Adam without the whole human race dying off first. Yet, there is a genetic Adam. Or Maybe geentic Eve didn’t die for 25,000 years and she was waiting?

      The logic doesn’t add up. Genetic Eve had to have kids who had kids who led to every one of us. One of Eve’s partners (since she is our genetic mother) seemingly has to be our genetic father, no? Okay, Eve was just one of many, some 10,000 or so humans back then who reproduced with Eve and others. for 25,000 years , we had Eve’s offspring surviving and multiplying (independent of the other beings). Then, after about 25,000 years, one of the other beings (A male) came along to become genetic Adam. Eve’s offspring got together with Adam, and became the father of us all. All other lines wiped out. This is what the science shows? Okay fine…..

      Seems a lot more sensible to me that the mitochondrial age estimates are off a wee bit……

      • Mark
        Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        There’s a GREAT Orthodox Christian book that bridges the gap between the two schools…
        “Genesis, Creation and Early Man” (you can get it at Amazon)

        Book Description:

        Amidst the creation/evolution debate that is now raging, with evidence being offered for both sides, few have made use of what Fr. Seraphim Rose called “the missing evidence”: the teaching of the ancient Orthodox Holy Fathers on the events of creation, the first-created world, the natures of created things, and the original nature of man.
        Now for the first time in the English language, this teaching has been gathered together and set forth in a thorough, detailed, and above all honest manner. Perhaps more than anyone else in our times, Fr. Seraphim Rose searched, studied, prayed and suffered to understand how the ancients noetically apprehended the creation in the light of the God-inspired book of Genesis. Having acquired their mind, he has presented to the modern world the harmonious Patristic vision of the cosmos.

        A vital answer to the contemporary “crisis of meaning,” this book sheds startling new light on the mysteries of our origin. The Divine vision of the ancient Church Fathers opens up unforeseen dimensions of the creation: deeper levels of reality that cannot be reached through rational or scientific means.

  139. humbist
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    My take,after two ten year marriages,is the moral of the story is,even when a great authority says NO,she does….. .

  140. Freddy Rattler
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious to understand how the modern human being occurred. Is it the same question how any new species occurs? Is the answer in each case ‘as a natural adaptation to circumstantial/environmental influence,’ whereat a mutation (in evolutionary fashion) is provoked, otherwise as an existing (radically occurred) “variant” in an “at-risk” population is selected to proceed? Would not the first male and female pair of viable offspring from this mutant’s seed to produce modern human offspring (characteristic of that successful mutant) be, in effect, Adam and Eve?

  141. Mike Benner
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Apparently not, if you believe the science. The variants can still descend from common ancestors. These folks are saying genetic Eve was not around for genetic Adam, that there were no surviving paternal decendents of Eve’s mating partners for 20,000 years, and this is a scientific fact. All the other male lines persisted long enough to get to genetic Adam, but were cut off.

  142. Dennis
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Oh. Word of warning. There’s a bit of ‘poof’ talk at the page I linked to. Excuse me for not mentioning this earlier.

  143. Dennis
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    For some reason, my earlier post, to which I refer in my previous comment, did not end up posted so I’m trying it again:

    I’ve just read all the comments above. Took me ages. I’m a theist due to personal experiences, and a Christian for the reason that though there’s much in the bible I still question and have a great deal of trouble with, it’s also the place I’ve found concepts presented and communicated I’ve found nowhere else in such density in other religions, and teachings that have provided a context for those things I’ve experienced. In the face of the mysteries of our existence (cosmology, biology and consciousness), I intellectually respect agnosticism, and, on the basis of personal choice, I respect atheism. No matter what people believe, we all have the same decisions to make, day to day, regarding how to respond to the situations that confront all of us. I came here because I was hoping to find some information relating to the whole ‘fall of mankind’ thing from the bible. I started this journey asking questions, and I intend to keep doing so. I’ve found answers to seeming paradoxes before (and not through letting my mind turn to a contradiction-embracing mush), and the time this has sometimes taken has taught me to have a large ‘i don’t know’ or ‘hmmm’ file as I gather information and viewpoints on a topic. I got in (just a little) trouble a few years ago at a church i was attending when a CRI (7 literal days of creation) guy came and spoke for handing out fliers refuting what he said on the basis of the bible’s statments regarding God ascribing to the waters and land the power to bring forth life, the seeming natural order of physical death in the creation prior to the fall, the clearly communicated non-literality of the days mentioned, and a couple of other things regarding reasoning and the need not to fall ito false dichotomies. I should probably add that it is my belief that there are other ways of knowing true information than exclusively through the five physical senses. Whatever. Anyway, in my hunting, I found this:

    http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/descent.html

    It makes a few interesting points relating to the methodology of research concerning the origin of humanity which, if accurate, are worth consideration. Apart from the obvious disagreement most readers of this page are likely to have with the writer’s statements regarding their beliefs, I’d be interested to know what people think about the statements about a very recent and sudden appearance of homo sapiens sapiens. If this should really be on another page, please let me know. Thanks.

    • Mike Benner
      Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Hi Dennis,

      I’m not versed enough to respond to all of the points in the article/ link you posted, found some of them interesting, but I honestly cannot tell how biased the author is and what facts he chose to use or ignore. By limiting data, you can strongly imply and even “prove” most anything.

      National Geographic has sponsored a genetic search where the public can get involved and look at their own deep genetic ancestry. The test subjects so far are in the hundreds of thousands, no doubt the largest such effort ever. There are some humans who DO share the the Neanderthal heritage at least in some trace amount according to the tests. So, though like you I’ve heard that humans and Neanderthal lines never crossed genetically (perhaps from the article you posted from some years back), this appears not to be scientifically true, as the DNA shows otherwise. It is rare in the population but it has occurred.

      I’m not going to try to interpret this at this time.

  144. Posted September 25, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I’m with you on this one, but I must follow up. At any stage in our evolution (splitting off from the chimps up to splitting off Homo sapiens) doesn’t there have to be a breeding pair close to the beginning? Maybe a mutant female mates with an ancestor, but eventually their children survive and the rest are decendants of those boys and girls. Or does an evolutionary step, such as to Homo saps happen gradually? (What do I know, I’m a chemist.)

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 27, 2013 at 1:53 am | Permalink

      Most often speciation happens when populations become isolated from each other for one reason or another. Given enough time enough genetic difference can arise that if they were to come into contact again they would not be able to reproduce successfully. It is not a matter of a “founder couple.” ;)

  145. Kymberli
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Hello,
    I love science. I love ancient scriptures and writings of all kinds. AND I even love the Conspiracy Theories. Basically, I love information.
    MY thought as I read all these debates is this… Just as Religious Ideas may be immature in understanding, so may be science’s findings. Science may say one day that a black hole is one thing, and the next day Stephen Hawking puts out a paper saying we have to revise what we think and know about them because of some NEW thing he found…
    Maybe there is some DNA we have not even found yet. ??? Is that NOT possible?
    I think one day we will all find answers that bring us ALL together, both Science and Religion… It may be far off…. but it’s coming.
    I CERTAINLY do NOT think it is COWARDICE to refuse to take a stand on something. After-all, why should we? Just so we can say we are WRONG once we find more information (as Hawkings must do now with Black Hole Theory) ? It MAY be safer in light of the fact something may throw a monkey wrench into our shortsighted conclusions. It strikes me as arrogant to do otherwise.
    Carry On. Thank You for all your hard work.
    Kymberli

  146. James Russell
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Why does it have to be science versus the Bible? There is a lot to learn if we are willing to accept that science and Christianity can embrace one another. There is a new book I recently read called To Adam about Adam by Jim Frederick that makes a great argument as to how science and the Bible can embrace one another as a part of God’s plan. The author works through Genesis step by step to show how science supports creation – both evolution and Adam/Eve occurred. The book builds a good case as to how the basis for sin (being self-centered) originated as a part evolutionary history centered on the fittest will survive. He then discusses in an informal way as how the Old Testament is a series of lessons as to what cannot defeat sin, whereas the New Testament describes the only solution. I believe this book can help those of us who have often wonder whether science and the Bible are opposing forces (or not). For me the debate is over!!


14 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith: [T]here’s one bedrock of Abrahamic faith that is eminently testable: the claim that all humans descend from a single created pair—Adam and Eve—and that these individuals were not australopithecines or apes, but humans in the modern sense.  Absent their existence, the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces.Unfortunately, the scientific evidence shows that Adam and Eve could not have existed, at least in the way they’re portrayed in the Bible.  Genetic data shows no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too many different kinds of genes around for that to be true.  There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of about 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago.  That’s as small a population as our ancestors had, and, note, it’s not two individuals. [...]

  2. [...] Why Evolution is True (and a contest!): Mitochondrial DNA points to the genes in that organelle tracing back to a single [...]

  3. [...] Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!) We can all argue about whether Jesus was a parthenogenetic being produced without physical insemination, and whether he [...] [...]

  4. [...] Adam and Eve Posted on June 2, 2011 by marksolock Adam and Eve [...]

  5. [...] Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!) (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com) [...]

  6. [...] of Adam and Eve” if you are  then, as president of BioLogos, endorsing an editorial [a piece in Christianity Today] that insists upon it. Can you please clear this up for me? [...]

  7. [...] of humans insofar as souls—but not genes—were concerned (kudos to Ben Goren, though, for a most thoughtful and elaborate presentation of this hypothesis).  Some were humorous but without the gravitas required in such an answer, and some simply [...]

  8. [...] recent Christianity Today article on how to reconcile science with Adam and Eve (see our discussion here). And, as he shows without reservation, the genetic facts absolutely put the lie to the Biblical [...]

  9. [...] people and to make it appear like their beliefs have a possibility of being true. UChicago’s Jerry Coyne delivers the point. Genetic data show no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too [...]

  10. [...] maintained that this piece of the Old Testament, which is easily falsified by modern genetic (modern humans descended from a group of no fewer than 10,000 individuals), shows more than anything else the incompatibility between science and faith.  For if you reject [...]

  11. [...] maintained that this piece of the Old Testament, which is easily falsified by modern genetics (modern humans descended from a group of no fewer than 10,000 individuals), shows more than anything else the incompatibility between science and faith.  For if you reject [...]

  12. [...] John Farrel has written a piece for Forbes in which he cites the University of Chicago biologists Jerry Coyne: “I’ve always maintained that this piece of the Old Testament, which is easily falsified by [...]

  13. [...] maintained that this piece of the Old Testament, which is easily falsified by modern genetics (modern humans descended from a group of no fewer than 10,000 individuals), shows more than anything else the incompatibility between science and faith. For if you reject [...]

  14. Evolution Of Eve Modern

    [...] nids evolved, including the proto-humans. Then God created a garden in the land [...]

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