Part 7: The Religion vs. Science War

This is an article in a series written to create an unambiguous, complete understanding of Genesis 1:1-1:19, and continues from Part 6: The World of Genesis versus the World of Science.

The religion versus science debates of today

There is currently a war of sorts being waged between Theism and Atheism, both in forums of the people and in forums of philosophers, where both sides are trying to point to fallacies in the theories of the other; to crush the faiths and foundations of either. While wars have no winner, it seems this is one golden age of questioning established knowledge and doctrine. It is one in which a wealth of knowledge about the world has crystallized and solidified, many disciplines have been backed up by evidence, and where this knowledge and evidence is instantly available.

I originally intended a short article to wage a war in the same manner; I had found the fallacies that would weaken the faith and foundations of religion, and it was quite clear to me that I had truth on my side. Instead, the very few sentences of knowledge that these few verses represent became weeks of analyzing sources from all camps with the intent to destroy my original article, interspersed with pauses of reflection and introspection. This may not sound like fun to some, but for me, it was a summer holiday well spent. Regularly finding time to find this philosophical mood I get in sometimes trigger something in me that makes me more happy, calm, and confident; more contented about life — even pondering something depressing such as death, when I do it in this mood, it is helpful to me.

If I had the power to influence the warring sides, I would like them to fight their battles this way instead. They might find that that prohibits them from fighting the war as forcefully, but that the small battle won without losing the understanding of the other side is more permanently won, and that they haven’t sacrificed a part of themselves in order to win it.

Taking both sides

In this series then, I have taken both sides in the Religion vs. Science debate of today, and in the previous part, I tried my best to defend the attacks on this part of Genesis and hopefully clarified what arguments will not further the debate. I’ve done this to show that there is an alternative to the polarized debate with both camps attacking the opponent and supporting their own. I think there needs to be more philosophers who write in this way in order to create a better debate climate. Not because I think it too much of a fight or because I shy away from fierce argumentation, but because I’ve discovered that not only seeing both sides but actively taking both sides “kills your bastard darlings”; rids you of arguments that the opponent sees clearly are wrong but that you mistakenly see clearly as being valid. In doing so, it does leave your remaining arguments all the more solid, it gives you a deeper understanding, and your opponent sees this deeper understanding in you.

While much harder work, I found that the act of doubting yourself leaves you not with self-doubt, but with a stronger, tempered self-confidence. It also helps in predicting counter-arguments of opponents; not that you couldn’t predict them almost as well before, but in responding to them you will convey thoughts that speak to the opponent in way similar to how they speak to himself. It will lend you the leverage to perhaps convince some of the already convinced.

Conclusions

There are some conclusions (as they apply to the debate on topic) that can be drawn even from summarizing these relatively few attacks and their attempts at reconciliation:

Reconciliating the understanding of the texts to reality can break your heart. It requires of the believer the same burden of proof amassed by tens of thousands of self-critical, rigorous scientists that is found in thousands of books, already peer-reviewed, revered, and attacked over the centuries, with the believer himself only having a few texts and scholars available to develop a reconciling theory. This exposes him to a debate climate in which he finds himself attacked skillfully on all sides, and the pressure of this may make him feel like he’s fighting a war that is over before it’s begun. It would take a stronger man that I think exists to fight such a war and not cave in under this pressure.

A few reconciliations are impossible to maintain. Many reconciliations were possible, but the remaining few suggests that an inordinate amount of time will be spent on developing the required new reconciling theories of the meaning (text) and knowledge (understanding of what the text claims) that does not yet exist and which does not match mainstream beliefs, even within your own faith. These new theories will be perceived as “tailor-made to make the holy texts work”, which will bring suspicion of their level of accuracy and intent. Science hasn’t worked to understand the world to undermine religion, but simply to understand the world. In this educated age, new religious interpretations of the texts and what they say will be said to not have been developed to understand the world better, but to stop religion from losing credibility, and will at the same time fall short of undermining well-supported scientific theories.

Intermediate explanations to reconcile texts with reality takes you out of the frying pan and into the fire. If these show the texts describe reality as well as scientific theories, but only after scientific theories had been developed that say how things really work or came to be, the explanation will be perceived as a construction after the fact; after its inventor had been educated to the point where he saw that the text posed a contradiction to Science. By believers it may be seen as an attempt to “validate scripture through Science and not through faith”. However, these are the insincere intermediate explanations. Certainly, intermediate explanations that are found or developed that do not fall into this category are highly interesting and of the same worth as scientific explanations, but that does not mean they won’t meet the same fire of criticism from your peers and opponents both.

Yes, parts of this summary are unnecessarily generalizing. The reason is that it’s intended as general advice to guide debaters into fertile areas of discussion that have a chance of reducing polarization and producing new truths.

Descriptions in Genesis 1:1-1:19 that contradict reality

These are the statements of knowledge that were attacked and which could not be reconciled in order to keep the text as a true description of the creation of the world:

In Genesis, we are not told that land was formed by God, but instead that God somehow gathered the water into seas to make land “appear”. That’s simply not how it works, and you don’t have to be a geologist to show that. Moreover, there is no reason why it should be mentioned as an act of creation, since this process is ongoing.

I’d love to see a classroom experiment in which this is demonstrated!

Yes, barring removal of water such as by evaporation or ice or snow forming on land, it is only the transformation of the Earth’s crust that can make surface water gather and form seas, both if the Earth is covered with water and if it isn’t.

It’s simply a description that demonstrates a misperception of reality that could not be the word of God.

If you wish to accuse Genesis of not being a holy text, but simply the ignorance of the Bronze Age put in writing by scholars doing their best, this is one of the strongest arguments.

If you wish to defend Genesis as a holy text, you must somehow make the removal of this demonstrably false description not seem insincere editing of the Truth.

The Moon doesn’t rule the night, it sometimes isn’t even in the sky at night! In some parts of the world, it’s below the horizon for months at a time!

It’s a mystery to me why scribes would write such a description, when surely they could see, as could any other man in the Bronze Age, that there were moonless nights and even that the Moon was in the sky during the day. Therefore, this does not point to ignorance on the part of the scribes, but a human, if perplexing, mistake or embellishment.

The Sun and the Moon aren’t in the sky under the rainwater and above the earth! They’re in space, far from the Earth and its sky.

This is an even stronger argument for Genesis not being the word of God but descriptions written by the best scholars of the age who yet were ignorant of, in this case, Astronomy.

Implications of the unsuccessful reconciliations

It would seem to me it’s immensely hard to defend not only these verses as the word of God, but by the fact that the rest of Genesis 1 is written as a part of the same creation account, to defend that Genesis 1 as a whole is the word of God.

Considering that there are 3 errors in these mere 19 verses, perhaps the best recourse for believers intent on keeping their holy books unassailable would be to deem Genesis not one of the holy books, as we know has been the fate of other books once considered holy accounts of events in the Old and New Testaments.

Implications of the successful reconciliations

For non-believers, I hope I’ve shown which types of attacks reveals crudeness and ignorance on their part, and also in what way other types of attacks will not appear convincing to believers.

For believers, I hope I’ve given you valid defenses for many of the attacks on holy scripture that non-believers commonly wage.

-~-

I realize that the detail of this analysis might have caused some believers to doubt their faith. Even though I’ve never found any of the mainstream religions persuasive despite my interest in spirituality, and therefore never lost my religion, I think I can yet understand the very human questions that would arise.

Religion has given me so much — faith in what I do and the future, and a sense of worth and belonging. How do I keep my faith?

If you feel all those things are dependent on you subscribing to certain religious ideas, first consider why that should be so.

The answer I’ve arrived at is that those things are very human and common to all of us, and that religion has arisen naturally as an attempt at fulfilling those needs in us. Should you suspect yourself of wanting the answers and everything else religion offers in place of finding out for yourself how to have faith in what you do, the future, that you are valuable, and how to belong?

Perhaps you fear that if you do lose your religion, you will be in the same place that Man found himself in ancient times, looking up at the stars in awe of the mystery, and on all the parts of the world, both the wondrous and the horrifying, and at human behavior, both inspiring and despicable. And there is only you, wanting, needing, to make sense of it all.

Certainly, this is the abyss of a lonely feeling you share with philosophers and scientists who through the ages attempted to make sense of it all.  But you perhaps feel that gaining enough knowledge to do the same is out of your grasp. The most knowledgeable among us feel the same way. The good news is that the times have changed, and today there are so many sources of established knowledge to learn from that the world will seem even more wonderful and at the same time less of a strange place. There are more senses in which you can belong, and we are more in control of our future, than ever before.

This leaves the spirituality side of us that I think we all possess: what is this sense of awe and wonder that this world evokes in us in different forms? I wish I had an answer to that. My personal experience is that this comes naturally to us in reality, dreams, ideas, poetry, music and art; everywhere except in religion, where it for some reason requires to repeatedly be externally imposed on you. This is just my experiences from taking part of three religions, but if you can remember feeling this same way, you should not fear losing your religion and try to discover for yourself whence comes your spirituality.

Assuming it were even possible at this stage to change what is commonly taught in religion, how can we change the religious text to better match reality?

I can see two recourses:

1. Edit out or somehow create new interpretations of these descriptions to match reality.

2. Not consider Genesis an answer to the ageless and very human question of how the world and Man came to be.

For Young-Earth movements and Creationists, revisions are already taking place. Hopefully, my views are useful for you to revise more carefully and perhaps successfully.

I am a scientist and believer. Can I hold holy scripture true even if parts of it contradict science?

It’s a difficult question. While this poses no problem in some sciences, when claims of knowledge of holy texts overlap established knowledge in hard sciences, it would seem to me it’s a question of being honest with yourself. For myself, this is a hypothetical question, since I rely on science in my work but do not work as a scientist. But where conflicting knowledge overlaps, there can’t be two truths; it seems to me that while it’s certainly possible to take two views into consideration for a while, eventually you will have to make a choice.

You can tell yourself that the problem is restricted to the areas of Astronomy, Biology, and Geology pertaining to the three errors in Genesis and any scientific truths they build upon, but in the light of that these are the disciplines that offer scientific explanations that clash even more severely with the larger account of the entire holy texts, I really think it would be staving off the inevitable, that is, in order to keep your faith you must dismiss the foundations of these scientific disciplines.

If you rely on these foundations in your daily work, I think this must eventually cause you to ask what you are doing, holding them as true and yet favoring another world view which has no bearing on your work.

If you do not rely on them, there is naturally no conflict. But you may yet ask the question, suspecting that one is more well-founded than the other.

One option is attempting to disprove or develop alternative explanations for the conflicting descriptions. This is what we see Creationists and others doing today. I wish that all such attempts should be met with welcome as well as sincere criticisms by the scientific community, even though they and I might ask of you whether you develop the arguments to really find the truth or just in order to be able to cling to your faith.

What do you hope to achieve with this analysis targeting Abrahamic faiths?

The original analysis or the withheld precursor to this article series was foolheartedly intended to cause doubt in those who considered this text the word of God and the true account of creation.

While that might have been the eventual outcome, I started this series with the opposite – to destroy the original analysis. In the process, the articles grew into finding ways for more productive debates in the current “religion vs. science war”. I hope you agree that this at least, is a good intent despite of the results of the analysis.

I hope to suggest to Atheists, Christians, Jahwists and Moslems which battles can be left out of the debate wars as either impossible to win (for either side), are losing battles (for Theism), will not convince (for Atheism) or have no bearing on issues previously considered conflicts between science and religion.

I hope that this will lead to less polarization of debate and a movement toward a desire to understand the opponent.

I hope to have shown Young-Earth believers, Creationists, and other revisionists that newly developed theories weaken faith if they serve as intermediate explanations, especially if they show signs of being developed in response to or as a consequence of scientific findings that expose conflicts between scripture and reality.

I hope to have shown that reading Genesis symbolically is untenable, and that hard sciences have a bearing on some of the claims.

I hope my method of a partisan trying to take the opponents’ side for a temporary yet extended period of time and sincerely exploring the knowledge the other has to offer catches on. It has many merits, not the least of which is sincere intent.

While mine might not be a new kind of dialectic, I hope this two-sided process will become the preferred method to prepare for debate, to:

1. Weed out “waste of time” arguments: the indefensible, the untenable, the irrelevant, and the pertinent but equally valid,

2. To almost automatically lead the debater to such deeper understanding, and in this persuade him to form debate topics as earnest questions into the others’ knowledge.

Where do you stand on religion and science and the current war being waged?

I’m a non-believer who currently do not identify myself completely with Atheism or Antitheism. I think Science has brought the greatest knowledge and understanding of this and previous ages and think Science, rational thought and logic will eventually guide us to the great truths, whether or not they are truths that we need, want or like.

I think religion has filled these needs in the past, but are starting to not be enough, now that Science has expanded into the realm of what used to be metaphysics and as education makes people see that Science is a solid source of truths. I think religious world views and doctrine are beginning to show signs of the age in which they came about and as a natural consequence are becoming increasingly irrelevant to modern life. Secular law has now shown us that it works as a generic moral code for a society of independent citizens in a complex world on a level that religious authority alone could not hope to reach.

I think I see the signs of an emerging danger that since the conflict between Science and Religion is becoming so apparent, debate will become even more polarized, and even though we all are educated, knowledgeable humans with the potential of compassionate, rational thought, this conflict will instead bring out the stubborn child in us; the achieved scholar (on either side) who just wants the other to concede and admit he’s right about everything he says.

As we have to grow up in the Universe, I think we have to grow up in the arena of debate and make them arenas of sincere curiosity instead of arenas of attack and defense. As we ask of others intellectual honesty, we should see in our new claims the foundations for them that we have not yet built.

What books inspired you to write this?

While proper references will be added for the sources I consulted for the translation, I have purposely not read any analytical attacks on religion by established philosophers on the topic of my series, in order to not subscribe too eagerly to established arguments. Now I can, and if you have particularly excellent book recommendations, please mention them to me :)

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About maximilion

I seek truths and try to make you see them. View all posts by maximilion

20 responses to “Part 7: The Religion vs. Science War

  • robert landbeck

    The ‘WAR’ may very well be approaching a final, unexpected battle! For what science and religion, not to mention the rest of us, thought impossible has now happened. History has its first literal, testable and fully demonstrable proof for faith.

    The first wholly new interpretation for two thousand years of the moral teachings of Christ is published on the web. Radically different from anything else we know of from history, this new teaching is predicated upon a precise, predefined and predictable experience and called ‘the first Resurrection’ in the sense that the Resurrection of Jesus was intended to demonstrate Gods’ willingness to real Himself and intervene directly into the natural world for those obedient to His will, paving the way for access, by faith, to the power of divine transcendence and ultimate proof!

    Thus ‘faith’ becomes an act of trust in action, to search and discover this direct individual intervention into the natural world by omnipotent power that confirms divine will, law, command and covenant, which at the same time, realigns our moral compass with the Divine, “correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries.” So like it or no, a new religious teaching, testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation and definitive proof now exists. Nothing short of an intellectual, moral and religious revolution is getting under way. To test or not to test, that is the question? More info at http://www.energon.org.uk,
    http://soulgineering.com/2011/05/22/the-final-freedoms/

    • maximilion

      Thanks for the comment. I’m a bit confused by it. It mentions a new interpretation to provide an evidence-based faith, and also compares taking things on faith with having a faith in God, which is not the same thing. I will have a look at this soul-engineering site of yours, but in the meantime I’m curious as to what you think of battling skepticism towards newly constructed interpretations being received as ‘engineered’, if you will, to patch up the differences between holy scripture and reality. My conclusion was that regardless of the interpreter being a believer or a non-believer, the only recourse would be to show in detail that you carry out the interpretation with deep sincerity.

  • Alice C. Linsley

    Henrik,

    You obviously are thinking deeply about the Science vs Religion debate. Playing the devil’s advocate is a good way to expose fallacies on both sides. The polarization, in my opinion, is a fantasy spun by an ignorant and drama seeking media. The data of Genesis is supported by the findings of many sciences.

    The Young Earth Creationist position is not a biblical one. It is an interpretation based upon 5 false assumptions which I address. You will find the first one here:
    http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2012/04/false-assumption-1-of-young-earth.html

    As for keeping one’s faith, that surely depends on whether that “faith” is worth keeping.

    • maximilion

      Thank you for reading. :) The phrase “Faith worth keeping” intrigues me. Would you expand on it?

      My analysis shows that even the majorly accepted old-Earth view is incompatible with at least 3 sciences, but your comment made me write a short post on that and the polarization, and I will post it together with my sources for the series so that if you disagree with my analysis you can retrace my steps and point out fallacies or alternative interpretations.

      • Alice Linsley

        I’m not sure what you mean by Old earth view. I am in agreement with the data of mainstream geology, physics and astronomy on the age of the earth. As for human origins, we have to look at millions of years since Lucy and her community were fully human.

        A faith worthy keeping is one that you own personal through intense observation of the patterns in nature and through persistence.

        When you speak of science vs religion I am assuming you mean evolutionary views and primarily Judeo-Christian religion. I apologize that I have not had time to read all your post in this series. It seems to me that the real debate is between Essentialism and Non-Essentialism.

        http://lcaspanish.blogspot.com/2012/09/theories-of-change-and-constancy.html

      • maximilion

        I meant the old-Earth religious world view as apposed to the young-Earth ones.

        Under “Descriptions in Genesis 1:1-1:19 that contradict reality” in this part you will find the 3 very basic descriptions that conflict majorly with reality. Any old-Earth religious views will conflict with Genesis, as old-Earth scientific views do.

        The other 6 parts detail why after the many reconciled interpretations the interpretation of these three remain irreconcilable (without changing or removing words to radically change the meaning from that established by centuries of scholars).

        I do mention the implications of such revisions. It would appear clearly as required not because we’ve learned more about the Bible, but because we’ve learned more about the world.

      • Alice Linsley

        Biblical Anthropologists have also learned more about the Nilotic cultural context of Genesis. This context informed early metaphysical philosophers such as Thales of Miletus, Pythagorus and Plato. Genesis 1 represents a pre-scientific worldview and begins with the existence of matter, claiming that the primal substance was chaotic water.

      • maximilion

        I’m sorry about the very late reply, I do check in once a week but must have missed your comment. Actually, it inspired me to write an article on this very interesting subject of faith. :)

        All religious creation accounts that we know of indeed precede Scientific understanding of how the world came about and works. But in the research I’ve done, I haven’t seen this advanced by scholars. I read three of your articles with great interest tonight, and you seem to have a lot of knowledge in this area. Can you tell me who proposed this, and the claim that Genesis tells of creation of matter for the Earth, and the claim that the Genesis says that Earth’s other elements were made from water?

      • Alice Linsley

        Maximilion,

        Ancient Afro-Asiatic metaphysics is a special interest of mine and I have been researching in this area for 30 years.

        Genesis 1 says that the Breath (Ruach in Hebrew) of God moved over the great chaotic deep and that this initiated an order in creation and life. The order is expressed using binary language or merisms – the waters above (firmament) were separated from the waters below. The dry land was separated from the sea. Note it says sea, not seas.

        The primal substance was water and the Prime Mover was God or the Ruach or Logos of God.

        Genesis begins with matter already created. The idea that God created all things from nothing (creatio ex nihilo) is not found in Genesis. The following verse is taken to mean that God created all things from nothing: “I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise.” (2 Maccabees 7:28)

        The metaphysics of Genesis is very old and distinctly Nilotic at the oldest layer. There are elements of Babylonian cosmology also, since the Jews had been living in Babylon.

      • maximilion

        We both know the broad strokes of the creation story in Genesis 1.

        But how does anyone glean any understanding about how the world was formed from a statement like “the primal substance was water” coupled with a statement like “land appeared when God withdrew water”? Wasn’t the intent of the creation account to explain how the world came about to the people at the time?

        In what way is terming Genesis 1 a pre-scientific metaphysical account with roots in earlier cultures following another set of Gods a defense of Genesis 1 as a true account?

      • Alice C. Linsley

        Early metaphysics… the earliest that we know of, is reflected in the two creation stories: Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Genesis 2 is actually the older and reflects the binary and gendered structure characteristic of Nilotic ontology. Genesis 1 reflects the hierarchical and binary order in creation. Humans are more complex than serpents and plants. These are elements of nature that are empirically and universally observable, right?

      • maximilion

        Well, perhaps I got you wrong? If you are an Apologist, and interested in defending Genesis as a true creation account, surely you would care that Genesis reflects parts of creation accounts of preceding cultures? If Genesis is derivative, surely it isn’t the one and only true account and the Word of God?

        Conversely, if the claim is that Genesis 2 is the very oldest creation myth of all cultures on Earth, could you link me to further reading in support of this?

        Genesis describes life hierarchically, you claim. Genesis tells of “kinds” known to the culture for each of the coarse parts of their world: the air, the land, the sea. Then, Man alone at the top of his stub without any branch or connection to other life. There is no relation given between kinds at all; instead, “each kind gives seed to its kind”. You seem to suggest, then, that this description is somehow compatible with the ever-branching single tree, the grand picture of various sciences? But it’s rather the opposite.

        I can’t really make sense of the last thing you say. Humans aren’t elements of nature. Can we observe humans empirically? Um, yes. What do you mean? I’m open to hear you, if you are interested in making me understand more accurately what descriptions Genesis makes about the world.

      • Alice Linsley

        I would not say that Gen 2 is the oldest, merely that it reflects extremely archaic, and certainly the most archaic worldview, found in the Bible.

        Actually, in the hierarchy, the woman is the crown of creation. She is therefore also the natural target of the serpent. Instead of heeding the One above her, she heeds the creature most below her – one that slithers along the ground. In so doing, the hierarchy (think of a triangle) is inverted.

        I am a Christian. That’s about faith. I am also an anthropologist. I read the Bible text through the lens of anthropology. That’s about science.

        In both areas, I try to be a person of integrity. I’m not trying to put something over on anyone.

        The binary sets expressed in Genesis are evident for all to see in nature: male-female, night-day, the east-west journey of the Sun, etc. These are often expressed in the Bible in merelogical language.

        A merism is a figure of speech which references an experience using a phrase that enumerates its parts. To say that “they searched high and low” is to mean that they searched everywhere. When we speak of night and day, we are speaking of two experiences with a range of in-between experiences that we call “dawn” and “dust”. Often the sets are used to express the whole range of experience. For example, the expression “night and day” represents a 24-hour cycle.

        Merisms are common in Biblical poetry. In Genesis 1:1 we read that God created “the heavens and the earth.” The merism means that God created the whole universe. In Psalm 139, the psalmist declares that God knows “my sitting down and my uprising up”, which is simply to say that God knows all the psalmist’s actions.

        The phrase “good and evil” – as in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – is a merism expressing a pair of opposites that refer to something greater than the constituents. The tree symbolizes all that can be known. Adam and Eve were barred from eating of this fruit because such a property rightly pertains to God alone (at least in the minds of the Biblical writers.)

      • maximilion

        I’m not really interested in construed symbolisms that we know match scripture and mismatch what we’ve learned from nature. If that were the criteria for holy scripture to be true accounts, most anyone could make all the accounts of all religions true in the manner they choose. This is what I think has in fact happened and is what gave rise to the splitting of religions sharing the same accounts. It’s also, I think, to a large extent what the layperson and believer does.

        It’s all a matter of how vital you think it is for the account to match reality, even roughly. I set out to first create an accurate, unbiased translation, then interpretation, of original texts that I could match against interpretations considered authoritative or official in some way. Finding that it matched those, I tried my best to match the knowledge the account is said to convey to reality. It’s easy to compare my knowledge to that of authoritative figures doing the same exercise before me. I would be happy if you find fault with specifics in any of the parts in this series and let me know.

        However, even with the poetic symbolisms, my conclusion was that it’s understandable that even a modestly inquisitive layperson who tries to match the account to fundamentals of nature finds the account hopelessly like the ancient attempts at describing nature and origins that you call “pre-scientific”.

        And to say that a description of reality is pre-scientific is to say “thousands of years ago they knew very little of physics and nature, so we should see accounts of such in the light of what they knew at the time”. I would like an answer whether, as an anthropologist, you think taking this view is a rational one or if certain accounts should be exempt from examining them taking this view.

        I would also like an answer whether you think biological anthropology is a relevant part of anthropology when it comes to statements such as “the Bible describes life hierarchically”, since you didn’t respond to my critique of that statement.

      • Alice C. Linsley

        Maximilion,

        Your series is very good. I like that you have broken this into 7 parts. I went back to read the earlier entries. Very interesting!

        I’m afraid that I have misled you. Construed symbolism? I’m not sure what that is, but I am sure that Genesis isn’t about construed symbolisms. It speaks of observable patterns in nature, or more accurately, in the order of creation.

        I believe that the Genesis account does align with reality and that this is demonstrated when the text is analyzed from various disciplines, not all of them scientific. For example, as a Philosophy teacher I often refer to Genesis 1-12 when explaining Afro-Asiatic metaphysics, ontology and epistemology. Genesis is one of our best sources of information about these ancient peoples and their worldview. Indeed their worldview was both pre-scientific and the basis of the earliest sciences.

        When speaking of a hierarchy in creation, the Bible is asserting that there is a God-established order over which God is the Head or Supreme Ruler. This hierarchy is to be understood alongside another Biblical concept: that of fixed kinds. The Biblical worldview is essentialist, that is, the kinds reproduce their own kind and their essence never changes, though in appearance there may seem to be a difference. I discuss this here: http://lcaspanish.blogspot.com/2012/09/theories-of-change-and-constancy.html

      • maximilion

        It’s not really productive to discuss what some philosophers got wrong or almost right, before the time when everyone interested in being actually right started gathering objective data – with a very few exceptions, in the 1500s. The apologist who points to a very few of those philosophers to make some sort of fuzzy proof for their religion is certainly not successful in the eyes of modern people like most of us, who instead accept and reject data and fact-based theories based on investigative debate. I was hoping to have a debate with you, but it seems you will not enter into it to support the veracity of the religious truths you defend. I find that evasive and strange.

        It doesn’t bother you that Genesis seems version 2.0 of Egyptian and other beliefs predating it? It gives a foundation for it being the Word of the God of Israel, instead of raising the suspicion that it’s an improved remix of the Word of the God of a collection of previous tribes in nearby countries, or that the original True Word would be truer than the improved also-rans??? This is in simplified language, I admit that, but I think it’s the gist of it.

        I’ve replied to your article regarding a few specifics, and I do understand you teach this, but I’m not sure it’s what you stand for. I sincerely would like to know the reasoning behind your standpoint, if you would expand on it.

        Construed symbolism examples: Yin and Yang. The classic opposites, good and evil. Add to the symbol a little good in the evil side and a little evil in the good side, and you’ve made a deep philosophical statement about the human condition. Well, that is as may be. The problems arise when you draw too many and too wide real-world conclusions from a symbol.

        Another example (that you mentioned): The sexes. Most animals come in two genders. To the layman, they seem as radical opposites as could possibly exist. Talk to a biologist or a geneticist, and you’ll find out all the facets of gender, the development of gender in species, and the infinitesimal differences between genders. This understanding of actual reality as compared to conjectures from lazy everyday observations that anyone could make, makes it deeper. Religion then goes on and develops a string of dogmas to enforce these lazy observations, raise it to some kind of horrible philosophy akin to the slave view of Athens, and end up making women suffer and making good men treat their women badly. And then you went from that to ‘look at all the other opposite-pairs!’, supposedly enforcing one another, though there’s no connection between them. (Calling concept x a merism doesn’t put x in a relation to reality or even confirm it as existing. It’s just a categorization of other concepts that you’d like to think are similar in some way that others would disagree with in absence of the data. Saying merisms are common is just saying concept x is often used to explain things. It gives no understanding whatever.)

        I just think it’s fruitless to force categories, nonexistant relationships and symbolisms onto reality, and ignore the little exceptions to the rules we see crop up when knowledge increases.

        The earliest science as we know it started being done in the 16th century, and the first scientist is arguably Ibn al-Haytham in the 11th century, but I think you mean the first scientist is someone like Anaximander, who unlike your claim that everything was made from the primal substance water, claimed that the four elements that everything is built out of is water, air, fire, and earth. Well, does anyone today think he was onto something? Do you? I should reveal (likely though, you already know) that these four were in fact believed to be the elements of nature before his time and in several cultures!

        From that last fact, my question to you is:

        Does that make his “science” as solid a foundation for the view of reality and origins prevailing in the religion of Athens at the time, and as good proof that those are “aligned with science” as your claim is: that the “science” of Genesis is aligned with Science and is a good foundation for the view of reality and origins?

        If yes, why aren’t you a Greek polytheist? (As in, “Surely they found the truth first, and this Islam, Christianity and Science just fluff or at least not accurate enough to shake my faith.”)

        If no, what is the vital difference to a theory like yours, “The primal substance was water, and everything was made out of it, even land.”?

        I’ve been on-topic and answered your questions. I would like it if you did the same for me and answered this last question. Explain to me how you see it.

      • Alice Linsley

        Not Egyptian religion, but the religion of a caste of ruler-priests known as Horites. That doesn’t bother me as a Christian. I find it to be logical and evidence that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Horite expectation expressed in Genesis 3:15. The Woman (not Eve since she isn’t named until verse 20) would bring forth the “Seed” of God who would crush the serpent’s head and restore Paradise (communion with God). In John’s Gospel we read His claim to be the “Seed” that must fall into the ground and die in order to bring life to the world.

        Jesus Christ is the direct descendant of the Horite ruler-priests described in Genesis, Exodus, Judges, Ruth, and I and II Chronicles. His birth place Bethlehem was an ancient Horite settlement, as old as Tyre and Jerusalem.

        Christianity is the natural continuation of the Horite belief system, not modern Judaism. Jews have rejected the faith system of Abraham (exccpt for the late Rabbi Kaduri). Abraham, Job and Moses were Horites, not Jews “Hebrew” is the English for ha-biru, meaning temple or shrine attendant.

        My evidence-based explanation for this is found here:
        http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=13357#.UMNUYeTpegQ

        I apologize if I have disappointed you. We seem to be on different wave lengths, but I applaud your work at this blog.

        Best wishes,
        Alice C. Linsley

      • maximilion

        It’s just that you seem to have done work on Genesis 1:1-1:19 and I thought that as an apologist you could have brought up errors in my work and discuss them, and explain why you think this and even more ancient attempts at explaining creation all describe reality as perfectly as Science. I see those as best efforts produced by and colored by the understanding of the world available in each culture at the time of writing. In that respect they are similar to Science, except for the lack of evidence. The difference is that science of origins isn’t fleshed out to a belief system and then etched in stone as the final truth of divine origin. You can see that that’s happened to Genesis. What could have been left a pre-scientific theory of origins, as you say, now is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. If you leave it, “You’re not with us, infidel!”, and the ensuing cultural splits have caused untold social abuse and terrible conflicts. When that is the outcome, I say that primitive creation stories claiming to be divine truth have more reason to be attacked than any Scientific theory. If one ignores the outcome, and whether it’s divine truth or not isn’t that important, one isn’t much of a believer in my book.

        Origins of religions is very interesting, but it’s rarely the kind of thing you hear from apologists of the mainstream religion belief systems! So in that respect we are a little bit on the same wave-length. I look forward to reading your article, and see if I can fault it or ask questions.

      • Alice Linsley

        “…primitive creation stories claiming to be divine truth have more reason to be attacked than any Scientific theory.”

        That is very true. Those who disbelieve use many excuses to dismiss what they don’t accept. They dismiss religion, the Bible, Christian apologetics, and even scientific approaches to the Bible, such as Biblical Anthropology. This isn’t about reason, logic, or science. Rejection of revealed and evident realities speaks of spiritual rebellion and blindness.

        What do you feel are the “errors” of your work? I don’t see errors. I see that you are doing serious exploration of the question of science versus Biblical creation accounts.

      • maximilion

        Well, I consciously avoided looking at previous translations and interpretations and tried to build a creation story or a big picture out of what the account could be said to convey. I actually was a bit disappointed that mine ended up differing so little from the King James & modern – and traditional Jahwist – but I suppose I didn’t really expect to read something radically different from it than the achieved scholars. However, bias may have been discovered in the understanding of a word or verse, but here, too, I didn’t find any major deviance from the mainstream. A lot of work for nothing, you might say. But I really wanted to find the outcome of an as unbiased as possible interpretation, and see how it matched what is currently taught or believed about the creation account, and found no discrepancies. Just the one expression too vague for anyone to make sense of that I brought up.

        Interpretation matching, I tried to match up the big picture of Genesis with the big picture of Science, and found several mismatches. Here’s where someone could make a counter-argument to mine, although I think I provided many of them myself. Well, I just happen to think that finding fault in others’ work is what improves the work and the participants, and it’s also much more interesting than the often lengthy research and analysis part. Rough-and-tumble discussion is where the picture quickly becomes clear.

        That’s why I’ve asked you about the specifics of your anthropological claims of the bible describing life hierarchically, and your saying Genesis speaks of a primal substance that land was formed out of.

        If you say it’s so I ask you to back up your interpretation that makes it so, and I’d like you to return in kind with regards to my work. If you’ve read my interpretation, it specifically says that land was instead formed by God withdrawing water to reveal land.

        And yes, being dismissive about a subject never leads to a better understanding of it. But if you accuse someone of dismissing a certain creation account, he could (and I think should) ask why the believer dismisses the very different Hindu or Buddhist creation accounts, and compare your grounds for doing so with his grounds. I’m in support of this, since it puts things on edge; forces an interesting discussion; and perhaps hones the arguments.

        But it’s also important to recognize that all of us summarily dismiss many views as a matter of routine anyway, for various reasons of our own. The view may be uninteresting, unrelated to what you care about, collapsing from some logical fallacy or unverified or untrue specific, or from your experience plainly unacceptable – and that attempting to address them all in your lifetime would be impossible and in most cases not even desirable because taking them seriously would reflect badly on you.

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