As 2020 both cools down in temperature and heats up in rhetoric, here is a response to S. Joshua Swamidass’ recent book that deserves more air time given how a few evangelical Protestant theologians and apologists are expressing surprised praise at it, calling it a ‘game changer’ because of ‘genealogy’ vs. ‘genetics’. I would consider it a ‘game changer’ only in a borrowed or catch-up sense of that term, given Swamidass’ YECist+ audience. Any thoughts here on this critical review of the book by a fellow evangelical active at BioLogos?
From what I’ve read so far, I do not see that Swamidass “makes God a monster” in the book. That rather appears to be what comes from Johnson’s hermeneutics, rather than Swamidass’ intentions or expressions. BioLogos was similarly confused, and hadn’t read Kemp, much like Swamidass (that is, until he finally did). Swamidass has previously written about dungeons & suffering, which perhaps by some people may be mistaken as ‘monstrous’. It would be more appropriate and charitable to say, ‘he knows not what he does’ by opening this rift. Thus, he speaks about “what it means to be human?” as a distant (methodological) naturalist, with an important background personal concern involving local fellow YECists and activistic sociology behind the book’s publication (e.g. choice of publishing house).
I agree with Johnson’s general critique of the book, though with few of his specific ones, given there are other answers that he too apparently hasn’t considered. Swamidass in my interpretation openly & repeatedly distorts the science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation with his ideology. He intentionally or unintentionally leaves so much important work out, in particular, the work of Catholics and Orthodox, by and large. Nevertheless, he does his work inviting ‘correction’ of facts, data, and empirical natural-physical scientific findings, and speaks as an ex-YEC activist in such a nice, warm and cuddly non-mainline covenant, optimistic way, which makes me thankful for this book & his website. My sincere hope is that the book won’t confuse too many people, and may instead somehow help especially evangelical YECists finally take a step or several steps forward, in order to catch up with where most other Christians have been standing in a more balanced science, philosophy, theology/worldview position already rather calmly for years, wondering why the narrow literalistic evangelicalist efforts on this topic have so badly missed the mark in peoples’ hearts and minds.
“The logic of Genealogical Adam and Eve is entirely circular and makes God a monster.” – Jay Johnson
OEC vs YEC boils down basically to two issues:
‘In the beginning – the creation of the heavens and the Earth.’ The date is unknown. It could have been billions of years ago, but not necessarily so…
The 6 creative days; how long were they? It’s unknown, but they were definitely not 24 hour days…
Adam was created as the last, direct creation, at the very end of the 6th “creative day”…
OT gives as clues that the word DAY can keen different things of different length;
‘1 day is like 1000 years…and 1000 years like 1 day’…
Do Genesis 1 and 2 Contradict Each Other?
Both conditions are curable as I have found myself. Let me introduce you to Mary Anning. who died, aged 47 in 1847. Being a woman from a poor background, that she managed to turn the world of Victorian science upside down is pretty impressive and her story deserves to be better known.
She couldn’t be ignored because she started by noticing evidence – fossils – that needed explaining and that didn’t fit the Biblical version of Creation.
The Earth Science community bows in your honour for pointing out something blatantly obious that nobody had ever thought about before.
BTW, lava doesn’t rise through the crust. Magma does.
So, you disagree?
I know you don’t have a good argument, so I’m not going to make to come up with another bad one…😂
Of course I disagree. The argument is uninformed and irrelevant.
I can only give you the same advice I gave Eric: before you criticise, spend time to study the science yourself. Don’t use websites but get a couple of good academic textbooks, study them, and then read some of the academic papers, some case studies. This is the only way to true knowledge and insight.
So no, I am not going to play Internet ping-pong with you, as we would only be wasting each others time. You know what to do instead – don’t bother to respond to me before you have done it.
Let me also draw your attention to another Victorian scientist of humble background, William Smith who produced a geological map of the island of Great Britain single-handedly* – basically by amassing evidence from exposed rocks and excavations such as canal cuts and coal mines.
Because he was not part of the scientific elite, he struggled to get his work recognised. The point to take away is he started with evidence and went from there.
But field geology and fossil hunting is something anyone can do with a few basic tools and an idea of likely places to look. I happen to live on the edge of the French Pyrenees in the Corbières foothills and, everywhere I look, the landscape displays its geological roots.
Field geology and fossil hunting is great, and I spend many happy hours of my retirement doing just that 🙂
It doesn’t really help with developing a sound understanding of radiometric dating methods, though. Except, perhaps, in fostering an appreciation of the sheer variety of geological features in the world, all of which were formed some time in the past. The past therefore contained an enormous variety of processes and settings, all of which has to be fittted in a realistic time frame. That a few thousand years are hopelessly insufficient to account for it all was recognised long before radiometric dating was developed.
Whether a literal Adam and Eve is central to one’s worldview.
No, sure. But mentioning William Smith and Mary Anning was meant to show that you can produce preconception-shattering science just by looking carefully at what is in front of you.
It sure sounds like you’ve been either listening only, or too much, to right wing evangelical Protestants, who are the vast majority of YECists. Most mature religious people are totally fine with accepting an ‘old earth’ and believe this ‘fits’ with now standard reading of “the Biblical version of Creation”. Making a caricature to attack, are you, as if ‘extinction’ weren’t possibly part of a Divine Plan?
In France, Alan, haven’t you asked a thinking Catholic about this & discovered that an ancient earth isn’t problematic for Christian theology? At least please stop holding up the lowest common denominator as if it were representative of the whole.
Literalism is mainly a problem in evangelical Protestantism. Indeed, this is a HUGE issue for swamidass to face because non-mainline evangelical Protestants, his home congregation, indeed have demonstrated great problems with ‘biblical literalism.’
Are you aware that most Christians are not biblical literalists?
Rather than ‘literal vs. non-literal,’ a more pressing question is whether or not a person believes that a real, historical Adam and Eve existed or not. The genealogical lineage in the Bible is not a natural scientific topic that can be contradicted merely with genetic data. Genealogy is a more ‘fluid’ category or ‘discipline’ of thought than genetics.
As a migrant, perhaps Alan will think it through, come back again, & adjust his language? Or will he continue to just aim for conversations with marginal biblical literalists among non-mainline evangelical Protestants like the ones swamidass is trying to convert to becoming his ‘5th voice’ followers among evangelicals?
My advice to you would be to scrap the text books and papers you have been studing so intensly starting with those on lava…
No wonder you have been so confused …😂
LOL! That was absolutely brilliant – cackling like an idiot after posting a diagram which confirms exactly what F_G said about magma / lava. 😀
Self inflicted foot gunshot of the year so far. 🙂
Wow. Doubling down on the ignorance by linking to the same site which confirms exactly what F_G said. Magma rises through the crust, it’s not considered lava until it reaches the surface.
When you reach the bottom of the stupidity pit, stop digging.
Magma comes from an Italian word that means a thick, pasty substance, which is how molten rock behaves within the Earth. Lava, another Italian word, means to slide, which is what molten rock does once it reaches the surface.
That’s quite the knee-jerk reaction, given that Alan was referencing the career of a Dissenter, and the prevailing Christian views of Creation in the 1820’s.
The time J-Mac spent frantically Googling to try and make a point (and failing), he could have spent productively on studying radiometric dating.
But then, that takes actual effort.
Sorry. You are right. They are both magma though..
“What is the difference between magma and lava? Magma is composed of molten rock and is stored in the Earth’s crust. Lava is magma that reaches the surface of our planet through a volcano vent.”
I see Jock has already pointed out I was talking of England in the 1820/30s. I’ve never knowingly encountered a right-wing evangelical in the flesh. Americans I meet here seem almost a different species to some I’ve encountered on the internet.
As you know, I strongly support secularism and freedom of thought. I find it hard to comprehend how US religious fundamentalists can reconcile their politics with NT Christianity.
AsI said, I strongly support freedom of thought.
That’s overreaching. We have to agree to disagree on divine plans.
I’m often surprised at the level of education of ordinary citizens I meet. I assume all local French are cultural Catholics but it would never occur to me to query their views on the age of the Earth. It’s never come up.
I think this is misrepresentation. I don’t think this describes me at all.
As I’ve said many times, I don’t understand why the OT is included in the Christian Bible. I recall posing this to Jon Garvey awhile back and receiving a long-winded response that made no sense to me. I’m probably incorrigible on the subject.
It is a non-issue for me. It becomes an issue when evangelicals use their political influence to impose their views on others. I’m for freedom of thought (I may have already mentioned this).
I don’t really follow this. My view on the OT is the stories in it are just that – stories. If people find inconsistencies, I would have thought the best solution is to go with reality but it’s up to them.
Again, I’m not following you. I’m not hugely motivated to discuss the merits of religious belief but if it adds something to other peoples’ mental well being, that’s fine.
While I respect that you ‘administrate’ this site, I had forgotten the futility of having certain discussions with you. Pretty much dead spiritual weight & giddy about it. Since I learned this previously, I won’t further waste time here anymore beyond this response.
Alan Fox either does not appear to be aware of this or won’t admit it openly here.
Hmm, well, uh, there’s also documented ‘history’ in the OT. Your ‘skepticism’ of that is noted, but also irrelevant. Surely there are ‘stories’ in the OT too, but it’s not all ‘story’. Perhaps if you could sit down with an OT scholar or historian you might discover that, or, even just seeking ‘fairness’ on your own, learn to realize that multiple genres exist in the OT simultaneously through the many authors who contributed to it.
A simple internet search & a bit of reading would give an answer to that curious question. Lots of other resources available to help you. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/old-testament-important/
I answered that ‘literalism’ vs. ‘non-literalism’ is a largely Protestant evangelical dilemma. Catholics & Orthodox don’t so easily get caught up on this horn. A real, historical A&E are central to the worldview of the majority of Abrahamic monotheists. About this swamidass is entirely correct, which is just to say, in this case he is not expressing only ‘evangelicalistic’ views, but rather stating part of the broadly Abrahamic monotheistic tradition. I reject biblical literalism as much, and probably more than swamidass seems to himself, given that his GAE book aims to defend & protect biblical literalists.
Indeed, when swamidass expresses views closer to, or identical with Catholic and Orthodox teachings on the topic, I really have very little need or reason to respond to him with criticism, challenge or rejection. His ‘monster-making’ moves, if that’s what they are, indeed come particularly from the individualistic evangelical extremism in which it appears he was either raised or found his way into at ‘college.’ This is not a small issue in the USA, and is behind much of the so-called “evolution vs. creationism” problematic. Most non-USAmerican, non-evangelicals in the science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation simply have greater balance and proportion in their approach compared with people like swamidass.
As I said, swamidass counts as friends schismatic individual religionists like Praveen Sethupathy, who ‘ordinate’ themselves as ‘pastors’ on their own divine authority. These kinds of evangelicalistic rumblings behind swamidass’ oftentimes rather pleasant sounding, ‘science-friendly’ words, give me and quite a few others significant concern about his goals, methods, & what kinds of behaviour he’ll do trying to push people out of the way in his ambitious bid to become a “5th voice evangelicalist” with support of people like his apologist idol, William Lane Craig.
What a relief that Alan supports this freedom of thought … and belief too. = )
In most cases, like those of Gregory’s, Jay313’s, but especially Swamidass’ , they are selective biblical literalists, or simply put, they are illiterate…
They have chosen the ‘biblical buffet’ in order to support their preconceived notions…
While I am not a bible scholar, I can clearly see their arrogance and cunning…
GAE, literal interpretation of the “day” when it’s clearly not called for and so on…
They prefer to please the views of not even majorities instead of what can be easily explained in most cases, scientifically and logically…
Why? How long does it take god to do a thing? Why can it not be a literal 24 hour day? When the bible talks of the creation “week” and “days” in that “week”, surely it’s plain that that’s what is meant. Days and weeks.
Huh? You know that the bible is not scientific or an attempt to explain things in a scientific manner?
You claim that you can easily explain most cases in dispute scientifically and logically. And yet if I were to ask for such an explanation literally every person here knows that such will not be forthcoming from you.
Perhaps, but certainly not by you!.
Well, you started it.
Being unaware isn’t a crime, of course. It just reveals lack of knowledge or familiarity.
Since most Christians are not biblical literalists, at least that’s ground for a different (& usually much better) discussion than dismissive, ignorant comments like, “evidence – fossils – that needed explaining and that didn’t fit the Biblical version of Creation.” Obviously that’s false, and perhaps just something Fox uses for his own personal anti-religious purposes. Triste faux Coq.
That’s a relief!
There’s no denial from me. In-your-face Christians are thin on the ground in my neck of the woods.
You may well be right. How do you know, BTW?
You’ve been corrected on your misreading already. I was referring to the career of Mary Anning and how her fossil discoveries challenged the prevailing view of the time.
Your misinterpretation is at fault, naughty Gregory.
More misrepresentation! Tut tut, Gregory.
If they were, he wouldn’t be able to make the claim that the democracy, even among Christians, must be right, or true, of both… 😉
He is delusional, Alan.
You said: “fossils … that didn’t fit the Biblical version of Creation.”
This is the false (or just incomplete & misleading) part. There is not now, and has never been a fossil that “didn’t fit” the traditional teachings of the Abrahamic faiths on the topic of divine Creation. How absurd! = ) To imagine any fossil does or could just reveals a category error, pure & simple.
I mentioned ‘extinction’ in reference to Mary Anning, but my response wasn’t mainly about her work. The “one interpretation of the biblical version of Creation” that is contradicted not only by science, but more importantly by traditional and almost all contemporary theology (other than YECist-style), is ‘biblical literalism’, which is the key point. I’m willing to rest there, as Alan agrees with that common ground.
Surveys. E.g. Ecklund (now a Fellow at BioLogos) http://www.elainehowardecklund.com/
Similarly, there are few YECist evangelical Protestants around me, thank God! I am friendly with at least one YECist (that I’m aware of), who knows what I and most others think of their views. Yet all other believers around accept an old earth and (almost all) a real, historical Adam and Eve. This really isn’t controversial.
Yet, even so, much energy and effort, not only here, but in many venues online & offline, is spent on arguing with biblical literalists & YECists as if they are more representative than they actually are. This is a HUGE problem in the conversation, and one that, unfortunately, swamidass is contributing to with his “give little credit or attention except mainly to evangelicals” approach.
Not any one fossil, but the pattern of fossils and lineage changes over the last 3.5 billions years completely falsifies the Biblical account. Does your Bible explain the 5 major mass extinction events seen in the fossil record in the last 500 million years, including the subsequent re-radiations into the empty ecological niches by entirely new genera?
I sometimes wonder why any religion’s texts are regarded as scientific, insofar as they are purported to present actual natural history. I can see such texts as useful to buttress someone’s religious faith, but certainly not to buttress anyone’s knowledge of the history of our planet or our species.
Reading the bible to understand the cultural background of its writers thousands of years ago is fine. I think it is foolish to laugh at primitive understandings of how things work, much more enlightening to figure out why they believed what they did and how it influenced their lives. But it is even MORE foolish to abandon (or distort almost beyond recognition) modern understandings to force-fit them into some historical belief system. Modern science most definitely should not be held hostage to ancient superstitions, however enlightening an understanding of the context giving rise to them.
Tales of Eden or of Noah were not regarded as history even by those who wrote them – they were intended as moral lessons. Treating them as history leads to absurd enterprises like archaeological searches for mythical arks, and other silly category errors.
You mistake the Bible for a geology or paleontology textbook?!
I’m not the one who said the fossil record supports Biblical divine creation.
True, it was Alan who said it doesn’t. I called category error.
You were the scientifically illiterate dimbulb who said it did. It doesn’t of course.
How about those 5 mass extinction events? The Biblical creation explanation is…?
It seems there’s a reading comprehension here for this extremely polite atheist.
Is he/she next going to flip through a cookbook and blame it for not giving him/her a recipe to conduct a symphony?
This is not the same as the words you’re now trying to put in my mouth.
The Bible’s story about Adam and Eve and their genealogies to the present are not a geological or palaeontological issue. Why are you trying to make it sound as if the Bible is a science textbook when it isn’t?
“5 mass extinction events” are not part of the biblical narrative. To suggest they therefore ‘disprove’ A&E or “divine Creation” is simply absurd.
Which is demonstrably wrong as the 5 mass extinction events show.
Those fossils completely falsify your frankly ridiculous claim no fossil “didn’t fit” traditional divine Creation.
Ok, so take your time & read again. Eventually you’ll notice the difference between the two positions.
Irony when people try to use an ‘old earth’ argument against an ‘old earther’, mistakenly thinking that they’re arguing with a ‘young earther’! ; )
This might help for visualisation, revealing how extinction events simply do not matter ‘theologically’ to the A&E story. The director was an agnostic Jew. So, anyone trying to pin this on ‘creationists’ or ‘young earthers’ would just reveal ‘skeptic’ contrarianism. https://youtu.be/q7tNWZhQGFc “Follow the temptation of darkness or hold on to the blessing of light.”
1) Is the issue really Cain’s wife? Kinda biased against girls, somehow there? And then it’s supposed to be about Cain & his wife? Or to go with Seth & his wife -> ? (General questions)
2) Or is that simply not ‘your’ (his)Story? (Your = whoever responds)
3) And you want a precise year of Origin, calculated according to GMT AD/CE 2020 on Earth?! If so, at least what’s the range of/to Origin that you propose? (You = whoever responds)
It quickly becomes obvious what people do and do not want to speak about when it comes to swamidass’ recycled proposal, made possible by Richard Buggs, the real ‘discoverer’ here.
The IVP version of Adam & Eve’s genealogy does address Cain’s wife, shows options for age of Earth & age of humankind without committing to them (or much of anything), and without any ambiguity (evangelicalistic dog whistle-style) promotes swamidass’ belief that A&E are part of the (his)story he claims to belong to as his own, yet while remaining stubbornly heterodox in his own “5th voice” approach.
That’s enough to end the thread at this time.
Vincent Torley covered this topic in October, 2017. I see you came rather late to the discussion.
“The discussion” we should be focussed on here, started long before either Torley or I entered the playing field. Maybe one day, unlike now, you’ll join it, thus eventually leaving such pretentious egoistic apatheism by demonstration & action.
Along with not a few others, I’ve been tracking swamidass’ activities since he arrived at BioLogos (https://evolutionnews.org/2016/09/from_joshua_swa/), prior to 2017. Swamidass, like Torley, is a latecomer. And frankly, it may be just me, but I really don’t find Torley more than a D-league rotation player in this conversation. He has made some useful summaries of positions, noting the works of well-known and established others. However, professionally he’s an English teacher, who happens to have a PhD in philosophy, has never published a peer-reviewed paper, and has flip-flopped in his views, even while for the most part, appearing to be a Roman Catholic.
So who is the guy now? I frankly have no idea who he is anymore. He was once an IDist, who left IDism. Yet at the same time, he’s refreshingly honest, and at least from a very early point, properly capitalised ‘Intelligent Design’ to distinguish it from human-made design. For this, I believe Torley deserves dignity & respect in the conversation. May he be lifted out of these ideological trappings.
Sadly, he put up a personal theological barrier between us, snapped & refused communication with me at UD, then later at TSZ, simply because he could not answer my calm, simple, direct, easy, clear questions to him. In this, his behaviour & communicative ethics have mirrored swamidass’ at the ‘moments of truth’ in those encounters.
They both have been like a banana-skin pirouette & collapse! The thread you link to establishes their foolish & unnecessary “science & religion” bond. Yet the both know their redemption in the conversation is around the corner, not just what they hold in their kataphatic ‘culture warring’ hands.