examinescience

A personal journey into the world of Science and Human History

Tag: research

ExamineScience in 2017

First, an apology about the silence on this blog. As a career Sailor, family man, and freelance writer, I have a lot of competing agendas vying for my time.

Through my research on cystic fibrosis, humanoid development, and the age of the earth, I’ve come to understand certain things that both worry me a little and give me hope. The research worries me because I have always taken the Bible as…well…gospel. I worry a little about what it means for the traditional reading of the text. Liberal Christians won’t have that problem. My research, however, gives me hope in that I think God’s ultimate truth will be revealed both in scripture and in nature. I don’t know how it all works out yet, but I keep thinking about Romans 1:20 as a reference point.

Anyway, I’ve been silent because there’s just so much going on. I was published seven times in 2016. Two of those articles came directly from the work I did on this blog.

The Only Patient in the Hospital (You and Me Magazine- Sept 09, 2016) is an essay about what it’s like to be in the hospital watching my child go through treatments for her genetic disease. It doesn’t deal much with the science of it and certainly not much about evolution vs creation, but it was the backdrop for my research.

Abortion is not valid Genetic Control (Baptist Standard – Sept 28, 2016) is a fact-based essay about the use of abortion to control genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis. In researching the evolution of cystic fibrosis, I came across a study in France about the drop in CF patients due to an increase in prenatal screening that leads to abortion. Honestly it made me sick, so I had to write about it. Believe it or not, a Catholic publication passed up the essay. I’m glad the Baptist Standard gave it life.

There still is no book, though I’ve written parts of two of them. Will they ever see the light of day? I don’t know. They are certainly at a wall. I may go back and see if I can discover some articles from what I’ve written. I’m cautiously optimistic.

I haven’t given up entirely on the project. I have a few books that I’m bringing on deployment with me to continue my research.

Who was Adam – This book explains the creative model approach to human development. The book assumes, among other things, that Neanderthals did exist, so I’m interested on that fact alone. I’m hoping that this book, published by Reason to Believe, a Christian organization, will help me come to terms with some of my concerns.

Genesis and the Big Bang – This book purports that there is harmony between the Big Bang (and thus evolution as a whole) and the creative work mentioned in Genesis. I’m most interested in this book.

The Gap is not a Theory – I’ve been a ruin-reconstructionist in my past and I’m still intrigued by the theory that there is a “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. I’m not completely sold on its viability, but I’m, as I said, intrigued.

I’ve also invited a friend and atheist to write a post for the blog about the possible connection with creation and evolution, and how believing in evolution doesn’t immediately dismiss God. That should come out in the next few weeks.

So there is plenty of work going on, but it might take awhile to get it all down on the computer screen. Rest assured I’ll be keeping you up to date on research.

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Transition to the next Topic

Your children, as you already know, are inundated with ages of the earth that are astronomically different than most evangelical estimates. This can cause some confusion and leave evangelical children outside looking in socially and educationally in public schools. The goal of this blog is to keep that from happening by arming you with real data in as unbiased a manner as possible.

The central question to be asked in order to combat his issue is this: Can Genesis and evolutionary science reside together? I hope so, but I have concerns that must be addressed. This post attempts to do so while providing a path ahead.

We know, in general terms, what evolutionary science tells us about the “creation” of everything. Most notably, it takes a very, very long time and like doesn’t always give way to like. Creation accounts from Genesis, however, suggest that creation was fairly short, certainly not billions upon billions of years, and that God created everything, “after its kind.”

This is the problem: If God created everything, and evolution says everything happened by chance, how could they coexist?

We must always go back to the beginning. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” We can debate timeframes later. The important thing to understand is that it doesn’t allow for macro forms of evolution. “Read literally, this precludes evolution of one “kind” of plant or animal to another.”[1]

Genesis isn’t the only place that this occurs. John 1:1-3 tells the same story, but introduces Jesus as the co-creator with the Father. Here is the passage:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

My concern is that both of these passages, if read literally, remove the allowance of any macroevolution of any kind into the mind of the faithful follower of Christ. It probably doesn’t remove the idea of microevolution, as my daughter’s cystic fibrosis (CF) didn’t create a different kind of humanoid, but just a mutation that is at least hypothesized to defeat tuberculosis.

The Bible says that God created all of the “kinds” of animals, plants, fish, etc on this planet and left no place for the creation of one “kind” from another by chance. If evolution were proven correct, then, it would leave little place for the Bible. At best, it would remain as a testament to an older time of myth. At worst, it would be a relic of ignorant fools.

The example I can’t shake is the Mammoth, which is a cousin to the Asian elephant via some ancient, prehistoric elephant. If AiG and ICR are correct, then the Mammoth and the Asian elephant were together on the ark. Presumably the African elephant as well. Genetics suggest a different story.

I read a good book on this subject called How to Clone a Mammoth, by Dr. Beth Shapiro. It’s an excellent book on cloning, genetics, evolution, and extinction. The problem is that it lays out a good case for how the mammoth and other elephants evolved, and that wasn’t even the goal of the book!

The biggest issue is the genetics connection between the mammoth and the Asian elephant. Geographically, it makes sense that the two are related because Asian elephants could have been a natural southern cousin to the northern mammoths. But the problem is that they’re different species, yet have so much concurrent genetic code that we can use Asian elephants (someday) to clone a mammoth (or something close to it).

I don’t want to be too forward in invoking the dad card here, but we’ve simply got to figure out this stuff. First, does the Bible allow for this sort of evolution? I’m not sure it does. Genesis 1:1+ and John 1:1-3 seem to allow only for God in creating actual species. I don’t think the Bible cares how long we’ve been here, but I do think it wants us to know that He created all of the species.

Unfortunately, naturalists have known for a long time that not all species lived together at the same time. As early as the 1820s, long before Darwin sailed to the Galapagos Islands, naturalists and paleontologists knew that different strata in the geological record had different specimens. More than that, the specimens appeared and disappeared, indicating different creations and extinctions.[2] This idea had sprung up around the same time in England with a fellow named William Smith, who, as a canal digger, realized that different strata along his canals contained very different specimens. While Smith never made a conclusion against faith, and as far as we know stayed true to his religious stance, he did realize that something wasn’t as traditionally taught.[3]

But there were no other creations, at least not without a gap theory, and we’ve looked into that and found that theory lacking, unfortunately, though more research is needed.

So I’m going to turn my attention from cystic fibrosis (as a research project) to the fossil record, particularly with the mammoth, to see if I can find an answer to the issue at hand.

Your comments are welcome below, as is your subscription to this blog, which you can get by clicking HERE.

[1] Larson, Edward J. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Random House. New York, NY, 2004. Pg 11.

[2] Ibid, pg 29

[3] Prothero, Donald R. Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters. Columbia University Press, 2007. pg 55.

Choosing the Right Bible for the Journey

If you’re a Christian and you’re like me, you are struggling with the scientific data coming to you. Sometimes it seems like Christianity, and the traditional reading of the scriptures, can be defended fairly easily. Then there are times that make you doubt what you believe. This is normal (at least I hope it is) and you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it.

You have to have the right tools for this journey. A family doesn’t usually just jump in a car and drive across country (believe me, that would be a disaster). As a military family, we’ve moved plenty of times, and every time we’ve done it, we’ve had to have a plan. Where will we stop? What supplies do we need for the trip? Where are the gas stations and bathrooms along the planned road? Do we have time to make a stop at that cool place to explore? Yes, the questions are plenty.
And if you’re embarking, or have embarked, on a journey like the one I’m on, to discover as much as possible about the truth, you need to have the right supplies. For a long time, I have existed with a study Bible on my iPad. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. More than anything, I like having my notes electronically. That way, through the Olive Tree app, I can access my notes on my iPad, my iPhone, or my MacBook. No matter where I am, I can always get to my notes.

Another reason I have tried not to buy another physical Bible is that I think we, particularly in the western world, are inundated with Bibles while so many overseas are too poor to afford one or don’t have access to one. So as my old KJV Thompson Chain wore out, I held out buying a new one. That one was a gift from my church in my hometown when I graduated from high school, so no shame that it couldn’t last. It’s been 20 years! I do still go to it periodically, but it’s time to retire it.

But I’m an old soul in an aging body, and I still like to turn pages. Even more than that, I like to have research notes handy. That’s why my wife and I both decided it was time for a new Bible. I ordered the ESV Study Bible after reading a great article on choosing a study Bible. I highly recommend the article!

My Review:

The ESV Study Bible is big (4.2lbs)! I usually don’t take it to church because of its size, but I did this weekend and, as I had expected, it was really too big to be toting around. I don’t regret buying it, though. It’s big for a reason. It has more notes than I can hope to absorb and a lot of study guides. All of that information comes for a price though, and it’s size is the price.

Update (August): I’ve started taking the Bible to church more often because, with the lighting system our church has, the overhead lights glare off of my iPad screen. I’m concerned sometimes that I might be blasting my worshipping neighbor with the glare!

Speaking of information, the notes are amazing! As a sailor stationed aboard the USS Hue City (CG 66), it helps immensely. I was able to take the notes on Matthew 6, for example, and teach a class on the Lord’s Prayer to a few fellow sailors. I’ve had a lot of Bibles over time, most of them including some form of notes, and this is the best I’ve seen.

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As the picture to the left shows, the notes come complete with drawings as well. As with many,probably most, study Bibles,  the ESV Study Bible comes with maps also. I found them to be more than adequate. It is the drawings that I find most useful, however.

The notes are listed in order of verse number. Inside the verses themselves is a letter combination system that cross-references other passages with the same theme. Those are found on the inside margins.

Another thing I found particularly useful was the concordance. I’m doing a word study on forgiveness (I’m sure that’s something I’ll blog about at some point) and having such a large listing without going to another source is very helpful. I still plan to go to outside sources like commentaries and my trusty copy of Strongs that my grandparents used to have in Kansas, yet I’m more than pleased with the ESV Study Bible.

I’ve never had a daily reading plan before in a study Bible, and I found it both interesting and helpful. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to mark out the passages as I read them or keep track of what I do another way, but it’s nice to have. As I go through the Bible, however, I think I’ll stay with my daily readings from the Olive Tree app that I use on my iPad and iPhone.

Update (August): Here’s how I’ve started working the electronic and physical copies of my Bible. I have started using the physical book for actual research while using the electronic Bible to record my notes and run searches for words and phrases. When I’m at church, to avoid the glare that my iPad screen produces, I use my iPhone to update the Olive Tree app if the pastor says something I want to keep hold of.

Update (August): This is a blog on creationism and evolution, so how does the ESV Bible handle the issue? Very well, I’m pleased to say. I was concerned about how a relatively conservative group of scholars might work through Genesis 1, but I’m very excited. A full two pages are devoted to the ideas of Genesis 1, including a discussion on the different ideas of how Christians explain the creation. Day-age, the gap theory, and others are all given their due here. Most importantly, the scholars report that none of the five major creation theories are in conflict with Genesis 1. Theistic evolution, however, is not mentioned in that group and therefore must be considered suspect by those scholars (Dr. Miller would be upset I’m sure).

The scholars also discuss the issue of genealogies, which means they have probably accepted the idea that Ussher inadvertently miscalculated his time of creation. Go to that post for specifics on the matter.

I’m very excited about having the ESV Study Bible for this research project because it will give me the ammunition I need as a theologically conservative Christian while encouraging me in the freedom I have in Christ to learn and expand my horizon.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask about the ESV Study Bible, please do so in the comments and I will do my best to answer them as I use the Bible. Thanks!

 

Resources for your Research (Part One)

This is a general post on places to conduct your own research. I will create these posts periodically as I use websites, books, and other materials to write these blog posts and my book.

Part One of this post series is Young Earth and Old Earth Creation sources.

Young Earth Creation (Preferred term is Biblical Creationism)

Answers in Genesis is probably the best YEC website available, in my opinion. It is a self-professed apologetics site “dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.” When I want an overview of the current model of defense in the traditional, Fundamentalist view of Biblical creation, I go here.

Institute for Creation Research. I remember receiving, through my paternal grandma, newsletters from ICR when I was in the early years of my Navy career. She would write notes on the pages and send them to me. Sometimes they came with cookies, sometimes not. I probably have some stashed in books in my personal library still. They present their work with a thoroughly Biblical framework, which means they are also an apologetics website.

Old Earth Creation

Reasons to Believe is the best source I’ve found for OEC, though it simply states that it wants only to educate Christians on the integration of faith and science. I have come to love this site. Should I ever join a group someday, this would probably be the group, and I have enjoyed getting to know the local Jacksonville, FL chapter.

OldEarth.org The Old Earth website is full of information which seeks, in many ways, to do the same thing that I do in the ExamineScience Project. At the heart of what I believe is this old earth creationism, just as the authors of this site do. Whether you agree with them or not (and I’m still investigating it myself), it doesn’t make them less Christian to believe outside of the traditional six day creation of fundamental Christianity.

Evidence for God has a great post on what old earth creationists believe. If you’re interested in a fairly comprehensive position paper on OEC, this site has a great one to begin your study.

Got Questions has a great article on OEC that presents the information in an unbiased manner, though the author recognizes his presuppositions. Sadly, the author’s name isn’t mentioned, so I don’t have a way to thank him/her for the very good article.

As mentioned in the intro to this post, I will be creating more posts as I continue my research. My goal will always be to provide you with the best data available so you can arm your children with a better understanding of God’s creation and so you can see how you became you!

Of course I would always recommend that you go to your local library and conduct research of your own the old fashioned way…offline! I’ve enjoyed it very much myself. But, to get you started, here are some places to go. Enjoy your journey!