Friday, September 28, 2007

Book Review

"Evolutionism and Creationism" (Ben Sonder) - I picked this book as a quick read in the topic I have been looking into recently. It's just 100 pages, but it packs in a fair amount of stuff to talk about. It does a reasonable job of trying to be impartial. I believe the author favors evolutionism, but I can only be sure from a few quotes:

On theistic evolutionists (pg 25):
"Someone may not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, but can still believe in divine influence on the Earth's history."

The "literal interpretation of the Bible" is a common complaint. Except, fundamentalists don't interpret the Bible literally...

John 6:53 "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."

We do not literally eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood (in contradiction to Catholic dogma). There is a long, involved Biblical basis for that, which I will likely cover later.

Reading the Bible is like reading any other book. I didn't read this book and think, "Hmm, this is actually a metaphor for how Sonder is admitting to killing Jimmy Hoffa and burying the body in his back yard." I guess, from his point of view, I read his book literally. I interpreted it within the context of itself and the culture it was written in and targeted at. When I read science-fiction, I often find myself flipping back to the copyright page to check when it was written. Science-fiction has gone through many different phases and attitudes, and I am also interesting in tracking developments. I guess I read that literally too :)

Of course, old earthers (like the He Lives blog) insist that their interpretation is truest to a proper ("literal") interpretation of the Bible. So it is not a question of "relying" on the Bible or not, but which interpretation is correct.

The other quote is between pages 4 and 5:
"By 'creation', the minister meant the belief that life on Earth was created just as it appears today by God, in only six days and just a few thousand years ago, as recounted in the Book of Genesis in the Bible."

This gets said often enough that I don't know where it comes from. The world as it is today is different than the world as God created it. The main difference being the presence of sin, and the curse of the Fall. Also, the Flood has clearly had significant impact on the topology of the Earth, and some people believe there was another catastrophe around the time Peleg ("Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided" Genesis 10:25 - the name "Peleg" is similar to the Hebrew word for earthquake).


GCT said...

You actually believe in a Noachian flood? You are aware that there is no scientific evidence for the flood, and much evidence against it, aren't you? Not only that, but it makes no sense. And, if I were you, I would disavow it, because it's more evidence of your god's genocidal, maniacal impulses. Instead of changing people's hearts, he decided he had to destroy everyone? Plus, if he destroyed all except the righteous, why are we still evil? Wouldn't he have known that his plan wouldn't work?

nedbrek said...

Please be honest, there is evidence of the Flood. Sedimentary rock all around the world, formations carved by water, fish and shell fossils at the top of mountains.

Uniformitarianism may provide alternate explanations, but that does not mean this is not evidence consistent with a global flood.

R.e. "changing people's hearts":
God does not mind control people. He respects our free will.

Imagine you had a chip implanted in a loved one to make them say, "I love you". How many times would you have to hear it before you grew tired of it?

It would have no meaning.

GCT said...

Re: the flood

And there's much more. So, no, there is no evidence for the global flood, because the Bible doesn't count as evidence...sorry. Where would the water have come from? How is the Noah's Ark story even plausibly true? What about the dinosaurs? How did Noah gather and keep two of each animal aboard his ark? This story simply doesn't make sense and is insupportable. It has been refuted scientifically and to hold to it is to stick your head in the sand and ignore the real world around you.

Re changing people's hearts:
This is not the same as making someone say, "I love you." Although, the Calvinistic faith seems to say that god does just that. But, that's not what it means. God can certainly show people the error of their ways without killing them. If you say that he can not, then god is not omnipotent.

Plus, I'm sure all the newborns that were killed in the flood were bad to the bone, right? And, I'm still wondering why god's plan didn't work. We are, supposedly, still evil to the core. So, god should have known that, right? But, he went ahead and committed mass murder anyway, even though he knew it wouldn't make a difference in the end. I would truly like to see an answer to this conundrum.

nedbrek said...

My understanding of Calvinism is that we cannot take any credit for faith. God provides for faith, and we repent and trust in Jesus.

But our will is still involved. God is not randomly picking hardened haters of Him for regeneration. He is choosing people with humility, who will be able to show remorse for sins against God.

The amount of time between regeneration (the effect of God's choice of us), and our repenting and trusting cannot really be measured. Calvinism is just ensuring we don't get "puffed up" and think we had an influence on God. That God had to choose us because, we're "a million times as humble as thou art" (Weird Al's Amish Paradise).

nedbrek said...

The purpose of the Flood was not to start over with a clean slate. Noah gets off the ark in Genesis 9:1. By verse 21, he has fallen down naked and drunk.

The Flood is a powerful foreshadowing of the judgment to come (destruction of the world by fire). That is why many of the "God is love" crowd deny the Flood. They have forgotten God's wrath (effectively denying that He is just).

From Biblical principles (2 Samuel 12:23), God would likely not condemn little children.

GCT said...

If you "trust in Jesus," that is having faith, the very same thing that you said must come from god.

As per the flood, god having wrath does not make him just. In fact, it seems just the opposite, since the reason he is angry with us is due to his own doing.

And, as to god not condemning little children, do you think that all the people that died in the flood were fully grown, mature adults? Of course god condemns little children, the flood is proof. It's proof that god is a monster.

nedbrek said...

God creates evil only in the same way that He creates darkness. By creating light, any place without light is dark.

Doesn't your conscience demand that murderers, rapists, and world dictators come to justice? Some 50% of murders are never solved in the US alone. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot all died pleased with themselves. Doesn't that anger you at all?

GCT said...

What is your point about creating evil? It does nothing to counter the fact that god made us the way we are or that god is a monster for killing newborns in the flood (as well as everyone else, but at least you can't claim that newborns "deserved it.")

Does my conscience demand that murderers, rapists, etc. face justice? Of course. The question, however, is what constitutes justice? Do Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. deserve infinite torture? No.

nedbrek said...

"Do Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. deserve infinite torture? No."

From your point of view, that makes sense. I mean, what did they do to you? Messed up the world some, that's about it.

But God is the one offended.

He is infinite, and their offense is infinite to Him. And their ability to repay it is not.

"the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD."
(Leviticus 10:1-2).

That is not a story about the arbitrary cruelty of God. It is a story about the perfection of God, how He is totally set apart from us, and we must respect Him properly.

GCT said...

How can finite beings cause infinite distress to a god? In fact, how can we cause offense to a god at all, even for a moment? The plot thickens if god is omni-max, because he certainly knew all that would transpire before he created the universe. Therefore, this is all according to his plan. It seems rather silly for god to plan to be infinitely offended. Perhaps he's really offended at being an accomplice in all those acts of barbarism that men have committed and he's simply taking out his infinite guilt on us? That's justice for you, right? That god has to assuage his own guilt by the torture of others. Let's not forget that torture is also a rather gruesome punishment. Face it, your god has no standing for inflicting torture and even less for infinite punishment. Your god is a monster.

Your quote about Aaron's sons pretty well sums it up I think. They did something that god didn't ask, so their punishment was death. For lighting a fire and burning incense, their punishment was death. And, this doesn't seem harsh to you? If god were truly perfect, do you think he'd have to rule with such an iron fist? Do you think he would have to be a tyrant, more vicious, more ruthless, and more cruel than Saddam Hussein or any other human tyrant that has ever been? How can you worship an entity that commands your obedience and wields the threat of torture over you if you do not obey? Have you ever heard of battered wife syndrome? You might want to look that up.

nedbrek said...

You sound angry. Are you angry with God for creating a good world, which we proceeded to kick Him out of? The world does not operate correctly without God.

Everything that is wrong in the world, punishment, threats of Hellfire - they are all signs to us that we are not right with God.

That God will come again with fire to judge the world.

It's not a question of ruling with an iron fist or demanding obedience with threats of torture.

God cannot be in the presence of sin, anymore than fire can burn under water. Sin (and sinners) are destroyed in His presence.

That is what is so amazing about the Gospel. That the perfect, infinite God of the universe would care about us enough to die for us (in Jesus). That He would put our sins on Jesus, and allow us into His presence.

GCT said...

"You sound angry."

That's purely your biases against me showing.

"Are you angry with God for creating a good world, which we proceeded to kick Him out of?"

How can I be angry at a being that does not exist?

"Everything that is wrong in the world, punishment, threats of Hellfire - they are all signs to us that we are not right with God."

Beaten wife, look it up.

"It's not a question of ruling with an iron fist or demanding obedience with threats of torture."

There is no other descriptor for it. god says, "Love/obey/worship me or be eternally tortured."

"God cannot be in the presence of sin, anymore than fire can burn under water."

I suggest you read Genesis to see how your own scriptures contradict you.

"That is what is so amazing about the Gospel. That the perfect, infinite God of the universe would care about us enough to die for us (in Jesus). That He would put our sins on Jesus, and allow us into His presence."

There is nothing special about that. He doesn't love us, else he wouldn't threaten us with hell. Could you possibly threaten someone you love with torture, let alone for an infinite duration?

Besides, let's look at the story of Jesus, shall we? god created a bunch of sinners that need to be saved, which puts the onus on him for our behavior from the start. He then sends himself down in the form of his own son (which would make some rednecks proud) in order to allow us to perform a human sacrifice on him so that he could allow himself to forgive us for the things that we do that are his fault. Of course, it's OK whatever you do, including mass murder, so long as you believe that he has forgiven us through the blood sacrifice of his self/son. (What does ritual sacrifice really do for us anyway? Why is god so obsessed with blood and death? Why is god not smart enough to realize that compelling obedience through threat of hell is neither moral nor effective?) Of course, if you don't believe, it is infinite torture for you for being the way that god made you. Are you really going to tell me that god is good, just, etc.? How is it possible that god can send anyone to hell? How is that justice? Why is god absolved from any responsibility for our sins, considering that he made us this way? Do you think it fair to condemn all of Adam and Eve's descendants for their sin?

nedbrek said...

Would you tell a civil judge, "God made me this way"? Would you expect to escape judgment?

GCT said...

No, because I don't believe in god.

The problem with your question though is that it's a completely different situation. Our very existence breaks god's law, because we are inherently sinful. You don't have to break a criminal or civil statute in order for god to find you guilty. So, in your court case, if I were guilty of violating the law, it would be because I had done something conta the established law of the land, not because I exist.

So, why can I say that it is god's fault that I am born conta to god's law? Well, it's god's law, god chooses to abhor us from the moment of our conception. Also, this state is the punishment that god thrust upon us due to the actions of Adam and Eve (BTW, god was also wrong and unjust in that situation). So, to match your court idea, it would be like the judge finding me guilty and sentencing me to prison for sitting in the defendant's chair after he instructed me to sit there and had the bailiff forcefully make me sit there.

If that is your idea of goodness and justice....well why don't you look up battered wife syndrome.

nedbrek said...

It's not your mere existence that God will judge you for.

Your conscience can tell you all the things you have done wrong.

Don't ignore it.

No argument will convince you of the reality of God and the coming judgment.

Only the cries of your conscience.

GCT said...

"It's not your mere existence that God will judge you for."

If I was born sinful, then yes, yes it is. According to your theology, I was born with sin, and therefore offensive to god and therefore guilty of some offense. From the moment I popped out, before I had taken my first breath, I was guilty of something according to your god. IOW, he had already judged me before I had a chance to do anything wrong. Instead of letting us start with a clean sheet, he has seen fit to condemn us from the get-go due to his unfairly placing the burdens of two people who lived long ago on all of the rest of us. He is an immoral monster.

As for my conscience, that has nothing to do with this, except insofar as my conscience tells me that your god is a monster if he truly exists. But, where is god's conscience? Why is god so ruthless and bloodthirsty? Why does his conscience not scream out at him whenever he sends someone to infinite torture in hell? I've got to tell you that my conscience would be screaming at me if I put one person through any amount of torture. So, why does god not even seem to care that countless people will be tortured eternally? Actually, stike that, god does care, and he seems to actively pursue it. Yes, he seems to want to send people to hell. In fact, I think that's an inescapable conclusion, since god is supposedly omni-max. Therefore, what god wants, happens. Therefore, god must want people to go to hell, else they would not. That more people go to hell than go to heaven gives you the measure of your "Lord of Hosts."

nedbrek said...

"Total depravity" shows that we do not need to learn to do wrong. Children figure out lying, cheating, and stealing all by themselves; despite our best efforts.

You are free to try to live a perfect life, let me know how that goes...

Hell demonstrates a number of things. It shows how perfect God is (the penalty for a crime is proportional to the one infringed upon), and how merciful He is to forgive us. It shows that He is just - that crimes which seem to go unpunished on earth are punished in the end. It gives hope to victims.

GCT said...

Hell is not justice. Eternal punishment for finite wrongs is not just. And, what about someone like Ghandi? Ghandi did not believe in Jesus, thus he would be in hell. Is that justice? Further it is not mercy to forgive us. Would you call it mercy if a tyrant put a gun to your head and told you he would kill you unless you knealt before him, then didn't because you obeyed him? Would that be mercy? Finally, hell shows how imperfect god is, if he does indeed wish that no one goes to hell. If he wishes for no one to go to hell, then the fact that people do go to hell means god is imperfect.

As for living a perfect life, I suppose it depends on your standards, right? If I am supposed to live perfect to what you think god wants, then no one is able to do that and it is an unrealistic standard, something that I would hope a god is smart enough to realize. If god is indeed holding us to that standard, then it shows that he is not just nor wise. It shows that he is unrealistic. Besides, it would help if he could live up to his own standard, which he obviously doesn't as evidenced by the cruelty of the Bible which is directly attributed to him. Thus, god is again not just, just hypocritical.