Four items appear below:
|1 The Bible, Science and Evolution||K Straughen||97|
|3 Reply to Anon||K Straughen||99|
|4 To Straughen||Anon||101|
The Bible, Science & Evolution
(Investigator 97, 2004
Ancient & Modern Theories
When the author of the
refers to evolution as a "pagan doctrine", he is probably confusing the
modern theory with the naturalistic cosmology of the Epicurean
of ancient Greece, whose ideas are eloquently expounded by the Roman
Titus Lucretius Carus (98?-55 BC) in his De Rerum Natura (On the Nature
of Things). This poem, which attempts to account for the world in terms
of natural processes, is arranged as follows:
(I. Asimov: Asimov's New
Guide to Science,
Finally, does evolution
deny the existence
of God? The answer is that evolution, like all the other branches of
is theologically neutral in this regard – it neither affirms nor denies
the existence of God. The purpose of science is to seek to understand
processes of nature and, as one might expect, nature is natural and
no references to God are made.
Wisdom & Foolishness
Is evolution foolishness, as the fundamentalists would have us believe? The answer is a resounding no. The theory of evolution provides us with a unified view of nature and of our place in the cosmos. Moreover, this theory, unlike that of the creationists, is affirmed by the testimony of nature upon which it is founded.
If the wisdom of the world
science) is foolishness, then it is a very successful and useful form
foolishness. Epileptics are no longer subjected to primitive rituals in
order to drive out nonexistent demons, medicine makes use of effective
drugs rather than magic, and the forces of nature are harnessed for the
benefit of mankind. By contrast the fundamentalists offer the
have failed to take
into account the fact that Scripture was written in a pre-scientific
by men whose conception of the natural world was hindered by the
knowledge of their age. For example:
The fundamentalist assertion that evolution is a false pagan doctrine is unfounded. The only thing that the modern theory of evolution has in common with these ancient Greek ideas is that it attempts to understand the world in terms of natural explanations. The fundamentalists appear to be confusing science with theology, and make the mistake of believing that the Bible is a textbook on the former subject. Science makes no reference to God because it does not deal with the realm of the supernatural. However, when religion makes assertions about some aspect of the natural world (such as the age of the universe), then science is in a position to investigate these claims and determine whether they are true or false.
If we compare the wisdom
of science with
the "wisdom" of the fundamentalists, and use nature as the touchstone
truth, we find that the cosmos affirms the theory of evolution on the
hand and shatters the fundamentalist's creation dogma on the other. The
fundamentalist's "wisdom" appears to consist of denying, for emotional
rather than logical reasons, anything that conflicts with their
notions of reality.
Asimov, 1. Asimov's New
Guide to Science,
Penguin Books, London, 1987.
Benet, W. R. et al The Reader's Encyclopedia, A. & C. Black, Ltd., London, 1965.
Cavendish, R. A History of Magic, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1977.
Dods, M. The Book of Genesis, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1891.
Hastings, J. (Ed.) Dictionary of the Bible, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1914.
Meredith, R. C. The Ten Commandments, Ambascal Press Pty Ltd., North Sydney, 1968.
Rushdoony, R. J. The Mythology of Science, The Craig Press, New Jersey, 1968.
Seligmann, K. A History of Magic and the Occult, Gramercy Books, New York, 1997.
Toulmin, S. & Goodfield, J. The Discovery of Time, Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., London, 1967.
Walker, K. The Story of Medicine, Arrow Books Ltd., London, 1959.
Encyclopedia International, Grolier Inc., New York, 1972.
Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version).
INITIALLY FAIR, THEN UNFAIR
(Investigator 98, 2004 September)
After some fair comment about the scientific creationists (#97 pp 17-22) Mr Straughen unfairly criticized the Bible.
He quoted from St Augustine that, "All the diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to demons…"
We discussed that idea in #64 pp 18-19 and #66 pp 31 & 35 where I showed that the Bible allows for at least four causes of sickness. For Straughen to quote a simplification and not point out the fuller facts is mischievous.
He also says, "Civilization has been advanced by the rejection of supernatural explanations…"
The opposite is also true
since modern civilization
has often been advanced by people applying Bible ethics and founding
Ideologies that rejected Bible principles – e.g. racism, Nazism and Communism – often caused great destruction and made civilization regress. Furthermore, many scientific disciplines were initiated by Christians who believed in the supernatural. (See #13 p. 4)
Straughen also discussed fiery serpents, which I'll write about separately.
Reply to Anon On Fairness
(Investigator 99, 2004
In #98 page 6, Anonymous argues that I have unfairly criticized the Bible, and that my comments relating to the symptoms of epilepsy being mistaken for demonic possession were mischievous.
If he has been offended by my conclusions then I apologize. It was never my intention to be either unfair or mischievous; rather, my conclusions are based on the research I have conducted.
As I am currently finalizing an article on demonic possession I will limit my comments to the following general observation. There are a variety of medical conditions that have been mistaken for possession; whether such a thing is possible depends on the existence of demons and their ability to 'infect' human beings. Personally, I see no evidence for the existence of such things. Obviously Anonymous and I have different views relating to this issue.
I will, however, make further comments concerning my assertion that the rejection of supernatural explanations has advanced civilization scientifically (I think I made this clear in my previous essay). I was not referring to the ethical dimension of human culture.
Furthermore, I never
intended to imply, that
no believer has ever contributed to the sum of human knowledge.
it is important to remember that the religious paradigm is of a
order to that of science:
|Subject matter||God & humanity||Phenomena
|Information source||Religious leaders, Scripture||Observation,
|Object of study||Purpose & plan||Mechanisms|
As a further example of how the rejection of supernatural explanations has advanced our understanding of Nature, I offer the following:
(Page 174-175 in White,
A.D: A History
of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. Vol. I,
Publications, New York, 1960.)
Although some scientists may hold religious beliefs, these beliefs must be separated from the process of science itself, which seeks to understand the natural world.
Concerning Biblical ethics
– many of the
positive values found in Scripture are not unique; rather they are part
of those universal values that arise from the fact we are social beings
and need to live in stable and harmonious societies. For example, here
are some of the major traditional Winnebago Indian ethical teachings:
(Investigator 101, 2005
1. Mr Straughen (#99) seemingly misunderstood why I (in #98) called one of his comments (in #97) "mischievous". The point I called mischievous misrepresented the Bible and was answered in a previous debate. To repeat a mistake, whether in one's own words or by quoting someone, is mischievous because it misinforms and wastes time.
2. Straughen's description of the religious and scientific paradigms seems OK to me. I've consistently used science to assess whatever claims in religion are testable. Often Bible statements seemed wrong because science had not caught up. That is, when subsequent science corrected previous science the Bible turned out correct.
3. The idea that every comet is flung by "an angry God" is not biblical. From the Bible I recognized, 15 years before most scientists, the danger of worldwide fire posed to Earth by asteroids and comets. (#38; #62) The fact that science was 1900 years behind the Bible in this may yet spell civilization's doom.
argues that not all of the Bible's positive values are unique. The
itself says that people who do not have God's law yet "do…what the law
requires" (Romans 2:14-16) may be "excused" at God's judgment. Clearly,
non-Christians do get some values and ethical judgments right.