Evolution Is Not Inconsistent With Christianity

Today, a link to an important essay by The OFloinn, of which I was reminded by Mark Shea.

This essay cannot be missed and must be bookmarked. It must be on hand to give to your science pals who triumphantly proclaim that evolution, “selfish” genes, or other observations and speculations of biology “prove” the Christian/Jewish Bible is in error. I don’t think you will find a more succinct account of what orthodoxy actually says anywhere.

That is all: go and read.

Now modern genetics does not falsify the Adam and Eve tale for the excellent reason that it does not address the same matter as the Adam and Eve tale. One is about the origin of species; the other is about the origin of sin. One may as well say that a painting of a meal falsifies haute cuisine.
Still, there are some interesting points about the myth of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Not least is the common late-modern usage of “myth” to mean “something false” rather than “an organizing story by which a culture explains itself to itself.” Consider, for example, the “myth of progress” that was so important during the Modern Ages. Or the equally famous “myth of Galileo” which was a sort of Genesis myth for the Modern Ages. With the fading of the Modern Ages, these myths have lost their power and have been exploded by post-modernism or by historians of science. Before we consider the Fall, let us consider the Summer. No. Wait. I mean the Summary.

Aside: it took me several minutes to realize what “IOW” meant. Then, as I tweeted earlier, for years I thought “LOL” was “lots of luck.”

P.S. Don’t skip the footnotes.

P.P.S. Flynn also points to a Feser article on same subject.

17 Comments

  1. Oh dear.

    Apologetics – how can the evidence be rationalized to fit in with a particular theology. Something you would never do unless you accepted that particular theology in the first case.

    There is no way starting from first principles you’d end up trying to rationalize a creation myth into scientific evidence.

    Why the Christian myth? – why not the Chinese legend of Pangu? His expansion in his egg is clearly figurative for the modern theory of cosmological inflation, and his fall to the earth the seeding of a barren planet with organic molecules from space. Do you see how preposterous this is – but when it comes to Adam you pretend its perfectly rational!

    Just some questions I suppose.

    Am I right that the essence of this post is that we are all the descendants of the first “rational” being – ie Adam.

    Does anyone exist on earth now who is not a descendant of this person?

    Approximately when in history do you think the last non-rational person died off? Leaving only descendants of Adam?

    The genealogy in Luke giving the relationship between Jesus and Adam consists of 76 generations. Is this figurative? Figurative for what? Or was all of humanity seeded in approximately 76 generations back from the birth of Christ?

    What do you think is the average generation time in this list?

    Do you REALLY believe in people living multiple centuries? Or is that figurative, too? Figurative for what?

    What is the Fall? – is it rationality? Or is it also Figurative – figurative of what?

    Was Adam rational when he was created, or only after the Fall? If after it then it would seem that rationality was not the purpose we were created for – correct?

    Everyone is a descendant of Adam, but isn’t the important issue for the Church not the descent, but Original Sin. Is Jesus dying for our rationality, or our taint?

    What happened when one of those non-Adam descendants died – are they up for Judgement or only Adam’s seed?

    Oh I give up. It is all just so preposterous.

    But I am expected to take this type of story telling seriously because it is RELIGION.

  2. Love the cheeky footnotes. And the refreshing tone overall. The folks in 6000 AD will chuckle at our modern thoughts. LOL!

  3. The first thing one should note in the referenced/linked essay is the author has chosen to refute comments from another particular author–the linked essay’s author does not address the overall science in total.

    That is a typical approach people use when they are trying to appear like they’re addressing a subject while they’re really evading some significant elements of the substance of the subject. Global Warming Alarmists do this sort of thing routinely, for example. Sites like Watts Up With That call them on this sort of thing routinely.

    The “Out of Africa” theory of human development is supported by:

    – DNA findings, and
    – Geological findings, and
    – Archeological findings (past 2-3 thousand years especially), and
    – observed Language patterns (much more recent history)

    For example, geneticists found that patterns of DNA mutations indicate a near-extinction event about 70,000 or 80,000 years ago. Geological findings reveal that volcanic Mt. Toba (India) exploded, about 74,000 years ago, sufficiently powerfully to induce a “nuclear winter” that disrupted growth cycles & by extension life planet-wide. That’s one very tidy correlation of geology & DNA. (the discovery of this correlation is a story in & of itself–allegedly the geneticist that concluded the near-extinction event occurred knew nothing of geology…but while waiting to meet with someone at a university happened to stop in a lecture where Mt. Toba’s eruption was being discussed, where he noted the timing & magnitude aligned with his DNA findings–a serendipitous “Eureka” moment)

    For the overall flow of human development, based on DNA, the Bradshaw Foundation is a good interactive video reference: http://bradshawfoundation.com/journey/

    More findings are readily available, such as: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/02/080221-human-genetics.html

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070509161829.htm

    FOR THOSE OF YOU so inclined to believe a mythical story such as the Adam & Eve & the Garden of Eden (which numerous Christians, including numerous R. Catholics, never believed as anything more than a fable with a morality theme) you’d be well-served to get a copy of Alan Dundes book, Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore ( http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Writ-Oral-Lit-Folklore/dp/0847691977 ), then with that and your favorite bible, start reading Dundes’ work…and check out the references in your bible. Basically his book is an ongoing comparison of matching texts from different stories & while he makes the comparisons, don’t trust him & see for yourself. The patterns of story after story being plagiarized from earlier stories are unmistakable.

    Again, Dundes’ book is just a guide one can use to cross-compare the relevant stories & see the near-verbatim passages between different stories that you probably thought all this time were original, unique, works.

    For those of you needing to dispute science to sustain your beliefs–recognize that’s a form of a search for proof hardly different from Thomas having to see & touch the wounds in Jesus to see what was standing before & talking with him. Proof, or flimsy philosophical attacks on proofs challenging one’s beliefs, is prima facie evidence of doubt in the faith one espouses to have. True Faith does not require proof, or, the rebuttal of science pointing to a contradiction.

    LASTLY, noting the reference to Galileo — one can read the actual transcripts, translated into English, of trial records & more at*: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/galileo/galileo.html That’s a worthwhile thing to do for anyone interested in Galileo’s views, the R. Catholic Churches views, etc., which are almost certainly not what you think they are if all your source material is stuff like the essay Briggs linked to.

    The Pope’s Papal Condemnation noted, very first sentence, that Galileo’s theory of the Earth orbiting the Sun was heretical–and we now know today that that infallible pope was wrong. Here’s what he said: “Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vaincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were in the year 1615 denounced to this Holy Office for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable and that the Earth moves, and also with a diurnal motion…and for replying to the objections from the Holy Scriptures, which from time to time were urged against it, by glossing the said Scriptures according to your own meaning…and in this divers propositions are set forth, following the position of Copernicus, which are contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture” That’s via the above link, or just go to: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html

    With the benefit of hindsight, and science, we now know that Galileo was correct and the Roman Church was totally wrong–and the Roman Church based its view on its interpretation of scripture.

    Which just shows, if the pope, with all his devotion & wisdom & entourage, can’t interpret scripture correctly relative to observable phenomena, who can you trust? Galileo’s trial was in 1633…some 1,700 years after a Greek, Eratosthenes, figured out the circumference of the Earth, by the way…so its not like the Church didn’t have time to sort out observable facts…clearly it didn’t — by ignoring them and discounting & suppressing all evidence to the contrary. Self-induced ignorance.

    What’s interesting is reading the original documents, which almost nobody does anymore, then reading ex-Pope Ratzenberger’s comments on the Galileo trial.

    What one observes is an ongoing pattern of revising the facts of religious theory & doctrine. And not just by the Roman Church, pieces like this essay endeavor to do the same thing.

    For anyone interested in the technique applied, Steven Hassan has a good book: http://www.amazon.com/Combatting-Cult-Mind-Control-Best-selling/dp/0892813113 (focus on the part discussing ‘thought-stopping techniques’).

    * Famous trial records going back to Socrates to the O.J. Simpson trial, and more, are available at: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/ftrials.htm

  4. a) Periscoping of geneologies was quite common. You find the same thing in the clan geneologies in O’Hart’s Irish Pedigrees. In periscoping, you only hit the high points, so to speak, like a map that shows only major cities along a route.
    b) Prior to an established belief in an afterlife, lifespan was equated with virtue. Long lifespans were then symbolic of virtuous lives and showed how in the Good Old Days, people were more virtuous.
    c) Dogma insisted long before a Catholic monk discovered genetics that all men now living are descended from one man. When the last prehumans died off cannot be pinned down, since intellection does not leave fossil remains. But it is pretty clear in that Neanderthals, to take one example, showed virtually no change in their toolkit over more than a hundred thousand years; nor are there any unambiguous indicators of art.
    d) There is a distinction between biological humans and metaphysical humans.
    e) That “descended from one man” does not mean “descended from only one man” is fairly simple logic.

  5. Oh come on, Chinahand, surely you can see the consistency between the Pangu story and the Big Bang theory. LOL.

  6. @Ken
    What has “Out of Africa” to do with the question of whether there was one man out of that bunch of Africans whose genes now run in all of us? This is a well-known statistical effect.

    In fact, there are two well settled cases based on genetics: the so-called mitochondrial “Eve”, from whom all men today are not only descended, but descended in strict matrilinearity. And from another era, the so-called X-chromosome “Adam” from whom all men are descended patrilinearly. Now, despite the metaphorical use of the names by scientists, there is no reason to suppose that either one is the ancestor of metaphysical humans, since rationality leaves neither fossil nor genetic remains.

    Galileo’s trial was in 1633…some 1,700 years after a Greek, Eratosthenes, figured out the circumference of the Earth, by the way…so its not like the Church didn’t have time to sort out observable facts…clearly it didn’t — by ignoring them and discounting & suppressing all evidence to the contrary.

    What has Galileo’s trial got to do with the circumference of the Earth? This was well-known not only in Galileo’s time, but also in the Middle Ages and earlier.

    What observable facts do you suppose were available to people in the 17th century? All the facts then known supported geostationary models. Bellarmine wrote to Foscarini that there would be no problem resolving scriptural passages that seemed to be contrary, provided that the contrary was known with certainty.

    Could you cite the evidence that was suppressed?

    The Late Modern insists on reading all texts with such remorseless and prosaic literalism, as if for example a “genealogy” were something prepared for membership in the Mayflower Society. Remember, Augustine wrote a millennium and a half ago that the scriptures were figurative, but might be literal in part. Late Moderns just don’t know how to deal with myth and poetry.

    At least Charles Babbage was writing tongue in cheek when he wrote to Tennyson:
    “In your otherwise beautiful poem one verse reads,

    Every moment dies a man,
    Every moment one is born.

    ” … If this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death. I would suggest [that the next edition of your poem should read]:”

    Every moment dies a man,
    Every moment 1 1/16 is born.

    “Strictly speaking, the actual figure is so long I cannot get it into a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.”

    At least I hope he was writing tongue-in-cheek.

  7. Ken,

    Do you still believe that the Sun is the center of the universe and is immovable??? That is what Galileo was teaching according to your link!! (snicker)

    The argument was much more interesting than you and the Church haters make it out to be. If not for Galileo insulting the Pope he probably would never have been in jail.

    Not much different now with Gorebull Warmers calling for the execution and imprisonment of Sceptics and gubmint and educational institutions enforcing the Gorebull Warming theology!!

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/historical-notes-galileo-insulted-the-pope-not-the-church-1084369.html

    “Finally, Galileo was admonished to cease campaigning until he had proof. Galileo didn’t force the Church off the fence, but in an astounding coup he made it seem he had. In the guise of an “impartial” book – which a new Pope, Urban VIII (a friend of Galileo’s), had encouraged – he wrote a best-seller demolishing the old Earth-centred astronomy. When it was too late to do anything but accept the situation gracefully or overreact, the Pope decided he could not brook such a usurpation of authority.

    This was no abstract contest between science and religion, but something far more personal and political. Galileo had stolen the Pope’s prerogative – an unforgivable insult. Neither science nor religion received more than lip-service at Galileo’s trial. He was sentenced to house arrest for life and forced to renounce Copernicanism publicly.”

    Galileo is just one of several incidents used by atheists/agnostics to try and prove the Catholic Church, and other major Churches, were anti-science and promoted unscientific beliefs. The Church has been the savior of Science and Knowledge more than once in history. Notwithstanding particular incidents no worse than many in modern times, like the Gorebull Warming corruption of science and the Evolution Bad Joke, the Church has been a good friend of science.

    It is necessary for God to be logical and to have created a logical RULES based universe to fit with the Bible. Attacking Science would undermine their own Manual. As a good example of the opposite, Allah in Islam is said to be unknowable and not fettered by rules or logic and not to be understood by man. It is one of their big lies that they are science friendly and made many advances when it was their slave races who accomplished virtually ALL of their contributions.

    If the universe is based on whims and unknowable power, how would science work???

    I notice Neanderthal has been brought up as usual. With the modern geneticists sequencing the genes it has been found that Neanderthal, at least the sequences thy have, all fall within the range of HUMAN!!! Yeah, the claims are still that we interbred, but, the reality is that Neanderthal is as human as pygmies, Qua-Zulu, and Mormons!!

    “Based on the comparison of modern human mt DNA and that taken from the Neanderthal, evolutionists have argued that the “Neanderthal line” diverged from the line of “hominids” leading to modern humans about 600,000 years B.P. without contributing mt DNA to modern Homo sapiens populations. This strongly implies that Neanderthals were a different species from modern humans.
    However, the above noted interpretation is not scientifically justified. Lubenow (1998) has pointed out that the use of a statistical average of a large modern human sample (994 sequences from 1669 modern humans) compared with the mt DNA sequence from one Neanderthal is not appropriate. Furthermore, the mt DNA sequence differences among modern humans range from 1 to 24 substitutions, with an average of eight substitutions, whereas, the mt DNA sequence differences between modern man and the Neanderthal specimen range from 22 to 36 substitutions, placing Neanderthals, at worst, on the fringes of the modern range. (Neanderthals are Still Human! Dave Phillips, Impact Vol. 323, May 2000) ”

    http://creationwiki.org/Neanderthal

    I would also point out that we mostly see the majority of the genome being filled with junk. Those comparisons are for a tiny part of the genome. Recently there have been several different looks at the so-called JUNK DNA that are changing geneticists minds about just how much of it is actually useful and not junk!! (Hint, very little, if any, is probably junk!!)

    Teasers:
    http://news.yahoo.com/hidden-treasures-junk-dna-204800988.html
    “That’s a rather different way of thinking about genes—and evolution.
    I get this strong feeling that previously I was ignorant of my own ignorance, and now I understand my ignorance. It’s slightly depressing as you realize how ignorant you are. But this is progress. The first step in understanding these things is having a list of things that one has to understand, and that’s what we’ve got here.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/01/discoveries_mak068581.html
    http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?article_id=218392305

    Let me know if you would like to see some alternative information from less than nutjobs about the problems with stratigraphy and the rest of evolutionary scientology.

  8. All of the metaphysical talk and re-interpretation is unnecessary.

    Science only knows what it can test, and it excludes divine intervention by necessity. To believe in an all-powerful Creator is to believe He is capable of intervening at will in the genetic code of His creations or in any other manner.

    I’m a computer scientist and I profess only college-biology 101 knowledge of genetics, but from reading I understand the dates for Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam are based on at least two unverifiable assumptions: that the first humans were not created with chromosomal variations; and that the genetic mutation rate is constant.

    Even putting that aside, no reinterpretation of the Biblical creation event seems necessary since Genesis specifies at least 3 places where genetic alterations were likely introduced by the Creator, and a fourth by somewhat more traditional means:

    1) When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and became mortal.
    2) When Cain was marked.
    3) When God retroactively limited man’s lifetime to ~120 years.
    4) When the Nephilim (Sons of God) interbred with human women.

    Since Genesis makes it clear that there were possibilities for genetic variation outside of standard mutation rates, is it not the case that Genesis simply isn’t being contradicted by genetics?

  9. @ KuhnKat: Do you still believe that the Sun is the center of the universe and is immovable??? That is what Galileo was teaching according to your link!! (snicker)

    THAT IS FALSE — the link is an English translation of the trial transcripts; the quote I referenced was the then-Pope’s condemnation of Galileo’s then-allegation that the Earth orbited the Sun.

    The clue you somehow missed that this was the Popes–not G’s–position, is the title, in very large headline letters: Papal Condemnation (Sentence) of Galileo (June 22, 1633).

  10. @ Ye Old Statistician:

    Q: What has Galileo’s trial got to do with the circumference of the Earth? This was well-known not only in Galileo’s time, but also in the Middle Ages and earlier.

    I Mentioned that in response to Brigg’s undefined reference to the “Myth of Galileo” — there are many such “myths” and many are recognized, wrongly, as fact. KuhnKat, above, tries to perpetuate one of them, for example: “Finally, Galileo was admonished to cease campaigning until he had proof.”, says KuhnKat. But the trial record is explicitly clear, as the then-Pope noted: “The proposition that the Earth is not the center of the world and immovable but that it moves, and also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and false philosophically and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith … imposed upon you by the Commissary of the Holy Office to give up the said doctrine and not to teach it to others, not to defend it, nor even to discuss it; and your failing your acquiescence in this injunction, that you should be imprisoned.” The Pope didn’t give Galileo any chance or accommodation to pursue the then-heretical theory that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, much less pursue it until he, Galileo, had proof. The then-Pope actively forced Galileo to cease & desist entirely; no room or accommodation was granted to pursue any finding that would contradict official church dogma.

    Q: What observable facts do you suppose were available to people in the 17th century? All the facts then known supported geostationary models.

    RESPONSE: As noted, a Greek in B.C. figured out the Earth was a sphere; and he & others recognized the Earth’s shadow on the moon for what it was, then. This knowledge was not lost by the 1600s. Copernicus and Galileo both observed in the orbital motions of the planets. Of this they, and others, were certain. Those facts are facets of models that are NOT geostationary. The statement, “All the facts then known supported geostationary models” is thus nonsensical.

  11. @Ken
    As noted, a Greek in B.C. figured out the Earth was a sphere; and he & others recognized the Earth’s shadow on the moon for what it was, then. This knowledge was not lost by the 1600s. Copernicus and Galileo both observed in the orbital motions of the planets. Of this they, and others, were certain. Those facts are facets of models that are NOT geostationary. The statement, “All the facts then known supported geostationary models” is thus nonsensical.

    That the Earth was a sphere was well known in the middle ages and later and has nothing to do with whether this sphere goes around the sun or vice versa. They did not calculate orbits so much as positions on the sky in declination and right ascension. All such positions were predicted by the geostationary Tychonic and Ursine models with greater accuracy than by the Copernican model. Even the Ptolemaic model (which was discarded after the discovery of the phases of Venus) did as well as Copernicus in most cases.

    Against geomobility were the lack of parallax in the fixed stars and the lack of Coriolis effects. There was also the Objection of the Winds, and a number of other items. None of Galileo’s observations were key to these problems. (He did suggest that by the Copernican theory there ought to be parallax with optical doubles where a large bright star was real close to a small dim star. Like everyone else, he assumed this meant one was close and the other distant. He closely observed one such pair, recorded in his notebooks, and found no parallax. He therefore kept his mouth shut about it and continued to suggest it as a way of confirming the mobility of the earth.) What was needed were some conceptual breakthroughs like the idea of inertia, universal gravitation, et al.
    A summary of the history is here: http://www2.fiu.edu/~blissl/Flynngs.pdf

  12. Ken,

    does the Prosecuting attorney and the prosecution in general ALWAYS state the same views as the President or the Governator or the Mayor???

    Yes Ken, you fell into another fallacy. The fact that the Pope was POed and allowed the prosecutors, who were a different faction, take down Galileo does NOT mean what was stated or presented in the trial is what the Pope either believed or stated. This is where many fallacies start and are perpetuated. ASSUMPTIONS!!!

    By the way, when did I mention God’s view?? I only mentioned the Pope, the Church, and Galileo!!! The Church is SUPPOSED to have the same views as the Pope. I would point to the US Church in modern times who have gone quite liberal to show that the Church can have quite different views from the Pope.

  13. Ye Olde Stat…

    ” Even the Ptolemaic model (which was discarded after the discovery of the phases of Venus) did as well as Copernicus in most cases.”

    Miles Mathis talks a lot about Heuristics. Much of modern Science is more heuristic than well grounded theory and this explains why it generally matches well to the observations. Phlogistone is another instance of this!!

    It shouldn’t be surprising to us at this point in history that we are ALWAYS wrong but sometimes getting closer!! For some reason many of those who teach brush these inconvenient details under the rug! 8>)

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