Fossil evidence

I am having a conversation here in the comment section at Triablogue about the suitability of the fossil record as proof for evolution. Touchstone, the other person in the conversation, seems to be a staunch theistic evolutionist, and we can see some of the difficulties this position faces. I can understand his desire to believe in the virtues of science, but one also needs to retain perspective as to what is being said, and the conclusions drawn. Evolutionary theory is an inherently atheistic theory, unless one holds to some modified version, such as our friend is doing in this case, in which case it runs into problems of its own.

Ultimately, science was also given to us by God to explore and understand His creation, and to better glorify Him by ruling the creation. Any efforts that undermine that understanding are futile at best, and heretical at worst.

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2 responses to “Fossil evidence

  1. “Ultimately, science was also given to us by God to explore and understand His creation, and to better glorify Him by ruling the creation. Any efforts that undermine that understanding are futile at best, and heretical at worst. [emphasis mine]

    You make some pretty bold statements here. As an ecologist, I wonder what you mean about “ruling the creation.” I don’t believe we rule the earth any more than anything else, and come to think of it humans are pretty fragile and feeble creations. How does “ruling the creation,” especially when we are destroying so much of it, glorify God? You are probably familiar with the parable of the Talents; is our treatment of “the creation” (whether you believe it was done in 6 days or billions of years) any different?

    What you’re also suggesting here is an intellectual filter; if it doesn’t fit in with a certain interpretation of the Bible, then it’s wrong and (as you put it) even heretical. This was the same mindset that led to the Inquisition and other atrocities (both physical and intellectual) perpetrated over the years by people who felt threatened by scientific understanding. Is it so wrong to assume that reading Genesis as a historically accurate document could be flawed? I think we need to at least be open to that idea, because any reading of any book requires an act of interpretation. What we are learning from nature does not match the creation allegory of the Bible, and to me it is far more reasonable to conclude that some people misread/misinterpret the book rather than God has deceived us through the workings of nature.

  2. Hi, thanks for dropping by, and for your comments. Let’s see if I can answer some of this.

    “Ultimately, science was also given to us by God to explore and understand His creation, and to better glorify Him by ruling the creation. Any efforts that undermine that understanding are futile at best, and heretical at worst. [emphasis mine]

    “You make some pretty bold statements here.”

    Yes, these are bold statements, but they are not mine. Everything on earth is given by God, including science.

    “As an ecologist, I wonder what you mean about “ruling the creation.” I don’t believe we rule the earth any more than anything else, and come to think of it humans are pretty fragile and feeble creations. How does “ruling the creation,” especially when we are destroying so much of it, glorify God? You are probably familiar with the parable of the Talents; is our treatment of “the creation” (whether you believe it was done in 6 days or billions of years) any different?”

    This was the command given by God to the first humans. I definitely agree we can do a much better job of taking care of what was given to us.

    But I also think that you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth a bit…firstly you say that man is feeble, and then you say that we are destroying the earth. Well we cannot be that feeble if we are indeed destroying it. And there is much more potential for human destruction of the earth. All it needs is a few nuclear bombs, and we would have really messed it up.

    But in general, we are abusing creation and that is because we don’t treat it like a gift from God, with a stewardship assignment. I would suggest to you that is because of our sinful nature, which causes us to be in opposition to God’s will in all matters. Only when we have received a new Godly nature can we truly understand what God expects of us, and I’m sad to say, even that is not always evident.

    “What you’re also suggesting here is an intellectual filter; if it doesn’t fit in with a certain interpretation of the Bible, then it’s wrong and (as you put it) even heretical. This was the same mindset that led to the Inquisition and other atrocities (both physical and intellectual) perpetrated over the years by people who felt threatened by scientific understanding. Is it so wrong to assume that reading Genesis as a historically accurate document could be flawed?”

    Ah, well, here we get to some interesting points. Firstly, you have to show your standards for interpreting Scripture. The wording in the creation account is consistent with other historical accounts, and is therefore so interpreted. If you wish to interpret it otherwise, then you have to show evidence of why it should regarded as anything but a historical account.

    Typically, when conducting Scriptural exegesis, we do it by either the synchronic or the diachronic approach, otherwise known as the historical-critical method. A combination of these approaches focus on the origin and development of a text, as well as the final form, as we have it today. There are many elements to these exegetical methods, and they are quite detailed. The key is to not read anything into Scripture, but to let it speak for itself, and that is what I attempt to do.

    Secondly, what you are saying is that there are multiple “interpretations” and that I am possibly just advocating one of them here. Of course you are welcome to your opinion, but you still have to show that: 1. I am actually interpreting the text instead of just rendering it, and 2. that my position is wrong.

    I am not anti-science. I actually have undergrad qualifications in physics and applied mathematics, as well as electronics engineering. Where I differ from some is with the starting assumption that God is not responsible for giving us science, and that we do science for anything but His glory. Sure mankind gets some benefit out of it, but that benefit is temporal.

    As a closing comment, you also seem to want to jump on the slippery slope bandwagon of contemporary atheist philosophers by equivocating. Previous atrocities by a heretical church have nothing to do with this argument. This is plain and simply about the existence of a sovereign theistic God. Atheist scientists won’t be burned at the stake by Christians, and to try and raise the value of your argument by implying that this is similar is intellectually dishonest. In fact, just the opposite is true, where Christian academic scientists have to either hide their faith, or risk losing tenure.

    “I think we need to at least be open to that idea, because any reading of any book requires an act of interpretation.”

    I do not grant that that statement is necessarily true. Interpretation is necessary when the plain meaning of the text is not apparent. There is no interpretation necessary to know the meaning of “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The meaning is quite apparent, God created everything. We can argue about the truth of that statement, but that only means that we both understand the meaning, and are not sure whether it is objectively true or not., based on other factors.

    “What we are learning from nature does not match the creation allegory of the Bible, and to me it is far more reasonable to conclude that some people misread/misinterpret the book rather than God has deceived us through the workings of nature.”

    Here is the problem. You are assuming that what we are learning from nature is the objective truth, and should be the filter through which we attempt to understand the Bible. Your presuppositions are built around what you learn from science, and you want to impose that on Scripture. Can you account for the validity of the inductive scientific method as a necessary precondition for reading the Bible? By its very nature science can never arrive at the truth, yet you wish to posit that as the standard by which God’s truth should be evaluated. Again, you are welcome to hold to that position, but you will need to prove that it is the necessary and correct precondition for reading the Bible.

    Thanks again for dropping by, and good luck with your studies.

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