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My last post was about a white paper by Bruce Waltke which looked at a list of “barriers” that block evangelical Christians from considering the possibility evolution is something God designed and used to create life on earth. The paper was part of a workshop held by the BioLogos Foundation. Darrel Falk gave a similar paper, but his purported to look at barriers affecting the other side of the equation, at barriers that keep the “typical agnostic scientist” from considering the possibility God did create life, as the Bible claims, by designing and using evolution to accomplish it.

I looked forward to Falk’s paper since I had once been one of those “agnostic scientists” myself. I could never put God and evolution in the same sentence – except to say one abolished the other. And that argument – that one abolishes the other – was one I often used in even earlier years when, as an out and out “hostile atheist”, I was proselytizing my Christian students away from their faith. After a decade or so of that I changed from atheist to agnostic, and a decade later to Christian. Along the way I heard them all, and the five “barriers” Falk talks about were real and pretty prevalent. But among those and all the others, one loomed especially large, for me and my friends and colleagues. Falk rightly made it #1 on his list. It outweighs all the others together.

Falk, like Waltke, gives a list. His number #1: “The story of Adam and Eve must viewed as history”. As I said, he’s right on target. This is the big barrier, the stumbling block for most every scientist, academic, and high-school grad. But, curiously, it was also my weapon of choice for ending the faith of my Christian students. If someone has trouble attributing creation to God, as described in the first two chapters of the Bible, they will have trouble in believing in God himself, not to mention the Bible and Christianity. And no part of Genesis is harder to swallow for a modern kid, or scholar, or scientist of any stripe, than “the story of Adam and Eve”. The rest of Genesis 1 & 2 is small potatoes by comparison.

Falk starts with an anecdote about a young woman, a student of his, presumably to give us a sense of how a barrier works and the impact it can make. The young lady had grown up a Christian. She was on fire for her faith, going on missions, teaching Bible classes, and all. She went off to college. She came home an embittered atheist, decrying how the church and biblical teachings had put her in a bubble – a bubble of ignorance about the real world, about science and the real truth, a bubble of “fairy tales”.

Falk uses her sad report to question whether we Christians teach things that are not really the truth and in doing so, create barriers between Christians and the world and, I guess, scientific doctrine and scientists. I think he gets into a little trouble there. His example is almost the reverse of his thesis. The bubble, here, enveloped the young lady in Christianity and was popped by the scientists. The barrier was, in effect, the other way around, keeping her from science, not scientists from Christian doctrine. The barrier looks more like a lance in their hands! That was how it worked for me in my atheist days, a weapon more than a shield. The barrier(s), as he reviews them, seem to do Christians more harm than scientists. That’s a problem Falk doesn’t really address. Still, I think he’s generally right about the barriers keeping scientists from accepting God, and evolution as something He invented.

From the information Falk gives us, we can’t really tell what popped the girl’s bubble of faith. (I do like his metaphor, it’s like the isolation bubbles used for immune-compromised patients, right?) But I can guess, from my own decades of first hand experience, and might infer from Falk’s rating it “#1” on his list, that it was the “Adam and Eve story”.

So what does Falk say we should do about it? What’s the reason it’s a problem and how might we solve it? This is where he and I part company. Falk’s solutions only make things worse. To use an old idiom, he throws the baby out with the bath. At least to fix one problem we tend to have, nowadays, in our trusting and believing what the Bible says, he puts the rest in jeopardy. Gets on that “slippery slope” we always hear about, taking an easy out that makes it all the easier to give it all away, throw it all away in the face of the adversities of a modern, and increasingly skeptical and hostile world.

Falk has a couple of problems, very common to all of us who run into what he calls “barriers”, which most commonly are just believability questions modern science and modern culture bring up in the course of the world moving on, growing more sophisticated. We’re constantly being challenged with “whose report are you going to believe?”

Falk’s first problem is that, at least here in Genesis, he’s ready to believe the world and the scientists are right when conflict or contradiction arises between them and the Bible. That’s pretty common, of course. Scientists have done a great job building their case – across the board, in fact, for all the sciences (it’s the very nature and methodology of science) – especially for evolution and genetics and all the biological/medical sciences that support it, that belie the Adam and Eve account.

I can’t blame him. I couldn’t help but accept what science has to say and plainly show that contradicts “Adam and Eve” either, certainly as I read it in any Bible version I can find. And I’ve never known any scientific colleague, fellow academic or more educated person who could. They mostly join Falk in finding some way to disregard or rationalize that little bit of Scripture away. So I certainly can’t fault Falk for throwing Adam and Eve under the bus like he does. His way is to declare that it wasn’t intended to be factual or truthful, to be “historical”, but should only be taken as “allegorical”.

Unfortunately, once we start throwing the Bible, or little parts of it, out, we’re on that slippery slope. And that shows in the last century or so, especially in our losing “culture war” with science over evolution. While, as I just said, scientists are ever building their case for their side, we aren’t. Not to say Intelligent Design” isn’t a good try, at least, but the real high ground of our position is the Bible, and aside from our almost childish protestations “is too!”, we’ve done very very little to match what science has so successfully been doing.

We shouldn’t be so ready to give up, to plead the Bible’s authority away. Don’t cop the plea saying, “it was never intended to be a scientific text” – of course it wasn’t to be a science text, but it should be scientifically testable, and verifiable; the archaeologists are doing a magnificent job practically sweeping the old critics away. Don’t take a passage – Adam and Eve – clearly intended to be every bit as much “historical” as the rest of the creation account of Genesis is, and plead it out as “merely allegorical”.

Instead, do like the sciences do. Go back through your data, Reexamine the fossils and artifacts and archives, see if there’s anything there. See if we’ve missed anything. Scientists constantly find errors, new understanding, even the basis of new theories in their past work being reevaluated in light of today’s contradictions and latest revelations. That’s how they build and strengthen their case. But we, in Genesis 1 and 2, just simply take what we got 400 years ago. What King James’ scholars said Genesis said!

Suppose Genesis’ “Adam and Eve story” read like this:

Genesis 2:20 And the Man (Adam) proclaimed names for all the beasts of the land and every flying creature in the air, to every living thing on the land, but there was not there any appropriate partner for the Man (Adam).
Genesis 2:21 The Lord God caused a trance to come over the Man (Adam), and He brought to the chamber where he slept, a chosen female, and He delivered her for the purposes of the flesh.
Genesis 2:22 The Lord God established the family in that chamber, where He brought for marriage a woman from among men and ushered her in unto the Man (Adam).
Genesis 2:23 And Adam joyfully declared, “At last, this is bone of my bones and kindred of my kind. She shall be renowned among women for she was chosen for marriage from among the women.
Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man be set free of his father and his mother and he shall be joined together with his wife and they shall be one flesh.”

Well, it’s my contention that it does! Not allegory, but another bit of history of our relationship with God, just as Genesis intends. Not an allegory about the way and meaning God’s people should mate and marry, but a record of the way He wanted it. And an explanation of how it is different than mating and coupling of the creatures of the secular world (which evolution produced?): “[among] all the beasts of the land … there was not any appropriate partner [until] He brought … a chosen female (surely, spirit-filled – reborn – just as Adam was).” Not outrageous in the face of modern knowledge, and science, but fully compatible. Not something anyone would be embarrassed about, but proud of – proud of what God gave us and not the rest of His creatures.

Isn’t that a better way to go, to take away the bubble, and disarm the atheists and agnostics?

Professor Bruce Waltke was invited to present a white paper at a BioLogos workshop in 2009, explaining why so many evangelical theologians reject even the possibility that God used evolution as a process or method of creation. He decided to conduct a survey. By invitation, 264 professors from various evangelical colleges and seminaries went to a website and answered yes or no to a list of eleven reasons which he thought the most likely. A twelfth choice was “I can accept the theory of theistic evolution”. Waltke gave the results in “Barriers to Accepting the Possibility of Creation By Means of an Evolutionary Process.”

Today, I readily choose the twelfth option, “no problem”. Before completing my retranslation and interpretation of Genesis 1 – 2, I wouldn’t have. Even a few years after that I wouldn’t have. I was already concerned with how many in my evangelical community were going to take my new translation, and after a decade or so of preaching against evolution, I wasn’t ready to reconsider, let alone reverse myself and accept evolution again. Well, I’ve finally grown past that. I’ve had time to both to continue tweaking my interpretation of Genesis, and absorb the full meaning of what I’d discovered about Genesis. I’ve also watched incredible growth in the science, methodologies, and evidence for evolution. Its been almost overwhelming, even embarrassing! And so now I’m eager to tell you why I think the “barriers”, the reasons evangelicals give for not considering it possible God actually designed and used evolution as a tool or process in His creation, are not good. Not right. Not sensible. Actually damaging the church’s standing and reputation, and alienating us from the world and our children.

The most popular choice (barely) in the survey was “I have no problem with theistic evolution” (46%), but next, the most common “barrier”, most popular reason for rejection of everything evolution (44%) was: “A straightforward reading of Genesis 1-2 does not harmonize with evolution”.

What can I say? For ten years, now, I’ve been at the city gate telling the elders, “What you’ve been reading is not the straightforward truth. What you’ve always read is only the inevitable naiveté and shortcomings of scholars of 400 years ago!” If I could only get that 44% to read my translation (and the book by which they could witness and evaluate each and every step I took) I am fully certain most would unselect that choice. What they think the Genesis record says is not anywhere near correct. If the truth of the Genesis text be known, there is NO contradiction between its outline of the history of creation and that writ by modern science! And there’s the salient point: Genesis is but a history of creation. It describes the history, not the methods or processes, of creation. And sadly, what most everyone seems determined to do, is ignore the fact the King James scholars had absolutely no knowledge of such as genes or dinosaurs or the universe beyond earth, nor need for such – nor did their audience. The result:their translation and interpretation (still the basis of every Bible version today) is irrelevant to our culture wars and to anyone’s decision for or against modern sciences’ ideas or theories – including evolution.

All I can say, as I have been for some time, is that its about time we, including scientists and evangelical Christians, start utilizing the best knowledge we have today when we read and analyze the Scriptures and choose what to do with what the sciences have to say.

The second most popular choice of “barriers” (36%) was: “ID explains the origins of species better than evolution”

I’m a fan of ID. I’ve long championed it as the best alternative to evolution but, as of today, ID’s scholars and researchers not been winning many battles. Many of their contentions, things they say can only be explained by ID, have been aptly parried by the evolutionists, via new fossils, biological and genetic analyses, etc. The fossil record, particularly, seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, filling in gaps that were once the mainstay of ID – so much so that ID’s often been characterized as a “theory of the gaps”. Nowadays, I’d rather argue for “intelligent guidance”, and I’m far more confident of the “intelligent design” of the physics and laws of the universe – designed to propel and make inevitable God’s preferred/planned outcomes, than cast the whole cloth of creation of life into the rubric of ID.

If that still sounds like a “God of the Gaps” thing, well so be it. That might be about the best place for “ID”. Indeed, ID’s best arguments and staple of its challenges to evolution have always been about gaps, or “missing links”, or biological “inventions” that evolution can’t explain. Most of all, ID is, so far at least, the best answer to the origination of life itself; of DNA, the first cell (the biggest “gap” of all), even (perhaps) of the major branches (“kinds”) in the tree of life, which seem to be beyond the purview of a theory addressing “descent with modification” wrought by “natural selection”. Once life is invented, I think Darwin has made a great case for the process of speciation, which seems to be going on even in present day, and can be engineered in the lab.

Whatever, Genesis 1 – 2 is quite compatible with both ID and evolution. In fact, ID and Evolution can even help each other explain Creation, filling in for the shortcomings of the other!

In third place (34%), the barrier was: “Evolution does not harmonize with the doctrine that Adam brought death and decay into the world.”

That “doctrine”, I fear, is on a par with the geocentric (“earth-centrism”) doctrine that condemned Galileo, still goads the culture wars, and delayed our learning where we really are in a creation far greater than we can imagine, even today. I think a doctrine that insists there was no death or decay before Adam is even more naive and illogical than geocentricism. It practically makes nonsense of the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2!

If physical death and decay were not already part of the ecosystem before Adam, (and when Adam was in the Garden!) then all before Genesis 1:27 wasn’t real, was not the creation of what we have now because there could be no biological life as we know it, no dynamic ecology or web of life with its hierarchy of “kinds”, of creatures as Genesis describes. The fact is, everything bigger than a microbe eats other living things. Eating fuels a biologically based energy system and provides the building materials that are the basis of living! Creatures eat seeds and leaves and flowers and fruits of plants; plants thrive in their own detritus, create seeds and leaves and fruits to create more plants – and plant materials – which themselves must fall to the ground and decay or the earth would soon be one big haystack. Animals are even worse! They eat and excrete, and reproduce and multiply. Genesis says so! The planet would be overwhelmed in very short order, if nothing died and nothing decayed! Surely, physical death and decay came with the creation, was part of the system, from the very first instance of life. If not, if it had to await Adam’s intervention, then until that moment it could only be a chimerical creation, like a plastic terrarium or aquarium!

You might try to answer this with a “Young Earth” interpretation, that it was all a stage but only for several days until Adam was given his batteries (he can’t be biologically complete until the “Fall” either, you know). Well, what about the time Adam spent in the Garden – must have been years, right? Was everything still “on hold” during that time too? If so, what was he “tending” or “taking care of” (tilling and pruning?) if not living plants? What did he do with the clippings? And, he was obviously eating. He was told to eat anything he wanted but the one fruit. Why would he eat if not to fuel and provide the biological processes of a biological body? And another question: was everything that God created inside the Garden? Or outside also, throughout the whole world? Remember, Genesis 2:8 suggests the “Garden” (from gan, a word denoting “an enclosure”) was not “all”, but a “special” place. And if life (the whole ecosystem of life) was ongoing outside God’s special place, well, then there must have been much life and … death and decay!

So what’s the answer? Rather simple, really. I’ve been talking about it for a decade. First, it is not the “First Death” that matters, not to God, and not really to us. The First Death comes to us all sooner or later. However long we live, our body will go through the cycle of life: birth, childhood and growing up, maturity and mating, parenting and grand parenting, and death. Whether it takes 70 or 700 years. (A 1000 years is but like day, remember, to the Lord.) And though He might care (because we do), our physical death merely ends a “blink of an eye” in eternity, and it is really whether we die or do not die to eternity that He really cares about. Adam was not warned about the first, physical, death, but of the second.

The Story of Adam (and Eve):

You need not agree, it won’t matter much in eternity, but I suspect Adam was at first a mere Homo.sapiens (that is, a biological man). He was one of a village or tribe which was one small part of the species, part of a kind. God, satisfied with what the kind had become, liked what He saw in Adam. So God chose him from out of many and put (breathed) His Spirit into him, endowing him with the potential for the only life that really matters, the life of the spirit, the life of Adam’s second birth! Adam was a man born of water, and by God’s grace, born again of spirit – the model and type of all of us today! Adam was the first “Man”!

God is always choosing! He often starts thing by choosing. He chose Adam. One might assume He chose earth (from so many planets), and chose that point in the history of life. He chose Abram. He chose Israel. He even chose Eve.

The Scriptures make it plain that Adam matured during his time in the Garden. I say (in my book) that God led Adam through a study of (naming) all living creatures that he might come to understand what was special about himself, and requisite for a proper “helpmate”. When Adam learned, God chose again. He chose a female (from among the H.sapiens), breathed into her a spirit, and brought her to Adam, to his house, to his wedding bed. Eve was the first wife, and destined to be the “mother of all”.

This is what the Hebrew language describes, and there is no incompatibility with that third barrier.

This interpretation answers many questions, of course. It explains why Adam and Eve were “embarrassed to be naked – the people from which they came were not naked. It explains who Cain feared when he was turned out, who God had to warn not to harm Cain, and with whom Cain formed “cities”. It explains why we are never told that after the Fall God recreated the earth’s ecosystem, adding predators, and death, and decay … even the beginning of genetic processes that would actually supply the raw material of speciation as we know it. We aren’t told because it was all already there!

The fourth choice (28%) was: “Evolution calls into question Adam as the father of original sin and of Christ as the Redeemer from the effects of sin.”

What I’ve said about #3 pretty much answers this as well. Adam (and Eve) were the first to be “born again”, born of the spirit, and thereby received the potential of eternal life. God warned them they might “die”, but He meant “die” the second death, which Satan obfuscated. When Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world (as God knew they would), we carried on the tradition (as God knew we would). It’s in our genes to do wrong. It’s in our spirit that it becomes sin. Evolution has naught to do with God’s spirit, or sin – animals don’t sin! So Adam as the first Man, and first able to sin, was the father of sin, and Christ Redeems each of us of effects unrelated to biology or evolution, but our relationship with God. That’s why Christ is the Redeemer. He redeems not our biological life (possibly a product of evolution) but our spiritual life (definitely a product of God, not biology or evolution).

For the rest of the other “barriers”, read Waltke’s paper. And feel free to come back and ask my thoughts about any of them.

The focus of this blog is always Genesis 1 & 2 and my translation and how it affects, or is affected by, science. I read a lot of science journals and blogs and ezines and I’m always looking to see where science is going and whether it continues to confirm – as it most usually does, or (very rarely) contradicts the translation I have proffered here and in the book “Hey Mom, What About Dinosaurs?”. When I find contradictions, I go back both to the Hebrew sources and the Scriptural translation I’ve made of them and see if I should rethink my work, or if Genesis should be a basis to judge the science. Usually it doesn’t matter, though I’ve a couple of examples I wish scientists could handle, and let Genesis clue them into a possibility or probability. But, of course, most of the time there is no contradiction, just more confirmation of the Genesis record.

Let me give you an example of each. The first is about mosses. In ScienceDaily, an easily accessible ezine, out of England, that collects and reports on the latest of nearly every kind of science. In “Moss Helps Chart the Conquest of Land by Plants”, they tell us about a project reported in Science (a not-so-accessible peer-reviewed weekly put out by the AAAS).

Mosses appear in Genesis 1:11. I make quite a bit of it because no one quite recognized this until I brought it out. Until my work, everyone accepted something like the NKJ version, “Let the earth bring forth grass”, or the NAS, “Let the earth sprout vegetation” – which is better but still misses the idea that it was a category (the first) in a sequence of 3: (a) simple plants such as algae and mosses, etc, (b) grasses and other seed-bearing plants, and (c) fruit-bearing woody plants, rather than just “plants”, and then parenthetically mentioning seed-bearing and fruit-bearing sorts. Critics, like scientists and scoffers of the Bible prefer the KJV/NKY version, of course, because it actually lists “grass” as first, thus showing just how off the Bible is, because science has shown grass is a sophisticated/advanced plant type that appeared much later, after major historical and/or evolutionary progress amongst plants. You can read all that, and my refutation of it, in Chapter Three of “Hey Mom, What About Dinosaurs?”

If you read the ScienceDaily article, you’ll learn a few things. First, of course, confirmation that mosses are most likely the pioneers of land life. The scientists, here, are interested in identifying and understanding the genetics and biology that allow mosses to survive both very wet and very dry. They say its a pretty complex genetic system, in both DNA and RNA design/functions. It looks like, to them, that the mosses pioneered an ability to survive dessication and passed it on to flowering plants, but only their seeds. Fascinating. But as for me, I’m especially impressed to see that mosses, “simple plants”, came with such complexity and well-developed genetic software as early as 480 million years ago, and get this – in the order Genesis said. So, this is a “Science backs up Genesis”!

The next example comes from another ScienceDaily article, “Bird-from-Dinosaur Theory of Evolution Challenged: Was It the Other Way Around?” (Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences) Anything to do with dinosaurs is huge. Everyone, young and old, every ethnic group, is fascinated by dinosaurs – and critics have long had a field day scornfully pointing out the Bible seems oblivious of them. Of course, I blew that out of the water – I just wish more people would read my book and blogs so they would know it!

Almost as big a deal, for anyone knowledgeable of such things, is the fact scientists have long believed, and adduced a lot of paleontological evidence, that birds came after – perhaps even evolved from – dinosaurs. So its no small matter that I show in my work that Genesis talks about birds just after it does about dinosaurs. (See Chapter Four of “Hey Mom, What About Dinosaurs?”) The Bible doesn’t say birds “evolved from”, of course. It doesn’t say anything about the way in which life and its myriad of forms came to be, of how God created. It simply says He was the Author of life, and supplies a historical outline – without timescales or and dates – of the most significant forms (as far as we, mankind, are concerned) of life.

As you can tell from the title of the article, some are now hypothesizing that dinosaurs came (evolved) from birds. They have some interesting evidences. And who can tell, from fossils at least 60 to 70 million years old? Who knows, if (as they say) “Small animals such as velociraptor that generally have been thought to be dinosaurs are more likely flightless birds”. Remember Jurassic Park? Wouldn’t that contradict the movie! Whatever, they really have nothing conclusive. The best I can offer is to agree with them that “We’re finally breaking out of the conventional wisdom of the last 20 years, which insisted that birds evolved from dinosaurs and that the debate is all over and done with.” (Does that sound familiar?)

But what about Genesis? I would say Genesis tends to support the traditional “first dinos, then birds” but should scientists decide this reverse evolutionary history is right, there’s still no real conflict with Genesis. First, Genesis actually speaks about birds that have feathers and fly, not flightless “birds”. And the fact that only after the dinos are gone do birds (and mammals, for that matter) become well established or preeminent still leaves Genesis’ history in fine shape. Other scientists suggest that dinos and birds have a common ancestor rather than a more linear connection. Again, that too is fine with the Genesis account. So, in this case, there’s nothing here that requires any new work on my translation of Genesis 1 and 2. Its a tie (or bye?).

When I taught various applications of the evolution paradigm at a couple of universities, I would teach the danger of assuming evolution. The danger was ad hoc and post hoc interpretation and explanation of a biological history or current biological form/design. The danger was rationalization instead of science, of teleology: that the end explains the beginning and process, that the theory explains and confirms the hypothesis. That’s how evolution came to be “a fact” instead of a theory, and scientific research became little more than fleshing out the story of Creation and extolling the beauty of evolution as Creator. All this is exactly what critics say about Intelligent Design. And they were pretty much on much of the time. But what is good for the goose must surely be good for the gander.

When I critiqued evolution articles and books, and research and authors, for that sort of language and reasoning I was keeping biology and anthropology honest, and most people in the field agreed. And truthfully, error of that sort remained rare in evolutionary science but not so much in Intelligent Design. I think that sort of error contributed much to the decline in standing which Intelligent Design has suffered in the past couple of years, and why the “Evolutionists” have won essentially every major contest in courts and school boards and politics in general. It might be hard for the proponents of Intelligent Design to admit they’ve lost enough battles that many on both sides think the war is over, I think most of the science and anti-ID community are confident they’ve won. Certainly their hackles and anxieties are way down today compared to, say, the time of the Dover trial.

Along with their hackles, however, I fear they’ve also dropped their guard against sloppy language and thinking, and a lot of that ad hoc and post hoc and teleological garbage is sneaking back into the picture. And in so doing, the science of evolution is beginning to sound like many researchers are not so anti Intelligent Design. Like those studying evolutionary biological topics, at least, are open to, or leaning towards accepting the idea that evolution of life has had some hand of a higher intelligence guiding or directing or influencing the flow of creation!

I’ve always seen some of this and figured it was, as I’ve said, sloppy thinking or speaking. But in recent times its gotten to be more than just a rare thing, and not just error by junior or less – say, bright? – scientists. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are three examples I came across in one brief session reading online reports.<.h3>

The first:

“Smoke plays an intriguing role in promoting the germination of seeds of many species following a fire,” Johannes Van Staden and colleagues point out in the report (in ACS’s Journal of Natural Products) They previously discovered a chemical compound in smoke from burning plants that promotes seed germination….
In their new research, the scientists report discovery of an inhibitor compound that may block the action of the stimulator, preventing germination of seeds. They suspect that the compounds may be part of a carefully crafted regulatory system for repopulating fire-ravaged landscapes…. The inhibitor thus may delay germination of seeds until moisture and temperature are right, and then take a back seat to the germination promoter in smoke.

Comment: “They suspect that the compounds may be part of a carefully crafted regulatory system…”. “Crafted” by an overseeing Intelligent Designer of the ecological system?

The Second:

Has the almond tree developed a unique way of drawing potential pollinators? A group of researchers at the Department of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Science Education at the University of Haifa-Oranim speculate that the toxin called amygdalin that is found in almond tree nectar is in fact an evolutionary development intended to give that tree an advantage over others…. it is likely that amygdalin is produced in the almond nectar so as to give the almond tree an advantage in reproduction…. it is possible that the plant produces it so as to attract potential pollinators.
Another possibility is that the almond tree has developed this substance in its nectar as a form of filter: it repulses “non-expert” pollinatrors, but gives access to the “experts”… providing efficient pollination services….

Comment: “[A] possibility is that the almond tree has developed this substance in its nectar as a form of filter: it repulses ‘non-expert’ pollinatrors, but gives access to the ‘experts'”. Is the intelligence and discernment of which pollinators are “expert” in the tree, or an outside Intelligent Designer of the system?

The Third:

A team of University of Toronto chemists have made a major contribution to the emerging field of quantum biology, observing quantum mechanics at work in photosynthesis in marine algae….
“Our latest experiments show that normally functioning biological systems have the capacity to use quantum mechanics in order to optimize a process as essential to their survival as photosynthesis…. We were astonished…. This and other recent discoveries …. [raise] some … potentially fascinating questions, such as, have these organisms developed quantum-mechanical strategies for light-harvesting to gain an evolutionary advantage? It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans,” says Scholes.

Comment: algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans. We all doubt the ability of an algae to know about and use quantum mechanics, but does this suggest there was a much higher Intelligent Designer that did, and helped start this life form some 2 billion years ago?

Now, I have come to a fairly neutral position regarding the creation-evolution-ID debate. Each has its own strength and possibilities, and each can provide a satisfying paradigm/explanation for some people. My only conclusion is that the Bible, in Genesis 1 and 2, and elsewhere, does not tell us how creation happened. But it does tell us God was at least a witness to it all, and knew where it was going, as evidenced by (in my own translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) by the description, in some detail, of its history, so many years before anyone could have ever had even an inkling of what we have slowly discovered through science – so accurately and so long ago that it reads, as I’ve said, at least as a most remarkable prophecy! Wichever, whatever, this is enough to lend incredible confidence and believability to Genesis 1 and 2, and the Bible’s claim that God is the Intelligent Designer of life and universe, by whatever means He chose … but did not precisely tell us about.

**The three articles can be accessed at the following URLs:

The Secret Life of Smoke….

Almond Tree’s Secret Weapon

Quantum Mechanics at Work in Photosynthesis…


That’s the title of a book featuring 5 essays on the subject. Each expands a lecture given in Yale’s annual series entitled Lectures on Religion in the Light of Science and Philosophy. Talk about credentials, these authors could hardly have better: two scientists, a philosopher, an historian, and a sociologist, all tops in their fields. I had to have high hopes about what they would have to say. If anyone could be, they should provide some new insight, right?

Unfortunately, they don’t have much. Brilliant, erudite, and knowledgeable as they are, they offer little to advance our understanding. They, too, are still stuck in the past, have never tried to reexamine the 400 year-old interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, and are more of the same ol’ same ol’. The Intro, by natural historian Keith Thomson, sets the tone and sums it up:

“While the basic issue concerns all of science, the bellwether point of contention is evolution.” That, of course, we all know. We don’t have much problem with astronomy. Or physics. Or biology, genetics, or medical sciences. Nor chemistry or any of the engineering sciences. Contention only arises if they get into EVOLUTION! And why is that? We all know the answer. As Thomson says, its about “The perception of scientific hostility to religion…” And why that is so, Thompson is clear in his explication, but hardly pioneering.

“The debate concerns first and foremost the ‘popular assertions’ – that there is a God who controls our lives and destiny and who is worthy of worship.” What does evolution really have to say about that? Nothing of course. But, in the course of human affairs, there have always been atheists, and for almost 200 years they have said it does. For the most part they are always “antichrists”, not “antibhuddists”, or “antiallahists”, or anti any other religion. Now that’s interesting. Why the focus on God, of the Bible, and his Christ? Why is the “Religion” in the title, and in the minds of everyone involved in the “debate” with science, the religion rooted in the Bible! Not Allah, not Buddha, not Hindus or animists or Zoroastrians. The answer to that question actually moves the ball down the field, a bit (football metaphor, here – can’t help it, I like that sport).

When Thomson talks about “recent attacks on religion by scientists such as Richard Dawkins that have contributed nothing but rancor to the debate”, he assumes everyone knows it is Christianity being attacked, and debated. If he would get explicit and point directly at Genesis 1 & 2, he could set the stage for something new. It is the fact that Christians, for the most part, have always accepted the Genesis assertion that God is the Creator; that God, the god of the Bible, created this universe and all its parts. From quarks to atoms, from energy to the dynamics of the billions of galaxies that make up the fullness of the physical universe, and from the chemical molecules like DNA and proteins to the sentient and spiritual top of the “web” of life on this planet, God created it. He caused it to begin, and become, and be what it is. No other religion does that, at least in terms and details that impress us as serious. Others may have myths about the earth being on a turtle’s back, or springing forth from the dreams of a snoozy prince, etc., but these don’t really spark any fear or debate among scientists, or atheists. Genesis 1 and 2 is why there is a “Debate”! Genesis claims, or is thought to claim to be a record of creation, from the infamous Big Bang to your great and wonderful self.

Darwin never claimed “evolution” created any of these things. Evolution was his theory of how the universe’s physical matter and chemistry became not life in the first instance, but how life (and only life) once started managed to get to be what it is today: very sophisticated, so multifaceted we still discover new “kinds” every day, and so forceful it threatens to consume the physical base upon which it thrives. Darwin’s theory is all about “descent with modification”, modification of life once begun. He doesn’t pretend to address the origins of the universe, matter, energy, physical/existential law and order, or life itself. To Darwin, this “anthropic universe” and the first event of life are outside the paradigm of his theory. And I’m sure he would insist that all the subsequent modifications and new generations of that theory cannot claim to replace God as Creator, but only suggest that God is not an ongoing “Intelligent Designer”! Rather than being the artist of record, Darwin would rather see God as the supplier of paint and canvas and (probably) the Teacher who set the rules for what art is. Darwin proposed that life itself was the power behind the brush, and Natural Selection the Adam Smith-like guide to the emergent painting(s). He knew his theory was challenging some common tenets of Christian doxology, but not the idea or sovereignty of God. That has always been the illicit expansion and disingenuous/ignorant claims and assertions atheists who hoped it did, or hoped Christians would accept that it does and get discouraged and quit their faith. These are the “antichrists” the Bible so often warns about.

If Christians were to accept his paradigm of “evolution”, I think Darwin, if alive today, would be happy to simply agree that “evolution” was a pretty good tactic, or technique, planned and put in motion by God, and be quite impressed by what we have learned about the intelligent design of a universe with such anthropic rules and laws and principles. If left up to Darwin, as with many modern scientists, the “debate” might very well have never arisen. Certainly not continued. Especially if he knew what I know about Genesis 1 and 2.

What everybody’s missing, and what leaves this latest try at explaining the long life and vitality of the culture war between science and religion search falling far short, is the truth about Genesis. They do not know that Genesis’ account of creation is seriously mistranslated, and the whole “debate” is practically groundless! The Genesis account says nothing about method or means. Those Christians, and there are many, who refuse to take part in the culture war because they understand that there is no contradiction between the theory of evolution and Genesis 1 & 2 are absolutely correct. Even if they don’t exactly know why, they nonetheless are correct.

The belief that God merely “spoke various things into creation as they became” is somewhat quaint, and was OK for believers 400 years ago, but not the best translation of what Genesis says. Genesis doesn’t say the way things (especially all the “kinds” of life that currently inhabit the earth) came to be, or actually say how long each event it does mention took to become what it is.

Genesis 1 & 2 are not so much a description of creating as they are an historical account of creation. It is a very abbreviated, sketchy outline of the history of all creation, but mostly of earth and life. So brief and sketchy that it is more like a quick assemblage of headlines or topics, the bold print in an article or textbook.

Tradition, and most people, has it as a series of “Let there be” type statements that command or speak into existence a list of features and things in the natural world. A better translation of those statements, say, “Let dry ground appear” (Gen 1:9, NIV), both a better representation of original Hebrew and what modern science attests, would be “Watch … see how dry land appears”. Plate tectonics are a perfectly good (and natural) and effective explanation of how God produced (and still does produce) dry land from the earth’s crust under the seas (as described in Genesis 1:2) and fit perfectly well with the best translation of the Hebrew texts!

My book walks one through a forensic reinterpretation of the Hebrew language of Genesis, utilizing the best of linguistics and scientific knowledge. It redoes what was last done in 1611. It brings the message of Genesis into modern language and modern understanding of the creation. It brings together Genesis 1 and 2, and Romans 1. It has reached many thousands now, but obviously not the authors at Yale. Our reinterpretation does not remove the miracles from the text and testimony of Scripture, but rather lets us understand another whole sense of the Scriptures, that there is in Genesis a remarkable foretelling, a prophesy of what we will learn as we do study the creation. Its a great testimony for our time, not something that modern science refutes, but something that modern science confirms! Genesis gives, in its outline of creation’s history, something no one in the time it was written could know, let alone understand. It is hard not to believe that the author was there, and saw it all, and told us about it.

Read my rendition of Genesis. Its posted here on this website. Read my book if you want to see how and why I interpreted Genesis as I did. Check the linguistics, the evidence, and the forensic analysis for yourself.

The resulting account is much like the records of the prophets. It tells us the end from the beginning. And, importantly, it answers and corrects a lot of misunderstandings commonly touted by those who accuse Genesis of significant scientific or historical errors. For instance, they like to say birds appear too soon in Genesis. Not so, birds come in at the right time – the King James translators simply thought winged insects were also birds. Critics like to say that the plants are out of order according to modern science’s analysis of “evolution”. Not so, the King James scholars simply mistook simpler plant life for sophisticated/complex grass. Many wonder why there are no dinosaurs in the Genesis account. Actually, the dinosaurs are there – in exactly the right place in the history of things!

So, the best answer to “The Religion and Science Debate, Why Does It Continue?” is “Because no one really knows the truth about what Genesis 1 & 2 actually say”. That’s why the Yale papers get no where new … they, like almost everyone, are saddled with the naiveté and errors of the past – the King James past of 1611.

Why Darwin Matters … or Not

Posted in: Bible & Science,Culture Wars by admin on October 16, 2009

Michael Shermer publishes and edits Skeptic magazine, runs the Skeptic Society, or something like that, and is sure to be found wherever two or three skeptics gather together. He’s critical. He likes to debunk things. Things like “junk science”, questionable theories and political ideas. And, religion. Especially Christianity. Like ex smokers, ex Christians are usually the worst. Oh yes, he really despises any and all things “creationist”. So, to him, “Darwin Matters” because he thinks Darwin erased chapters 1 & 2 of Genesis. He even wrote the book, Why Darwin Matters, to tell us all about it.

To tell you the truth, looking at Shermer I have think “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” He and I could have had the same mother. Once upon a time. But I’ve learned something over the years that he and a lot of other people should learn. I’ll get to that later.

I’ve learned that Darwin doesn’t matter that much anymore. He does to science and scientists, but not to us, not in the way Shermer thinks he should. Shermer thinks evolution should persuade Christians and creationists and Intelligent Designers, and pretty much anyone who has believed the Bible – well, in Genesis, chapters 1 & 2, at least – to abandon their beliefs. So the book, Why Darwin Matters. Well, since I once shared his ideas, and his special antipathy to Genesis, I wanted to see how he argues his case and how well he does it.

I was not impressed. In fact, a bit disappointed. There was really nothing there to challenge me, or stimulate any new ideas. The book is little more than a compilation and distillation of stuff that’s been done many a time before.

He argues that the facts and findings of an ever-increasing variety of sciences build and converge to establish “The Facts of Evolution” (Chapter 1). That’s probably his best chapter. After that he tells us “Why People Do Not Accept Evolution” (Chapter 2). He explains, mostly citing the Scopes Trial, its because they/we fear it leads to atheism and amorality, if not wholesale immorality. Then he’s onto debunking Intelligent Design as bad theology and simplemindedness (“In Search of the Designer”, Chapter 3) and as bad science in a pretty weak and fatuous “Debating Intelligent Design” (Chapter 4). Chapter 5, “Science Under Attack”, strikes me as something of an exercise in paranoia, reminding me of those who still can’t get over the Galileo affair. Like, when’s the last time we Christians won anything significant since in the schools or courts – well, before the Scopes Trial at least (which he celebrates, of course)! The red meat of Chapter 5 is the recounting of Kitzmiller v Dover, where the Christians failed even to get a one minute statement read to students declaring merely the obvious, the facts that the Theory of Evolution is still but a theory, and many Christians have another theory, about life and creation. That he, and so many others, seemed to see science fundamentally threatened by even this minute, there in Dover, is quite a stretch … of paranoia … or intolerance.

The rest of the book is Shermer waging culture war. Chapter 6, “The Real Agenda” disparages the hopes and politics of I.D. proponents. Chapter 7 disingenuously argues “Why Science Cannot Contradict Religion”. He might be right, it can’t. But he obviously (the book attests) believes that it does! So in Chapter 8, he tries to tell us “Why Christians and Conservatives Should Accept Evolution.” And so on.

When I finished the book, the biggest question for me was “Why?”. Why did he bother to write the thing? Looking at Amazon’s records you can see it didn’t make much money for him. Most reviewers recognized it didn’t break any new ground. Most who liked it were fellow travelers and Shermer fans. Few were scientists. Though I read a review that gave it credit for helping scientists who were still confused or insecure about evolution, I know enough science and scientists to know none of them will be persuaded by Shermer, and none need his defense or encouragement about evolutionary theory. No, its pretty obvious that because Shermer thinks Darwin’s theory negates Genesis, he’s hoping to undermine some Christian’s beliefs and win them over to his religion, atheism. I understand that, having been there once. And truthfully I believed and preached it for the same reasons, with very good success.

But its NOT true! There is NO contradiction between Darwin and evolution and what science has shown to be the history of creation, and Genesis 1 & 2! None! Genesis gives a history, an outline of the history of creation, and nothing science has learned in two hundred years contradicts it! In fact, every year the story science is telling matches the story Genesis tells even better! Better! But Genesis actually says nothing about “how”, about the processes or forces or mechanisms by which creation is effected! Evolution is no contradiction. For all we know (and most scientists insist we do) evolution may well have been God’s method. Genesis only tells us, for the most part, when things happened, relative to each other. It reads more like a book of the prophets than anything else, when once we accurately translate the Hebrew texts written 3500 years ago. That is the truth that totally revolutionized my own understanding and beliefs.

God tells us, in Romans 1, that we can have no ignorance about Him and His nature if we would only study His creation. Science is our best effort at that. Romans 1 pretty well ruled the day in Galileo’s time, but then politics, and dogma, overruled the truth Galileo, and others, were revealing. We are there again. Science, every day, fulfills the prophecy of Romans 1, and confirms the prophetic account of Genesis 1 & 2, at least the account we can discover when we set aside the translation of 1611 for a retranslation into the language and science of 2010!

Shermer was wasting his time with Why Darwin Matters, but didn’t know it. One wonders what he would believe if he did know what Genesis really says. And all too many Christians waste their time fearing and fighting for something that isn’t there. And nearly everyone is wasting their time fighting a culture war that is based in nothing but a 400 year-old interpretation.

God intended His word stay alive, and be reapplied to each generation’s times. You need to read what Genesis really says. Its available here, free. As for the Bereans among you, read my book. It takes you through a detailed forensic reinterpretation, using modern science and language, that brings Genesis into this day, this age, word by word, detail by detail. And see for yourself why Darwin really doesn’t matter!