Howard takes a turn
Not quite entering head-on into the fray of heated altercations taking place between the Dawkinsians and Creationists, Howard Jacobson tonight on Channel 4 here in the UK offered a view of the creation account of Genesis 1 which enjoys the poetry and even the ‘theology’ of the passage (theology not in this case requiring a religious belief) for its philosophical value and meaning. He undertook this journey and perhaps even reached his conclusions perhaps due to his vaguely Jewish background (which he covered in the programme).
I appreciated it for its friendly middle-of-the-road take, and for his deft observations at the hypocrisy of the new atheists, who so are so clearly guilty of the same sins they condemn creationists for. I’m glad that finally I’ve heard someone else say it, so that these new atheists will realise that it’s not only their arch-enemies the Christians (most of whom they brand ‘creationists’ which is a wildly inaccurate assumption) who will say this but other well-meaning clear-thinking people in the world – and that therefore the accusation itself may come with some gravity.
It does of course now provide the opportunity for critics, reviewers, journalists and bloggers (like myself) to respond to these views once again with whatever arguments we have to present, and so what I am doing here is nothing original, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to speak my own view into this field.
I am a Christian. But as impersonally stated above (and now personally) I resent being labelled as a creationist if I am known as a Christian. My chief concern is Christ, not creation, and so this concerns a side-issue for me. For many creationists it is a central issue.
This terribly ‘schoolboy error’ of mistakenly branding the many with a label given to a few is not the only one made by some of the new atheists but it has caused them to fight with many more people than necessary. One point that fascinates me is that Dawkins very clearly starts his polemical from a point where he says that Christianity was simply part of the culture he was born into – ie. England (could his accent sound any more like china teacups clinking in a rose garden with a string quartet lilting in the background and a game of bowls taking place on the lawn?). Yet the type of Christianity he most virilently attacks comes from America, and I am surprised that a man of his intellectual capacity cannot work out that, beneath the face value of consumerist capitalism, from a religious point of view Britain and America are in some cases worlds apart.
This point safely laid aside, it’s always fun to state again the position of a Christian who doesn’t hold the creationist view, such as was held by one Christian professor from Cambridge, featured near the end of Jacobson’s documentary. Because as Jacobson sensibly asked, are the two fundamentalist positions the only two options available to the thinking world?
As a Christian I believe both in the historical veracity of the Genesis 1 account and its Divine origin. Both of these, I realise, will be contested. The first on grounds argued early in Jacobson’s programme, for which I provide a riposte below (see Jacobson’s blunder). The second, can’t be settled without arguing about faith, which we won’t do here.
So I believe in its authenticity and Divine influence/authorship. But as to its meaning I do not find it necessary to simply subscribe to the school of literalism which has no relation whatsoever to the way Jews think or thought in those days. For one, its many statements cannot converge into one congenial mass of scientific data; it is in fact extremely un-scientific. It is not the language of science, but of poetry. There are several ‘days’ that occur, with ‘light’ and ‘dark’, ‘day’ and ‘night’, before ever there was a sun, which arrived rather unhelpfully in day 4. Day 4 in fact adds to the list of conundrums when it uses the four fatal words ‘and it was so’ which indicate that what God said, happened. So in Day 4 which, of course, was a literal 24-hour period (my tongue might get stuck here in my cheek if I’m not careful) the lights functioned as signs and seasons, days and years.
All, my friends, in a 24-hour period.
Those four recurring words will cause similar, recurring problems throughout the passage when attempting to interpret everything literally. The earth sprouted vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them – all in a 24-hour period. Why would God make it happen like this for the tree in one day, when that is entirely against its natural function? Don’t tell your frustrated gardening neighbour about all this, who wrestles to produce anything even over a year – they’ll give up! Would God do this just to prove to some vocal atheists that they’re wrong?
Most problematically, man (Adam and Eve presumably) was fruitful, multiplied, filled the earth and subdued it, and ruled over every creature on earth – all on literal number day 6 because, ‘it was so’ (verse 30).
Hmm. So having stated what my position is NOT, allow me just to briefly explain that there is a satisfying interpretation which involves the idea that Genesis functions as a prophetic account of the life of creation (creation as descriptive of the birds bees flowers trees, not the act), and of humanity, and of humanity’s interaction with creation. It functions poetically-theologically in that the structure of six days clearly allows first for the forming of the earth (light and dark [day 1], heavens and earth , waters and dry land ) and the filling of it (sun moon stars , creatures in heavens and on earth , the inhabitants and rulers of the dry land and waters ) which correspond and parallel nicely (days 1&4, 2&5, 3&6). Far more poetic than scientific.
It is then meant to convey to us that God was fully in charge of everything that was made, having a right place and time for it. And it was meant to convey to man the sense of gravity about his task as outlined in verse 26, when God commissioned him to rule over the earth and sea. Having witnessed the forming and filling of creation at God’s command, he ought to understand the weight of responsibility and the manner and nature of the stewardship he is to undertake.
I hope this at least helps the reader to glean that there are other ways of understanding this passage. Ways which are far deeper than mere six-day fundamentalism which seeks only to argue on one level against atheism but misses entirely what God was really saying all along.
Earlier in the show Howard Jacobson went on what I would say was a slightly misguided tangent which slightly obfuscated the argument, perhaps, when apparently only in consultation with one Israeli archaeologist and one ‘Biblical Scholar’ also working in Israel, he quickly and roundly concluded for us that monotheistic faith had not entered into the Jewish faith until after 586BC, when the Jews had undergone capture by the Babylonians, and that the creation story therefore was part of a construct formed by them to illustrate how actually they had had one God, and a monotheistic faith all along. It was likely assimilated on board with everything else in the programme by some viewers (for therein is the power of the media) but I think there was a poor case made for this.
For one thing that is a very late date to suggest for such a radical shift in the theological thought of a nation in that period of history. In proposing that then the rest of Scripture was a retrospective and biased composition written merely for the purpose of forming a new identity for them as a people at that time discounts hundreds and probably thousands of historal facts, artefacts, and considerations dating both from before and after the period of the exile. To base this kind of conclusion on one flimsy piece of archaeological evidence which sits amidst a veritable mine of archaeological gold, and on the ideas of a funny (dear) lady who works at the Shrine of the Book, flies rather in the face of much other serious scholarly work.
The archaeologist argued his point using some figurines found on one site in Israel. The figurines represent a fertility goddess and are present in the homes of Jewish people from around the 8th century BC. On this ground, he stated, we can conclude that the Jews were ‘still’ worshipping ‘many’ deities, and weren’t ‘yet’ monotheistic in their faith.
This is the archaeological equivalent of finding one cigarette butt in the home of your friend who, to your knowledge has never been a smoker, and telling them “so you’re STILL on twenty a day then?”
The Old Testament repeatedly warned Israel not to worship the other gods of the nations that surrounded them. Its history too tells of various occasions when the nation failed to live up to this standard, and tried to keep a multiplicity of faiths by worship Yahweh and the gods of the nations around at the same time. This find cannot substantiate the idea that for over a millennia previous to the date given to this finding the Jewish people had a polytheistic faith. It can however verify the facts that the Jews were guilty of worshipping other gods at certain periods in their history, and can helpfully inform us which deities, and when. This argument was fabricated from a misuse of archaeological data – a misuse which could have been saved by a simple contextual reading of the Scripture of the Jews, and of history and archaeology in general.
So on this point I hope it can be laid to rest that the argument for a late monotheistic faith in the Jewish nation and religion is, at least on these grounds, ignorant and insubstantial.
8 thoughts on “Howard Jacobson (and me) on Creation, New Atheism, and the Bible”
Interesting, Ben. I’m inclined to agree with you on all this – particularly on Jacobsen’s blunder. The same thoughts must have been going through your head and mine simultaneously. However, I would like to take up the point you made early in the piece “My chief concern is Christ, not creation”. Like you, I tend to think of the whole creation-in-6-days argument as a side-issue, but the way you expressed it got me thinking that of course for anyone whose chief concern is Christ, we should be looking for Christ IN the process of creation. The whole Bible, from start to finish, is suffused with the presence of Christ, and by reading the creation story in a NON-literal sense, we are far more likely to encounter the person of Christ in the acts of the Creator. Proverbs Chapter 8 is sometimes used to illustrate this: God was not alone at the beginning, in that He is part of a Trinity – a fundamentally relational God. This Trinitarian doctrine was something that Jacobsen, with his Jewish heritage, did not touch upon, but is essential to us as Christians. The fact that God is a relational God is crucial in our approach to everything we undertake as Christians, shaping our world view in whatever sphere we operate. Interestingly, Jacobsen had gained a distinct sense of this in his research: I thought it was very interesting how the Chief Rabbi described religion as “God in search of man” (rather than the usual perception of it as man in search of God).
Another point I’d like to make is that this polarity of interpretive approach is widespread throughout the 21st Century world. On the one hand, there seem to be the literalists, who only place value on things that can be measured, quantified and analysed by the traditional methods of the natural sciences. On the other hand are the “spirituality advocates”, who argue that although life contains these measurable commponents, it consists of MORE than these alone. Unfortunately, it seems to be the “literalist” world-view that has the upper handin most areas these days. It is born of course of an essentially material view of the world: material things can be measured while spiritual things cannot. It underlies our current obsession with target-setting and performance management in education. Taking the lead from industry and commerce, education policy-makers have tried to quantify everything and “drive up standards” by continual measuring and monitoring. I think this also probably pertains in the Health Service, but you’d have to check that out with someone who works in that sphere. Interestingly, there seem to be members of the scientific community who are calling for a more “spiritual” approach to science: BBC Radio 4 archives (I think archived under World Service) have 3 very interesting programmes entitled “What Scientists believe”. Whilst none of these addressed traditional religious belief, they were absolutely fascinating because the three scientists in question were all arguing for the intuitive approach to science to be given more credence. The first programme featured Philip Kilner, an eminent cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital, who took several years out of medicine to study sculpture. It was while he was making water sculptures that he had some radical breakthroughs in his ideas about blood-flow within the heart. I would thoroughly recommend listening to the programme.
The battle is on to assert the primacy of spirituality in a materialistic world. Let’s seek out those in all walks of life who have an influence in this area. Let’s pray for them, work with them, and ask God for wisdom to know how we can promote a right view of the world, created by a spiritual, relational God, for purposes that celebrate the material side of life, without elevating it to the status of deity.
I entirely agree that Christocentric thinking ought to find Christ in the midst of creation, I thought of that this morning after I had posted the blog. Thanks for your thoughts!
In fact to add to that the unequivocal comparison that can be made between John 1 and Genesis 1 forces us as Christians to rethink the way we read the creation account, with Jesus in the center. Then its meaning becomes apparent. The Christians who have made it their work to establish the literal meaning of Genesis 1 have never read John 1 properly, and are arguing for 19th century science, and indeed for systemisation and so on, not for the Bible or for the Jesus.
Hi Ben.I found your blog when looking for Jean Darnell’s book Heaven Here I Come. I am actually working on a website called God vs Evolution.
Just to give you a bit of background. I studied theology at Edinburgh University in the 70’s. The college was very liberal. At that time the charismatic movement had just begun. I was from a Christian home but was very aware that students from conservative evangelical backgrounds were fodder for these very
worldly wise professors. My first year was studying history and philosophy. I couldn’t believe how pointless and depressing philosophy was – which is what happens when you take God out of the equation. Then when I started studying theology in my 2nd year I couldn’t believe how stupid some of the explanantions were of the miracles – the feeding of the 5,000 – after 3 days everyone got out the food they had hidden in their garments!!! In OT I had to do double the work because they gave one list of books expressing a view I did not hold to and I had to find another pile with the opposing view. At the end of the day it still boiled down to faith, which is fair because it must be the same for a child as for a university professor. What was wonderful was that during my time at university I experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and met some wonderful students and did have some inspiring lecturers.
When I was growing up it was very much in a climate of “God is dead”, “you need to prove that he exists”
I was never tempted to believe in evolution but at times felt swamped by it. What if there was not a God? What if I had been brought up in another country and another religion? How did I know there was a God. Facts are very important to me. I am an idealist but I have to be sure that what I believe in is true. One great thing I learned in OT was that for the Jewish mind the greatest miracle of all is creation. I also read Josh Mcdowells book – Evidence that Demands a Verdict -which gave many instances of occurrences in nature that had to happen instantaneously and could not happen over millions of years.
After university I joined YWAM. This actually was a huge contrast to university. I met some incredible people of faith. Yes we had our ups and downs and we were all incredibly inexperienced but we had a heart for the Lord. It was during this time that I really
caught a glimpse of God’s delight in us, our uniqueness, our talents. I love the line in Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddle’s sister is trying to persuade him not to run – “God has made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure”.
After YWAM I went to Singapore to work with a church that was experiencing revival. It had grown from 78 to over 500 in 4 years and was literally bursting at the seams. I ended up leading the worship team and was responsible for the outreach. The spiritual climate in Singapore was very different to Britain. There was not the embarrassment about speaking about your faith. There was not this feeling of being stupid, or needy, or ignorant. They didn’t talk about evolution, or worry about where Cain got his wife.
I loved working in the church – Church of Our Saviour -and just was very priviledged both to work with Rev Derek Hong – and a very talented team. We ended up producing full scale dance/drama productions and had many street teams. I loved the creative process and was often amazed at the speed of ideas when people got together.
This is a bit of a long preamble but its just before I say I am a creationist which I most definitely am.
I have been back in Scotland now for the past 13 years. For the last 2 years I have been doing quite an intensive study on evolution and creation.One of the reasons was how I felt the teaching of evolution was affecting my girls’ belief in God. A book you need to read Ben, is Henry Morris – The Long War Against God. When I read it, it filled in so many gaps that at some level I was perplexed by. I was angry that for all the time I had spent at university the impact of evolution on modern society was never mentioned. It certainly had impacted theological colleges so that what was coming out of them was dreary, insipid Christianity with a belief in God who could do what? Who exactly do we worship in Britain? Who is Jesus? We can handle the gentle Jesus meek and mild of the Sunday school but what about the Jesus that John saw in Patmos – “His face was like the sun shining in full power at midday. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if dead ” Rev 1:16,17. John saw the centre and source of all life.
Evolution is a hideous theory which has spawned a hideous philosphy. The strength of the theory of evolution was not in its truth but rather in its complete naturalistic explanation of the world that ruled out God. For Christians to go along with it they are basically saying that God is resposible for a blood bath going on for 4 billion years. For then God to have put the responsibility for death on Adam’s shoulders was ridiculous as he was responsible for all this death. God would then have made man from a system that eliminated the weak and the vulnerable and then condemn man for not taking care of the weak and the vulnerable.
Evolution taught that Africans could only reach the intelligence of an 11 year old, that it was not necessary to have reforms as it was natural for nature to weed out the weak ones, it gave a perfect philosophy for western countries who were plundering Asain and African countries. It spawned communism it gave a philosphy to rationalise man’s greed in capitalism, it gave the philisophical green light to enable Hitler to dupe a nation and nearly annihilate a race. It is resposible for millions of deaths in the 20century. It has reduced life to an accident and thought nothing of murdering millions of unborn babies, marriages are a main target as the sanctity of marriage has been thrown out – after all why should man not do what is “natural to him”. Our teenagers are being told there lives are without purpose, there is no afterlife, and its every man for himself.
Our laws are in a state of chaos because there are no longer absolutes.
Ben I could go on. I feel passionately against evolution because its a lie, it robs God of that spontaneous adoration that comes just from looking at the wonderful gift that God has given of this planet and life and His brilliance in the design of even His smallest creatures. (There is not one creative person I know who would ever take so long to make something!)
My study on evolution/creation has recently led me to think about revival. I think we have to ask the question – What does God think about evolution? Is Europe in such a bad way spiritually because it is in actual fact honouring a theory which is both deaf and blind and turned away fron the true God? Does the church need to repent, as by agreeing with evolution it then has its part to play in the horrific consequenses brought about by it.I know that underneath all of this is evil, human nature, the devil. But the Bible tells us that we have to have nothing to do with vain philosophies and we need to expose them. 1 Tim 4.7 We need to be the salt and light.
What is so interesting in science is that evolution cannot account for the encyclopeadic information in every cell. This is probably the biggest argument against evolution. And this is where the real cracks are appearing. The whole theory of evolution rests on complex species coming from simple. It cannot account for this information. But we can – in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God ………all things were made by Him….
Ben I think I have written more to you than so far I have put in my website!! I can see from your articles that you are a thinking person. So please give this more thought. God bless.
Hi Shirley, thanks for your testimony and input. I value what you have shared of your life in God and so on. I’m afraid though that you may have had a slight knee-jerk reaction in assuming that my negativity towards creationism means that I’m an avid supporter of the theory of evolution. I’m aware of the issues it has given rise to in leading some away from the Lord but this has not been helped by the advocation of the hard alternative (literal 7-day creationism) as the only possible correct theory, and the only godly one. What I take issue with is, I hope you will be careful to note, creationists’ shallow reading of Genesis 1. There is so much more to it than science, indeed there is nothing much scientific about it at all; one has to account too for the difference between that and chapter 2. Can you take both literally?
Furthermore, starting your belief from a reactionary standpoint as you have done is never an ideal way to reach balanced theology/theory – it always has a bent and a bias that can never be controverted. I say start with Jesus, and we’ll get a much better picture of what the beginning is really all about. He is the beginning! (Proverbs 8; john 1; colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1) and if we simply taught that to our children, explaining that the world was created by God in Christ in a beautifully ordered way, without trying to drum up any shallow science from a poetic chapter, they will come to science and discover the data of the universe – beautifully ordered, fine tuned for life to exist – matches up with the data of the Bible.
It’s important to remember too that sometimes rebellion apparently caused by misunderstanding science vs. Bible can actually only be a surface reason for something much deeper that needs to be dealt with – but I’m sure that you may be aware of this.
Lastly, I myself used to believe in the creationist explanation for Genesis 1, but as you can see, after a few years of thought and meditation on it, no longer hold to that for the many reasons espoused above. So like I say, I appreciate your concern, but must emphasise that what I take issue with is a literalistic reading of the Bible in general (no one takes the WHOLE thing literally anyway – who ever actually cut off their hand because it caused them to sin?) and of Genesis 1 in particular. I hope you can appreciate this.
I wrote this poem over a year ago. I didn’t think I could send it on you comments but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. For the last 2 years I have been studying this subject. A lot of my reading has been by non-Christian, scientists, philosophers, and investigative journalists who find huge problems with evolution.
With regard to the Hebrew translations of “day” then I would recommend you look at http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/apologetics/in_defense_of_six_day_creation.shtml
Ben, I am happy to disuss this with you but you must understand that it is precisely because I love Jesus and worship Him as the “centre of all things and the One in whom all things are held together” that I will refute this theory/philosophy.
The Tragic Death of Thought
An awful silence filled the room.
The young student visibly paled.
Up to this point he hadn’t realized that the Fundamentals could never be questioned
Even if they were still just theories.
“Does anyone else think the same as you Mr Kinsfield?”
“I can’t say”
More silence like a black dull blanket
Intent to smother this unimaginably treacherous thought
hung over the court.
This was a thought that didn’t even deserve the right to a reasonable response.
So there wasn’t one.
“We do not entertain the notion of a God. That was declared to be an Absolute aeons ago. 1.
The Point of these hallowed walls of learning is to allow the greatness of human thought to captivate these simplistic explanations and illuminate them with the brilliance of human science and technology.
You neither belong to this place or to this Age.”
A Silent Encore of Approval swept around the court.
“Your mind has succumbed to the superstitions of a past age and as such belongs with those of a simpler, more neurotic disposition. ”
The young man desperately wanted to respond but he had been branded and knew his words would count for nothing.
Frustration, and anger welled up within him.
In one final bid to be heard he squared on his interrogator
“The whole theory of evolution is built on a chance happening which we as students are expected to ‘ believe’. 2.
When we do have a problem believing you assure us that it’s only natural as the human mind is actually unable to fully grasp concepts like infinite time or space.
Yet you dictate that God could not have created the earth – the rationale – if there actually is a God then He too would have only come about by this selective process over your humongous period of time.
Dare I suggest that an infinite God could belong to that realm of understanding that is way beyond the thought processes of man?
Surely your dogmatism in this area is nothing more or less than scientific ‘blasphemy’!
You cannot explain to us where life comes from
Nor give a scientific reason as to where the encyclopedic information comes from in every cell. 3.
The expected proof of the fossil record has never materialised and we are given the explanation that intermediate stages have ‘disappeared’ and that is supposed to be acceptable? 4.
You add and subtract millions of years to make the facts fit your theory
But the truth of the matter is that you do this to mask the weaknesses in you own argument. And you succeed – Joe Bloggs is not going to question you.
Some excellent mathematicians don’t hold you in such high esteem though and have deemed all your chance happenings statistically impossible. 5.
You don’t know how the bee flies and spin an exasperatingly ridiculous yarn about how the peacock got its tail. 6.
Dignity, hope and justice for ALL mankind is now just a faint memory taken out and dusted at concerts by phenomenally rich celebrities
Keep your brilliant illumination and while the spotlight is on, why don’t you have a good hard look at the damage you have done to the human spirit.”
His words clattered around the atmosphere.
But no-one was listening.
He was branded. He felt obliterated – rubbed out.
With a patronizing gesture the learned professor signalled for the student to be taken away .
The members of the court sank back in their seats.
Thankful that they belonged to such a distinguished body of intellectuals.
Thankful that, unlike this hapless student, they had not entertained their doubts.
Scientists had reached dizzy heights of acclaim on the back of this theory.
Mankind looked to them to reveal the hidden secrets of the universe.
Turning from old worn out “savage” traditions which shackled the conscience, the new man, thanks to them, was at last at liberty to enjoy ALL the multifaceted hues of his nature. 7.
They were the New Priests with a mandate to discover the keys to eternal life which as in all matters relating to survival would be the inheritance of the rich, powerful and famous.
This was hardly a position that they were going to abdicate due to some trifling inconsistencies in logic. The facts given time would stack up and they could relax – after all there was plenty of time!
The young student was led away.
He had committed intellectual suicide.
Or had he?
1. Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and one of the world’s leaders in promoting evolutionary biology. “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review. January 9, 1997 p31
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment , a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
2. Richard Dawkins. “The Blind Watchmaker” p139.
We can accept a certain amount of luck in our explanations, but not too much. The question is, how much? The immensity of geological time entitles us to postulate more improbable coincidences than a court of law would allow, but even so there are limits. Cumulative selection is the key to all our modern explanations of life. It strings a series of acceptable lucky events (random mutations) together in a nonrandom sequence so that, at the end of the sequence, the finished product carries the illusion of being very very lucky indeed, far too improbable to have come about by chance alone, even given a time span millions of time longer than the age of the universe so far. Cumulative selection is the key but it had to get started, and we cannot escape the need to postulate a single-step chance event in the origin of cumulative selection itself.
3. Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker. Preface p xvii
The computer on which I am writing these words has an information storage capacity of about 64 kilobytes (one byte is used to hold each character of text). The computer was consciously designed and deliberately manufactured. The brain with which you are understanding my words is in an array of some ten million kiloneurones. Many of these billions of nerve cells have each more than a thousand ‘electric wires’ connecting them to other neurons. Moreover at the molecular genetic level, every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer.
4. Darwin The Origin of Species . p146
No doubt many organs exist of which we do not know the transitional grades, more especially if we look to much-isolated species, round which, according to my theory, there has been much extinction. Or again, if we look to an organ common to all the members of a large class, for in this latter case the organ must first have been formed at an extremely remote period, since which all the many members of the class have been developed; and in order to discover the early transitional grades through which the organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient and ancestral forms long since become extinct.
5. Professors Sir Fred Hoyle & N.C. Wickramasinghe.
Two competent mathematicians, Professors Sir Fred Hoyle and N.C. Wickramasinghe, published (1981) a book called ‘Evolution from Space’ in which they ridicule the theory of chance evolution as something mathematically impossible. They say:
. . .there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is… an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.’ They also say of evolution theory, ‘If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or scientific training into the conviction . . . this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court.’
Dr. H.B. Holroyd, Ph.D., mechanical engineer and physicists and retired head of the Department of Physics, Augustana College, Illinois, USA, independently came up with much the same conclusions in an article headed ‘Darwinism is Physical and Mathematical Nonsense’ published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly of June 1982. In proposing that gigantic human errors should in future be called Darwinian. He suggests that in a scale of human errors the Darwinian error is the Mr. Everest of errors. He goes on to make the following comments:
‘The Darwinian error was caused by the failure to use necessary mathematics.’
‘Darwinism is physical and mathematical nonsense, and it is logical nonsense as well, for a sound thinker does not assume anything which must be deduced from his theory. Darwinism is, indeed, far more a blunder than a theory, and physical scientist should have shown this clearly and effectively decades ago.’
6. Richard Dawkins “ The Blind Watchmaker” p199.
For me the peacock’s fan has the unmistakable stamp of positive feedback. It is clearly the product of some kind of uncontrolled, unstable explosion that took place in evolutionary time. So thought Darwin in his theory of sexual selection and so, explicitly, and in so many words, thought the greatest of his successors, R.A. Fisher. After a short piece of reasoning he concluded ( in his book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection):
…….. plumage developed in the male, and sexual preference for such development in the female, must thus advance together, and so long as the process in unchecked by severe counter selection, will advance with ever increasing speed. In the total absence of such checks, it is easy to see that the speed of development will be proportional to the development already attained, which will therefore increase with time exponentially, or in geometric progression.
7. Rifkin. Algeny, p95 As a modern socialist, Rifkin is devastating in his attack on Darwinism and the social Darwinism that it generated
Darwin’s theory offered a resolution to humanity’s perennial crisis of guilt. By proposing that each organism’s drive for self – containment actually benefited the species as a whole, Darwin found a convenient formula for expiating the accumulating guilt of an age when self-interest and personal aggrandizement ruled supreme.
The bourgeoisie was in need of a “proper” justification for the new factory system with its dehumanising process of division of labour. By claiming that a similar process was at work in nature, Darwin provided an ideal rationale for those capitalists hell-bent on holding the line against any fundamental challenge to the economic hierarchy they managed and profited from. P89
Jacques Barzan, Darwin, Marx, Wagner (Garden City, NY: Doubled ay,1958) pp94, 95
…. In every European country between 1870 and 1914 there was a war party demanding armaments, an individualist party demanding ruthless competition, an imperialist party demanding a free hand over backward peoples, a socialist party demanding the conquest of power, and a racialist party demanding internal purges against aliens – all of them, when appeals to greed and glory failed, or even before, invoked Spencer and Darwin which was to say science incarnate …. Race was biological, it was sociological; it was Darwinian.
Thanks Shirley. I hope that you are no longer assuming that I am an avid supporter of evolution, and are simply posting this information now for reflection and awareness. There are some very good quotes you have found there, most of which I would say do not persuade me to believe in six-day creationism, but confirm my understanding that there are many scientists out there who hold firmly to evolution not just because of scientific study but because of their determined philosophy to live in a humanistic, selfish way, with no sense of guilt or shame.
Please understand, this is the underlying problem, and it is the underlying problem that should be dealt with, as much as we can. But I think you do grasp that. The fact is, whether with science, or anything else, people are ultimately choosing who they will follow. Science has not stopped many many people the world over, every single day, from making decisions to follow Jesus. Similarly, those with hearts ALREADY evidently hardened to Him, run to something they know to make them feel better about it, in many cases evolutionary theory.
It’s worth noting then that Darwin himself was not caused to turn from God because of his own discoveries, but (as can be discovered from his writings), because of his daughter who died very young – the problem he struggled with was suffering, not science. People have used his theory since then to blockade themselves against God, true enough, but that’s not how it started out. You can even tell that to the anti-God evolutionists.
I reiterate that while I appreciate the fight you are taking on, I think it is probably against a few high-brow intellectuals, and the few that are led astray by them every now and then, and that a majority especially of young people going through today’s education system, if they are not hammered with the ‘truth’ that God DEFINITELY created the world in six days (there are many problems apart from the word ‘yom’) on Sunday then taught evolution on Monday to Friday, but rather are told simply what we can definitely ascertain from the Bible – that the universe is orderly, discoverable, and interesting – then they will not come into conflict and find it necessary to move over into one or the other camp.
In other words, and I’m sorry if this is a hard postulation for you to swallow, but it may be the INCREASED emphasis on literal six-day creationism that forces some to have to reject God because they are being told that the significantly deeper science that they are being taught during the week is all wrong. We have a duty to them to get it right and tell them what God told us from the Bible in a poetic passage: that He began it all (you can, from your quotes, demonstrate that the scientists still cannot answer that really, despite the big bang), He made it orderly, that it is exciting and interesting, that everything has its place and we have a job to do in the world.
I hope this is not too hard. I recognise there is a fight to be had with some, but I think from my assessment, it is not the majority, and it’s a hard fight, usually with people who have already hardened their hearts to God. To me the fight is not to persuade them that the mass of scientific study that has been undertaken in the last couple of centuries is all wrong – there are, after all, a good number of committed Christian scientists and mathematicians working within the usual system (and not just that, but arguably much of the philosophy of modern science has stemmed from the Christian understanding espoused above – orderly universe etc) – that is too great a task and impossible when hearts have already hardened. Instead the war is for their hearts.
I have a friend with whom I have debated this subject a number of times. He used to be a Christian, but he suffered a number of consequences and quite possibly direct curses, which caused him to deflate hugely. He later went on to study psychology and from a place of ALREADY having been disillusioned and squashed in his faith, he began to assume quite a radical atheistic view following the likes of Dawkins and others. I’m not saying everyone goes through such a process as this, but clearly evolution hasn’t been the only playing factor in turning people away from God, rather I think it is once they have turned away, they find it a very handy hiding place.
I know you’ll have some more thoughts. These are mine.
I would just like to point out that I’m pretty sure that creationism is not American in origin. James Ussher had a good deal to do with it, and he was from Ireland I think.