Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Mar 17 2007 - 21:51:29 EDT

This has reached the point where it seems best to regroup points instead of
continuing to embed argumenst within arguments &c.

1) It is quite telling that you make no response to my criticism that your
theology, such as it is, marginalizes Christ. In fact that's a polite way
of putting the matter - it pretty much leaves Christ out. You focus almost
exclusively on the early chapters of Genesis & say nothing that a
concordist-minded Jew or Muslim couldn't agree with.

Connected with that is the way you blow off the creeds by saying that they
"say nothing or very little about creation." I think what you mean is that
they say "say nothing or very little about" how to read early Genesis. &
that itself is significant because it means that as far as the creeds are
concerned there's considerable scope for interpretation of those texts, as
we in fact find in the early church. In other words, they didn't consider
Gen.1-11 the canon within the canon as you - in company with Ken Ham - do.

But in reality the Nicene Creed says a lot about creation, with statements
about it in all 3 articles. (Creation is, after all, a trinitarian
doctrine, which is why your understanding of it is so inadequate.) You
might note in particular the statement about the Spirit as "the Lord, the
giver of life" and the ways in Pannenberg & Ernie Simmons have developed
from this some new & interesting ideas about pneumatology & its connection
with the science-theology dialogue, thus refuting your claim about
theologians not doing anything new about the doctrine of creation.

But of course I see now that when you say "theologians" you mean
"interpreters of Genesis 1-11. You have the most parochial notioneology
I've ever encountered.

2) If you paid attenion to things I've I written you'd know that I didn't
think God literally formed the 1st human from dust & breathed into its
nostrils. The reason I didn't answer your irrelevant question about that
was because it is indeed irrelevant to the point I was making & on which I
was trying to stay focussed: That the part of your attack on those who
disagree with you in which you said that people were arguing that early
Genesis is poetic and therefore cannot contain truth about the natural world
is nonsense. No one is saying that poetic implies (in the strict sense)
non-historicity, & whether they think that the texts are poetic and/or
non-historical doesn't affect that. At this point I despair of trying to
get you to understand that simple fact.

3) I pointed out that you have, with no warrant, assumed that (a) I'm
arguing for a recent origin of humanity and (b) that I think modern humanity
is descended from a single "historical Adam & Eve." Immediately below this
you reply "When you say all humanity can be traced to a single man ..."
which I have not done. This shows again your carelessness in reading.

In any case, your statements about my ignorance of genetics stem largely
from this misunderstanding. I recognize my limitations in that area & try
to be careful not to exceed them - in strong contrast to your willingness to
expose your ignorance of theology.

4) A brief interview with Wells at seems, if anything, an even
stronger statement about the recent origin of modern humans than the program
note I cited. Note, e.g., the following: "First, it shows us our most
recent common ancestor (Adam). This man lived in Africa around 60,000 years
ago. The significance of this date is that it means that all modern humans
were living in Africa until at least that time. In other words, within the
past 60,000 years - only about 2,000 generations - our species has populated
the entire planet."

I hasten to add that this seems kind of strong to me: I'm aware (believe it
or not) of the arguments for a regional continuity model. But I didn't
bring this up originally to argue for Wells position.

4) Your floating ax head statements are embarassing & show that you've
never gotten out of the fundamentalist mindset. Of course the question
isn't whether or not God _could_ make an ax head float but whether he
_did_ - & that requires some attention to the type of text we're dealing
with. But you can't do that because you can't imagine that the texts are
anything other than historical narratives, or that God would condescend to
use something other than such narrative. (Which again is traceable to your
weak christology.)

But even worse, you put the resurrection of Jesus Christ as just one more
miraculous historical event along with the floating ax!

5) The existence of gravitons follows from (a) the fact that things at the
quantum level interact with gravitation and (b) the uncertainty principle.
That doesn't make it 100% certain but it's a lot more so than your mutant
ape dream. In any case there may be ways of detecting the effects of
gravitons other than direct detection of them - e.g., combine the suggestion
of Dodakian & Pazameta in Physics Essays 15.2 (2002), 246 with one of mine
in Australian Journal of Physics 31 (1978), 205.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Glenn Morton" <>
To: "'David Opderbeck'" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 10:29 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

George M. wrote:

{GLM From the program for Wells talk at Kent State - Stark, 1 March '07:
"Wells analyzed DNA from thousands of men living in isolated populations and

concluded that all humans can be traced to an African tribe that existed
60,000 years ago." Does that mean that all humans descended from _only_
that tribe? No. Does that in turn mean that the origin of humanity can't
be placed at ~60,000 years? That of course depends on how one is defining

I won't pursue this further here because it would lead you to claim that I
have some stake in a recent origin of humanity, which I don't. More on this

below. & also more on being out of one's depth.}

Did Wells write the program or did someone else?
George wrote
>>>1st, Jan didn't say that the account_s_ were poetic, which was your
But that's minor. <<<

So, Here is what Jan wrote:

"God wrote a poem in Gen.1,

Are we to believe that a poem is not poetic? Is that the sense of your
argument here? Or are you splitting hairs so find that only an SEM will see
the hairs?

>> More to the point was your claim that someone is saying
"poetic, THEREFORE not conveying truth about the natural world." Whether or

not I think it does convey any such truth is not the point. <<<

Whether or not you think Genesis 1 conveys truth is exactly the point. From
your failure to answer a simple question twice, I infer that you really
don't think it teaches anything historical. I will, however ask again, Did
God make man out of dirt, as Genesis 2:7 asserts? Yes or no?

>>Someone may
think it doesn't simply because he thinks the accounts disagree with the
historical & scientific data or because of the difference between the 2
accounts, but that doesn't mean he's reaching that conclusion simply because

one or the other account is "poetic."<<

You were the one who asserted falsely that no one argued that it was a poem.
I have refuted that but you refuse to acknowedge that refutation.

>>This is a small error on your part which could easily be attributed to
hyperbole on your part & it would be easy enough to corrent it. Why don't
you? Or do you just not understand the distinctions?<<

You haven't shown that no one asserts that Genesis 1 is a poem.

Concerning what George claims to have refuted of mine.
{GLM That theologians never want to think anything new. Not a direct
quote but you said (on either the 10th or the 11th - I've omitted the
original but it's in my reply of the 11th) "They do if one refuses to think
anything new or novel about the accounts. They fit together quite nicely
within my interpretation, but, of course,
theology wouldn't really want to think anything new, now would we?"}

Yes, I said that they don't think new things. I defined that this morning
but you ignored it. What you did was not provide evidence for your claim
but you asserted that lots of new (but unnamed) things were being published.
Evidence would be nice. But remember I defined what is not new as the
dichotomy between Genesis 1 having history and not having history. You,
won't answer what it is that you think is historical in Genesis 1 even when
asked and I suspect what you think is new, are new ways of claiming that
Genesis has no history--which isn't really new.

>>>{GLM No, what you said in your last post was an even more restrained
condemnation of theologians without qualification: "And theologians on a
daily basis show utter contempt for science by ignoring it or saying things
about science which aren't true and then acting like one is an idiot to
challenge them on it--this even if the theologian hasn't studied the area."
No qualifications, no "some theologians," many theologians," even less names

of any specific theologians. No recognition that there are any theologians
who know anything about science and/or are careful to talk to those who

Well, George, I see so much of it it is hard to find theologians not
ignoring scientific data. You ignored the genetics, the preacher at my old
church ignored geology. What is the difference? Both are ignoring science.

>What you display is an "utter contempt" for both theology and theologians -

So? When they deserve it it should be shown! When they don't, I won't.

>>>without any distinction among them. Which wouldn't be quite so bad if
gave any indication that you knew anything about theology beyond the most
simplistic "the Bible must be true" claims.<<<

What I see is little but an escape from verification on the part of theology
and theologians. If we can make the Bible so science can never disprove it,
so the thinking goes, then it will always be true. This might be correct but
only in the most trivial sense of it is true that every atom has its own
little angel which pushes the atom around. I see YEC theologians proclaiming
false science, and others proclaiming a Bible which has no or very little
connection to the physical world.

>>>There is another point worth making here if you're able to listen. Your
accusations against "theologians" are far too extreme but it's certainly
true that many theologians - & I include parish pastors there - aren't as
well informed scientifically as they should be.<<<

As I said, when contemp is earned it should be shown. When it isn't it
shouldn't be.

>> That's precisely one reason
why a great deal of my ministry is devoted to seminary teaching, leading
workkshops for clergy, writing for clergy & theological jornals &c about
such matters. m& that should explain why I spend little time in direct
debate with atheists: <<<<

Fine, do what you feel called to, but don't ignore data, and don't ignore
genetics. What you are doing by simply citing a program written by God knows
who for a speech by Wells and thinking that will suffice, you are doing two
things wrong. You are 'judge shopping' and you are not thinking yourself.
With a physics degree you should easily be able to understand genetics, if
you would only try.

>> One can't do everything. I don't deny the importance
of confronting atheist & other anti-Christian arguments, but not everyone is

called to do everything & there are only 24 hours in a day. If you can see
the importance of trying to educate Christians, & especially clergy, about
matters of science & technology you will perhaps see why we don't all devote

our attention to debating atheists & perhaps even apologize for your
implication that those of us involved in the former type of work are
cowards, dupes, &c. But I won't hold my breath.}<<<

Frankly I revived this thread because even Francis Collins sees that TE's
don't do anything to confront the secularism of the day. Of course not
everyone can do it, but by golly we should be doing SOMETHING. I will stand
by my, and Collins observation that we TE's don't do spit to counter the
secularization of our society and often we actively work towards it. Whose
side are we on?

>>>{GLM Unfortunately you don't think it's necessary to believe it either.
You think it's sufficient to present "something close to Genesis 2:7" (as
below) but the simple fact is that God resurrecting a stillborn ape isn't
forming man of the dust of the ground & breathing into his nostrils. You
don't believe it really happened as the Bible says but manage to convince
yourself that since something that might have happened & sort of sounds like

it is the same thing & thus pacify your fundamentalist conscience.<<<

Interesting, but what did God say Adam would return to? Why, I think he said
'dust'. Adam would become dust. But when Adam died, what did he become? A
corpse. So, is a corpse dust? In some real sense yes. So from dust we came
and to dust we will return. So, I would disagree that I haven't presented
something very close to what is there in Scripture.

>>You also assume with no justification that the important point about
is that it's a "miracle." But of course the text doesn't say that or use
any of the common biblical terms for what we call a miracle. Isn't it
possible that the text is simply saying that we are made to be living beings

by YHWH from the common stuff of the earth? While it is not talking about
evolution, that's quite consistent with a scientific understanding - with
the crucial addition of "by YHWH," the God of Israel. That's what the Bible

says & I believe it. As for believing it as literal history, no, I don't
believe that & neither do you.}<<

I can buy that about the dust, but what about the breathing part of the
verse? Why ignore god breathing into us? What does that mean? Is this the

{GLM How about - well, the Nicene or Apostles' Creeds (which the ASA
statement of faith says are "brief, faithful statements of Christian
doctrine based upon scripture") for a start? Or to be really radical, how
about speaking as if Jesus Christ made some difference to your worldview?
Your discussions seldom if ever say anything about him. The fact that you
seem unable to even think of such things as theological standards shows your

lack of interest in & knowledge of serious theology. In your words, you're
"out of your depth" when you try to talk about theology.

& please don't insult my intelligence with any "if we can't believe in a
literal Adam/Jonah/floating ax we can't believe in the resurrection of
Christ" drivel. "Many Christians do" is a sufficient refutation of that.}

Those creeds say nothing or very little about creation. So, you can't judge
my views by things which don't address my views.

Am I to understand that you don't believe God is capable of making an axhead
float? See, this is the crux of the matter. Either we have a miracle
producing God or we don't. If he can't do miracles, then he can't raise the
dead. If he can raise the dead, what on earth is the objection to a floating
ax head?

{GLM I realize now that some of your statements about my supposed
scientific ignorance stem from your unwarranted notion that I think that all

of present-day humanity can be traced to a single couple. If you had read
what I've written on these matters you would realize that that's not the
case (E.g., on p.114 of my June '06 PSCF article: "But it does seem
unlikely that the present human race can be traced to a single male-female
pair" - followed by reference to genetic data which may suggest that I'm not

quite as ignorant of the subject as you imagine.)

You have statedthat even in this note. When you say all humanity can be
traced to a single man, that says something different than what I said Wells
was saying. My understanding is not unwarranted. It may be your poor writing
or even your poor understanding of Wells, but this is the first sensible
thing you have said. Maybe you should go re-read what you actually wrote in
this thread.

{GLM Of course we don't know if there are ETs but there's a real
possibility whereas there's zero possibility of getting any evidence for
your fantasy.}

Sure, I have never said I could prove that part of my views. But, if you
would look at all science, even modern physics, every theory has some
aspects which can never be proven either for fundamental or practical
reasons. Gravitons can't be detected because they would require 28 million
years of watching a jupiter sized detector. Not much chance in that.

They're Here: The Pathway Papers
Foundation, Fall, and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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Received on Sat Mar 17 20:52:41 2007

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