googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: July 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Genesis Chapter 2: Two Creation Accounts?

I have a Bible study blog where I first posted this, but it's certainly applicable to the creation/evolution debate so I thought I'd post it here as well. One criticism often used by critics of the Bible is a supposed contradiction between the creation account given in Genesis, Chapter 1 and a “second creation account” given in Chapter 2. When people view Chapter 2 as a second creation account, there is some confusion. The creation of plants for example, doesn’t match up with the creation of plants in Chapter 1.

I’ve read commentaries from some Christians who try to explain that Chapter 2 as a summary - highlighting different events but not given in chronological order. They don’t seem to understand Chapter 2 at all. Frankly, I’m a little surprised at the confusion since it’s really rather simple: Genesis, Chapter 2, beginning in verse 5, is NOT a second account of creation - it is a detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden on the 6th day of creation.

Let’s look at the Chapter verse by verse.

Verses 5-6, “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”

At this point, God has not created Adam. It has not rained on the earth during the creation. God seems to be preparing the ground where He is going to put the Garden.

Verse 7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

God creates Adam.

Verse 8, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed."

God creates the Garden of Eden and puts Adam in it. Verses 9-25 which follow expound on this a little.

Verse 9, “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

God makes trees grow in the Garden which are meant for food. He also creates the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He later tells Adam not to eat of it.

Verses 10-14, “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.”

This is a somewhat detailed description of the Garden of Eden.

Verses 15-17, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’"

God puts Adam in the Garden and gives him instructions. He specifically tells him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Later, He tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. These are the only 2 commandments God gave at the beginning of His creation.

Verse 18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

God has already decided that He will create Eve.

Verse 19-20, “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

Here, Adams names the animals. I don’t believe God intended Adam to find a mate among the animals. Rather, I believe God was showing Adam that he was a unique creature. He was not like the other animals but was made in the image of God.

Verses 21-22, “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

God creates Eve from Adam’s rib.

Verses 23-25, “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Adam meets Eve.

If you read Genesis, Chapter 2 while keeping in mind it is a description of day 6 of the creation, it is really impossible to miss the meaning of it. So anytime you hear someone claim there are 2 creation accounts, you’ll know he is wrong. There are no contradictions in the Bible. God’s word is sure (Psalm 19:7)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

They Were Wrong About Bird Evolution

A fellow creationist recently brought this article to my attention: Huge Genome-scale Phylogenetic Study Of Birds Rewrites Evolutionary Tree-of-life. The title alone speaks volumes. For years, I’ve heard how that famous nested hierarchy is evidence for common descent (AKA evolution). But after this new study, I guess scientists are busy rearranging all of our feathered friends into new places in the hierarchy. Of course, I suppose they'll still consider it evidence for their theory, but never mind that now.

There is so much in this article that I’d like to highlight and I don’t know exactly where to begin. I certainly want to draw your attention to the opening sentence:
"The largest ever study of bird genetics has not only shaken up but completely redrawn the avian evolutionary tree." [bold added]
Now, Sciencedaily is devoted to headline-journalism science. They want the article to seem earth-shattering. But given the info from the rest of the article, they may be onto something. Consider this quote:
“Birds are among the most studied and loved animals, and much of what we know about animal biology -- from natural history to ecology, speciation, reproduction, etc. -- is based on birds.”
Did you get that? Look again:
“Birds are among the most studied and loved animals, and much of what we know about animal biology…is based on birds.”
So, much of what we know about biology we learned from studying birds (among the most studied animals). But now, the article plainly states that, “much of bird classification and conventional wisdom on the evolutionary relationships of birds is wrong.” Keep in mind, of course, that birds are extant animals! We've studied them for hundreds of years. We've studied them at length since Darwin wrote his book. And we've been mostly wrong about their evolutionary relationships. Ask yourself this question; if they were this wrong about the evolutionary relatedness of living animals, how much confidence can we have in the study of the evolutionary relationship between living animals and long extinct animals?

What’s especially funny is that, on the same page as this article is a link to another article entitled, “Molecular Analysis Confirms Tyrannosaurus Rex's Evolutionary Link To Birds.” Isn’t that a hoot? They still aren’t sure how modern birds are related (after years of being among the most studied animals) but they have confirmed T-Rex is certainly related to birds. But I digress.

There’s another subtle point made several times in the article. Here are a couple of examples:
“Birds adapted to the diverse environments several distinct times”
“Similarly, distinctive lifestyles… evolved several times.”
“Birds that look or act similar are not necessarily related.”
There’s a common understanding among evolutionists that animals which are closely related share common characteristics because they are closely related. A human and a chimp, for example, share certain features because they are assumed to be closely related. However, we see here that certain characteristics are shared among birds that scientists now believe are NOT closely related. How do they explain the similar characteristics then? They believe the same trait just happened to evolve several times! (otherwise known as convergent evolution)

This is significant because homology is supposed to be evidence for evolutionary relatedness. But here we see unrelated birds sharing traits. Therefore, similar features are not necessarily evidence of anything. They just share characteristics. Of course, another perfectly reasonable explanation for similar characteristics is a common Creator!

Let’s look at one last point made in the article:
“The evolution of birds has been notoriously difficult to determine. This is probably because modern birds arose relatively quickly (within a few million years) during an explosive radiation that occurred sometime between 65 million and 100 million years ago. The result of this rapid divergence early in the evolutionary history of birds is the fact that many groups of similar-looking birds (for example, owls, parrots and doves) have few, if any, living intermediary forms linking them to other well-defined groups of birds.” [bold added]
So the evolutionary links between many common birds (such as owls) is tenuous. I suppose some might say there are “missing links.” According to Wikipedia, “The Paleocene genera Berruornis and Ogygoptynx show that owls were already present as a distinct lineage some 60-58 mya (million years ago).” So owls have always been owls. There’s no obvious progression from T-Rex, to ostrich, to owl (or anything like that).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Sciencedaily is ready to throw out evolution simply because we’ve been wrong about bird evolution all this time. But I wanted you to see this for what it is. The evolution of one of the most studied animals, from which we can much of our knowledge of biology, has been wrong. The old facts have been replaced with new facts. I’m weird in that I ascribe to facts the characteristic of being true. If the old facts weren’t true then there were never facts, were they?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Star Spangled Banner

In September, 1814, (during the war of 1812) amateur poet, Francis Scott Key was being held captive aboard the British ship HMS Minden, as she fired upon the US Fort McHenry. Key had watched the shelling from the deck of the ship in the evening hours but late in the night, the shelling had stopped. He spent the night worrying that the fort had fallen. In the early morning, as it began to dawn, he hurried to the deck and was relieved to see the American flag still flying over the fort. He was so inspired that he penned his famous poem, the Star Spangled Banner.

Most people are familiar with the first stanza, but here is the poem in its entirety:

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!