Did Jesus believe in a six-day creation and a literal Adam?

Things Jesus never said (not even once): "Read Genesis literally" (public domain).

OK, confession time, guys. I did that bad thing bloggers do: I wrote a headline just to make you click on it. I am ashamed, and I am sorry.

Now, it wasn’t a total bait and switch. I will be talking about the question my headline asks. Only, I won’t be answering it, because I don’t believe we have anywhere near enough information to do so.

There is precisely one instance in all of scripture where Jesus quotes from Genesis 1 and 2. OK, actually, there are two, but they are parallels of each other: Matthew 19:1-11 and Mark 10:1-12. Here’s the relevant portion of the text from Matthew’s gospel, as rendered by the NIV:

Some Pharisees came to [Jesus] to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Let’s start by laying out what Jesus did not say in this passage. He did not say the universe was created in six 24-hour days. He did not say the first human was a man named Adam, who had a wife named Eve and was evicted from a place called Eden. He did not say the world is roughly 6,000 years old, and that the exact age is difficult to determine because there was a worldwide flood that mucked up the planet and somehow makes radiometric dating impossible.

In fact, Jesus’ words, taken in their obvious context, aren’t referring to creation at all. Jesus is asked a question about marriage and divorce, and he answers the question using scripture. Being the true Word of God, that’s something he did fairly frequently.

In that understanding, I think Jesus’ use of the phrase “at the beginning” is largely incidental. It’s used to clue his audience in to the context of what he’s talking about, like when he said, “Have you not read in the book of Moses?” But even if Jesus is making a point about the creation of men and women here, I don’t think that necessarily conflicts with Darwin’s theory, because I don’t believe we are an accidental product of evolution. I believe we are, in fact, a deliberate, purposeful product of evolution — a creature made in God’s image, male and female, whom he had in mind even before the beginning.

The thing is, if God made time, then he exists outside time. And if he exists outside time, then the moment of the Big Bang, and 13.7 billions years later when an apelike creature first looked at the stars and wondered if there was something bigger than it out there, really aren’t all that different from God’s point of view. Which makes the phrase “at the beginning” pretty relative.

But let’s pretend for a moment, as the literalists will insist, that by “at the beginning,” Jesus meant the sixth day of Creation Week. If creation really took billions of years, does that mean Jesus was wrong?

Yes. Sort of.

You see, Jesus was wrong, but only because his listeners were wrong. His audience believed that humans had always existed on the earth; they had no reason to think otherwise. And Jesus accommodated himself to their inaccurate views of our biological origins in order to remind them of a deeper truth: that we are made in God’s image, male and female, and that there is a grand, divine beauty in the marital bond that flippant divorce makes a mockery of.

Of course, young-earthers will reject my interpretation. This being the only passage in all of the New Testament in which Jesus’ words can be construed to offer any kind of support for their view on origins, they can’t simply let it go without a fight. The problem is that literalists already use this exact same hermeneutical technique elsewhere in the gospel accounts. And here are three examples.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:23-24)

So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. “But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:23-26)

Taken at face value, every one of these statements of Jesus is just plain wrong. The mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth; orchid seeds are smaller. Nor is it the largest of all garden plants. So, either Jesus flunked botany, or he adopted the predominant (but ultimately incorrect) view of his listeners in order to convey an abstract truth about the coming kingdom of God.

In the same way, wheat kernels, of course, do not die before germinating. Dead seeds don’t grow, and I doubt God was actually confused on that point. But his first-century listeners were, because the outer shell of a wheat kernel does rot away before the new plant appears. Again, either Jesus was wrong, or he accommodated the beliefs of the time to share a more important truth.

And finally, stars are not tiny pinpricks of light hung in a solid dome called the firmament, as the ancient Hebrews (and others) once supposed. There are no stars caught in our planet’s gravity, so none could “fall from the sky” to earth, and if even a single one did, it would burn the whole thing up. In short, we now know that what Jesus is plainly describing as a future event is impossible. But, that’s not what his listeners would have thought. For the modern Christian, I think the perfectly reasonable assumption is that Jesus is teaching here that catastrophic natural events will herald the Second Coming — just couched in terms that his disciples would understand.

To sum up, I believe Jesus adopted his contemporaries’ views of botany, astronomy and even the Bible — just as he adopted their language and their appearance — in order to share the truth we needed to hear from the mouth of God himself.

So, did Jesus believe in a six-day creation and a literal Adam? We don’t know. He simply did not fully address the question of how we are to interpret Genesis, or if he did, the record is not preserved. And I believe there’s a reason for that: It’s not important. That’s right, despite Ken Ham’s righteous declarations to the contrary, Jesus very clearly does not seem to think a literal view of Genesis is necessary to live a godly life according to his teachings. If he thought otherwise, then he would have said so.

And he would have said so — as he always did — in a way that both we and his originals hearers could understand.

Tyler Francke

  • Thanks for posting on this! Here is a link to one of a few posts I wrote a while back, arguing that Jesus didn’t take the Genesis story literally: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/08/did-jesus-understand-genesis-2-literally.html

    • Hey James! I actually came across this when I was doing some research on the post this morning! Thought you did a great job explaining how even the text itself doesn’t support the idea that Jesus taught it literally. Thanks for reading and for posting the link!

  • Alan C

    It seems to me that inherent in the doctrine of the Incarnation is the idea of God the Son limiting himself to a particular time, place, and culture. In that case I have no problem acknowledging that Jesus “didn’t know,” say, that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. It works out to about the same thing you’re suggesting, his accommodating himself to the frame of reference of his hearers.

    • Yes, excellent point! And I think the fact that Jesus limited himself in knowledge is clearly demonstrated in scripture, like in Matthew 24:36: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

  • Lucas

    I’m sorry, but your post is not entirely correct. The first part is, but the second one about Jesus is not. The comment about the seed is a commentary, not his words. I could show you this in greek but I believe you have a good team over there. (by the was, the seed was the smallest the jews had, although Jesus never said it was the smallest)
    The expression “at the beginning” points to the beginning of mankind, which indeed had male and female.

    • Lucas

      by the ‘way’. Typo.

    • Hey Lucas, thanks for reading and for your comment! I didn’t know that the original Greek indicated that those words were author’s commentary rather than a quote of Jesus. But I don’t think that actually changes my overall point. I, like most evangelicals, believe the Bible’s authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit. So whether the text is a direct quote of Jesus or not, it’s still in the Bible, and it still conveys incorrect information. So the question remains as to why that is, and that’s what my post was attempting to address.

      • The Greek doesn’t indicate that. It might be that there is a Greek edition with punctuation added which indicates something to that effect, but the Greek manuscripts from the early period do not, and it is a characteristic of the Gospel of John that the words of Jesus and those of the narrator are hard if not impossible to distinguish.

  • Chris

    I laughed when I saw this picture – thank you for the interesting article Tyler. I enjoyed reading it 🙂

    Two questions maybe Tyler could answer to add some clarity –
    (i) Is this post in response to another a post by someone else? (the only person you reference is Ken Ham and his post at the end – maybe it’s him but I don’t know)

    (ii) Are you drawing your premise from silence? ie Jesus never said that he believed in six days therefore He didn’t believed in it? My reasoning would be – what else could we say from what Jesus didn’t speak about?

    Maybe another question to ask could be – how did Jesus speak about the rest of the Pentateuch – with so many references to Abraham, Moses, the commandments, Levitical Law, the Sabbath and Noah (look out!) – I’m sure that would be fruitful and even add weight to your discussion.

    • Hey Chris! Thanks for reading and commenting! Glad you liked it! Hope the responses below answer your questions satisfactorily. Please let me know if you have any more!

      (i) No, not specifically. These passages are commonly quoted by YECs to say that Jesus agrees with their view. I often see it used as a “clincher.” They’ll list a few reasons the earth is supposedly young, then say something like, “But the most powerful witness is that of Jesus himself,” followed by one of these passages. But, if you’re interested, here’s an article by Answers in Genesis’ Terry Mortenson in which he uses these verses to argue that Jesus was a young-earth creationist.

      (ii) Not exactly. I wasn’t arguing that the fact that Jesus didn’t specifically mention a six-day creation means he did or didn’t believe in it. Notice, I specifically wrote that my opinion is we can’t actually determine Jesus’ view based on the available evidence. However, I did say, and do think, the fact that he was silent on the issue means it’s not particularly important. Which, if I’m correct, would seem to indicate that the “ministries” and churches that are spending millions of dollars and vast amounts of time and talent to sway the masses to their unscientific views are breathtakingly misguided.

      Maybe another question to ask could be – how did Jesus speak about the rest of the Pentateuch – with so many references to Abraham, Moses, the commandments, Levitical Law, the Sabbath and Noah (look out!) – I’m sure that would be fruitful and even add weight to your discussion.

      This certainly is an important question, and one that has bearing on the discussion. Just based on my previous study, I would hypothesize that every instance in which Jesus quotes or mentions the law and the prophets, he is making a theological or moral point, and never a historical or scientific one. However, if you can think of an instance in which my hypothesis might be mistaken, I’d be delighted to discuss the matter with you further. Thanks again!

  • GPFR

    The question I have for Christian evolutionists, is if you believe in evolution, what part did God play in creation? Did he know from the beginning that man would evolve? Was this His plan? If it was God’s plan was “chance” still part of evolution? Or was it not God’s plan at all, and it just happened for no divine reason? I can see where a creationist is coming from, and I see where an evolutionist is coming from, but it is really hard for me to grasp the reasoning of a Christian evolutionist.

    • Hello! Thanks for your excellent questions. I understand your confusion, and I will do my best to explain my reasoning.

      I believe God is the creator of everything on heaven and earth. He’s the maker of everything that has been made. I believe God used the process of evolution in the same way a painter may use a brush, but in my view, he alone is ultimately responsible for all of creation. And, I believe God not only knew mankind would evolve, but specifically and deliberately caused it to happen. We are made in the image of God, in my view, not an accident or the result of chance. At the same time, the theory of evolution does involve several apparently random processes — I don’t dispute that.

      I understand all this in the same way Christians understand Jeremiah 1:5 in light of what we now know about conception and reproduction. In that passage, God says that he knew Jeremiah before he formed him in the womb, that he foresaw the man he would be before he was even born. The meiotic process that assembles each one of our genetic makeups would appear to be completely random, and yet, I don’t believe it is random to God, and I’d bet most of the Christians who think I’m wrong about evolution would agree with me. What’s more, technology has now enabled us to see every stage of a baby’s development in utero, and even to recreate the process in a lab. So we know there is no point at which disembodied hands appear and “form” a baby as Jer 1:5 says, and yet, Christians still seem to have no trouble affirming each person as a unique masterpiece of God.

      Fact is, the Bible explicitly describes God as being sovereign over completely random processes, like the casting of lots: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33, ESV).

      I think the question really falls to the Christian evolution denier as to why the idea of theistic evolution is so repugnant. If we can see God’s hand in the gradual development of a baby, why not in the gradual development of a species? If we can see him working in the apparently random casting of lots or assembling of an individual’s genetic makeup, why not in the apparently random processes that underpin the modern evolutionary synthesis?

      I hope that helps in some way. I would welcome any other questions or follow-up comments. Thanks again!

      • Pearl

        As a YEC I am able to assure those I share with that the God of the Bible did not use death as part of a long, drawn out creative process. He created all that is in just 6 days and it was without pain, suffering and death. God did not give pain, suffering and death to humanity (and consequently the rest of creation) from the beginning. Paul teaches that death entered the creation when the first man and woman decided to trust their own wisdom (Gen 3:6), rather than God’s divine guidance (Romans 5:12; 1Cor 15). As I understand it, your god decreed from the very beginning that death and suffering would be part of His creation, whereas in the YEC understanding of the gospel, death was the direct result of the sin of the first Adam, and Jesus, as the second Adam, died to take that sin upon Himself, so that we can have the hope of an eternity without death and suffering. Your portrayal of our loving Father as a creator who used millions of years of death as part of His plan is a far cry from my understanding of a Father who allowed His children to choose their own destiny, and knowing they would choose to sin, planned from the foundations of the creation to remove death and suffering by Himself taking the penalty in His own body on the cross. In a young Earth scenario our Father has been patiently reaching out to His children for a few thousand years from the very first moment death entered the creation (2 Peter 3:9), as He watches us go through the pain and suffering we have brought upon ourselves. God has never taken any pleasure in death (Ezekiel 33:11), so why would He use it to create when He didn’t need to? He has promised us He will return soon to bring His creation to its intended perfection and His creation will once again be free from the scourge humanity brought upon it by rejecting God’s decree. I truly don’t understand why one would want to believe a philosophically biased interpretation of scientific data and insist on portraying our Father as a god who created millions of years of suffering, pain and death.

        • Paul teaches that death entered the creation when the first man and woman decided to trust their own wisdom (Gen 3:6), rather than God’s divine guidance (Romans 5:12; 1Cor 15).

          Paul most certainly does not teach that. I believe the penalty for sin is separation from God, a grave (pun intended) situation that leads to spiritual death during this life and eternal separation (i.e., the “second death”) in the next. I do not believe the Bible teaches physical death in this life is part of the punishment for sin. Yes, Romans 5:12 says “death” came into the world through sin, but the very same verse goes on to say that “death spread to all because all sinned.” Under your view, this would seem to indicate that we should not be capable of physical death until we are capable of sinning, which — of course — makes absolutely no sense.

          Paul clearly discusses non-literal, spiritual death at times elsewhere in his letters, especially Romans. For example, in Romans 7:9, he says, “Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came to live and I died.” Obviously, he was not physically dead when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. He was talking about non-physical death here, and I believe he was doing the same in Romans 5.

          But, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend he was referencing physical death in Romans 5. Even in that case, this does not support your argument that animal death and suffering came from human sin, because Romans 5 is explicitly limited to people. It does not include animals whatsoever.

          You can’t use 1 Corinthians 15 to support this view either, because if you do, it carries the very uncomfortable implication that animals can be saved. It’s true. As 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” If animals are part of the group that “dies” in Adam, then they also must be part of the group that is “made alive” by Christ. You can’t claim the first part of the verse refers to all living things, and the second refers only to people.

          As I understand it, your god decreed from the very beginning that death and suffering would be part of His creation, whereas in the YEC understanding of the gospel, death was the direct result of the sin of the first Adam, and Jesus, as the second Adam, died to take that sin upon Himself, so that we can have the hope of an eternity without death and suffering.

          Actually, both of our views are that death, suffering and pain are in the world because God has allowed it to be here. That is the unavoidable consequence of the Christian worldview. My perspective is that God has allowed such as an inherent part of the current created order, in order to show how he can bring light out of darkness, goodness out of evil, joy out of pain, life out of death and so on. Your perspective is that God created the universe without death, and then plunged it all into a hellish maelstrom of chaos and suffering at the first whisper of human sin. Your perspective is that God decreed that animals would suffer, die and kill each other because of an act of human disobedience they had absolutely nothing to do with.

          All things considered, I prefer my perspective. Yours makes God a cruel monster that is not at all the God of love that the scriptures reveal.

          He watches us go through the pain and suffering we have brought upon ourselves. God has never taken any pleasure in death (Ezekiel 33:11), so why would He use it to create when He didn’t need to?

          He does not “use death to create.” He creates in spite of death. Just as he triumphed over death in the cross, so his creations have endured and thrived despite death in the current created order.

          I truly don’t understand why one would want to believe a philosophically biased interpretation of scientific data and insist on portraying our Father as a god who created millions of years of suffering, pain and death.

          Pearl, everything in this comment are things I have addressed again and again and <a href="http://www.godofevolution.com/otters-do-terrible-things-to-baby-seals-and-its-not-gods-fault/"again and <a href="http://www.godofevolution.com/ask-goe-were-all-animals-vegetarians-before-the-fall-of-man/"again. Why don’t you read these articles and get back to me if you have further questions or comments.”

          • Pearl

            Hi Tyler. I truly appreciate that you have answered me so civilly and I think this blog is a rare opportunity for brothers and sisters to share harmoniously on such a pivotal topic. I’m sorry I don’t have time to read more at the moment. Although I’ve read a few of your articles, as I am my husband’s carer and the time I can spend on this is very
            limited, I will just respond to a few of the things you claim now and try to read more when time permits.

            From my perspective it all comes back to the fact that Christians did not view the Bible in the way you want us to until materialists like Darwin and Hutton decided to reject the
            Bible’s teachings and timeline and give fallen humanity a new version of an ancient pagan creation story. We know that Thales of Miletus (640–546 BC) proposed the idea of life originating in water, while his student, Anaximander (611–547 BC), developed his tutor’s proposals further, concluding that humans evolved from fish or fish like creatures. I notice there is a great deal in your writing that assumes the concept of an
            ascent from “primitive man” to be true, and this seems to influence your understanding of the Bible. I am more inclined towards the concept of devolution.

            From the outset the Fall has affected us in many ways. We no longer have the skills to build many of the wonders of the ancient world. Although God continually reaches out to people groups all over the world, many became isolated and fell into very primitive
            (meaning crude) behaviour. Our present culture is an incredible mix of primitive pagan beliefs (Mother Nature is given credit for the wonders of the creation and is being openly worshiped more and more) and amazing technological advances. Thankfully God gave us amazing brains and writing and we have been able to accumulate knowledge. As Newton said, “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

            Of course we will have differences when you claim Paul does not teach what the Bible clearly says: “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). You can “believe the penalty for sin is separation from God,” but that is not actually what the scripture says, that is the way you choose to interpret it. You go on to say, “this would seem to indicate that we should not be capable of physical death until we are capable of sinning.” It is quite legitimate to understand Paul is telling us here that we inherited the sin nature from Adam, along with the genetic flaw that occurred when he began to die physically.

            Like you, I believe that Adam and Eve immediately died spiritually when they sinned, but I believe they also began to die physically. Their bodies could no longer infinitely produce perfect new cells, and this genetic defect was passed on to their children, and
            their children’s children. This is evidenced by the fact that as the Bible’s history unfolds, human lifespans decrease. We now live in a world where the accumulation of hereditary mutations has led to numerous diseases and disabilities being present amongst all living things, and the expected lifespan for a human has been reduced from something like 700 to 70 years. Oh yes, I know modern science claims we will be able to increase this lifespan again, but believe me, as a person heading towards my 70s, who is looking after a very sick husband, quantity of life is not desirable without quality, and although we have managed to reduce a number of diseases, the human body is still very vulnerable to illness.

            In one of your articles you say:
            “… what possible purpose could the tree of life have served in the garden of Eden, if no living thing was capable of death anyway? It would have been completely useless.”
            We are not given enough information to know exactly what the Tree of Life was/is, but we do know that when God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden He said it was important to cut off their access to that tree (Gen 3:22-23). From Genesis we learn that continued access to the Tree of Life would have given Adam and Eve continued life, despite them being spiritually dead. This would have been an unendurable burden, to live forever – cut off from the Father, so God, in His great love,
            cast them out and allowed them to die physically. Although you haven’t worked out the purpose of the Tree of Life, that doesn’t mean it didn’t have one. Of course, if God hasn’t told us we can make assumptions – perhaps it was there as a symbol of the eternal life He planned for redeemed humanity, but was such a powerful symbol it also had the dual function of actually bestowing life, even after death entered the world. We don’t really know – yet.

            You also say:
            “….. a world where all creatures are called to be fruitful and multiply would soon be a very unpleasant one if there were no death. The earth would have been “filled,” and its resources completely exhausted, within a handful of generations.”
            Have you heard of the multiverse? Maybe God had that in mind before anyone in our generation dreamed it up, humanity may have been destined to populate the multiverse. I’m a little surprised by your lack of imagination. I don’t think the physical limitations of our Earth would be any real problem for our Father to have resolved. It also seems our eternal bodies are somehow different from our present physical form
            (Jesus could pass through walls) so the limitations you mention actually only apply to the physical bodies we inherited after the Fall.

            Another problem you raise, which is not really an issue is:
            “….. in a world where there is no pain, why did God curse Eve saying he would increase (or multiply) her pain in childbirth? Sounds like Eve already knew what pain was and was fully capable of experiencing it.”
            This is one of many examples I have found in your writing where you might benefit from a closer look at the Hebrew or Greek. This Hebrew word means to bring in abundance, not necessarily to multiply something that already exists. You do the same sort of thing when you talk about the stars falling from the sky. The word “sky” is not in the original Greek, it is “heavens”. You don’t really know what people thought the heavens were in those days, you have imposed your primitive man theory on the situation but we have very little evidence to make any absolute statements about the possible range of beliefs concerning the universe in the time of our Lord. The Greek can quite legitimately be read as falling stars; you make it sound as though Jesus was
            talking about some sort of impossible phenomenon, when He was probably talking about meteorites. In both Hebrew and Greek, any bright heavenly object was called a
            ‘star’, including a ‘shooting star’. It sounds like a very big meteor shower to me.

            Finally I would like to address your claim that my view is, “God created the universe without death, and then plunged it all into a hellish maelstrom of chaos and suffering at the first whisper of human sin. Your perspective is that God decreed that animals
            would suffer, die and kill each other because of an act of human disobedience they had absolutely nothing to do with.” The main problem here is you belittle “the first whisper of human sin”. It appears you do not consider the Creator had the right to impose any restrictions on His creation, but He did. This was the first occurrence of a conditional prophecy recorded in the Bible. Adam and Eve understood that the future outcome was contingent upon their actions, but they went ahead with their decision to reject God’s command.

            Adam and Eve chose to rebel against their Creator and severed their unique relationship with God when they did the one and only thing He had commanded them not to do. They understood the consequences of their actions and those consequences affected not only them, but every person, creature and plant that would live on Earth; from that moment in time death entered the world and they began to die. Adam and Eve had been given dominion over the Earth (Gen 1:28) and the consequences of their actions and the curses that God pronounced as a result of their choice, affected not only their own bodies and those of their descendants, but every living thing within their domain.

            After death was introduced into the world, Adam and Eve and their descendants would be perpetually surrounded by death until the Lord of Life brings about the New Creation. The first death in the Bible is recorded immediately after their fall from grace and was a direct result of their rebellion. God took the skin of an innocent animal to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness (Gen 3:21). Until that time they had lived in ignorant innocence, now they were faced with a self awareness that enabled them to see that the righteousness, purity and holiness that had been theirs because of their intimate relationship with the Creator had been removed. Their sin meant they could no longer have an intimate relationship with a Holy God.

            I’m sorry you don’t see sin as the destructive force it actually is. We live in a culture where sin is accommodated and often applauded so I understand you feel our Father
            overreacted when He brought about the consequences He had warned would be the
            result of sin. I’m afraid I can’t buy your, “One must sink to the depths in order to rise to the heights” theology. I’m sure our Father would have preferred us not to have spent this time surrounded by the products of our sin, but He did not abort the whole creation, even though He knew He would need to resort to such extreme measures to redeem it. Praise our dear Lord for His faithfulness, He is our Creator and Redeemer.

          • From my perspective it all comes back to the fact that Christians did not view the Bible in the way you want us to until materialists like Darwin and Hutton decided to reject the Bible’s teachings and timeline and give fallen humanity a new version of an ancient pagan creation story.

            This is not entirely true. There have been Christians who interpreted parts of the Genesis creation account, or all of it, allegorically since at least the third century A.D. with Origen. In other words, way before Darwin came along. But even if this were true, I think it is a very dangerous argument to make. Fact is, Christians used to read the verses about the “firmament” in Genesis 1 and the Psalms, and the verses about the earth being firmly established and not moving, very differently than we do today. If we went back to adopting their views on these matters, we would have to reject the idea that the sky is comprised of gases and that the earth revolves around the sun.

            From the outset the Fall has affected us in many ways. We no longer have the skills to build many of the wonders of the ancient world.

            This is not biblical. You can believe it if you want to, but there is absolutely nothing in scripture that says we became less intelligent and technologically advanced because of Adam and Eve’s supposed sin in the garden. And, in fact, my laptop would beg to disagree with you.

            Of course we will have differences when you claim Paul does not teach what the Bible clearly says:

            And yet you seem to have no trouble positing all kinds of extra-biblical things like animal immortality before human sin, or humanity’s supposed technological prowess before the fall.

            “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). You can “believe the penalty for sin is separation from God,” but that is not actually what the scripture says, that is the way you choose to interpret it.

            Yes, it is my interpretation. What the scripture actually says is “death,” just like in Romans 7, when Paul talks about himself being dead, killed and murdered by sin, and in Genesis 2-3, when God said Adam and the woman would “die” the day they ate of the fruit, but then they didn’t. I think it is quite legitimate to understand that the Holy Spirit is therefore referring to a different kind of death than physical death — that is, spiritual death, separation from God. But I noticed that you did not respond to my point about Romans 7. How does that passage fit into your view?

            It is quite legitimate to understand Paul is telling us here that we inherited the sin nature from Adam, along with the genetic flaw that occurred when he began to die physically.

            Actually, I would argue that is not a legitimate interpretation. The verse clearly links the death with the sin committed by that particular individual. What you are saying is more like this: “For sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and so sin and death spread to all because of the one man’s sin.” Do you see the difference?

            Like you, I believe that Adam and Eve immediately died spiritually when they sinned, but I believe they also began to die physically.

            I hear young-earthers say this all the time. Please, tell me, what exactly does it mean to “begin to die”?? It is a meaningless concept, especially if the person in question lived 600 years after they “began to die.” If that’s what it means to “begin to die,” then I’d like to start dying right now. Maybe I can make it to 1,000.

            The other big issue with this is that God did not say they would experience two deaths. He said they would “surely die.” Period.

            Their bodies could no longer infinitely produce perfect new cells, and this genetic defect was passed on to their children, and their children’s children.

            Again, this is nothing but extra-biblical speculation.

            We are not given enough information to know exactly what the Tree of Life was/is, but we do know that when God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden He said it was important to cut off their access to that tree (Gen 3:22-23).

            We are indeed told exactly what the tree of life was for. As you mention, the text said it grants immortality. You claim evey living thing was immortal anyway, until Adam sinned. Therefore, before sin, the tree could serve no purpose, and the only point at which it actually became useful, God forbade its use. So, under the YEC view, there is absolutely no reason for God to have ever planted it in the first place.

            Since the Bible, in fact, does not say humans or animals were immortal before sin, I think it makes more sense to simply abandon this nonsensical doctrine. The fact that God talks about a tree of life implies that death has always been a possibility; it is the “appointed” position of mankind, as Hebrews 9:27 indicates.

            This Hebrew word means to bring in abundance, not necessarily to multiply something that already exists.

            Either way, the word is never used to refer to the appearance of something entirely new. That was the point.

            It appears you do not consider the Creator had the right to impose any restrictions on His creation, but He did.

            I don’t have a problem with God’s “rights” over his creation. It’s his universe and he can run it however he likes. What I do have a problem with is other believers claiming the Bible teaches that a single supposed act of disobedience is responsible for all physical death that has ever occurred — including that of animals — when the Bible actually says no such thing.

            They understood the consequences of their actions and those consequences affected not only them, but every person, creature and plant that would live on Earth;

            Why in the world do you believe Adam and Eve understood that? God, in the Bible, never told them that would be the consequence of their sin. He said they would die, but not their children and grandchildren, certainly not animals and plants.

            You do realize that Eve wasn’t actually named until immediately after the curse. So under your view, Adam decided to name his wife “Mother of All Life” immediately after she had just been partially responsible for bringing about a curse that poisoned all of creation with death. Make sense to you? Because it doesn’t to me.

            the consequences of their actions and the curses that God pronounced as a result of their choice, affected not only their own bodies and those of their descendants, but every living thing within their domain.

            Not in the Bible.

            After death was introduced into the world, Adam and Eve and their descendants would be perpetually surrounded by death until the Lord of Life brings about the New Creation.

            Not in the Bible.

            Until that time they had lived in ignorant innocence, now they were faced with a self awareness that enabled them to see that the righteousness, purity and holiness that had been theirs because of their intimate relationship with the Creator had been removed. Their sin meant they could no longer have an intimate relationship with a Holy God.

            Now, you’ve got it! This is actually what scripture says.

            I’m sorry you don’t see sin as the destructive force it actually is.

            Well, I certainly don’t believe unbiblical nonsense like human sin being the reason lions eat meat instead of coconuts, but I do believe sin is incredibly destructive. Flesh is temporary but the soul is eternal, so spiritual death and enternal separation is a far graver concern than physical death could ever be.

            so I understand you feel our Father overreacted when He brought about the consequences He had warned would be the result of sin.

            Except that, again, the God of the Bible never warned anyone that animals would become carnivorous and die because of human sin.

          • Pearl

            It is my hope that as fellow servants of Christ we can be fair to each other in our exchanges. It seems to me you accuse me of extra-biblical ideas rather unfairly. I did actually say that if God hasn’t given us all the answers in His Word we can assume – but we really can’t be absolutely certain about the things He hasn’t revealed to us.

            If I am misinterpreting the scriptures I like to know, I want to understand the Truth, not my own version of truth. When I can see that the scripture shows me I’m wrong, I don’t have a problem with changing my ideas, I’ve done it many, many times in the last 50 years. However, the areas you pointed out are not in the Bible were not things I claimed to be there. I’m doing just what you, and almost every other brother and sister in Christ has always done, I’m taking what the scripture says, prayerfully considering it, and then trying to understand it in the light of the reality around me and my understanding of the revealed character and nature of God.

            You say, “I certainly don’t believe unbiblical nonsense like human sin being the reason lions eat meat instead of coconuts.” But you do believe that the kinds mentioned throughout the Bible mutated from a common ancestor, when it’s certainly not in the Bible and there has never been any observation made of such changes taking place. We observe animals adapting to their environment, but finches remain finches, despite the fact that they have different beaks for different environmental niches. We also know that most of the mutations that have been observed are destructive, while those that have offered a selection advantage are almost always the product of a loss of genetic information (fish losing sight and beetles loosing flight). I did not claim all my ideas were from the Bible and I’m sure you would not claim yours are either. We both try to understand the world around us while remaining faithful to God’s Word.

            Like you, I have chosen to accept the idea that the world came into being in a certain way, because I believe that is what the science tells us, and I interpret the scriptures accordingly. I was an evolutionist for the first 30 years of my Christian walk, but it was the science that I began to doubt, I did not become an evolution skeptic because I had certain theological beliefs, I found the science unconvincing and started looking at alternative theories. I was incredibly surprised to find that there was robust science behind the creation model and I must confess that I now look at evolution as a very far fetched explanation for the data in the natural world. I see it as Satan’s big trick on modern man and am inclined to believe it is this belief system that has led to the great falling away mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

            You say there is “nothing in scripture that says we became less intelligent and technologically advanced because of Adam and Eve’s supposed sin in the garden. And, in fact, my laptop would beg to disagree with you.” Again, I did not claim the scriptures taught the idea of declining intelligence, I came to it from my own observations and there is recent evidence to support my idea. See: (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289613000470). But I did say that the fact that we have accumulated and shared knowledge was a significant factor in our present technologically advanced world, thus, your laptop. My main point is that there is no evidence that we have ever advanced in our intellectual abilities. We have no idea what sort of technology was present in the antediluvian world, the only human artifact that survived the world wide flood was the ark and the things it contained. However, we do know that the early inhabitants of the Earth understood metallurgy (Gen 4:22).

            I think I am correct in saying that you understand Adam and Eve as some sort of cavemen, while I see them as extremely well crafted and intelligent; capable of high level thinking, having been taught and nurtured personally by a loving Father until the Fall. I believe they were capable of passing on the oral history that was subsequently passed down through the Bible records. I also believe Adam and Eve repented of their
            sin after the Fall, because they made offerings to God (Gen4:3-5), which would appear to indicate He had already instituted sacrifices that were the precursor to the ultimate sacrifice He would Himself make on the cross.

            The words “supposed sin” intrigue me in your sentence above, are you inferring Adam and Eve didn’t sin, or they didn’t sin in the garden? My approach to scripture is not so much to take a passage in isolation but rather to view the scriptures as God’s completed message to us. I let scripture define scripture and Romans gives us information about Adam which has traditionally been understood in a way you seem to dispute. As the head of humanity, Adam sinned and death (both physical and spiritual) entered the world. The only reason I can see to doubt this is if you want to insist that death, illness and suffering came before Adam. If you doubt Adam was the beginning of the human race (the creatures God made in His own image from Adam’s genetic material) and that his sin brought death to the world, do you doubt that Jesus, as the Head of the new creation God is crafting, brings eternal life?

            I can’t understand how you view the argument Paul is making in 1Corinthians 15:21,22 and 26 if you doubt death came by Adam and life by the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m afraid your idea reminds me of the serpent’s lie (Gen 3:4). The idea that the word “all” in the Corinthian passage would have to refer to animals is not a convincing argument. Paul is talking about people; animals suffered because God had given Adam and Eve dominion over them; the ones in control could not have less life than the creatures they had dominion over. Once again, I believe the scriptures give us enough information to come to this conclusion. Even today animals are observed suffering terribly because of humanity’s inhumanity; because of us many species have gone extinct. The creation is groaning in travail until Jesus brings about the restoration of all things (Act 3:21). Are you only hoping for a new heaven and a new earth where death is still present in our redeemed bodies (Romans 8:23)?

            You asked about my understanding of Romans 7. Until he met Jesus, Paul thought he was a righteous man, but after encountering the Lord of Life he understood himself a dead man; dead in sin, dead in law, under a sentence of death, which he now understood was within him. He saw he was deserving of eternal death, and all his hopes of eternal life by his own obedience to the law of works died at once. He knew he was spiritually dead, but also that he was destined for physical death as well. He was talking about the his whole being.

            If the concept of “beginning to die” is difficult for you, I wonder if it’s because you are not prepared to accept the idea that death came to the human race because Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator and, as the first human beings, this promised consequence became a hereditary flaw. Just as we observe in the human race today, the genetic afflictions of ancestors are passed on to their descendents. Some genetic problems lay dormant, waiting to develop; they are there and very real, but although
            inevitable, have not yet come to fruition.

            Romans 8:10 and 11 makes it clear that our bodies are destined to die because of sin. Ephesians 2:1 and 5 and Colossians 2:13 seem to indicate that we are not born with a living spirit, it is dead (perhaps we could call it suspended animation) in the same way a seed is dead, it has no possible future function other than to be transformed and must be brought to a new and entirely transformed life by being quickened together with Him through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is only then that we have eternal
            life. If the seed is not transformed, does not germinate properly, it will rot and truly be dead, if the human spirit is not transformed it will never have eternal life.

            You claim the soul is eternal but I can’t find that in the scriptures. From the Bible we learn that when we die physically, our soul dies (Psalm 22:29; Job 27:8; Ez 18:20, 27-28) and as our spirit is also virtually dead, we must be resurrected to life, either to be with Christ (Luke 14:14; John 5:29) (the whole area of the intermediate state
            is another issue altogether that I won’t try to explore here) or to face the judgment (Rev 20:6, 12). As you claim the soul is immortal, but you also say, “….the Bible, in fact, does not say humans or animals were immortal before sin,” I am led to understand that you believe humans originally had immortal souls but never immortal bodies. Do you then believe that God always intended Adam to sin and Jesus to die to give us access to immortal bodies? Or are you saying we will never have immortal bodies? How then do you understand Acts 3:21 and 1 Cor 15:52, 53?

            Concerning your reference to Hebrews 9:27, you may have noticed by now that I am inclined to believe that unbelievers die completely when their bodies die, ie they are dead, body, soul and spirit (I see hell as the place of the dead). They have no potential for future life unless they are transformed by the infilling of the Holy Spirit and I believe
            this is probably not possible (I’m still thinking about Rev 20:13). After the resurrection of unbelievers there is actually another death, the second death, and here I believe they meet their final, ultimate destruction. The second death is actually that, there is no life following the second death. Only those who are in Christ have eternal life (John 3:16).

            In answer to your question about Adam and Eve not understanding the consequences of their actions, I think it is quite obvious the scripture does not tells us every detail of every incident, it would be quite impossible for that to be the case. The Bible gives
            us a true account, but not necessarily an exhaustive account (John 21:25). However, God must have given them information about numerous things they had not actually experienced, enabling them to function in the world in which they came to consciousness. We all know about many things we have not personally experienced, because we have been given enough information to understand the concepts and have a God given ability to create abstract images and ideas in our minds.

            God created Adam and Eve with the power of contrary choice and then gave them a choice and the warning concerning death. He most definitely would have ensured they understood just what this choice meant, or Satan would not have been able to discuss the subject with Eve (Gen 3:1-5) and they would not have had the ability to make a
            true choice. In other words, if God did not prepare them properly for this momentous decision, they could not have made a choice at all, they would be more like children, not understanding the consequences of their actions. But we, as parents, spend a great deal of time ensuring our children understand the consequences of their actions. Are you saying our Father is less caring than we are?

            Thank you Tyler for this opportunity to share some of my thoughts. I hope I have not in any way offended you by disagreeing, but I sense you are as interested in tossing ideas around as I am, and it’s much more fun doing it with someone whose ideas are very different to your own. I think it’s sad that so many of these sorts of interactions end in ad hominem arguments. Surely, as fellow believers, we can be better than that – and I think this forum proves we sometimes are.

          • Hey Pearl, thanks for your thoughts and your response. I must confess that I simply don’t have the time to respond in detail to every point you raise here, but I will say that I read the whole thing, and agreed with a lot of it. I think you did a very good job. What I will respond to is just a few points in an effort to clarify my own views.

            But you do believe that the kinds mentioned throughout the Bible mutated from a common ancestor, when it’s certainly not in the Bible and there has never been any observation made of such changes taking place.

            Yes, I do accept the idea of common ancestry, but it is not based on the Bible. The Bible is a book about God, mankind and the relationship between the two; I don’t generally believe we should turn there for scientific information, and many theologians over the years have agreed with that.

            I accept common ancestry because there is a wealth of persuasive evidence that supports it, in DNA, comparative anatomy, the fossil record, geographical distribution of species and so on. No, we’ve never “seen” macroevolutionary change, because it happens gradually over a very long period of time. We’ve also never “seen” the processes that lead to the formation of a planet or a thunderstorm, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use evidence to reconstruct what happened.

            I often use the analogy of a bank robbery. A vault in a bank is found locked, and empty. It shows no sign of forced entry, no evidence that anyone has been there who wasn’t supposed to be. And yet, and cameras outside the bank show the robbers walking in empty-handed, and out with the loot. Police may have no idea how they got into the vault, and certainly no one saw them go in, but obviously they did, because the money’s gone and they have it.

            It is just like this with common descent. We may not have “seen” humans and chimps branching off from a common ancestor millions of years ago, but there is much evidence, in our genome and in the fossil record and elsewhere, that that’s exactly what happened.

            I think I am correct in saying that you understand Adam and Eve as some sort of cavemen, while I see them as extremely well crafted and intelligent …The words “supposed sin” intrigue me in your sentence above, are you inferring Adam and Eve didn’t sin, or they didn’t sin in the garden?

            Good question. I tend to see Adam and Eve as allegorical representations of mankind, rather than individual historical figures. In my mind, this is bolstered by the fact that Adam’s name is, in fact, the exact same Hebrew word as “mankind,” while “Eve” is called, simply, “the woman” until the end of Genesis 3. To me, they are like the mostly unnamed characters of Christ’s parables, who sometimes represented certain people, or people groups, or all people, and sometimes they even represented God, but they never represented a single legitimate historical figure in their own right.

            God offered humanity communion with himself; they rejected him and sinned. This, to me, is the primary lesson of Genesis 3, and it does not depend on Adam and Eve being real historical figures.

            The only reason I can see to doubt this is if you want to insist that death, illness and suffering came before Adam.

            That is absolutely what I insist. I thought I had made that clear before: The punishment for sin is spiritual death and eternal separation from God (the second death). The first death is simply an inherent part of the created order — not a punishment; as Hebrews 9:27 says, it was “appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”

            I can’t understand how you view the argument Paul is making in 1Corinthians 15:21,22 and 26 if you doubt death came by Adam and life by the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Again, I don’t doubt any of this. Our main disagreement is over what Paul means by the “death” that came through Adam.

          • Truth Preacher

            Yes, Origen the Alexandrian heretic philosopher who PERVERTED the Scriptures with pagan interpretive methods. Why don’t you appeal to Judas for support!

          • Truth Preacher

            Since dominion over all the earth was given to Adam, and since he fell, and the Devil plainly said all the kingdoms and glory of the earth were GIVEN to him, and he offered them to Christ as a temptation, then it is PLAIN Adam introduced DEATH of every sort into the world.

          • Chris

            Because if it’s one character in the Bible we can take seriously and base a theology around their words, it’s the Devil. Surely he’s never said anything but truths.

  • GPFR

    The question I have for Christian evolutionists, is if you believe in evolution, what part did God play in creation? Did he know from the beginning that man would evolve? Was this His plan? If it was God’s plan was “chance” still part of evolution? Or was it not God’s plan at all, and it just happened for no divine reason? I can see where a creationist is coming from, and I see where an evolutionist is coming from, but it is really hard for me to grasp the reasoning of a Christian evolutionist.

  • ContraBullshit

    “Brethren, it has come to my attention that you expect me to be a human sacrifice for your sins. May I asketh, who in the goddamn hell came up with this Neanderthal bullshit!!!?

    Blood sacrifice!!!!???? Are you all fucking insane!!!!?????

    Brethren, listen carefully. Thou’st can take this vile, evil, disgusting, sickening pile of outrageous donkey shit and shove it straight up thy fucking asses!!!”

  • Sam Haylor

    “You see, Jesus was wrong, but only because his listeners were wrong.” That my friend is “seriously bad theolog[y]”, to turn your phrase. It is the nature of God to never speak what is false. He is the Truth. Everything Jesus said is not only true but it is the DEFINITION of truth. He cannot lie and He will never allow somebody’s false beliefs to persist. Everything He has said (as a man on earth and in all of Scripture) is a correction of man’s flawed thinking. He doesn’t accommodate, He demands we change our thinking so that it aligns with His truth. Such an argument is completely untenable and, frankly, dangerously close to heresy.

    Jesus made a very simple statement of fact, that from the beginning of mankind there were two of them, male and female, not three or six but two. It was His design to pair them up and have the two of them alone to be together. Though He didn’t spell it out (as there was no need) His reference to God making them male and female is a direct and literal reference to Gen. 1:27. It takes a whole lot of biblical gymnastics to make the text say otherwise.

    • It is the nature of God to never speak what is false. He is the Truth.

      I agree; God is not a man, that he should lie.

      He will never allow somebody’s false beliefs to persist.

      People believe in false things, and act on them, all the time every single day. That’s that whole “free will” thing, remember?

      Everything He has said (as a man on earth and in all of Scripture) is a correction of man’s flawed thinking.

      Add the words “about God” to the end of that sentence and I think you’ve got it.

      He doesn’t accommodate, He demands we change our thinking so that it aligns with His truth. Such an argument is completely untenable and, frankly, dangerously close to heresy.

      OK, Sam, I get it. I hear what you’re saying. And I do appreciate your thoughts, so please, explain how you can say something like this and not have it completely fall apart when you consider some of the other verses I mentioned earlier (like when Jesus said wheat kernels die before they grow, or the mustard seed is the smallest in all the earth)?

      Jesus made a very simple statement of fact, that from the beginning of mankind there were two of them,

      No, he did not specify a number. He simply said that “at the beginning, the Creator ‘made them male and female.” “Them” is not number-specific (except in that it’s more than one). It could refer to two; it could refer to 2 million.

      • Sam Haylor

        As always, a lively discussion!

        Haven’t you read that at the beginning,” serves mainly just to clue his audience in to what he’s talking about

        First, a more literal rendering of the text would be, “Have you not read that He who made them, made them male and female from the beginning.” Again, Christ’s point was that divorce and remarriage (or more basic, having sex with multiple people) acts against the very design of man, that there should be a male and a female. Verse 8 repeats this motif when He says, “but from the beginning it has not been this way”. And yes He did specify a number when He expounds on Gen 2:24 in verse 5 by saying “the TWO shall be one flesh.” He harkens back to the beginning in order to establish the purpose and design of marriage. The historicity of it is exactly what gives it its weight.

        People believe in false things, and act on them, all the time every single day

        I was talking about His words, the Scripture, not His allowing evil and rebellion to exist.

        Add the words “about God” to the end of that sentence and I think you’ve got it.

        All truth is under His domain, and everything finds its meaning in God so everything is about Him. Again I assert that when God speaks (including the incarnate Word, Jesus) He speaks truth and cannot do otherwise. If there was something Jesus didn’t know about something (like the timing of the Day of the Lord) He would either say so or not speak to it, but by His nature He cannot speak what is false, even out of ignorance if that were possible.

        please, explain how you can say something like this and not have it completely fall apart when you consider some of the other verses I mentioned earlier

        Excellent question. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to provide a just enough answer but I’ll do my best. When I read the Bible I approach it with the assumption that every word is intentional, reliable, accurate and true, grammatically, historically and contextually. When I come across a a passage (such as the ones you mention) I submit myself to its authority, recognize that I don’t know everything and ask questions that will help me discover what the text means. To use the seed dying as an example, I just never even entertain the idea that Jesus was wrong or that He merely accommodated people’s wrong belief. Rather, I trust He meant what He said and that the seed must die, and think about possibly changing my understanding of death, at least for seeds and plants. Lots of good questions arise from this, like what death means for plants versus animals versus humans. We have a hard time defining life so perhaps death is equally difficult to pin down. Suffice it to say, according to the eternally wise creator of all things, a seed must die before it bears fruit. He’s reducing a very complex event down to one word that fits HIS reality and is true.

        It’s possible He meant “die” figuratively or anthropocentrically like the sun rising. I think arguing that phrases like this aren’t “scientifically accurate” and therefore it allows for God to fudge the truth is a red herring and just throwing a temper tantrum. The sun rises, a seed dies, stars fall. These are valid and true BECAUSE God said them. I must align my thinking with His, not the other way around.

        Finally, as for the mustard seed. “earth” is also the same word for “soil” and “ground”. It makes a lot more sense to me to understand it in the context of all the seeds the farmer is sowing. He tosses a bunch of seeds on the soil and the mustard seed, which is the smallest of his lot (or maybe even of any seed that a farmer would sow), grows to be the biggest in his garden (or maybe even of all plants that a farmer would grow). The word for “garden plants” strongly suggests this meaning.

        Blessings.

        • Again, Christ’s point was that divorce and remarriage (or more basic, having sex with multiple people) acts against the very design of man, that there should be a male and a female.

          I am in no way disputing that point.

          And yes He did specify a number when He expounds on Gen 2:24 in verse 5 by saying “the TWO shall be one flesh.”

          Yeah, two people per marriage — one man, one woman. That’s God’s original intention as revealed by scripture. I think it’s a pretty huge leap to say that because Jesus quoted the verse that says the two becomes one flesh in marriage, that means he was teaching that there were only two people on the earth six days after it was made. That’s simply not what he said.

          He harkens back to the beginning in order to establish the purpose and design of marriage. The historicity of it is exactly what gives it its weight.

          I would argue that it is its presence in sacred scripture that gives it weight, both now and to Jesus’ audience at the time.

          I was talking about His words, the Scripture, not His allowing evil and rebellion to exist.

          So was I. You think the people of Jesus’ day had any inkling of germs, bacterial infections, nutrition, infectious viruses? What about the advances it agriculture that have made food so much more plentiful in developed countries today? The point is that we now know that the thinking of the time was mistaken in many, many, many ways. Why didn’t Jesus usher in the scientific revolution in 30 A.D., rather than allowing us to wait thousands of years to get there on our own? Because, I would argue, correcting “man’s flawed thinking” about science and history wasn’t why he came.

          All truth is under His domain, and everything finds its meaning in God so everything is about Him.

          Agreed.

          Again I assert that when God speaks (including the incarnate Word, Jesus) He speaks truth and cannot do otherwise. If there was something Jesus didn’t know about something (like the timing of the Day of the Lord) He would either say so or not speak to it, but by His nature He cannot speak what is false, even out of ignorance if that were possible.

          And again I assert that God came down to earth, as a man, to speak to the people of his day. He dressed like the men of his day, spoke the language of the men of his day, did the work of the men of his day. He used analogies the simple farmers and fishermen would understand, discussed news items specific to the time, and yes, at times, allowed their incorrect views of science and history to persist in order to convey more important truths.

          I do appreciate your attempt to answer my question about the wheat kernels, for example, but I didn’t find it fully convincing. What about the plain reading of the text, Sam?? Come on, you know it’s clear. Jesus is using the seed “dying” as a clear, undeniable metaphor for HIS OWN IMMINENT DEATH. And Jesus died. Whatever definition of life you choose to accept, Jesus STOPPED DOING IT. He stopped living, and he died — and it wasn’t in a figurative or “anthropocentric” sense. To suggest he is talking about literal death in one sentence, and figurative death in the next simply doesn’t make any sense. And I do appreciate that you’re ultimate goal is to be faithful to the text, but it certainly seems to me that your attempts to interpret the passage obfuscate its meaning far more than they illuminate it.

          The sun rises, a seed dies, stars fall. These are valid and true BECAUSE God said them. I must align my thinking with His, not the other way around.

          I’m not even really sure how to respond to this. The Bible says in numerous places, Old and New Testament, that we can and should look to creation as a trustworthy source of information about the God whose hands formed it. You seem to be saying that we should ignore undeniable facts of that creation (e.g., the sun DOESN’T rise, seeds DON’T die, stars CANNOT fall) in favor of preserving the literal meanings of the portions of the text that AREN’T EVEN CONCERNING THEOLOGICAL ISSUES (i.e., whether you think a seed dies or not will not affect your salvation).

          You’re free to believe whatever you like about botany and astronomy, Sam. But there is absolutely no directive in scripture that Christians must interpret the Bible the way you do.

          • Sam Haylor

            Yeah, two people per marriage — one man, one woman. That’s God’s original intention as revealed by scripture

            But WHY only one man and one woman per marriage? Jesus is arguing from Gen. 1 and 2, directly quoting God’s statement, “For this reason…” which reason is that? The obvious implication is that the preceding event literally happened, that the woman came from the man and that she was especially crafted to suit him who was alone in his kind. For THAT reason marriage between one man and one woman was established.

            I think it’s a pretty huge leap to say that because Jesus quoted the verse that says the two becomes one flesh in marriage, that means he was teaching that there were only two people on the earth six days after it was made. That’s simply not what he said

            That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying His free quoting of Genesis 1 and 2 implies very heavily that He understood them as real historical narrative. “He made them male and female from the beginning” is pretty straightforward and I’m having a hard time understanding your resistance to it.

            You think the people of Jesus’ day had any inkling of germs, bacterial infections, nutrition, infectious viruses?…I would argue, correcting “man’s flawed thinking” about science and history wasn’t why he came

            I think you’re missing my point entirely and I’m sorry if I’ve caused confusion. I know Jesus did not come to establish the exhaustive encyclopedia of all things created. My point was that whenever He spoke (every word recorded in Scripture or not) His words were true and by nature corrective. He could not and did not perpetuate things that were untrue. That’s an impossibility. Agreed, everything we read in Scripture is directed toward the glory of God and the salvation of man, but to make a schism between theology and science is unnecessary as they both are defined by God Himself. Science is just the observation of the visible things God has done and He does everything for His own glory. The sun standing still for a day really did happen. It is a fact recorded in Scripture. Science will never be able to verify it because it only happened once and would seem to defy normal laws of physics.

            I’m out of time for now… maybe will try to get to your other responses but I also sense a bit of enmity and I want to maintain respect that this is your site.

        • He harkens back to the beginning in order to establish the purpose and design of marriage. The historicity of it is exactly what gives it its weight.

          Do the parables Jesus told have weight because they are historical accounts of things that literally happened or because they are theological teachings that proceeded from the mouth of God?

          • Sam Haylor

            You lost me. There are no parables in Matt. 19.

          • I just meant Jesus’ parables in general. Surely you don’t think the parable of the Good Samaritan has “weight” only if it actually happened. The value is in its God-breathed moral and spiritual truth, and its authority lies in the Spirit who inspired it and the Word who spoke it.

          • Sam Haylor

            No, of course not. A parable by definition is a teaching tool, an illustration of a truth being explained. Its historicity is irrelevant. But Jesus citing the Scripture that describes the origin of marriage puts the weight squarely on its historical accuracy. If He wanted to make a strictly moral and theological argument He would have simply quoted Malachi 2:16, “‘For I hate divorce,’ says the LORD.” But the Pharisees were asking about where divorce fits within the Law. Jesus showed them that the male/female state was established before Moses and in fact was established “from the beginning.” Bottom line is, the “marriage clause” in Gen. 2:24 hinges on the phrase, “For this reason,” and if the reason it refers to didn’t really happen as verses 21-23 describe then it loses it’s veracity and authority.

          • If He wanted to make a strictly moral and theological argument He would have simply quoted Malachi 2:16, “‘For I hate divorce,’ says the LORD.”

            Or he just wanted to use the more well-known teaching. We can’t really say why Christ chose to quote the passages he did.

            I see what you’re saying, but I don’t agree that Gen 2 or Jesus’ quoting from it losing its authority or veracity if it’s not a literal event. The point is that God designed man and woman for each other, for marriage, which is ultimately a picture of Christ and the church. I don’t believe Genesis 2 is history, and I absolutely accept the authority and veracity of that teaching.

    • Peacharoo

      Yes Sam, You are 100% Correct, and THAT is why the Satanic Lie of Darwin was invented in the first place.. “and Satan said, did God REALLY say”…

      Satan attacked the very foundation of the Bible and the creation account of Genesis by way of the Hypothetical Hypothesis of Mindless MYO Mud to Man Myth of Abiogenesis followed by Darwinian common ancestor for all living things.. (TOE) therefore, once THAT is called into question, then the whole rest of the book must be questioned as well.. We can also therefore start to Question EVERYTHING including ALL of Jesus words, like when Jesus said “Moses wrote this commandment for you because your hearts were hard. However, from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.” Now we have to ask.. did Jesus REALLY say those words? Because of Satan’s Lie of Darwinism, many Christians have been brainwashed and indoctrinated into thinking that “Evolution” has something to do with Science (What is KNOWN) Darwinism has ZERO to do with Science.. If you don’t believe me, just ask someone to provide some Empirical Scientific Evidence to support their Hypothetical Hypothesis.. NO ONE will EVER be able to provide any.. Because it DOESNT Exist..

  • jcmmanuel

    I always find such articles inadequate. Phrases like “Taken at face value, every one of these statements of Jesus is just plain wrong.” make no sense to me at all – and this I say as an atheist. How can a man be “wrong” who had no intent to do science, and who was living at a time that human beings did not yet have an almost cultic “belief” in science – as many of us have to day? Even today there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with what a wisdom teacher says when he wants to express wisdom, not exact science. Neither is the poet “wrong” he talks about a beautiful sunset on the horizon (only an idiot would start a debate about the “horizon” being an unscientific, non-existing boundary blah blah blah).

    Jesus was a wisdom teacher. Period. He could have told just about any story, or used the Adam & Eve myth in any way he wanted if it could serve as a good vehicle to convey meaning for the audience. Period. This has nothing to do with having a debate about “bible literalism”. We are talking about the creation of meaning here. Of course I am against Bible literalism, but Jesus’ message was neither a confirmation nor a denial of bible literalism. He was a man of wisdom. Everyone may like Jesus for that reason alone – as Gandhi did (a Hindu), as many agnostics do, as some atheists do, etc.

    • Hey jcmmanuel, thanks for the comment. This is exactly the same point I am making. I don’t think any Christian believes Jesus is making a scientific statement here. No one interprets these statements at face value because, as you say, it wouldn’t make sense. But then, some Christians turn around and impose the exact same modern, literalist, scientific interpretation to the words of an ancient text like Genesis 1-3, which is just as innappropriate as applying it to the wisdom, theological and moral teachings of Jesus.

      • jcmmanuel

        Well, if you say so – okay then. Point taken.

  • delray

    No one can look upon the face of God the Father and live, neither has anyone seen Him at any time.

    First thing that has to be determined is who was the God of creation – Jesus. Who was walking in the Garden in the cool of the evening and called to Adam – Jesus. Jesus spoke and it was done. Jesus also stated “are there not 24 hours in a day”.

    Jesus had no reason to draw upon the time it took for creation, His goal was to bring the Word of His Father. Those who want to push the idea of evolution are doing so contrary to the goals set by the Father for the Son.

    • Translation: “The first thing I do is make something up, to which I will then try to make everything else conform, no matter how badly it fits, and no matter that I have never bothered to justify my initial assertion.”

      • delray

        Exodus 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
        John 11:9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day,

        Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

        Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven
        and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or
        dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through
        Him and for Him.

        Evolution is the atheistic method to deny the truth.

        • Just quoting texts and then asserting oneself to be right is an atheistic method to make Christians look incapable of having a conversation or understanding difficult topics. Please stop promoting atheism.

          • delray

            You are the one promoting atheism by denying that the Bible is true. The person that taught that evolution is fact will also deny that Christ was raised from the dead. You are a product of a liberal education and not of the Holy Spirit. The answer to evolution is:
            http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-religion-not-science/>http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-religion-not-science/

          • You are positing a false antithesis between reason and evidence on the one hand, and being a Christian a Christian on the other, which makes people think that only idiots and the uncomprehending can be Christians, and worse, you promote an organization that tells lies. That aligns you with Satan, the father of lies.

          • delray

            Here is the sum of your false doctrine:
            2 Timothy 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

            So the Bible is the product of Satan and the father of lies – your statement, not mine, I just quoted the Bible. The “big bang” which is your god: The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems always evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium, a state with maximum entropy.

            The “big bang” is now being stated that there is a parent universe because the big bang could not start its’ own action: An object at rest remains at rest until acted upon by an external force.

          • delray

            This will end my part in this discussion: I simply desire to show
            that evolution is the product of man (flesh) and the Bible is the
            product of God (spirit) and the are totally incompatible.

            John 4:24 “God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

            1John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

          • You are free to leave the discussion, since you have refused to participate in it anyway. The sum of your deceit is to spout antiscientific and unbiblical nonsense and pepper it with Bible quotes, like the devil tempting Jesus.

          • nobody512

            John 8:44 “You are of [your] father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [resources,] for he is a liar and the father of it.

          • Thank you for reinforcing my point!

          • nobody512

            The point is James you want to spout your hatred for the Bible (God) as you have been doing, so go for it.

          • Thank you for admitting that the Bible is your God. It is not hatred towards the Bible to oppose those who misrepresent it, but the opposite.

          • It is not even the Bible that they worship and fight to defend, it is their particular, human (and therefore, fallible) interpretation of the Bible.

          • Peacharoo

            Well, which is it, do they worship the Bible like your crony said OR do they not… I was wondering if you had any Empirical Scientific Evidence for the Mindless MYO Mud to Man Myth of Abiogenesis followed by Darwinian Common ancestor for all living things?

          • I have such a hard time convincing those not familiar with my website that people like delray actually exist.

          • Guest

            This will end my part in this discussion: I simply desire to show that evolution is the product of man (flesh) and the Bible is the product of God (spirit) and the are totally incompatible.

            John 4:24 “God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

            1John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

          • Peacharoo

            Yes they are indeed promoting Atheism,,

            “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually filled Atheist”..

            Famous Evolutionary Guru

          • delray

            2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, [because] they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
            4 and they will turn [their] ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

            Who in this conversation is product of a liberal education and states that the Bible is false? The Hebrew word (Yowm) for day states “24 hours”. The answer to evolution is: “Evolution Is Religion, Not Science” http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-religion-not-science/

          • Peacharoo

            Look who is talking..
            Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually filled Atheist..
            Famous Evolutionary Guru

    • Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that God “sends the rain.” Those who want to push the idea of the water cycle are doing so contrary to the goals set by the Father for the Son. Atmospheric phenomena proceed directly from God without the involvement of any natural processes, as the Bible states, or the entire Bible is a complete lie. To find one wrong is destroy all the rest.

      We could say the same thing about the firmament, or geocentrism, or the flat earth, and so on and so forth.

  • Marco52

    There is no evidence of evolution either you take God and Jesus at His word or you don’t, creation is in no way evolution. Jesus was the living word and the time at which God created man is not important, what is important is why Jesus was here and why he had to die and why He was resurrected. That is why we have the word of God, not to determined when it all began, but that it began but the will of God the creator.

    • Hey Marco! I agree with most of what you’re saying, but it doesn’t seem to be consistent. If what is important is what Jesus did, why he died and came back from the dead, and that creation was at the will of God the creator — not when or how creation occurred — then why do you find the concept of evolution so offensive?

      • Marco52

        I don’t find it offensive it’s just not the truth, we are created beings that need salvation and reconciliation to our creator. It is when our relationship with God is restored as it was with Adam and Eve before sin entered, then we have the victory in everyday life and direction. It is by faith we accept His word, and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

        • Sorry, but that makes no sense. If you reject the evidence of the created order, which Christians believe were brought into being by the Word of God, then how can you claim to accept the Word of God when you reject the evidence of that which God’s Word brought into being?

          • Marco52

            what are you talking about, I believe God created everything as His word says, not any form of evolution.

          • “As his word says”? It sounds as though you are treating the words of human beings as though they were the word of God. Idolatry is a serious sin. Why rebel against God in this way, refusing to accept the testimony of God’s own creative handiwork? Why prefer the words of mere human beings to what the Word of God created and which no human could?

          • Marco52

            if you notice ‘His’ is capitalized meaning Gods Word, you like to twist things and avoid the truth so you would make a good politician

          • It is ironic that you accuse me of twisting things like a politician, while you try to shift the focus onto capitalization and away from your preference of the words of human beings to that which the Word of God brought into being and the evidence which the creation itself provides.

            If capitalization matters, presumably so does punctuation, and thus your missing apostrophe indicates that you are a polytheist as well… 🙂

          • Marco52

            and where did I say the words of humans?

        • I agree that all people need reconcilation with God and that sin is responsible for having marred our connection to our creator. I agree that it is only by pentitent faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, that the bonds we severed may be restored. I agree that the Bible is the divinely inspired, true word of God. And my views of evolution change none of that. I still don’t see the problem you have with it.

  • Alan Clarke

    The problem with your argument is that Jesus spoke of Adam & Eve’s son, Abel, in a literal context:

    [Mat 23:35 KJV] That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

    Jesus would not have rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their ancestors murdering a mythical Abel and a literal Zacharias in the same sentence. It would be like telling a child, “You will be punished for hitting Peter Pan and your brother!”

    • That objection doesn’t work (even though Jesus, like most ancient readers, probable assumed that there was a historical Abel). The “Abel to Zechariah” reference is to the first and last martyrs mentioned in the Hebrew canon, which doesn’t cover the full sweep of martyrs in Jewish history or even in the Bible. And so the reference itself has to do with the order of the canon, used to symbolize “all martyrs,” rather than historical accuracy, which might well have had reason to choose not just a different starting point but a different ending point as well.

      As an aside, although it doesn’t work in Hebrew, in English someone might easily say “from Abel to Zechariah” to indicate “everyone in the Bible” because it runs from the first to the last letter in our alphabet, and thus indicates “all.” Although the order of the Hebrew alphabet is different, the use of the first and last story of martyrdom in the Hebrew canon functions in much the same way.

      • Yeah, what he said. Thanks, James!

      • Alan Clarke

        J. F. McGrath “[Jesus] probably assumed that there was a historical Abel”

        That’s a very logical assumption considering that the Jews kept excellent records of their ancestors as evidenced by both Hebrew and Christian canons. When two adverse parties (Christians & Jews) agree on the same genealogy, that adds to the veracity considerably.

        Your argument condenses to, “Abel to Zechariah doesn’t cover the full sweep of martyrs in Jewish or Christian manuscripts so it only symbolizes a chronological order rather than the literal existence of those individuals. Applying your formula yields, “Washington to Lincoln doesn’t cover the full sweep of American Presidents so Washington is only a symbol of the first President rather than historical accuracy. We could have chose a different starting and ending point, Jefferson to Obama, to illustrate liberal thinking. What’s important is that these aren’t literal individuals since the starting and ending points represent only abstract concepts.”

        J. F. McGrath “although it doesn’t work in Hebrew, in English someone might easily say
        “from Abel to Zechariah” to indicate “everyone in the Bible” ”

        Since neither the Hebrews or early Christian were speaking or writing in English, we can dismiss your argument.

        Actually, your eisegesis is so contrary to what a first-time reader would probably gather from a straight-forward reading of the text, that I’m not surprised that your interpretation is new to me despite my being 60 years old. What influenced you so profoundly that you obligate yourself to unite the Bible with your worldview? Why don’t you just dump the Bible 100% ? You wouldn’t be losing much since Jesus to you is little more than an uninformed individual who falsely “assumed that there was a historical Abel”? Where do you draw the line between figurative and literal in the lineage of Christ? Was Jesus figurative? Were Joseph & Mary figurative? Was Joseph’s father Jacob a literal person?

        • The literalness of the father and other ancestors of Joseph in the two contradictory genealogies in Matthew and Luke is indeed a good example of precisely the issue. We “draw the line” where we have evidence, since often we find that genealogies in the Bible, contrary to your claim, do not seem interested in what modern genealogy-makers tend to be. The number of generations in Matthew, and the names he leaves out in order to get closer to (but not precisely reach) three groups of fourteen, illustrates this well.

          • Alan Clarke

            > We “draw the line” where we have evidence

            After reviewing the evidence, who are the most recent individuals in Jesus’ genealogy that never actually existed? If you have not reviewed the evidence sufficiently to make that judgement then I won’t anticipate an answer. I already know you eliminated Abel. If Adam & Eve never existed, where did original sin come from? I’m getting the impression that your theology is like a stack of dominoes. A domino you positioned early in your structure fell and every one you placed thereafter is falling. Here is my prediction: You will have to invent an ad hoc explanation to fix the “original sin” domino which contacted the “non-existent Adam & Eve” domino. And your last domino will probably be “Jesus is not the Son of God.” Am I right?

            Atheist Richard Dawkins speaks on the irrationality of compromising Christians:

            Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!

            The moderates’ [liberals’] position seems to me to be fence-sitting. They half-believe in the Bible but how do they decide which parts to believe literally and which parts are just allegorical?

            It seems to me an odd proposition that we should adhere to some parts of the Bible story but not to others. After all, when it comes to important moral questions, by what standards do we cherry-pick the Bible? Why bother with the Bible at all if we have the ability to pick and choose from it, what is right and what is wrong?

            > The number of generations in Matthew, and the names he leaves out in order to get closer to (but not precisely reach) three groups of fourteen, illustrates this well.

            My family tree has some missing info but that doesn’t lead me to believe that the names I do have (e.g. Robert de Brus) are mythical, allegorical, or simply never existed. There are many good explanations for why Matthew & Luke differ (see http://www.gotquestions.org/14-generations.html ). Contradiction does not prove falsity any more than the lack of it proves truth. I am more suspicious of Bible translators who changed the “eight” in 2Chr 36.9 to match the “eighteen” in 2Ki 24:8 than I am of Matthew & Luke (contemporaries) who obviously didn’t try to copy each others’ genealogy.

          • “Original sin” as a doctrine is post-Biblical and so obviously it doesn’t need any particular individuals in the Bible to be literal or to be figurative for people to hold that view. The view that human beings are sinful, on the other hand, is empirically verifiable and again has not inherent dependence on Human in Genesis 1-3 being literal. I see that transliterating his “name” as Adam sometimes creates confusion for English readers, who miss the clues in the text itself that the figure represents humanity as a whole and not a specific historical individual. Shifting the blame for your sin onto him misses the point of how Genesis 3 concludes in a sadly ironic manner.

            The main ways to determine whether something should be accepted literally are attention to genre, study of the natural world, and historical criticism. The author of Genesis thought there was a dome over the Earth. I cannot take that literally even though he did.

          • Alan Clarke

            > “Original sin” as a doctrine is post-Biblical

            I could build an entire argument for original sin from the O.T. alone, so it certainly isn’t “post-Biblical”. Look at this link and notice how the O.T. and N.T. are filled with original sin doctrine:

            http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-biblical-evidence-for-original-sin

            I never adopted this doctrine from a church. I wasn’t raised a Christian. The only words I can remember coming from a pulpit prior to my conversion at 22 years of age, was, “There was a drunk man in the street.” Period. I was so ignorant of the Bible that the first time I read one at 22 years of age, I didn’t even know it was a Bible. After being converted solely through what I read in John 14, I later understood in Romans 5:12-21 (still not having attended a church), that everyone was guilty before God including myself even if I “had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” For me, that was an unambiguous description of “original sin.”

            Ask yourself, how many people are learning about ABSENCE OF ORIGINAL SIN from you who have not yet formed an opinion from reading the Bible for themselves. I thank God that my head wasn’t filled with your or anyone else’s ideas before I had a chance to think with a clean slate.

            1) Did you develop most of your theology on your own, under the influence of another person, or did God teach it to you?

            2) Do you consider yourself to be a Christian or more specifically, “a follower of Christ”?

            3) Do you have a personal relationship with God and communicate with him?

          • If you think that your views, which resemble those of many Christians in our period in history, are things that you came up with uninfluenced by anyone, and if you are absolutely confident that your own interpretation is what God has taught you, I will simply say that such arrogance, about which the Bible warns, is clearer evidence of the pervasiveness of human sinfulness than any Biblical text could be.

          • Alan Clarke

            > If you think.. and if you are absolutely confident that your own interpretation is what God has taught you, I will simply say that such arrogance…

            I’m glad you allowed for the possibility of me not being arrogant by prefacing each condition with “IF”. I noticed that you didn’t answer any questions. I hope it’s not because of your arrogance.

          • After reviewing the evidence, who are the most recent individuals in Jesus’ genealogy that never actually existed? If you have not reviewed the evidence sufficiently to make that judgement then I won’t anticipate an answer. I already know you eliminated Abel. If Adam & Eve never existed, where did original sin come from?

            Honestly, Alan, have you read the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, rather than just asserting things about them? Because it seems like you haven’t and it’s sort of embarrassing. Adam appears only in Luke’s genealogy, not Matthew’s. Abel and Eve appear in neither.

            Original sin is a theological concept that is not clearly expressed in any passage (at least not in a way that can’t be contradicted by other passages). Not every Christian denomination and certainly not every theologian agrees on what original sin is or even that it exists. I can’t speak for James, but under my view, which is that Adam and Eve are metaphorical representations of our ancestors, then there is no reason one can’t hold to the idea of original sin.

            Atheist Richard Dawkins speaks on the irrationality of compromising Christians:

            Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!

            Thanks, I actually prefer to get my understanding of my own faith from the Bible, not from atheists who despise my faith and purposefully misrepresent and misunderstand it.

            The moderates’ [liberals’] position seems to me to be fence-sitting. They half-believe in the Bible but how do they decide which parts to believe literally and which parts are just allegorical?

            Good question. When a text features talking animals whose ability to speak is not described as a miracle, trees with magical properties, characters who do not have names and stories that occur at indeterminate times and places, it’s probably a pretty good bet that the text isn’t literal.

            It seems to me an odd proposition that we should adhere to some parts of the Bible story but not to others. After all, when it comes to important moral questions, by what standards do we cherry-pick the Bible? Why bother with the Bible at all if we have the ability to pick and choose from it, what is right and what is wrong?

            You are a hypocrite. Every person who has ever read the Bible has interpreted the Bible. It has only been in recent years that a certain subset of Christians have tried to claim their interpretation as the only possible correct one, criticizing others for doing exactly what they do (interpreting the text).

            And just because I don’t take part of Genesis as literal history, as you do, doesn’t mean I’m cherry picking what I want to believe. I believe the entire Bible is true and divinely inspired; I just think you’re reading part of it wrong.

          • Alan Clarke

            > Original sin is a theological concept that is not clearly expressed in any passage (at least not in a way that can’t be contradicted by other passages).

            Original sin certainly is a theological concept that Paul explained in Romans 5:12-21. Because it’s a “theological concept” do you think that exempts you? For millennia, every individual has died whether they lived long enough to carry out actions against their neighbor or not. Why? Because the wages of sin is death. Eph 2:3 says, “we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” When Paul said “we”, was he referring to everybody or was he just talking about himself and a few select individual who were by nature the children of wrath? John said, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” What evidence do you have that you were not “by nature the children [or a child] of wrath”? David said, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Paul wrote, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” The converse of that is, “he that is not dead is not freed from sin.” All you have to do to be a sinner is to be alive.

            I’m providing a link on original sin (that I read and approve) because so much evidence for it exists that I can’t possibly post it all without filling up your blog.

            http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-biblical-evidence-for-original-sin

          • For millennia, every individual has died whether they lived long enough to carry out actions against their neighbor or not. Why? Because the wages of sin is death.

            Why? Because it was “appointed [by God] for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” Not as a punishment, but simply as an inherent part of the current created order, until the new order comes, and Christ destroys all death for good.

            Your argument makes no sense. You claim the reason people die is because the wages of sin is death, but as you yourself point out, death also comes to those who have not sinned, like babies. So how does Romans 6:23 apply here? Wages are something that you earn and that you receive. I am not entitled to wages earned by someone else, so why should my baby reap the “wages” of the sins of some supposed ancient ancestor? I would need a lot more than your assertions that this is how God judges man; I would have to see that actually expressed in the Bible, and it’s not there.

            Eph 2:3 says, “we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

            Every person sins, and sin has terrible consequences. I’m not disputing any of that. Our very natures are even corrupted by our sins (Galatians 5:17-19).

            David said, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

            Yeah, he also said, in Psalm 32, that “my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” and in Psalm 38 that he was “utterly crushed” and in Psalm 22, “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.” It’s clear hyperbole, man. You can’t take it literally when it suits you to do so.

            I’m providing a link on original sin (that I read and approve) because so much evidence for it exists that I can’t possibly post it all without filling up your blog.

            Most of the verses simply say that everyone sins. I agree. That’s why we need Jesus. Beyond the single hyperbolic example from Psalms that you also presented above, I see absolutely nothing that supports the idea that humans are born separated from God and guilty in his eyes as the result of someone else’s disobedience.

          • Alan Clarke

            > [Death serves] not as a punishment, but simply as an inherent part of the current created order, until the new order comes, and Christ destroys all death for good.

            Your statement stands in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. Death is the punishment for transgression of God’s command:

            Gen 2:17 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.

            > Wages are something that you earn and that you receive. I am not entitled to wages earned by someone else,…

            Good point. Then why should you be entitled to eternal life since it was paid for with “wages earned by someone else”, namely Jesus.

            > why should my baby reap the “wages” of the sins of some supposed ancient ancestor?

            By one man’s offence death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. Babies would be included in the group of those, “that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” It doesn’t get any simpler than that. God is not angry at the baby but the baby is suffering for the actions of the parents’ parents’ parents’ parents’…. Adam & Eve. You say Adam & Eve never existed. Paul says, “by one man’s offence death reigned.” Who do you think that “one man” is? Paul says it was Adam “who is the figure of him that was to come.” He was a “figure” not because he was mythical, but because what he did transferred to all mankind just like what Jesus did transferred to all mankind.

          • Your statement stands in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. Death is the punishment for transgression of God’s command:

            Gen 2:17 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.

            First of all, a single verse in a highly specific context does not remotely prove your point. Genesis 2:17 says death is the punishment for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not the punishment for any sin of any kind.

            Second of all, what kind of death is being referenced here, physical death or spiritual death? I say it is obviously spiritual death. For one thing, Adam and Eve did not physically die the day they ate of the fruit. According to the text, they lived hundreds of years after. I’m sure you would say that you would say that “in the day” means a long period of time, not a single day (young-earth creationists believe “day” means a 24-hour day only when it is convenient for them), but does that really fit the text? When an interpretation or translation is ambiguous, it’s often helpful to consider how the original hearers responded. In this case, Adam and Eve clearly understood that the consequences of their actions would be immediate, such that the woman even believed she would die from touching the fruit! (Genesis 3:3)

            Good point. Then why should you be entitled to eternal life since it was paid for with “wages earned by someone else”, namely Jesus.

            I’m not “entitled” to eternal life. I don’t deserve it in the slightest. That’s why it’s called “the free gift of God” (Romans 6:23).

            By one man’s offence death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. Babies would be included in the group of those, “that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

            The text doesn’t say what you seem to think it does. It doesn’t say death reigned over those who have not sinned, it says death reigned over those whose sins were not like Adam’s sin. There’s a big difference. And again, Romans 5 only reinforces that death (spiritual death, obviously) spreads only as a result of individual sin: “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

            But congrats on your belief that God is a bloodthirsty monster.

            You say Adam & Eve never existed. Paul says, “by one man’s offence death reigned.” Who do you think that “one man” is?

            You left out an important part: “because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man” (Romans 5:17). I believe there was a first sinner; that’s simply a matter of logic. There are sinners now, so it only makes sense that if you go far enough back in time, you would eventually come across the first one. But that doesn’t mean I believe Genesis 2 and 3, with its magical trees and talking serpents, was meant to be read as literal history.

          • Alan Clarke

            >[David said,] “they pierce my hands and my feet.” It’s clear hyperbole, man.

            No. It’s clear prophecy for a literal event that took place ~1000 years later:

            Mat 27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

          • No. It’s clear prophecy for a literal event that took place ~1000 years later:

            If the Psalmist’s only purpose was prophecy, then he would have written something like, “One day, the Savior will come, but he will be rejected. They will pierce his hands and feet.” The verse may have been prophecy, but it also served a purpose in David’s description of his circumstances at the time he wrote the 22nd Psalm.

            And I noticed you neatly ignored the other hyperbolic examples from Psalms (there are plenty more I could have shared), including the first part of 22:15: “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me.” Great hermeneutic you have! If it fits your presupposed views, then use it as proof of your presupposed views; if it doesn’t, then just ignore it.

          • Alan Clarke

            > I actually prefer to get my understanding of my own faith from the Bible, not from atheists who despise my faith

            1) Have you considered that atheists fall into the category of those, “which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law”? From Rom 2:14, we know atheists understand morality though nature.

            2) Atheists don’t despise your or my faith nearly as much as our compromising hypocrisy:

            “I confess I soon lose my way when I try to follow those who walk delicately among “types” and allegories. A certain passion for clearness forces me to ask, bluntly, whether the writer means to say that Jesus did not believe the stories in question or that he did? When Jesus spoke, as a matter of fact, that “the Flood came and destroyed them all,” did he believe that the Deluge really took place, or not? It seems to me that, as the narrative mentions Noah’s wife, and his sons’ wives, there is good scriptural warranty for the statement that the antediluvians married and were given in marriage: and I should have thought that their eating and drinking might be assumed by the firmest believer in the literal truth of the story. Moreover, I venture to ask what sort of value, as an illustration of God’s methods of dealing with sin, has an account of an event that never happened? If no Flood swept the careless people away, how is the warning of more worth than the cry of ‘Wolf’ when there is no wolf?” — Thomas H. Huxley, aka “Darwin’s bulldog”

            Atheist Richard Dawkins knows when someone isn’t true to the scripture. He asked Oxford Bishop Richard Harries, “Is there a sense in which they [the Americans] are sort of being true to their scriptures in a way that you are not?”

            “I think the evangelical Christians have really sort of got it right in a way, in seeing evolution as the enemy. Whereas the more, what shall we say, sophisticated theologians are quite happy to live with evolution, I think they are deluded. I think the evangelicals have got it right, in that there is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity, and I think I realized that about the age of sixteen.” — Richard Dawkins

          • Have you considered that atheists fall into the category of those, “which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law”? From Rom 2:14, we know atheists understand morality though nature.

            Whether nonbelievers are capable of fulfilling the requirements of the law is irrelevant to whether antitheists should be permitted to define the beliefs of Christians. Thanks for posting some more quotes from atheists about what I supposedly believe. Here are a few descriptions of young-earth creationists from Richard Dawkins: “preposterous,” “child abusers” and “complete idiots.” Do you think that these are fair and accurate descriptions, and if not, then why do you believe his descriptions of Christians like myself would be fair and accurate?

            I suppose folks like Dawkins and Huxley would prefer that all believers hold to the views of Answers in Genesis because they’re completely at odds with the scientific evidence and are easily dismissed. Christians who attempt to look at the text in reasonable, sensible and defensible ways throw a wrench in their “all religious people are deluded morons” narrative.

          • Alan Clarke

            > Here are a few descriptions of young-earth creationists from Richard Dawkins: “preposterous,” “child abusers” and “complete idiots.” Do you think that these are fair and accurate descriptions, and if not, then why do you believe his descriptions of Christians like myself would be fair and accurate?

            The difference is you provided a list of words with no supporting logical construct as to why Dawkins came his conclusions whereas I did.

          • How’s this work for you?

            “Any science teacher who denies that the world is billions (or even millions!) of years old is teaching children a preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood. These men disgrace the honourable profession of teacher. By comparison, real teachers, teachers who respect truth and evidence whether in science or history, have so much more to offer. Today’s children are blessed with the opportunity to open their minds to the shattering wonder of their own existence, the nature of life and its remarkable provenance in a yet more remarkable universe. Teachers who help to open young minds perform a duty which is as near sacred as I will admit. Ignorant, closed-minded, false teachers who stand in their way come as close as I can reckon to committing true sacrilege.” — Richard Dawkins

          • Alan Clarke

            > Adam appears only in Luke’s genealogy, not Matthew’s. Abel and Eve appear in neither.

            I agree with all of that. But, that in no way is sufficient information for concluding Adam & Eve didn’t exist. In your opinion, who was the first man? Please don’t tell me it was an ape-like creature who walked on all fours or something earlier than that like a tree shrew which God created in his own image:

            Rom 1:23 “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

            Gen 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

            The Bible says that after man was created on the sixth day, God’s work was finished:

            Gen 2:1 “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.”

            God didn’t have to keep creating animals after that because he made things to reproduce themselves “after their own kind”. Or do you think as many Christians did during Darwin’s time that each and every new variant of a species was a separate act of creation? Or worse yet, do you reject the idea of Biblical “kinds” as do the materialists and atheists who think bacteria can turn into people given sufficient time?

            “…early bacteria are the ancestors of modern bacteria and of all the many kinds of organisms living today, including you.” — Holt Science ’94 – ’98

            “I think the evangelicals have got it right, in that there is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity, and I think I realized that about the age of sixteen.” – Richard Dawkins

            “Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented. …religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.” – Prof. William Provine, Cornell

          • I’d just like to point out that, even as I continue to respond to every point in your increasingly indignant comments, you have failed to answer my questions or address the points brought up by me. To whit, you have not explained how James’ view of Jesus being mistaken about Abel is at odds with Jesus’ own admission of having limited knowledge while in earthly form, nor have you addressed the several other places where Jesus said things that were not literally true, such as about seeds dying before they grow and the mustard seed being the smallest in the world. You have also not answered my question as to whether you ever actually read both Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies before you came here and presumed to tell me and James what they say. I’m genuinely curious. Your knowledge of them was so woefully inadequate that I can only presume the answer is no.

            I agree with all of that. But, that in no way is sufficient information for concluding Adam & Eve didn’t exist.

            I never said it was. I was pointing out that you asked James to name which figures in the genealogies were not historical, and as examples you offered Abel and Eve (among others), but neither of them appears in the genealogies in Matthew or Luke.

            In your opinion, who was the first man?

            The first man was the first human to whom God revealed himself, who was capable of understanding God (on some level) and communicating with him and who was capable of understanding right from wrong.

            The Bible says that after man was created on the sixth day, God’s work was finished

            No, it doesn’t. It says he finished the work he had been doing, but Jesus said his Father never stopped working and never stops working (John 5:17).

            God didn’t have to keep creating animals after that because he made things to reproduce themselves “after their own kind”. Or do you think as many Christians did during Darwin’s time that each and every new variant of a species was a separate act of creation? Or worse yet, do you reject the idea of Biblical “kinds” as do the materialists and atheists who think bacteria can turn into people given sufficient time?

            I think God, absolutely, positively remains active in his creation. All of scripture testifies to this, and if you really believe God is no longer involved in creation, then your ideas are so unbiblical that I see no point in continuing this discussion.

          • Alan Clarke

            > you have not explained how James’ view of Jesus being mistaken about Abel is at odds with Jesus’ own admission of having limited knowledge while in earthly form

            If Jesus knew Abraham he would have no problem knowing Abel:

            John 8
            56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad.

            57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

            58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

          • He said that he existed before Abraham, and he did indeed. He did not say that, in his earthly form, he still possessed the full omniscience of God. Simply acknowledging his true nature as part of the Godhead, which Jesus did numerous times, does not rule out the possibility that, as a man, he allowed himself to be limited in some ways.

            You have still not attempted to explain why scripture says Jesus did not know the timing of Judgment Day (Mark 13:32) or how he could “grow in wisdom” (Luke 2:52), since he already knew everything, according to you. And here’s another one, just for fun: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Why would it be better for the disciples if Jesus left and the Holy Spirit came, if Jesus was not limited in his earthly form? If Jesus’ earthly form was in no way limited, then the Holy Spirit had no advantage over him.

          • Alan Clarke

            > The first man was the first human to whom God revealed himself, who was capable of understanding God (on some level) and communicating with him and who was capable of understanding right from wrong.

            Adam meets every one of your criteria. In addition, the Bible couldn’t be more clear on who the first man was:

            Gen 5
            1 This [is] the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

            2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

            3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat [a son] in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

            4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

            1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

            If you have any scriptural support for some man predating Adam, please do reference it.

          • Alan Clarke

            > When a text features talking animals whose ability to speak is not described as a miracle

            The word “miracle” appears nowhere in Numbers 22:
            27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
            28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

            1) Do you reject that this incident ever happened?

            2) Do you reject Balaam’s existence because of his uncommon association with a talking ass?

            3) Balaam is said to the the “son of Beor”. Do you reject Beor’s existence?

            4) Do you reject the existence of “the angel of the LORD” because of him being mentioned in the context of a talking ass?

            5) Since Balaam is inextricably intertwined with Sihon, king of the Amorites, Og, king of Bashan, and Balak, king of Moab, did these individuals also not exist because the Angel of the LORD and the talking ass ruin the believability of it for you?

            6) Do you reject Christ’s virgin birth because it’s impossible that Mary would have became pregnant if Joseph “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.”?

          • Alan Clarke

            >You are a hypocrite. Every person who has ever read the Bible has interpreted the Bible.

            Perhaps you meant Richard Dawkins is a hypocrite since you were responding to his words. I can see you are getting angry but I won’t take personal offense at that.

            > I believe the entire Bible is true and divinely inspired;

            Amen brother!

            BTW, I visit my brother in Indianapolis occasionally and have driven right by Butler University. I would love to meet you and Mr McGrath in person if the time permitted in a friendly non-combative way, unless of course you want to debate!

          • Perhaps you meant Richard Dawkins is a hypocrite since you were responding to his words.

            I presumed that you agreed with what he said or you wouldn’t have quoted him, so yes, it applies to you, too.

            I can see you are getting angry but I won’t take personal offense at that.

            Yeah, it’s this kind of weird thing about me, but when someone comes to my site and accuses me of not being a real Christian and despising my own faith, and offers as evidence the comments of militant anti-theists and biblical passages that they appear to have never even read (or at least did not at all understand), it sometimes makes me a little angry.

            BTW, I visit my brother in Indianapolis occasionally and have driven right by Butler University. I would love to meet you and Mr McGrath in person if the time permitted in a friendly non-combative way, unless of course you want to debate!

            I do not live anywhere near Butler University, and if the experience of talking to you in person is anything like talking to you in this online forum, then I’m pretty sure I’ll pass. Thanks for the offer, though.

          • Alan Clarke

            > And James’ proposition, that Jesus may also have been mistaken about Abel being a historical figure, is not at all out of step with that.

            Most Christians would concur that propositions are inferior to declarations especially considering the proposer is James McGrath and the declarer is Jesus Christ.

            > Matthew says [Joseph’s father’s] name was Jacob, Luke maintains that it was Heli.

            1) Were Jacob and Heli literal people or was at least one mythical or allegorical? Aren’t mythical & allegorical characters less likely to occur in the recent past? Do you have any mythical or allegorical persons inserted into your family tree who were supposedly born in the last one or two centuries?

            2) Many Bible scholars believe Luke’s lineage is through Mary’s line. There is historical evidence that Heli was Mary’s father:

            “It is indirectly confirmed by Jewish tradition [that Luke’s genealogy is of Mary’s line]. Lightfoot {Horae Hebraicae on Luke iii. 28} cites from the Talmudic writers concerning the pains of hell, the statement that Mary the daughter of Heli was seen in the infernal regions, suffering horrid tortures. {Suspensam per glandulas mammarum,” etc.} This statement illustrates, not only the bitter animosity of the Jews toward the Christian religion, but also the fact that, according to received Jewish tradition, Mary was the daughter of Heli; hence, that it is her genealogy which we find in Luke….”

            If Heli had only daughters (Mary not having brothers is supported by John 19:25-27), Joseph could have become Heli’s heir (the ‘son of Heli’) by adoption, especially if Joseph became his son-in-law.

            “Luke’s qualification “as was supposed” avoids stating that Jesus was actually a son of Joseph, since his virgin birth is affirmed in the same gospel. From as early as John of Damascus, the view of “as was supposed of Joseph” regards Luke as calling Jesus a son of Eli—meaning that Heli, the maternal grandfather of Jesus, with Luke tracing the ancestry of Jesus through Mary. Therefore per Adam Clarke (1817), John Wesley, John Kitto and others the expression “Joseph, [ ] of Heli”, without the word “son” being present in the Greek, indicates that “Joseph, of Heli” is to be read “Joseph, [son-in-law] of Heli” ” – Wikipedia “Genealogy of Jesus”

            > If both genealogies are simply straightforward, entirely literal and “excellent records of their ancestors as evidenced by both Hebrew and Christian canons,” as you claim, then it seems the Holy Spirit was mistaken in one of them.

            1) A genealogy containing less information than another does not constitute a contradiction nor does it require persons in either genealogy to not be literal people.

            2) The existence of legal adoption eliminates many seeming genealogical contradictions. E.g., Mary’s father Heli probably adopted Joseph for inheritance purposes since Mary didn’t have any brothers. Luke therefore records Joseph as follows:

            [Luke 3:23 KJV] And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed ) the son of Joseph, which was [the son] of Heli.

            > This is not at all the only place that there are contradictions between the biblical genealogies

            All of your objections can and have been resolved without having to stretch or flatly reject the scripture as much as you do. If any objection isn’t covered in the following link, get back with me: http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/genealogy_of_Jesus.htm

          • Most Christians would concur that propositions are inferior to declarations especially considering the proposer is James McGrath and the declarer is Jesus Christ.

            Both you and James are making propositions, when you propose to interpret Jesus’ words. You are both fallible men, and it is a certainty that at least one of you, and possibly both of you, is wrong.

            Thanks for doing your research this time, even though it was just copy and pasted from Wikipedia. Quite unnecessary, though, since I agree that Luke’s geneaolgy was most likely drawn from Mary’s line, with his intended purpose being to highlight Christ’s humanity and kinship with mankind (whereas Matthew’s purpose, drawn through Joseph, was more to establish Jesus as the Messiah in the eyes of his Jewish audience).

            All of your objections can and have been resolved without having to stretch or flatly reject the scripture as much as you do.

            This is a baseless, and frankly, ridiculous accusation. I love God’s word, and I think our conversation here has established that I know it at least as well as you do. I “reject” none of it, and my interpretations of Genesis are no more a “stretch” than your interpretations of Jesus’ words in John 12:24, which go far beyond the plain meaning of the text.

        • Why don’t you just dump the Bible 100% ?

          A very interesting evangelistic technique that you have! Tell me, what biblical model are you using for how we as Christians should treat others? I’ve read the New Testament a number of times, and don’t recall seeing Paul or anyone else advocating that we should encourage those who disagree with us on the interpretation of certain passages to abandon the entire Bible, but I’m sure you know what you’re doing.

          You wouldn’t be losing much since Jesus to you is little more than an uninformed individual who falsely “assumed that there was a historical Abel”?

          And I’m guessing you take everything that Jesus said 100-percent literally, yes. So when Jesus said, in John 12:24, that it is only when a wheat kernel dies that it produces many seeds, you must take him at his word, right? We now know that, of course, seeds do not die before they grow, and if they did die, then they wouldn’t germinate. But you must reject that knowledge. You probably soak all of your seeds in acid just to make sure they’re good and dead before you plant your garden. Good luck with that.

          And what about when Jesus said, “It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants…” The mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth (orchid seeds are smaller), and it is not the largest of all the garden plants (many plants are larger). So I suppose you simply deny the existence of orchids and other plants that contradict Jesus’ plain meaning here, just as you deny the existence of legitimate Christians who disagree with how you interpret the book of Genesis.

          Under your view, Alan, the only possibility for these two passages above is that Jesus was wrong, and is therefore not God. Because you seem to hold that Christ had all of the knowledge of God while he dwelt in earthly form, and was in no way limited in his human knowledge in the way that we are limited. I suggest that you are wrong about that, and even Jesus himself indicated that you are wrong when he said, about the timing of Judgment Day, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

          He clearly implied that there were things that he did not know or understand while he dwelt among us as a man. And James’ proposition, that Jesus may also have been mistaken about Abel being a historical figure, is not at all out of step with that.

          Was Joseph’s father Jacob a literal person?

          This is just funny. Apparently, you think the genealogy in Matthew is more reliable (more inspired?) than the one in Luke (3:23-28), because they give different names for Joseph’s father. Matthew says his name was Jacob, Luke maintains that it was Heli. If both genealogies are simply straightforward, entirely literal and “excellent records of their ancestors as evidenced by both Hebrew and Christian canons,” as you claim, then it seems the Holy Spirit was mistaken in one of them.

          This is not at all the only place that there are contradictions between the biblical genealogies, by the way. James and I are not the enemies of the Bible. We are simply trying to understand it, on the basis of what it actually says. It’s not our fault that the genealogies say completely different things. We’re just trying to understand why, while you, evidently, want only to pretend they say something they don’t, and then use your own fiction as support for your views.

          Which one would you say is the higher and more noble use of scripture?

          • Alan Clarke

            > what biblical model are you using for how we as Christians should treat others?

            When I said, “dump the Bible 100%” I was speaking figuratively. In reality, I don’t think Mr McGrath should violate the 10 commandments and kill people but instead stop teaching a non-historical Jesus who erred in his *assumption* that Abel existed.

            Perhaps I am misunderstanding you & Mr. McGrath completely. Are you and he Christians, or more specifically, “followers of Christ”? If not, then your posts make complete sense and I have fashioned my arguments incorrectly thinking you were. I apologize if this is the case. When I encounter a person professing to be a follower of Christ, and he says that Christ has erred, that sets off a stick of dynamite for me.

          • I will let James speak for himself, but I’m a follower of Christ, specifically, I consider myself a born-agaim evangelical Christian, and you are avoiding my questions. My assertion is not precisely that Jesus “erred,” but that he was limited in some knowledge in his earthly form (willingly, I believe). This is something that Jesus himself acknowledged, as I’ve already demonstrated, so if anything, you are the one with the unbiblical view, not us.

          • Alan Clarke

            > when Jesus said, in John 12:24, that it is only when a wheat kernel dies that it produces many seeds, you must take him at his word, right?

            Yes, I have learned to take Jesus at his word:

            John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

            > We now know that, of course, seeds do not die before they grow

            A person can go to a nursing home to die where “die” means a process over a period of time. Wheat seeds indeed go through a dying process before they germinate which was/is perfectly suitable for Jesus’ parable. The process is called “Programmed Cell Death” or “PCD”:

            “Following germination, the aleurone layer displays a high metabolic activity to synthesize and secrete hydrolytic enzymes, which are released into the starchy endosperm and promote the degradation of storage reserves. Once this function is completed, the aleurone undergoes a process of PCD [Programmed Cell Death]”
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112785

            > And what about when Jesus said, “It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth.

            Your translation is questionable. The same Greek word “mikros” (English “least”) appears in both KJV verses:

            Mat 13:31-32 “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed… Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree…”

            Mat 11:11 “…he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than [John the Baptist].”

            John the Baptist probably isn’t the smallest or shortest person in heaven just as the mustard seed may not be the smallest in size but the least important or least honoured. However when it grows into a tree, it could be the “greatest” of all herbs without being the tallest. “Greatest” could be the most liked, profitable, honoured, etc…

            Secondly, we don’t know with certainty that every Hebrew or Greek plant name is translated correctly into English. You can discover this for yourself here:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_plants_in_the_Bible
            Look up each verse listed above in different English translations and you will see lots of disagreement. E.g., Luke 17.6 is translated Sycamine, Sycamore, Mulberry. What makes this so difficult is that some Biblical plants may be extinct, unknown to the translators, or in the case of the plant thought to be mustard, after 2000 years the current variant could have a much different seed size than the the earlier variant.

            > you seem to hold that Christ had all of the knowledge of God while he dwelt in earthly form

            All verses can be true simultaneously:
            Mar 13:32 But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
            Jhn 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine.
            Col 2:2-3 …to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
            Col 2:9 For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

          • Well thanks for answering some of my questions (not the one about the genealogies, but I won’t hold my breath). And thanks for doing your research this time! It makes for a much better discussion when the other side knows at least a little bit about what they’re talking about.

            A person can go to a nursing home to die where “die” means a process over a period of time. Wheat seeds indeed go through a dying process before they germinate which was/is perfectly suitable for Jesus’ parable. The process is called “Programmed Cell Death” or “PCD”

            Clever, but no. Jesus prefaces the statement about the wheat kernel dying by saying the time had come for him to be glorified, i.e. to suffer and die on the cross. He is clearly making an analogy about his own death, and he certainly is not comparing his death to a nursing home “process over a period of time” (surely not even the worse nursing homes could be compared to crucifixion) or programmed cell death, which is basically the equivalent of trimming your fingernails or cutting your hair. It would be an unbalanced analogy, like saying, “Just as a kindergartner must sometimes receive a spanking, so I, too, must be tortured and murdered.”

            But nice try.

            Your translation is questionable.

            Why? Because it doesn’t fit your views, or because ythere is legitimate contextual and linguistic reason to doubt it? And it’s not “my” translation. The majority of English translations render the word “smallest.”

            John the Baptist probably isn’t the smallest or shortest person in heaven just as the mustard seed may not be the smallest in size but the least important or least honoured. However when it grows into a tree, it could be the “greatest” of all herbs without being the tallest. “Greatest” could be the most liked, profitable, honoured, etc…

            Yeah, when you’re talking about people, there are lots of different ways we can be compared. When you’re talking about seeds — not so much.
            What basis for comparison are you going to use? Personality?

            Not to mention the fact that Jesus reinforces the mustard plant being the biggest/greatest by saying it “becomes a tree” (yes, even the mighty King James says that) and “birds come and perch in its branches.” As far as I know, birds do not select their perches based on plants that are the most profitable or most liked by humans. Jesus is obviously talking about size, and if you think he isn’t, then you’re not reading the text, at least not honestly.

            Secondly, we don’t know with certainty that every Hebrew or Greek plant name is translated correctly into English. You can discover this for yourself here:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L
            Look up each verse listed above in different English translations and you will see lots of disagreement. E.g., Luke 17.6 is translated Sycamine, Sycamore, Mulberry.

            True, except that EVERY English translation identifies this plant as the mustard. That’s pretty overwhelming agreement, wouldn’t you say? And, unless the plant Jesus is “really” referring to is the orchid, then it doesn’t matter much anyway.

            What makes this so difficult is that some Biblical plants may be extinct, unknown to the translators, or in the case of the plant thought to be mustard, after 2000 years the current variant could have a much different seed size than the the earlier variant.

            I don’t know enough about the mustard seed to say whether it’s possible for the seed size to have changed so significantly in such a short period of time. I’m guessing it’s unlikely, but possible.

            Two things, though. Occam’s razor holds that the explanation that involves the fewest assumptions is usually correct, and yours certainly fails that test. And secondly, let’s say Jesus is referring to a now-extinct strain of mustard seed much smaller than those available today, or a different plant entirely. Under your beliefs about the omniscience he possessed in human form, Jesus at least would have known that his translated words would appear to be wrong. So why would he do that, when he could have just as easily impressed us with his knowledge of the orchid seed?

            All verses can be true simultaneously

            That is a non-answer. If you believe Mark 13:32 (and similar passages) is true, then why is it so offensive to suggest that Jesus, in human form or in his willing assumption of his role as the Son, may also have been limited in his knowledge of other matters?

            There’s also Luke 2:52, which says, Jesus “grew in wisdom” in his adolescence. How, if he already knew everything?

          • Alan Clarke

            > Jesus did not say “a type of dying” or “a process similar to dying,” and
            he certainly didn’t say “programmed cell death.” He said “die.”

            I have no doubt that you can find fault with my analogy or any analogy however well-crafted if you want to. You’ve already demonstrated that by finding fault with Jesus’ analogy as I will explain shortly.

            > [Jesus] certainly is not comparing his death to a nursing home… surely not even the worse nursing homes could be compared to crucifixion

            Jesus’ own parable would fall apart by your logic. His death on the cross is certainly not comparable to the suffering a seed experiences when planted in the ground.

          • I have no doubt that you can find fault with my analogy or any analogy however well-crafted if you want to.

            Well, if they’re bad analogies, yeah, I guess, guilty as charged.

            Jesus’ own parable would fall apart by your logic. His death on the cross is certainly not comparable to the suffering a seed experiences when planted in the ground.

            I didn’t say that the suffering has to be equivalent, only that the death does. Jesus did not “experience a process that is similar to dying,” he died. When he compares what was about to happen to him to a natural process involving a seed, and uses the word “die,” it’s obvious what he’s saying.

            Again, you’re free to interpret however you like. That’s what is required for modern people to make sense of a book that, though divinely inspired, was written by ancient people in ancient cultures and ancient tongues. Just don’t get on your high horse and claim that I “stretch and flatly reject the scriptures” while you just “read it plainly and take Jesus at his word.”

          • Alan Clarke

            > I didn’t say that the suffering has to be equivalent, only that the death does.

            Since there is no original part of the decomposed seed to be found after it sprouts and turns into a mature plant, for all practical purposes, one could say that the former seed died. If you disagree, pull a wheat plant out of the ground when it’s ready for harvest and recover the seed from which it originated so we can test the viability of your argument.

          • By this logic, every human being has already died and been resurrected numerous times. After all, our cells are constantly dying and being replaced, such that none of our original cells from our birth remain. So, for all practical purposes, you could say that the former person died. If you disagree, then take a senior citizen and recover the skin tissue that they were born with so we can test the viability of your argument.

          • Alan Clarke

            > Two things, though. Occam’s razor holds that the explanation that
            involves the fewest assumptions is usually correct, and yours certainly
            fails that test.

            Only one of my assumptions need be true, not all of them simultaneously, so you have overstated the significance of Occam in my argument.

          • As I see it, your assumptions of your primary argument were, at the very least:

            1. Jesus was referring to a plant that either is unknown to modern scientists because it has gone extinct or changed over time.
            2. Modern translators, like scientists, would of course be unfamiliar with the plant, too, so they mistakenly identify it as the mustard.
            3. This unknown plant had a seed that is not only smaller than known mustard seeds, but smaller than orchid seeds, which can be smaller than grains of dust.
            4. Despite the fact that this unknown plant has completely escaped the investigations of historians, botanists, other scientists and linguists for centuries, in Jesus’ day, the plant was commonplace enough that Jesus used in his parables as an everyday example that was obviously well-known to his listeners.
            5. This unknown plant possessed an ability, quite unprecedented in any plant known to modern science, to grow from a microscopic seed into a tree-sized plant.

            Now, how does your argument still work if any of those assumptions are untrue?

          • Alan Clarke

            > As I see it, your assumptions of your primary argument were, at the very least: 1… 2… 3… 4… 5…

            Perhaps you should take a break. I already explained why I should reject arguments like #3 and #5. The Greek word “mikros” doesn’t necessarily mean small in size as evidenced by it being used elsewhere to describe John the Baptist as “least” in the kingdom of heaven as opposed to the “smallest” person in size.

          • Alan Clarke

            > EVERY English translation identifies this plant as the mustard.

            Which mustard plant? There are many varieties and the one Jesus spoke of could very well be extinct or mis-identified in English translations since tree-size mustard plants aren’t mentioned here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustard_plant

            > That’s pretty overwhelming agreement… unless the
            plant Jesus is “really” referring to is the orchid

            Jesus can’t be referring to an orchid:
            1) orchids are not herbs
            2) they don’t become the size of a tree
            3) birds don’t lodge in them

            Look at the verse again:

            Mat 13:32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

          • Again, I don’t know if you are dense or deliberately misunderstanding me just to be irritating, but I’m tiring of it very quickly. Obviously, Jesus was not referring to an orchid, but they have the smallest seeds that we know of, some of them far smaller than that of a mustard seed, and some so small they can’t even be seen without the aid of a microscope.

            You were the one that suggested Jesus might have been referring to a different plant, and the translators got it wrong, not me. I was responding to that claim by saying that it’s possible he was referring to a different plant, but unless the plant he’s really talking about was the orchid (specifically, certain species of epiphytic orchids that grow in tropical rainforests), which have the smallest seed, then it doesn’t matter, because whatever plant he “meant” would still have a bigger seed than the orchid.

          • Alan Clarke

            > Jesus was not referring to an orchid, but they have the smallest seeds
            that we know of, some of them far smaller than that of a mustard seed

            Are you talking about today’s mustard plants that grow about 1-2 feet high and have been bred for large seeds to produce mustard commercially? Or are you talking about the one’s 2000 years ago that may be extinct now which grew to the size of trees and birds made nests in them?

          • I’m talking about the black mustard (Brassica nigra), which can grow to a height of up to 8 feet and is thought by some biblical scholars, including Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, to have been the plant Jesus referred to in this passage.

    • Peacharoo

      Yup, they want to believe that THEY get to decide what parts of the Bible man should be able to believe and what parts he shouldn’t.. Just like the Flood of Noah.. I can bet you 100 to one that these brainwashed deceivers don’t believe in that either..Jesus Said..…37As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. 39And they were oblivious, until the flood came and swept them all away. So will be the coming of the Son of Man.…
      We need to expose the Wolves in Sheep’s clothing among us who say with their mouth that they are “Christians” but act just like militant Atheists / God Haters..
      “God will not be mocked, you will sow what you reap”

  • RogerS

    The following passages are often misunderstood in the English translation by those critical of literal Bible interpretation:
    Mar 4:31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

    The original Greek clarifies the “is less than all” phrase to simply a small seed individually.
    is less = μικρός mikros; (small, little)
    than all = πᾶς pas; (individually)

    Mar 4:32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

    Here again, the Greek clarifies “greater than all” as greater & stronger individually after being fully grown.
    greater than = μείζων meizōn; (greater, larger, elder, stronger)
    all = πᾶς pas; (individally)

    We should all be careful not to fit this admonishment by the savior:
    Mat 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

  • RogerS

    A common verse of debate is about if the seed referred to in Jn 12:24 dies or does not die.
    John 12:24 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
    Here is the Greek for “and die”: ἀποθνῄσκω apothnēskō (to die)
    A of the natural death of man
    B of the violent death of man or animals
    C to perish by means of something
    D of trees which dry up, of seeds which rot when planted
    E of eternal death, to be subject to eternal misery in hell

    The definition D “of seeds which rot when planted” does occur but (the “educated” know) not necessarily in totality with the germ.
    The educated however, must not substitute their definition of “die” (totally ended) to define the definition of that believed by the author (not final).

    In context, here is the NEXT verse:
    Jhn 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

    This consists of 2 parts, those that lose their life and those that keep it. The question then becomes about those that lose it. Can you totally and finally “lose” your life?

    The following 3 verses helps clarify the meaning of “die” according to Jesus in referring to death of man in John 12:25. I propose comparing plant’s “germ” to the lost man’s “worm” and if die = “totally ended”:
    Mar 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
    Mar 9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
    Mar 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

  • Thomas Dale

    The primary error of your attempt is that you choose to act as if this is the only time in which Genesis 1-4 are referenced. The fact is that, when taking all of Jesus’ statements, Paul’s statements, and the genealogy of Luke chapter 3, you either believe the NT authors and Jesus believed in a literal Adam and Even or you might as well throw out the entire NT quite frankly. It makes no sense otherwise. They were definitely literalists. One must consider:

    -Jesus’ reference to marriage here
    -Jesus’ reference to murders from Abel to Zacharias (if one was real, why not the other – if Abel was real, why not Adam and Eve – it would just be ridiculous to think Jesus did not believe in a real Adam and Eve from this reference alone)
    -Paul’s use of Adam (1) to proclaim what Adam (2) did – if Adam (1) was not real, it’s pretty ridiculous to even bother contrasting and comparing with Adam (2)
    -Paul’s use of the fall, explicitly mentioning Adam and Eve to establish teaching roles (of course, most liberal “scholars” would just throw out such teachings anyway I suppose)
    -Finally, Luke’s genealogy goes from Jesus to Adam to God. If Adam is not a historical person in Luke’s thinking, this geneaology is absolutely ridiculous – it is even more ridiculous if Adam was not the FIRST man and directly created by God

    From these testimonies, and more not mentioned, you either accept that NT writers believed in a literal Adam and Even and Serpent and garden, etc. or you throw out the NT altogether. It’s just a waste of paper in such case.

    • The primary error of your attempt is that you choose to act as if this is the only time in which Genesis 1-4 are referenced.

      No, what I said was that this is the only instance in the gospels in which Jesus quotes from Genesis 1 and 2. Which it is.

      The fact is that, when taking all of Jesus’ statements, Paul’s statements, and the genealogy of Luke chapter 3, you either believe the NT authors and Jesus believed in a literal Adam and Even or you might as well throw out the entire NT quite frankly.

      An interesting perspective! “If you disagree with my view of a few verses in the New Testament, then you should simply disregard the entire thing!” I bet you win lots of souls for the kingdom that way. Question: Should we throw out the entire Old Testament, since those authors clearly wrote from a pre-scientific worldview in which the earth was the center of the universe and the sky was a solid firmament — a view we now know to be quite incorrect?

      -Jesus’ reference to marriage here

      Seems like this shouldn’t really count, since I’ve responded to it in-depth in the above article.

      -Jesus’ reference to murders from Abel to Zacharias (if one was real, why not the other – if Abel was real, why not Adam and Eve – it would just be ridiculous to think Jesus did not believe in a real Adam and Eve from this reference alone)

      James McGrath does a great job of responding to his one elsewhere in the thread: “The ‘Abel to Zechariah’ reference is to the first and last martyrs mentioned in the Hebrew canon, which doesn’t cover the full sweep of martyrs in Jewish history or even in the Bible. And so the reference itself has to do with the order of the canon, used to symbolize ‘all martyrs,’ rather than historical accuracy, which might well have had reason to choose not just a different starting point but a different ending point as well.”

      -Paul’s use of Adam (1) to proclaim what Adam (2) did – if Adam (1) was not real, it’s pretty ridiculous to even bother contrasting and comparing with Adam (2)

      The theology of Paul is complex and nuanced. To make a blanket declaration that every time Paul uses the word “Adam,” he is referring to a historical figure and the single, literal progenitor of all mankind is ridiculous and untenable. Sometimes, he uses Adam symbolically, sometimes as a representative for all mankind.

      -Paul’s use of the fall, explicitly mentioning Adam and Eve to establish teaching roles (of course, most liberal “scholars” would just throw out such teachings anyway I suppose)

      I would love to share my views of Paul’s references to “the fall,” but you’ll have to be more specific. Do you have any particular passages you’d like to discuss?

      -Finally, Luke’s genealogy goes from Jesus to Adam to God. If Adam is not a historical person in Luke’s thinking, this geneaology is absolutely ridiculous – it is even more ridiculous if Adam was not the FIRST man and directly created by God

      You seem to be of the mind that the genealogies of Jesus can serve only one purpose, a listing of his the literal patriarchy in chronological order. I assert that this is not the case, since if it were, the two genealogies would be identical, and they, in fact, differ significantly, even on as routine a matter as the name of Jesus’ patriarchal grandfather.

      I hold, instead, to the well-supported scholarly position that the two genealogies serve two different purposes: that Matthew, writing to a primarily Jewish audience, aimed at demonstrating Jesus’ claim to the Messianic crown through the Davidic line, which is why his ends/begins at Abraham, while Luke, writing for a Gentile audience, intended to show Jesus’ connection to the entire human race, which is why he traces Jesus’ lineage back to Adam, the earliest known human the people of the time would have been aware of.

      The scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the human race did not begin with a man named Adam a few hundred generations ago. Obviously, God is aware of this fact, and though the Holy Spirit, he could have no doubt revealed this to the author of Luke. His genealogy could have continued for pages and pages: “The son of an apelike ancestor named Ook, the son of an apelike ancestor named Oog…” and so on. But what would that have done? Nothing but confuse Luke’s audience. It certainly would not have better made the whole point of the genealogy, that Jesus was fully man as surely as he was fully God, that he understands what it means to be human and is even our “brother,” as Hebrews says.

      In the same way, the Holy Spirit could have revealed to the author of Genesis that the sky is not made of a hard firmament with the sun, moon and stars affixed within, but he chose not to, because scientific accuracy was not the point of the passage.

      • Peacharoo

        “An interesting perspective! “If you disagree with my view of a few verses in the New Testament, then you should simply disregard the entire thing!”
        No, what we should do is wait for YOU to go through the whole bible and remove the parts that are false for us so we can know the truth..
        Why don’t you do that for us..
        Jesus said “As in the Days of Noah” Should we throw that out because Atheists and God haters don’t want to believe in the world wide flood of Noah.. OR should we assume that Jesus was Lying or Ignorant.. Why don’t you just tell us what parts we can believe and which parts we cant.., Maybe you can turn the Bible into kind of like your own personal buffet..
        Let me know!!

  • Truth Preacher

    Yes, the old accommodation theory of the liberals. He also accommodated Himself to their “naïve” view about demons. Those people weren’t “really” demon-possessed, just psychologically challenged! Yeah, after all, people were superstitious back then! And prayer and fasting won’t overcome pretend-demons, because, these were psychological problems! Call the unregenerate, unbelieving psychologists who “really know” how to help sinners, who aren’t really sinners, or unregenerate, or walking with Satan, but just maladjusted people who need “compassion”.

    Where does this lying compromise end? The fact is Christ AFFIRMED the Genesis account as written. and it is OBVIOUS your attempt to blunt the plain allusion to Adam and Eve in paradise, one man and one woman for life, to save your belief in the LYING, UNSCIENTIFIC DECEPTION of Evolution is PLAIN

    You said “This being the only passage in all of the New Testament in which Jesus’ words can be construed to offer any kind of support for their view on origins.”

    Really? And you also said “Jesus words taken in their obvious context aren’t referring to creation at all” NO WONDER YOU DIDN’T QOUTE MARK. I shall:

    Mar 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

    Mar 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

    Mar 10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

    So, He was talking about creation, He was talking about Adam and Eve, and they are the model for New Testament marriage. So ends your attempt to pervert the Word of God to save an utterly unbiblical and blasphemous theory.

    Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

    Rom 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

    Rom 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

    Rom 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
    You CANNOT claim to be a Bible-believing Christian and peddle the LIE of evolution. YOU CANNOT. You reject the Scripture. As God asked Saul, so I ask you “Why have you despised my Word”?

    • You think that the passage in which that is said to Saul it was talking about the Bible? Wow, for someone who is trying to commit idolatry with the Bible, you don’t seem to have read it very carefully…

      • Truth Preacher

        A stupid, incoherent “reply” with a false accusation thrown in for good measure. I think nothing of the kind. Your inability to comprehend 4th-grade English is the issue. Your Ad Hominem LIE about me committing idolatry with the Bible is the sick whine of someone guilty of perverting what the Scripture said, and then got caught. Why don’t you repent? You speak like a reprobate and mocker of God’s people and His Word.

        • It is interesting how idolaters turn to insults and accusations in an attempt to shield themselves from those who point out their sin.

          • Peacharoo

            HE JUST POINTED OUT THE OBVIOUS,
            God will not be mocked, you will sow what you reap..
            Darwinism is Satan’s Lie straight from hell, why do you feel the need to defend it? you have merely been Brainwashed and Indoctrinated into believing that the mindless myo mud to man myth has something to do with science.. it has ZERO to do with science.. And that is why NO ONE has EVER been able to provide any empirical Scientific Evidence to support it.. Will you be the first? LOL don’t worry, we ALL know the answer to that question…

    • Peacharoo

      AMEN! glad to see there are other brothers in Christ who are willing to state the obvious truth and call out the Wolves in sheep’s clothing!!

  • Jason

    What a sad, pathetic twisting of God’s word and faith. You don’t serve the God of the Bible, you serve a self-made idol which seems similar to the God of the Bible but only so far as you don’t have to believe or have faith in the parts that are incompatible with science… just sad.

    • Ah, the first rule of young-earthism: When you are incapable of responding to an argument made by another Christian, just belittle their faith and call them an idolater. Hate to break it to you, Jason, but I guarantee you I take my faith and God’s word every bit as seriously as you do.

      • Jason

        That’s pretty presumptuous coming from a guy who seeks to undermine the authority of God’s word in order to make it compatible when looked at through the lens of science. Hate to break it to you Tyler, but I guarantee you don’t take God’s word every bit as seriously as I do because if you did you would take God at His word regardless of how ridiculous it seems to you, your friends or society.

        If you really knew God, there would be no doubt that God formed man just the way The Bible says He did, He created Earth just the way The Bible says He did and furthermore you would know that if it’s written in God’s word then you can believe it, you can stand on it because of who God is. When you start divvying up what parts of the Bible you’re willing to believe and what you won’t then you compromise the integrity of God’s word. Now it becomes a game of “well if Jesus didn’t talk about it then we have license and liberty to fill in the blanks as we see fit” even when the Bible does speak on the subject in question, then you just start rewriting the Bible and if you don’t see the problem with that then you have no idea how lost you really are.

        “Did Jesus believe in a six day creation and a literal Adam” what an absolutely preposterously stupid question to even pose..

        John 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

        So Jesus is the Word of God, and since Jesus references Noah and Genesis plenty, it’s obvious that what He believed is what is written.

        Without faith it is impossible to please God… maybe you’ve read that before. I hope you have.

        • That’s pretty presumptuous coming from a guy who seeks to undermine the authority of God’s word in order to make it compatible when looked at through the lens of science. Hate to break it to you Tyler, but I guarantee you don’t take God’s word every bit as seriously as I do because if you did you would take God at His word regardless of how ridiculous it seems to you, your friends or society.

          This is just a hilarious sequence. You accuse me of being presumptuous, then proceed to immediately to immediately spout several self-assured claims about me, my beliefs and my inner motives — which you can’t possibly know.

          Do me a favor, pal, and look up the definition of “presumptuous” in the dictionary sometime. Then skip back some pages and find “hypocrite.” They should be easy for you to find because they’ll both be illustrated with pictures of your face.

          Fact is, you don’t “take God at his word” anymore than I do, or anyone else for that matter. Everyone who reads the Bible interprets the Bible. Your interpretation is just that: an interpretation, and one with major flaws to boot, whether you admit it or not (http://www.godofevolution.com/as-different-as-morning-and-evening-genesis-1-and-2-contradictions/, http://www.godofevolution.com/when-biblical-literalists-arent-really-biblical-literalists/, http://www.godofevolution.com/a-meme-about-the-tree-of-life/).

          The only difference between us in that regard is that I don’t pretend like my human interpretation is infallible.

          If you really knew God, there would be no doubt that God formed man just the way The Bible says He did, He created Earth just the way The Bible says He did and furthermore you would know that if it’s written in God’s word then you can believe it, you can stand on it because of who God is. When you start divvying up what parts of the Bible you’re willing to believe and what you won’t then you compromise the integrity of God’s word. Now it becomes a game of “well if Jesus didn’t talk about it then we have license and liberty to fill in the blanks as we see fit” even when the Bible does speak on the subject in question, then you just start rewriting the Bible and if you don’t see the problem with that then you have no idea how lost you really are.

          Let’s start here on this one: http://www.godofevolution.com/ray-comfort-explains-why-true-christians-cant-believe-in-evolution-or-the-water-cycle/

          “Did Jesus believe in a six day creation and a literal Adam” what an absolutely preposterously stupid question to even pose..

          Right, I now realize the question is completely irrelevant, because Jesus never said anything that changed the way people had always read and interpreted the Old Testament. Seriously, do you even listen to yourself?

          John 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

          This I agree with. Sorry, I didn’t see a date mentioned anywhere in there… Do we have to go back to the original Greek for that?

          What? Oh, there is no date mentioned? Hmm… Gee, I wonder if that means it’s more important to simply believe God made everything than to believe he did it at some arbitrary date in time that was calculated by adding up genealogies?

          So Jesus is the Word of God, and since Jesus references Noah and Genesis plenty, it’s obvious that what He believed is what is written.

          Um, he referenced Noah and the creation accounts exactly one time each. Matt. 24:38-39 (parallel in Luke 17:27) for Noah, and Matt. 19:4 (parallel in Mark 10:6) for the creation accounts. He also referenced Genesis one other time, in Luke 11:50-51, when he mentions Abel. In all three instances, he is making purely theological points. In none of the instances is he actually talking about creation, or when it might have occurred.

          Say, weren’t we saying something earlier about one of us taking the Bible more seriously than the other? Can’t quite remember what that was about…

          Without faith it is impossible to please God… maybe you’ve read that before. I hope you have.

          I have. It’s a wonderful passage of scripture, encouraging and challenging at the same time.

    • Peacharoo

      Yes, There are a few people on the internet claiming to be “Christians” But when you look at their words it is Impossible to tell them apart from a militant Atheist… Were is a good Website that explains some of it..

  • Abdullah

    It is requested that my errors and omissions may kindly be regarded that is why that i have never been familiarized with those whose mother tongue is English.I am using my own intellect to write these lines.The study of comparative religions is my favorite hobby.I believe that all Apostles are true in their life time. I know the old and new Testaments.And also know the teachings of Islam.All Apostles identified the God through His Wondrous Signs regarding the intellect of the people in their life time.All Apostles are true, The Jesus is also true.And the last Apostle Muhammad(s.a.w) is also true. I would like to give an example of His life time.A man of desert came to the Holy Mosque and put up the question to the Apostle of the time.”Tell me O Mohammad where was the God before the creation of creatures”The Muhammad(s.a,w) looked his face at glance and replied,”The God was in clouds before the creation and there was a air up and down of Him,And He set his throne on water’. The mind evolution of the human being is confirmed but the physical evolution of the human being is seem vogue.Now there is the the scientific analyses of dark energy,And the clouds which were told to the desert man were not the clouds of this worlds.The intellects reach to the conclusion that these are the eternal darkness which is the most important theme of modern era.

  • I’m coming from a 6-day creation perspective. In the interest of genuine discussion, I have a couple of questions:

    The above discussion hasn’t included some other New Testament references to the creation week. Notably, Paul says man was created first, and woman was created from man (1 Corinthians 11:12, 15:45-47, 1 Timothy 2:13).

    So, 1) Does Paul believe Eve was miraculously created from Adam?

    And if so, 2) Was Paul right or wrong?

    To me it seems that Paul took the creation account literally. In fact, he even explains salvation through Christ by making a comparison to the death which came through Adam.

    So, 3) Did Adam exist in your view?

    And, 4) Was Adam the first man?

    To be thorough in your treatment, you might also include a discussion of Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17. They refer to the six days of creation.

    Thanks for engaging!

    • Hey Cody, thanks for the questions. I appreciate your interest and your polite tone!

      So, 1) Does Paul believe Eve was miraculously created from Adam?

      Respectfully, I think that is not really the important question. Paul was not God; he was a man. As such, he no doubt believed many things that were incorrect. He probably, for example, believed the sun orbited the earth and that there was no such thing as microbes or electricity or giant squids. That does not mean we should adopt any of that thinking simply because Paul was a man of God.

      The real question is, “Did God specially inspire Paul to write and teach that Eve was miraculously created from Adam as a literal, historical event?” And I believe the answer is no. I believe Paul uses some of the theological teachings of the Genesis creation accounts (particularly Genesis 2) to inform and contextualize his theology in Christ that the Holy Spirit was revealing to him.

      He also uses the OT scriptures to help his mostly Jewish readers understand and make sense of the new covenant. But I don’t believe there’s any of Paul’s scriptural teachings (or those of any other NT author) that absolutely require a literal, historical Adam and Eve.

      And if so, 2) Was Paul right or wrong?

      I think my answer above addresses this one as well.

      So, 3) Did Adam exist in your view?

      There are a variety of different views of Adam among Christians who accept evolution, just as there has been throughout church history. As to my personal view, I tend to think that Adam is a symbolic representative of mankind, and in Genesis 2 and 3, specifically the first humans to whom God revealed himself and offered relationship. So, yes, Adam certainly “exists” in my view, but probably not in the way you mean.

      And, 4) Was Adam the first man?

      Again, I think my answer above probably addresses this, but let me know if you have further questions.

      To be thorough in your treatment, you might also include a discussion of Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17. They refer to the six days of creation.

      I address the YEC interpretation of both of these passages here: http://www.godofevolution.com/the-strongest-biblical-evidence-for-young-earth-creationism-refuted/

    • Peacharoo

      Hi Cody, Good Questions… Notice how he dodged them nicely! Maybe He should go into politics! Maybe you should ask him if he believes in the Flood of Noah,, I’ll bet you he don’t !

  • Dennis Bonnette

    Without reliance solely on Jesus’ own words, I would defend the traditional Christian belief in a literal Adam and Eve — without either recourse to young earth creationism or widespread interbreeding. In fact, just last month I published a scholarly article in a peer-reviewed Spanish philosophical journal, Espiritu. It is entitled, “The Rational Credibility of a Literal Adam and Eve.” The download link in English is: http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5244649

    Dennis Bonnette, Ph.D.
    Professor of Philosophy
    (Retired, Niagara University)
    website: drbonnette.com

  • Eliana

    I ought to confess I am not a great bible reader. I go to Christian churches and listen to the preachers and fathers very well. I have never accepted the story of Adam and Eve specially after I studied about human evolution when I was around 12 years old. I have friends who really defend Adam and Eve creation. I am 62 now and suddenly I thought: Who would make me believe that better than Jesus words? So I started googling where, if so, Jesus mentioned Adam and Eve. So I came up to this website which confirms my thoughts and wondering. Jesus never mentioned Adam and Eve’s names as first human creatures in the world. Enough for me. Thank you James for delivering this search.
    Eliana Zaggo

  • E. Ryder

    My thought is that it’s irrelevant to the text whether or not Jesus believed them literally. The more I study the Bible, the more I believe that taking it literally word for word we lose the meaning. Emphasis should be on the truths shown by the Truth (Jesus). It’s entirely possible that Jesus knew no more than His contemporaries since He was sent as a human at this time. He didn’t even know the time of His return. He probably didn’t know how to read being from a poor family who didn’t send him to the rabbincal schools. He heard the Bible read in the local meeting places and memorized scripture. He learned from His parents. He reflected on these things as the Holy Spirit illuminated His mind. He had no more access than we do (actually less). He did pray without ceasing more than any of us, and on occasion angels came to Him. (So did the adversary) These visitations still happen to some believers.

  • Jason Levine

    Wow! This is really changed my beliefs about Christianity, Jesus, God and the possibility that I have existed before this life or will after it. Because I never heard this argument before and you always hear other things about the religion and Jesus, I never considered what your argument is. And I didn’t believe in God because I thought that there was no proof. But there is no proof of no God either. So when one asks the question, what created all of this matter that led to what we perceive as reality, realistically he cannot know. That is the case in my opinion. So I guess all we can do is live our lives and hope for the best. 🙂

  • Hey Tyler – I don’t think it would be correct to say that Jesus was “wrong” by saying that it was so “in the beginning” because it depends on what beginning we are refering to. If he and his listeners were refering to the beginning of life on earth or the beginning of humanity, yeah, it’s wrong. But if you are referring to the beginning of the scroll, the book, the story that they had as a common cultural and spiritual corpus, then there is nothing incorrect about it. Genesis is found at the beginning. And so is the idea of God creating one man and one woman to love each other as long as they live.

    • Hey Heather, I agree with you. I may not have made this as clear as I could have, but the whole “Jesus was wrong” thing isn’t what I believe, it’s the implication coming from the following qualification:

      But let’s pretend for a moment, as the literalists will insist, that by “at the beginning,” Jesus meant the sixth day of Creation Week. If creation really took billions of years, does that mean Jesus was wrong?

      I reject that premise, as do you. But I entertained it for the purposes of this article, to show that even if you insist the “in the beginning” refers to the creation of the universe a few thousand years ago, it’s still possible to make sense of the statement within the context of a universe that is actually much older than that.

  • Marc

    Sounds good to me, I have a hell hellfire brimstone preacher on me threatening eternal damnation by The LORD because I dont go for the young earth. Apparently I’m calling GOD a liar! Should trust the old Pharisee’s testament from their rabbis.

  • thomas

    Hello all, what is the order of things appearing according to the theory of evolution? How does it compare with the account of creation?

    The evidence for evolution comes from fossil records indicating death between organisms, correct? So if evolution occurred and man is a product of it and God says everything is good are we thinking death is good? Doesn’t the Bible say that through one man’s sin death has entered the world?

    I’m no genius, but they do not seem compatible.. I understand that the secular scientists advocate evolution and that the creation account in Genesis may be a stumbling block for new believers.. There is compromise of God’s revelation to us for the sake of convenience and “harmony” with non-believers..

    There has not been any evidence for evolution that can be repeated or observed.. If there was a legitimate issue where the Bible does not meet reality then let’s talk (like if the Bible claimed that earth is a cube or cylinder).. But to twist the Bible to harmonize with a theory is ridiculous.. The Bible is a history book with some scientific foresight.. God revealed to us what He has done.. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, not 50/50.. He did not lose his omniscience when He walked this earth..

    When we look at the timeline from the beginning of time until now in both worldviews (secular-evolutionistic/Biblical) where does man appear? Now put that next to what Jesus says in Matthew 19.. Which timeline is consistent with man being created in the beginning?

    Also, Exodus 20:8, the commandment about keeping the Sabbath emphasizes modeling the work week after the week of creation. If we “harmonize” this commandment we would be working for 6*(thousands, millions, trillions, billions of days/months/years).. And resting for 1(thousand, million,trillion,billion).. Does that sound right?

    And where does our week come from? A day, month and year align with astronomically observable events.. What about the week?

    The Bible and astronomy make it clear that the the week came from God and his work at creation..

    Natural selection = refinement and loss of information between generations..
    Evolution = more variety, more information between generations..

    Natural selection Evolution

    • Matthew Funke

      Hello all, what is the order of things appearing according to the theory of evolution? How does it compare with the account of creation?

      Tough to say, since the terms used in Genesis aren’t really solid taxonomic categories — which we’d kind of expect, given that other parts of the Torah lump bats in with birds and hares with ruminants. However, if you want to insist that dinosaurs were created on Day Six (as part of the animals that creep on the land) and the birds were created on Day Five, then it’s hard to insist on strict chronological order. It’s even hard to predict when some of those creatures would have been created, because the boundary between dinosaurs and birds is fuzzy at best.

      There are lots of other similar places where chronology becomes difficult if you draw categories in a certain way and insist on strict chronological order, but this could get discussion started, if you want.

      The evidence for evolution comes from fossil records indicating death between organisms, correct?

      That’s some of the evidence for evolution. Just one area in which piles of compelling evidence exist among many other such areas.

      So if evolution occurred and man is a product of it and God says everything is good are we thinking death is good?

      Sure! It’s certainly not an evil. The idea that it is is man’s invention, not God’s. After all, there are places where God is credited as causing death, and God cannot be the cause of evil, can He?

      Doesn’t the Bible say that through one man’s sin death has entered the world?

      It says that death came to man as a result of that sin. If you want to insist that all of death came as a result of man’s sin, you’re putting yourself in a tough theological place, since death clearly existed on Earth in Genesis 1 — before the sin of man.

      I’m no genius, but they do not seem compatible..

      You’re right — the idea that all death came as a result of man’s sin is rather difficult to defend Biblically. It’s one reason among many the author of this blog opines that young-Earth creationist teachers are Biblically illiterate (and I’m inclined to agree).

      I understand that the secular scientists advocate evolution and that the creation account in Genesis may be a stumbling block for new believers.. There is compromise of God’s revelation to us for the sake of convenience and “harmony” with non-believers..

      It’s also the case that all of the evidence indicates that evolution is true. One could also make a case that the teaching of a moving Earth is a “compromise of God’s revelation to us”, since the Scripture clearly indicates that the Earth is fixed and cannot be moved. However, after some initial resistance, believers in the truth of Scripture came to understand that those passages had to be submitted to a different and more sophisticated understanding than a simple relation of the natural state of the universe. Countless believers accept that the Earth moves and affirm the truth of Scripture that states that it does not and cannot, because they understand that God was getting at something deeper there.

      There has not been any evidence for evolution that can be repeated or observed..

      Completely and totally untrue. The evidence for evolution is voluminous and everywhere, and enormous piles of it are observable and repeatable. I can give you some examples if you like.

      If there was a legitimate issue where the Bible does not meet reality then let’s talk (like if the Bible claimed that earth is a cube or cylinder)..

      I believe there is a legitimate issue with a particular interpretation of the Bible meeting reality. Even worse than that, there are people who consider themselves “true believers” who then conclude that it is reality that must be changed, not their interpretation.

      But to twist the Bible to harmonize with a theory is ridiculous..

      Our interpretations of the Bible are rarely subject to experiment, discovery, and/or observation. When they are, however, it pays to test our understanding and see if reality indicates something different. It’s not a matter of twisting the Bible, but whether or not we consider our own understanding to be on par with the Bible, and how humble we are and willing to change our interpretation when reality indicates that it must.

      The Bible is a history book with some scientific foresight..

      Even if we accept that as true, that does not mean that our understanding of the Bible trumps scientific findings.

      He did not lose his omniscience when He walked this earth..

      Jesus said that He did (Mark 13:32). All the same, I would caution you — you’re arguing against a lot of points that no one is making. Whether or not Jesus remained omniscient has no bearing on whether or not evolution is true.

      When we look at the timeline from the beginning of time until now in both worldviews (secular-evolutionistic/Biblical) where does man appear?

      In both evolution and creationism, man was created at the end.

      Now put that next to what Jesus says in Matthew 19.. Which timeline is consistent with man being created in the beginning?

      Obviously, since man was created at the end of creation, Jesus wasn’t talking about the order of creation when He said that God created people “at the beginning”. Perhaps He was talking about the beginning of human history, which would be consistent with both creationism’s and evolution’s ordering of events. Or perhaps He meant some other beginning. But it’s hard to rationalize the idea that He was making a statement about the correctness of a particular interpretation of the creation account itself.

      Also, Exodus 20:8, the commandment about keeping the Sabbath emphasizes modeling the work week after the week of creation. If we “harmonize” this commandment we would be working for 6*(thousands, millions, trillions, billions of days/months/years).. And resting for 1(thousand, million,trillion,billion).. Does that sound right?

      If the Sabbath only ever meant one calendrical day out of seven calendrical days, you’d have a point. However, it doesn’t. You don’t even have to go past the Torah to see that the Sabbath isn’t strictly a weekly thing, even though all patterns keep the one-in-seven motif.

      It’s interesting to note that all days in the Genesis account are drawn to a close except the seventh. It’s also interesting to note that Hebrews orders Christians to enter the creation rest of God. Now, a creationist is forced to interpret this metaphorically and figuratively… which is rather interesting, given the creationist’s supposed emphasis on interpreting the Bible “literally”.

      So, in order to preserve their preferred understanding about creation, creationists insist that a Biblical order to Christ’s followers must be metaphorical. Does that sound right?

      And where does our week come from? A day, month and year align with astronomically observable events.. What about the week?

      Well, first of all, not all cultures have had a seven-day week. The ancient Romans had an eight-day cycle; the Javanese use (present tense) a five-day cycle; the Aztecs used a 13-day cycle; the ancient Chinese used a ten-day cycle; France tried to use a ten-day cycle for a while; and so on. One could argue that a seven-day week is almost to be expected among a people following a lunar calendar (like the ancient Hebrews did).

      But even if our week came from the creation story, that does not mandate that the creation itself must have taken a week. Even ancient Christians did not hold to this, insisting that the framework of a week was used in Scripture so that God could communicate the important aspects of creation to our puny human ability to understand things. (Augustine taught this in The Literal Interpretation of Genesis (note the name!) written in 408 CE after the author spent decades studying the book of Genesis.)

      The Bible and astronomy make it clear that the the week came from God and his work at creation..

      I think you’ve advanced your argument about the Bible as the source of the seven-day week in creation. How do you think astronomy makes it clear?

      Natural selection = refinement and loss of information between generations..
      Evolution = more variety, more information between generations..

      Natural selection Evolution

      Well, every “gain” of information and variety that evolution requires has been directly observed. So there’s that. In other words, the teaching that it creates a “loss” of information between generations is rendered false by direct observation, at least for any definition of “information” that matters. I can give you specific details if you’re interested.

      Also, you’re quite right that natural selection is not the same as evolution, but no one is claiming that it is (except for teachers who falsely assert this and then knock it down so that they can claim to have defeated evolution as a concept). Natural selection is one of the chief mechanisms of evolution, but it is not itself evolution.