Doonesbury Discussion Dilemma

It’s amazing that something as frivolous as a comic strip can generate a passionate debate. If you’ve been following this blog, you know the Doonesbury strip of last week portrayed believers in the biblical account of creation as know-nothings. My thanks to Garry Trudeau for helping bring this issue before the voters, er, uh … Sorry, I got carried away there.

Anyhoo, three of our listeners out there—Alison, Sarah, and Jerry made comments that set the stage for further discussion. I thank them for their thoughts; I can tell that each spoke from the heart.

Alison wrote that she thinks “…evolution and belief in god (sic) can co-exist. Sarah said she agrees with Alison. Jerry says that he “… feel(s) that God’s creation story is not neutered by Darwin’s evolution facts or theories.” I’m sorry, Jerry, we’ll need a stronger authority than feelings. Alison gives as her authority: “I took MANY science classes that detailed the proof that it did, indeed occur.”

Well, that’s a start—but who taught these classes, and was the instructor merely stating his/her opinion? We’ll have to put the “feelings” arguments aside, and Alison’s classes, too, until she gives us more information. Why am I so arbitrary about this?

Go back to my Doonesbury Deception posting of 3 days ago. I note there is no evidence to support the Theory of Evolution. Time limits us to two reasons: 1) there are no transitional forms, although evolutionists have through the years provided fraudulent claims of “the missing link,” etc. Piltdown Man was exposed in 1953 as a forgery, consisting of the lower jawbone of an orangutang that had been deliberately combined with the skull of a fully developed modern human. Nebraska Man turned out to be a pig’s tooth. That’s why it’s still called a theory, despite what Alison’s instructors told her. 2) It violates the Second Law (Law, not theory) of Thermodynamics.

I also mentioned that evolutionists don’t want alternative viewpoints presented in the classroom; otherwise, they would be expected to defend their theory. Sarah mentioned this in her comment: “Are you familiar with Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled? It takes on the unfortunate resistance of the scientific community to allow academics to bring up alternative viewpoints that call into question widely accepted scientific theories. Ultimately the documentary asks the larger question of why the scientific community would resist the asking of questions (which of course drives scientific discovery), but Stein focuses on the evolution vs intelligent design argument and handles it with a great deal of grace.

Thank you, Sarah. But since you mentioned this, I’m puzzled that you agree with the idea that evolution and belief in God can co-exist. Perhaps I should be asking the question: If I say I believe in God, do I also have to believe the Bible? It would seem so, as the creation account (which conflicts with naturalism) is repeated throughout scripture; since scripture presents itself as the Word of God.

This may be at the root of our disagreement. I will tell you unequivocally that 1) I believe in God. But when you or I say that, we are saying many other things, too—essentially, as stated in the Christian creeds (e.g., Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, etc.).

Jim Noyes put it this way: Most … who criticize creationist theory, have never read the Bible one time. How can they call themselves “educated?” Check it out. Truth does not fear examination. Which is what Sarah suggests with the Ben Stein documentary. Which, BTW, is very well done.

What do you think about the Christian insistence that belief in God = acceptance of the Bible as God’s Word? 

God’s handiwork in The Tetons



About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
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19 Responses to Doonesbury Discussion Dilemma

  1. Jerry says:

    My previous post was criticized for not conforming to the inspiration of biblical scripture enough to meet orthodoxy. Below are four ways to think about inspiration of the Bible, as paraphrased from the study guide of my New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, 1990 edition. This information was referenced from the book, The Unfolding Drama of the Bible, 1988 edition, by Bernard W. Anderson.

    1. “Every word of the Bible is totally inspired by God“, “truth free from error“. Writers put down the “correct words“.
    2. Inspired “ideas and concepts but not to the actual words of the Bible.”
    3. “Individual people“, “not words or ideas“, inspired. Writers wrote by “using language and thought forms of their culture.”
    4. Inspired “community that produced, preserved, and passed on the writings we call Scripture.”

    My opinions would fit somewhat into inspiration as described in categories no. 3 and 4. That means that I would probably not see eye-to-eye with someone whose opinions only fit into category no. 1.

  2. Jerry says:

    Herb, I don’t think that we need to concede to each other’s argument. Thanks, though.

  3. Jerry says:

    To paraphrase you, Herb, “When reading Genesis, don’t insert your own 21st century sensibilities.” That says to me, if you think that you understand creation today, you may have it wrong. Since we are dealing with a long-ago period with limited recorded history, we are dependent upon ancient scribes with writing habits common to that time period. Those scribes may not have written like you and I would write (with better penmanship, perhaps). They wrote history based on oral stories that had been told over and over and passed along for years, I presume. Perhaps they wrote about their history and their historical relationship with God with metaphor, allegories, myth, and fact all mixed together in order to convey the truth as they saw it. We have accepted their interpretations in different ways, both literally and metaphorically. To limit our interpretation to one method alone, either literal or metaphorical, seems to miss the larger truth being told. The larger truth that might be gained is that God is love and the Creator. Live accordingly.

    • Herb Hofmann says:

      All that you say here is true-IF-God had no part in the creation of His Word! However, a verse in the New Testament (alas! I can’t remember chapter and verse) states, “All Scripture is inspired by God (God-breathed) and profitable for teaching, for rebuke, for training in righteousness, against which, there is no law.” I think we’ve hit the crux of the matter Jerry. Either you believe in the inspiration of Scripture or you do not. The orthodox Christian view has always been that Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament under the direction of the Holy Spirit. They and all of the other books in God’s Word were certainly written by men, and show their writing styles and personalities, but unlike any other writing in history, the Bible is the Word of the creator of the heavens and the Earth. There has been a lot of scholarly work done that shows that what we have in an English Bible (of course depending on the version) is very accurate and reliably conveys the exact meaning of what was originally written. If we disagree on this point, we simply won’t see eye to eye or ever concede to the other’s argument.

  4. Jerry says:

    Herb, thanks for the clarification. As if it should make a difference, my RSV Bible in Gen. 4:1 reads, “Now the man knew his wife, Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, ……”

    With the advent of Martin Luther, I thought that the individual was to read and interpret the Word, rather than have another interpret for him/her. Otherwise, who will determine what is metaphor or literal expression for me?

    A thousand years old and 50 to 100 more children, eh?

    It’s good to have your thoughts.

    • Herb Hofmann says:

      Thanks for your response Jerry. You’re right about the verse. I was working off memory without a Bible on hand. Either way, I hold to my point. Cain was probably Adam and Eve’s first child, but by the time of the story of Cain and Abel we have no idea of how many children Adam and Eve had. For that matter, how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Obviously brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles etc. married. It sounds bizarre to us today, but they had near perfect genetic makeup so there was no concern of abnormalities (except their sin nature!). I think the hardest thing for us to do as we look back at Genesis is read it without inserting our 21st century sensibilities.

  5. Jerry says:

    You are a knowledgeable guy, Sam. I’m surprised that Genesis 4 doesn’t raise a question or two in your mind, as it does in mine, though. If there were another family living at the time of Adam and Eve, that should be of interest to a religious historian.

    My information on Galileo must have been faulty, based on your report. That’s good Galileo research work on your part. I guess that’s plum smart of you.

    • samuelehall says:

      Hey, Jerry, a compliment from you is special. Take a look at Herb’s comments. I defer to him any day.
      Hey, these plums are good! But as my Aunt Ethel used to say, “Be careful with too many of those or you’ll have a good case of Colorado Quick-step!”

  6. Jerry says:

    Wow, Sam, you are getting some varied opinions on your blog.

    Regarding taking the Bible literally: (Gen. 4) Adam and Eve were man and wife. Who attended the wedding? They gave birth to Cain and Abel. After slaying Abel, Cain moved to Nod, east of Eden, and married. Who was his wife? Where did she originate? When and where were her parents born or created? Cain and his wife bore a son, Enoch. Then, Cain built a city and named it after their son, Enoch. Why did he build a city and what was its population?

    The Bible to me is both literal and metaphorical. It expounds the truth, while some of the information may be metaphorical. Fact and truth exist side by side. That’s my humble opinion. As Galileo was credited with saying, “The Bible shows you how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

    Regarding Christians fostering the scientific method, please consider the following excerpt and related links: “Francis Bacon was the first to formalize the concept of a true scientific method, but he didn’t do so in a vacuum. The work of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) influenced Bacon tremendously. Copernicus proposed from his observations that the planets of the solar system revolved around the sun, not Earth. Galileo was able to confirm this sun-centered structure when he used a telescope that he designed to collect data on, among other things, the moons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus. Galileo’s biggest contribution, however, may have been his systematic study of motion, which was based on simple mathematical descriptions.“ Francis Bacon was a humanist. Copernicus and Galileo presented their scientific discoveries at great bodily risk from the Christian establishment. See links below:

    • Herb Hofmann says:

      Jerry, who attended Adam and Eve’s wedding? What wedding? The Bible simply states that they became one flesh. If God was present, what other witnesses would you need? As far as the question of their children, the simple answer is that, just because the Bible doesn’t list other children, there is no reason to assume there weren’t other children. With their nearly perfect (post-fall) bodies, free from most of the effects of sin we suffer with, along with their nearly 1,000 year life span (again due to near perfect bodies and the pre-flood condition of the Earth ), they could have had 50, 100 or more children. There is no timeline in Scripture as far as when the story of Cain and Abel took place.

      Also, you may be interested to know that in the Psalms ( I don’t have a Bible available to give you chapter and verse), the Earth is described as, if I remember correctly, “the circle of the Earth.” It is also described as hanging from nothing. When I read the Bible, I try to let the literature be what it is. When it’s metaphorical, so be it. But it’s very dangerous to decide for ourselves what is and isn’t literal. Trust me, one day it will all be very clear. While I’m very grateful for God’s mercy and grace, I’m sure I’ll be shocked just how molded to this world I really am. I pray every day that God will reveal Himself more fully and conform me more closely to what I, as His child should be. That’s why I hold as closely as I can to a literal and grammatical reading of His Revealed Word.

    • samuelehall says:

      Hey, Jerry–pretty feisty guy, making me scramble … I may not be up to it but let me try. I just returned from picking 80# of Italian plums; I washed, pitted, and put the plums in our food dryer and then cranked it up to 135 degrees.
      Now what did I just do? I told you how I went about adding food to our household reserve. I didn’t tell you that our neighbor Margit offered them to us or when she called, how far I traveled, my emotional state or method of conveyance. That wasn’t my purpose. So …
      To address your “literal Bible” point: First, the Bible isn’t designed to be a history book, science book, story book, list of rules, book of poetry, etc. Yet it is all that and more. The Bible is the revelation of God to us. The Triune God is on a mission to call a people to himself. He is calling us to join in the eternal conversation of love that is at the center of his being and to be a part of his mission to his world. In that purpose, the central figure throughout is Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points to Jesus and the New Testament gives the story of his coming, his ministry and ultimate sacrifice of love for us, how we are to respond to him, and information about his ultimate return. (Theologians among you, that was off the top of my head. Please fill in parts that I missed.)
      All that said, the Bible may not answer a lot of esoteric questions we may have because population statistics and where Cain’s wife came from are outside the purpose of this marvelous account of God’s expression of himself to us.
      To your statement that the Christian establishment persecuted Copernicus and Galileo, I turned to Dinesh D’Souza for what seems to be more accurate information: That the Church dogmatically opposed the new science–In reality, the Church was the leading sponsor of the new science and Galileo himself was funded by the church. The leading astronomers of the time were Jesuit priests. They were open to Galileo’s theory but told him the evidence for it was inconclusive. This was the view of the greatest astronomer of the age, Tyco Brahe.
      That Galileo was a victim of torture and abuse: This is entirely untrue. Galileo was treated by the church as a celebrity. When summoned by the Inquisition, he was housed in the grand Medici Villa in Rome. He attended receptions with the Pope and leading cardinals. Even after he was found guilty, he was first housed in a magnificent Episcopal palace and then placed under “house arrest” although he was permitted to visit his daughters in a nearby convent and to continue publishing scientific papers.
      That the church convicted Galileo of heresy: Actually, Galileo was neither charged nor convicted of heresy. He was charged with teaching heliocentrism in specific contravention of his own pledge not to do so. This is a charge on which Galileo was guilty. He had assured Cardinal Bellarmine that given the sensitivity of the issue, he would not publicly promote heliocentrism. Yet when a new pope was named, Galileo decided on his own to go back on his word. Asked about this in court, he said his Dialogue on the Two World Systems did not advocate heliocentrism. This is a flat-out untruth as anyone who reads Galileo’s book can plainly see. Even Galileo’s supporters, and there were many, found it difficult to defend him at this point.
      What can we conclude from all this? Galileo was right about heliocentrism, but we know that only in retrospect because of evidence that emerged after Galileo’s death. The Church should not have tried him at all, although Galileo’s reckless conduct contributed to his fate. Even so, his fate was not so terrible. Historian Gary Ferngren concludes that “the traditional picture of Galileo as a martyr to intellectual freedom and as a victim of the church’s opposition to science has been demonstrated to be little more than a caricature.”
      Italian plums, anyone?

  7. Herb Hofmann says:

    Sam, I think it is possible to be a Christian without believing in a proper literal interpretation of
    the Bible (I say proper because you have to be able to recognize metaphor and poetry when you see it). However, your spiritual growth will be stunted as long as you can’t allow God to say what He intends to say. It seems to me that if we allow God to be God, and remember that man is fallible, accepting God’s Word as truth becomes much easier.

    Jim Noyes is right. I would add that those evolutionists who have read the Bible, have probably not read more creationist literature than what has been quoted and “refuted” in some evolutionist paper, article or book.

    If any evolutionists are still following this post, I would encourage you to read “Darwin’s Black Box” by Michael J. Behe. A quick look in my library found “Evolution, the Fossils Say No!” by Duane T. Gish; “Science and the Bible” by Henry M. Morris; “Darwin on Trial” and “Defeating Darwinism” by Phillip E. Johnson; and “5 Reasons to Believe in Recent Creation” by Henry M. Morris III (1. The Bible Does Not Allow An Evolutionary Interpretation, 2. Science Does Not Observe Evolution Happening Today. 3. There Is No Evidence Evolution Took Place In The Past. 4. God’s Character Absolutely Forbids Evolutionary Methods. And 5. God’s Purpose For Creation Forbids Evolution).

    I am exposed to evolutionary belief constantly. Every PBS show that can possibly include evolutionary dogma does so. Every newspaper article and secular magazine dealing with science proclaims it’s “factual” evolutionary slant. On the other hand very few evolutionists read anything from creationists and then say there is no scientific basis for recent creation! I challenge you evolutionists to expand your minds and do a little alternative reading! I believe every one of these books is still in print. Check them out!

    • samuelehall says:

      Well put, Herb. The evolutionists have been pretty successful in portraying Bible believers as unscientific, mostly uneducated, close-minded, and lacking critical thinking skills.
      Note the latest comments by Alison, Sarah, and Jerry. All very thoughtful and provocative points. What’s your take?
      … and what about all you folks out there in Radioland? (I grew up in the ’50s, can’t you tell?) Click on the comments you like; give us your counter for those you don’t.

  8. Alison says:

    Sam, I am providing some links that go into detail about evolution and the scientific facts that prove it .,
    I could go on and on with links. One of the links talked about the “theory” of evolution as being the same as theory of the earth being round–it’s been proven through scientific exploration and accepted as fact by the majority of the human population. The reason creationism isn’t taught alongside evolution is that there is no scientific evidence for creation.
    And yes, I can believe in God and not the Bible. I realize that sounds like blasphemy to you, but ask anyone who believes fully in their religion (Muslims, Mormons, etc.) and they will tell you theirs is the one and only religion and the rest are invalid. This is the problem I have with most religions. I respect that you truly believe in Christianity, but I make no claims as to “knowing” the truth about God, other than I do believe in a higher, benevolent power. I could never follow organized religion in that way. Nature is my church, and where I feel that connection to something greater. I can accept that others believe strongly in their faiths and respect that they benefit from that, but I refuse to see one religion as superior to all others. I know we will never agree on that!!

    • samuelehall says:

      Thank you, Alison, for your participation and for providing these links. I hope others will respond as I don’t have time or background to do more than these comments:
      One quote from your first link states: As a result of the massive amount of evidence for biological evolution accumulated over the last two centuries, we can safely conclude that evolution has occurred and continues to occur. All life forms, including humans, evolved from earlier species, and all still living species of organisms continue to evolve today. They are not unchanging end-products.
      My response: That’s impressive–if it’s true. Merely saying these things doesn’t make them true. The late Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard referred to the absence of transitional fossils as the “trade secret” of paleontology. In fact, Darwin knew what the fossil record ought to show if his theory was correct. He said there should be “interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps.” Far from showing gradual change with a species slowly developing novel characteristics and eventually becoming another species, as Darwin hypothesized, the fossil record showed vast numbers of new species suddenly appearing out of nowhere, remaining largely unchanged for a great length of time, and then disappearing. He blamed a fossil record that contradicted his theory on the “extreme imperfection of the geological record.” 150 years later, we now have fossils for about a quarter of a million species. But things have only gotten worse for Darwin. Fossil discoveries since Darwin’s time have forced paleontologists to take back evidence of evolution; e.g., the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information. The scant fossil record in Darwin’s time had simply been arranged to show a Darwinian progression, but as more fossils were discovered, the true sequence turned out not to be Darwinian at all.
      It seems to me that creationist and intelligent design scientists look at the evidence and develop their theories; Darwinists start with a theory and then rearrange the evidence.
      Alison, I would have to say this: “I don’t have enough faith to believe in evolution.”
      Now, I don’t want to be unreasonable, but if you can provide one (1) unassailable proof of evolution, I’ll take it to my experts and then let you take a shot at what we come up with.
      Otherwise, both thee and me view origins from the initial point of faith.

  9. Eric FOrbes says:

    One of the accusations often leveled against Christians and the Bible is that of circular reasoning. “They believe the bible is true because the bible say’s it’s true.” This is partially right. I as a Christian believe that the whole Bible is true because I find it to be generally reliable enough to take it;s claim to truth seriously. No I’m not talking in circles. I’m talking in spirals.

    I reject the idea that anything as complex as life could arise without intelligent intervention. Therefore I believe God exists. I see a moral dissonance in human society. We don’t do what’s right even where we know what we should do. I look for an explanation for this and find the Bible. For the sake of brevity I’ll just say that it is self consistent, answers the questions that need answering, and also tells you that everything in it is true. There you have a quandary of sorts. If you don’t believe that Noah built an Ark, then you can’t trust that God actually intervened in the writing and preservation of the books like He said He did. But then you are back at square one trying to find an explanation for life.

  10. Jerry says:

    I suppose that’s enough said for my part.

  11. Wow, Sam. Big stuff here. Like Alison I have had a great deal of experience with classes that promote evolutionary theory. My undergraduate degree is in zoology in which field there is a great deal of study into the genetic relationships between species, even attempting (and often failing) to define the differences between species. I certainly believe that the scientific evidence screams that creation evolves. I don’t think that can be logically disputed. That does not however necessarily support the idea of a big bang and spontaneous creation. You are correct when you state that the “missing link” is absent from our flow of evidence. I don’t believe it will ever be found because I think there is an intelligent designer and as a Christian, I believe that the intelligent designer is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I do consider myself a Bible believing Christian, but I also don’t have a problem accepting that the Bible is the inspired Word of God written by men. Moses wasn’t trying to puzzle out the existence of dinosaur bones when he wrote the creation story in Genesis. Every major world religion contains mythololgy and Christianity (and Jusdaism and Islam which also share this same history) is no different. I know people probably bristle at the term myth because it is so often misused. My apologies to the mythbusters, but a myth really isn’t an urban legend that proves false. It is a story used to explain truth. God created the heavens and the earth. I know that to be true just as Moses did. Did he form it in 7 days as a pre-pepared package? Or did he form it over millions of years as a an evolving and dynamic system? I actually think the latter is quite a bit more impressive, but I won’t presume to put God in a box.

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