Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Neanderthal-Mammoth Study Latest Hint that Evidence for Neanderthals Interbreeding with Humans is Overstated

I confess to being somewhat of a contrarian when I think the conventional wisdom is being unwise. On the issue of the similarity between Neanderthals and humanity the conventional "wisdom" has become downright silly. And intense. There seems to be an avalanche of what I consider propaganda- because it is so poorly supported by evidence- that Neanderthals were "so much like us". This is combined with an unrelenting effort to spread the definition of "human" to include other hominids like Neanderthals. This campaign is propped up by numerous claims about their abilities which torture the evidence to support such a conclusion.

I also think the evidence for human (Homo Sapiens) - Neanderthal admixture is very much over-stated. I don't say it never happened but I think it rarely happened and when it did failed to produce successful lines of descent. Look, lions and tigers are very different kinds of big cats. Even moreso leopards and lions. Yet they have been known to produce offspring and the females of such unions are often fertile. Yet nature tends to punish such admixture as if she was trying to fix a mistake. The fertility rate is far lower and the genetic disease rate much higher than when they mate true to type.

One of the points made in the link in the previous paragraph is that there are other explanations besides interbreeding for why humans who lived in places where Neanderthals lived have similar gene mutations to Neanderthals. Now comes this article based from this study

The article points out that both Mammoths and Neanderthals were supposed to be cold-weather-adapted versions of their kind. The article indicates that when scientists looked for mutations in genes which would make the creature better adapted to cold weather that both species had similar mutations! Obviously this is not because they were breeding with each other. It is because they shared the same environment and this produced genetic convergence. Why isn't it considered that convergence also produced the similarity in Neanderthals and humans who moved into Eurasia (and thus shared the same environment with them)? There is no sign of interbreeding in mtDNA from mothers or Y-DNA from fathers. The similar mutations between humans and neanderthals are in nuclear DNA, but there are other ways besides interbreeding to get these similarities.

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Creation – Evolution Wars

 When they read the title “Creation-Evolution Wars” most readers will recognize at once just what I mean. At the same time, almost all Christians, creationist or not, accept that evolution on some level has occurred and is occurring. Even many young earth creationists think that the creatures on the ark rapidly diversified into a variety of forms after the flood. “Evolution” is not the opposite of Creationism. Naturalism, the idea that nature alone without any help from God can pull itself up by its own bootstraps, is the opposite of Creationism.
Naturalism is the belief or philosophy that nature is all that there is and all that there needs to be to explain what we see. Creationism is a subset of Theism as it applies to creation. It is the belief that the universe and everything in it is the product of a Creator who intervenes to work on His creation even after the initial creation event. Another position, Deism, is the belief God created the universe to wind up a certain way and did not intervene subsequent to the beginning.

I think naturalists have very cleverly shifted the argument from an indefensible position- the assertion that the natural universe is all that there is. The argument that the Cosmos and the richness of life on earth came to be without help from a creator is an extreme position that we almost certainly don’t have the means to really test, especially scientifically. To the extent we do I find it grossly implausible. But they have interposed “evolution” in front of their real position so thoroughly that most of us believe that the conflict is between creation and evolution. That’s mostly not true.

The conflict really ought to be called the “Creationism-Naturalism Wars” – ism vs. ism. One philosophy against another. Evolution is just the battleground in which much of the war is being fought. The Naturalists are adamantly insisting that natural forces alone can produce all the diversity of life we see and Creationists saying that Creation must have had help. It couldn’t do all this on its own. Naturalists cling to evolution not because it is the philosophical opposite of creationism, but because it’s the only answer they have to their actual opponent- Creationism.

As I will explain below, there is a great deal of overlap between creationism and some versions of evolution. Despite all the shouting, there are gray areas between creationism, “Intelligent Design” and Evolution. One could in fact be an “Evolutionary Creationist.” I don’t think that position matches the text of early Genesis well, but it is a philosophically possible position. Naturalists would oppose this position just as much as they oppose the idea that all species on earth were produced by God fashioning them out of clay. There are no gray areas between naturalism and creationism.
 In my book I make the case that Genesis chapter two is describing a very important smaller and more limited work of God within the much larger work of creation described in chapter one. That is, chapter two “zooms in” and describes in detail a special event which is necessarily only very briefly touched on in chapter one.
Chapter one is the story of the whole of creation from the beginning of time until the end of the age. Chapter two is telling the story of what happened in the Garden of Eden not too many thousands of years ago in a brief period. It is the story of a new work within creation which God intends to use to redeem and reconcile creation to Himself. Creation began as a place where the Word of God wasn’t. Therefore, it was originally subjected to futility. Creation was subjected to futility, but only in the hope that it could be raised out of futility through the illumination of God’s word which entered it and worked on it.
 That the account of Adam is a discrete event within the larger story of creation raises some interesting possibilities regarding the extent that what we might think of as “evolution” is responsible for life on earth. This is a very touchy subject for a lot of people on both sides of the issue, and I understand that what I have to say about the text in this chapter and those beyond it will probably make both sides unhappy at first. “Compromise” is seen as evil and anathema to both sides. I think compromise can be evil- when the truth is what is being compromised. I reject compromise at the expense of truth as much as anyone. But I also reject rigidity at the expense of truth. In this case, the truth is that the text of early Genesis takes a much more complicated and nuanced position than either of the extremes in this discussion advocate.
For example, the chapter two account is clearly describing a situation where both Adam and the animals of the garden are specially formed. This is very much like what we would consider the most direct form of “special creation”. But in the Christ-Centered model, this isn’t the whole creation. It’s a new work within a small portion of it. It is that mustard seed destined to grow and provide a home for many. It is a shadow of the remaking of the world which comes after some of us are born again through the sacrifice of Christ.
The text gives us much less detail as to how the original creation was fashioned. And what little information it does give could best be described as a synthesis of creation and evolution, as well as a spectrum of Divine intervention. This spectrum runs from a situation which sounds almost like deistic evolution for plants, to a middle ground in which the land and the waters obey God’s command to bring forth living creatures but only with God’s help, and from there all the way to humanity in which God may have used earth, but He did the work Himself.  
Earlier I talked about gray areas between evolution, creationism, and intelligent design. “Descent with modification” is a standard accepted definition of evolution. But it could also be a form of creationism or at least intelligent design, depending on how the "modifications" occur. For example, farmers breed animals for certain traits and get them through descent with modification. They select far more powerfully for desired traits than nature does. So that fits this definition of evolution, but surely it is intelligent design as well.
Let’s have a thought experiment: Suppose instead of farmers who went around selecting for traits, God Himself did so. If a certain group got a rare mutation that would produce a benefit if paired with another rare mutation which existed only in a second isolated group, then He would know it and be able to put those two populations together so that they would have the suite of mutations that, when combined with yet another rare mutation four generations from then, would result in a new function.
In this scenario the Intelligent Designer is using Divine knowledge to leverage natural processes to produce something new. I would say that is evolution (descent through modification), intelligent design (intent drives the changes not natural selection) and “soft-touch” creationism (He intervened in the natural world to produce outcomes even if He never touched the genomes directly, He merely guided natural events in a way that nature herself would not at anything like the same rate).
Now suppose that instead of taking the role of a selective breeder (with perfect knowledge) only, He also assumed the role of Genetic Engineer. That is, instead of strictly waiting for Nature to come up with mutations which could be combined to create new function, He did just what our genetic engineers do. He made cuts and inserts in genetic code. Maybe nature alone would never get a particular protein to fold just right by waiting for chance to make the proper mutation. Maybe the species would die out before the right changes happened along to allow them to become something else. So God inserted a gene which would, just as our scientists do now. When our scientists make mice which glow because jellyfish genes have been inserted in them, and this population breeds, is this “descent with modification”? It is, and thus meets a generally accepted definition of “evolution”, but the modification did not come wholly by "natural" descent. It is doubtless intelligent design and special creation, and by this definition “evolution” as well.
That said, such a situation could still involve natural descent, but that would not be where the key modification would come from. Take the gap between a fish and an amphibian. What if over the course of thirty or forty generations God acted to put just enough changes in each generation so that they would still be able to be birthed and bred by natural means, but each generation would also be further toward the amphibian end of things? This so that even though no amphibian was created out of thin air, or clay, one still had a very different creature though only forty generations removed from the fish. That result would be due to “genetic engineering” moving things a bit further along each generation. That is “descent with modification” but the modification that matters was via genetic engineering. Is that evolution, special creation and intelligent design all rolled up into one? So long as you are not a naturalist, it is all three rolled up into one. Naturalism can’t accept the idea that the changes came from anything but chance acting on the environment.

Now I have used the analogy of God acting as a “Genetic Engineer” but it is not necessary to assume that He required any lab coats or test tubes to pull this off. He can turn stones into children of Abraham (Luke 3:8)! Ultimately, we know that at the quantum level the universe does not behave mechanistically. Information coming from the realm beyond need not be blaring on AM radio waves. If one has sufficient knowledge and ability, they could send information into this world which would seem to us to be a “lucky break”. A molecule could bend this way instead of that, resulting in an improbably change which would otherwise take ages. Information could in principle seep into our world at a quantum level and we could not distinguish it from chance. At least not with our current state of technology.

There is biblical precedent for this line of thought in the 19th chapter of 1st Kings.
11Then the LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD. Behold, the LORD is about to pass by.” And a great and mighty wind tore into the mountains and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still, small voice. 13
And of course there is Proverbs 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." Even outcomes which seem like chance are really determined by Divine Action.

Science might be able to come along later and detect the past presence of the wind which shattered the rocks, the earthquake which shook the earth, and the fire which burned it, but science would have no way of gleaning the the information from the “still, small voice” by which God spoke. Science can only say it was an unlikely coincidence that high winds, an earthquake, and a fire struck the same locality contiguously, but there was doubtless a natural cause for all three.
 Is there really any scientific evidence that known evolutionary processes can operate at the rate and scale necessary to explain all of the "modification" of life on earth through its history? Another way to ask it would be like this, suppose there were a billion earth-like planets and a single celled organism was placed on each. How many of them, using only known biological processes without any intelligent intervention, would have a biotic phase which looks anything like the history of life on earth?  I think the number would be "zero". Someone else might think the answer would be in the thousands or even millions, but none of us have done the experiment or anything like it to say for sure. Therefore, neither side has a scientific basis for saying either way, though one might have naturalistic assumptions on the question. It is a pity that few people can even recognize there is a difference between the philosophy of naturalism and the process of evolution.
I don’t think “natural selection” or any of the natural means we have discovered thus far could have, on its own, produced the vast diversity we see today or in the fossil record. I think nature had help. And I think some of this arguing we are doing over it is because we are talking past one another on terms.
If we get better at figuring out how fast these processes can really work to produce great change and what if any limits there might be, I can see a situation in biology arising which is very similar to that which as already occurred in the realm of Astrophysics. Many years ago, scientists thought that the universe was eternal. Then they discovered that it is likely that it started with a “big bang” (it had a beginning). Then it was determined that the fundamental forces which determine the structure of this universe had to fall within very, very, very, very narrow parameters for the universe to be able to support life as we know it and perhaps even life as we can conceive it. If any of those parameters varied for a whole host of fundamental measures, then life could not exist. It was like the universe was designed to be able to host life. 
This was called the “Anthropic Principle” and it drove “naturalists” to distraction. How could they avoid the conclusion that the universe had a Designer when its fundamental forces had to be so precisely balanced for us to be here? It was like we were meant to be here. Chance failed as an explanation because we aren’t that lucky. It would be like winning a billion lotteries and for the last thousand of them you didn’t even buy a ticket! Ironically, some Christians are still opposed to the idea of a “big bang” because they don’t see how it is really an overwhelming problem for the naturalist viewpoint. The universe had a beginning, just like it says in the very first verse of The Book. 
The escape hatch for the naturalists has been the “multiverse” theory. This idea says that this universe is only one of an infinite or near-infinite number of universes which have all come about by chance. We were not lucky, rather if there is a vast number of universes then by chance one of them could turn out to be able to support life, and eventually, again by chance, evolve beings able to ask questions about where we come from. Does this sound scientific to you? It isn’t in the least. It shouldn’t even be called a “theory” because a theory is something which has been confirmed in some way by scientific experiment or observation. It really isn’t even a decent hypothesis, since a hypothesis is supposed to be able to be tested scientifically in some way and we can’t test for the existence of other universes. 
I call it what it is, a desperate escape hatch for those who want to deny the existence of a Creator. It’s an act of rebellious faith that there is no one to whom they are accountable. Assuming we have an infinite number of universes when our known set is “one” is surely a gross abuse of probability theory. Even if there are vast numbers of universes, it still is not proof that there is no God since He could have created them all and maybe all of them support intelligent life within them. 
Even so, I have seen atheists very aggressively and brazenly insist that theists are the ones “without evidence” for their position. I have seen them, in a powerful example of psychological projection, accuse theists of ignorance while they pose as the ones with “knowledge”. But I ask you, who in this case has the worst kind of ignorance in the cosmos- willful ignorance? It is the worst kind because the intelligence and reason of the offender is focused on maintaining ignorance rather than knowing truth. It is the worst kind because it can’t be cured with an application of knowledge. That’s because its not a knowledge problem, it’s a heart problem. Repentance, not more information, is the only cure for such belligerent willful ignorance. 
I mention all that about astrophysics because it is possible we are in a similar position with “evolutionary science” that we were with astrophysics some decades ago. With a small amount of knowledge it looks like chance could explain all of the changes we see, but as we learn more we may discover that like the cosmos itself, earth’s biota will appear to have gotten very, very, very, very “lucky” to ever wind up with creatures like us or many other of the living things in the vast array of life on this planet. We may find that the earth and chance can produce some variation in living things, but not anywhere near the scale and scope necessary to account for the richness of life on this planet. As with the universe, none of that will “prove” that God guided nature but I predict that if we ever get that far naturalists will have to resort to the types of evasions we see with astrophysics in order to deny the implications that nature would be screaming at us- without Him nothing that is would be.

PS- I also have a book. It is more theology than science and it's work to get through but if you want to do the work, the glorious truth about Early Genesis is there for the having...

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Why I Just Bought "Darwin Devolves"

I remember the beginnings of my online debates with Philosophical Naturalists (atheists) over evolution. This was perhaps fifteen years ago or more. They were adamant, with unshakably certainty, and heaps of scorn for those with any doubt, that evolution was entirely responsible for the full diversity of life on earth. There was no need for, and certainly, positively, absolutely without any doubt no evidence for, any input from a so-called "Creator".

Back in those days I would point out a particular amazing transformation which "evolution" was supposed to have done in an unguided manner. Then I would express doubt that "chance" could accomplish such an amazing feat. The result was invariably  derision and mockery and insistent assurances that not only was I daft, but I "don't understand how science works". At the time I was either at the end of my twelve-year stint as a public school science teacher or this was just after it concluded.

The basis for the fusillade of such accusations was that "it's not chance you nitwit, it's natural selection acting through chance." So then "chance" was not said to be powerful enough to produce these changes, but I was assured through many insulting remarks that natural selection was powerful enough. These pronouncements were always made with an air of absolute and unshakable confidence. Any hint of doubt as to whether natural selection could really achieve such feats was dismissed with instant and palatable contempt- followed by opinions that there must be something wrong with me personally in order to even make such a suggestion.

I didn't stop there though because I didn't see how natural selection, once one looked at the details of how it worked, was powerful enough either. This only provoked new rounds of laughter, derision, and an implacable opposition to even consideration of the idea that I might have a point, on anything whatsoever. This was all well-established science and my crack-pot ideas about letting a supernatural foot in the door were deserving of all the scorn which they could muster.

Fast forward to today. Michael Behe has come out with another book, "Darwin Devolves". In it, he claims to show that Darwinsim has been falsified because changes through natural selection can't build new structures. just evolve by "devolving" or losing information/functionality. Basically you can't get from a bacteria to a man by losing information. And then of course he repeats the argument which he is known for, Irreducible Complexity. Certainly not everything claimed to be "irreducible complex" really is, but he doesn't have to be right every time to win. If he's right one time out of five, that's still too much for the naturalist side to bear.

Oddly, Behe isn't that far removed from the naturalist view. He still thinks that all living things evolved from a common ancestor. He just thinks that the first life forms were Designed by the Creator with the capacity to evolve into all the rest of the living things in earth's history without any more specific guidance from outside of nature. Even this tiny proposed exception to naturalism has produced an uproar, and this before the book actually came out.

One of the charges against him is that he has ignored instances where his claims have been falsified. Once I read it I will be in better position to say if he is really evading contrary evidence or if this is simply a reflection of what I have said before: He doesn't have to be right in every instance in order to win the argument on irreducible complexity. He only has to be right sometimes. Nor does showing he was incorrect in one instance necessarily say anything important about another instance. To any philosophical naturalists who think this standard of measure is "unfair" I must point out that you are the ones making sweeping and absolutist claims about the nature of reality. This goes to the extent of making claims about reality based on science concerning questions that science is probably not even able to answer! If you think the burden of your task unfair, consider adopting a more intellectually-defensible position. Or at least bring a modicum of humility and reflection to your current one.

The other charge against him I found more salient, and more interesting. It comes from eminently qualified evolutionary scientists who are on the cutting edge. That is that Behe is beating on a "strawman" because classical Darwinism, and even neo-Darwinism, is not where evolutionary science is right now. I think "strawman" or I have also heard "tilting at windmills" is an unfair way to put it because the ideas Behe is challenging were at least fairly recently the mainstream view of evolutionary science. They are the same ideas I was castigated for not believing in those online dialogues I spoke of earlier. A "strawman" was never a real man and a wind mill was never a dragon. But Behe is fighting ideas that reflected evolutionary thought in the fairly recent past that do not appear to be the current state of evolutionary science. So the cliche that may fit to describe what Behe is doing would be "fighting the last war."

So it appears that "Darwinism" has been "falsified" by evolutionary science and science has now moved on to an idea called "Constructive Neutral Evolution." The gist of the new thinking is that natural selection is not the big dog driving evolution. It's a role player for minor changes and may have little to do with the kind of big evolutionary change people have been arguing about. Chance is the big player according to the new evolutionary thinking. If so, all of Behe's carefully constructed case that natural selection is too weak to be responsible is essentially too dated to be relevant to the present discussion on evolution. It is "the last war" not the current one.

The astute reader may notice that this revelation brings your humble writer full circle. When I began this journey, I was assured by the naturalists I was debating that I was a nit-wit and a gasbag who probably doesn't even know enough to participate in their lofty discussions, my voice disturbing the harmony of their echo-chambers. The reason for this is that I was so so wrong about chance being the major driver of evolution. It was natural selection which was so powerful that even unguided it could make the earth fruitful with every form of life. That I didn't accept that conclusion at once merely amplified how bigoted, childish. and narrow was my thinking.

Now it seems their whole case was built on a house of cards and I was exactly right about natural selection not being powerful enough to produce these changes and further that the power of chance is ultimately what their case rests on. Nevertheless, I am presently assured that chance can, after all, do what they were saying that natural selection was responsible for fifteen years ago. And the amazing thing is there was absolutely no change in tone or any hint of doubt whatsoever at any stage of the transition from one idea to the other. They displayed an attitude of meta-physical certainty that their views, even when conflicting the views held previously by their school of thought, were 100.0000000% correct with zero chance of their being anything but a zero chance that they were wrong at any point in time. And that from people who explicitly reject the concept of meta-physical certainty!

Look, despite their claims over the years that this is all about the evidence it has become crystal clear that it's not all about the evidence. It's not even about whether evolution is responsible for all life on this earth. This is about men and women who very very strongly do not want there to be a god who intervenes in His creation. It's about sin in the human heart, not evidence in the laboratory.  It is about folks who want to hide behind "science" to say there is no evidence for God - when by definition science looks for natural causes only and couldn't see God if God were standing right in front of it. It's an evasion. An excuse to avoid an accountability to one's Maker that they had rather not face. Ironically, the world's most likely candidate for God allowed us to escape all accountability for our sins by placing the accountability on His own Son Jesus Christ instead.

Michael Behe may have some good arguments to make in Darwin Devolves or he may have some bad ones. If he has good ones, they are liable to be dated. But I still bought the book, because I have become convinced that the arguments are the excuse, not the reason. If the neutral theory of evolution is shown to be inadequate then I have little doubt that these same people will go right back to chirping about "natural selection" so quickly that you will not be able to detect the moment they switched stories. Excuses to avoid God are like fashions. There is nothing new, it all goes round in circles. If Behe has missed this round,  I'll just save it for the next one.


PS- I also have a book. It is more theology than science and it's work to get through but if you want to do the work, the glorious truth about Early Genesis is there for the having...

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Problem of Natural Evil and the Christ-Centered Model for Early Genesis

We live in a world which, though it is also filled with much wonder, beauty, and love, contains a horrific amount of evil. Not just human evil, but also what might be called "natural" evil. Nature is full of cruelty and tragedy. An example of the former would be abortion. And example of the latter something such as children getting cancer. Animals prey upon one another. So do humans of course, but theologically speaking that may not fall under the category of "natural" evil.

Young Earth Creationism has an answer for the problem of natural evil: The universe was created in a state of deathless perfection, but Adam's sin unleashed natural evil in its various forms. This answer is unsatisfying for two major reasons. One of these is the idea that God had foreknowledge of the choice Adam would make and still made him that way. This objection can be overcome in certain Trinitarian calculus. The other main objection is that it is unjust to put everyone, man and beast. through so much natural evil due to the sins of one man. It wasn't just to mar a perfect world due to the actions of one man. That charge against the YEC model is more poignant.

Young Earth Creationism has a lot of other problems, even if they had satisfying answers for the problem of natural evil. So in a way it does not even matter if they did have such answers. We can disqualify their cosmology on other grounds. One of them is that it completely misrepresents what the text of Genesis says about the initial conditions of creation.

Genesis chapter one paints a picture of a world which is dark, empty, and chaotic. There is nothing good about it, until the first word from God enters creation. His word produces light, and the light is good. That is, that part of creation which is connected to His word is good. Genesis chapter one is not claiming a perfect initial creation. It's claiming an initial creation of darkness that is not good which the light of His word enters. It is an account of taking a place of darkness and chaos and by degrees filling it with life and order.

So the first wrong-headed idea to get out of our minds is that the earth was initially like heaven and as punishment for Adam's sin all that was changed. It's not what the text says. Rather, this world was created as a place where light and darkness would be mixed from the beginning. It was formed as a place where His word was absent. As a place where His will can be done, but not a place where it must be done. Were it not so Christ would not have instructed us to pray "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven."

So creation doesn't do God's will automatically. Just the opposite. Creation can't do God's will without God's help. It is a suitable (and that's the real meaning of the word translated "good" in Genesis chapter one) place for creatures like us, because we can't do God's will without God's help either. No more than a light bulb was designed to give off light disconnected to its power source. The question is, do we want that help?

In other words, the world is designed to be a place where free will is exercised. This world is the spinning coin where, for a time, the outcome known to God appears to us to be in doubt. It was a place without order. God, to some extent, imposed His will on it because that was necessary to bring forth and preserve life. But He left darkness mingled with light. There was room for Man to impose his own order on creation, whether in subjection to God's will or otherwise. Had the cosmos been fully aligned with God's will, then there would be no room for our own. Creation itself would have fought us at every turn. And it does fight us, but with chaos, not organized and systematic opposition to our ends. How frustrating it would be for sinful and unrepentant creatures to live in a world which forced us to walk in the light and left no room for our own devices. Thus, from the beginning He consigned this universe to futility- that is, chaos, the possibility of ways which are not submitted to His own will.

So if we want to know why God produced a universe so full of cruelty and tragedy we need only look in the mirror. We are the reason. It's the only kind of universe where free will can be exercised.  He meant for us to subdue and dominate the earth and shape the chaos into beauty. That was His commission to man in Genesis One. To produce a world where lions and lambs lay down together and eat grass.  He didn't impose a morally perfect word on us, but He set us up in a world which could be so shaped, and blessed us to that purpose.

The rest as they say, is history. Adam, His "privileged" stand-in for the race, choose to decide for himself what was good and what was evil. They decided to make themselves the judge of God's word rather than the beneficiary of it. Adam failed to realize that he was not properly in the middle between good and evil, between God and the Serpent, rationally evaluating which had the most plausible claim. Rather Adam was from the dust. He was a part of this natural world which has futility and chaos bound up in it. He wasn't in the middle of light and darkness. He too was in darkness and darkness in him until such time as the light of God's word drives it out.

So His plan was delayed, but not frustrated, by our exercise of free will. Who knows where mankind would be now if we had cooperated with God in re-making this world as He desired instead of questioning and disregarding His Word at every turn? Childhood cancer may have been wiped out 5,000 years ago. Abortion surely would have been. The Garden might have been enlarged so that it covered the good earth. Light increased, and the shadows of darkness driven into extinction in this realm.

One day, scriptures teach, this will be so anyway. Revelation says there will never be any night in the city of God. God's plan was not frustrated by our connection to this universe, the darkness in us. He has accomplished it and is accomplishing it in His own Person through the God-Man Jesus Christ.

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What they are Trying NOT to Save About Diversification of Amoebas

Are they trying to say that the genetic record shows they are older and more diverse than the fossil record? Not what one would expect if all life had a common ancestor, but in line with Creationist views that a Creator could produce a "zoo" of life with diversity right from the start.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Christ Centered Model Points to Highland Location for Flood of Noah

Before I talk about another possible scenario on the Flood of Noah, some background is in order about the Christ-centered model for early Genesis. It is a very different way to understand the same text. That a model which is Christ-centered is a "very different" view of early Genesis ought to be a red flag to Christians that the common view in error. The church got a lot right. They got Jesus Christ right. They got the gospel right. They got, miraculously, the Trinity right. But they have gotten early Genesis very wrong. They don't understand the text and where it points to those things they have gotten right: Christ, the Gospel, and the Trinity. Before it hardly mattered. Now it does. 

In the Christ-centered model, Adam is not the sole genetic father of humanity but rather a figure of Christ (Rom. 5:14) formed to bring the line of Messiah into the world. He need not be the first man, except in the sense that Christ is the second man- that is as a stand-in for the human race. He could have come long after humanity got its start. The flood is aimed only at the clan of Adam, which is not the same as the race Adam. Thus, the descendants of Adam are another example of the "chosen people" theme which finds its highest manifestation in the Household of Faith. 

As unlikely as that sounds to someone who has not studied the model and what it says about the text, this permits a much more local flood than even some regional flood advocates have envisioned. Rather than a global or even regional flood, it was a local flood with global consequences. That is to say that the flood would have ended the line of Messiah, thus consigning the entire world to ruin- except for the deliverance of Noah and his family. When God was talking about the flood bringing the world to ruin unless He acted, He was talking about the consequences of destroying the line of Messiah. The ark did not contain examples of all the animals in the world, but just the more limited set made for Adam in the chapter two account. And it means a flood which left survivors besides the clan of Noah.

Yes, that is too much to take in at a glance and I don't expect people who have not had the background to follow all of it. After all, all the videos I linked to above just scratch the surface of the contents of a 342 page book. And it gets worse. Most people with an opinion on it place the garden of Eden far to the south of the Tigris and Euphrates, but if we have the region where the ark landed right, it is likely that the southern location for Eden is wrong. A great deal of evidence points to an origin for civilization via domestication of plants and animals on the northern reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This fits well with the Christ-centered model's view of Adam and the Garden.

Mesopotamia has a lot of flood stories with common elements to the account in Genesis because that's where the clans of Noah journeyed to after the flood. It wasn't because Mesopotamia is where the flood had its greatest impact. Mesopotamia got a "glancing blow" from the flood of Noah because it was down-hill from the true flood target area. Even still, the effect was enormous, but still manifested as local floods along the Tigris and/or Euphrates rivers as they drained portions of the highlands. The whole of Mesopotamia was not covered. The flood deposits found by Sir Woolley at Uruk may be an example.

I don't know where the Garden of Eden was, or where the clan of Adam took up residence once they were expelled. But the most likely region based on the epicenter of plant and animal domestication events is somewhere in the southern band of this picture below....

The three large highland lakes shown there are Lake Van (left), Lake Sevan, and Lake Urmia (lower right). This is a very mountainous region. But if you will look closely (you may have to click on the image and open it in another tab) you will see a sort of "bowl". The high mountains have even higher mountains on all sides, except for a few narrow drainage points. I have outlined this region in yellow below. The picture is not as big so you may need to toggle between the two in order to see it.

Where could water be trapped in a highland local flood scenario?

Some may be thinking "but they would have seen the mountains on the horizon if they were trapped in such an area." That's one of the misconceptions about the ark I discuss in this video. The text indicates that they did not have an unobstructed view of the horizon. They may have only been able to see what was immediately around their ship.

Here is a short video showing a Bronze age site in this region and from there zooming the horizon where you can see the mountains and understand how the inhabitants would be in a "bowl" or at least a "pan". You can see how flood waters coming in would be restricted from going out and though it looks small on the map, even a tiny part of that area is huge in life.

People have been looking for the evidence of a global flood, and even a flood which covered the whole of Mesopotamia, for a long time. They have not found such evidence and its time to consider the possibility that this is because the evidence is not there. They have the wrong place. They need to look north, to a flood in a place that is surrounded by high mountains with very few and narrow river canyons through which such a flood could drain.

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

I withdraw my critique of Roohif

It looks like I made a bone-headed mistake in reading Roohif's paper. He wasn't measuring what I thought he was. This is a placeholder acknowledging the error in place of the critique.

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