Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is there proof of evolution in the Judeo-Christian Bible?

So a question was posed to me by my evolution-denier cousin, about what I thought of Noah’s Ark. In the simplest of terms, I told him it was biblical proof of evolution. Yes, I said that. Biblical proof of evolution. But, but, how can this be? I mean, in Genesis, it speaks of God creating every living creature according to its kind, does it not?

Why yes, it does. When I speak of “evolution”, I am not speaking of monkeys magically turning into men. I am speaking merely of one species having a common ancestor with other species. This concept is really not difficult to figure out, if you use a bit of logic with it.

Yes, it involves random mutation, which is also not one of those “myths of liberal science”. Genetic mutation is caused by any number of environmental factors, even occurring from things as simple as sunlight. It is not necessary to be dropped into a puddle of radioactive ooze in order for a genetic mutation to occur.

It also involves adaptation of an organism to its environment. For the record, I am completely aware of the fact that adaptation and evolution are not the same thing. Adaptation is a mechanism of evolution.

Evolution occurs when the offspring of a particular species has changed to the point where it is no longer the same species of its ancestor, according to the determinant characteristics defining its ancestor. Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight, it happens across several (perhaps even hundreds or thousands) of generations.

There are different species of dogs, cats, and even people. Yes, there are AT LEAST thirteen different species of "human", with five of them having been actually discovered in my lifetime.

The "theory of evolution" does not necessarily state that mankind evolved from primordial ooze, but merely that different species share common ancestors.

Now, moving on to the biblical aspects of this discussion, I know for a fact that things are "lost in translation". Ever seen the photos of the 40lb box of "RAPE"? Having taken several years of Latin instruction in high school, I've seen half a dozen people come up with different translations of the same text...and every one of them were "technically" correct. That's going across two languages. Context of the translated language, as well as knowledge of the original intent, are what makes a translation "truly" correct. In order to know the original intent of the originating language, you must be both fluent in it, as well as be able to have intimate knowledge of popular custom of the age it was written. Many languages have words that cannot even be properly translated at all, because the culture of the original language uses a particular idea that is simply non-existent in the culture of those who live where the translating language originated or is spoken fluently. The German word "schadenfreud" comes to mind here. Literally translated into English, it means "harm joy". Loosely translated into English, it expresses an idea of taking joy in the misfortune of another, but without truly ill intent. There is, however, no true and proper way to translate this simple word without an entire paragraph describing its cultural significance...and even then, you're lucky if you get close, as it is purely a German cultural idea. Keep in mind, this is not passing from an ancient language to a modern language, but between two modern languages existing simultaneously.

Modern biblical translations of Genesis have passed across the lines of AT LEAST three languages, with centuries and even a millennium or two in between. Ancient Hebrew culture did not exist at the time of the ancient Greek translation, nor did ancient Greek culture exist at the time of the modern English (or even the medieval Latin) translation.

Personally, I do believe that my Almighty God created this place called Earth, as well as all of the creatures on it. When the bible says that God created the animals, it does not specify HOW He did it. It merely says He did it. I consider it a gross violation of basic logic to even suggest that our One True God is capable of simply "poofing up" something as complex as an animal lifeform, but is too unintelligent to allow nature to run its course so all of those innumerable atoms He created to form the bonds necessary to create the complex strains of deoxy-ribonucleic acid that make up an animal. The bible DOES say that man was created by God, by basically scooping up some dirt and making a man. I'll get to that later.

Modern science has been able to isolate every single chemical in the human body. When you look at it from a biochemical point of view, the human body isn't really that complex. It's just a bunch of molecules. What makes mankind (or any living creature, for that matter) "special" is the fact that all of these molecules have combined to create a living organism that breathes, reproduces, and in many cases actually THINKS. That's "intelligent design", right there.

If God can create something like all of the chemical elements that make up our planet, does it not stand to reason that he is capable of designing them in a manner that they can be arranged to form a human being?

Now, the big problem most people have with this theory of creation is the timeline. Before, I mentioned that evolution occurs over multiple generations. I also mentioned the near impossibility of being able to translate accurately the ideas of one culture to that of another.

Here's something I haven't mentioned yet...the Old Testament story of creation was written more than a thousand years (at least) before Abraham first spoke to God. Remember about how the Old Testament was originally written in ancient Hebrew? Hebrew is the language of the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham.

Is the Judeo-Christian bible the true word of God, inspired by Him? In my personal belief, yes. In this bible, it also says that we (mankind) will never truly understand God. While I believe the bible is the "true" word of God, I do not personally believe that it is the "literal" word of God. Perhaps I am wrong about this, and it certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong about something. This is just my personal opinion.

However, just imagine the possibility of the first human transcribers of the bible receiving a vision from God. It certainly wouldn't be the first time someone has received a vision from God. Thousands of years ago, mankind was still struggling with the invention of the wheel. Gravity wasn't even fully understood until Newton. Imagine the possibility of putting the awesomeness of creation into words, using the most appropriate language you knew to use. These people couldn't quite understand the concept of indoor plumbing, so it would be quite a stretch to say they would have been able to understand things such as molecular bonds and evolution of species.

The same science that tells us about the power of the atomic bomb and the mutation of the various strains of influenza virus also teach us about things like carbon dating and evolution. I don't know about you, but I firmly believe that both nuclear weapons and flu season really do exist. I don't think these things are "liberal pseudoscience", nor do I think this way about evolution or carbon dating.

To be of the impression that evolution is wrong, and that the earth is only six or seven thousand years old, requires something very simple...and very simple-minded, in my opinion. It requires a person to believe that your particular translation of the bible is an exact word-for-word transcription of the direct spoken word of God, that God would never use a metaphor in a description of His awesomeness, that God is unimaginative, and that God did not intend for mankind to think.

In my personal opinion, I feel that evolution is most definitely reconcilable with the notion of God creating mankind and every other creature on this planet...and I also feel that ancient man simply lacked the knowledge to appropriately describe exactly how awesome my God really is. If God had intended for every man in this world to have known exactly what was on HIS mind, he would probably just tell us Himself instead of going through a middleman. I think He's more than capable. Instead, I think he didn't want us to be lazy, either (an idea actually passed along by the bible!) He allowed us to get the basic gist of it, while being able to learn more through study, and in turn becoming closer to Him.

Now, back to actual proof of evolution from the bible...

1 The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven a]">[a] of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made."

Now, it's my understanding that the word "kind" is used to describe a class of animal, not a species. Regardless of how this played out, that boat was going to be full...but there are only a few different ways this could have gone.
A) The word "kind" referred to a particular type of animal, and not a species...which means that there were only a limited number of animals on that ark. Evolution would have occurred, due to the sheer number of different species that exist today.
B) The word "kind" referred to a particular species, and there just weren't that many different species of animals at the time. Evolution would have occurred, due to the sheer number of species that exist today.
C) The word "kind" referred to a particular species of animal, and the same number of animal species existed at that particular time also exist today...which means that, essentially, evolution does not exist and Noah had a boat the size of California.

Remember, if the word "kind" referred to a particular species, and each "kind" of "clean animal" was to have seven pairs of male and female with each "kind" of "unclean animal" having two pairs, he would have been loading up a massive amount of animals. Even if "kind" merely referred to a class of animal, as opposed to an individual species, that's still a lot of 'em. The boat would be at least bigger than a city block, unless you were greatly simplifying things in regard to the "kinds" of animals you're bringing along with you.

If you think you've got a better idea, I'd love to hear it. I like to think that my God wants me to think, so I try to understand things the best way I know...

No comments:

Post a Comment