Intelligent raining; two different conceptions of God

by Neil Rickert

Over at Uncommon Descent, the ID  blog, there are often posts and comments about theistic evolution and theist evolutionists (TE for short).  Many, but not all of the ID proponents are usually quite critical of TE, as I was reminded by a recent post.  For reference, that post is:

While reading and commenting on that post, it occurred to me that TEs and ID proponents have very different conceptions of God.  And that is what I mainly want to discuss here.

Intelligent Raining

I’ll begin  with some quotes from Barry Arrington in that recent post:

You are aware, of course, that many TEs have attacked ID and creationism for postulating “god of the gaps” explanations, i.e., allowing science to explain certain phenomena wholly in terms of natural causes, but then, in certain cases, saying, “Science has not come up with a natural-cause explanation for this, so God must have done it.” I am sure you know this drill very well: this sort of argument is a “science-stopper” so it’s bad for science, and it’s bad apologetics, because if a natural explanation is ever found, people will stop believing in God, and it’s bad theology, because it implies that God is involved in things only where “nature” fails, whereas in reality God is involved in natural changes even when natural causes are at work.

That does seem a reasonable description of the disagreement.  TEs see God as involved in all of nature, whereas ID proponent see a naturalistic explanation, such as provided by science, as leaving no role for God.

Barry Arrington continues by analogizing biological systems with raindrops:

When it rains, we explain that in terms of natural causes, do we not? We say that water evaporates when the molecules obtain enough energy to escape from the liquid state, and then they rise in the vaporous state, lose energy in the cooler air, condense into water droplets forming clouds, which then break up, with gravity drawing the water down again. Or something like that. The point is that we postulate natural causes only. We may imagine God as responsible for the “laws” that “power” these events; we may imagine God as “sustaining” or “concurring with” the various operations, but fundamentally, we conceive of God as creating rain *through* these natural processes, not by throwing in some special divine actions above and beyond them. I think that ID, YEC, OEC and TE scientists would all be of one mind in this case.

That, of course, is what raises a question of intelligent raining.  Arrington goes on to ask why TEs treat biology and evolution differently from raining.  My response, in a comment to that post, was that I don’t think they do treat it differently.  They see God’s hand in nature, and that applies whether they are talking about raining or about evolution.  They do, of course, talk more about how this applies to evolution.  But that is because their view on evolution is being challenged by ID proponents, while their view on rain is never taken to be controversial.

Back in the day when I was a faithful member of an evangelical church (roughly, my teen years), I thought about nature in much the same way that theistic evolutions do.  And I never thought that science, even evolution, would be a problem for my faith.

On carefully reading what Barry Arrington says in that post and in his response to my comment, it occurs to me that his conception of God is very different from the conception of God that I had back in those earlier times.  So let’s look at those different conceptions of God.

Two conceptions of God

There are two distinct creation stories in the Bible.  The first is in Genesis 1 through Genesis 2:3.  I shall refer to that as the 7 day creation, since it describes the world as created in seven days.  The second creation story immediately follows, and is the story of Adam and Eve.  Many Christians see these as part of a single account of creation, yet it is quite clear that they are two separate creation stories, with two very different depictions of God.

The God of the Adam and Eve story is a very human God.  He talks to Adam on a person to person basis.  Like all humans, he is fallible.  Indeed, the Adam and Eve story is a story of his failure, for the man Adam that he created did not live up to expectations when he ate the forbidden fruit.  The whole creation of  man turned out to be such a mistake that he later decided to drown most of humanity (the Noah’s Ark story).  And then, after the flood, he recognized that the flood itself was a mistake and he sent a rainbow as a promise that he would not repeat that mistake.

The God of the Adam and Eve story is thus not omniscient, for that would make him infallible.  He was not omnipotent, else he could have simply caused the garden of eden to pass out of existence, instead of setting up cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the entrance to the garden.  This God appears to exist in time and space, and to be forever meddling in the world to make changes.

The God of the 7 day creation story is a much grander God.  He apparently exists outside of space and time, and can simply breath the universe into existence.  This grand God appears to be both omniscient and omnipotent.  He has no need to meddle with things in the world, because it is all proceeding in accordance with his grand design.

The God of scientists

It seems to me that the God of theistic evolutionists, and the God of most Christians who are scientists, is that grand God of the 7 day creation.  They see all of nature as God’s creation, and they see whatever happens in nature as a working out of God’s plan.  The idea of biological evolution is no threat to their faith, for they see evolution itself as part of a working out of God’s plan.  Indeed, nothing that is discovered by science could be a thread to their faith.  For what science shows is seen as revealing more about the workings of the handiwork of God.

The God of ID

The ID proponents and the young earth creationists appear to have a conception of God that more nearly matches the fallible God of the Adam and Eve story, though they will probably deny that their God is fallible.  They see their God as having to constantly meddle in the world to control how things work out.  They see any scientific explanation as bypassing their God, as leaving their God without a role to play.

The culture wars

We perhaps see the same disagreement over the nature of God at play in the culture wars.  The more conservative Christians tend to emphasize the Adam and Eve story, and to think of science as leaving out God.  The progressive Christians view a grand God, such as depicted in the 7 day creation story, and they see science describing what their God created.  The conservative Christians, with their concept of a meddling God, think it important to meddle in peoples lives (to “cure” them of homosexuality, for example), while the more progressive Christians instead value respecting people, for they are part of Gods creation.

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7 Comments to “Intelligent raining; two different conceptions of God”

  1. Oh brother! How did I stumble on such amazing wisdom? This guy thinks he knows what God would and would not do! Might as well just worship him!

    OK you hooked me. I’ll make a reply:

    “There are two distinct creation stories in the Bible. The first is in Genesis 1 through Genesis 2:3. I shall refer to that as the 7 day creation, since it describes the world as created in seven days. The second creation story immediately follows, and is the story of Adam and Eve. Many Christians see these as part of a single account of creation, yet it is quite clear that they are two separate creation stories, with two very different depictions of God.”
    I disagree with this. There is only one creation story. The 2nd chapter story only elaborates on what happened on day 6 when humans were created. I’m not sure how you can say that it is quite clear that these are two different accounts. The Bible clearly states in Exodus that the world was created in 6 days and then God rested on the 7th. It was done this reason for the stated purpose of providing a 7 day week of 6 days of work and one of rest for mankind. It is interesting that the world does follow this pattern. The God of chapter one is the same God of chapter 2. It is true that a new name for God is revealed in chapter 2, but that doesn’t indicate a different God. This name is introduced because now we see God relating with the humans He created and He is seen as the LORD God and sovereign over them.
    “The God of the Adam and Eve story is a very human God. He talks to Adam on a person to person basis. Like all humans, he is fallible. Indeed, the Adam and Eve story is a story of his failure, for the man Adam that he created did not live up to expectations when he ate the forbidden fruit. The whole creation of man turned out to be such a mistake that he later decided to drown most of humanity (the Noah’s Ark story). And then, after the flood, he recognized that the flood itself was a mistake and he sent a rainbow as a promise that he would not repeat that mistake.”
    OK, this is just your personal opinion of how God should be or what He should have done and it is not very persuasive. What standards do you use to make your judgments? How do you know those standards are accurate? God is NOT fallible. Just because you may not understand what God is doing or why He does something a particular way does not mean you are right and God is wrong. A bit arrogant to make statements like that don’t you think? After all, you are a mere human created by and daily given life by God. I think you need to go read the closing few chapters of the book of Job for a dose of much needed humility. God provided wonderfully for Adam and Eve, showed them nothing but love, and provided no reason at all ever to doubt Him. He simply asked them to abide by one little rule – don’t eat from one tree. This was a way of testing their love and giving them free will. The Bible says that God knew ahead of time that Adam and Eve would make the wrong choice, and He had already planned to send Jesus to redeem them from their sin. But, I’m just wondering, why is the fact that Adam consciously chose to disobey God, why is that God’s fault? Silly reasoning! You can’t blame God for your own sins. Well, you can try, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I doubt it will get you too far. No, God wants us to recognize our failures, admit them, and seek His forgiveness, but that’s a whole other topic. The creation of man was not a mistake. Sin did enter the world and it did corrupt mankind and yes, it led to the destruction of most of mankind, but this was no surprise to God. The flood and salvation through the ark is a picture of the coming judgment on mankind and shows us that salvation is available only in Jesus. The ark is a picture of Jesus as it sheltered the inhabitants from God’s righteous judgment against sin. And no, God did not then think of the flood as a mistake. However, in His grace, he did promise never to destroy the earth with water like that again. I Peter tells us the next time the earth will be judged is by fire.
    The God of the Adam and Eve story is thus not omniscient, for that would make him infallible. He was not omnipotent, else he could have simply caused the garden of eden to pass out of existence, instead of setting up cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the entrance to the garden. This God appears to exist in time and space, and to be forever meddling in the world to make changes.
    Both charges are false. He is omniscient and it doesn’t make Him responsible for Adam’s sin. Rather it shows His love in being willing to create us humans in spite of the fact that He knew they would choose to rebel and that He would have to send Jesus to redeem them. Perhaps you would rather not have a free will. Perhaps you would rather be programmed to automatically love God and follow Him. I guess that kind of robotic love and obedience doesn’t mean too much to God. It would be like your robot telling you that it loves you. Who cares? How can it not? It is programmed to do that which means that it’s “love” is not really true love at all. Regardless of how you would have done it or how you think He should have done it, you really don’t have a say in the matter. You are a created being and you owe your very existence to God. You can choose to ignore Him, reject Him, pretend He doesn’t exist, or whatever, but I’m sure you will have a quick change of heart when you meet God and can see things from His perspective. The problem with your God is that He is too small. You think you should be able to understand and agree with everything that God does which in essence makes you God. This verse tells us that God is a bit larger than our own thoughts and ideas: Isaiah 55:8, 9.
    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
    “The God of the 7 day creation story is a much grander God. He apparently exists outside of space and time, and can simply breath the universe into existence. This grand God appears to be both omniscient and omnipotent. He has no need to meddle with things in the world, because it is all proceeding in accordance with his grand design.”
    Perhaps you had better read chapter 1 again. He does meddle with things in the world. He created them with his words. He created them “according to their kinds.” He created man and woman according to His own image. He commanded them and all living creatures to be fruitful and fill the earth. Only if you ignore the words of the text can you come up with such nonsense. The Bible does not support your idea of a “grander God”. It presents us with the one and only Creator God who was active in creation. Perhaps you overlooked the fact that it is possible for God to be involved in His world and still have things proceed in accordance with His grand design.

    “The God of scientists: It seems to me that the God of theistic evolutionists, and the God of most Christians who are scientists, is that grand God of the 7 day creation. They see all of nature as God’s creation, and they see whatever happens in nature as a working out of God’s plan. The idea of biological evolution is no threat to their faith, for they see evolution itself as part of a working out of God’s plan. Indeed, nothing that is discovered by science could be a thread to their faith. For what science shows is seen as revealing more about the workings of the handiwork of God.”
    OK, sorry, but this is a bunch of bull! Your so called “grand God” is grand why? Because He used the cruel, death dependent process of evolution to create the world? Because the weak are killed or suffer and die off and the strong kill them or just are able to out compete the others for food? You God is grand because death, suffering, bloodshed, competition, pain, disease, etc were the tools He used to create everything with? I see. Well, if you want to believe in such a God, be my guest. I do not. I do not think this is an accurate description of the Creator no matter how grand you may think it is.
    The idea of biological evolution is not a threat to my faith, but it is an insult to my God. First of all, it makes a mockery of His Word. Secondly, it reflects very poorly on Him as I just explained. Thirdly, I don’t think it even works scientifically. I’ll stick with what the Creator Himself tells us as opposed to what modern day scientists, who have eliminated any role for God from the get go, tell me about what happened in the ancient past. I think the Creator just might be a little more trustworthy, but perhaps that is just me. I agree that true science shows us the workings of the handiwork of God, but I just don’t think you get an accurate picture of that handiwork when you first assume, contrary to what He Himself has revealed to us and contrary to what common sense tells us, that God was not really involved in the creation process, that all of this happened by chance.
    “The God of ID: The ID proponents and the young earth creationists appear to have a conception of God that more nearly matches the fallible God of the Adam and Eve story, though they will probably deny that their God is fallible. They see their God as having to constantly meddle in the world to control how things work out. They see any scientific explanation as bypassing their God, as leaving their God without a role to play.”
    Exactly. We do deny that God is fallible. The Bible tells us something very different. We see God as the Bible presents Him, not as some God denying so called philosopher thinks He should be seen. We are very happy for science. Science has taught us much about the world we live in and has led to many wonderful advancements as we have discovered the amazing design the Creator used to create the universe and the life in it. There is still much to be discovered. God’s creativity, knowledge, and design is absolutely mind-boggling and yet evolutionists think that nothing is too hard for evolution. Scientific explanation does not bypass God, it shows us His great plan and design. But science cannot tell us what happened in the unobservable unrepeatable past. You can’t do an experiment to see how life evolved. If we could evolve life over and over again in a test tube or in nature, then you would have a point, but we can’t use the scientific method to test the hypothesis of abiogenesis. Actually everything we do know about life makes it seem extremely improbable. If we start from what we do know scientifically speaking, observation tells us that life only comes from life. We see this played out all over the globe every day millions of times. What we don’t see is life coming from non life. Never! 100% accuracy. Pretty good, wouldn’t you say? And yet, you want to go against this, in spite of everything we have learned about the complexity of the cell, software in the cell, codes in the cell, information in the cell, etc. and claim that it all just happened by chance! Who is it who has the greater faith? INFORMATION always requires a MIND and a SENDER. SOFTWARE always requires a PROGRAMMER. MACHINES always require a DESIGNER! I can think of NO exceptions to these well established facts, yet you would have us deny the obvious and believe in some as of yet unknown process that may or may not exist, but which given our current knowledge probably does not exist. The more we learn, the more complex we realize that life is. It is not getting any easier for evolutionists; quite the opposite. The list of “to be explained later” things just keeps growing and growing. I think we know enough now to make a rather reasonable conclusion that there has to be a Designer. You may want to hold on to your naturalistic faith and hope for a breakthrough in the future, but as new discoveries are made, personally, I think it will only continue to get more and more difficult to maintain the atheistic worldview/faith.

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    • There is only one creation story. The 2nd chapter story only elaborates on what happened on day 6 when humans were created.

      Yes, this is a common view among conservative Christians. However, there seems to a solid consensus among scholars who study ancient texts, that these originated as two separate stories, and that the story in Genesis 1 is actually the newer of the two distinct stories.

      In any case, I am not at all surprised that you would disagree.

      This guy thinks he knows what God would and would not do!

      You are reading far too much into that. I am commenting only on how the two different creation stories appear to depict God. Whether there is an actual God, and whether that actual God matches either of the stories is beyond the scope of my post.

      Your quoting of other Biblical text, such is Isaiah, is not actually relevant to how God is depicted in those particular stories.

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    • tjguy,

      “It was done this reason for the stated purpose of providing a 7 day week of 6 days of work and one of rest for mankind. It is interesting that the world does follow this pattern.”

      You really find it interesting that thousands of years of cultural and religious meme transmission succeeded in helping to establish a “day of rest”? When a meme is created such that the “obedient” receivers are rewarded (and avoid punishment) and the “disobedient” receivers are punished (and avoid reward), doesn’t it make sense that this meme will have fecundity, longevity, and a considerable efficacy? Culture has been influenced by religion for thousands of years. The suppression of women’s rights is another example right along with the Sabbath day meme.

      “What standards do you use to make your judgments? How do you know those standards are accurate? God is NOT fallible.”

      Now we can all clearly see YOUR standards, that is, that the God you believe in is NOT fallible. As Neil said, he is looking at how the two stories depict God (regardless of if this Abrahamic God exists and what this God’s traits actually are). When the stories illustrate this God’s attempts to fix various mistakes, it seems reasonable to believe this God’s fallibility. If you have a problem with this depiction or any similar inferences made from reading the Bible, take it up with the Bible’s author and have it re-written (again).

      “Just because you may not understand what God is doing or why He does something a particular way does not mean you are right and God is wrong. A bit arrogant to make statements like that don’t you think? ”

      Nor does it mean that Neil is wrong and this “God” is right. Many people are taught to make various assumptions while reading the Bible, so often, that they get really good at it (making assumptions that is). You are no exception here. The problem with the bible is if you don’t make assumptions, and decide to critically think about what you are reading, there are enormous gaps that make little if any sense at all. If a God did create us, along with our faculties, wouldn’t it make more sense for rational thinking to be compatible with God’s supposed word? We should be able to interpret this word successfully with the faculties you believe God gave us. If we can’t use these faculties of reasoning, and we are instead bombarded with comments like “We’re not supposed to understand how that works” or “It’s beyond human understanding so only God understands that” or “just have faith because that’s all that matters” — then there is no line of separation between made up nonsense and what you think are God’s actual intentions (assuming this God exists).

      “God provided wonderfully for Adam and Eve, showed them nothing but love, and provided no reason at all ever to doubt Him. He simply asked them to abide by one little rule – don’t eat from one tree. This was a way of testing their love and giving them FREE WILL. The Bible says that GOD KNEW AHEAD OF TIME that Adam and Eve would MAKE THE WRONG CHOICE, and He had already planned to send Jesus to redeem them from their sin. ”

      So God gave them free will..oh wait…no he didn’t. He knew ahead of time what would happen. This God, as written in the Bible, gave them the illusion of choice, and nothing more. If you can explain how determinism can co-exist with classical free will, I’m all ears.

      “But, I’m just wondering, why is the fact that Adam consciously chose to disobey God, why is that God’s fault? Silly reasoning!”

      Well as the story goes, God didn’t give him a choice because the future was already written (you said so yourself) — for God knew what was going to happen before it happened and already planned to send Jesus to redeem them. The game was rigged. If you think that this determinism can be reconciled with God remaining blameless, that will involve some pretty silly reasoning!

      “You can’t blame God for your own sins. Well, you can try, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I doubt it will get you too far. No, God wants us to recognize our failures, admit them, and seek His forgiveness, but that’s a whole other topic.”

      I won’t get into the details concerning the authoritarian, bi-polar, narcissistic attributes of God (as written in the Bible), as it deserves it’s own topic of discussion.

      “Sin did enter the world and it did corrupt mankind and yes, it led to the destruction of most of mankind, but this was NO SURPRISE TO GOD. The flood and salvation through the ark is a picture of the coming judgment on mankind and shows us that salvation is available only in Jesus. ”

      Yes, as you’ve mentioned, according to the story, God already knew the outcome including that he would flood the Earth long before he did it. It was premeditated murder. Why am I reminded of Andrea Yates and her compulsion to drown her children? I’m not necessarily implying that the God in these stories was also suffering from postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis, but a modern approach to evaluating “God” through a psychological profile would probably yield a similar illness.

      “The ark is a picture of Jesus as it sheltered the inhabitants from God’s righteous judgment against sin.”

      So much for forgiveness. I suppose that attribute of God didn’t come about until the new Testament.

      “And no, God did not then think of the flood as a mistake. However, in His grace, he did promise never to destroy the earth with water like that again.”

      Kind of like how I promised my mother that I wouldn’t misbehave again. Perhaps God did think of it as a mistake. We can never know what the author’s true intentions were. It is pure speculation.

      “I Peter tells us the next time the earth will be judged is by fire.”

      Why am I reminded of Rafael Holiday and his compulsion to burn his children alive? This psychological profile isn’t getting any better.

      “Both charges are false. He is omniscient and it doesn’t make Him responsible for Adam’s sin. ”

      Actually it does. As the story goes, God created the world as it is, and knew what would happen as a result of how he created it. He is the only one responsible for he created all of nature including the laws of physics and the theoretical determinism that resulted.

      “Perhaps you would rather not have a free will. Perhaps you would rather be programmed to automatically love God and follow Him.”

      We don’t have free will, regardless of what we’d prefer. That’s just the way it is. As for programming, whether we love, hate, follow, disobey, believe in, or not believe in the God in these stories — is a result of programming and indoctrination. You for example have been programmed to believe in, love, and follow the God in these stories. It is a result of teachers, parents, friends, propaganda, the way your particular brain is wired, etc.

      “I guess that kind of robotic love and obedience doesn’t mean too much to God. It would be like your robot telling you that it loves you. Who cares? How can it not? It is programmed to do that which means that it’s “love” is not really true love at all. ”

      Exactly. This is what religious indoctrination produces. It is all programming.

      “Only if you ignore the words of the text can you come up with such nonsense.”

      Only if you interpret the words as you do, can you come up just the same.

      OK, sorry, but this is a bunch of bull! Your so called “grand God” is grand why? Because He used the cruel, DEATH DEPENDENT process of evolution to create the world? Because the weak are killed or suffer and die off and the strong kill them or just are able to out compete the others for food? You God is grand because death, suffering, bloodshed, competition, pain, disease, etc were the tools He used to create everything with? I see. Well, if you want to believe in such a God, be my guest. I do not. I do not think this is an accurate description of the Creator no matter how grand you may think it is.

      Hmmm, and the God you believe in committed cruel “death dependent” acts including flooding the Earth and having the Israelites kill tens of thousands of Canaanites among other instances of mass genocide. Survival of the fittest has a purpose involving food and reproduction. It sounds a lot more justified than these “death dependent” acts committed on God’s part as read in these stories.

      “The idea of biological evolution is not a threat to my faith, but it is an insult to my God….Thirdly, I don’t think it even works scientifically.”

      The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis is the general consensus among scientists with a plethora of evidence to support it. Your theory has zero scientific evidence to support it. Zilch. If you can come up with a better theory with greater or equal scientific supportive evidence (i.e. observable, repeatable, etc.), I’m all ears.

      “I’ll stick with what the Creator Himself tells us as opposed to what modern day scientists, who have eliminated any role for God from the get go, tell me about what happened in the ancient past. I think the Creator just might be a little more trustworthy, but perhaps that is just me.”

      You are mistaking the words of men in these stories for the words of some God. The words of these people tell you one thing, and the words of many more that exist today (e.g. scientists) tell us another. The words of those that exist today are going to have the most information to source from as well as the most evidence to support any claims made. I think that information from modern, living human beings has a better chance of being trustworthy as opposed to information that has been translated numerous times from a language that you nor I (presumably) can actually understand, by people that are no longer alive, and that we have extremely limited information about. Forget scientists. Try asking anyone in academics what sources are more credible; old translated texts based on hearsay or new information/data. We know for a fact that over time, scientific explanations become refined and more closely correlate with reality as new information is acquired. With old texts, that information can only get worse over time because the longevity, fecundity, and fidelity decrease over time when no NEW information is added.

      “I agree that true science shows us the workings of the handiwork of God…”

      Yet, the same true science which illustrates the validity and probability of evolutionary theory somehow “doesn’t count”.

      “…but I just don’t think you get an accurate picture of that handiwork…that God was not really involved in the creation process, that all of this happened by chance.”

      You’ve missed the point here. The idea among TE’s is that some God created all forms of life through the creation of evolution (through the laws of physics that this God would have also created) and thus there was no chance involved (among TE’s that is).

      “Scientific explanation does not bypass God, it shows us His great plan and design.”

      Exactly. Scientific explanation includes the theory of evolution as it is still the most agreed upon theory within the natural sciences.

      “You can’t do an experiment to see how life evolved. If we could evolve life over and over again in a test tube or in nature, then you would have a point, but we can’t use the scientific method to test the hypothesis of abiogenesis.”

      This doesn’t matter. The fact that we can’t reproduce something that (in theory) took time scales on the order of billions of years to accomplish, and with unknown initial conditions is hardly surprising. What we can do however is analyze the data we have and come up with the most plausible theory. This is exactly what the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis is. It is a theory with a plethora of supportive evidence stemming from geology, biology, etc.

      “Actually everything we do know about life makes it seem extremely improbable. If we start from what we do know scientifically speaking, observation tells us that life ONLY comes from life. ” (my emphasis)

      Abiogenesis may be improbable, but given enough time, this improbability can be realized with success. Improbable doesn’t mean impossible. Observation tells us what we have seen so far. As I said earlier, the time scales needed and specific initial conditions for abiogenesis to occur are not tools in our arsenal. We do not know what the initial conditions were, nor can we run an experiment for millions or billions of years. This suggests that we may never be able to re-create the initial conditions, but this doesn’t mean that they never occurred. The data suggests that conditions on Earth long ago were too harsh for life to exist. It is most probable that the Earth was completely molten during its early formation and this would have prevented cells from surviving due to such high temperatures. This implies that “life” (e.g. cells) was formed from materials that weren’t “alive” (e.g. carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorous, etc. — leading to amino acids, DNA, proteins, etc.).

      “It is not getting any easier for evolutionists; quite the opposite.”

      I disagree. We are obtaining more information over time and thus are able to adjust our models accordingly to accommodate the new data. Over time, our models become more accurate to describe this increasing data.

      “You may want to hold on to your naturalistic faith and hope for a breakthrough in the future, but as new discoveries are made, personally, I think it will only continue to get more and more difficult to maintain the atheistic worldview/faith.”

      Whether any of us or all of us are atheists is irrelevant. Again, the theory of evolution applies to TE’s as well (hence the relevance to this post). You can believe in “God” and evolution simultaneously. That is what TE’s believe. They see evolution as a part of “God’s” handiwork. You are instead relying on a literal interpretation of the Bible (combined with your own personal interpretation). If I had to choose between theistic evolution/creationism and theistic non-evolutionary creationism, I’d choose theistic evolution as it is much more complex, beautiful, and sound than some God making men out of dust, women from an insignificant rib, and every other animal at one time. The fossil records show us that certain animals existed which no longer exist. There were dinosaurs that we have fossil records of living millions of years ago, and they are not with us today. Did Noah take a few shortcuts and just grab two of MOST every animal? Even animals that didn’t yet exist? Perhaps Noah thought that the T-rex wouldn’t get along with any of the other animals. Even if you ignore science and believe in a “young Earth”, I still don’t see any dinosaurs, do you? It’s all ridiculous and insulting to the concept of such a Supreme being. If you are going to glorify the merits of Science at all, you should avoid cherry picking. You don’t have to agree with every theory, but when there are no other theories with nearly as compelling evidence, you should accept which theory is most probable.

      Peace and love!
      -Lage

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  2. Neil,

    Interesting post.

    I note how tjguy has to presume a God in order make his own case:

    “What standards do you use to make your judgments? How do you know those standards are accurate? God is NOT fallible. Just because you may not understand what God is doing or why He does something a particular way does not mean you are right and God is wrong. A bit arrogant to make statements like that don’t you think?” [my emphasis]

    Of course his questions about your knowledge can be thrown right back at him and his claim that God is NOT fallible – how does he know that? He must presume an infallible God that through His interaction with humans results in a Bible, and from there he (tjguy) can use the Bible to support his claims about that presupposed God. Entirely held up by his own sky crane. Simply reject the assumption of a God, or merely ask why assume it, and all religion dissolves into vacuous human folly. That applies to each of the views of God you cover, and all others that I know of.

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    • Thanks for the comments, Ron.

      I am not at all surprised that tjguy would insist the his God is not fallible. It is very common for creationists and ID proponents to take their God to be in incoherent blend of the two distinct conceptions that I discussed.

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  3. Hi Neil, again I mostly agree with what you are saying. I think this is a pretty good understanding:

    “They see all of nature as God’s creation, and they see whatever happens in nature as a working out of God’s plan. The idea of biological evolution is no threat to their faith, for they see evolution itself as part of a working out of God’s plan. Indeed, nothing that is discovered by science could be a thread to their faith. For what science shows is seen as revealing more about the workings of the handiwork of God.”

    But I disagree in two areas.

    1. While I too understand that most scholars believe that there are two sources behind the creation stories in Genesis 1 & 2, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are two, allegedly contradictory, concepts of God in the Bible. If we accept these stories as being mythological in some sense (i.e. they are not scientific), then they have probably evolved in the telling over some period of time until someone compiled them into a larger document. I think it is more likely that the compiler(s) saw the two accounts as complementary rather than contradictory. I as a christian understand your two different concepts of God, but I think I, like the compiler, see no reason to choose one over the other, but rather to see both aspects of God.

    2. An example of this is the matter of God’s interference in evolution, or in the weather. LIke most christians, I believe in the natural processes that produce rain (actually I trained and worked as a hydrologist for many years), but I also think God can intervene to change the weather if he chooses. Whether this is done by inserting some extra factors in the weather, or in his design of the entire universe (God outside time can hear my prayer before he even creates – it helps in thinking about this to have read some science fiction on time travel!) – I couldn’t know, but I believe this nevertheless illustrates that both concepts of God may be reasonable to hold together.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

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    • If we accept these stories as being mythological in some sense (i.e. they are not scientific), then they have probably evolved in the telling over some period of time until someone compiled them into a larger document. I think it is more likely that the compiler(s) saw the two accounts as complementary rather than contradictory.

      Yes, I agree that if they are taken as mythological, then it might be possible to see them as complementary. That doesn’t seem as possible for those who take them as literal history, though in my experience the literalists tend to deny that there are two stories.

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