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Upcoming debate…Nye vs Ham on creationism
Posted: 19 February 2014 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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damoncasale - 18 February 2014 10:01 PM

Like another earlier poster, I didn’t see the debate, but I’ve been to Answers in Genesis and am familiar with Ken Ham’s views.  I also agree that this was basically pitting one fundamentalist against another, and neither side really gained anything from it.

I guess that would depend which side you’re on.  A fundamentalist will accept no evidence which contradicts what he believes.  A scientist (like Nye) is willing to change his mind if the evidence warrants it.  There is an enormous difference between the two sides.

When Heinrich Schliemann overcame the prevailing skepticism that a long-dead Greek poet might have been accurate in claiming existence of the ancient Greek city of Troy, people didn’t suddenly start worshipping Zeus and Aphrodite.  In the same way, it *should* be possible to prise out whatever historical basis may be found in the bible—and even the early chapters of Genesis—without necessarily believing in a Creator.  Right?

Secondly, what I don’t think anyone has ever done—certainly not Ken Ham *or* Bill Nye—is to compare the biblical creation account with other ancient creation literature and ask, how was other creation literature meant to be understood?  Was it meant to be understood literally?  If not, how *was* it supposed to be interpreted?  If we interpret the biblical creation account the same way, what do we get?

In the end, is it possible to achieve sort of a middle position between biblical literalism and complete skepticism, one that honors the source text without ignoring potential flaws, issues of transmission, etc.?  And in terms of reaching a consensus view between Christians and atheists, is it possible to arrive at the most likely intended meaning of the text, whether or not one might agree with the text itself?

Damon

A middle position between literalism and total skepticism?  Where have you been?  There are lots of Christians who accept the Biblical story of Creation as strictly symbolic.  Yes there are a lot of actual historical facts in the Bible.  But how do you plan to apply that to the Creation story, since nobody was actually there to witness it?  Speaking as an atheist, whoever wrote the Bible probably thought he was giving a literal, completely accurate account of how the God he believed in created the universe.  That doesn’t mean that any part of it is true.  And it doesn’t mean I should take it any more seriously than Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

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Posted: 19 February 2014 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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damoncasale - 18 February 2014 10:01 PM

Secondly, what I don’t think anyone has ever done—certainly not Ken Ham *or* Bill Nye—is to compare the biblical creation account with other ancient creation literature and ask, how was other creation literature meant to be understood?  Was it meant to be understood literally?  If not, how *was* it supposed to be interpreted?  If we interpret the biblical creation account the same way, what do we get?
Damon

That has been done and I don’t think Ham would consider it leading to a middle position. Previous creation myths begin with some sort of chaos or of gods fighting with demons for control. People in these myths are often the play things of those beings. Genesis puts god (and his angels which aren’t usually mentioned) in charge of everything and man as the pinnacle (woman is the helpmeet, whatever that is).

Of course that’s just creation story #1, then you got Adam and Eve, et. al. But you can read about Daniel E Friedman and the documentary hypothesis yourself if you’re interested.

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Posted: 19 February 2014 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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I’m familiar with the documentary hypothesis, but I find that seeing Genesis 1-3 as a chiasmus better explains the text.

A simple example of a chiasmus is found in Genesis 6:22:

A - Thus did Noah
B - According to all that God commanded him
A’ - So he did.

A’ parallels A, bracketing the B phrase as the central subject of importance.  This happens to be an inverted chiasmus (A - B - A’).  There is also A - B - A’ - B’, A - B - B’ - A’, etc.  The central subject of importance in Genesis 1-3 would be God dwelling with man on the Sabbath day in Gen 2:1-4a.  The creation of man in Gen. 1:26 parallels the creation of man in Gen. 2:7.  Darkness in Gen. 1:2 parallels exile in Gen. 3:24.  Etc.

There’s an article, written from a Jewish perspective, which covers the whole structure.  You can google “two creation stories aishdas” and click on the first link to find it.

As far as Ham’s or Nye’s opinion on whether such a tact would lead to a “middle position,” I highly doubt either one of them would be interested.  I’m only posting here in the hopes that I might be addressing a more intellectual and learned crowd than if I were to post in a Christian forum.

As far as no one being around to witness the Creation story, that’s only if it’s literal.  If it’s not, and if, like other Egyptian and Mesopotamian creation literature, it was allegorical with literal elements, then there’s no problem, right?  For instance, the Epic of Gilgamesh had a real King Gilgamesh, but he never went in search of the fabled plant of life.  That was an allegory.  In the same way, Adam and Eve were seemingly real people (and the Garden of Eden would have been a real place), but there was no talking snake or literal tree of life.

I’m just hoping that being able to see even the earliest parts of the bible as historically based might alleviate some of the needless polarization between Christianity and science.  Of course, the likelihood is that there will always be more fundamentalist Christians who won’t accept anything other than a literal view, but I’m hoping to appeal to moderates on both sides who can then focus their attention on more meaningful issues.  The economy, world peace, climate change, health care, etc.  If it’s possible to sort out a thorny issue like science vs. religion, then maybe we can sort out some of these other thorny issues, too.

Damon

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Posted: 20 February 2014 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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There’s good evidence for the Big Bang Theory of origin of the Universe, what verifiable evidence is there that backs up the Biblical accounts?

http://www.universetoday.com/106498/what-is-the-evidence-for-the-big-bang/

Almost all astronomers agree on the theory of the Big Bang, that the entire Universe is spreading apart, with distant galaxies speeding away from us in all directions. Run the clock backwards to 13.8 billion years ago, and everything in the Cosmos started out as a single point in space. In an instant, everything expanded outward from that location, forming the energy, atoms and eventually the stars and galaxies we see today. But to call this concept merely a theory is to misjudge the overwhelming amount of evidence.

There are separate lines of evidence, each of which independently points towards this as the origin story for our Universe. The first came with the amazing discovery that almost all galaxies are moving away from us.

Science isn’t guessing or making a composite of a variety of verbal sources which is almost certainly the case for the early Bible as written language didn’t exist when many of the “events” occurred. Science depends on the latest data on which to base the most likely theory, which is open to constant review as new data is collected. For instance it was discovered quite recently that instead of Universal Expansion slowing as was the prevailing theory, it’s now known that Universal expansion is accelerating, hence the need for dark energy.

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Posted: 20 February 2014 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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damoncasale - 18 February 2014 10:01 PM

Like another earlier poster, I didn’t see the debate, but I’ve been to Answers in Genesis and am familiar with Ken Ham’s views.  I also agree that this was basically pitting one fundamentalist against another . . .

That’s not even close to being true. Nye presented the facts and the scientific conclusions to be drawn therefrom, while Ham relied on his scriptures. Fundamentalism is defined as strict reliance on scripture. Nye is not anywhere close to being a fundamentalist, Ham is an unapologetic and radical one.

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Posted: 20 February 2014 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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damoncasale - 19 February 2014 03:08 PM

In the same way, Adam and Eve were seemingly real people (and the Garden of Eden would have been a real place), but there was no talking snake or literal tree of life.

Maybe you can explain what you mean here. There was no actual Adam or Eve, in any sense or a Garden of Eden, because there was no “first” human or a place where that first human was born. Humans are genetically diverse and the population of beings that lead to the population of humans which exist today evolved gradually in many small steps and not in a single place or along a single lineage. We evolved, we diverged, we re-merged, we evolved some more and here we are. There was no instant in time where you had a “non-human” which then gave birth to a “human” any more than there is a place in the rainbow where red suddenly becomes orange.

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Posted: 21 February 2014 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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macgyver - 20 February 2014 05:33 PM

[
Maybe you can explain what you mean here. There was no actual Adam or Eve, in any sense or a Garden of Eden, because there was no “first” human or a place where that first human was born. Humans are genetically diverse and the population of beings that lead to the population of humans which exist today evolved gradually in many small steps and not in a single place or along a single lineage. We evolved, we diverged, we re-merged, we evolved some more and here we are. There was no instant in time where you had a “non-human” which then gave birth to a “human” any more than there is a place in the rainbow where red suddenly becomes orange.

We’re not as genetically diverse as some of our relatives, there’s more diversity in the mitochondrial DNA in one troops of Bonobos than there is in all humanity for instance due to some evolutionary bottlenecks that almost wiped us out like the one 70,000 years ago. But I seriously doubt that’s what the Biblical Adam and Eve refers to.

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Posted: 21 February 2014 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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Fuzzy Logic - 21 February 2014 03:52 PM
macgyver - 20 February 2014 05:33 PM

[
Maybe you can explain what you mean here. There was no actual Adam or Eve, in any sense or a Garden of Eden, because there was no “first” human or a place where that first human was born. Humans are genetically diverse and the population of beings that lead to the population of humans which exist today evolved gradually in many small steps and not in a single place or along a single lineage. We evolved, we diverged, we re-merged, we evolved some more and here we are. There was no instant in time where you had a “non-human” which then gave birth to a “human” any more than there is a place in the rainbow where red suddenly becomes orange.

We’re not as genetically diverse as some of our relatives, there’s more diversity in the mitochondrial DNA in one troops of Bonobos than there is in all humanity for instance due to some evolutionary bottlenecks that almost wiped us out like the one 70,000 years ago. But I seriously doubt that’s what the Biblical Adam and Eve refers to.

True but that was more or less after the fact since that bottle neck affected individuals who were already homo sapiens.

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Posted: 23 February 2014 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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macgyver - 07 February 2014 11:01 AM
advocatus - 07 February 2014 09:51 AM

Since Rodin opened this topic, I for one would be interested in his take on it.  Come on, Rodin, how do you think the debate went?  I didn’t see it myself, but from what everyone saids Mr. Ham essentially threw in the towel when he kept saying it was all about “faith”, since the debate was framed as a question of whether Creationism was a viable scientific theory.

If you haven’t seen the debate you can watch it here: http://debatelive.org/. Its a bit long but definitely worth watching.

For what its worth, check out some of the posts on twitter about the debate. While a lot of the post back up what people are saying here ( ie. that people are entrenched in their positions and wont change their minds) there were certainly a number of people who seemed to be on the fence and for them a debate like this could possibly be the thing that makes them see the light. My only concern is that those who are not scientifically literate could just as easily be convinced by the simple minded ideas that Ham put forward


Thanks for the link—I had been looking for a way to just download an *.mp3 and never found it…

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Posted: 23 February 2014 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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We’re not as genetically diverse as some of our relatives, there’s more diversity in the mitochondrial DNA in one troops of Bonobos than there is in all humanity for instance due to some evolutionary bottlenecks that almost wiped us out like the one 70,000 years ago. But I seriously doubt that’s what the Biblical Adam and Eve refers to.

If you’re referring to the Mount Toma eruption then yes, our species almost ceased to exist. Some Paleontologists postulate that there may only have been approx. 5,000 Cro-Magnons left to repopulate the area. But this has absolutely nothing to do with the folk story of Adam And Eve. Just as when the Sumerians began to record their cattle sales and then moved on to record their epic tales of gods and folk heroes taken from oral traditions that predate cuneiform. And like every story, it must have a beginning and an ending with an interesting plot, climax and denouement. Hence Genesis and Revelations Alpha and Omega, an Icey beginning and a Götterdämmerung. It’s a story, a collection of prehistoric folktales, not science. The scientific method had yet to be discovered. In a similar vein it isn’t even history. Credible history employes the scientific method. And while we’re at it, finding archeological evidence of a temple or synagogue doesn’t prove the supernatural either. It may prove that said building mentioned in a biblical account existed but that’s all, or that the Hebrews buried their dead in a sarcophagus of a particular stone. It doesn’t prove (as I later discovered) that James, Jesus’s brother was buried there.
The problem with ancient written accounts is the need of believers (in whatever ancient faith they adhere to) to overlay their desires on these early ruminations by calling them “facts”, “truth” or “history” which is ludicrous because they are none of these. What they are is essentially literature from our distant past, echoes of who we once were and what we once believed. In short, wonderful folk stories that enable us to view life as they did over 5,000 years ago. these accounts are fascinating, especially for historians, sociologists, psychologists and economists and viewed in that light they are immensely valuable. But taken as fact, truth or “words to live by” they must be viewed as anachronistic. We have moved on to tackle problems the ancients couldn’t even have dreamed of and we won’t find solutions to the difficulties we now face by seeking answers in an ancient script, as fascinating as it is.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 26 February 2014 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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damoncasale - 19 February 2014 03:08 PM

As far as Ham’s or Nye’s opinion on whether such a tact would lead to a “middle position,” I highly doubt either one of them would be interested.

And you base this opiniion of Nye on what?

I remember when I first learned about evolution as a teenage Southern Baptist.  (I had to check out a book from the library because they teach us about it in school.)  I thought it was the coolest idea God had ever come up with!  When I finally did let go of my belief in God, it had nothing to do with evolution.  So sure, it would be perfectly possible to accept that evolution had happened AND that God existed also.  They are not mutually exclusive.  I don’t know if Nye claimed that they were, but one thing is for sure… Creationists would NEVER go along with it.  It’s GOD or nothing as far as they’re concerned.

As far as no one being around to witness the Creation story, that’s only if it’s literal.  If it’s not, and if, like other Egyptian and Mesopotamian creation literature, it was allegorical with literal elements, then there’s no problem, right?  For instance, the Epic of Gilgamesh had a real King Gilgamesh, but he never went in search of the fabled plant of life.  That was an allegory.  In the same way, Adam and Eve were seemingly real people (and the Garden of Eden would have been a real place), but there was no talking snake or literal tree of life.

Right, but people only write allegories when they think they KNOW what happened and they’re trying to explain a complex theory in a simple way.  What makes you think Adam and Eve were real people?

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Posted: 26 February 2014 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 23 February 2014 08:22 AM

If you’re referring to the Mount Toma eruption then yes, our species almost ceased to exist. Some Paleontologists postulate that there may only have been approx. 5,000 Cro-Magnons left to repopulate the area. But this has absolutely nothing to do with the folk story of Adam And Eve. Just as when the Sumerians began to record their cattle sales and then moved on to record their epic tales of gods and folk heroes taken from oral traditions that predate cuneiform. And like every story, it must have a beginning and an ending with an interesting plot, climax and denouement. Hence Genesis and Revelations Alpha and Omega, an Icey beginning and a Götterdämmerung. It’s a story, a collection of prehistoric folktales, not science. The scientific method had yet to be discovered. In a similar vein it isn’t even history. Credible history employes the scientific method. And while we’re at it, finding archeological evidence of a temple or synagogue doesn’t prove the supernatural either. It may prove that said building mentioned in a biblical account existed but that’s all, or that the Hebrews buried their dead in a sarcophagus of a particular stone. It doesn’t prove (as I later discovered) that James, Jesus’s brother was buried there.
The problem with ancient written accounts is the need of believers (in whatever ancient faith they adhere to) to overlay their desires on these early ruminations by calling them “facts”, “truth” or “history” which is ludicrous because they are none of these. What they are is essentially literature from our distant past, echoes of who we once were and what we once believed. In short, wonderful folk stories that enable us to view life as they did over 5,000 years ago. these accounts are fascinating, especially for historians, sociologists, psychologists and economists and viewed in that light they are immensely valuable. But taken as fact, truth or “words to live by” they must be viewed as anachronistic. We have moved on to tackle problems the ancients couldn’t even have dreamed of and we won’t find solutions to the difficulties we now face by seeking answers in an ancient script, as fascinating as it is.


Cap’t Jack

Wasn’t it supervolcano Toba, and yes that’s what I was talking about. As you say the human species may have been down to as many as a few thousand individuals and I think there were some even earlier events that also brought early human numbers down. But that was so far back in time that it’s very hard to see how the story could have been transmitted by verbal storytelling or even if there was language sophisticated enough to do so that long ago. So the Adam and Eve story probably represents the experience of going from hunter gatherers about 10,000 years ago to much more static agrarian populations. And the Biblical flood is probably based on some of the massive inundations in the region in prehistoric times such as the Black Sea and Persian Gulf flooding.

Bill Maher has a nice chat with Bill Nye about the debate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBUAVeElmPU

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Posted: 26 February 2014 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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Wasn’t it supervolcano Toba, and yes that’s what I was talking about. As you say the human species may have been down to as many as a few thousand individuals and I think there were some even earlier events that also brought early human numbers down. But that was so far back in time that it’s very hard to see how the story could have been transmitted by verbal storytelling or even if there was language sophisticated enough to do so that long ago. So the Adam and Eve story probably represents the experience of going from hunter gatherers about 10,000 years ago to much more static agrarian populations. And the Biblical flood is probably based on some of the massive inundations in the region in prehistoric times such as the Black Sea and Persian Gulf flooding.

You’re correct FL; I was unfortunately working from memory. It was Mt. Toba in Indonesia. I came across the theory when reading Chris Stringer’s works. He mentions the incident several times. This one nearly wiped out our ancestors and the numbers vary according to several Paleoanthropologists.  It’s still under contention as is the exact time of the eruption. Stringer also postulates that Cro-Magnon began the breakout of Africa ca. 55,000ya. As to folk stories, the Genesis account at least dates back to the 6th Century when the Hebrews were under Assyrian captivity. There is no link between the peoples of the late Paleolithic era and Bronze Age stories that has been verified so far. some scholars believe the whole story is an attempt by the Hebrews to find a way ro justify their captivity or it is an earlier story about mythical entities called the Elohim. Of course there were many creation stories floating around in the Middle East including the Marduk tales of the Sumerians and the Babylonians. BTW, an archeologist (British?) recently uncovered a 5,000 year old cuneiform tablet concerning the building of the Ark which is described as being round, like a gigantic coracle. Imagine forcing animals into that boat! No matter, it dosen’t provide proof that one actually existed, only that there was actually a folk tale describing a flood and an ark. Geologists are aware that the two rivers flooded annually and the story in all probably developed from this annual incident as is the Black Sea and Persian Gulf flooding. More emperical evidence is needed and maybe in our time archeologists will uncover them. Meantime, it’s just speculation but that’s how we get the ball rolling so to speak.


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