Saturday, 27 April 2019

The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1 - Part 2: Creation via Divine Might

Creation as Divine Might

The first Biblical model of creation Mark Smith explores in The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1 [1] is creation as divine might, which looks at how creation emerges as a result of God’s victory of cosmic enemies. Smith notes that the best example of this model of creation is found in Psa 74:12-17 [2]
Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the earth.
You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
You cut openings for springs and torrents; you dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun.
You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter.
Also of relevance is the narrative in Psa 89:8-13
O LORD God of hosts, who is as mighty as you, O LORD? Your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it—you have founded them.
The north and the south—you created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1 - Part 1

Most would be aware that there are two creation stories in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 which if read literally differ in the length, order, and duration of creation events, not to mention the nature of God’s involvement in creation as either transcendent or immanent, even if that awareness derives from an awareness that fundamentalist Christians vehemently deny this fact and have spent no little energy in patently unconvincing attempts to explain away this problem. [1] Fewer though would be aware of the existence of other creation narratives in the Bible, which while sharing motifs and themes [2] likewise differ from each other. The idea of a single unified creation text in the Bible is one that is not supported by the evidence. There are many creation narratives in the Bible, which share common themes but also differ thematically, and to insist on a single Biblical teaching on creation runs the risk of muting these voices in order to force the polyvalent Biblical teachings on creation both to conform to a fundamentalist concept of inerrancy as well as to function as a crude anti-evolution polemic. The science denialism of contemporary fundamentalists should never be the hermeneutic by which we read the creation narratives.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Posting Frequency

The two or three people who still read the blog will of course be aware that posting frequency has dropped considerably over the past few years. The main factor behind this is the fact that after a while, pretty well everything that one can say on the issue from a scientific and theological point of view has already been said, and further posts run the risk of being repetitive. Given this, I have been striving for quality rather than quantity.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Debunking a "Scientific Dissent From Darwinism" - yet again

In 2001, the Discovery Institute, an advocate of the pseudoscience of intelligent design released A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism to which a small number of people of varying professional backgrounds had given their assent. [1] The statement, which professed scepticism of the ability of random mutation and natural selection was widely criticised in the mainstream scientific community on many points including its misleading phrasing, designed to make the layperson think criticism of a subject implied wholesale rejection, as well as its straw man presentation of modern evolutionary theory as simply random mutation and natural selection. Recently, this statement has been popping up across the Christian world due to the fact that this list has now managed to garner 1000 signatories. Despite the fact it has been ably demolished, [2] another ritual flogging would not go astray.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Appealing to Mark 10:6-8 doesn't mean there aren't two divergent creation accounts.

Outside of the extremes of fundamentalist Christianity, there is a strong consensus that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are two separate creation accounts which when read literally differ significantly in terms of the duration of creation, order of events, and the nature of God as revealed in how he is described as creating. [1] One common fundamentalist attempt to argue away this problem an appeal to Mark 10:6-8, where Jesus quotes from both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Their argument is that by quoting from Gen 1 and Gen 2, Jesus is showing that he believed the accounts were not in tension. This is of course patently unconvincing if only because the differences between the creation narratives are not resolved simply by appealing to the NT passage. Context is also important as the point being argued was divorce rather than creation.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Why defending original sin in the light of evolution is untenable - a former Christian shows why

One common theme in deconversion stories is the loss of faith when the former believer discovered that contrary to what their faith community had dogmatically asserted, the evidence for evolution was in fact overwhelming. Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons behind the perception that evolution and Christianity are utterly incompatible is the doctrine of Original Sin, in both its Reformed and Catholic forms. The fundamental problem here is of course the fact Original Sin requires every single human being to be exclusively descended from two people in order for the physical change in human nature that adherents of Original Sin believe happened as a result of Adam's sin to be genetically transmitted to the entire human race. Given what we know of the origins of the human race, this is of course impossible as the size of the human population has never been lower than a few thousand people, while humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor that lived around six million years ago. Original Sin demands a view of human origins that cannot be reconciled with hard facts.

In a recent article [1] at the Recovering from Religion blog Ex-Communications, Suze Ambs writes on how discovering the truth about evolution helped erode her faith. While she states that there were many reasons for her deconversion, in this article she points out how the scientific evidence for human evolution was the "nail in the coffin" for her belief because it directly undermined Original Sin and the atonement theory based on it. Ambs' observation is hardly isolated, with other ex-Christians also pointing out how evolution destroys the anthropology of Original Sin and any atonement theory based on it. As such, it is worth looking at her article in some detail, if only to show just how dangerous to faith evolution denialism and Original Sin are.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Flat Earth Creationists and Firmament Denialism - Why flat earthers are the only truly consistent biblical literalists.

Flat earthers it seems are everywhere at the moment. A movement that one would imagine would have not survived the launch of space probes has not only managed to survive but thrive. One thing that many overlook however is that most flat earthers are united by their adherence to Biblical literalism. For them, the literal word of the Bible is the ultimate authority, and they are convinced that a literal reading of the Bible teaches a flat earth covered by a solid firmament. One may regard their denial of the last 2500 years of science as beyond insane, but they at least deserve credit for being consistent in their literalism. Conventional YECs and even geocentrists, both of whom also claim to take the literal word of the Bible as their ultimate authority in reality reject a literal reading of the Bible when it conflicts with their belief in a spherical Earth, leaving them rightly open to the charge of selective literalism.