A Fulbright scholar contends that animal death presents a formidable challenge for creationists and Biblical literalists. - Image courtesy of Intervarsity Press

A Fulbright scholar contends that animal suffering presents a formidable challenge for creationists and Biblical literalists. – Image courtesy of Intervarsity Press

Christian creationists contend that suffering and death entered the world after the first sin recorded in Genesis 3. But what about animals–specifically those designed for predation? Doesn’t animal suffering contradict the traditionalist teaching?

Ronald Osborn, in his book Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering, surveys the animal kingdom to critique the literalism of “scientific creationism” and wrestle with questions of divine goodness. A 2015 Fulbright scholar and postdoctoral fellow Wellesley College, Osborn’s ideas are creating quite a stir. Christianity Today called his book, “a full-bore, unflinching assault on literalism in biblical interpretation, particularly in regard to the first chapters in Genesis” and added, “a simple assertion that anybody who believes as Osborn does cannot believe in the Bible will not do.”

Here, we discuss his ideas and how he believes they create problems for creationists.

RNS: You say there is a theological problem with animal suffering.” Explain.

RO: The problem of animal suffering is similar to the problem of human suffering: How could an all-loving and all-powerful God permit innocent creatures of any kind to experience pain, including prolonged agony, for no fault of their own?

In the case of animals, however, there are additional theological challenges. What are we to make of creatures that by every indication are perfectly “designed” for predation–lions, crocodiles, and Great White sharks? Did God make them this way in the beginning? Did he “curse” or supernaturally modify the animal kingdom after Adam and Eve’s fall?  What are the implications of this idea for our understanding of God’s character? Is God only responsible for those parts of the creation we are comfortable with? What about those that raise perplexing and perhaps insoluble riddles about divine goodness and love?

Image courtesy of Intervarsity Press

Image courtesy of Intervarsity Press

RNS: Do you think this problem is more difficult for young earth creationists than for someone like you, a Christian evolutionist?

RO: I have never been comfortable with the label of “Christian evolutionist” since the word “evolution” has come to be weighted with so much historical baggage. I am not an “evolutionist” if you mean someone who subscribes to what has been called ultra-Darwinism or philosophical naturalism in theological disguise.

As a Christian who takes the witness of Scripture very seriously, I have come to accept that God’s ways of creating include not only dramatic events but also what we have come to think of as “natural” processes that include a great deal of creaturely freedom or agency, wildness, and indeterminacy in the universe. This does not answer all of the pressing theological questions that arise from the realities of animal suffering, and it raises some new ones, but such an understanding of the creation makes better sense of the biblical and the scientific evidence than the alternatives.

RNS: What about people who say that there was probably no animal death before the fall, that the “lion laid down with the lamb,” so to speak, because this is what God originally intended? Does that defang your argument?

RO: The Isaiah passage about lions laying down with lambs hints at a future eschatological horizon in which peace is brought to the animal kingdom. However, it says nothing about the character of the creation from the beginning. The clearest biblical statement on the question of animal ferocity as part of God’s creation comes in the final chapters of the book of Job when God speaks from out of the whirlwind. The theology of creation developed in Job is radically non-anthropocentric. The Creator glories not in lions that have been defanged but in lions on the hunt, in fierce eagles, and in the Behemoth and the Leviathan.

Ron Osborn is a 2015 Fulbright scholar and a postdoctoral fellow at Wellesley College.

Ron Osborn is a 2015 Fulbright scholar and a postdoctoral fellow at Wellesley College.

RNS: Do you think plant death before the fall presents a problem? It is, after all, still death.

RO: We could take the question a further step down to the cellular level and basic metabolism. I am not committed to defending the idea of a deathless creation when it comes to animals with complex nervous systems that are capable of experiencing pain, so clearly I have no stake in defending a static, deathless view when it comes to plants or other non-sentient organisms. In fairness to strict biblical literalists or young earth creationists, many of them recognize this problem and would also allow for plant death as a necessary part of creaturely existence.

RNS: Why did you devote so much of your book to talking about Biblical literalism? Is literalism and your view mutually exclusive?

RO: The book is not a systematic theological treatment of the problem of animal suffering, but rather a somewhat eclectic gathering of essays and reflections on the perils of rigid literalism with particular attention to the animal suffering problem. I have no agenda to turn creationists into evolutionists but I do hope this book might help to open a space in which Christians raised in highly literalistic, if not fundamentalist, traditions can wrestle more honestly with questions of religion and science. I have therefore tried to distinguish between literal readings of Genesis and rigid forms of biblical literalism, since I do think there is a difference. My own grandparents, for example, read Scripture in a very “plain”, literal manner but without succumbing to the exclusionary and dogmatic hyper-literalism that is the real target of my book.

RNS: What about Intelligent Design (ID) theorists? How do they respond to you?

RO: I hesitate to comment on ID theory because it represents such a broad coalition. Insofar as ID theorists have engaged in a purely negative critique of naturalism, I have benefitted from their work. Insofar as some ID theorists have attempted to scientifically prove the necessity of a Designer through arguments from irreducible complexity, I find their project deeply problematic.

No matter how different they might be in scientific rigor and sophistication both ID theory (in this latter form) and creationism appear to me to share the same thoroughly modernist philosophical assumptions and theological anxieties. Both strive to answer the challenges of scientism on scientism’s own terms by providing us with an empirically verifiable foundation for our beliefs. Instead of attempting to debunk ID theory as failed science by guilt of association with young earth creationism, I would invite people to think through the theological implications of an ID theory that scientifically succeeds.

60 Comments

  1. Ron Osborne is perpetuating several fictions concerning creationism and ID. They don’t differ at all in scientific rigor and sophistication. They are one in the same.

    ID is merely a gloss on Biblical Creationism. Substituting poorly used scientific jargon for the same arguments and methodologies of the Biblical Creationists. The only difference at times is word substitution. The “Dover” Case made it abundantly clear how little the two actually differ.

    His refutation of Biblical literalism isn’t much better than what people use to support such things. Neither appears to be based on rational thinking or supportable arguments. His critique of “scientism” and blind acceptance that ID actually bothers to address such things makes him no better than those he criticizes.

    • What I’d like to know from these so-called “Christian evolutionists” is, if God used evolution as His means of creating things, why He allowed a gazillion evolutionary years of bloody, cruel, sadistic animal sufferings and deaths just to evolve a couple of self-aware human beings. Why didn’t he fast-forward the tape and spare all those animals all that sadistic suffering and pain?

      Christian evolutionists have NO answer to that question. Neither do the secular evolutionists. Which proves that Evolution is INCOMPATIBLE with Christianity.

      • Because you do not understand your own religious belief. Aren’t Christians the ones who say that pain and suffering are necessary to understand the nature of Jesus and what he did for the world?

        Since when does God EVER relieve the pain and suffering of his creation?

        He subjected his “chosen people” to every form of collective horror imaginable. He subjected the followers of Jesus to all sorts of grisly martyrdom and expects more of the same from adherents.

      • We have very strong and clear answers to that problem. But it hardly matters anyway; the bible doesn’t support the lack of animal death before the fall, science doesn’t support a lack of animal death at any point in history. Only stubborn people reading their own fears into scripture think it’s real.

        Please, please quit being the atheists best friend.

      • Stefan Stackhouse

        The short answer is that you are not God, God is God, and God’s ways are not your ways. He sees things differently than you do and has his own plans and purposes and His own timeline. He also created time and exists “outside” of it, so what seems like a needlessly long time to you is nothing to God. As for the pain and suffering of creatures, have you not considered that if there were a way to create a dynamic planet and ecosystem that would support life, including complex multi-cellular intelligent life, that could avoid this, He would have done it? Have you ever considered the possibility that for all its drawbacks, the way our Earth works might be the ONLY WAY POSSIBLE that a planet could work to actually support life like us?

        I have no doubt that God could have created all sorts of perfect static worlds populated with perfect robots or puppets. Maybe He has created millions of such things. For some unfathomable reason, however, it pleased Him to create intelligent beings that were capable – a few of us, anyway, and in spite of ourselves thanks only to His love and grace – of freely loving Him. He was thus willing to even create this world with all its drawbacks, just so that it could support life forms like us.

    • James Nelson

      Intelligent design theory is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text

      • Intelligent design is a dishonest pretense to give Biblical creationism the appearance of something which is not religious. There are no efforts made, no empirical studies performed, no original arguments put forward. Merely rehashing the identical arguments employed for Biblical creation.

        Even when put side by side in open court, ID and Creationism were found to be identical. Texts for both turned out to employ nothing more than word substitution.

        Any claim that ID is a scientific theory is a flat out lie. It is not scientific and would never qualify as a theory. One cannot apply intelligent design to research and data and come up with usable answers. Its proponents willingly admit their purpose is to demonstrate Biblical creation. It would not exist without Christian fundamentalism for support it.

        Ron Osborne treated Creationism and its sham cover ID with far more credulity than was necessary. It even makes for poor religious belief. The Catholic Church outright refutes Creationism as missing the point entirely.

        • James Nelson

          What is really cool is that the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA” has just found that Michael Behe was correct in his hypothesis that the mutation rate of P. falciparum is roughly 1 in 10^8 mutations per base pair per parasite and that at least two mutations must be required for the parasite to develop resistance to chloroquine. Furthermore, those two mutations must each be of no use as single mutations, and those two mutations must be present together in the same organism in order to confer resistance to the drug. This hypothesis was core in his book, The Edge of Evolution, and thus proves evolution is self-limiting and unable to perform morphological changes. In science, theory that explains data and makes a prediction that is experimentally verified is considered to be confirmed. So, as you can see, I. D. is very much involved in the scientific method and has already made several hypotheses that have been empirically verified.

          • More dishonesty on your part.

            Nothing about the paper you described does anything to advance ID as an honest scientific theory. All you have shown is that Behe, a biochemist is capable of producing professional work in his given field of study. It doesn’t stop him from being considered a dishonest Bible thumping crank. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

            There is no evidence of Michael Behe’s intelligent design ideas are taken seriously by the scientific community outside of the Creationist web bubble. Even when given an open forum to explain the validity of their ideas, they refused to accept it.

            To be a Creationist is to embrace lying as an act of religious faith.

          • Besides not appearing to understand the implications of Behe’s prediction, Larry seems blissfully unaware that Behe’s a Roman Catholic who believes in common descent.

          • Then Behe is a bad Catholic. Ignoring a past papal encyclical and catechism of the faith. He has thrown his lot in with an Evangelical Protestant movement. Creationism/ID does not exist outside of that very very small yet vocal subset of the Christian faith.

            Behe is an ID proponent. Whatever belief he has in “common descent” is adulterated by religious nonsense and dishonest presentations used to further it. He was thoroughly eviscerated

            The problem with Behe is its all “implication” since his work with ID is not based on evidence presented or methodologies which are inherently credible.

            His value as an expert witness on the scientific nature of ID came up woefully short. Laughably so.

            “Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God.”

            “ID aspires to ‘change the ground rules’ of science and lead defense expert Professor Behe admitted that his broadened definition of science, which encompasses ID, would also embrace astrology.”

            “Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not “good enough.”
            http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

            Its all about making connections based on your personal faith rather than what is actually presented. Then the kicker is that Creationism involves publicly denying said faith and falsely claiming one’s religious belief can be objectively proven true.

            There is nothing scientific about declaring “God did it”. It produces nothing to further inquiry on a subject, it requires appeals to the supernatural.

  2. So this is the great human suffering question applied to the beasties. So wrap the same paradox up in a new skin and you’ve automatically got half the people fooled.

    Add a title to the piece linking the validity of creation claims to the re-packaged paradox….and you’ve got even more people fooled.

    Merritt is a shock pimper. Clickbait title and all. Nothing new here. Just a new bow on top.

  3. The Great God Pan

    Creationists don’t have an Achilles’ heel. Achilles could not be defeated until he was wounded in his one weak spot. Creationists, on the other hand, have been defeated over and over again. It’s just that they refuse to realize it, and no argument, whether scientific or theological, can cause them to admit defeat. .

    In this regard they bear little resemblance to Achilles and much resemblance to Monty Python’s Black Knight, who keeps fighting valiantly as each of his limbs is lopped off. He eventually offers to “call it a draw,” much as Creationists wish to “compromise” by “teaching the controversy.” Of course, there is no reason for the clear victor to compromise with the loser.

    • To push a classical reference to a silly degree, it is better to think of Creationism as not having an Achilles heel, but instead having Patroclus’s body.

      Something which pretends to be mighty (wearing the armor of Achilles) but lacks any substance and ends up being skewered by an enemy’s swords and spears like a pincushion.

  4. Jonathan – congrats on a good article about a relevant topic to Christians today.

    Ronald Osborn’s thoughtful and scripture-honoring stance is a breath of fresh air on an often contentious topic. He helps Christians see that by taking scripture seriously, one can affirm a more realistic view of the world around us. After all, many creatures, from nearly all spiders, to most cats, the animals mentioned, and many, many more, are efficient and sophisticated killing machines. I’ve heard some Christians go so far as to say that they were transformed into those forms at the fall, thus attributing massive creative power to the devil. RO’s stance, on the other hand, is theologically much better. Views that acknowlege the reality of evolution in a Christian framework I’ve seen referred to as “evolutionary creationism” by some.

    Also – plants are not a problem to literalists because taking a strictly literalist reading shows that the Bibles never describe plants as being “alive”. So from a literalist view, eating plants causes no more death than smashing a snowman. That shows yet again that a strictly literalist view makes Christianity look silly, just as it does in the case of YE creationism.

    • Osborne’s position is easy to defeat, ESPECIALLY by pointing out that his beloved evolution involves a tremendous amount of bloody and cruel animal sufferings and deaths, gazillions of years’ worth, just to evolve a couple of humans at the end of the process. Why would Osborne’s God allow all that animal suffering to happen?

    • Also, the continuation of life depends upon death. Everything we eat that gives us caloric and nutritional sustenance is organic. It died to sustain life.

  5. How long did Adam and Eve enjoy Eden in sinless purity? The Genesis account does not say. It may have only been a few days or weeks…or the question may be irrelevant because perhaps the physical property of Time (hence, aging) may not have been in operation until man’s immortality was lost. So the question of animal death before the Fall may also be irrelevant – nothing died before sin entered creation. We know the plants were created by God for food, and we observe that adaptive microevolution (non species-transitive) happens; it could be that animals became carnivorous some time later because their plant food-supply was no longer as available. If lions will one day “eat straw like an ox”, it is not difficult to imagine that in their original (perfect) form, that is exactly what they did.

  6. I’m less concerned with the so called difficulties of Genesis than the very real problems we face today. Unfortunately, many Christians (and others) spend their time attempting to answer questions that really don’t need to be asked. I’m content with the biblical account such as it is. A more pressing problem is how to exemplify the call of Jesus demonstrating compassion and forbearance to others without compromising on the dictates of holiness, obedience and justice.

    • Yes I agree with the concerns for today, but if you entertain the issues in the article you will eventually arrive at Jesus Christ. Issues surrounding Adam and creation will effect the reality of Jesus and his claims. For instance, he is the second Adam, a direct descendant of him, and the theology of original sin and victory over death are dependent on this being the real enemy of mankind over which Jesus conquered. If Adam was not real and the story false, then Jesus being the second Adam makes no sense and Jesus has no effect over death.

      We may not discuss these issues in the church or with our community as we spread the gospel message of love, hope, salvation, etc., but for those who engage these debates there is a lot at stake and the details can be complex. Both are necessary even if we personally prefer to focus only on one of them.

      • ” If Adam was not real and the story false, then Jesus being the second Adam makes no sense and Jesus has no effect over death. ”

        Because Jesus never spoke in parable and stories can’t be metaphoric to have resonance with people. Riiiight.

        This is not a problem for about 1.2 billion Christians whose religious beliefs state that the scientific truth and spiritual truth are two separate areas of study which do not cross each other. That one should not have to spin tales and lies in order to ignore the learned observations of the world around us.

        If science and religion are at odds, you don’t understand the nature of either.

  7. James Nelson

    In the last 100 years science has proved the universe had a definite beginning. Therefore, “first cause” points to God exploding approximately 50 billion trillion stars into perfect order out of nothing. Also, since 1953 science has been unraveling some of the mysteries of DNA only to discover that it is a base 4 digital information processing system that is highly integrated and far more powerful and complex than anything current human technology could ever produce. This also points to an omniscient and omnipotent creator God. Is it possible that a God who can do these things has a different viewpoint than us? Within the context of eternity, suffering may make sense if it points to something greater than our current temporary condition. Outside of eternity, suffering makes no sense at all. We definitely have been given a purpose and mission in this life to reduce suffering as much as we can. As an interesting side note, CIPA is a rare disease where children born with it cannot feel pain and thus destroy their bodies from burns, cuts, or other physical harm. Their parents’ greatest desire is that they would be able to feel pain.

    • Whether that “first cause” is your Biblical god is purely based on what you are willing to accept. But there is no proof or evidence which has to be taken seriously on the subject. Simply one’s faith that it is so.

      Of course the sheer idiocy of the ID argument is that you are claiming something like DNA is far too complex for mankind to create, therefore evidence of it being designed. Something which can’t be recognized as being created by people can’t be recognized by peopleas being created at all. If God designs things which are too complex for man to produce, it also means it is too complex to conceive that it is designed in the first place. It means the argument is fundamentally dishonest.

    • Mike D'Virgilio

      Great points, James. In fact, I think it’s the atheists who have a much bigger problem with pain and evil. In their utterly unprovable worldview, pain and evil have no meaning, death is just a brute fact that requires no explanation and raises no questions. And did you ever notice how angry, arrogant, and absolutist so so many atheists are, like Larry here? We Christians have a perfectly plausible explanation for why people like Larry exist. He’s a rebel, lost in the Cosmos who needs to repent of his sin and bow down before the living God! Believe on the Lord Jesus, Larry, and you shall be saved!

      • Thank you for being a patronizing insulting jerk, Mike. A perfect example of the self-righteous lazy passive aggressive fundamentalist Christians I have come to expect over here.

        I am an atheist because I am somehow angry and dysfunctional. You are a regular Freud there. Anything to dismiss what I am saying as the ravings of someone unhinged rather than address anything I have said.

        A perfect reason for people like myself being around is that people like yourself no longer have the ability to have us executed exiled or ostracized for such beliefs. That we live in a free and open society which does not take kindly to coercion, especially of the religious kind.

        I can’t help it if I am addressing you with a level of honesty you are not used to expecting from others. I can see why it is drawing such ire from people like yourself. :)

  8. Larry, I agree with your first two sentences 100%. But the assumption of Intelligent Design is the antithesis of idiocy. Let’s move from science to art for a minute. I’m a graphic designer, and I get really insulted by clients who ask me what software created my design. “Why, it just came out of the computer,” they say, as if my style and my skill were extraneous to the result. People who believe the universe “just happened” remind me of those clients. We’re talking the Universe, people, not just a brochure!

    Okay, back to science. A sweep of the magnificence of creation and its breathtaking mathematics and symmetry (absence of randomness) shows design sophistication beyond the limits of our understanding. The Fibonacci sequence found in the placement of leaves on a tree and petals on a flower and the construction of shells on a mollusk; the precise orchestration of cell differentiation in fetal development, etc. The second law of thermodynamics says everything is progressing toward greater randomness, breaking down. What – or more exactly, Who – wound it up in the first place? And Who is conducting the orchestra now?

    “The fear (respect) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Unless I start from a place of wonder (“as a little child”) I cannot arrive in the end at the Kingdom of God, where we will understand all things, even as we are fully understood. Rather, it is idolatry to elevate the mind of man to the point where we say, if we cannot comprehend it, it cannot exist. “You must no longer live,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 4, “in the futility of your minds.” As if our minds were the last word on anything! Scientific inquiry is a “wonder-full” thing. Quantum physics should make physicists fall down in worship.

    • I stand by my statements. There is nothing honest about intelligent design. It is not scientific, it is not a theory. It is a sham covering for Biblical Creationism and nothing more. It provides nothing of value to human knowledge and encourages dishonesty among its proponents.

      Your statements belie a fairly ignorant view of Evolution and the Big Bang Theory. You simply make an emotional appeal that the universe is so vast and so complex it must be created. It is begging the question not providing an evidence based, credible framework for scientific research and ideas. You know something is created because you have created it yourself, you know the process in which it is created. You know humans create such things.

      The stupidity of ID is that you claim something is created but base it on the idea that it is beyond the keen of human creative efforts. If it is beyond human ability to be created, then your claim to recognize it as being created is a lie.

      You are misrepresenting the 2nd law of thermodynamics. It is that systems move towards entropy (disorder) when there isn’t a source of energy to keep them going. We have a big source of energy for life on our planet at the center of the solar system.

      You are simply relying on your own ignorance and unwillingness to ask questions about the world around you as support for your views. Instead of saying “God did it”, a scientific view would require asking questions why something is so complex, where it came from, what evidence exists to support one’s ideas.

      As a creationist, Kristy, you have to be very ignorant or dishonest in order to maintain the alleged belief. You have to deny that faith is the basis for your religious belief. You have to willingly ignore over a century of accumulated observation and misrepresent the merits of things which lack any. Creationism and its little brother ID is poor from both a scientific and a religious point of view. It cheapens both.

      • James Nelson

        Speaking of faith, I don’t have the faith to believe that nothing created something from nothing. I also don’t have the faith that advanced biochemical machines and digital information systems self assembled or came to be by purely random, directionless processes. That kind of faith is truly blind.

        • What you are saying is reality is too difficult to accept so you retreat to irrational dishonest religious concepts.

          You also don’t have the knowledge to understand what scientific concepts you oppose so rigorously for mythology.

          The Big Bang doesn’t posit something from nothing. It posits that everything was truly dense beyond all comprehension and expanded. It was all there and became more of “there”.

          You also fail to understand that evolution does not discuss how life came to be on Earth, but its variation. Random is only part of the equation, but accumulation is the key. You fail to understand the notion of building upon previous efforts upon previous efforts upon previous efforts. Its not directionless either. It is guided by the environment and the basic urge of living things to survive and propagate.

          Your POV demands either ignorance or willful dishonest representation of facts in order to stay afloat. You have to pretend to care about scientific methods and study yet openly despise them. You have to pretend that religious belief is something based on facts, evidence and logically compelling arguments when that is entirely untrue.

          The ultimate lie of the Creationist is the denial of faith in favor of phony claims of evidence and logical proof.

          • James Nelson

            Random mutation is just that– random. It is the primary mover and shaker of neo-Darwinism. It is not looking at a distant goal of building a digital base 4 information processing system that requires complex biochemical machines (proteins). This digital system requires proteins to construct proteins. The mathematical odds of a protein forming by chance (say about 150 amino acids, all left-handed due to chirality) are one in 10^ 164. No wonder Francis Crick said life had to have been deposited here by aliens. Of course, then we have to ask where the aliens came from. So it appears evolutionists don’t have an evolver. The more we find out about the complexity of life, the tougher it is to be a neo-Darwinist.

          • James, quit pretending you know about evolutionary theory and can refute it based on scientific methods. You don’t know enough about the subject. All you are doing is parroting brain-dead arguments by creationists in an attempt to try to fool laypeople. Your take on the subject is not worth taking seriously because you do not have the educational/professional background which demands that one should.

            The fact that every professional in the field of biology not only accepts evolutionary theory but puts it into practice in interpreting all research shows its efficacy. There are no scientific challenges to evolution as of this moment.

            Random mutation is only the tip of the iceberg. Environment is the primary force at play in evolution. If I thought you had an honest good faith interest in the subject I would suggest the works of Stephen Jay Gould and his writings on “punctuated equilibrium”. But you don’t. As a Creationist, you will spin any lie and avoid any knowledge on the subject which takes you from your goal of Biblical Literalism.

            The problem with your claims of the mathematical odds are that you ignore the fact that evolution is a cumulative process stretched out over millions of years. All you are doing is making an appeal to incredulity and to your own ignorance of the subject. Complexity does not equal design nor intelligence. If it is too complex to be created by humans, it also means humans can’t assume it is created since they have no base line to make such an assessment.

            ID can never be taken seriously because it contributes nothing to science. It prompts no further inquiry and cannot be used to interpret research. It is simply dishonest Fundamentalist Christian posturing appropriating scientific jargon.

  9. Okay, let’s get visceral! How do you feel about oblivion? Are you looking forward to ceasing to exist in any form one day? Or saying goodbye to a beloved one when they die – forever? What is the point of our lives? Why do we search for meaning, if we are merely physical, born simply to die and decay? Why does death – even of animals – grieve us? Could it be that it wasn’t meant to be that way?

    That is the real crux of all this: believe in a God who became flesh and died so that we (and the Creation with us) might be restored to fellowship and immortality. Or don’t. Is He? Did He? As my favorite Daniel Amos song title so eloquently puts it, Larry, “We’ll All Know Soon Enough”.

    • So what you are saying is you so fearful that would rather make up stories and lies than face the limits of your knowledge. You take comfort in delusion rather than try to discover how things really are.

      The real crux is you have religious belief based on faith but you are willing to lie and deny it in order to convince people who do not share your belief.

  10. did some one mention creationists .

    Our new Lutheran science web site is up and running …

    yes were 6 natural days of creation creationists .

    if the link does not work one can browse
    Lutheran science institute ————and they should have a active link from there

    www. Lutheranscience.org

    • Because you can only accept it if you are a Lutheran. Nobody else has to care.

      Catholics on the other hand don’t fall for Creationist nonsense.

      Cathechism 283
      The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers.

      • Larry, How is it you are an absolute expert on every scientific discipline, philosophic construct, social science and moral question…while those with whom you disagree are invariably liars and dunces? Let me put this succinctly; You have remembered everything…and learned NOTHING!

        • Because on this subject I can rely on the works and writings of the entire scientific community to back up my statements. When the organizations representing the entire profession of biologists accept something in their field as a workable theory for interpreting evidence, it must be taken seriously and with utmost credibility absent professional peer accepted research to the contrary. A bunch of people quoting a Creationist site carries no such weight.

          I don’t have to have the personal knowledge needed to refute Creationist liars, I can refer to the overwhelming evidence produced which does. The credibility of scientific study means I can inherently rely on it to support.

          Creationism by nature is lying. It involves denying faith as the basis of the Creationist’s religious belief when we know it isn’t the case. It involves lying about scientific issues which do not exist or are not serious subjects for the entire professional community in the fields.

          I can even rely on Christian religious authority which claims Creationism is a crock, as evidenced by my catechism reference.

          The fact of the matter is structurally Creationism cheapens religious belief by forcing its adherents to make up stories, spin implausible nonsense and flat out lie in order to support a belief in God to tell others. The reality is no creationist really believes their religious views are or can be supported by evidence. They really rely on faith. Creationism is merely a dishonest ploy to impress religious belief on others who do not share their faith.

          If you are a Creationist you are either too ignorant to learn the subject or a liar. I can’t tell which of the two applies to you.

          • You also claim the gift of mind reading. Substantive numbers of scientists do not necessarily endorse the conclusions of heir professional associations with respect to evolutionary arguments, men and women with PhD.’s in the hard sciences. People such as Michael Behe whom you assail, Jonathan Wells, David Berlinski and others; Liars and dunces alI. If evolutionary constructs are impregnable, why have there been so many cases of fraud and dubious science associated with it? Nebraska Man/Java Man (dubious), Haeckel’s Embryo’s (Fraud), Piltdown Man (Fraud), ‘Peppered Moths (Fraud), Peking Man (Highly Dubious, wholly lacking in evidence). Are these the foundations evolution rests upon? Even Fred Hoyle (Royal Astronomer and no friend to intelligent design) has admitted powerful weaknesses in the ‘arguments’ for evolution.

          • You really don’t contribute anything to a conversation Diogenes. Its just moan and attack. No ideas of your own.

            The number of biologists who do not accept evolution can be counted on your hand. The number of scientists in fields unrelated to biology who do not accept evolution do not amount to a pile of dung. Not their field, not their expertise, their opinion cannot be counted upon in a professional manner. It carries no credible weight. The number of scientists named “Steve” who accept evolution outnumber your possible list.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Steve

            “Michael Behe whom you assail, Jonathan Wells, David Berlinski and others; Liars and dunces alI. ”

            YES they are. Even smart people can believe stupid things or be liars. Michael Shermer wrote an entire book devoted to the subject. Its worth a look. But you will never read it. An appeal to authority means nothing. They degrade their own study and that of biology in order to adhere to poor religious dogma and anti-scientific ideas. If you support ID, you are a liar. Simply a Biblical creationist who is too embarrassed to admit to it in public. A biblical creationist is a liar who denies their faith in public.

            The great thing about science is that it adjusts to new knowledge. One expects a predecessor to be wrong and expects a successor to provide ample evidence which has to be taken seriously.

            What frauds were ever discovered by a Creationist? None.
            What discoveries did Creationism ever accomplish? None
            When faced with fraud, what do scientists do? They discard it and move on. When Creationists are faced with fraud, they deny it and bring it up again with a different audience. Because again, creationism is about lying. So as long as your audience doesn’t catch you, no harm-no foul.

            The most egregiously stupid part of your argument is the false dichotomy. It doesn’t matter how you attack evolution. It is not support of ID. You need positive evidence to support any scientific theory. There is none for ID. It is simply an appeal to ignorance. “We can’t figure it out, therefore God did it”. Its useless for scientific study because it can’t support further inquiry. Therefore ID proponents are liars and dunces.

  11. I just find it so interesting, reviewing all the comments, that Larry is the only one who is apparently NOT lying, disingenuous, a dunce, an ignoramus, or egregiously stupid. None of the people of faith who have commented have stooped to Larry’s level, and for that I commend you all. “When reviled, we bless.” Bless you, Larry, and goodnight.

    • Not true. Jon and The Great God Pan also have been genuine and honest in their views as well. :)

      By all means, feel insulted. I can’t help it if several of you take on a point of view which cheapens both science and religion in a way which REQUIRES dishonesty. But when people lie consistently and to a specific purpose, it demands to be called out.

      The truth hurts.

      • daniel johnson

        LARRY YOU ARE A TRUE BELIEVER ,NOT UNLIKE THOSE WHO STRAP DYNAMITE TO THEIR BODIES AND ARE WILLING TO DIE FOR THEIR BELIEVES AS WRONG AS THEY MAY BE. I AM HAPPY THAT THOSE IN THE FIELD OF PHYSICS ARE MORE OPEN TO INVESTIGATING NEW THEORIES AND ABANDONING OLD ONES . EVOLUTION HAS BECOME A CREED AND THOSE WHO WORSHIP ITS THEORIES WILL NOT TOLERATE ANY OTHER VIEW POINTS.

  12. I’m a big fan of science and creationism, and its generally possible to harmonize the two, without compromising either. It is not a literal reading of the scripture that causes a problem but an easy one. Dig a little into the story, remember the details provided, and you will have to tools needed to understand. Death entered “the world” through sin, but you will find that phrase often refers to humanity, not the globe. So plant and animal death before the fall, of course. I tell people life was very different outside the garden, than it was inside. Death came to man after their expulsion from the garden (remember the tree of life). The fall of man into sin came with a heavy price of exile into the world of decay (outside the garden).

    • So where is the actual science here?

      There isn’t any in intelligent design, nor any theory which has to rely on the supernatural or whose answer is “God did it”.

      Reality is all you try to do is rationalize something which is inherently irrational and metaphorical. A literal reading of Genesis is nonsensical if one is looking for objectively credible facts. There is no honest way to do it. It does however make far better value as metaphor. An object of faith. the catholic faith has an interesting and fairly honest of handling it. Separate magesteria.

  13. Stefan Stackhouse

    God pronounced all He had created as “good” because it worked. There are not many ways that a planet can be put together that will support any life, let alone advanced, multi-cellular, intelligent life; actually, for all we know there may indeed only be one way that it can be done, which is the way that our planet was put together.

    Our planet works for the support of life precisely because it is dynamic and not static. Life itself is a dynamic phenomenon, and cannot long exist in a static environment. The very dynamism of our planet, which drives the great geophysical cycles that raise up and erode down land, and that transport water, carbon, nitrogen, etc. from air to land and ocean and back again, is absolutely essential for life; life of any form simply cannot exist without these. These geophysical cycles, and the underlying dynamism that drives them, can thus all be seen as being providential. God made the world to work this way so that it would work to support life.

    The death as well as life of living organisms is woven into this dynamism, and it is probably impossible for the world to work in a way that supports life over the long term without the death of individual creatures. The death of the prey is very sad, but a world without predators would not only also be sad, but also unsustainable – not just for the prey species, but also for us. We can trust that God would not have created a world that works this way if there was another way possible. God created a world that works the way it does because this is what works, and therefore is good. If it didn’t work, He wouldn’t have created it this way, and if there was another way that would have worked better, He would have done that instead.

    I don’t hold this a firm doctrine, just a speculation: My hunch is that God’s original pre-fall intention is for all human beings (if or until they did fall) to live for a while in the garden, and then to eventually be transported up to heaven as Enoch and Elijah were. It was human death that was thus introduced with the fall. It is not that humans could not die prior to the fall, but rather that they wouldn’t die because they would be preserved until it was time to take them up to heaven.

    • Now there is an honest, sane, religious statement of faith!

      One that doesn’t pretend to be scientific or to deny the knowledge about the world which has accumulated so far.

  14. Let’s not forget Old Earth Creationist views which view “death” as meaning human death.

    One thing we need to be careful of is making assumptions about the text, which may not even be crazy assumptions, but could still be wrong assumptions.

  15. Normal, healthy people–those who get up everyday and go to work–have at least some inkling that life is worth living. That sense doesn’t come from science; it comes from faith. Fact is that the Bible gives over a billion humans a worldview that makes sense of life–and there’s a spectrum that includes scientifically uninformed extreme literalists to scientifically and philosophically sophisticated metaphorists. Ron Osborn is in the latter camp, and he’s made a valuable contribution to an important discussion in the Christian faith.

    • I feel that life is worth living and I don’t have any faith. Its called having emotions and empathy we are born with. You want to chalk it up to your faith, so be it. That is your choice.

      I see the problem with Ron Osborn is that he is far too credulous of the extreme literalists that they have an honest good faith position, considering them as you do, of mere ignorance.

      No amount of education or information is going to change the views of a literalist. They are not ignorant, they intentionally chose to ignore information and are willing to make baldly dishonest claims in support of their view. Being educated is no guarantee for being honest. Merely of having the rhetorical tools in which to defend their views.

      • Billions and billions of creatures—great and small—feel that life if worth living. But only humans have the capacity to think that life if worth living, and for at least five thousand years we’ve developed ideas about that feeling, and those ideas have traditionally taken the form of religion. Today a number of us have the often-thought luxury to be post-religious, but I suspect that such persons have at least an implicit personal philosophy of life that provides meaning and this is the secular equivalent of religion. (Some of our emotions are in-born, but many come from nurture—and this involves feeling/thinking on somebody’s part, and this concerns culture, philosophy, religion, etc.)

        Thoroughgoing literalists, I agree, are not ignorant; many are widely read and philosophically knowledgeable—enough so to realize that finally it’s turtles all the way down, as Wm. James commented. To call such literalists dishonest invokes an ad hominem argument that may be true in some cases, but fails to get to the more basic reason for this view: a recognition, now elaborated by neuroscience, that conscious decisions are rooted in profoundly existential senses of personal wellbing that are pervasively subconscious. (Our complex brains may be more than the knowable sum of their component parts, but that’s another topic.)

        All of this is to say that Ron Osborn’s charitable, but devastating, critique of Biblical literalism is right-on.

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