Re: The Genesis Factor

David Campbell (
Mon, 24 May 1999 17:31:28 -0400

>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!

My confidence that God created them is based on faith. How he did it is
shown primarily by the physical evidence from creation itself; it is of
little importance for most practical and theological issues.

Although any degree of invocation of miracles is possible within the range
of views from young-earth (YEC) through progressive creationist (PC) to
theistic evolution (TE) (roughly decreasing levels of miracles along this
sequence), my personal view is that the theological and physical evidence
points to minimal use of miracles within the process of creating living

As a paleontologist, the advantages that come to mind first are with regard
to understanding those. However, there are practical advantages. In
medicine (and agriculture), an understanding of evolutionary patterns in
pests such as bacteria and viruses better enables us to stop them.
Likewise, understanding evolutionary connections helps choose what would be
good animals to test a possible new drug on or likely organisms to look for
useful genes in. (E.g., wild relatives of agriculturally important
organisms may be able to tolerate conditions that kill domestic varieties.
Transferring the responsible gene into the domestic form could produce a
more robust form. Transferring a gene from a more distantly related
organism may not work as well).

Another area of practical advantage is in looking for fossil fuels. The
evolutionary sequence of microscopic organisms is often the best way to
tell how old a sample is, which can be very helpful in identifying how much
farther you need to drill an oil well (or whether there are underground
structures that would be good places to drill into).

>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'.

Again, a distinction must be drawn between metaphysical ideas purportedly
based on biological evolution and evolution itself. Certainly there are
plenty of people who defend "the party line" on evolution because they
believe it supports their worldview. However, this is because of their bad
metaphysics. Likewise, I have seen antievolutionary propaganda referred to
as creationist when the context made it clear that it was not YEC at all.
(It turned out to be Hare Krishnas trying to claim that humans have been
around for hundreds of millions of years, using evidence that the even the
ICR admits is dubious, such as the Glen Rose footprints.) Again, a couple
of ICR [Institute for Creation Research]-based folks had a poster at the
Geological Society of America meeting a few years back. Although it said
nothing about the age of the earth or evolution, there was some "but we
know what they are really up to" muttering.

Before people started noticing the evidence for an old earth and biological
evolution, atheists and heretics came up with other excuses for their

The particular example you cite is complex. It is based on a book review.
The author of the book thought that the book review exaggerated the
discrepancy between the textbook version of the peppered moth story and
what the evidence actually warrants, but the reviewer defended his
interpretation. The title of the article as you cite it is certainly
exaggerated; as a rule, newspaper accounts are not very accurate. No
matter what is ultimately concluded about the moths, there is NO
disagreement that they evolved from predominantly light to predominantly
dark and back again (YEC sources admit this, although some object to the
word "evolve"). The debate is whether there is adequate evidence to
conclude that predators caused this shift by seeing and eating more of the
light-colored moths when the tree trunks were darkened by pollution and
then by finding and eating more dark-colored moths when the trunks became
lighter. In my opinion, the reviewer did not give adequate evidence to
support his claims but raised concerns that need addressed.

>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'!

The whole Bible consists of the words of our Creator and is true, but He
uses plenty of figures of speech and a lot of flexibility in the use of
words (especially given the nature of Hebrew). Not all of the figures are
easy to spot. Some of the names for people or lands, especially in
prophetic literature, have been modified in ways not apparent to anyone
unfamiliar with the original language and customs (unless he is provided
with explanations, which is the case for me). For example, it is likely
that Jezebel was not the real name of Mrs. Ahab but rather an insulting
pun. Many figures are apparent only from our scientific knowledge. Rev.
7:1 mentions the corners of the earth, as does figurative language today.
Although the fact that the earth was round was known to some ancient
Greeks, I do not know how widespread this knowledge was in popular culture.
Given the symbolic nature of much of Revelation, it is unreasonable to
expect such a statement to necessarily be a description of the physical
nature of the earth. Subsequent observations have abundantly confirmed
that the earth is round. Therefore, I conclude that John used a figure of
speech, perhaps reflecting the appearance of the vision.

Exodus 20:11 is the strongest support for 24 hour interpretation of Genesis
1-2:3 days, but Genesis 2:4, Lev. 25:8, and Ps. 90:4 (also by Moses)
support greater flexibility in the use of the term. Likewise, many
interpreters prior to the advent of modern geology advocated a non-24 hour
interpretation, based on their reading of the text itself. The evidence
from creation itself is unambigously for a great age for the earth, and the
text seems flexible.

>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.

Not particularly; it affects the exegesis of the word "yom" in Gen. 1-2 and
slightly touches on a few other passages (e.g., the Ethiopian cannot change
his skin nor the leopard his spots, which would be Lamarkian evolution, but
God is able to cause them to change). No important doctrinal point is
affected. Unsound metaphysics often claims to be evolutionary or to use
evolution as evidence for their views, but heresy often claims to be
Biblical as well.

>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.

Yes, but old-earth atheism is another logical outcome of the same
misunderstanding. God is sovereign over everything, whether He uses a
miracle or achieves it through "natural" means. Evidence for an old earth
tells us how God created, and claims that it is evidence against His
involvement (which are widespread among atheists and young-earth advocates
alike) are unbiblical. The suspicion of the outside that is typical of
religious conservatism also contributes. (Not that such suspicion is
necessarily a bad thing. Much in the world is indeed bad; but if the
suspicion interferes with caring for our neighbor, or leads to rejection of
things simply because they are different or challenging, then it is

>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!

Yes. God made humans male and female, at the beginning of humanity. The
available evidence indicates that He created their physical bodies by
evolution. "For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the
same. As one dies so does the other; indeed, they all have the same breath
and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity" (Eccles.
3:19) would support a strong physical similarity. However, being created
in the image of God sets us apart. As the image of God is not physical nor
natural, this endowment had to be supernatural. Exactly how it was done is
not specified, nor is it amenable to scientific experiment.

>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!'.

Yes, you are suffering for the sins of others. As a paleontologist I am
especially dismayed when someone uses false claims about paleontology as
purported supports for Christianity, and claims about transitional forms
are an area where the antievolutionary claims tend to be especially bad.

Something else could have happend for us to be here. God, being
omnipotent, could have created us a few thousand years ago entirely from
scratch. The feet and the support for the legs (enabling the body to put
its weight on the legs) are the only major changes needed to go from a fish
to an amphibian-lungs were already useful for the fish if they lived in
sometimes stagnant water, and are present in some modern fish (not to
mention absent in some amphibians). I do not know just what use the first
amphibians put their legs to, as they were apparently still fully aquatic.
Climbing through underwater clutter? What is evident, as mentioned below,
is that there are fossil fish very similar to amphibians, even going so far
as to have fins and toes, and there are fossil amphibians very similar to
fish, still with gills and an adult lateral line. Biochemically, there are
also similarities. I do not see why God would bother to make all these
kinds of organisms, forming an apparent progression, unless He was using
evolutionary methods to create.

>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 [transitional forms] have been created

For me, the whole gamut of young-earth claims is tainted. My first real
encounter with the issue was when I went to a "debate" between a prominent
YEC and a local professor, not knowing what to expect. I was dismayed to
see the YEC claim to be presenting a Christian viewpoint and then display
an almost total lack of accuracy. Moon dust claims, Glen Rose footprints,
claims about the presence of short-period comets, a list of scientists who
purportedly were "Bible-believing creationists" that includes heretics and
people who believed that the earth was a lot older than 10,000 years, etc.
Also, Piltdown and Haeckel's forgeries were both designed to support
specific evolutionary ideas that are no longer accepted-they would be
evidence against evolution as curently understood, if true. It does not
help matters for me that, metaphysically, many antievolutionists are in
league with evangelistic atheists (or deists) by accepting the premise that
scientific explanations eliminate God. If an atheist tells you "Don't eat
that-it is poison!" there is no reason to doubt him. He probably believes
that getting poisoned is the end of all existence, and so may be more
worried than he ought to be if he were a Christian and knew that God looks
out for him and that he has eternal life (though he is probably less
worried than he ought to be given that he will end up in hell if poisoned
now). However, to determine if something is poison, he must rely on the
physical evidence. Trying to defy God's physical or spritual laws will
cause trouble, but the latter may not necessarily be immediately apparent
whereas the former is immediately apparent. Thus, agreement with
non-Christians about physical things is likely, whereas at least some
metaphysical disagreements are inevitable.

They are created kinds, in the sense that God made them. These could be
separately created kinds, for He is omnipotent. However, why would God
separately create fish that look similar to amphibians then amphibians that
look like fish then amphibians that look less like fish when He could have
separately created the more advanced amphibian? If, however, He was using
evolution to create the amphibians, the sequence makes sense.

Also, miracles are used very rarely by God, and for the specific purpose of
authenticating new prophets. Even miracles use natural means to a large
extent. The Biblical account, history, and our own observations show that
miracles are not usual in God's daily running of creation. There is no
particular need for Him to do miracles in the process of creation instead
of designing the physical rules of the universe so as to enamble Him to
create things "naturally." Also, the more that occurs naturally, the
better we will be able to understand it, which we need to do in order to be
good stewards (according to the command of Gen. 1:26).

>VJ> What worries me is that you appear always to allow evolution to
>'call the tune' . What of the biblical evidence? For example, 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.

If the Bible is not explicit on a particular point, I think the physical
evidence can provide insight. I do not think it is explicit as to the age
of the earth. We can see evolution to be ongoing; YECs admit this
("microevolution" is a currently popular term). Perfection need not be
static- Jesus declared "it is finished" when church history was about to
start. There is also a completion of categories at the end of Gen. 1. The
heavens, sea and sky, and land have been created and filled, and humans
appointed to rule the earth, so things are indeed complete even though
ongoing in detail.

>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?!

I think a regional, rather than local, flood is a better match for the
accounts. I have the same problems as you with the flood only being a
small region in Mesopotamia (although if only certain people are considered
relevant, analogous to God's later selection of the Israelites,
harmonization is possible.) Flooding of the Mediterranean (if humans in
the image of God can be put that early) or the Persian Gulf (if humans in
the image of God can be confined to there at some point) seems more
compatible with the text than simply a big flood in Mespotamia.

>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.

Yes, that is the point. For example, "we are either the product of
mindless chemical processes or of God" is a false dichotomy. God uses
mindless chemical processes all the time. Clearly, many such were involved
in creating each of us out of the nutrients supplied to us by our mother's
wombs and by their cooking. The actual question is whether we are the
product of mindless chemical processes operating by blind Chance or whether
God is working through (and occasionally above) the processes.

>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?

The literary structure suggests that chronology is probably not the main
point, and the evidence from creation (which should be reliable if it is
created by God) likewise suggests that the order is not a strict
nonoverlapping chronological sequence. However, it would be possible for
things to have evolved in the exact sequence listed. Evolution itself does
not require a non-sequential interpretation, just the physical evidence.

>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.

They have an attestative purpose. Only the work of the Spirit is effective
in persuasion. Jesus' temptation especially suggests that using miracles
to amaze folks into following Him was not the right way.

>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.

I was not sure whether you were referring to claims that the entire text of
the Pentateuch consists of such patterns (in which case, there would be a
lot more flexibility to arrange words and generate the desired pattern).
The presence of such patterns in specific verses is more plausible in that
it is plain for all who look (not just those who use a good computer) and
thus more useful to the average believer.

>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 like the title-it's a Good Thing :)

>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.

I believe Gen. 1-Rev. 22 to be true. What I do not believe is that they
assert a young earth.

David C.