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I make it a point to not write about my faith on this page because 1) I don't believe it's an effective place to write about it, and 2) too many people in my faith are far too embarrassing too often. Many have become the political zombies that we all know so well, but then again, I myself am far from perfect and what I refer to as a professional-strength sinner.

There's a lot of discussion presently of the evolution/creationism debate between Dr. Bill Nye and the Ham guy, whoever he is. So I thought it would be an opportune time to clarify some things to both those unfamiliar with the bible and those who should be more familiar. This essay would likely be controversial in my own church. This surely wouldn't be preached within The Church of FoxNews. I am in no way trying to evangelize or convert anyone, only to discuss a line of biblical interpretation.

My first semester at St. Bonaventure University, I took a course called “Ways of Being Religious.” Thirty years later, one philosophy still sticks in my memory. It was called Left-Handed Tantric Buddhism. The main tenant of the religion was that the way to deal with sin was to do as much of it as possible so that you would become bored with it and stop doing it. This meant that if you wanted to defeat your temptation of committing rape, you should rape as many women as possible until you just got sick of the monotony of it.

I remember it not only because I thought how silly the belief was (apologies to Left-Handed Tantric Buddhists everywhere), but also the acknowledgment that philosophies of all natures and kinds inhabit the human race. Even within certain religions are sets of sub-beliefs that vary between certain groups; Shia versus Sunni, Christian versus Jew, Catholic versus Protestant.

Translations of sacred texts vary along similar lines. Notably, the bible has been the source of bloody conflicts over differences in interpretation across the centuries, many of them very silly. Between secular and Christian communities, a chasm exists about the philosophy of origins. They've become the battle lines for textbooks and doctrinaire in schools, public and private. These differences are frequently heated and ultimately unnecessary in the context of the Christian life as I explain below.

I’m going to focus on only one aspect, the penultimate debate between evolution and creationism of the 6000-year-old earth. This stems from a simple equation set across 42 generations from Adam to Christ over roughly a 4000-year period. This Judaic tradition stemming from the Old Testament calculates a timeline overwhelmingly in conflict with modern empirical science regarding the age of both the earth and the universe. From science, the empirical evidence is quite compelling indeed that dinosaurs and humans did not share this planet at the same juncture in history and, that as a species, humans are a particularly recent development. These facts can be argued ad nauseum but it is far more useful to examine the bible text more closely to bridge disagreement.

Genesis 1-2 is the basis for the creation story that is common to both Judaism and Christianity. Some see the story as metaphorical in nature while others see it as a literal imperative. For those who see it as literal, the English translation reads most precisely as God having created the earth, its plant life, and inhabitants in six twenty-four hour days followed by a day of rest, and the woman shortly thereafter. But the translation from Hebrew to English is far from exacting.

The Hebrew word, "yom," is poorly translated into English as "day." Yom can be defined as a 24 hour day, a 12 hour day, - such as from sunrise to sunset - or an indefinite period of time. Yom is used both as 24 hour and indefinite periods elsewhere in the Old Testament. Scientific estimates for the age of the earth and universe are in the billions of years. It’s important to remember that God and heaven are believed to be unlimited by temporal constraints, so there’s certainly no necessity for God to be in a terrible hurry. As people we define our existence by our existence and have difficulty conceptualizing God working over billions of years to accomplish His purposes. The 6000 years may merely define the history of the Hebrew nation and not the history of all peoples and things.

Other Hebrew to English problems exist.

Gen 1.4-5 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (NRSV)
Except "And there was" doesn’t appear in the Hebrew. It appears in the text to make it flow more smoothly in English. The actual translation after "Night" is "evening and morning 'n' day," which when inserted doesn’t decisively indicate a 24-hour day, especially if you remove the punctuation after Night – there wasn’t any punctuation in the Hebrew either.

Additionally, some bible scholars speculate that an extended time period may have existed between the first two verses of the bible:

Gen 1.1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Gen 1.2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (KJV)

Finally, and most urgently, Christianity is perhaps the sole human religion that relies fundamentally on faith. Science has nothing to do with it. Jesus never came to set down empirical fact to prove His status as Lord.
Eph 2.8 For by grace we are saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. (NRSV)
Our Christian mandate is:
Mt 28.19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (NRSV)
We, speaking of Christians, are not called by Christ to prove His existence or the age of the planet to the year or engage in other trivial philosophical debates. Just as creationism is imperfect as science, evolution is likewise flawed. Mathematically extrapolating history is a dangerous endeavor. Extrapolation deals with balanced equations. If an earthquake is observed in a particular place eighty years apart, then by extrapolation in 800 years you should have 10 earthquakes, but this is not always so. A professor in statistics I know illustrated the danger to his students even more adeptly. He presented a problem where there exists a demand for a million new rotary phones a year in 1970 and the demand is growing by 20% per year. How many rotary phones will you need to produce to meet demand in 2010? The problem works the same in reverse with cell phones. But there is also compelling merit in many of evolution's conclusions.

It will come as no surprise that many theological questions do not have neat and tidy answers. There are always those who have the need to have answers to everything and will spout those answers for the sake of argument in sheer ignorance. However, in most Christian circles, there is an acknowledgement that we’re going to just have to wait until we meet the Almighty to know the answers to certain mysteries. But as a group, we are strangely caught up in this debate insisting that we have a definitive answer to an impossible problem: How do we empirically prove the earth is 6000 years old? We can’t. But as Christians we do have faith in the Triune unity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and an understanding of what that means for ourselves as Christians and of our relationship to God. And for us and for our purpose, by faith, that should be enough.

Originally posted to Christian Democrat on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:58 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  What Does This Have to Do With Science? (13+ / 0-)

    Or science instruction?

    Nothing about the origins or history of the texts has anything to do with science. Nothing about them or their followers or their beliefs has anything to do with science.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:06:51 PM PST

    •  Only because the "zombies" Christian Democrat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      refers to, makes this about Science.

      What we are seeing are two very distinct groups. One is purely political, wishing to look for an emotional lever through faith with which to manipulate "true believers" that we call literalists (the second group) who in their fearful devotion, constantly need to be reassured that their god exists, and that their faith is true, and that means they are constantly looking to create more believers to validate their faith, and that happens by always creating or looking for some kind of evidence that their faith is the only truth, over anything else whether it's other forms of Christianity, left handed Tantric Buddhism, or Science.

      Most of the unfortunate arm of Christianity right now is about money and power, but it requires a base of zealots to keep ramming through the rest of the world.

      6000 years ago, the Daughter of Sargon the Great, wrote the world's first religious hymn to the Moon God in Mesopotamia. The things that Christians challenge isn't just geological or evolutionary, they also challenge the notion that they didn't exist within a Christian Vacuum.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:36:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The whole notion of a 6,000-year (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IndieGuy, Kevskos

    old Earth is inane. They are missing several thousand-year periods between Adam and Jesus. The Earth is at minimum 9,000 years old.

  •  Thanks for the diary (9+ / 0-)

    I wrote about Genesis I a few weeks ago, here.  A few comments:

    Not sure I agree that "and there was" isn't there in Hebrew before "evening" and "morning" -  וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם אֶחָד can be translated as "and there was evening and there was morning, one day."  Va-ye-he being "and there was."  In case you were wondering, this is why the Jewish day, for example Shabbat, begins at sundown, because evening came first in Genesis I.

    You comment:  

    However, in most Christian circles, there is an acknowledgement that we’re going to just have to wait until we meet the Almighty to know the answers to certain mysteries.
    reminds me how, in the Talmud, the rabbis on numerous occasions argued over a point and they finally give up trying to resolve the question so the text states:  "The question stands until Elijah."  Which means that when Elijah comes he'll resolve all these disputes in the Talmud the rabbis weren't able to solve.

    Generally, I would leave religion to religion and science to science.  Science cannot solve every problem.  Science created the nuclear bomb but there is something else - morality, ethics, religion, common sense - that tells us we should strive never to use the nuclear bomb again.  And religion, including a writing that may be 3,000 years old - give or take a few centuries - cannot enlighten us as to the age of the earth.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:57:20 PM PST

    •  Thank you for the clarification (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There is a fine line between religion and science. I often observe that taking a defensive stand about one's faith leads to a certain anger about being confronted. There is little good that can come from it. I find that a positive viewpoint about faith leads to open ears and open mind.

      Judaism has always been far more comfortable with uncertainty than Christianity. Rabbis and other learned men have debated the Torah and the prophets for centuries and do still today.

      •  No, there isn't. (15+ / 0-)
        There is a fine line between religion and science.
        There is a night and day distinction between the two.

        One relies on faith, on belief in the unseen.  It rejects an objective reality, knowable and testable by anyone. It places that faith above any other way of knowing.

        Faith may have its place in the pantheon of human experience, but it is not anything like science in its goals, its methods or, ultimately its ability to make the world a better place.

        "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" -- (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller)

        by rfall on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:10:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Academically sure there is a big line (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Navy Vet Terp

          but you cannot know what is in the heart of every human, not even every scientist. That is where the fine line can exist.

          It doesn't have to be a big deal though. Faith is something personal, and most people leave it out of their publications. Not because it isn't important, but because it doesn't belong in the data. It would be like including your love letters in a thesis. The love for another might be the fuel that drives you, or helps keep you together through hard times, however it's not the method. It's just personal and has no place in the final product to be peer reviewed.

          Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

          by GreenMother on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:39:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would submit (0+ / 0-)

            that it isn't so much a fine line as a broad grey area.

            I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

            by trumpeter on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:08:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It doesn't bother me if a Scientist has religion, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              trumpeter, Navy Vet Terp

              It doesn't bother me if a Scientist doesn't have religion.

              What bothers me are those times when professional, scientific and medical ethics are thrown out the window in favor of profit or fame.

              The faith or lack thereof should be immaterial, when presenting findings.

              Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

              by GreenMother on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:22:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Navy Vet Terp

      I was going to comment on the inaccuracy of that translation as well.  "Vayehi" is pretty unequivocally "and there was."

  •  If you were concerned with "people of your faith" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch, Christian Democrat

    being embarrassing, perhaps you might have researched the left Hand Path of Tantric Buddhism just a little before you presented a "Christian's" too faded memory of something half learned at a Roman Catholic university.

    From the comments it seems it went downhill from there. You lost me slandering other peoples religion.

    War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

    by DaNang65 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:01:30 PM PST

    •  That was not my intention (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I was just pointing out that in my younger years I didn't have the respect for others' beliefs that I do today. The sheer diversity of belief across many gods and lack of god is not something to be looked down upon but to be celebrated. We are a wonderous melting pot here in this country but I fear that intolerance is the poison that leads to mistrust and hate.

  •  I think what the diarist was stretching for... (17+ / 0-)

    ...was that the argument whether the earth was 6000 years old or 4.3 billion years old is a picayune argument. One thing did strike at me in the diary:

    Just as creationism is imperfect as science, evolution is likewise flawed.
    There, I'm afraid, our arguments part company. Since 1859, the theory of evolution has come from Darwin's rough draft, and been chipped and pecked at, tested, argued, and largely bulwarked by our additional advances in physics, chemistry, biology, and paleontology in the 150 years since then. Creationism has largely been left to ever-increasingly strained arguments still constrained by 19th Century (or before) worldviews.

    Even more weirdly, the notion of 'Intelligent Design', the last bastion of Creationism, basically concedes everything to science, including evolution, and retreats into a Deist koan. Not many Christians know that; I'll bet they'd be pretty pissed if they found out.

    •  Creationism has nothing to do with science, (8+ / 0-)

      nor is it a science. it is an irrational belief system based on denial of the finality of death. If there was not special creation of the earth and we simply evolved over billions of years, then there is no afterlife. My late business partner spent at least 2 years trying to convert me. I finally told him that I had checked Google and found that the number of religions world wide was over 33,000. I said that since most of them preach that they are the one true religion and that they all can not be right then there are two possibilities; either one religion is right or none of them are. With the odds of selecting the one true religion being so small that I preferred to reject all of them, since in all likelyhood we are all going to die and be dead a very long time. I am happy to report that he gave up on me then.

      Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

      by J Edward on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:54:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is a real dichotomy here (0+ / 0-)

      The church, as it is spoken of, has real difficulty with this subject. Darwin based his observations on the real world and not the world unseen, with due respect. To the extent that Darwin's conclusions were based on empirical theory makes them far more credible in the context of a scientific examination. This is why I stress the faith component over science. I don't mean to demean Darwin's seminal work, just to express that Christian leaders, or those perceived to be leaders by means of media exposure, are ill served by attempting to create a mathematical proof, if you will, of Christ. This is a matter of faith not science and they mix most often as oil and water.

      •  Science makes the world mechanistic (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, BPARTR

        and through it's research removed the need for a church or a god or a priest to be man's intercessor in a variety of things.

        Many diseases can be avoided now that used to decimate entire populations like the plague, small pox, or the flu. We have vaccines, we have antibiotics, we have germ theory which tells us to wash our hands, pasteurize our food, and keep our animal pens from leaking into drinking water.

        People no longer have to pray for god to give them a child. They can have fertility treatments, they can get sperm or egg donors or even surrogates. Or if they don't want to be pregnant or get pregnant, abortions, tubal ligation, or Birth Control medications and devices.

        The greater uncertainty of the world made people feel insecure, threatened, and under siege, and they turned to religion for some kind of explanation, for community, for charity and moral support.

        The church is no longer relevant in that context to the number of people it used to be. This is simply the extended version of the backlash that started with midwives and Galileo, and continues into the present.

        Otherwise how do we explain the constant desire expressed by these groups for the end times, for famine and pestilence, and war and disease to show their god's wrath and bring us back into their beloved dark ages?

        Science brings freedom and with that responsibility. Some people don't handle that well.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:48:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fortunately, you were misinformed about (5+ / 0-)

    the Left-Hand Path. Well, some idiots might try to do what you said, but basically, No. There are Tantric sex practices done by men, but they are done with hired women or volunteers. Much of the practice is to visualize one's delusions, rather than carry them out physically, and turn the work on them into meditation.

    Or so I hear. I do straight Soto Zen, but I know a few Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) monks and Tibetans.

    There is an alternative translation of Genesis 1:1, starting

    When God began to create the heavens and the Earth…
    There are also Jews who hold to other versions of Creation. One legend is that this is the ninth world that God tried, the earlier ones all turning out to be failures. Another version from Kabbalah has a God of infinite light dividing himself and pouring part of his light into vessels that break, scattering sparks of light all over the world. So our job is to reunite our personal sparks with the original infinite light.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:02:55 PM PST

    •  Sorry, I only know what was taught to me (0+ / 0-)

      I can't speak to the quality of the education I received, just that it opened an understanding of the vastness of religious belief. Many translations and understandings of the ancient texts have been written practically from the time they appeared on parchment. Some translations dismiss the texts altogether while others embrace them as "Gospel truth." Beliefs about origins predate the Torah. The distinction between early Judaism and those even earlier beliefs was the concept of monotheism, one God. From there, infinite variations have developed over time to explain the meaning and purpose of the universe and life itself.

    •  wow (0+ / 0-)
      the earlier ones all turning out to be failures.
      He isn't all that omnipotent then...

      As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

      by BPARTR on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:51:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The only thing Jesus actually said was (6+ / 0-)

    "Hey assholes, do what I do; live like I live; be nice to everyone. That's how you get to Heaven."

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:03:31 PM PST

    •  And how many people do you know who do these (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (paraphrases of) things Jesus said to do?

      A lot of people today believe they will go to heaven whether they do these things or not, simply because they have a "personal relationship" with Jesus, whom they believe to be a deity, and regardless of what they do, so long as they maintain that relationship and belief, they will go to heaven by God's "grace."

      Some of them even have the illusion that Jesus tells them to do things totally foreign to the things you have mentioned, so that, for example, "turn the other cheek" really means "bomb the hell out of your enemies."  That's a tough transition to negotiate in the rational realm, but a historically successful one in the far right realm of tortured exegesis.

      Very few on the right would admit much of the above if pressed, but you have to read between the lines of what they say - which is where you will find what they do - to draw your own conclusions as to what they mean when they say it.

      The "faith only" line of thought is of Pauline origin, although I doubt Paul intended it to be taken quite as literally as it has been in the 21st century.

      The book of James takes issue with Pauline doctrine and basically says, yes, you MUST DO what Jesus taught here on earth, not just believe in the supernatural Christ figure.  The book of James was almost excluded from the canon, by the way, because even as early as the Council of Nicaea, Pauline doctrine had become orthodox and the Jewish-Christian ethic of James had been marginalized by a church dominated by gentiles.

      I doubt that many liberal churches realize how much more closely their most fundamental values correspond with the original Jewish ethic represented by the Jerusalem church led by Jesus' brother James than the diaspora-based Pauline doctrine, but that is the case nonetheless.

      I realize there are any number of "hybrids" of the two schools among individual churches and Christians, but this is the overarching dividing line in Christianity today.

      Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

      by ZedMont on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:08:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You should hear how they freak out when I (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        give them what "I am the Way" really means:

        That's Buddhist phrasing.

        Then their heads explode.

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

        by zenbassoon on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 04:32:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •   I used to have the crazy idea that Paul (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        was basically an agent provocateur- intent on disrupting the early church.  Then I found websites like this and decide that if I was crazy, I was in good company

        "Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."- Thomas Jefferson

        "It rests with every professor of the religion of Jesus to settle within himself to which of the two religions, that of Jesus or that of Paul, he will adhere."- Jeremy Bentham

        "Paul shows us with what complete indifference the earthly life of Jesus was regarded. . . . The fateful thing is that the Greek, the Catholic, and the Protestant theologies all contain the Gospel of Paul in a form which does not continue the Gospel of Jesus, but displaces it."- Albert Schweitzer

        "There has really never been a more monstrous imposition perpetrated than the imposition of Paul's soul upon the soul of Jesus. . . . It is now easy to understand how the Christianity of Jesus. . . . was suppressed by the police and the Church, while Paulinism overran the whole western civilized world, which was at that time the Roman Empire, and was adopted by it as its official faith."- George Bernard Shaw

        And many others

        (this is a rehash of a post I made a couple of years ago!)

  •  I find the most fascinating bit is the way (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZedMont, craiger, GreenMother

    Biblical literalists cheerfully ignore the first version of creation, in which YHWH creates make and female at the same time from the dust of the earth. They much prefer the second one in whuch YHWH creates a companion for Adam, from Adam's own rib, and Adam names her just as he names all the other creatures who are subservient to thim.  I think they like this one better than "same time and equal" version that actually opens Genesis, because it justifies treating women as second class citizens.

    I know some Tantra--have even practiced it-and  think you got it wrong.  I took a class in Eastern Religions, and have never heard of your version. There is a dark side in Chinese magic which uses Tantra techniques. The make deliberately does not climax while bringing his partner(s) to as many orgasms as possible, essentially consuming the sexual energy and chi produced in sex. In Tantra, the sex is sacred, with energies flowing back and forth rather than being a form of sexual vampirism.

    And Christianity has Satanism, its dark side--not the fun sex, drugs and rock'n'roll orgies of LeVey's church--but the occasional wannabe, who fortunately lack the discipline and brains to actually accomplish anything.  I met one. He was a psychopath.  NOBODY in the occult community in NYC would teach him, and none of us would have been surprised to see his face on the front page of the Post being led away in cuffs as a mass murderer.  He was scary.

    I attended Catholic University in D.C. I was Catholic until age 20.One of the things I have noticed over the years is the strain of sexual prudery in certain strains of Christianity. Other faiths view the act as sacred in and of itself. In WIcca, my faith, the highest ceremony is the Great Right, in which the Priest and Priestess have ritual sacred sex.  It symbolizes the coming together of the Lord and the Lady and their role in fertility and abundance.  It is usually performed symbolically by plunging the athame (dagger) into the chalice.  If it is actually performed literally, it is almost done privately. The days of the Beltane fires and everyone getting it on to call fertility into land is gone for the msot part.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:43:47 PM PST

    •  I was a Catholic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZedMont, irishwitch

      but not a very good one. I dare say I'm not a very good Protestant either. There were two versions of the creation story in Genesis, one very direct and the other a much more narrative version. This was influenced by the Mesopotamians who wrote history in two variations. History is legion with male dominated societies. I have a niece whose whole family is Wican.

    •  Did you mean "almost always?" I'm having a (0+ / 0-)

      problem visualizing "almost private."  I would probably not have a problem were I an NSA operative, though.

      Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

      by ZedMont on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:13:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For the NSA' s edification, (0+ / 0-)

        the Great Rite if done literally is almost always performed by a couple,often onemarried to each other or ina close realtionship. And no minors participate.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 10:03:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  They prefer the reversed birth order (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That takes the power of giving life from woman, and makes her beholding for the bone thrown to her from Adam.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:51:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly my point. (0+ / 0-)

        How dare YHWH make the sexes qual, the way he sould have? ANd then there's no excuse ofr beating her if she doesn't behave an obedient dlave.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 10:04:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not even close. A false equivalence. (5+ / 0-)
    Just as creationism is imperfect as science, evolution is likewise flawed.
    Creationism is not science, not in the least.

    Tell is how evolution is "flawed".  As a scientific theory?  Not in the least.  Translated from its scientific principles to a philosophy of life (i.e., belief in evolution leads people to believe they can do as they please without consequence)--well, that's definitely flawed.  But that's not a problem with science.

    Try again.

    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" -- (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller)

    by rfall on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:17:13 PM PST

    •  I couldn't agree more (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Batya the Toon, midnight lurker

      Creationism is not science and never will be which was the point of the diary. Evolution theory has some holes in it but is scientifically superior to Creationism in every way which is also what I was trying to get across. My essay was not to demean Darwin as much as to say that Creationism is a false equivalent to evolution and parallel discussions lead nowhere since they are apples and oranges. It is a matter of belief, not science. They meld poorly at best.

  •  You really don't under science or math, do you? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, BPARTR, S F Hippie, bythesea
    Mathematically extrapolating history is a dangerous endeavor. Extrapolation deals with balanced equations. If an earthquake is observed in a particular place eighty years apart, then by extrapolation in 800 years you should have 10 earthquakes, but this is not always so.
    That's wrong in so many ways.  But this is just the sort of mealy mouthed explanations of how science works that Creationists and IDers use to "disprove" evolution.


    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" -- (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller)

    by rfall on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:18:51 PM PST

  •  Keep your religion out of our science, and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, S F Hippie

    ...we'll keep our science out of your religion.

    That is, don't use religion to make statement about the natural world, and we won't try to use science to prove your Jesus didn't go to Heaven.

    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" -- (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller)

    by rfall on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:20:44 PM PST

    •  Again, my intention was not to preach (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but to make the point that the 6000 year theory had significant flaws and that the Genesis account made room for an alternative explanation of origin.

      •  My brother, the Catholic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        says something similar.  He says the bible was never meant to be taken literally but as a guide for the faithful.

        Fundamentalists will never accept your argument because they believe every word in the bible (whatever one they are reading) is absolute truth.

        Atheists (myself included) don't accept that there was a supernatural influence when the bible was written so it's a kind of historical novel, based loosely on events at the time with the details made up.

        Anyway, I think if faith gives a person peace of mind and doesn't harm anyone else then there's nothing wrong with it.

    •  I fail to see how a religion (0+ / 0-)

      with adherents in the natural world can avoid making statements about it.  In any case, you can't use science to disprove the supernatural for the same reason Ham can't empirically demonstrate creation.

  •  If this is the penultimate question, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as you assert, what is the ultimate question?  Is there an antepenultimate question?  Do you know what penultimate means or do you think it's an emphatic way of saying ultimate?  If I point out that Y is the penultimate letter, I make no comment on the importance or relevance of the letter Y.

    Ethical problem: if you had a time machine, would you go back and kill Cheney before he took office?

    by Fiddler On A Hot Tin Roof on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:33:34 PM PST

  •  How very Catholic of you . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First, let's not gloss over your passing reference to attending Bonaventure University -- a Franciscan Catholic University in lily white upstate New York, where you learned somewhat about other religions in your youth, including the foolish practices of Left Handed Tantric Buddhism. Uh-huh. And they teach how to fix automobile engines at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. Sure.

    Pardon, but your Franciscan mentors obviously didn't know diddly squat about Buddhism, and in fact had a powerful interest in describing all non-Catholic spirituality as benighted and wrong. But it's their job to feed you BS like they did. Fact: they don't teach Buddhism at Bonaventure University, so please don't suppose you gained any genuine knowledge of it from that institution.

    Your essay topic is to promote agnosticism as to the age of the Earth. You devote much of the diary to example translations showing that there's lots of room between the Hebrew Torah and the English bible for interpretation and mistranslation. Got it.

    I figured that was the end of your essay, but then then you ran right off the rails with a remark so profoundly obtuse it's breathtaking -- "Christianity is perhaps the sole human religion that relies fundamentally on faith."

    Wow. Just wow. Spoken with the brazen confidence of someone who only knows one religion, has neither studied nor experienced any other in any depth, and does not ever plan such study. You're still very Catholic, even if you don't think you are.

    Here's a translation from English into plain English, from the Oxford dictionary:

    Faith: noun,
    1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
    2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    Now, I'd ask you to name a practitioner of any human religion who does so except on faith, but you can't. No one can, because there is no such religion.

    All human religions are based on faith. Faith that spiritual rewards will be forthcoming if you believe and practice. This is so even with the non-theistic faiths like the Buddhists, Jains and the several monistic schools of Hinduism, the American Indians -- even outright atheism is followed in faith that its tenets are completely sound and trustworthy.

    Faith is the human way. Hell, there are scads of people on this very website who still have faith in the Democratic Party. People even need some faith in themselves to get out of bed in the morning. Faith is how human beings tick. Without it, they don't even want to live. Heroin, some rope, a gun, meth, crack, or a high bridge all make good sense after faith is gone.

    As you can see from the definition of the word, it doesn't take belief in God to have faith that religious beliefs and practices will result in spiritual rewards. To accept, trust, and follow any religion, any philosophy of life, any creed, any world-view or set of beliefs -- requires ongoing faith.

    Your absurd statement that only Christianity gets to use faith as a pillar of its practice is too dumb to take seriously, and an embarrassment to scholarship of every kind, everywhere. How very Catholic of you.

    Next you get to your other point, the narcissistic Christian notion that every one of you is charged with a mandate to go make disciples of all nations, to conquer the world for Jesus. We all know historically what that has meant to humanity, and all the bloodshed caused by Christians trying to carry it out. We all know the Inquisition is still in session in Rome, just really, really toned down lately. But let's talk about today instead of yesterday.

    What gives any group of human beings the right to conquer the world for their God? What makes them think they are that special? There's no logical reason. The only possible answer is faith -- their complete trust and confidence that they have received that right and that mission from their God, who is (of course!) the only true God out of the 33,000 Gods known to mankind. So, to be faithful, they must obey, and conquer the world for their deity. Faith demands that they do.

    But no matter how very, very, very, very, very, very, very right you think you are -- you ain't. You Christians aren't special. You're just another group of human beings with faith in your religion and your deity. You ain't special.

    You ain't got no pancake mix.

    Have you any idea how many different human groups there are with their own creed, their own God, their own faith? They have divine rights granted by their deity just like you. They get peace and joy from practicing their creed just like you. They have morals and ethics and high standards of behavior just like you. Nothing but your own arrogance could let you ignore that you have no right to proselytize or baptize or preach to others.

    You have the right to be left alone to practice your faith, and every other human being has the exact same right to be left alone by you.

    Other than Islam and Christianity, there are no groups of human beings who have the arrogance and vanity to think they have a mandate to conquer the world for their deity. The other religions are all wiser than that. Perhaps they know it is impossible. Perhaps they know it is foolish. Perhaps they know it is a way of being too busy conquering to actually practice your own faith.

    Perhaps they know it is only a highway to hell on earth, filled with blood and broken bodies. Christian progress, as we have seen so much of over the past 1600 years.

    And over all your essay looms the fact that you hang your faith, your complete trust and confidence, on an English translation of a Greek text written down some four hundred years after any of the words or actions it describes took place.

    If you want to get as close as you can to the original Bible, you can only go back to about 400 CE, when the first known Greek bible was written down. It has been gathered together in the past decade by scholars, and you can find it online in its original Greek in a fresh, accurate translation right here.

    In it you will find that Matthew 19-20 has Jesus telling his 12 disciples to "Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things whatever I commanded you. And lo, I am with you, all the days, to the conclusion of the age."

    Words to that effect, spoken in another language some four centuries earlier, and written down in Greek. So, like the entire bible, it's complete hearsay.

    Nowhere does he say that this baptizing task falls to every Christian forever afterward. He's talking to his closest disciples, the ones who know him and his direct teachings. He isn't standing in a public square saying 'here is every Christian's Great Commission' or 'here is a Mandate for every believer henceforth forevermore.' He simply tells his trained and taught 12 disciples to go do this baptizing.

    To interpret these words as a permanent mission of every living Christian thereafter to go conquer the world for Jesus is akin to the kind of madness found in Mein Kampf. It's such an Aryan way of reading the text, don't you think?

    Christians see visions of glory in their big black book that just aren't there.

    "The 1% have no wealth. They have our wealth."

    by antifa on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:15:35 AM PST

  •  I actually agree with many of your "detractors" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gsenski, Christian Democrat, nookular

    philosophically, although I do not agree with ad hominem attacks on you.

    Thank you for writing this diary.  While I may disagree with some of what you have said, you have provided the framework for some very good discussion, and as far as I'm concerned, that's what makes it a good diary, not whether I agree with it point by point.

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:30:33 AM PST

  •  What baloney. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You lead right into a "both sides do it" claim that scientific analysis is no more reliable - in scientific terms - than a literal interpretation of the Bible.  Highlighted by a thoroughly ignorant example (earthquake frequency) of how scientific inquiry works.

  •  I do not understand why people quibble (0+ / 0-)

    over the two.  Keeping up with my own 63 years is enough.
    Personally, I feel there is much misunderstood about the bible and personally I do not have enough faith to delve into the years of evolution.  I just can't believe that the earth exploded and set things in perfect place.  I don't think the bible should be taken literally rather than spirituality either.   This is why they call it faith.  I would have respected people's theory the earth was flat as well.
    Like I said, keeping up with your own years and walk is enough for any mortal.  10 minutes or 10 million years...why not people believe what they will?  

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:48:03 AM PST

  •  Quantum Physics would explain all viewpoints (0+ / 0-)

    Who's afraid of Schrodinger's cat?
    Are we changing the outcome by attempting to observe?
    God and the concept of time are not feasibly joined at the hip.
    I would espouse there is nothing in the Bible anywhere insinuating the teaching of genesis and the time it takes subjectively is of any importance.
    I would say it is all very metaphorical and not meant to be empirical.

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:14:00 AM PST

  •  If there is one tenet through the Old and New (0+ / 0-)

    Testament; the more you have, the more likely you are to choose evil.

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:20:14 AM PST

  •  Coincidence? I think not! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The sun-god Horus was worshipped nearly 1,000 years before the story of Jesus. Check these parallels:

    1.Both were conceived of a virgin.
    2.Both were the "only begotten son" of a god (either Osiris or Yahweh)
    3.Horus's mother was Meri, Jesus's mother was Mary.
    4.Horus's foster father was called Jo-Seph, and Jesus's foster father was Joseph.
    5.Both foster fathers were of royal descent.
    6.Both were born in a cave (although sometimes Jesus is said to have been born in a stable).
    7.Both had their coming announced to their mother by an angel.
    Horus; birth was heralded by the star Sirius (the morning star). Jesus had his birth heralded by a star in the East (the sun rises in the East).
    8.Ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Horus on December 21 (the Winter Solstice). Modern Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25.
    9.Both births were announced by angels (this si nto the same as number 7).
    10.Both had shepherds witnessing the birth.
    11.Horus was visited at birth by "three solar deities" and Jesus was visited by "three wise men".
    12.After the birth of Horus, Herut tried to have Horus murdered. After the birth of Jesus, Herod tried to have Jesus murdered.
    13.To hide from Herut, the god That tells Isis, "Come, thou goddess Isis, hide thyself with thy child." To hide from Herod, an angel tells Joseph to "arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt."
    14.When Horus came of age, he had a special ritual where hsi eye was restored. When Jesus (and other Jews) come of age, they have a special ritual called a Bar Mitzvah.
    15.Both Horus and Jesus were 12 at this coming-of-age ritual.
    Neither have any official recorded life histories between the ages of 12 and 30.
    16.Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus. Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan.
    17.Both were baptized at age 30.
    18.Horus was baptized by Anup the Baptizer. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
    19.Both Anup and John were later beheaded.
    20.Horus was taken from the desert of Amenta up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Set. Jesus was taken from the desert in Palestine up a high mountain to be tempted by his arch-rival Satan.
    21.Both Horus and Jesus successfully resist this temptation.
    22.Both have 12 disciples.
    23.Both walked on water, cast out demons, healed the sick, and restored sight to the blind.
    24.Horus "stilled the sea by his power." Jesus commanded the sea to be still by saying, "Peace, be still."
    25.Horus raised his dead father (Osiris) from the grave. Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. (Note the similarity in names when you say them out loud. Further, Osiris was also known as Asar, which is El-Asar in Hebrew, which is El-Asarus in Latin.)
    26.Osiris was raised in the town of Anu. Lazarus was raised in Bethanu (literally, "house of Anu").
    27.Both gods delivered a Sermon on the Mount.
    28.Both were crucified.
    29.Both were crucified next to two thieves.
    30.Both were buried in a tomb.
    31.Horus was sent to Hell and resurrected in 3 days. Jesus was sent to Hell and came back "three days" later (although Friday night to Sunday morning is hardly three days).
    32.Both had their resurrection announced by women.
    33.Both are supposed to return for a 1000-year reign.
    34.Horus is known as KRST, the anointed one. Jesus was known as the Christ (which means "anointed one").
    35.Both Jesus and Horus have been called the good shepherd, the lamb of God, the bread of life, the son of man, the Word, the fisher, and the winnower.
    36.Both are associated with the zodiac sign of Pisces (the fish).
    37.Both are associated with the symbols of the fish, the beetle, the vine, and the shepherd's crook.
    38.Horus was born in Anu ("the place of bread") and Jesus was born in Bethlehem ("the house of bread").
    39."The infant Horus was carried out of Egypt to escape the wrath of Typhon. The infant Jesus was carried into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Concerning the infant Jesus, the New Testament states the following prophecy: 'Out of Egypt have I called my son.'"
    40.Both were transfigured on the mount.
    41.The catacombs of Rome have pictures of the infant Horus being held by his mother, not unlike the modern-day images of "Madonna and Child."
    Noted English author C. W. King says that both Isis and Mary are called "Immaculate".
    42.Horus says: "Osiris, I am your son, come to glorify your soul, and to give you even more power." And Jesus says: "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once."
    Horus was identified with the Tau (cross).

    •  I suggest you double check the veracity of that (0+ / 0-)

      list. While the general point remains, many details are inaccurate or even intentionally misleading leading to some debunking after Maher referenced it in "Religulous."

  •  I can see some people are angry (0+ / 0-)

    I respect that you took into consideration that "us" referenced Christians, and that you weren't trying to force everyone else to become an extension of you, or Christianity or us.

    Science is most assuredly flawed too, BUT (and this is a but here) over time breakthroughs do give it course corrections.

    Science can be just as politically driven as religion. That is why we have classes and books on Scientific Ethics. If it were infallible, there would be no need for those concepts.

    Case in point:

    Dr Edward H. Clarke's book Sex in Education, or a Fair Chance for the Girls, was the great uterine manifesto of the nineteenth century...Clarke reviewed the medical theories of female nature--the innate frailty of women, the brain-uterus competition--and concluded, with startling but unassailable logic, that higher education would cause women's uteruses to atrophy!
    For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of Experts Advice to Women by B. Ehrenreich and Deirdre English. pp140-141.
    Beware!! Science pronounces that the woman who studies is lost. qtd by Ehrenreich and English pp 141
    Female students, their studies showed were pale, in delicate health, and prey to monstrous deviations from menstrual irregularities. Ibid.
    But even when science is flawed, that doesn't open the door for faith to usurp the place of science. This simply reflects the flaw of humanity in which it ignores evidence that is contrary to their desires, hence seeing only what they want to see.

    Aspects of this attitude still exist in science, and it is waved like a banner in some faiths.

    This is an example that makes me remember to always QUESTION AUTHORITY.


    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:05:11 AM PST

  •  Sounds to me like (0+ / 0-)

    Give onto Darwin what is Darwin's and onto God what is God's.  This is an interesting perspective in trying to reconcile religious notions and scientific notions that are essentially irreconcilable by virtue of what is and what is not science, but perhaps this is the best that religion can do.

    In the recent debate Mr. Nye made a point that Mr. Ham could never answer.  It was a question about what it is that science can tell us, but what religion can not, namely what given the tenants of each at a particular moment can be used to predict what will happen (ie be true) in the future.  It was the question Mr. Ham could never bring himself to face, much less answer.  

    There is a fundamental reason for this that relates to the topology of the universe as seen differently by scientists and the religious, who rely on a faith in an immutable, all explaining God.  As do mathematicians, scientists recognize that to understand the shape of the universe, one must recognize the essential need to understand the differences between the topological nature of the universe defined by potentially an infinite number of different topologies that might underlie a given explanation that often fall between what mathematicians call the discrete and the indiscrete topologies.  In contrast, folks like Mr. Ham, rely on seeing the universe as a single topology, the indiscrete topology, within which belief in God explains everything.  Unfortunately, because a reference to God explains everything, in a very real sense, just like the indiscrete topology, it explains nothing.  With such a view there is no boundary between what we know and don't know about the universe and consequently, there is no frontier of science or knowledge, only an appeal to God, whatever that might mean.

    This leads directly to an important point that Mr. Nye was making, namely that for our country to be a leader and prosper in a technological world, we must nurture an innate curiosity about the world that is the essence of science, to understand that which seems unexplained or unexplainable.  That is, to be able to  understand how to do things which no one has yet been able to figure out how to do.  Those that accept the view that the indiscrete topology are left helpless in understanding an evolving world, since the only explanation they have is that God did it, but God being everything and anything leaves them without understanding of the new ideas and new frontiers of knowledge.

    The ability to recognize the consequences that stem from different but very basic and fundamental concepts about the nature of knowledge and truth are of considerable importance to humans as a species, if we are to give onto Darwin what is Darwin's.  It is essential that we at least have the intellectual integrity to recognize the difference, as many of the consequences of these differences are very real.  Indeed, our survival as lineages of our own kin, as well as a species depend upon it.

    As a scientist, I am often frustrated, not by an ignorance of science, since we are all born in that state and even the most intelligent among us only come to recognize a partial view of scientific reality by the time we die, but by the view that willfully attempts to deny the existence of scientific methods and scientific truths.  A good example of this can be seen among those who deny that Homo sapiens is in the aggregate rapidly altering the climate of planet Earth.   They have all sorts of beliefs that the world is not warming as predicted by modern climatology and physics, many of them contradictory, but none stands out more clearly than their inability to explain why, if the Earth is not warming, are all the glaciers in the world now melting simultaneously at rates never observed in either human or geological history?  Like Mr. Ham, an inability to understand the nature of prediction and the role of carefully measured observation leaves them completely without any understanding of the world around them other than God works in mysterious ways.  

    It seems appropriately ironic that at the same time, the Bible tells us that God helps those who help themselves.  One can only be left to wonder, given the new political vocabulary of our times, whether the religious, whose ideas are unable to evolve, will become the the "takers" and the "moochers" in an increasingly highly technological 21st century.  Surely, the truly religious deserve better a better fate.

  •  One can have science (0+ / 0-)

    with or without God. Both scientists & Christians are free, & ought to be free, to say, "I don't know." Fundamentalists are very uncomfortable with that admission.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:46:33 AM PST

  •  The 6000 year old claim... (0+ / 0-)

    Actually goes back only about a century when some religious scholar who happened to be good at math decided to "deduce" the age of the Earth using the ages of people in the bible. "Inherit the Wind" actually went into this a little bit. Since it's been a while since I've seen that movie, I honestly don't know what his name was. But the idea was never bible based in the first place. I'm guessing he was also a bible literalist and wouldn't have taken kindly to the whole concept of evolution.

  •  6000 Years, Give or Take (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Actually, when I was being taught "Scientific Creationism" in my youth during the 1970s when it was a fad like Pet Rocks and Polyester, I was told that Bishop Ussher's calculation of 4004 BC for the date of creation was faulty because he failed to consider gaps in the biblical genealogies.  

    Essentially what it meant was that they were willing to question geological evidence about the age of the world, but were less confident about chucking out historical evidence of human history that dated back beyond Ussher's date.  So they booted back age of the earth to about 10,000 years, just to make a nice round number.

    I haven't really seriously looked at what the Creationists are saying these days, but apparently they've gone back to embracing Bishop Ussher.

    But let me point out that Ussher isn't the only game in town.  The Venerable Bede, the 8th Century English scholar who wrote one of the first Histories of England, also calculated the age of the Earth.  He came up with the date 3953 BC.  Like Ussher, Bede based his calculations in part on adding up the years given in biblical genealogies, but also in trying to correlate historical events of the Bible with what non-biblical historical sources were available to him.

    The Bede had a deep interest in history, and in addition to writing the Ecclesiastical History of the English People which gave him his greatest fame, he also advocated the Anno Domini system of dating in order to provide scholars with a consistent timeline for comparing the chronologies of historic events.

    And he was Venerable.  Can't say that about everybody.

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

    by quarkstomper on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 06:22:07 AM PST

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