Thursday, September 15, 2011


Dear Friends, Relatives, Colleagues, and Other Denizens of the Blogosphere:

I would like to request your participation in a data-gathering project about Christian perspectives on origins.  First, in your response, self-identify with one of these three options:

A.  I believe in a literal interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis.  Thus, my understanding is that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that all of the plant and animal species that we observe today were created fully formed, and this includes humans. 

B.  I accept what science has revealed regarding the age of the universe and of the earth, and that creation as we observe today took place over millions of years, and that all of the natural world including evolution is controlled by God.

C.  I do not consider my understanding of origins as being either A or B.


If you have classified yourself as an A, please describe how you reconcile the creation stories in Genesis with the scientific data from multiple disciplines that do not indicate the appearance of all of life during the 6 days of Creation.

If you have classified yourself as a B, please describe how you reconcile the scientific data indicating an old earth and the gradual appearance of species with the Creation stories of Genesis.

If you have classified yourself as a C, please describe your position regarding origins.

You may be as brief or as detailed as you care to be.  I choosing your ID in the comments section, you may respond anonymously, use a fictitious ID, or share your actual ID.  I would ask that if you choose Anonymous, use some sort of signature at the end of your comments in order to differentiate among the anonymous responses.  If you do not want to share your thoughts on this blog but would like to respond, you may send an email to me at

Also, regardless of your classification, I would like to know if there are any significant issues that remain problematic for you, with either the scientific evidence or the biblical account.

Thanks so much, and hope to hear from you all.


Anonymous said...

I consider myself C. I accept what science says about it's current understanding of the age of the universe and the evolution of life. That said, science is an investigation, not an absolute. I also have my own evolving God concept and while I probably believe that some conscious force created the universe, I am not convinced that what we know it to be is 100% "controlled by God". My inclination is that chaos is an aspect of creation. And chaos, by nature, is not "controlled".

Still Learning

Dr S said...

Thanks Still Learning - I just added another sentence in bold that you may want to address.

brett 2.0 said...

I like multiple choice quizzes that aren't graded. I'm the consumate B. Science is, among other things, the human reconciliation of everything around us, including our existence. Unlike faith, science quenches our thirst for understanding by giving us that which we can see, feel, touch, taste and smell.

Being a B is predicated on the belief that the Bible, while very clear and concise about living a Christian life honoring God, is metaphoric in many respects. It is the way I rationalize or "reconcile" extraordinary events such as parting of the seas, feeding the masses, flooding the world and the multitude of other biblical events that defy logic or scientific explanation.

The writers of the Bible, in my estimation, were given Divine inspiration in the form of visions placed in a context which we can understand. At the time, they had no illusions of mapping genes and carbon dating materials. They were keeping it simple.

And also consider the fact that the Bible was written, unproofed, by humans.

Dr S said...

Brett 2.0 - thanks so much. You may want to ignore this follow-up question, but how does one determine what is metaphorical and what isn't? :-)

brett 2.0 said...

LOL. It's metaphorical if I can't 'splain it!

Anonymous said...

Ezekiel 23:19-20 cannot be reconciled with what we know of human anatomy.

Dr S said...

Brett 2.0 - Perfect Answer!!!

Dr S said...

Anon - re Ezekiel - gross!!! :-)

Bizzy Brain said...

LOL Anonymous re: Ezekiel 23:19-20! Not many know that stuff is in the Bible.

I vote for A. To paraphrase a famous movie. "So, if you're a Creationist, where are your reconciliations?" "Reconciliations? We ain't got no reconciliations. We don't need no reconciliations! I don't have to show you any stinkin' reconciliations!"

Anonymous said...

Consider me a C. The creation story explained life in a time of great mysticism. A good answer for the era. Scientific evolution theories explain the origin of species in a time of greater but still incomplete knowledge. Evolution theories continue to evolve, as does life. The two stories are not mutually exclusive. A milieu has been created in which life has developed-evolved. This system may well have a greater power behind it...God. The concept of a controlling God is not mine. Every act or occurrence is not orchestrated by a grand maestro. Rather, the players have been assembled and allowed to jam with occasional intervention from the band leader. The band plays on and what happens happens. Some tunes are good, some not. This is life as we know it.
Mark R Aschliman

Dr S said...

Primo Fresno - thanks for your response - well stated.

BB - you're not helpin' us out here!!! :-)

hoosierdaddy said...

BB - a bit off topic here, but in Kings II and in Isaiah we read: "But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words 1697? [hath he] not [sent me] to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?'

Bizzy Brain said...

Hey, Anonymous, did you hear the one about the lady in Deuteronomy 25:11-12? “If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her."

Dr S said...

Gentlemen - please stay on topic.

Moonshadow said...

I'm going with B. There is NOTHING that my God can not do, including evolution. There is order even in chaos, one event causes the next. This is God in action. The creation story? There are things we do not know and if we do not have answers fear usually takes hold. The creation story was God relating to man in a manner he could understand at the time. How do explain things to a 3 year old? Not in the same detail you would an adult. What would the early Jews know of black holes and big bangs. To them the earth was flat. Just because they didn't know doesn't change the fact. And the 7 day thing, the way I like to explain that: If you were floating out in space, stationary, face to a sun, what would a day be? We created our measure of time. One day on earth is not one day on any of the other planets. The measure of time does not exist for God. 7 days for God? And the counting started before there was light. How does that work? I think people spend too much time creating god in THEIR image.

Clif Hostetler said...

I'm a C.
I could claim B if you let me define God as the interaction of the sum total of the laws of the universe. But I prefer to define God as the creative potential part of those laws (a la Gordon Kaufman).

Anonymous said...

The Bible is a faith book, not scientific, so I'm an A. I'd like to be a B if someon would expllain, scientifically, how animal life evolved with, first, one eye, or lung or kidney; then two--and how/when animal life evolved to vegetable life--trees,etc.

Dr S said...

Moonshadow - thanks for your thoughtful response, and welcome to Planet Boulder!

And thanks Clif - maybe you could add a bit about what you and Gordon mean by 'creative potential' - sounds a bit like Polkinghorne.

Most recent Anon - there are some answers to your questions, and as you note, such answers are not found in the bible. There is a nice website called Answers in Creation that should be worth your while to check out. Thanks.

Jean Rodenbough said...

I tried to post this earlier and now I've forgotten what I wrote. But I go with B. The creation accounts, both of them, in Genesis, are pre-scientific writings which proclaim Who it is who created the universe, not How it was done technically. That was to come thousands of years later, in our time, when scientists discovered the information necessary for understanding the origins of the universe in a matter of physics and other sciences.

Brett 2.0 said...

Dr. S. We've had this discussion, but yes, there is a "scientific issue that remains problematic" for me (and consequently, is perhaps the entire basis of my faith):

Science says, "matter cannot be created, nor destroyed."

So far, no one has been able to metaphor themselves out of that one.

Ozma said...

"Matter cannot be created" but matter can be changed into energy, and perhaps vice versa (e=mc squared). Does that de-metaphor it enough? Genesis doesn't specifically say God created stuff "ex nihilo". That was a later interpretation.

Why would the fact that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed cause a problem for Biblical creation?

Dr S said...

Jean - thanks for your comments that finally made it here!

Brett 2.0 - I was going to say that we could probably work this out with the help of a six-pack or two - or at least use it an excuse to enjoy some brewskis this weekend in Indiana.

Ozma - you are correct about matter/energy, but perhaps you could expand a bit about how this fits with 'Biblical creation.'

Retired Bio Guy said...

I consider myself in category C. I’m a long retired biology teacher and a “snowbird”. Here in Ohio I worship in a Mennonite Church and when in Florida, in a Methodist Church. In one old issue of Mennonite Your Way, we are listed as Mennomethodists.

As I see it, the question, “do you believe in scientific creationism or evolution?” is not valid. Both are valid hypotheses. Unfortunately creationism, although it may be “true” can not be tested by use of the scientific method. That would require two universes, the experimental existing without God. The theory of evolution has been accepted because it can be tested by use of the scientific method.

Thought Experiment Example: Take two petri plates of E. coli bacteria produced from a single culture. Put one away as your control and expose the other to UV (ultra violet) radiation. This plate is your experimental. Continue to culture both plates. Since the experimental bacteria are probably doing poorly, attempt to grow the culture on different media. If you find a medium that allows the experimental bacteria to thrive, continue that culture.

Now transfer the experimental bacteria back to the same medium used by the control. If is does poorly or dies out, you have probably seen evolution in action and have “created” a new species of E. coli by dramatically speeding up the process of evolution.

NOTE: this is a thought experiment and would be far to dangerous to try due to the possible creation of a “super-bug”! (Unfortunately it probably has been done.)

Finally, what is “truth”? The theologian finds truth by different methods than does the scientist. As a matter of fact, the scientist is not really interested in “truth” at all and may never find it. He or she can only deal with events that repeat. The scientist must be satisfied to be able to reliably predict the future. Unfortunately, as a scientist, he can say nothing about unique events, like the existence of God or creationism since both would be examples of unique events.

PA Doc said...

My response is that I basically consider Category B as my choice with the caveat that G-d must be acknowledged in all things, but that G-d apparently turned loose the evolutionary developments into free chaos; random development. I believe the scientific reasoning approach is the only realistic way to try to
understand and appreciate our universe.

SarasotaMan said...

Of course in addition to the scientific realistic way to try to understand and appreciate our universe is the poetic myth, such as in Genesis 1 and 2. The mythological may be as close to an understanding of the origin of the Big Banger as we can get.

Jean Rodenbough said...

The "poetic myth" is, in its way, a fine way to express the story of creation and so wise in its telling. The scientific one, of course, is accurate -- as much as possible -- and is also an exciting story that we haven't yet figured out totally.

Maple Leaf said...

B, except I am not sure what the phrase "controlled by God" means. Does it mean the "And God said..." of Genesis 1? More and more I welcome Mystery into my considerations of theological concepts. In a review of "A Lever and a Place to Stand", Gordon Houser summarizes Richard Rohr's call for integration of action and contemplation with 3 points, the third is "a
willingness to not know and not even need to know." Can I give up the need to know?

The Germans Louisiana said...

*Creation* In the Beginning God... I am just as amazed at a creation that unfolds in eons as one that snaps into place in human twenty-four hour days. God cannot be confined in human spaces or schedules. Genesis is not a science textbook As Revelation is a book of assurance that during the time of Trauma God is here and that when the end comes God will be there, so Genesis is a book of assurance that in that ancient dawn of time and beginnings God was there.

I don't believe that God made a world and walked off and left it. I do believe that God Created, is creating and recreates. I believe in a God of second chances, third chances , etc. God never gives up on us!

Brett 2.0 said...

@ Ozma;

Good question. At the root of my paradox is the nagging scientific question of "Well, if matter (or energy for that matter) can't be created or destroyed, then where did it come from?"

If I were a scientist, I would have a problem believing that matter has simply always existed. Well, I'm not a scientist, and I still have a problem believing that matter has simply always existed.

This is where explanations get extremely interesting.

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Anonymous said...

I believe in both God and science. We are humans and limited by human brain and experiences. I think there is a way for both to be true. Example:
God created Adam. Was he a baby or a full grown man? So if he can created a full grown man can't he create mountians that are millions of years old? Cathy Hollar

Dr S said...

Busy Brain added:

Good one, Cathy. I posed that question one time to the Good Doctor. Words to the effect, "If one hour ago, God created Adam as a 25 year old man, to an inquistive scientist, Adam would be 25 years old, not one hour old."

Cathy and BB make an interesting point, but it rather boggles my mind. Presumably God could do such things, but then my question becomes "why?" Is he trying to fool us? Is he a trickster, inspiring the writers of the Hebrew bible to say one thing and then simply giving the impression to nearly every scientist who has studied the universe that it is billions of years old when it really isn't?? And, how in the world could you ever determine your conjecture that this place only looks old? I believe that that the universe is what it is and that there is no reason to force scientific findings into the framework of scripture - and vice versa for that matter. Spending a lot of time trying to do so is 'aikin banzo' as described here: :-)

AHH said...

B, especially if I am allowed to rephrase "controlled by God" to something like "with God in charge". I would like to allow for the possibility that God leaves the creation some freedom rather than micromanaging. I may be a Presbyterian, but I'm not a hypercalvinist.

And I think purported conflicts with Scripture pretty much go away if one allows for literary genre, not asking Scripture questions it is not trying to answer. The problem comes when people try to take theological truths expressed in figurative terms using the prescientific understanding of the day and try to read them as modern science.

Dr S said...

AHH - you make a very good point about controlled vs in charge, because the latter was the intention. Thanks for your thoughts.

Tomato Addict said...

C, or maybe a qualified B.

I accept what science has revealed, and I know that is the best way to study our universe. I'm not very religious, but I do not completely reject religion either. There is an inherent contradiction between faith and reason, and they will always be at odds. However, I place a certain value on faith that, to me, makes it more than nothing. Your mileage may vary.

JW said...

I Doug - I'm in my second year of retirement starting about today and therefore have the time to solve the worlds philosophical conundrums with the unquestionable wisdom of time! (yes I'm still full of it!)

So here goes. if you accept natural selection as law, then given time, humankind will achieve our full potential and those physical and mental attributes we develop will be the epitome of our existence. As we have historically developed in tribal culture, we tended to have gods and a belief system in a supernatural or magic life that we can influence through mental or physical action taken by ourselves or by some select few. If that system of controlling beliefs is still relatively universal, then why would that be so? Would it not be logical that the belief system somehow strengthens that society, tribe and by extension that individual? Therefore must our full potential, in our process of natural selection, (at least currently) be more easily reached if we have this shared belief?

Anonymous said...

Hi Douglas. Thank you for your important post. You helped me here:

A. is my choice. But honestly there is no mention how long Earth existed before there was light.

Anyway, a simple man like me likes to keep things simple. I try not to explain too much. God is wiser than a man.



- The Bible warns a series of events (which will change the world forever) would begin after Israel would once again become a sovereign Nation (after almost 2,500 years) . . . This remarkable event took place on May 14, 1948! How has the world reacted to such a profound fulfillment of Bible prophecy? A miracle that can be documented by simply looking at the Bible and a map. It has ignored it!




In memory of Yitzhak Rabin

At least I tried to make it short.

God bless you all
Jyrki Soini

Douglas E said...

Jyrki - thanks so much for your detailed comment. After your posts over at WEIT, I visited your site and thus am a bit familiar with your perspectives. It will take me some time to get through the links you provided, but I do appreciate your contribution.



Anonymous said...

Gracias. Paz con Violeta Parra


Douglas E said...

Also -

Anonymous said...

Danke schön. Ich versuche der Text zu verstehen.


Douglas E said...

Bitte schön.

Anonymous said...

I just began with my site. I've collected a couple of videos so far.

I love and bless Israel and God blesses me and my family. That's why "Hatikvah", "Shma Yisrael" and "Kadosh". Meital Trabelsi sang at the Rabin's memory occasion.

Sorry about my poor English.

Douglas E said...

No need to apologize about poor English! Anyone who is basically competent in more than one language is awesome in my book! So, keep thinking, searching an writing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your warm thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I hope readers are interested in light, photons and seeing.


Anonymous said...

Just in case someone likes to listen to beautiful songs in Hebrew.

MEITAL: Gracias a la vida

SARIT: Shema Israel

SIVAN: Ho rav hovel

Sivan's husband died in the forest fire.

"In 1996, Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer translated the poem to Hebrew and wrote music for it. This was done in addition to several prior translations in order to mark the anniversary of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination which took place one year earlier, in 1995. The song is since commonly performed or played in Yitzhak Rabin memorial day services all around Israel."

O Captain! My Captain!!_My_Captain!


Douglas E said...

Jyrki - just a word of caution about commenting over at WEIT - Jerry Coyne does not like a lot of comments that are not directly related to the content of a particular piece that he has posted. He has been known to 'ban' some folks, so you might want to consider limiting your feedback - just a suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. You are very kind. I know what you mean. Jerry has been gentle and I bless him. Maybe he or some of his readers start to think about what God has done.

Jesus is the Lion of Judah.

I've heard that 46% of the population are Abraham's children.


Douglas E said...

Jyrki - just a couple of notes. First - when you make a comment here, click on Name/URL and fill it in, and your comment will show your name rather than anonymous, and your name will be linked to your blog site as well. Second - neither I nor many of the readers here have enough time to follow all of the links you provide. Although they may be very interesting, it is hard to pursue so many. My suggestion - use links sparingly when commenting and use them generously on your own blog - you will note the my posts often have many links imbedded in the text, highlighted by their color. Best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your precious advise. I try to be more self-acting in learning. Let's see...

yurki1000 said...

Hi folks. I enjoy to swim in deep waters and i'd like to ask you a question.
- Where does knowledge or information come from?
Because abortion is so common, I wanna ask you a question.
- When does a human being become a person?
If we can't determine the exact point or period,
- could it be ok to "abort" persons of any age?
Under (economic) depression or bad situation have many parents killed their children.
- Who is the murderer? Doctor or parent? Or government? Or all of us?

Honestly i'm familiar with silence, but I wish some ppl take some time to think about these things. I hope I can express myself. English isn't my tongue.


Anonymous said...

Shalom Douglas.
I thank you for the space you've given to my messages.
I speak straightforward, but I pale beside God. If HE wasn't straight, no-one could be saved.
I see these links important and useful. I hope they are not too many.


Animals have their prices.

How about human?

Ok. We've had bad times since the fall. But it's gonna end, rather soon than late. The signs are before our eyes.

God has given His word/promise to all of us. It's Good News.

Yours sincerely