When atheists and Baptists agree

I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old.

I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old.

This position routinely puts me at odds with two groups of people–atheists and Baptists.

In fact, over the past few months I’ve been criticized by both Ken Ham (the Baptist behind the Creation Museum) and Hemant Mehta (the atheist behind the Friendly Atheist blog) for urging the evangelical community to adopt a more nuanced approach to the evolution/creation debate. Both wanted me to give something up — Ham, my belief in evolution; Mehta, my belief in God.

That’s because when it comes to science, atheists and Baptists have remarkably similar worldviews: both have arrived at the conclusion that accepting the science behind evolutionary theory will inevitably render Christianity extinct. As a result, one group has essentially made a religion out of naturalism, while the other has avoided serious consideration of the scientific data.

While not all Baptists are young earth creationists, one of their most esteemed leaders recently took a strong stand on the issue. Responding to criticisms that he misrepresented Charles Darwin in a June 19 speech at the Ligonier Ministries conference, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared on his blog that “the theory of evolution is incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ even as it is in direct conflict with any faithful reading of the Scriptures.”

Mohler’s words were all too familiar to me. Growing up in the apologetics-driven evangelical subculture of the 80s and 90s, I spent most of my life convinced that that the theory of evolution had been concocted by godless scientists intent on undermining the authority of Scripture. We were locked in a battle with these “enemies of the faith,” I learned. Only one side could win, and if it wasn’t ours, the Christian faith would be lost.

This idea was reinforced at my Christian college, where one of the science professors liked to tell the story of how, as a sophomore in high school, he had dreams of becoming a scientist but could not reconcile the theory of evolution with the creation account found in Genesis. So one night, he took a pair of scissors and a newly-purchased Bible and began cutting out every verse he believed would have to be removed to believe in evolution. By the time he was finished, he said he couldn’t even lift the Bible without it falling apart. That was when he decided, “Either Scripture was true and evolution was wrong, or evolution was true and I must toss out the Bible.”

That story had such a profound effect on me that when I left the evangelical bubble and began studying evolution on my own, I nearly lost my faith. From the fossil record and DNA sequences, to ice rings and biodiversity, I found the evidence in support of evolutionary theory compelling and reasonable…which according to both the atheists and the Baptists meant I could no longer follow Jesus.

What leaders like Mohler fail to realize is that they are setting young Christians up for failure. They are inadvertently orchestrating the very exodus that they fear. In presenting faith and science as a choice, the Baptists have essentially conceded that the atheists are right after all, and as a result they are losing some of the brightest young minds in Christendom to a false dichotomy.

Mohler would be wise to consider the words of St. Augustine, who (centuries before anyone had heard of common descent) said this of his interpretation of Genesis: “In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.”

By the grace of God, I found this quote before my faith completely fell apart. However, many of my peers did not. They believed the Baptists and the atheists and made the choice that their intellectual integrity demanded. They left the faith.

If Mohler wants to see a new generation of evangelicals survive to carry on the tradition, he’s got to stop presenting evolution as incompatible with Christianity. He’s got to make room in his theology for both an old earth and a loving God.

He’s got to stop agreeing with the atheists.

Rachel Held Evans
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  • WmarkW

    The question Christians need to address is: Did God write the Bible?Mohler comes from a tradition based on believing the answer to that is an unqualified “yes.” Augustine comes from the older Catholic tradition that holds that the church owns and interprets scripture for its believers. An atheist (and many Christians) hold that the bible is a human document by people trying to understand God, not by God himself.Once you stop believing God wrote Genesis, the whole idea of Young Earth Creationism collapses because there’s no real answer to “then how did the authors gather their information?”Of course, there’s no real answer to how the Gospel authors recounted the virgin conception or empty tomb story, either.

  • Carstonio

    Evans’ description of atheists doesn’t apply to all of them but to a subset that subscribes to absolutism, which is something they have in common with Christian fundamentalists. And many Baptists aren’t absolutists, either. My stance is somewhat different from the mindset that Evans describes. I agree that natural selection doesn’t automatically render Christian theology invalid. The real issue is that creationism rejects the principle of knowledge by claiming to rely on authority. The scientific approach involves analyzing evidence and developing hypotheses that explain the evidence. That’s the approach to use with questions of fact, and “do gods exist” is simply a question of fact that has only one correct answer. But we have no evidence that we can test to either uphold or refute the claim – the answer is unknowable. Holding a belief about such questions, in either direction, amounts to deciding questions of fact based on one’s feelings about the possible answers. This applies also to the atheist belief that gods don’t exist.

  • gladerunner

    “I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old. This position routinely puts me at odds with two groups of people–atheists and Baptists.”

  • Sajanas

    Certainly the fundamentalists are silly to dismiss evolution because it would hurt their faith, but I think one needs to consider that science has a much broader impact on religion beyond just the first few parts of Genesis. To simply shrug it off and say, oh sure, you can have both Jesus and evolution, is a little simplistic. Religions usually promise us explanations for the world, and their authority to inform on our lives is compromised when suddenly we live in a natural world, developing from chaotic processes that are unrelated to our righteousness or sinfulness. Much of the early bible is not supported by archaeology, and certainly science has never found a saint that could heal people that didn’t have a certain chance to survive regardless. You read enough science, and suddenly you start to question, what would be more likely, a Jesus that died and returned after living a life of miracles, or that it is a myth, like the hundreds of religions that people follow, claiming miracles in the past, but never in the now, when they could be observed and tested.

  • SandraDutton

    Dear Rachel, I think you would love my new book, “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth,” published in June by Houghton Mifflin. Mary Mae, my 10-year-old protagonist, loves Jesus but also loves digging up trilobites and has learned at school that the universe is 15 billion years old. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and said, “Dutton sensitively navigates the sticky debate between creationism and evolution. It’s an honest protrayal that respects both viewpoints, as well as those that slot somewhere in between.” Please take a look at my book trailer,

  • jimwalters1

    WmarkW wrote:How about the very straight forward “Because someone who was there told them about it”? Seriously, how could that one NOT occur to you? Do you think all histories are written by eyewitnesses? (Whether you accept the Gospels as accurate histories or not is a completely different question.)

  • lumberman3256184

    Dear Mrs.Evans,

  • WmarkW

    JimWalters1 wrote:How about the very straight forward “Because someone who was there told them about it”?Someone SAW Jesus’ conception in Mary womb?

  • lumberman3256184

    Mrs Evans,The predictions of the old testament to the subject are the basic elements.There was just to many predictions about christ.

  • hzcummi

    Dear Ms. Evans,Stop fooling yourself. You can’t accept evolution and the Word of God. A double-minded person is unstable. A servant can’t serve two masters.Yes, you must accept the literal truth of scripture, as Ken Ham and all young Earth groups pretend to do. But you must also accept the reality that our Earth and universe are billions (4.6?) years old, and the fossil record is a record of escalating death, not evolution.How do you reconcile the two? By listening to the voice that the Clergy and academic world have been trying to silence for seventeen years. Come see the “Observations of Moses”.[email protected]

  • Secular

    Ms. Rachel Held Evans, it is really one or the other. Science has been chipping away at the core of religion for as long as we can go back into history. Evolution just happens to be the one of the last nails in the religion’s coffin. Could you at all believe in Joshua story of holding the Sun still after Newton, Kepler and Copernicus? After the scientific chronology of when Sun, Earth, and moon were created, could you continue to believe the Genesis story? Likewise the Evolution had not only demolished several other myths, but also had amassed certain amount of critical mass to knock of the last legs of the religious table. It is not the question of Mr. Moehler having to give in a little to keep from losing all the future generation of baptist scientists. Whether he makes room for old earth or not in his theology he will not have many generations of evangelical scientists. It is indeed true that evolution is in total contradiction to all religion. Mr.Moehler is right he cannot accommodate evolution into his theology because that would be an admission that his theology had been wrong along. Which is indeed true, it has been wrong all along. the best that could be said of any religion is that they were the first attempts at making sense of nature. Just tad bit better than Alchemists’ attempt at chemistry. these are sad facts you theists need to come to terms with. It is indeed a shame that you have found refuge in that masochist Augustine’s pronouncements. I feel sorry for you that you were not able to complete your journey from the delusional evangelical Christianity all the way to the world of reality, the world of reason.

  • Carstonio

    It is indeed true that evolution is in total contradiction to all religion.How does it contradict religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism? I’ve read that most religions and their adherents read creation stories allegorically and not literally, and this is apparently true for even most Christians and most Jews.In the main thread I proposed the idea of creating a “religion” that includes no claims about the universe at all, including claims about gods or miracles. Instead, it would focus entirely on how humans should treat one another and how individual humans can create meanings for their lives.

  • Sajanas

    @Carstonio Even reading creation stories as metaphors hurts one’s religious outlook, and you forget that very real theological practices are based off of those creation stories. How important is Original Sin to Catholics? Now, take in mind that Adam and Eve did not exist… there was just a gradient of animals between us and shrews, and drawing a line for ‘the first human’ is meaningless. Have Catholics revised the concept of Original Sin so that it makes sense with the way things actually are? Nope. You are just expected to double thing through it.

  • Carstonio

    Sajanas, I’ve long criticized the doctrine of original sin as horribly anti-human, since it falsely claims that humans have no altrustic tendencies along with the selfish ones. Elaine Pagels suggests that the doctrine has persisted because people crave explanations for suffering, preferring to blame themselves for it rather than consider the possibility that suffering has no purpose. My understanding is that in Catholicism, whether or not Adam and Eve actually ate the forbidden fruit is less important than what the story purports to claim about human tendencies. But I defer to any Catholics here on that matter.If the Bible didn’t happen the way it did, why is it more important than say, Shakespeare, or the Iliad? Excellent question. I continue to be amazed by the divergence of opinion among believers, some of who claim to adhere to hyper-literalist readings and others who claim that reading the book as literal history is flat-out wrong.

  • Carstonio

    Apologies for the grammatical errors in my post – those should have been “altruistic” and “some of whom.”

  • jmatturr

    The problem here is that it sets up a false opposition between belief in god and evolution. Evolution does block a particular argument for the existence of god based on the need for an intelligent designer and conflicts with certain particular beliefs about god and the universe held by some believers. So there is no conflict between believing in evolution and believing in god.The real problem with religious belief is that none of the other arguments for the existence of a god are very strong either. There may not be any conclusive arguments against the existence of a god of some kind either, but in the absence of evidence in either direction belief in god becomes like a belief that an invisible rabbit is standing next to me: can’t prove that it is not true but gives me no reason to believe that it is, even if I find the notion of invisible rabbits somehow consoling.Of course some theologians would say that lack of proof of the existence of god is a good thing because it allows for faith. Ok, but then why did god allow rational creatures to evolve yet decide to condemn, on some accounts, those who use that reason to hell for doing so.

  • WmarkW

    How important is Original Sin to Catholics? Now, take in mind that Adam and Eve did not exist… there was just a gradient of animals between us and shrews, and drawing a line for ‘the first human’ is meaningless. Have Catholics revised the concept of Original Sin so that it makes sense with the way things actually are? Nope. You are just expected to double thing through it.I’m as atheist as they come, but I actually think Original Sin is one of the better religious metaphorical beliefs. It means we’re not perfect, because unlike lower animals we know right from wrong and sometimes do wrong. Forgiveness through Jesus means (metaphorically) that we also have a better nature available, and need to act unselfishly sometimes, through charity and forgiveness, because we’re not perfect, either.

  • Carstonio

    It means we’re not perfect, because unlike lower animals we know right from wrong and sometimes do wrong.While I agree, that’s not the doctrine I’ve encountered. Everything I’ve read about the doctrine claims that humans will always do wrong without the outside intervention of Jesus, that humans are thoroughly rotten instead of simply imperfect.

  • Carstonio

    There may not be any conclusive arguments against the existence of a god of some kind either, but in the absence of evidence in either direction belief in god becomes like a belief that an invisible rabbit is standing next to meI’ll add that arguments cannot prove or disprove the existence or non-existence of anything. That’s like treating, say, the likely cause of a building’s collapse as a philosophical question.

  • PSolus

    Rachel,”I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old.”I don’t believe the former; in fact, I believe nothing.I do, however, understand that the latter is probably the best estimate for the age of the earth that we currently have, based on our understanding of the evidence that we currently have, and that it is subject to change as we acquire more evidence, and as our scientific knowledge increases.

  • PSolus

    WmarkW,”…unlike lower animals we know right from wrong and sometimes do wrong.”You may choose to believe that “lower” animals do not know right from wrong, but you do not know that.In fact, your entire comment appears to be based on your and others’ beliefs, and nothing else.

  • areyousaying

    Like Catholics believe in looking the other way while their Church hides know pedophiles from civil prosecution, Baptists believe in looking the other way while their inbred cousin Fred Phelps smears the funerals of our fallen troops.

  • Carstonio

    You may choose to believe that “lower” animals do not know right from wrong, but you do not know that.Thanks for the clarification. Research with species such as dogs and chimps suggests that some animals may possess rudimentary senses of morality or altruism.

  • Freestinker

    “I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old.”===========Rachel,You “believe” Christianity but you “accept” the science of evolutionary biology.It may seem like splitting hairs but the language is important. Maybe it’s just a relic of your indoctrination but please be careful to clearly distinguish religious belief from acceptance of scientific facts. Using the religiously loaded term “believe” with respect to scientific facts confuses the two.

  • mbeck1

    I think you are conflating several ideas here (Religious belief in Jesus Christ, Evolution, and Atheism).Baptist fundamentalism, or any Christian fundamentalism that predicates faith in Christ on scriptural inerrancy cannot help but conclude that acceptance of evolution (including the evidence) is equivalent with atheism or a lack in belief in Jesus Christ. Of course, there are a whole lot of other parts of the bible that are problematic for Christian fundamentalists, but let’s stay on topic for now.Evolutionary biology, on the other hand, makes no requirements on religious belief, either for or against. However, there is a very lively debate among evolutionary biology about why religion and belief in the supernatural exists. Almost all consider the underlying cause to be rooted in biology, but whether it is adaptive or not is in dispute. None of this debate asks “Does god exist?” But many having the debate consider adding god to the mix unnecessarily complex (violating the principle parsimony). Regardless, most in the evolutionary community consider the existence of god outside their purview. In other words, a belief in god , or lack thereof, has no bearing on whether evolution is a fact, which it is.Finally, there is atheism, which Rachel apparently has a problem with. Many evolutionary biologists are atheists or agnostics, but it is not a requirement, and therefore, some are believers. Not all atheists accept evolution, but the majority probably do. However, most atheists do not use a belief (based on evidence) in evolution for their reason to reject a belief in god. There are many more fundamental reasons to be a non-believer, which I won’t get into here.According to Rachel, atheists want her to give up her belief in god. I’m not sure where she gets this idea; perhaps as a holdover from her fire-and-brimstone childhood. I’m sure not from most atheists, even the most ardent kind. Atheists are generally not proselytizers. Not even the Four Horsemen of Atheism (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens) want to convert believers into non-believers. We don’t care what people believe, we just don’t want religious belief thrust into our public life and our government. Most of us would happily fade into the woodwork if believers and those who do their bidding would stop equating atheism with immorality and Satanism. By the way, atheists don’t believe in Satan either. We know that people are more than capable of doing terrible things to each other without a supernatural force of evil. In fact, many believers have done despicable things in the name of that loving god. People are also capable of tender mercies and highly moral behavior without a belief in a loving god. That a belief in a loving god inspires some people to act more compassionately is all for the good. Therefore, I would no more tell a believer not to believe in god than I would tell a lover not to believe in true love because love is nothing more than biochemistry.

  • Secular

    Carstonio you wrote, ” ‘It is indeed true that evolution is in total contradiction to all religion.’How does it contradict religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism?”Hindu mythology is full of talking animals, multi-headed, several limbed people or one species giving birth to fully diverged organism of another species not just immaculate conception. Monkey and Whale giving rise to fully grown adult human. The list goes on ad nauseum. In addition it has its won creation myth all of the creation coming from a “Purusha” the Male Being. In fact caste system is interwoven into the creation myth. With Buddhism, it is worse. As popularly considered in the west it as close to secularism as it gets. The fact of the matter is very little of Hinduism is rejected. The only thing Buddha ever said was not to be to concerned about God, you do the right thing, It has its own additional fables called Jatakas and so on. You should visit Ajanta & Ellora Caves if you happen to be in India, where all the Jatakas are painted.Now coming to your statement “I’ve read that most religions and their adherents read creation stories allegorically and not literally, and this is apparently true for even most Christians and most Jews.”That is only off late, when it was well established that those are indeed myths. The revisionists took over and said it was all meant to be allegorical. That was not what you heard say three hundred years ago. Back then Day was a day. No prevarication that a day was poetic license for a period or nay of that stuff back then. the ignoramuses who wrote all that nonsense either knew they were peddling manure and figured they would not be caught – they were right they were not caught in their life times. Or just plain speculating. My bet is on the former.

  • rw62827

    what amazes me is the thousands of yrs of all the conflicting religions believing in one(1) god/entity and because of worship differences they all hate each other…Boy..am I glad I called the Mothership..to get off this F’n ROCK…may the force be with you..

  • amm72

    “According to Rachel, atheists want her to give up her belief in god. I’m not sure where she gets this idea; perhaps as a holdover from her fire-and-brimstone childhood. I’m sure not from most atheists, even the most ardent kind. Atheists are generally not proselytizers. Not even the Four Horsemen of Atheism (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens) want to convert believers into non-believers.”Yeah, this strikes me too. I mean, Rachel’s a believer, and she wants community. And it seems clear from this post that losing her faith would have been traumatic for her. So I can forgive some degree of foreboding in the way she says “agreeing with the atheists,” as though us being right is horrid.But at the same time… there are a lot of conversations about having faith and losing faith that presuppose that faith is something everyone would like to have, and something that it’s somehow sad or even despair-inducing to live without.And that really confuses me. I know many people for whom faith is deeply life-structuring, but for me, it’s something I don’t happen to have, like I don’t happen to have blue eyes or blond hair. When I first realized I didn’t think the religious people around me were making sense, it wasn’t some slow steady sinister creep of cracks in my reality, it was “Oh. I’m not sure there’s a God! No wonder I’ve always been kind of bored and confused in church. Now I don’t have to worry that I’m just being selfish or rude when I say I feel uncomfortable in here.”I did get mad, for a time, at religious people – I felt I’d seen through rituals that were a waste of time, and I felt angry in the way a kid is who just learned there’s no Santa and wonders why the adults need to make up a jolly fat dude to give Christmas presents.But I never felt that my “loss of faith” was some sad casualty. I felt like things finally *made sense to me.*And I got angry, not at people for having faith, but at people who acted like faith is something people need to be okay, to be comfortable, to be whole. Major depressive episodes in my life were blamed on “not finding God,” so, lost and confused, I scrambled to see whether trying on this “faith” thing would help.I never found it, and then, overlaid over my distress, was shame and the sense I must be incomplete. It wasn’t because I needed God – I was still pretty sure He didn’t exist, even as I knelt and sang and prayed to be convinced otherwise by some zowie-wowie-blam experience I couldn’t explain. It was because I needed *people,* and those *people* saw my lack of faith as a crippling deformity.

  • Carstonio

    Hindu mythology is full of talking animals, multi-headed, several limbed people or one species giving birth to fully diverged organism of another species not just immaculate conception.That reminds me of both Greek and Norse mythology. It’s easy for modern humans to assume that those old civilizations actually believed that the stories about creations and origins were literally true. That amounts to patting ourselves on the back and telling ourselves how advanced we are. We have more knowledge than they had, but that doesn’t mean they were any less intelligent. (One can argue that the impulse behind Arizona’s show-us-your-papers law in a time of economic distress is the same one behind hurling of virgins into erupting volcanoes and witch-burnings in times of plagues – irrationality driven by fear.) It may be likely that the stories were not only read as teaching or message stories but were intended as such. I’m not arguing that these people regarded their gods as made-up. The stories may have been regarded as being in the gray area between literal history and made-up allegory. In any case, the primary value of the stories for these civilizations seems to have been in the messages, not in the literal accounts. That’s what Joseph Campbell was arguing with his famous analogy about eating the menu. And this wouldn’t necessarily have started with Darwin. the idea of the creation stories as not being literally true was apparently common enough in ancient Greece that some scientists were already discussing evolutionary theory. (What Darwin brought to the table was the cause of evolution, natural selection.)

  • Carstonio

    I mean that the volcanoes were perceived as threatening to erupt.

  • Carstonio

    When we start walking down the allegory road. Then it can mean anything the reader wants it to mean. I hear the same from Farnaz, although not in such polite terms. It is beyond me to read anything other than literally, because then what standard will we use to determine which allegory is correct.First, a teaching story doesn’t have to be wholly allegorical. The Job story is more of a message story than an allegory. Second, the cultures that created those stories had universal meanings for them. Since we as readers aren’t part of those cultures, we read whatever we want into them. That doesn’t mean that our own meanings are wrong, just that these aren’t the same ones that the cultures originally had.Third, are you suggesting that you read allegorical fiction literally? Lastly, your argument about standards sounds very much like that of the fundamentalist Christians – they insist that without a lawmaking god, humans would always do whatever pleases them with zero regard for others, that altruism wouldn’t exist. A large part of reading any allegorical or message story is in finding one’s own meaning. I read “Lord of the Flies” as symbolizing the tension between human civilization and animal fear, and other people may read it differently. Some authors say they intend certain meanings in their stories, while acknowledging that readers bring their own interpretations. Even with the Eden story, the modern Christian interpretation was likely not the one of the original authors – my own reading is as an allegory for the development of human sentience and civilization, although it puts a very negative spin on those things.

  • Eireinei

    I think the biggest problem with Ms. Evans’ article is that she fails to recognize how truly foundational God’s creation of the world is to Christianity.It is not a just a simple matter of taking the Christian view of creation and substituting it with something else to explain how we all got here. The Biblical account of creation is not just written about in Genesis 1, but is further elaborated on in John 1. Genesis 1 states that “In the beginning God created…” John 1 states the eternal preexistence of God and Jesus and that all things were made through the Word (i.e. Jesus). It’s a very nice thought to believe that somehow Christianity and evolutionary theory can be reconciled, but it is impossible to rationalize such a view with Scripture. The Bible is clear as to how God created and ultimately a person has to make a choice as to which view they are going to hold to: the view put forth in Scripture or the views put forth in any number of theories.Ms. Evans needs to recognize what many Christians and even those of the atheistic bent recognize, evolution is incompatible with Christian belief. However, I believe that when research and experiments are done without an inherent bias towards evolutionary theory that the evidence does indeed come out favoring Scripture in that there truly is a Creator.

  • Secular

    Carstonio, thank you very much for your post. You asked me if “Third, are you suggesting that you read allegorical fiction literally?” let me answer this first, of course not. But then it is clearly called fiction and I read it for entertainment not for guidance. Any guidance I get out of fiction is simply a bonus. There isn’t much at risk, when misinterpreted – I do not act on my interpretation right or wrong.You also asked, “First, a teaching story doesn’t have to be wholly allegorical. The Job story is more of a message story than an allegory.” Before I get into the Job story, the main problem with scripture is presented as universal guidance to the right living, in addition to the its “truthiness” – to borrow from Colbert. Lets set aside the truth… aspect of the scripture. As a guidance when extracted allegorically is subject to the reader’s interpretation or is a function of the reader. No need to elaborate that it is hardly universal and begs the question do we really need them, when the guidance is depends on the reader. Next I have several problems with the Job story, but the main ones are:Moving on to the next issue you raise, “Second, the cultures that created those stories had universal meanings for them. Since we as readers aren’t part of those cultures, we read whatever we want into them. That doesn’t mean that our own meanings are wrong, just that these aren’t the same ones that the cultures originally had.” The response to this quite simple in my mind since we are not part of that culture do they really have any relevance to us. It is better we read essays and commentaries by the wise and the noble of our age. Rather than reading the tomes that we know from get go are outdated.Lastly you said, “Lastly, your argument about standards sounds very much like that of the fundamentalist Christians – they insist that without a lawmaking god, humans would always do whatever pleases them with zero regard for others, that altruism wouldn’t exist.” On the contrary I am arguing that as we cannot have standards to measure against these tomes are unnecessary. Our sense of morality is indeed evolving (what Dawkins calls the Zeitgeist). I am all for the consensual relative morals or evolving morals. We do that anyways, case in point abolition of slavery, polygyny, etc, etc. The progress towards them was retarded by the undue veneration of these texts.

  • Secular

    Continued from Below:A fiend of mine said once all he cares about the bible both OT & NT is just 28 pages. I asked him “If You could pick 28 pages from that entire tome, do you really need to have read that entire tome in the first place?” I went on to tell him that rightness and wrongness was already within him and he did not really need that book. That book had provided him nothing tangible, as he already had it in him good or bad and he was sticking with it when he chose those 28 pages. I would actually go further to say, Homophobia or antisemitism would never had started if we did not use them for guidance. Left alone why would we want to hate Gays and lesbians, when they do no harm to us? We would be indifferent. I do not hate someone who wear yellow sweaters, even though its not my cup of tea. Similarly I do not find a compelling reason to hate Jews, either. Being obsequious to a skydaddy is not my gig, as long as the other person’s obsequiousness does not get in my way of cooking meat in milk. I look forward to your thoughts.

  • Secular

    Carstonio, I just saw a movie on Encore L channel called “Brick Lane” I would like to share with you and the rest, i guess. I found more morality which was far more clear than in the books. This is a story of a pious Bangla Deshi teen girl gets married to an older widower. For all practical purposes she was to take care of his two daughters and provide for his carnal pleasures, when he needs it. The girl is miserable due to neglect and situation. She starts sewing by the piece to add to the family resources when the husband loses his job. She meets a young well adjusted Bengla Deshi expat kid. Things take course and she falls in love and has an affair with the boy and they plan to get married. Then 9/11 happens her paramour starts getting radicalized, while her husband starts growing and also she gains his respect. Finally the husband confronts the radicals in a meeting about their bombast. Finally, finds herself and chooses to stay with her husband and raise their children. Not only that when her husband decides to go back she stays back for the children and herself claiming London was her home now.This movies embodied several moral lessons. In my view the young pious more moral fortitude while violating every precepts of the holy books. The books themselves were of no help in providing any guidance to her. It is her innate sense of moral direction that helps her to find her way through the morass she was in, due to fault of her own.

  • coltakashi93

    Rachel: I believe your position on reconciling “evolution” with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is essentially the same one taken by the scientists who are associated with the Discovery Institute and encourage the recognition that much of science actually supports the conclusion that intelligent design had a role in much of the development of both the universe and of living things on earth. Michael Behe, author of “Darwin’s Black Box” and “the Edge of Evolution”, argues that the good evidence we have for Natural Selection is primarily for very limited mutations that can easily happen repeatedly, and usually involve turning OFF a process, such as those that make bacteria susceptible to certain antibiotics. He notes that there is not solid evidence that Random Mutation combined with Natural Selection (competitive survival) is really creative enough to bring about the degree of diversity we observe in nature, and the ingeniousness of many of the mechanisms. He argues that biologists tend to make a circular argument, by pointing to complex mechanisms in living things and saying, “See, evolution did that, so that proves that evolution is creative.” Very few scientists (in my readinhg over the last 10 years) have actually taken on the challenge to map out a true Darwinian developmental path, in which minor mutations that were ALSO significant enough to effect rates of survival could accumulate into many of the specific complex mechanisms he has pointed to as “irreducibly complex”. The fact is, when a scientist asserts that evolution COULD HAVE created a specific biological mechanism, but is unable to set down a specific description of HOW evolution produced that mechanism, he or she is making an expression of FAITH, not of scientific knowledge. One of the major developments of recent years has been Evolutionary Development–”EvoDevo”. This is the fact that many of the variations in structures that appear to distinguish one species from another are controlled by a set of developmental genes that govern fetal growth and the differentiation of stem cells into functional cells. The genes that dictate the structure and function of eyes and other organs are to a large extent shared by both people and arthropods! While this makes the biological processes more wonderful, because of their ingenuity, it raises a question for evolution: It shows that development of many of the features of species did not take place gradually, over long periods of time, but rather that the genome of life is preloaded with many potential variations of body plans, many of which are never used. This means that some process created this “Swiss Army Knife” kind of diversity at the fundamental levels of the Tree of Life. Yet what evolutionary mechanism explains that tremendous level of forward-looking creativity in the earliest stages of life on earth? What random mutations and natural selection created such a shape-shifting ability?

  • coltakashi93

    As a general comment, let me say that I agree with you. I think Dr. Mohler and others who say that evolution is an all-or-nothing proposition, that none of it can be accepted as compatible with Jesus Christ, are forcing many people into that either-or dichotomy you highlight. On the other hand, it see many scientists who are strongly Christian who believe they are only rejecting man-made doctrines, namely the inflexible interpretations of Genesis that dominate Young Earth Creationism. It is not the Bible itself that rejects any role for some kind of evolution, but an inflexible, man-made interpretation.In reading the New Testament, there is nothing there that indicates that Young Earth Creationism was a requirement for people to become Christians during the First Century. There is absolutely no mention of such a demand. It is an innovation, a new requirement that some men have set up as a hurdle to acceptance of the Gospel, a new Pharisaic requirement that goes beyond what God himself asks of us, to impose barriers to prevent us from claiming salvation. I can imagine Christ at the Second Coming being confronted by Young Earth Creationists and asked what he believes about how long it took for the earth to be created. If he fails to give their preferred answer, they will reject Christ, just as they now stand in the way of other people accepting Christ. What the Bible says about the role of God in Creation is simply that–that God created the world, and this lordship over creation was demonstrated in Christ’s miracles. There is no reason to believe that God had to create the earth in 6 days, since God is eternal and had all the time in the world. Likewise, we look forward to an eternity with Christ, so why should there have to be such an abrupt, recent beginning to God’s work of creation of earth and mankind? The Young Earth Creationists are elevating their own ideas into a doctrine on a par with the Gospel and demanding fealty to it, just as Cardinal Bellarmine demanded Galileo give fealty to a man-made idea, the astronomy of a pagan, Ptolemy of Alexandria. You could have easily been more emphatic in pointing out that Augustine specifically disclaimed the idea of a literal 6-day creation. Besides, Genesis 1 says nothing about the creation of Heaven and Hell, of the planets (Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were well known even to the ancients), let alone of the asteroid belt and the Kuyper Belt and the Oort Cloud and of other stars and planets around them. It mentions only a few species of animals and plants. It is not comprehensive in any way, and yet Young Earth Creationists insist that it is the standard of truth and limits the scope of creation in both space and time! What utter blasphemy, to limit God so. While it is wrong to deny what scripture says, it is also wrong to impose one’s own ideas on the ideas of God. Moses could have written much more about creation if he had been tasked to write 200 pages about it.