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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Evolution Sunday

I am going to talk at one of our local churches on Science and Religion today. I'll report back here a bit later in the day. The message to be featured in the bulletin is located here.

Well, I have to say that the experience was enjoyable. The group I spoke to was from a Lutheran church and I must say that they started with many of the typical misconceptions about science in general and evolution in particular. The big difference is that the group was interested in learning more about the issue. I guess the biggest surprise was how few knew about recent cases in Dover and Kansas despite the 'press' it received among those of us who follow these things. Most were sympathetic to the idea of Intelligent Design until I was able to explain how vacuous it is as a scientific endeavor. The lack of any real science to the Intelligent Design movement and their link to extreme fundamentalism is really going to continue to be a problem for their theocratic agenda. I encouraged them to read (back to back) Francis Collin's book and "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. Both authors approach the idea of intelligent design from different perspectives. Dawkins is an avowed atheist and Collins a devout Christian. I think both authors are a worthwhile read no matter what your stance on religion.
There were the usual statements of disbelief such as "I can't believe we came from monkeys" or "I watch a sunset and sunrise on a perfect day and can't believe our place on earth is an accident". However, neither one of those individuals seemed particularly dogmatic about their views and when confronted with Collins' testimony on shared similarities between humans and primates, I could sense that the objections were not as strong.
We touched on the flood of Noah and I mentioned its similarity to the story found in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. At this point the pastor stepped in and also discussed the probability that Hebrews borrowed myths and legends from other cultures in the same way that we still do to this day (Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy etc). We then discussed human evolution and one person demanded to see the bones of the first human. That comment led to an interesting discussion on how evolution acts (on populations rather than individuals) and the meaning of the words "Adam and Eve". Again, the pastor stepped in and noted that Adam and Eve were not individuals, but representative of the first human populations on earth. I think that most of the people were interested in hearing this view on the origins of humans both from me and from the biblical viewpoint.
In the end, I don't know how much good (or bad) I did. I do know that this audience was interested in learning and not demanding. For my part, I tried to lead a discussion and interject with scientific knowledge when needed. I had a good time and hope to continue discussing these issues with this group or any others.

Cheers

Joe Meert

23 Comments:

At 6:16 PM, Blogger aka...Forthekids said...

Joe,

Obviously, I know your take on Christianity because we've had many discussions in the past.

But, I'm curious about the view of the Pastor at the church you spoke at this morning.

When he said that Adam and Eve were not real people, how did he explain the geneologies that are mentioned several times throughout scripture? How does he explain the fact that Christ spoke of Adam and Eve? Why did the Jews trace their ancestory back to Adam and Eve? Why did Josephus act as if this ancestory were an accurate account rather than that of fictional characters?

We know that archaeology supports the places and figures of many old & new testament characters so why are some of these patriarchs considered to be real people and others are figments of the imagination?

Also, gilgamesh is not the only ancient flood story. There are numerous ancient flood legends and they are all quite simliar:

http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html

Rather than believing that a flood never took place, it makes more sense (to me) to acknowledge that not all of these nations were imagining this incident, but that the a flood actually did occur.

The stories are all quite simliar so it would seem that this event was handed down from generation to generation.

You wouldn't have to believe it was a worldwide flood, but all these accounts of a massive flood seem to support the notion that it really did occur.

That's the big problem I have with those of you who tell me that much of biblical history is merely myth. The supporting evidence doesn't seem to indicate that.

I'm seriously not trying to mess with you, I just want to know how that Pastor explains these issues.

 
At 6:32 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

You need a lesson in Hebrew and a good review of the biblical geneaology. You make two very fundamental errors. Can you prove that Hebrews are the root of humanity. I don't think you can without some really poor circular scholarship. As for your flood comment, it is equally absurd. Early civilizations (especially the agricultural ones) would have lived in the rich floodplains of the middle east and northern Africa. Floods were devastating events that would have destroyed the 'world' known to those peoples. It's no surprise that these legends permeate societies that flourished in the rich flood plain regions. The point about Gilgamesh is simply that cultures do indeed borrow legends, myths and tales from other cultures especially those that fit into their own experience. Floods happen and are devastating. Worldwide floods, while devastating, show no evidence of ever occurring.

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 8:04 PM, Anonymous forthekids said...

“You need a lesson in Hebrew and a good review of the biblical geneaology. You make two very fundamental errors. Can you prove that Hebrews are the root of humanity. I don't think you can without some really poor circular scholarship.”

Hey, Joe, how about we cut the crap, and maybe for a few seconds you might consider not talking down to me. Is that possible for you to do? If you want to teach me something than act like a teacher, not an ass.

Okay... now you say that I need a review of biblical genealogy. Why exactly? From what I know of Jewish history, those genealogies were quite important. Even Matthew and Luke relay the genealogies in the NT. Matthew provides us with the actual blood lines, and Luke provides the legal genealogies. At that time in history, if a wife was widowed, the brother-in-law would take her as his own and have children for his deceased brother. Of course they were the brother-in-law’s actual children, but they would carry the name of the wife’s deceased husband. These ancestries were very important due to inheritance issues.

You ask if I can prove that Hebrews are the root of humanity. Of course not. I can only go by what history provides us with the written word. Obviously, there were other known tribes running around during those early biblical times, but can you prove that early biblical history is wrong?

I think we have to consider that the earliest evidence we have of the written word is only approx. 6,000 years old (except for a handful of cave writings written earlier). Consequently, the bible documents historical information from approx. 6,000 years ago. That doesn’t by any means imply that the earth must then be 6,000, but it does appear that this is when people started documenting events.

If the biblical events are true, then the first human inhabitants may have known more about the true creator of the cosmos than we give them credit for. That doesn’t mean that after a time, the truth didn’t became muddled along the way. Many scholars agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, written by an Israelite about 1500 B.C.. Even at that time in history, Job was looking forward to a redeemer.

It could be that other nations branched off and held some of the same truths but added their own window dressing. That may be why we find so many early mythical religions looking toward a saviour as well. It may have all started from the same first experience and promise.

The OT writers, along with Josephus (who was not a Christian writer) do not speak of any of these biblical characters in a mythical way. They speak of them as historical figures, and we have archeology to support many of the ancients cities, customs, etc. that we find in the OT. Discoveries have even been made about the ancient Canaanites at the time of Joshua’s take over of the promised land. It has been discovered that they offered their children as sacrifices and practiced bestiality and many other customs that would have probably been passed on to the Israelites if it were not for the stringent rules that were established in order to keep them from these abhorrent practices.

So, it’s just unclear to me as to how a Pastor can dismiss some of the biblical characters, but not others. How does one distinguish as to who would be considered real and who is imaginative in a genealogy?

“As for your flood comment, it is equally absurd. Early civilizations (especially the agricultural ones) would have lived in the rich floodplains of the middle east and northern Africa. Floods were devastating events that would have destroyed the 'world' known to those peoples. It's no surprise that these legends permeate societies that flourished in the rich flood plain regions. The point about Gilgamesh is simply that cultures do indeed borrow legends, myths and tales from other cultures especially those that fit into their own experience. Floods happen and are devastating. Worldwide floods, while devastating, show no evidence of ever occurring.”

Hmmm....it seems to me that this ~particular “legend”~ was told over and over, and it was quite similar from one nation to the next. I’d guess that an epic event occurred, and as people recovered from that event and moved on to other parts of the world of that time, they would have taken that story with them. Over the years, the story may have changed a bit as it was passed on from one generation to the next.

Just a thought, and you should be more open minded because there are many things in scripture that are terribly hard to just blow off as mythical events.

I wonder how the Pastor of that church discerns what parts of scripture are actual events and which parts are not? I doubt he can ~prove~ that Christ is the risen saviour either, but I’d assume he believes it. So, how does he distinguish between what it an actual event and what is not? And, if he doesn’t believe that Christ actually died and rose for our sins, what’s the point of being a Christian Pastor? What purpose does Christianity have? Is it merely a moral support group that is based on Christ’s teaching on morality? Why would we believe someone who claimed to be the son of God if he is not? Or, someone who talked about Adam, Eve, and the flood as if they were actual events? Why would Christ lie about those events if he was who he claimed to be?

So many questions....maybe I should contact that Pastor you talked with this morning rather than bug you about this stuff. Did he mention any of the things that I’ve brought up, or did people question him about any of these issues?

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

You're an adult ftk trying desperately to make an adult argument. Furthermore, you are not even asking adult questions, but making assertions that have no basis in science, fact or reality. Therefore, I see no need to treat you in the same manner that I would with a genuinely inquisitive young person or adult. You are not really interested in learning, you are interested in finding snippets that support your dogmatic view of religion and science. Quit the 'poor poor inquisitive me' facade and admit that you don't give a damn about what science says or your own narrow view of scripture. Or did they forget to tell you that the scripture you cling to dogmatically was voted on by fallible men?

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 8:38 PM, Anonymous forthekids said...

Ummm...okay, I'll take that as a "I can't answer you're questions, ftk".

Would you mind emailing me the name of the church you attended today so I can ask the Pastor these questions?

My Pastor doesn't assume that biblical history is bogus and to be honest, there were only 5 churches in Kansas that celebrated evolution Sunday so I'm not sure who to question about these type of issues.

It seems to me that if this Pastor wants Christians to embrace Darwinism, he should be willing to carry on dialogue with those who question this theory.

My email address is on my blog profile. Thanks.

 
At 8:39 PM, Anonymous forthekids said...

Oh, and would you mind explaining this sentence a bit further?

"Or did they forget to tell you that the scripture you cling to dogmatically was voted on by fallible men?"

I mean, can you give me a little historical background on this assertion? Thanks.

 
At 8:54 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

Wow, you have no idea regarding the history of the bible? I'll give you the e-mail address of my pastor when you show a modicum of knowledge about the history of the bible. I'm not going to bombard anyone with nonsensical questions from people who have not bothered to research basic history. Why not come back when you've delved a bit deeper into your own dogma?


Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous forthekids said...

I didn't say that I had no knowledge of biblical history. I asked if you would explain your statement that:

"Or did they forget to tell you that the scripture you cling to dogmatically was voted on by fallible men?"

I wondered if you might provide your version of how the bible was canonized and perhaps provide dates, etc. along with supporting evidence of those assumptions.

And, you've told me in the past that you are a Christian. Why bother? If it's merely a bunch of words thrown together by "dogmatic fallible men", what the heck is the point of being a Christian?

Did you talk at your own church?

And, why would you not want me to talk to your Pastor unless I learn something first? Aren't churches and Pastors the best places to learn these things? I thought that's what Pastors were always so keen on doing - teaching others.

I'm totally serious...I'd like to talk to this Pastor about many issues that I need answers to. You don't seem to be able to help me. If you want us "fundies" to accept Darwinism, then there have to be open lines of communication.

 
At 10:02 PM, Anonymous forthekids said...

Hey Joe,

Did you speak at All Saints? It's the only Lutheran Church listed that was celebrating Evolution Sunday.

Just curious...

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

Do you think I would tell you or anyone else what church to call and harrass? I was purposefully deceptive on that point. There are a lot of wackos out there and pastors have more important things to consider than listening to people call just to whine from several states away.

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger aka...Forthekids said...

Oh, Joe, you are such a paranoid thing.

I have no intention of whining whatsoever. Asking questions is how we learn things.

I'm sure any Pastor would be willing to answer these questions that you are not able to answer.

I ask my Pastor questions all the time, and he doesn't mind. I'm sure your Pastor is the same way.

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

then I suggest you call your pastor and start asking questions.

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger dogscratcher said...

FTK:
"Ummm...okay, I'll take that as a "I can't answer you're questions, ftk"."

Who would have guessed?

 
At 2:15 PM, Anonymous forthekids said...

Maybe you can take a stab at answering my questions, dogscratcher?

For some reason, some of my comments are not showing up, Joe. You wouldn't be deleting them would you?

It seems that I read a recent post of yours complaining about people who don't allow others to post their comments.

 
At 2:51 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

A demand for a phone number of a personal friend is not a point of discussion, so yes I deleted that question. Comments are always welcome. The post you read was about a challenge from another board inviting us to come and argue. When the arguments stopped going their way, they deleted the comments and banned the posters. I have no intention of banning anyone. I also will not delete any posts here except for the odd advertisement and demands that I give out information that will be misused. You can post anything you want here, good bad or ugly, but I'm not giving out phone numbers nor do such posts add anything to the discussion.

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger dogscratcher said...

FTK:
"Maybe you can take a stab at answering my questions, dogscratcher?"

Ask one question, I'll do my best to answer it. But no Gish Gallops. Please rigorously define your terms upfront so I don't answer what I "think" you are asking and then get accused of knocking down "strawmen."

That is the way scientific disputes are settled, and one of the main reasons why science has rendered a useful and objectively verifiable picture of reality.

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger aka...Forthekids said...

Umm...I think I asked quite a few in previous posts which relate to evolution Sunday. Pick one and give me your take on it.

Thanks.

 
At 5:13 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

What bible do you use FTK? Why is an error-free document different from Christian sect to Christian sect? In other words, why is your canon different from his canon?

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger aka...Forthekids said...

Joe,

I have no idea what you're getting at. I asked some questions, and was merely wondering what you guys think about them. What does that have to do with what type of bible I have?

 
At 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you said:

Oh, and would you mind explaining this sentence a bit further?

"Or did they forget to tell you that the scripture you cling to dogmatically was voted on by fallible men?"

I mean, can you give me a little historical background on this assertion? Thanks.


I'm asking you if you know how the biblical canons were determined. It seems you don't. So here's some homework for you. Go to a catholic church and get a bible. Go to a baptist church and get a bible. Compare and contrast. Why are they different?

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 12:40 AM, Blogger dogscratcher said...

FTK,
I started replying here and it got too long, so I made a post over at my blog.

I wanted you to define your terms and I believe Joe wants you to tell him which bible you read for the same reason: if you don't, we end up talking at cross purposes. We need to know exactly what you are asking, and without that knowledge, there is no possible way to adequately answer you.

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger TheFallibleFiend said...

Lots of fictional stories contain references to real people and places. Just because there was an actual Troy doesn't mean there really was an Achilles whose only weakness was his heal. If there were an Arthur, that doesn't mean there was a sword in the stone or a Merlin who could perform magic.

All the actual evidence - as opposed to the imaginary evidence promulgated by YECs - is that the flood is not an historical fact.

It seems pretty clear that part of the biblical story was plagiarized (or accreted, as some prefer to say) from earlier cultures.

 
At 12:13 PM, Anonymous JanieBelle said...

"Lots of fictional stories contain references to real people and places. Just because there was an actual Troy doesn't mean there really was an Achilles whose only weakness was his heal. If there were an Arthur, that doesn't mean there was a sword in the stone or a Merlin who could perform magic."

I am so depressed now.

Have fun toying with the mouse, fellas.

She's a lot of fun.

 

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