For April Fool’s Day I gave my reasons for leaving Christianity.
(I rebutted them the next day, but the commentary ran forward here.)
In reality this is a perfectly honest list for why I left the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I was a pre-seminary student at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota when I was taught all these reasons why Christianity was invalid and then told that the teachers who held this position and those who followed them were still Christian. This is in total contradiction to the teachings of scripture and the logical rule of non-contradiction.
Fortunately there are large groups of Bible-believing Lutherans who preserve the actual teachings of Christianity, where I now make my home.
IT didn’t take long for an anonymous denizen of the interwebs to weigh in.
Here is Iowerth Forestlord weighing in as a representative of the scientific community. In my experience I have repeatedly submitted links to my CV and college coursework in debates with self-reported scientists, including undergraduate level studies in chemistry, physics, and environmental chemistry. I have yet to have a commentator on my Bruce the Monk YouTube channel provide any identification and evidence of their scientific background when asked, even though they show up and claim status as representatives of the scientific community.
If you want to skip the documentation and get right to the fisking, scroll down a bit to the next title. I promise I have kept his every word in the dissection.
So, not because of any detected problems yet, but because I now have time to engage Iowerth, I am going to document the conversation. This is always a good policy because Ye Olde Edit Buttone gets used quickly as soon as debates start going poorly for incomers.
With apologies ahead of time, I will be posting his positions twice, first to represent the conversation, and the second time to fisk it. I know this is more tedious than I want to be, but he has a history of changing his posts rather than making responses, which would make it impossible for a reader to get an accurate picture of the original conversation and my rebuttal.
I will put Iowerth’s commentary in itallics and my own in bold face. Passages that he has added in afterward (changing the record of his argument, which has me skeptical as to his other claims) will be underlined. As a kindness I will provide free editing by attributing paragraphs to my intellectual opponent. (Forest Lord does not use them in real life.) He has already added several arguments post hoc that were not in the original posts.
[Editor’s note: This first post has been highly redacted, with three additional paragraphs of argument added that were not in the original post, which is why I have decided to begin documenting the conversation here. Only the original sentence remains from his opening argument. (Yes, think about that.)]
You’re a smart man, and I’m sure you’ve heard of William Lane Craig who speaks at great length about misconceptions about death before the Fall. Also another good source is Dr. Hugh Ross at reasons.org, a scientist who became a Christian after looking at the evidence. And we have the example of Dr. Francis Collins, who headed the Human Genome Project, who is himself an evangelical Christian who accepts the reality of evolution and the miracle of the resurrection. We must be wary of applying literalism to every instance of the text, because the Lord would otherwise be in error when he said that the mustard seed is the smallest of the seeds (it isn’t), it wasn’t Christ’s job to be a science teacher so he used a metaphor to prove the message of faith. That does not make Christ a liar in any way by saying that, Jesus spoke often in metaphor and that makes His message no less true than to say the descriptions in Genesis are metaphorical as well. Keep up the posts, God Bless.
Since you have revised your previous arguments instead of replying afterwards, you will find a documentation of your current list of arguments here: https://brucethemonk.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/fisking-the-forest-lord-april-fools-fallout/ I will be preparing a video to deal with this current list. I would have a video ready earlier, but you added something like 80% of your argument so I will need to recalibrate.
I will state for the record that this method of addressing objections does not lead to a perception of open and honest dialogue.
Now for some fisking…
A few things to mention, the hebrew [SIC] translation for “good” is not the same as “perfect.” Genesis clearly states that the world was created “good.”
You are placing a false standard here, demanding an English word translated as ‘perfect’ only has perfect as a minority interpretation of the Hebrew word. It is a far closer analogue to the Greek telos, with more accurate translations of complete, or fulfilled. Most Hebrew verb forms of the root deal with expounding, explaining further, or adding onto.
Looking at the works of the author, this word is only used once in all of the Torah for anything other than God’s Word or the requirement that a sacrifice be without blemish. Only once is it ever used about something other than a sacrificial animal, which is the description of Noah as sinless in the genealogy of Genesis 6:9. אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו. So, you are correct that the word never used for the perfection of created things and 90+% used for sinlessness is not used to describe creation. It isn’t there because the language doesn’t work that way. This is therefore an unremarkable argument that there was sin, death, and suffering in the natural world as created by God.
The complete list of iterations of תָּמִים in the OT can be found on Strong’s Hebrew here.
I would submit to you that you do not find total completion mentioned until the sacrifice of Christ (Greek tetelestai, ‘it is not made wholly complete’). Even so the word has next to nothing to do with our modern concept of perfection, and it is irresponsible translation to make that the dominant or even minority meaning of the terms. That’s a statement of moral and legal fulfillment, even one that directly references the sacrificial system which is the dominant use of tamim in Hebrew. Using the cross as theological center point, it is worth noting that the OT sacrificial system were a type and shadow pointing to the fulfillment of God’s requirement in the sacrifice of Christ.
This term you’re lacking in the creation record has nothing to do with the point you want to make.
We also know from the Scripture that the Lord does not change, therefore he would have created the precursors to modern organisms and not changed the system by which they evolved.
I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of scripture’s teaching.
You state that God would only have operated the same way throughout history, therefore there can be no difference between currently observable processes and those of the created world before the fall of man. Here are some examples of God doing things differently. For starters, we have the open statement that the Lord does new things:
Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:9
Behold, I am doing a newthing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:19
Let us look at Bible verses relating to your main point, that things in creation must be as we now observe them because God doesn’t change so he must operate natural systems the same way throughout history. This point is unsupportable in Scripture:
5 When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist[c]was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— Genesis 2:5-6
So there we have a different function of the water cycle than later. Contextually with the creation of rainbows in Genesis, a function of light refracting from water droplets in the air, which is consistent with the advent of rain as the primary delivery cycle. We can only use conjecture since we have the open statement that God does operate in new ways.
That is sufficient to demonstrate my point, but let us beat on that drum a little longer in order to demonstrate the pattern:
- God changes the instincts of wild animals to fear mankind. (Genesis 9:2)
- Mankind’s diet changes from herbivore to omnivore after the flood. (Genesis 9:3)
- God creates many languages out of one. (Genesis 11:6-9)
- God breaks up Pangaea into continents. (Genesis 10:25)
- The drastic change of human lifespan twice in Genesis itself, each time consistent with the effects of a genetic bottleneck and environmental change following the flood first, and then the division and scattering of groups of survivors. (Genesis 10 & 11)
Therefore Scripture clearly does teach that God does new things, specifically that we cannot read modern biological patterns back into creation before the fall. That is saying nothing of God’s perfect willingness to rule over natural law instead of being subject to the standard observable way of things, which you claim he would not do because of his unchanging nature. God stops the sun over Gibeon and then starts it again. God causes edible food to appear without precedent in the wilderness, and then never appear again in like manner after the wandering in the wilderness is over. God causes the dead to rise again. God causes ravens to bring food to humans. God walks on water. God calms storms. God does not even destroy the earth the same way twice, first with water, and then next all creation with fire.
God can, does, has done, and will do new things in new ways. This does not constitute a change in God’s character as Lord, master of creation, and innovator.
The problem I see a lot of Young Earth Creationists having with either an Old Earth Creationist view or any other view is that there seems to be some unexplainable problem with animal and plant death before the Fall (and yes, I believe in a literal Adam and accept evolution). There is nowhere in the Scriptures that says that this is a problem, because God would have allowed animals to come into being to balance the world of nature. Further, the verse that says “that through one man death entered the world” is in no way referring to animal death, but human death.
You are eisegeting again, putting words into scripture that are not there. Plant death versus human death? This is never mentioned in scripture. You are even mistaken about the passage in question.
You are referring to Romans 5:12, specifically the first phrase which reads:
Διὰ τοῦτο ὥσπερ δι’ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰς τὸν κόσμον εἰσῆλθεν καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος,…
As a literal and wooden translation on the fly:
Διὰ τοῦτο Therefore
ὥσπερ just as/ in this manner
ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου one man
εἰς τὸν κόσμον into the created world
ἡ ἁμαρτία … εἰσῆλθεν Sin entered in
καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος and through sin, death.
Note 1: The Bible passage specifically differentiates between the created world and mankind, as both terms are freely used in the same passage, the same book, and by the works of the same author.
Note 2: That which sin entered into is the cosmos, the created order. This is not the term for mankind used in the New Testament, but the term used for the natural world.
This is carried to completion in the language of the rest of the verse which reads:
καὶ οὕτως εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὁ θάνατοςδιῆλθεν, ἐφ’ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον
καὶ οὕτως and therefore
εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους into all mankind
ὁ θάνατος διῆλθεν Death (capital D) entered in
ἐφ’ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον because all man sin.
So what the Bible passage actually says is that this is what the order is:
- One man (Adam sinned)
- Death entered creation, literally the cosmos
- From the sin in the cosmos, sin entered into mankind.
We additionally know because it is explicitly stated in the same book by the same author to the same audience that creation’s suffering and death is intrinsicly linked to its cause: the suffering of mankind:
21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. -Romans 8:21-22
Creation’s bondage to corruption is under mankind’s sin, and you have seen the passage that cites mankind’s sin as the source of death entereing the created world. Now here we have the passage linking our physical redemption as the critical mechanism that frees creation from its bondage to death. Q.E.D.
There is no mention that Jesus’ death was meant to pay the price of sin to redeem animals or other organisms, but man alone.
Except that the redemption of man is dependent on Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). We have just seen that all creation hopes in our physical resurrection because it is the deliverance of the cosmos from corruption. So, yeah, there kind of is.
In the Bible it also explicitly states that God gives lions their prey, therefore it is clear he intended that and knowing that he does not change something when it is formed being an unchanging creator, therefore we know from the text that lions have always eaten meat (and biologically they have to, ask anyone who’s tried to make their cat go vegan how well that worked out).
This is a reference to Psalm 104 verse 21, which was written around or after 1000 BC. At that time it was completely true. Your assertion depends on your mistaken point that God has always done thing the way he now does, which we have already disproven.
Now, with regard to accepting common descent for Humans and also believing in a literal Adam. A human being is comprised of two parts, a body and a soul. We also know that Genesis says God “formed man up from the dust of the earth.” There are times when the Bible is speaking literally and metaphorically, and in this instance it is speaking metaphorically when it concerns the creation of Adam.
There is no textual evidence that the creation of Adam is anything but a literal event. St. Paul refers to it as a literal event. Jesus refers to the creation account literally. The burden of proof that a passage is figurative without any textual indicators of figurative intent does lie on you.
I have read this passage in the Septuagent and the Masoretic texts without discovering the slightest figurative language, so you will need to show me where that is.
I’m also confused. Below you cite this same creation account as literal so that you can offer proof that there are people other than Adam and Eve. You cannot simultaneously treat the same passage as figurative and literal with any intellectual integrity. This is the law of non-contradiction. Something can be both-and, just as the sacrifices were both literally true and a sign of Christ who is to come, but it cannot be both sides of an either-or choice.
Adam was formed from a long succession of ancestors who had since gone to dust, and he was indeed the first man because he had a body and a soul, unlike his predecessors.
This is found nowhere in the Bible. I have never encountered any primary source material for this assertion. I don’t want to say blatantly that you’re pulling it out of your butt, because you’re probably citing someone with a PhD in humanism who pulled it out of his own.
ve is told came from Adam’s rib, but in the case of Genesis the rib is also metaphoric in that “rib” means “group” or “frame,” meaning that she would have come from a group of people who formed a “rib” that was in close proximity to Adam. So being that Adam and Eve were the first true humans it means they were the first true human beings and the first to be covenanted unto the Lord.
You know, this theory gets ever harder once we discovered that scripturally it is clearly stated that sin and then death only entered the created world through Adam’s sin, as I have explicitly stated above.
Covenanted unto the Lord? The first covenant mentioned in scripture is God’s covenant with Abraham, as cited by St. Paul in Romans.
True human beings is a made-up term found nowhere in scripture.
We know that their had to be other peoples on the Earth during the time of Adam and Eve, as when Cain fears that he will be killed by those who find me upon killing Abel, so why would he say such a thing if Adam, Eve and himself were the only true humans on the earth?
You are eisegeting, placing words into the Bible from your own beliefs that are not in the original text. There is no reference to Adam and Eve as ‘true humans’ and others as lesser or different humans. There is no indication as to the age of Cain when he killed Abel. Nor is the list of descendants exhaustive. In fact we are explicitly told that there are additional unnamed children from every single person mentioned in the oldest genealogy, the scroll of the generations of Adam in Genesis 5. Simple mathematics can yield an impressive number of people in that amount of time. Part of your problem is that you are mistaken about God’s commandment about incest. You are in error assuming that God has always established every portion of the law backwards through time in addition to forward. The incest prohibition is only instituted in the law of Moses between 1440 and 1400 BC. This commandment did not exist beforehand as Abraham married his half sister (forbidden in the Law of Moses) roughly 800 years before. It therefore certainly did not exist before the flood.
The part of Genesis that can be explained as to the fall of man leading into the generation of Noah involves Adam’s descendants breeding with humans who were mere animals without souls, which created offspring that had souls but was tainted by the wild nature of the non-Adamic humans who were primitive, savage and brutal. God does not permit incest, and we know from biology that incest in small populations leads to severe genetic defects, and since Adam had fallen he would not have retained a mantle of perfection as is evidence in scripture.
There is no record of humans who are mere animals. This is extra-biblical heresy. God did permit incest until the law of Moses.
9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” 11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
-Genesis 20:9-13 ESV
Your genetics is wrong to boot. Incest does not create genetic defects. In terms of Mendelian genetics, incest increases the possibility of an xx manifestation of a recessive defective gene already in common between members of close gene pools manifesting instead of being overridden by a healthier Yx combination in a mate from a different gene pool who has a different set of genetic errors.
In a population with vastly fewer genetic defects, the complications of incest are vastly decreased. Since Adam and Eve would theoretically have had perfect genetics, there is no complication at all. Even if God did not continue to take an active role in the ongoing functioning of creation (which scripture repeatedly does indicate), it would take multiple generations to propagate enough errors to require an incest taboo.
You’re a smart man, and I’m sure you’ve heard of William Lane Craig who speaks at great length about misconceptions about death before the Fall. Also another good source is Dr. Hugh Ross at reasons.org, a scientist who became a Christian after looking at the evidence. And we have the example of Dr. Francis Collins, who headed the Human Genome Project, who is himself an evangelical Christian who accepts the reality of evolution and the miracle of the resurrection.
This is an appeal to authority. While I’m certain these are very distinguished scientists, I’m afraid that if you are accurately summarizing their points then they don’t pass the standard of Scripture and plain reason, which I must hold and which I have already demonstrated.
We must be wary of applying literalism to every instance of the text, because the Lord would otherwise be in error when he said that the mustard seed is the smallest of the seeds (it isn’t), it wasn’t Christ’s job to be a science teacher so he used a metaphor to prove the message of faith. That does not make Christ a liar in any way by saying that, Jesus spoke often in metaphor and that makes His message no less true than to say the descriptions in Genesis are metaphorical as well.
The mustard seed was the smallest domesticated seed known to his culture, yes.
Jesus does use metaphors as well as literal speech. This is why close textual criticism is required to determine if there are any indicators in the text to see whether God is using a metaphor or not.
Since, for example, there is a lack of metaphorical genre or textual indications of metaphorical speech in Jesus’s references to Genesis just as there is no textual or genre implication of metaphorical speech in Genesis, it is irresponsible for me to assert or accept that they are a metaphor just because it would make it easier to avoid conflict with the culture of the anti-Christian world around us.
My undergraduate degree is in literary analysis with an emphasis in linguistics, so I speak with some authority when I tell you that there is nothing to indicate that these passages were meant to be taken metaphorically, or that they were taken metaphorically by any of their original recipients.
Remember also the verse that says the lion shall lay down with the lamb, it does not include the word “again” in that verse, but signifies that the Old Creation (the earth) will be supplanted by a spiritual earth where death is unnecessary. We’re sadly not at that point in history, but we’ll get there someday and it will be glorious when it happens.
You are misquoting Scripture in two places from Isaiah.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. -Isaiah 11:6
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. -Isaiah 65:25 ESV
You are making an argument from silence when you state that because a detail is not spoken of, it is to be taken as excluded. There is not mention of Jesus wiping his bottom, therefore we know that he was not fully human because he did not defecate. This exaggerated example of the poor method of interpretation demonstrates the terrible places this method can take us.
This is also the same argument used when people attempt to justify homosexual activity because Jesus did not mention it. The standard counter that I use is to mention that he never mentioned incest or rape either, which must also be justifiable if this is the method we’re going to use.
That’s the real heart of the matter, what one’s particular exegesis (or scholarly consensus) is with regard to scripture being translated. The statements about eternal life are direct, they are not metaphoric based on the translations from the Greek.
Yes, do tell me about the translations from the Greek… I look forward to discussing it with you. Would you like to discuss it in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew?
As Christians we have to rely on faith to hear God’s message. But at the same time he has left us two books and not one, the book of Nature and the book of the Word.
Shall we compare this statement with what the Bible says about comparing nature and God’s Word?
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. -Matthew 5:18
But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. -Luke 16:17
Furthermore, faith in created things or reliance on our own understanding relative to God’s Word is a dangerous thing forbidden in scripture:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5
So just as our knowledge of the multiverse (i.e. God’s Creation) and how it works increases, so then the greater the glory of God becomes as we learn how He has formed us and all around us. Christ didn’t come to the Earth to be a science instructor, he came to fulfill the Law and to redeem the souls of Man.
And yet, Christ’s statements, understood in context, are repeatedly borne out.
Where science has issue is more in its relation to Teilhardian spirituality that to Genesis.
I’m not sure why you’re quoting a Jesuit guy most famous for the ‘discovery’ of the apocryphal Peking Man, of which no physical evidence currently available, as if this has some bearing on the reliability of scripture?
Almost all of modern science has come about in just the last 400 years.
Yep. It got started when Christians decided that reality could be systematically studied because it had been created by a systematic mind. Then there was this monk named Mendel who studied genetics. There was another Christian scientists who for all accounts discovered the laws of thermodynamics and gravitation and co-founded calculus. There was that seminary professor Kepler, and I can keep going from there.
Relative to what scripture is saying, though, What is your point?!
There is nothing to differentiate these passages in terms of literal or metaphorical in the original texts.
In my scientific circles creation is not unpopular, we simply view the mechanisms differently than YECs.
Yep. We view the rate of decay in overall charge of the magnetosphere differently, the rate of salt deposit in the oceans differently, the question of genetic degredation differently, the rate of sedimentation differently…
And by differently I mean that strangely enough, our YEC interpretation is in accordance with observable modern rates instead of repeatedly assuming mysterious and amorphous mechanisms by which these processes would cycle without ever proving them in a lab.
We allow for God’s ingenuity in the creation of biochemical systems while at the same time allowing him to intercede at his discretion (as with the life and resurrection of Christ). It defies logic, but God is able to create systems of which he knows the result but that also unfold of their own free will according to his desires. The ball drop scene in Minority Report is an example of this.
(I ran out of time but I will continue the fisking and update the page asap.)