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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Creation in Book Review

I sent the following letter to a reviewer of a book in the Sydney
Morning Herald's "Spectrum" section.

Dear Mr Ley,

I read your review of 'Uncentering the Earth', printed in Spectrum on
March 17 2007 with some interest.

Ever since I had read Koestler many years ago (decades, actually) I
have been fascinated by the intellectual developments which give rise
to our views of where we live, and the interaction of belief,
theory-making and observation; the 'cascade of enquiry' which maps the
route always taken to understanding of the world.

I was arrested by your claim towards the end of your review, "the
Christian creation myth, which teaches that ignorance is bliss and
knowledge is sinful". I don't know where this idea comes from, or
indeed, how an informed understanding of intellectual history, the
development of modern science, or the development of western history
of philosophy and theology could allow it to be entertained.

Sure, there are some individual Christians who might eschew knowledge,
learning, or the challenge of ideas, but this is not because they are
Christian. Christian faith and practice has given rise in the modern
period (and even through the pre-modern period) to the greatest
flowering of intellectual, cultural and scientific curiosity ever seen
on this planet. Indeed our contemporary attitude to enquiry stems from
the foundation for the credibility of the thinking individual laid by
the Christian theologian Martin Luther. Indeed, to be
anti-intellectual is counter to the tenets of the Bible and the broad
stream of Christian thought.

It is easy to think as you do, if you have only encountered
existentialist theology that talks about a 'leap of faith', a phrase
coined by Soren Kirkegaard, the Danish theologian. He used this phrase
to denote the pursuit of faith contrary to the impulse of the finite
mind or the uncongenial will. On the one hand, it is a summary of
humility in embarking on the Christian journey against the comfort of
a closed and inevitably limited mind. On the other hand, it is taken,
by some, as a retreat into faith despite 'evidence' mounted against
its doctrines, as if holding Christian faith is more comfortable than
slipping in with the unthinking crowd who are led by half-digested and
out of date philosophy. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Embarking on a Christian walk puts all your certainties up for grabs:
it is not the comfortable sheep that go out on emotional, intellectual
and personal limbs, but Christians. In the extreme, few people risk
death by following the crowd. Christians regularly and frequently risk
ridicule, ostracism, isolation and rejection, and from time to time
death, for their beliefs . . . and you think that Christian faith is a
glib 'easy' option? Such insistence has no credibility. Indeed,
historically, it has been the force of rational enquiry that has
encouraged Christian belief, as the self-refuting nonsense of crass
popular 'positivism' comes home with empty hands.

It is, to the contrary, much easier to let all your certainties come
care of the popular media and conversation in the pub or around the
dinner table, and remain bravely unquestioned as people hold their
prejudices jointly with the sureness of the village idiot.

But what of the Christian doctrine of creation, myth' as you call it
(incidentally, you might be interested in a book by the British
philosopher, Mary Midgley, which examines 'evolution' as a creation
myth)? As much has been written on the intellectual and scientific
explosion wrought by Christian thinking, I need merely refer you to
two authors: Stanley Jaki, a Jesuit priest with a PhD in nuclear
physics who has written much on the history and philosophy of science,
and its epistemological dependence on Christian thinking and Dr Peter
Harrison of Bond University who in a major study of the roots of
modern science ("The Bible, Protestantism and the Rise of Natural
Science") identified widespread belief in the creation account in the
Bible as leading to the vigorous theory making and breaking which
marked the 16th and 17th centuries. Much of the science up to the end
of the 19th century made by men (in the main) who would be disparaged
as 'creationists' today.

Did their belief that God created the universe in six days a few
thousand years ago stymie their science, or limit their enquiry?
Hardly! The biblical account calls on humanity to explore and
understand the universe (unlike pagan lore which does result in the
death of enquiry) and gives a basis in an objectively real and
reasonable creation from a sentient God, to explore the home we have
been given. Indeed, arguably the first scientific analysis of the
natural world is recorded in Genesis 2, with Adam naming the animals
(in Hebrew thinking, this isn't calling them Bert, Sally, or Rover,
but identifying their place in the order of life). In the
Judeo-Christian mental landscape, the world is free of mysterious
fates, goblins, forest sprits and the rest of the panoply of gods
invented by those who rejected the creator-God and is instead under a
consistent causal operation and is orderly, reasonable and in theory,

Interestingly, it is in cultures that adopt pagan type thinking that
science dies or never arose. If you think the forest spirit runs in
the forest, you aren't going to 'need' to study its ecology. Indeed,
in a survey I read of some years ago, there was a strong correlation
between belief in evolution as the mechanism of origins and acceptance
of astrology, channelling, crystal lore and the other nonsense of the
'new age' movement, and a strong counter correlation between these
enquiry crippling beliefs and belief that the Bible is the voice of God.

Could I suggest that in your next article that touches on the history
of our understanding of the solar system, you indicate that Galilleo's
crime was to challenge the (pagan) Aristotelian thinking that the
Roman Catholic church had adopted and refer to the cosmos itself, as a
diligent Christian is called to do, not being bound by the myths
invented by men, but attending to the creation given by God for us to
live in and understand.

Sent by [CompanyName] Mail

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Michael is back! A friend returns.

I'm very pleased to announce the return of Michael Jensen. For some reason all his posts disappeared. We missed his great wit, his rapier analysis and his daring admission (by default, mind you) that Peter Jensen thinks that Broughton Knox is a hillbilly. Now, I couldn't reconstruct the order and location, but I've grouped these gems by theme.

Over to you Michael, and welcome back, once more.

Well, I only called YOU nutty, on the basis of this absolutely nutty blog... boohoo.

hey, you know, I thought this blog may have been an elaborate joke by
gordon cheng himself... I am kinda sorry it isn't...

Hey I don't wear glasses. And the archbishop hasn't driven a camel for a while now...

no evidence AND no retraction...hmm, nice display of intergrity guys! (That's sarcasm, by the way.)

Where did I say or write that? Amd where did Peter Jensen say or
write that?

No evidence yet.


What do you think of daylight saving btw?

'more Biblical'? well that's the point at issue. I think ridicule is
certainly appropriate (I don't justify all of it) and even Christlike if the views in question are placed as an addition to the gospel as a
requirement of belief. Which, clearly, they are.

Yes: more biblical, that's the issue.

Did Christ never engage in mocking and ridiculing? well, actually, he did...

Is it sunny up north?

Well I wrote something else which was perfectly reasonable and it got deleted. Smug? must be the photo. And: yes, my comment is exactly the point... which you continue to miss. I in no way preach a gospel shorn of its historical roots. So who is straw-manning again? I also pointed out that in fact I am not on the whole the ridicul-er of others on AMS forums. For that, go see Gordon Cheng. However, the
more I read this site, the more his ridicule seems appropriate.

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree. Of course, I uphold the historical truth of Genesis as do I am certain all the faculty of Moore College. However, I don't think the language of brethren is
appropriate for you to use, because you think I am apostate.

Your account of Dickson's stuff presents an either/or which isn't actually accurate. And it is 'others' not 'other's'.

Well, I do know John D for a start... What does he mean by 'history'
in this instance?

And.. still no evidence. Shouldn't be too hard to find if it is actually there.

ie, no evidence that PFJ has used the word 'hillbilly' in this way.

Still no evidence that he actually called him this. And: are you now deleting my comments?

Friday, March 23, 2007


My dear old friend Matt, who is about the same age as I (50 this spring), reckons he has an idea or two about how it’s done. He swears by this as an intellectual way around the problem that has plagued Christendom ever since Charles Darwin first proved that we came from pond scum. The problem for Christians was of course, if it all looks like one long naturalistic process, where can we slip God in so as to keep God, God, and which will simultaneously intelligently and spiritually equip ourselves to speak the Gospel in order to maintain the rage against those silly atheists, like Richard Dawkins, who want to claim evolution for themselves? I don’t know why I didn’t see Matt’s solution long before. He reckons, once a year, God’s spirit enters every 10th or so person’s chimney and surreptitiously alters their genetic alphabet. He also, on a number of different days of the year, inserts himself down burrows, into nests, hives and the like, to cut and paste other life forms’ DNA with extra bits of information.

Of course, I don’t wholly subscribe to Matt’s theory – I’m merely positing it for consideration, demonstrating that one can solve this problem without resorting to the demonic and parasitic solutions expressed by us creationists.

OK, I know Matt’s theory sounds a bit way out there but don’t prematurely judge it. At least give him a chance by putting the latest Anglo solution beside it and see how his fairs.

Dave Lankshear (You do recall him on this site? He’s the guy who ducks and weaves, avoids all the important questions, slags off creationists with more earned scientific postgraduate degrees than he could obtain in 20 lifetimes, and who considers he’s grasped this whole creationist thing by reading just 2 books, one a biography and the other a rather outdated outline of the ideas) has now decided to take his football home with him to his mummy and hide behind her skirt. However, previous to his tantrum, for our intellectual consideration no less, he had tossed into the ring his dear old medical doctor and missionary father-in-law’s solution. Dave’s relative (he can console himself that it’s by marriage only!) likes to ruminate that God periodically uses cosmic rays projected from a far-flung star(s) to target every life form, these non-randomly hitting specific bases on their DNA rung, which will then transform that form into another, pushing it further along the evolutionary journey toward man, possibly even, and finally to, the Omega Man. To quote him exactly,

“See, the God I believe in is powerful enough to co-ordinate one star going supernova 300 million years ago to send out a cosmic ray that streams all the way to earth to hit a genetic marker just so, and then another genetic mutation to occur for other reasons just so, and for this to add up to new information.”

Dave then goes onto to give a “credible” 2 bob each-way support for his rel’s just so story:

“My point is not that we can see this happening in the small timeframes since we’ve started studying whether or not this process can even happen, my point is that Christian evolutionists don’t believe any of it is by accident. OK?”

No, Dave, it isn’t OK. Far from it, pal.

Come on Dave, man, ‘fess up, son: you’ve been smokin’ some of that whacky weed, sneakin’ in a few baker’s dozen midnight tokes of Mullumbimby Madness or was it that really rare (at least nowadays) stash, the almost mythical sticky, black Afghani hash, haven’t you boy?

I know their apologetics and understanding of God’s revelation seem topsy-turvy to us: there was no water above our firmament as Genesis 1 describes; a universal flood is an impossibility because ‘all land’ does not mean ‘all land but only ‘some land’; a short creation period is out of the question because a day is never a day and the real time frame is just so huuuuuuuge and those Jews were so uneducated that God had to use metaphorical language because their primitive minds would never comprehend this huuuuuuuuuuuge passage of time; and the first 11 chapters of Genesis lacks historicity, despite the inclusion of extended genealogical sequences that connect up the father-son dots in both Torah and Luke’s Gospel; but now, what could truly cement the whole biblical story together, is that God was not a master craftsman but a celebrated cosmic ray-gun wielder from star Zarkon.

And this is the problem with unseen cosmic rays and the like causing mutations to create life and usher forth newer and more complex life forms: it belies Paul’s words that the “whole” creation points to God’s handiwork. If undetected and/or undetectable (i.e. a process that can be mistaken for no process or a random, material, naturalistic process) then men have an intellectual excuse for disbelieving in God.

Furthermore, Dave’s father-in-law’s idea is unbiblical for other reasons:

1. It must argue that God continues to work and has not rested. In other words Genesis 1 is wrong when it states that God’s creation WAS finished and WAS perfect at the end of the 6th day.
2. That God is the author of death
3. That death-causing mutations are a very good thing
4. It reeks of ad hockery and ignores the demands of Ockham’s Razor
5. It’s spooky and should have instead formed an episode of The Twilight Zone rather than pretend to serve as the potential object of scientific investigation

But arguably the most vacuous thing about Dave’s idea is that he actually thinks he’s put God back in the driver’s seat by merely saying, “Look, you asinine creationists, if God directs cosmic rays from Zarkon, it can’t be construed as an accident. So there!” That’s just bloody word magic, pal. As someone once called it, voodoo formulas.

It’s odd that Dave and his hopeless gang of theistic evolutionists deny God the power to speak the whole creation into existence quickly, but is quick to delegate power to himself by saying he can make God do anything.

He now says that God wilfully brought genetic illness to His perfect creation. What blasphemous ravings of blind men. There’s no denying it: heretics you are! Your God is far too small for Christianity. You are an embarrassment to the Gospel, the very Gospel that says our Lord came to cure the whole creation of these ills. And worst of all, your mysticism offers zero solace to people who are suffering.

Without unnecessarily multiplying causes and effects as such highly preposterous explanations do, it is far better to understand mutations from a biblical perspective. Notwithstanding the small number of environmentally advantageous mutations, the existence of this evil can actually evince the creationist argument, prove a lot about God and the biblical explanation for origins, and goes a long way to foster a perfect theodicy. It not only is a clear reminder of a real Fall, but forms the backbone for the very reasonable arguments suggested by the orthodox Jew and now retired John Hopkins University scientist, Lee Spetner, and the revived Haldane’s Dilemma as proposed by Walter Remine. Both these men, in different ways, have shown that,

(i) there is no evidence of mutations actually adding novel information that moves life forms along an evolutionary path
(ii) there is insufficient time for evolution to occur
(iii) if genetic mutations are sped up, then genetic death will occur

In a nutshell, the existence of mutations and their relatively small number actually demonstrate a young earth, not the anti-God old age worldview that the Anglos love to get into bed with. Dave’s proposal furthermore increasingly resembles a ‘god-of-the-gaps’ remedy and is incommensurate with the scientific endeavour.

Of course, all of this will probably be wasted on Dave and his theistic evolutionary coterie. Since Dave and co. are unpersuaded by our pleas to let God speak for himself rather than forcing their bias onto Scripture, being tied down by formal rules of logic is merely an inconvenience to be sidestepped.

One last thing.

Dave’s dishonesty knows no limits. In a recent posting he has proffered up “geology, ice core samples, cosmology, the age of light reaching the earth, continental drift, and a dozen other scientific disciplines” as evidence for an old age earth. If Dave were actually seeking wisdom, swallowed his pride, and bothered to check out what the scientific arguments and evidence are against these, he would demonstrate a sense of Christian humility by really understanding his imagined enemy’s case. But instead, he refuses to examine the other, stronger proof for a young earth and has decided to run with the atheist philosophy that says if we replace God with lots of time then we have no need of that hypothesis.

Friday, March 2, 2007

"Listen To My Words!"

A few years ago a friend attended an event where John Dickson, a Moore College graduate and clergyman of the Sydney Anglican Diocese gave an address entitled "The Genesis of Everything". Apparently a typed version of the address was made available and a copy has reached me.

Mr Dickson presented a hermeneutic approach to Genesis Ch 1 which encapsulates the decline of biblical interpretation identified in my earlier posting "Did God Really Say?". But he seems to go even further into murky waters. Devices such as number symbolism, intricate structure, repetition, chiasmus and rhythm were postulated in an effort to dehistoricise Genesis Ch 1. Genre and a pagan creation account were also raised to discourage hearers from receiving Genesis Ch 1 as historical narrative. One could also gain an impression from Mr Dickson that this passage was a human construction without any inspiration of Holy Spirit.

I need not go over again the eclipse of biblical narrative in the centuries after the God inspired Reformation of the Church, suffice to say our Reformist 'Fathers' allowed Scripture to interpret Scripture and regarded Genesis Ch 1 to be historical narrative describing an event in earth history. After that, the "Evil One" got to work on the Church to undermine the integrity of God's word.

Within the Evangelical Church it is broadly held that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch (allowing for a scribe to assist). But how did he get the information to record the history that preceded his lifetime? Many would say it came from oral testimony of his forbears dating back to Adam. It might well be that much of it was obtained by this means. However, when it comes to the creation account there was no man or woman present to observe and describe the sequence of events outlined in Genesis Ch 1 (well, at least up to day six of the creation week). Genesis Ch 2:4b-25 presents like an observation of the early earth from the perspective of one who was there - Adam. But what of Genesis Ch 1?

Obviously, the LORD God had to tell someone for it to become part of man's understanding. It may have been imparted by the LORD God to Adam and Eve or someone else between Adam and Moses. Scripture just does not tell us. However, there are clues in the words, laws and decrees given by the LORD God to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Forty days and forty nights Moses spent with the LORD on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18). Is it not reasonable to believe that a golden opportunity in the history of man was not well spent by Moses to learn from the LORD of things not previously known? How well commended was Mary when she sat at the feet of the LORD learning from him? (Luke 10:38-42). Why wouldn't Moses ask of the LORD of things relating to the beginning of all things? Why wouldn't the LORD tell Moses of this in a more expansive way than the summary recorded in Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:18?

Further, all readers of the Pentateuch should note a similarity in descriptive style in Genesis Ch 1 and that used by the LORD when giving the law, tabernacle specifications and priestly practices to Moses on Mount Sinai. A similarity is also observed in Moses' recording of the offerings of the twelve tribes at the consecration of the tabernacle (Numbers Ch 7). There is consistency.

Even if one rejects what I assert on the source and occasion of the giving of Genesis Ch 1 creation account there remains the clear words of the LORD in Exodus 20:11 which are a tight summary of the Genesis Ch 1 creation account.

Clearly, Mr Dickson's deliberate or accidental imputing of the creation testimony to the construction of a man and not of the LORD is at odds with Scripture. Further, Mr Dickson, in introducing various literary devices to the reading of Genesis Ch 1, would have readers doubt a clear historical account of origins has been rendered by the author. Instead, Mr Dickson wants readers to believe hidden features make the creation account a description of a work of art rather than a description of a historical event.

This brings to mind an incident in the life of Moses. Number Ch 12 describes it. Miriam and Aaron began denying the authority with which Moses spoke. The LORD called for Moses, Aaron and Miriam to assemble before him at the Tent of Meeting. Note the words of the LORD in dealing with this impertinence of Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:6-7) - "Listen to my words: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (emphasis mine)

The offence of Miriam and Aaron was great and the LORD's anger burned against them.

There is a sharp lesson here for those who want to question the authority with which Moses spoke and those who accuse Moses of speaking without clear injunction from the LORD. The LORD puts beyond doubt that he spoke straightforward language, without riddles when speaking to Moses. It is the height of insolence to imply that the LORD or that Moses, the recorder of the LORD's words, spoke in something other than clear language with clear meaning.

I urge Mr Dickson and others of the Sydney Anglican Diocese to desist from this continued dilution of the word of the LORD. It happened in the time of Moses. It happened in the life of Israel in the promised land and in the church after the ascension of our LORD. It happened in the centuries after the Protestant Reformation and is happening now in the Sydney Anglican Diocese.

Sam Drucker