Re: The Genesis Factor

Vernon Jenkins (
Mon, 24 May 1999 01:11:04 +0100

Hi David,

Thanks for your detailed reply. Herewith, my response.

>1(a): Is it your contention then that in the absence of a theory of evolution
>our understanding in these areas [biology and paleontology] would be deficient
>in some way? Are you able to give instances of problems that might arise
>because of such ignorance?

DC> Yes, we would lack our current understanding of how God created
things. I have seen no adequate explanation for the many transitional
forms nor the patterns of biochemical similarity among organisms except
evolutionary ideas. (Either a more "natural" evolution or one in which
"intervenes" miraculously to change one kind into another could produce
observed pattern, although the magnitude of "interventions" is generally
limited by the available evidence. God is equally active and involved in
either case; the difference is whether He follows the pattern of natural
laws or not.)

VJ> But isn't your 'understanding of how God created living things' an
article of faith? I was looking for some advantage that we might agree
about; and. regarding 'patterns of biological similarity', are these
necessarily of evolutionary origin? Clearly, you TEs are harder to shoot
down than atheists, for it appears you are able to invoke a miracle at
any stage in the alleged evolutionary process!

>1(b): You appear to be suggesting that evolution has no metaphysical
>associations. But what are the facts? It has progressively undermined the word
>of God - specifically, in challenging the literal truth of the early chapters
>of Genesis - and has thereby provided a plank for biblical criticism, liberal
>theology, radical ecumenism and secular humanism. Can it be anything other
>than a competing religious faith?!

DC> No, there are all sorts of attempts at associating metaphysical
ideas with
evolution. I assert that biological evolution has no metaphysical
implications in and of itself. It can be used to provide insights within
metaphysical system, but the metaphysics themselves are derived from
elsewhere. For example, within a Biblical metaphysical system, the
evolutionary emphasis on passing on one's genes suggests that sexual sin
will be a strong temptation for fallen humans.

VJ> You assert that biological evolution has no metaphysical
implications. On the contrary, I believe it is essentially metaphysics
clothed in a veneer of scientific respectability. What gives the game
away is the paranoia generated among its proponents when the theory is
challenged. This became very apparent some weeks ago on the Calvin
Evolution reflector following publication of the Sunday Telegraph
article 'Scientists pick holes in Darwin moth theory' (14 March). Its
author, Robert Matthews has recently commented: "... I must say I find
the level of outrage at my own article rather hard to comprehend.
Certainly I do not see any evidence that (it) gets 'nearly everything
wrong'. Unless, that is, 'wrong' includes 'not toeing the party line'.
After more than a decade reporting on disputes in a wide variety of
sciences for everyone from Science magazine to women's weeklies, I've
noticed that scientists in the life sciences, especially gene-related
fields, seem to expect total unquestioning acceptance of 'the party
line'. As far as I can see, this stems from paranoia that anything else
plays straight into the hands of 'The Enemy' (ie. creationists). Coming
from a background in physics and mathematics, I must admit to being
bemused by this paranoia. There are still some people out there who
believe Einstein was wrong. But when articles appear (as they are doing)
saying that Einstein's theory is currently under challenge from new
astronomical evidence, physicists don't feel a need to shriek at
journalists for 'giving comfort' to those who've always claimed Einstein
was 'wrong'.

DC>Atheism, not evolution, has undermined the word of God. If "literal"
defined as "using the context to figure out what the author intended",
biological evolution is compatible with a literal reading of Genesis
"Literal" is also misused to refer to an extreme approach of ignoring
metaphors and other literary devices. Nobody with any sense believes
one ought to read all Scripture "literally" in this sense. For example,
obviously Judges 9:8-15 should be considered a parable and not a
description of political activity among trees. If you try to read Gen.
as a scientific description, you run into problems. Day (yom) is used
differently in chapter 1 and 2:4. If both passages are true, then at
one must be using the word metaphorically. Likewise, the structure of
Genesis 1 suggests that Moses was not talking about time at all. 1:2
presents the problem-the earth was formless and void. :3-5 gives form to
the heavens. :6-8 gives form to the sea and sky. :9-13 gives form to the
land. :14-19 fills the heavens. :20-23 fills the sea and sky. :24-31
fills the land. This complex parallelism to me suggests that the point
that God formed and created everything. Why should the Israelites have
cared how God made all those things? All they (and most other people)
really needed to know was that God is the creator of all things, and has
given humans a special role in that creation. They needed to know that
snakes are not suitable for them to eat, that some can be dangerous, and
that they are created by God, not independent of them. Apart from
biologists, who cares that snakes evolved from monitor lizards? I cannot
think of any practical application of this piece of information.

VJ> Speaking for the creationist community, I'm sure we're all aware of
the literary devices used by the Bible writers - and I suggest they are
quite easy to spot. But who was the real author of Genesis 1? Are these
just the opinions of Moses that we read about? Surely not! These are the
words of our Creator, and as such should be accepted as literally true.
And isn't it more likely that the literary device of parallelism would
support the fact rather than militate against it? Another interesting
parallel, of course, is that between Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 which
supports the view that a 'creation day' is nothing more than what we
understand by 'day'!

DC> Most of the use of "evolution" as a support for such bad ideas as
you list
is a gross distorsion of actual scientific thinking about evolution.
little uses a proper understanding of evolution uses a misunderstanding
Even if evolution were rightly used by these things, it would not make
it a
competing religious faith but rather something used by competing
faiths. Bad exegesis is involved in any approach to the Bible that leads
astray, but the exegesis itself is not a faith.

VJ> I disagree with your view that evolution is pure science. Wouldn't
you agree that it forces upon those prepared to yield to it a particular
exegesis of the scriptures? The whole essence of the Gospel can be lost
in such a situation.

DC> A young-earth appraoch to Genesis 1 can be found among conservative
Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Muslims. Can I therefore
that it leads to heresy?

VJ> I'm sure belief in a young-earth does not dictate the form of any of
these faiths, but rather is a logical outcome of a common understanding
of the sovereignty and character of God.

>2(a) Let me focus first on '...excuses for dismissing the Bible are always
>popular'. Why this should be so leads us to the crux of the matter under
>discussion. The Bible informs us that fallen man is an enemy of God ; that his
>heart is 'deceitful and desperately wicked' (Jer.17:9); that 'every
>inclination of his (man's) heart is evil from childhood' (Gn.8:21). As
>Christians, therefore, we should be alive to these things; and particularly
>since evidences of their truth lie within us and around us! Well has Jesus
>said, "...apart from me you can do nothing." (Jn.15:5). It is therefore
>reasonable to conclude that our only safe course as Christians is to accept
>unreservedly the teachings of the Lord and of the Apostles.

DC> Yes, but our understanding of their teaching is tainted as well
(else there
would be no disagreement among Christians, and heretics could not fool
anyone into believing that they adhere to the Scripture). Careful
is required, with consideration of the context and accountability to
who can tell me when I am on the wrong track. Taken out of context, it
possible to justify almost anything from Scripture. E.g., combining "he
went away and hanged himself" and "Go and do the same" is entirely
unwarranted by the text. If I did not care about the teaching of Genesis
1-2, I would not seek to find how it and the evidence from creation may
considered as compatible.

VJ> While there may be a number of 'problem areas' in our understanding
of the Lord and the apostles, I suggest that certain teachings are
extremely clear. For example, from the mouth of Jesus we have, "Haven't
you read, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,
and said..." (Mt.19:4). It is obvious from this saying of our Lord that
he read the Genesis narrative in a straightforward fashion. The
Pharisees retort that Moses permitted divorce (Jesus had quoted Genesis
to show that divorce is wrong). The Lord's answer is that Moses'
permission of divorce arose from the 'hardness of heart' of the Jews.
"But", he continues, "it was not this way from the beginning."(Mt.19:8).
That is, long before Moses came on the scene, the set-up was different.
This is a strong testimony to an historical reading of Genesis by Jesus
himself. He saw it as describing what actually happened at 'the
beginning of things' - and, of course, as Creator, he should know!

>2(b) You claim that 'biological evolution has the appeal of a successful
>theory'. But where is the conclusive evidence that evolution was the process
>used by God to achieve his purposes? Where are these transitional forms? And
>are such mythical creatures likely to be functionally viable anyway in a
>'survival of the fittest' scenario? The data available to us is surely capable
>of a different interpretation - one that is more in keeping with the literal
>requirements of Genesis 1. For obvious reasons, atheists won't accept there
>is an alternative. But why must TEs?

DC> The evidence is all over the place. Denial of the existence of
transitional forms is either ignorance, misunderstanding, semantic
trickery, lying, or some combination of the above. In your case,
misunderstanding is evidently a part. Transitional forms are not
dysfuntional forms like a mermaid. Rather, they are real functional
creatures with multiple abilities, like an amphibian. Actually, they do
often have trouble in survival of the fit enough (less catchy but more
accurate). Their descendants often outcompete them, so that they die
For example, Archaeopteryx was able to fly, but did not have many of the
specializations of more advanced birds. Once more advanced birds
those still at Archaeopteryx's level would not have been able to compete
and died out. However, when there were no birds, even a crude
approximation of flying ability could have opened up new opportunities
the transitional forms.

VJ> I see some evidence of impatience creeping in here! A simple
application of logic informs me that to proceed from fish to amphibian
requires a major structural refit. By what possible stretch of the
imagination can a fin on the way to becoming a leg confer an advantage
to a creature perfectly adapted to life in an aquatic environment? It
amazes me that evolutionists are able to cross their fingers and say,
'it must have happened, otherwise we wouldn't be here!'.

DC> Examples of transitional forms include whales and snakes with legs,
with toes, oysters with mother-of-pearl, birds with teeth, mammal-like
reptiles with a double jaw joint, monoplacophorans with a doubled shell
(transitional to bivalves), and many more.

VJ> Yes, but you see that for a creationist like myself the whole gamut
of evolutionary claims is tainted. Piltdown Man, Ernst Haeckel and his
forgeries, Kettlewell and his peppered moths, etc. leave marks which I
find difficult to eradicate. And it doesn't help matters that, in
respect of evolution, you TEs are in league with evangelistic atheists!
I'm afraid that - like Thomas of old - I doubt such claims. But, in any
event, might not what you describe have been created kinds?

DC> As stated above, the evidence is compatible with a truly literal
interpretation of Genesis 1. It is not compatible with a young-earth
interpretation. To hold a young-earth interpretation requires either a
denial that the evidence from creation is accurate or a belief that
we will discover an alternate interpretation of the evidence from
I have seen no young-earth interpretations that adequately deal with the
evidence. For that matter, I have not seen any that demonstrate a
knowledge of the evidence. If someone does not have his facts straight,
am not likely to trust his interpretation.

VJ> What worries me is that you appear always to allow evolution to
'call the tune' . What of the biblical evidence? For exampe, what of the
stated fact that the creation was completed - as a perfect work - in six
days (Gn.1:31, 2:1)? This hardly supports the evolutionist's view that
it is an on-going process.

>Matters of eternal significance to the human soul are so frequently obscured
>in this life by a desire to achieve conformity with what are essentially
>atheistic claims. Isn't it safer for us to accept the plain language of
>scripture regarding the universality of Noah's flood, for example, than to
>risk the fate referred to by Peter in his second letter (2Pet.3:16). My belief
>is that the practice of distorting the scriptures to accomodate the
>requirements of evolution - as occurs so readily these days among Christians -
>is a recipe for disaster!

DC> Yes. It is a recipie for disaster to distort the plain language of
scripture to accomodate anything, including the requirements of
creationism or flood geology. Also, not all of Scripture is plain
(Mt. 13:13, 2 Pet. 3:16) The plain language describing the Flood, as
evidenced by the use of the words elsewhere in Scripture, indicates that
there is no requirement for the Flood to be global. Scripture can be
distorted by addition or subtraction, neither of which is advisable (cf.
Rev. 22:18-19). The evidence from creation indicates that God initiated
creation a long time ago and has extensively used "natural" rather than
"miraculous" ways of creation, so it is necessary to examine both our
understanding of creation and of Scripture to see how they are to be
reconciled. Both are from the same Author, so they agree, but our
understanding of both has problems.

VJ> I find it hard to believe that a Christian can read, (a) the
powerful testimony of Gn.6-8, (b) Mt.24:37-39, and (c) 2Pe.2:5, and yet
be convinced that the flood was merely local. However, such is the
evolutionary imperative!. The implications of such a conclusion are, (i)
that evolving man was essentially confined to a relatively small area in
the region of Mesopotamia, and (ii) requiring Noah to spend 100 years
constructing an ark was something of a sick joke on the Lord's part;
clearly, walking to safety was the obvious option! While we acknowledge
God's ways to be beyond human understanding, this does stretch one's
understanding to the limit, wouldn't you agree?!

DC> By insisting on God's constant use of miracles and neglecting his
role in
"natural" events, many young-earth and intelligent design arguments are
conforming to atheistic claims rather than the Bible. Many atheists try
claim "Science has explained this; therefore, God is not required." The
Biblical answer to this claim is "Science tells us how God did (or does)
this. It does not eliminate the need for God any more than a physics
equation eliminates the need for the forces and particles it describes."
Confining God's activity to the miraculous is not Biblical.

VJ> I'm not sure of the point you're making here. My reading of
Col.1:16,17 informs me that the Lord is constantly active in maintaining
the integrity of his creation.

>3(a) On this occasion I wasn't really looking for an argument on the meaning
>of 'day' in this context but rather to point to an interesting inversion in
>the generally-accepted evolutionary sequence. This matter alone, I suggest,
>presents the TE with a real problem. Believing God to be sovereign in respect
>of an evolutionary creation, how - logically - is he able to question a
>statement (that could only have come from God!) regarding the order in which
>the created forms appeared? Clearly, it just doesn't make sense - but it is
>typical of the muddled thinking that is taking place these days.

DC> As discussed above, I do not believe God intends Genesis 1 to be a
statement of the order in which the created forms appeared, although as
as living things go, bacteria and algae appeared before aquatic animals,
which appeared before land animals. The point (not too clearly made) of
raising the question of the meaning of day was to question whether the
intent of Genesis 1 was chronology.

VJ> On what do you base your claim that the order described in Gn.1 may
be lightly ignored? Is there a more valid reason beside that of
satisfying the demands of the god Evolution?

>In conclusion, I observe that you have omitted to refer to my 4th observation
>- the one concerning the numerical patterns underlying Genesis 1:1. It is my
>belief that until these are recognised, and incorporated into the global
>database, all discussions of the kind in which we are now engaged can achieve
>very little in furthering the cause of truth.

DC> I have not read enough of the claims about such patterns to be able
to form
a definite conclusion. I am skeptical on theological grounds, because
miracles are principally for the purpose of authenicating new
They are definitely not for the purpose of striking awe into skeptics
4:7, etc.). "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them" (Lk.
16:29b), so I do not see the need for such patterns.

VJ> Mindful of our Lord's words as they are recorded in Jn.10:37,38, I
believe miracles have a persuasive purpose. The standing miracle of
Gn.1:1 deserves to be examined and assessed by all who have an interest
in discovering the truth about origins.

DC> I am also concerned about the rigor of the analyses. How much
did they allow in reconstructing the original wording and division of
text? Although they are theologically unimportant, there are several
points at which the exact wording of the original text is uncertain.
Likewise, if you are able to choose how to divide the text, you can
eventually find divisions that will generate any numerical scheme you
For example, a weird modern short story we read in high school English
some seemingly random numbers in it, but our teacher showed us a scheme
assigning numbers to letters that could tie character's names into the
numbers. I found I could use his name to generate the numbers as well,
this did not make me believe that the author intended to put my
name into the story, nor that the author was specially inspired. Again,
someone who was trying to make a particular person into the Antichrist
devised the following "rules" for making 666 fit: try Hebrew, Greek, and
Latin alphabets; don't forget the possibility of incorporating titles;
the ancients were not strict about spelling. Using these rules, any name
can be made to generate 666. I doubt that the claims of mathematical
patterns in the words of Scripture are based on as bad a foundation as
these examples, but I do not know if the foundation is good enough to be
statistically rigorous.

VJ> I suggest the rigor of the analysis in question is at least an order
of magnitude greater than many of those associated with the support of
evolution as a credible doctrine. There can be little doubt that the 7
Hebrew words of Gn.1:1 - representing the powerful assertion, 'In the
beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' - is a self-contained
literary unit. It is principally this strategically-placed verse that
defines a confluence of significant, coordinated, and
symbolically-apposite numerical geometries. Further, links with the
Creator's name (Jesus Christ) are substantial.

It is interesting that you refer to 666. In my paper, '666 - and All
That!' (which can be viewed at the first of the URLs given below) it is
revealed that Rv.13:18 and related verses together specify the Gn.1:1
geometries! Remarkably, the famous riddle involving 666 is essential
reading for all Christians, for consider:

(i) the general caution of Rev.22:19 concerning the Book of Revelation:
"...if any man shall take away from (=ignore!) the words of the book of
this prophecy...";

(ii) the imperative of the riddle itself: "Let him that hath
understanding..." (Christian recipients of 'the five talents' have
little excuse in failing to respond to this call! );

(iii) in view of the words of Rev.15:2, and assuming that we would be
numbered with the saints, how can we begin to understand what 'victory
over 666' entails - let alone set out to achieve it - unless we give
these matters serious consideration?

(iv) the incentives we are offered in undertaking this exercise are
substantial, viz divine blessing (Rev.1:3), and wisdom (Rev.13:18)!

May I therefore suggest, David, that you check these things for
yourself. Little is required in the way of formal statistical analysis;
the facts just hit you in the eye!

DC> If the foundation is good, what then? Believers already accept the
authority of Scripture. Unbelievers already ignore the miracles
in the Bible. Many of those who witnessed the miracles failed to
I do not understand the relevance of the numerical patterns to the
understanding of what God intends for us to learn from Genesis 1.

VJ> The phenomena speak clearly of the Being and the Sovereignty of God.
At a stroke they demolish all atheistic pretensions. Underlying the
prologue to the creation narrative, they raise powerful questions about
the wisdom of regarding this as anything other than literal truth.

Sincerely, in the interests of truth,


Vernon Jenkins MSc
[musician, mining engineer, and formerly Senior Lecturer in Maths and
the Polytechnic of Wales (now the University of Glamorgan)]