examinescience

A personal journey into the world of Science and Human History

Month: March, 2016

Out of the Garden and into the Cradle (Part Two)

In part one of this subject, I suggested that Eden could be in Africa, which is where modern scientists postulate our human ancestry begins. One other explanation exists for the contradiction between Eden, which some believe is in modern day Iraq, and the cradle of mankind, which is Africa.

Genesis two tells us about how God created man and then planted a garden in the east (vs 8). He could have “planted” this garden by supernaturally bringing it up from dead ground or he could have grown it through natural process. How he did it wasn’t important. It only matters that he did do it.

And all the Bible tells us is that he planted it in the east. More than likely, in writing to ancient Jews, the writer meant the location of present day Iraq. Remember that the books of the Bible had a target audience, just like any piece of writing does. So while Noah might not have meant that the Garden had been in Iraq based on his renaming of new rivers after old ones (see THIS post), the writer of Genesis seems to indicate this as a location.

Yet the location is really not that important. Again, we believe God created everything because we believe that both the Bible (his written revelation) and nature (his physical revelation) both tell us so. So whether the original writer was right in saying it was Iraq or not is irrelevant.

Because of the above and the previous post on this subject, I believe that the cradle of mankind (eastern Africa) and the Garden of Eden were the same.

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Easter and Evolution

Pattaya Day 04 007

Picture of Sunrise Service on board USS Antietam, taken in Pattaya, Thailand. Easter 2009.

Happy Easter! I’m on duty today, but I started my morning with God and it has been a wonderful morning thus far.

I wanted to write today about what evolution means for Easter as I read something about the Scopes Monkey Trial that I found unnerving. William Jennings Bryan, who joined the prosecution in an effort to lend credibility to what was otherwise a small town affair, said the following: “if this evolution doctrine is true, this logic eliminates everything supernatural, and that means they eliminate the virgin birth…the resurrection of the body…and the doctrine of atonement.”

Is that what it really means though? Sometimes I wonder if the answer is yes. I wonder if modern evangelicalism (which replaced, at least in name, fundamentalism of the 1920s) can survive the pressing reality of evolution. I’ve written about it in my book, and I have a post coming about it on this blog, that suggests our faith might be in trouble if Genesis One can’t stand up to the scrutiny of modern science. I’m concerned that Jennings might be right if this is the case.

Yet I’m hopeful…it is spring after all. I am hopeful that our faith in God is stronger than our fears about engaging science. I’m hopeful that God will show us through nature what he planned in our faith. I’m hopeful that we will celebrate Easter in the many years to come as a sign of hope for our coming resurrection, not as a faded memory of a dead faith.

I’m mostly hopeful that evangelicalism as a political voting bloc, will itself fade, replaced by a faith that is willing to engage with science to learn more about the Creator. I think this is possible, and I’m hopeful for that day.

So happy Easter everyone. Praise the Lord for what he has done for us, and may he continue to teach us new things about him every day!

 

 

Writing a Book

I think I’m always writing a book, or an article, or a blog post. At any given time, I’m writing SOMETHING! My passion for writing comes from my mom, who encouraged me to write when I was a boy when I couldn’t even spell. She saw in me a desire and fostered it. I’ll always be grateful for mom because of that.

As I conduct more research into the facts and fallacies of evolution, creation, and how it all happened, I’ve decided to expand my plans for recording my journey. Yes, I hope that this blog will help people, but I also hope that perhaps I can help people on a wider scale as well through a book on the subject.

It will take a long time to become a recognized expert on this subject, if I ever become one, so the book isn’t coming out any time soon. Still, I wanted you to know, especially since we’re about to embark on research regarding Neanderthal and other extinct “humans,” that there is a wider end game now. Things are getting more real and I am getting more excited!

Stay tuned for more updates as research progresses.

Out of the Garden and Into the Cradle

Periodically, as research can be made into hypothesis and the other way around, I will return to the issue of making sense of the data. This will be an imperfect process of course, and my conclusions may change over time. It’s science…this sort of thing happens all the time. So let’s dig in for the first issue: Out of the Garden and into the Cradle.

Modern man came from eastern Africa, according to the “Out of Africa” model of evolutionary history. While two theories exist to explain the evolution of modern man (replacement and regional continuity model[1]), it is generally not thought to be compatible with what the Bible suggests happened in our history (with Eden).

This is the crux of the problem. Many fundamentalists suggest that the Garden of Eden was in modern day Iraq. This is due to the fact that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, mentioned in biblical Eden, water that area of the globe.

This seems to be a contradiction. Can mankind come from both the Garden of Eden as the Bible suggests and the cradle of mankind, thought by modern scientists to be eastern Africa?

At this point, I refer you to a great article on the ICR website.[2] I can be extremely critical of the Institute for its almost dogmatic defense of YEC, but I can also recognize a good defense when I see it. Essentially, for all we know, the Garden of Eden was in eastern Africa. We have no idea where the biblical Garden was because the flood, if it happened as the Bible said it did, would have completely reshaped the globe. Noah would have renamed the current landscape after what he thought things were based on when he was walking the pre-flood earth.

Answers in Genesis also discusses the issue and comes up with much the same answer.[3] The one thing I’m concerned about is that the author of the AIG article claims the Garden couldn’t be in modern Iraq because of the millions of dead things, which wouldn’t have been there before sin entered the world. This is an unneeded argument, because nothing would have been dead until sin entered the world, whether in eastern Africa or Iraq and by the time of the flood, sin most certainly abounded. It’s just not a logical argument, in my opinion.

The problem with the AIG article is that it suggests that the Garden remained perfect even after sin entered the world. Essentially, even though Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden, the physical garden would have remained perfect. This isn’t logical. Mankind had been placed there to care for it. In their absence, and with sin abounding, the garden would have been overrun and become overgrown. Still, the rest of the article is very good.

In summary, the argument is not necessarily two beginnings of mankind. We don’t have to accept either the fossil record or biblical record (in this case!). As pointed out by both Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research, we don’t know Eden’s location. For all we know, they could be the same place (and probably were).

Notes:

[1] http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_4.htm

[2] http://www.icr.org/article/where-was-garden-eden-located/

[3] https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/garden-of-eden/where-was-the-garden-of-eden-located/

Creation, Evolution, and Cystic Fibrosis (Part Four)

I have to be careful here about how much to lay out about my research plan because I don’t want to taint a possible research pool in the future because it is my honest desire to discover a way to truly test the Bible someday, just like we test evolutionary hypotheses. That’s for another post. So here, in the best of my limited understanding of science, is how I think cystic fibrosis (CF), and other genetic conditions, came about because of the fall of man.

In the Bible, Genesis tells us the extreme damage to the current creation. Genesis 3:6-8 reads, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

In this one short passage humanity, and really all creation, went from being utopian to being plagued with the reality we face today. It tells us the story of the “fall of man.” Any time I say, “fall of man” (and I say it a lot) this is the passage I am referring to. I’ll write in the future about the apologetic side of this passage, but for now let’s stay on topic. How did we get cystic fibrosis from this?

If the creation was essentially perfect before the fall, and then imperfect after the fall, then no genetic diseases existed before Adam ate from the fruit. Since all we have of the scientific record is scraps of fossilized bone, it is very difficult indeed to know the disease possibilities of the scientific Adam and Eve.

Furthermore, modern science cannot tell us the reason for the cystic fibrosis mutation or how it came to be. Tuberculosis is the most reasonable agent for giving heterozygote carriers a selective advantage in cystic fibrosis, but that doesn’t show how CF started. It only suggests that once cystic fibrosis mutations appeared, they didn’t die out because they provided an advantage to those who had them (as long as you only had one. If both of your CFTR pathways were CF, you died very young).

Let me put something into other words. Modern science cannot, and probably will not ever, show when the first CF mutation came to be or why. I have found a significant time gap in the research where CF existed with no primary agent for its existence. I’ve yet to hear back from a researcher on why that vacuum exists.

What I believe, instead, is that at the moment of the fall of man, when the woman would experience pain in childbirth and the man would have to earn his wages, it affected everything. God may have given these punishments to Adam and Eve, but what also happened is that our very DNA, the core of who we are physically, became an open battlefield. Suddenly changes could be made to the minute pieces of genetic information. This was both good and bad. Good because it allowed humans to adapt to their local environments, for example. Bad, of course, because now cystic fibrosis (et al) was able to develop.

Admittedly, the Bible also doesn’t tell us when the first cystic fibrosis mutation appeared. Neither modern science nor the scriptures are going to be able to say, “Here is evidence of the very first mutation.” The information is lost to history. What the Bible does show is, however, is how the mutations were allowed to occur, and that is because of the fall of mankind through sin.

This is not a closed research project. I will continue this line of thinking over time to develop it further. To keep up with the research, click HERE.

Neanderthal and Me

Hmm…he has such a nice smile! What a kindly old gentleman (of like…35 years old or so). 

This is the first truly new post in some time. I was afraid I would grow tired of the research, or more likely, get overwhelmed by it, and give up. In the end, my real enemy was life around me, particularly in my “day job” of being a Chief Warrant Officer in the United States Navy. With all of the training evolutions (pun intended) and the qualifications I’m working on, I just haven’t had time to take on something so potentially mind-boggling as the Neanderthals (and other prehistoric humanoids).

Did they exist? Well, that’s where I’m headed in the future of this blog. Now that I have basically wrapped up my research on cystic fibrosis, and I’ve submitted an article on my research to some Christian magazines, it’s time to tackle something more all-encompassing. Something like Neanderthal man.

neanderthal-child

Found on the AIG website for Neanderthal

Throughout my life, I have made the point of believing, as AIG does, that neanderthals are an offshoot of humans, not a distinct species. As I believe that adaptation does occur, it did not bother me that their bone structures were different. I just believed that they were particularly adapted to the harsher climate of Northern Europe. Now that we’ve tested some of their DNA, we see that it’s 99.5% the same as ours! Sounds like a coup to me! Oh wait…chimps and humans share 98,8%. Maybe that’s not such a resounding victory after all.

If Neanderthals existed, what does it mean for my faith? After all, this is as much a faith journey as it is an attempt to show you that God does exist (and therefore that our hope in Jesus is not in vain). Some questions we’ll have to answer are:

  1.  Could God have created all of these different forms of humans, just as he created different forms of other animals?
  2. If not, then what did the humans God created actually look like? In asking this questions, I’m directly confronting the idea that Adam and Eve were thin, white people. I say that with some tongue in cheek, but the fact is that every book I read as a child depicted them that way, at least as far as I can remember.
  3. Regardless of the result of the first two questions, this one is interesting academically: Could other forms of created humans have sinned? That makes a good question for people who think God could have created life on other planets as well.

There will be other questions as well of course. There always are.

Why I’m not afraid to study Evolution

The real question is, “Why aren’t you bold enough to study modern science?” Let me answer the question this way: We are afraid that studying evolution might lead us away from God.

This is hogwash. Either God is real enough, and strong enough, to withstand mankind’s speculation, or he is not the God I believe in. I think he’s the former. Furthermore, I think my faith will come out stronger for learning about the best scientific research available. But here’s the crux of the entire deal: Either my faith is strong enough to withstand the scrutiny of science, or I’m not the Christian I thought I was. This has so very little to do with God’s power and so much to do with my small faith.

Our kids WILL be taught evolution in schools, and it will not be taught as a theory. It will be taught as a continually tested reality. Sometimes the scientists are wrong (as I believe they are in the case of the evolution of cystic fibrosis), but they don’t stop testing.

We fundamentalists think that once they are proven wrong on something that scientists will just give up and accept Christ as savior. We think that one or two failures are enough to convince us that we are right. Neither of those issues work the way we want them to. Scientists don’t quit after a few failures and those failures don’t make us right.

Instead, we have to look at their research. Just like we are all responsible for understanding (to the best of our ability) the Bible, we are also responsible for understanding (again, to the best of our ability), the natural revelation of God in nature as shown in Romans 1:20.

To keep up with that research, click HERE to sign up for updates.

Becoming an Expert

Stay with me on this one:

So I have an apparently  irreconcilable problem – I’m not an expert scientist. I do not hold degrees in the field of biology, paleontology, physics, or any other field of science. My undergrad is in management and my graduate work was in religion. In the former I learned how to better manage people who worked with and for me and in the latter I learned about religion, specifically Christianity, in greater detail. Furthermore, I got those degrees from lesser-known schools. Oh, Liberty University is known, but not for academic reasons.

At best, I will always be an amateur scientist and theologian. Neither field would actually want to accept my input unless I produce stellar results. The most they would do is maybe…maybe…tolerate me if it is justifiable.

So I’ve concluded that I’m not an expert. What drives me then? Same thing that drives most everyone…my children. I want them to do well in school. I don’t want them confused or laughed out of class. Instead, I want them armed with the best research my limited resources can procure. I want them on par with their non-Christian classmates. I want them to be respected by their science teachers.

And I want them to have a good relationship with me. I don’t want them thinking that I believe in archaic ideologies that don’t mesh with what they learn to be true in class. Now, if I can provide them the best of research, and it turns out that the literal interpretation of Genesis one is plausible, then I’m going to arm them with that and who cares what their teachers think! But more likely, I’m going to realize that the world is a lot older than we want it to be (for convenience of the Bible) and that we all need to take a hard, long look at the research.

That’s all I want you to do. No agendas except to get to the truth. If the truth is that the earth was made in six literal days, then I will work to find a way to debunk evolutionists outright. If, however, six literal days, without the use of a gap theory, is irreconcilable with the scientific record, then so be it. God is powerful enough to handle it.

I think, in the end, it will be a mixture of the two.

But because I’m just an amateur, I will have to work hard on this project and it will take some time. Bear with me. It’s going to be a long ride.

Sign up HERE to stay up to date with the research.