The Good News, a Scientist Studies Noah’s Flood. The Bad News, It Did’t Happen.

The Noah flood myth interests me because it seems to separate rational Christians from those unable to engage in critical thinking.  There are so many reasons to see why it did not, and, could not have happened.  Yet, the true believe leaps over facts to retain the myth.

In this book, the author spends time with the interplay of science and religion.  Early geologists were religious people and the way the went about their science was influenced by their religious beliefs.

While it is not true that every society has a flood story, many do.  The author went around the world to hear the stories.

Not only does geology confirm there was no world-wide flood, he concluded.   The flood stories themselves reach the same conclusion.

That is because the flood stories are vastly different.  Some, like Noah’s, came on from rain.  Others, along oceans, came from overland, tsunamis.  Still others were about rushing water from higher ground.  Taken together, these flood stories reveal individual regional floods at different periods.

Then, there are the rocks themselves which tell the story of the earth’s formation.  They  reveal where and when water was present.  As he writes, they don’t lie.

The interesting lessen the author takes from the flood stories is what we would call a “liberal” one.  It is that there is an ancient belief disasters happen that are so large they cannot be contained by humans.

While confirming there was no Noah flood, the book is a cautionary tale nevertheless.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/science/6301/high_ark%3A_a_geologist_on_the_true_meaning_of_noah%E2%80%99s_flood/

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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128 Responses to The Good News, a Scientist Studies Noah’s Flood. The Bad News, It Did’t Happen.

  1. Stan says:

    Some are thinking that the Noah flood could have been the filling of the Black sea which was landlocked and much lower at one time. Then by earthquake or some other means an opening connected it to the Mediterranean. Another possibility is one fo the Siberian glaciers left a lake much like our Agazzi which burst through the terminal moraine and created a large flood.

    The newest data even claims the Grand Canyon may have happened in one great cataclysm instead of over millenniums.

  2. Henry says:

    Jon: “That is because the flood stories are vastly different. Some, like Noah’s, came on from rain. Others, along oceans, came from overland, tsunamis. Still others were about rushing water from higher ground. Taken together, these flood stories reveal individual regional floods at different periods.”

    Jon….You inadvertently added veracity to the flood of Noah. Thank you. Following are the sources of floodwater according to the Bible:
    Genesis 7:11
    In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month–on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.

    Springs of the deep and floodgates of the heavens describe the differing acounts well as far as where the water came from. Noah’s was from more than rain if you would have read.

    • entech says:

      Taking that as rather more than literal I think.

      • Henry says:

        Not really. You probably do. You probably envisioned the hyper-literal concrete and steel floodgates floating in the heavens which were cranked open by a team of winged angels.

        • entech says:

          Some versions say windows, more realistic, who would even imagine what a floodgate was if they had lived in a desert for generations.

          So if as you say the story is not literally true, what is it, myth, metaphor, invention, plagiarism.

          • entech says:

            ps. forgot to say, don’t believe in angels either, or demons.

          • Stan says:

            Irrigation was invented in the middle east Entech.

          • entech says:

            True, Egypt and Sumeria both diverted rivers to flood fields and then drained them to grow crops. Waterwheels and weighted buckets go back thousands of years. But I just find huge literal floodgates as we know them a little difficult to imagine.

          • Stan says:

            Talk about being literalistic. The metaphor has been a part of description since writing and story telling was invented.

          • entech says:

            Stan, I am the one that exaggerates. Floodgates as metaphor since storytelling began? I can just imagine a stone age guru/storyteller/shaman sitting around the newly discovered fire in an open cave mouth trying to explain what an ordinary gate was.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I would like to hear the fish stories told around the camp fire way back then; “You should have seen the one that got away yesterday” ! ! (Holding up his outstretched hands), “It was this big,- – - and that was just between it’s eyes”.

          • entech says:

            That’s nothing, my fish was big enough to swallow a man whole, with enough room inside for him to live a few days before leaving alive and well.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            But it got away, right? It could be that the man you mention remembered he had voted for Obama, and he felt so small that he could simply walk out. It also may not have been that long, as time seems to move slowly when you discover you are wrong.

          • Stan says:

            I said nothing about floodgates being part of stories since story telling began. I said metaphors. You really need to read before you post.

          • entech says:

            Sorry Stan, I did misread, I read it as that metaphor (specific) instead of the metaphor (generic).

            However, floodgates would be a relatively modern metaphor, Jewish Bible says Fountains of the deep broken up. Wycliffe simply says flooded, as does the vulgate. Quite in keeping with my idea that the whole thing is polished at different times to make it more interesting and relevant to the time, in a word it is all metaphor.

      • Stan says:

        “springs of the great deep burst forth” Placing an understanding of underwater springs that we didn’t have until recent history.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry 2:02 Like I said in the blog, when one applies critical thinking to the flood story, they abandon it as factual history.

      • Stan says:

        “Henry 2:02 Like I said in the blog, when (I) apply critical thinking to the flood story, (I) abandon it as factual history.”

        Fixed that, didn’t know you were a geologist also.

    • entech says:

      … 600th year of Noach’s life all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of the sky were opened.
      Jewish Bible

      And he was six hundred years (old), when the waters of the great flood flowed on [the] earth.
      Wycliffe Bible

      Splitting hairs over something that never happened, great stuff, so many translations so many angels dancing on a pin head (not you Henry, I meant a literal pin).

  3. T says:

    I liked this story better when it was called The Epic of Gilgamesh.

    • entech says:

      Wikipedia is not always as reliable as it could be, but in this case it has it spot on:
      The story has been translated into many different languages, and Gilgamesh has since become adapted in works of popular fiction.

      • T says:

        Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, is seeking the secrets of immortality. After the death of his friend Enkidu, he searches for and finds an old man named Utnapishtim, who is reported to know the secret that Gilgamesh desires to learn. Utnapishtim then tells Gilgamesh the story of the great flood which he survived, complete with angry gods, blueprints for a great boat, the coming of the flood waters, an exposed mountaintop on which the great boat makes landfall, the release of birds to seek out dry land, and the eventual animal sacrifice to give thanks. That same story, with local names and details added in, was told by many cultures later on, including whoever wrote (adapted, more accurately) the Noah version.

        • Stan says:

          At one time the people who became the Jews and the people of Gilgamesh were living side by side, it is little wonder that they would have a similar story. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written on clay tablets and placed in the libraries of the citiesy. The Jews being a nomadic pastoral group probably used the lighter papyrus paper to record it’s history. Papyrus does not hold up as well as baked clay.

          The question then becomes, who copied who?

          • entech says:

            The tablets found were written Akkadian, one of the oldest Semitic languages. So it probably passed into Sumerian and Hebrew, a myth with a common origin (or a which came first history) is still a myth.

          • T says:

            So does telling a story first make the original version true? And with the current species count on this planet well over 8 million it would have been a truly cramped ark indeed (and how do you keep the carnivores from eating the herbivores?). And as Mark Twain once observed, Noah and his family would have been extraordinarily sick as they would have had to harbor all the diseases as well in order for them to survive (I assume that also includes STDs!). My goodness, I hope they burned that filthy ark when they were done with it!

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            T “I hope they burned that filty ark when they were done with it.”

            Actually, the ark is still there. It’s discovered every few years at a different location. Just in the past year some timber were discovered, “Just the right length to have been used in the ark.”

            I discovered the 2″ X 4″ X 8′ boards in my house are just the right size for some of the cages Noah must have had. I think I’ll open a muesum here.

          • T says:

            Jon 3:37 “I think I’ll open a museum here.”

            Now that’s a museum I would pay admission to. You will have to explain to your patrons how much food and fresh water was carried on the ark for both man and animal alike, what they did with all that poop (dumped it overboard, more than likely), and whether they let the migratory species move freely about the ark or if they were caged up. It must have smelled terrible on board, too, since the windows were all sealed up. I’m sure Noah had all that complicated logistical stuff all figured out, however.

            If you like I could draft up a really cool diorama for your museum.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            T 3:37 I’d appreciate a spectacular diorama. I’ll start designing the T Shirts. They would have pictures of my 2 X 4 boards. To be popular we’re going to need these dinosaurs with children riding on them in the front lawn like Ken Hamm has at the Creation Mueseum. Hey, we’ll put him out of business. :)

  4. Michael Ross says:

    Your “Jesus’ wife” boloney has already been refuted and the Smithsonian has pulled its documentary. So you are onto you next nonsense

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 4:41 There are valid questions about the parchment “Jesus’ wife”. The are questions about the “Ark sitings” and the “shroud”. There are no answers to the well established social norm of the society in which the Jesus character lived. A single man would not have had a religious following. You might as well admit it, the odds are Jesus had a wife (or two).

    • entech says:

      Hardly a refutation. a vested interest says it is “probably” fake does not mean that it is, anymore than people wanting it to be genuine makes it real.
      What it does show is that the vested interest has to much influence.

  5. Ross says:

    So you Christians find evolution to be ridiculous, despite that one may line up the fossils and see the tails of the very same creatures getting longer or saber teeth getting smaller in accordance to the time frame in which they were buried, yet Noah’s ark is real?
    Okay, let me break this down so I am not told that I am taking things out of context again.
    So a 600 year old man built an ark that was 450 x 75 ft and animals somehow worked their way to that spot from all over the entire planet, and that would including all insects and arachnids of the world, in pairs (and seven of every “clean” animal) and somehow squeezed into this little wooden ark. Wow- I wonder how much that weighed.
    Then cometh the flood and they float around on this thing for a year and ten days. One would think a world wide flood would take much longer to recede, but whatever. Finally they land. Then all of the marsupials swim to Australia, pandas paddle to China, and polar bears bodysurf their way to Alaska. Now, Noah and his family are alone in the world- they are the only humans in existence, so at some point incest must have occurred (which may actually explain why some people are the way that they are).
    Well what about all of the plants on the planet? No one talks about that. I guess the rain forest had an awful time of it. And if this invisible god simply re-poofed plants back into existence, why did he not just do that with the animals to begin with? In fact, if he is omnipotent, then why didn’t he just do that with everything, including Noah’s family? Or better yet, why did he not just poof all of the things he wanted to destroy away and leave everything else the way it was? Poof- “I rearranged the world.”
    And that sounds like reality to you? Please, nobody ever ask me why I call religious people “myth-worshipers”. I think I just explained it.

    • T says:

      ~1.8 million known animal species alone on this planet! Two of each species, seven of some, so we’re looking at more than 3.6 million individual animals supposedly saved on the ark. That’s a lot of food, water, transplanted natural habitats, climate controlled staterooms (can’t have those tropical critters shacking up with the polar bears), and poop! I’m with you, Ross, I just can’t suspend disbelief.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        T 12:09 “..3.6 million individual animals supposedly saved on the ark.”

        And then there are the many species which have died out since the beginning of evolution. I wonder what happened to them? Did Noah say, “You are evil animals, just like the evil humans. You stay here and drown.” Or, did they die and were pitched off the ark? Or, were they eaten on the ark? Or, did they die after the ark when there was nothing to eat?

        Literalists, we’re waiting…..

    • Henry says:

      Ross:“So you Christians find evolution to be ridiculous, despite that one may line up the fossils and see the tails of the very same creatures getting longer or saber teeth getting smaller in accordance to the time frame in which they were buried, yet Noah’s ark is real?”

      Your model relies on chance and time (for which there hasn’t been enough of to make evolution work as presented.) In fact, there is required much belief without basis in the scientific community to bridge the gaps. The time considerations have been swept under the rug (to entech: that was a figure of speech. i.e. no literal rug). 4.54 billion years is too short to achieve the full evolutionary model by random chance.

      In contrast, the model given to me through faith considers God to be omnipotent.

      • entech says:

        That is right God can create or destroy as he feels the need, this entity is omnipotent. All powerful, can do anything, cause anything to happen – God Almighty in fact.

        Why then would he fail to rid the world of nastiness by drowning everyone except a few, why permit so many babies to be born with terrible disabilities?
        These (a very brief sample) questions are really unanswerable, so to give the impression of an answer we get “mysterious ways”
        We get a system that can change to explain every objection- I have said before and will again attempting to explain everything ends up explaining nothing. He has his reasons for allowing gratuitous evil, what kind of explanation is that?
        That is evil in the natural world, because he wants to!
        Why do people do bad things, because they choose to, free will, except an evident proof, that “Free- will” is a downright lie. The evil man has no excuse he is bound to act the way he does.

      • T says:

        So Henry, how much time is necessary “to achieve the full evolutionary model by random chance”? I’m sure the answer can be found somewhere in the entrails of a dead elk.

        • entech says:

          Not enough space in the entire planet to accommodate all those Elk carcasses, but the Ark no problem they all fit because of omnipotence – shrink them and send them into hibernation that would do it. Thinking about it if God closed the door behind them why would they need to send birds (conveniently woken from hibernation) why wouldn’t he just open the door again when it was safe.

          • T says:

            I will be sure to include two elk in the diorama that I am designing for Jon’s museum. Henry, I am curious as to your thoughts regarding the logistics of fitting at least 3.6 million animals into a single boat.

          • Henry says:

            entech: “Not enough space in the entire planet to accommodate all those Elk carcasses, but the Ark no problem they all fit because of omnipotence “

            There is a difference. You are boxed in with science and reason to explain our origins. I am not. When atheists get into trouble for explanation, they sweep their problems under the rug below and outside of the box and scoff with no scientific rebuttal offered. This is clear.

          • entech says:

            Actually I think the reality is exactly opposite to your words.
            Boxed in by science, I would say a better description would be constrained by the need to find an explanation – when facts don’t match the idea then the idea must change – keep searching and refining the idea until it is either discarded or given a degree of certainty.
            On the other hand you can make up whatever you like and attribute it to ‘Omnipotence”.

          • Henry says:

            Your lack of scientific rebuttal is noted.

        • Henry says:

          T: “So Henry, how much time is necessary”

          Greater than 4.54 billion years.

          Evolution is just too slow. Doesn’t work, so just sweep it under the rug in order to keep evolution happy.

          • T says:

            Henry, thanks for your exceptionally precise and informative answer. It cleared everything up (sarcasm).

            Henry: “Greater than 4.54 billion years.”

            Fine, have it your way: 4.55 billion years! :)

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry clings to his timeline theory of evolution. I suppose it comes from some Christian sourse, I haven’t bothered to look. Actual experience with evolution does not fit his timeline theory.

          • Henry says:

            Jon, correction:
            Actual experience with measured rate of mutation does not correlate with evolutionary hypothesis.

            I’ll believe the actual results. You can go ahead and believe in someone else’s speculation. That works for both of us.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 8:55 I understand your position, now. Information gleened from science is unreliable. “Truths” from the Bible are.

          • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

            @Henry October 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm

            “I’ll believe the actual results.” – And who produced these “results” you so dearly believe?

            “Actual experience with measured rate of mutation does not correlate with evolutionary hypothesis.” – Actual experience? Are we to believe you have some sort of expertise in mutation frequency…..yeah frequency not rate.

            Or does circa 1960′s educated Henry think he can hang with the current Evolutionary Biologists? Yeah, I am saying your information is dated. Cause Jeebus really walked on water and Noah lived to six hundred years old and now Henry you hold the presses at mutation frequency ? Really?…..

          • T says:

            Henry, I am stilling awaiting your response to my earlier question: how do you fit 3.6 million animals onto a single boat. Feel free to copy and paste your answer from the ICR webpage.

          • entech says:

            T. You are being deliberately provocative, not to say quite naughty. You know very well that the omnipotent one magicked it all. That is what omnipotent means.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            T, entech is right. To understand how these millions of animals fit into the ark, we must take Wanna’s suggestion and enter the spiritual realm. Once there, it is not necessary to explain these practical problems. I guess they just disappear. But I don’t know since I suffer from a condition called “bound will” and am unable to pass from the practical real world into the spiritual one.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Don’t forget “omnicient”. He knows you, and He knows where you live. Smilie face.

          • entech says:

            I am sure. He knows where the bodies are buried too, a lot of then became that way on his instruction.

          • T says:

            Sorry, Jon and Entech. I stand thoroughly chastened and reprimanded. Would I be less provocative if I rounded the number down to 3 million animals and increased the size of the ark by another 100 cubits or so?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; You needn’t live in one OR the other, ie. (the “real world” or the spiritual). Like living in the secular, yet retaining the sacred. You seem to be saying it’s an either / or. This must be “Bounder ” thinking. If the Bounder party was in the majority, would they enforce their view?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 11:58 It’s either/or about getting into the magical spiritual world where one can believe in magical things. It’s black and white for me, I’m unable to get in. This thing I have, apparently an illness, bound will, does not allow me to leave the world of practical thinking and enter the magical.

            If only I could get in there, I could believe like Henry, that millions of pooping animals happily looked at prey and smiled at it instead of eating it. Tell me how to get in there.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; That is your discussion with Henry, not mine. Take it up with him. “Magical” is not an appropriate, or accurate term. More evidence of the cynical bound will. You evidently have questions you are working on. I wish you well.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; I ask again, If the Bounder party was in the majority, would they enforce their/your view? Or, if you as a college professor , would you flunk a student that didn’t accept your world view? Your “black/white” response is an indication that you would. Giving evidence that if you were in the majority, you would force others to comply. The very thing you are so much against in relation to the fundamentalist approach to politics. You then become what you despise.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 1:28 “If the bounder party was in the majority…”

            I can’t follow the rest of your post. I’m saying merely that if I’m unable to do magical thinking, like the Jesus figure coming back to life, and, it is due to my illness of “bound will”, what am I to do about it?

          • Henry says:

            D-: “Or does circa 1960?s educated Henry think he can hang with the current Evolutionary Biologists?”

            You speak like a 31 year-old punk wordsmith. Let me guess, you are still clerking for a judge, and unable to move on.

          • Henry says:

            T: “Henry, I am stilling awaiting your response to my earlier question: how do you fit 3.6 million animals onto a single boat.”

            Haven’t you read? The same way you can fit five fish and two loaves of bread in twelve baskets.

          • entech says:

            How many creationists to change a light bulb.
            Whats a light bulb? don’t believe in them they aint in my book.

            You can break bread and fishes into tiny pieces to distribute the crumbs into more than five baskets, filling them would be the trick.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Re. your 2;47; “What am I to do about it”? Not a damn thing you can “do about it”. But keep asking the question anyway, thank you.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 3:56 “Not a damn thing you can ‘do about it’. But keep asking the question anyway, thank you.”

            It is not me who keeps bringing up the term “bound will”, it is you. Your bringing it up led me to believe it is something you know a lot about. I’d like to know more about it. But, sadly, it seems you don’t know much about it either. Next time you use the term I’ll ask again. Maybe you will remember by then.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; your 2;47; Can’t follow? Won’t follow.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; re. your 1;00 pm; It has been adaquetly ‘splained to you. Pretty weak defense to blame someone else for your inability, (the result of the bound will). You have willfully trapped yourself, and can’t take responsibility.
            How come you can’t seem to answer my 1;298 am? Are you ashamed of what the answer might be? Looks like you are hiding. I think you are trying to avoid the obvious. You have done this before. It will be interesting what segue you come up with.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            The most interesting defense is no defense at all. Our Jon has gone dark.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna I’m guessing at what you mean, here. Would I disapprove of a student who disagreed with me? No, not if they stated before hand their assumptions, then proceded to lay out their argument.

            That is what you do not do. You jump over the subjective assumptions and procede to the arguement “as if it were so” (entech). For example, you refer “bound will” as if it were so. Apparently, it is some concept from the Bible, like “hardened heart” which has no basis other than the writing of some unknown ancient. If you would start your case by saying, “I’m going to assume there is actually a condition referred to in the Bible as —–”. Then, I’m going to fill in my own observations as to what or who might have this condition, etc. But, you don’t do it that way. You pretend “it is so”.

            So, I’m back to asking what you use to determine when someone has “bounded will”? Is there some science based explanation, or, do you just make it up?

            And, what is the “spiritual world”? Is that a made-up idea as well?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; And again, another evasion of the questions, Brushing close, but not quite. Still can’t go near my questions for fear of being exposed. Well done! ! “Hardened heart ” isn’t in you Bible I guess. Oh ! That’s right you disregard the Bible in it’s entirety, why should you want to use it anyway? You don’t , only when necessary for defense, and then poorly. There are many things in the Bible that don’t have today’s words, but the concept is there. Original sin, and the inability to come to the faith without outside help,( The Holy Spirit) are a couple. Your resistence to this is just more evidence. No need to give you quotes, as you disregard the source, more evidence.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 8:12 “Original sin, and the inability to come to the faith without outside help (the Holy Spirit) are a couple.”

            Because of our discussion, I opened the current column of Dan Delsell (sp?) on ChristianPost. He said essentially the same thing as you. If one is unable to accept the Christian magical thinking, ask God to help you.

            What? If you don’t believe in the invisible imaginary spirits, pray to one of them and it will help you realize it is real!!!! How in the world can anyone think that way?? If you don’t believe an imaginary being exists, why would anyone “pray” to it?

            That is seems so completely off the wall to me and so logical to you is an example of diversity in thinking.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; I disagree that if one’s will is “bound”,simply ask or pray. (If that is indeed what he said). If on the other hand, one is convicted by the law that forgiveness is needed, and one cannot solve the problem without God’s forgiveness, prayer would be beneficial, and strengthening. The bound will can neither ask or pray for the desired result, for the result isn’t desired, or seen to be needed. You can not ask or pray, yet you ask baited questions. More evidence of the bound will. You are trapped in your own deception, (bound).

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Just read the article. Delzell was of course relating to someone who is willing to consider the seriousness of his condition, and sees the need for the solution. Even if not fully convinced, he/she is open to the solution, and as I said above, prayer would be strengthening/beneficial. You however beg the question, and mock. No need, no prayer, no solution. You’re bound, You’re screwed.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 12:08 “You’re bound. You’re screwed”

            It’s amusing to hear you say I’m “bound”, closed to your peculiar way of reasoning, and you are not bound. When reason comes to call on you, no one is home.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Oh, and by the way, if you haven’t noticed, and I don’t believe you would/could , this clearly describes “The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel.”

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Is that the best you can do? Much like “Ya, and so’s yer old man.” Yup. You’re bound. More evidence.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; “Your peculiar way of reasoning”? Not at all. “Particular” would be more accurate. “Peculiar” for one with the “bound will”. I understand your situation.

    • Stan says:

      Catholics agree with the Evolutionary process. They just disagree with a random lightning discharge into a random pool of swamp water creating a life form which right off the bat can create and use energy AND reproduce itself in one shot like that. Kind of high odds.

      • entech says:

        Kind of high odds I agree entirely, impossibly high odds, but that is abiogenesis. Quite a few hypotheses about that one, including God, nothing widely accepted – in this particular case science must resort to ‘mysterious’.
        The evolutionary process that leads from simple origins to complex results only applies to living beings.
        The only problem I can see that religion may have is in determining at which stage the “soul” is injected, when early hominids became truly human (in a religious sense) with a soul and a special relationship with creation.

        Creationists have a (hyper :) ) literal need for an Adam and Eve – for the creation to have made all things pretty close to what it is now nothing can be acceptable except what they want to be true, that they need to be true.

  6. Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

    I just purchased and began reading Salman Rushdie’s “Joseph Anton: A Memoir.” It’s about his time in hiding after the publication of The Satanic Verses. I read The Satanic Verses a few years ago and knowing nothing about Islam, didn’t see what all the fuss was about.

    In the first few pages of his memoir he makes a metaphorical reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” That brought to mind another movie “The Last Temptation of Christ.” I remember the fervor surrounding it’s release but I was quite a young person at the time. Some years later I read the book and saw the movie. Though I didn’t agree with the fundamentalist uproar I knew enough about Christianity to at least understand why they were upset. Someone had taken their literal God, shifted the perspective a few degrees and transformed Him into a metaphor meant to serve their own particular purpose.

    The problem here of course, isn’t the metaphor. It’s the literal God. No Hitchcock fan is going to start a fatwa over another author appropriating his literal birds for their own metaphorical purpose.

  7. Ross says:

    Entech nailed it, oh dear Henry. You say science is trapped in a box, yet it is ever changing, ever flowing. It is like a flowing liquid. Religion is like a never changing, stagnate pond. The bible is the box. It is formatted so that it may never change, no matter what is said or done.
    Also, is to your comment about science having gaps- well, that’s the point. Science fills in gaps. It learns. It uses the horrors of logic and reason to work through things that are not yet understood and work them out, unlike myth-worshiping.

    Example: not too long ago that there was no such thing as gravity. It was literally this god’s invisible hand which pushed things back down or held things to the earth. Gravity was called heresy. People were tortured and killed for mentioning that it was even possible. Eventually, God got squeezed out of that gap.

    Another example was that this god lived in the sky- in the clouds, where no one could ever go (in their minds at the time) but flight was eventually achieved. Where’s God? Oh, he lives in space, where no one is sure to go. Bam! We’re in space. Not there? Oh, he’s a part of everything and invisible to the eye- so now you’ll never squeeze him out of that gap.

    Evolution is not by sheer chance. When genetic mutations occur that are favorable to that particular creature’s survival and prosperity, then that creature lives longer and therefore produces more offspring. This adds those genes to the following members of that species. And yes, genes really exist. That is not chance. It is nature.

    Hey, instead of being a Christian, you should try Greek mythology. I love the story of incurious. And since someone wrote it down thousands of years ago, it must be true also, right? I bring the wax if you bring the feathers. But you go first.

    • entech says:

      Ross, I think you mean Icarus with the wax and the feathers. Incurious would be Henry, no curiosity, just the certainty of divine revelation.

    • Henry says:

      All that, and the fly in the ointment (to entech: figure of speech) of inadequate time for evolution is not addressed.

      You also missed in your dissertation the number of Christians who contributed to the discovery of gravity. Atheists? They were over in the corner scratching themselves.

      • entech says:

        Whatever you say Henry as always.
        There are many Christian scientists who contributed and continue to contribute to real discoveries, it is only pretend scientists, creationist pseudo scientists that I am against – the ones that give you all your false arguments against evolution. Evolution may or may not be the correct description of life on this planet, but it is certainly the best we have at the moment, creationism the worst.

        • Henry says:

          False arguments? All I am asking is for someone to give me some data to satisfy the time problem. So far, the evolution tracts I have seen hang their hat (to entech: that was a figure of speech) on the “billions and billions of years” without seemingly verifying if that timeline is even workable. I have actually jumped the gun (to entech: figure of speech) and have been forthcoming in pointing out the time problem with example prior to them proving up their case. The ball is in their court (to entech: figure of speech) to prove. I am following the scientific method in questioning their information. I am skeptical. Fault me for that if you like and continue your scoffing and hot air.

          • T says:

            I acknowledge that these are not ICR links, but just a couple of examples how you sometimes need a short period of time for mutations to modify populations. But again, you need to remember, it’s not just mutations that are at work, we also have natural selection (and sometimes artificial selection with domestication), gene flow, genetic drift, and sexual selection.

            I apologize in advance for the utter lack of elk carcasses in the following examples.

            http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090827/full/news.2009.864.html

            http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/antibiotic-resistance-mutation-rates-and-mrsa-28360

          • Henry says:

            Finally some red meat (to entech: figure of speech) with a little rigor.

            4 mutations per 30 million gene pairs (there are about 30,000 genes in the human body). Slow. And the test specimens are still human after all the mutation. Four documented mutations over 13 generations (200 years), and they are still human.

            Billions and billions of years………

          • T says:

            “Every time human DNA is passed from one generation to the next it accumulates 100–200 new mutations…” Re-read the article, Henry. Yes, a mutation rate of one in 30 million base pairs might seem slow, but when you extrapolate that to millions of people reproducing at any given time that rate can add up. It’s even faster if you look at short-lived, fast-reproducing organisms like bacteria and viruses (see the other article on MRSA). And, AGAIN, let’s not forget gene flow, genetic drift, natural selection, and sexual selection (or does the ICR not talk about that stuff?).

          • Henry says:

            Very slow…..slower on the Californian Condor.

          • T says:

            The California Condor is a slowly reproducing species, compared to bacterium and viruses which are not. Jeez, Henry, can you read? I am starting to suspect that you know you are wrong on these issues, but you have invested so much of yourself to these ideas that backtracking would be too great a blow to your self-esteem. Correct me if I’m wrong, which I know you will do.

          • Henry says:

            T:“The California Condor is a slowly reproducing species, compared to bacterium and viruses which are not.”

            That would be the point. The California Condor mutated to its current state how then if the slow measured rate of mutation is even slower with a small population/slow reproducing species?

            Your ad hominem is unscientific. Do you teach your students its proper form and delivery?

          • T says:

            Henry, IT’S NOT JUST MUTATIONS! Once again, also natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift, sexual selection!

            And as for my (admittedly) snide comment, I was clear that it was a suspicion, not a direct accusation. And please don’t make assumptions about my teaching style.

          • Henry says:

            T:“And please don’t make assumptions about my teaching style.”

            Don’t need to.

          • T says:

            Henry 8:55 “Don’t need to.”

            Why not?

          • T says:

            Get back on topic, Henry. I was discussing the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution and you veered off course.

          • entech says:

            T. You are playing into his hands, there is one classic error we all make with Henry, and he loves it, plays up to, thrives on it and any other appropriate figure of speech.
            The error with Henry is taking him seriously, I can almost taste the frustration passing from your keyboard to the computer (metaphor, figure of speech?). I used to get quite angry until I realised it is a game, Henry likes to score points, to be able to say to himself I won that one. You are getting there though, you just said I am starting to suspect that you know you are wrong on these issues, but you have invested so much of yourself to these ideas that backtracking would be too great a blow to your self-esteem remember that it is good for your sanity.

            I wouldn’t say Henry doesn’t actually believe some things, he is like the Red Queen (don’t let your homophobia read anything into that, it is only a reference to the quote from Alice)
            Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”
            “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
            Alice in Wonderland.

            Quite appropriate in many ways for one who lives in a fantasy world. Quite appropriate in many ways as he lives in a fantasy world. A world where God (whoever that is) created him as the pinnacle of creation.
            Quite appropriate in many ways as he lives in a fantasy world. A world where God (whoever that is) created him as the pinnacle of creation.

          • entech says:

            Rotten cut and paste, said the same thing, so many times, but perhaps not Henry does a lot of that himself.

          • T says:

            Entech, is my frustration THAT apparent?

          • T says:

            Am I playing into his hands or calling him out? Fine line perhaps…

          • Henry says:

            T:“Entech, is my frustration THAT apparent?”

            Yup. Rather than engaging in any kind of reasonable discussion, you veer off course with personal attacks rather than making your case in scientific discussion. Then, you finally present some refreshing red meat to the table only after repeated requests. You fulfill the stereotype of the atheists/agnostics well.

          • T says:

            Henry, technically an ad hominim is personally criticizing someone in order to criticize their ideas (like when some accuse Darwin of being a racist in order to argue against his scientific ideas). I actually didn’t do that. I simply made, and now I admit an unfair, supposition about you, without the intended purpose of countering any of your arguments. That being said, I apologize, let’s let bygones be bygones, and let’s get back to the “red meat”. You still owe me a logistical explanation for several million animals fitting on a boat and a counter to my natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift, etc. explanation.

          • entech says:

            Henry 1:21 change a couple of words (as in reverse the meanings so that agnostic/atheist becomes fundamentalist christian) and you could be looking in a mirror as you speak. A reasonable self portrait. IMHO.

            Speaking of personal attacks, consider the number of times you start of with “the atheist” as a means of discrediting something ‘a priori’.
            I know I am misusing a logical definition here, but I do love to say it when referring tu you tu quoque tu.

          • T says:

            Henry, I am offering you an olive branch. Do you accept?

          • Henry says:

            You provide much generalities and information regarding the theoried processes of evolution. What are their individual contributions and timelines? How much does each supposed evolutionary process as a percentage contribute to a new specie from a former specie? For example from ape (or common ancestor) to man: 50% mutation?, 10% genetic drift?, 30% natural selection?, 10% sexual selection? etc. Is this just unscientific guesswork and generalities? And where are all the evolved species in between ape (or common ancestor) and man today? There would possibly be a very large number of “stages”. It is not unreasonable to think some of these would have continued to survive if they existed, some lines being static, some dynamic in their “evolving”.

          • Henry says:

            T: “Applying specific percentages and ratios to the mechanism just cannot be done.”

            Sounds blurry.

            E=mc^2 had to be proven out in excruciating detail for acceptance. Meanwhile the science of evolution can be the whim of the advocate.

        • Henry says:

          T:“You still owe me a logistical explanation for several million animals fitting on a boat and a counter to my natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift, etc. explanation.”

          This was already explained.

          • T says:

            I take it you don’t accept my offer?

          • Henry says:

            Again, I have already offered explanation for the ark in reference to your calculation of the millions of animals.

            Slightly indisposed this weekend. Will take your red meat offer up concerning evolution when things settle down. Thanks.

          • T says:

            Understandable. We all lead busy lives.

          • Henry says:

            Ok. What is the evolutionary timelines and contributions for mutations, natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift, and sexual selection? Or do we just assume it all fits and works? That approach wouldn’t seem very scientific.

          • T says:

            I apologize for the length of this post, and I hope it helps clarify things.

            First of all it’s important to remember that all the different mechanisms can influence each other and that mutations are the only mechanism that introduces new genetic material into a population; the other mechanisms just influence which traits are passed down generationally. Mutations can occur in any cell of the body, but it is only those mutations occurring in sperm or egg that can get passed on to offspring. There are different types of mutations of variable “severity”: a point mutation is simply an incorrect replication of the well-known A’s, T’s, C’s, and G’s; synonymous, nonsynonomous, and frameshift mutations affect larger portions of a DNA strand (this is where we get conditions such as sickle-cell anemia and Downs Syndrome). Mutations can occur two different ways; spontaneous mutations are the most common and are random and occur with no known cause; induced mutations occur as a result of environment agents such as exposure to X-Rays or various chemicals or radioactive materials. With the human genome containing some 3 billion base pairs (combinations of A’s and T’s and C’s and G’s) combined with the observed mutation in modern humans, a potentially significant mutation can arise in every second person born. Typically, the larger the population and faster-reproducing the species, the more likely mutations will occur (more individuals, more sperm, more ova, more opportunity). With more than 7 billion humans on the planet now, our mutation rate (along with our reproductive rate) will likely increase (and since we come into contact with more human-made toxins, chemicals, and radioactive materials, we have also likely increased our rate of induced mutations as well).

            Natural Selection can influence whether or not a mutation, or any physical trait for that matter, will survive into future generations. Some mutations can outright kill the individual, leaving no opportunity for the mutation to be represented in subsequent generations. Some mutations can prove to be beneficial to the individuals born with them, such as particular skin colors in certain environments or having sickle-cell anemia in malarial areas. If a mutation proves to be beneficial in a given environment, natural selection can quickly “radiate” that mutation in subsequent generations (in non-human populations like bacterium, individual organisms with a resistance to a particular antibiotic can quickly produce subsequent generations where a majority of the individuals have resistance to that antibiotic, hence the trouble our modern medicine encounters with antibiotic resistance).

            Gene Flow and Genetic Drift both deal with migration, which often results in (in the case of human populations) people encountering vastly different environments with vastly different selective pressures (such as food resources, climatic conditions, diseases, and even induced mutations (I’m not moving to Chernobyl anytime soon)). Some mutations may prove advantageous in these new environments and those individuals with those mutations just might produce more of the next generation than others. Over the course of time (not very long, in some cases) one population, if split into two or more populations, can start to biologically diversify from one another (and this is where we get the concept of common ancestry between different populations).

            Sexual selection is what happens when individuals opt for reproductive partners because they possess physical traits that a member of the opposite sex finds attractive. In some species we see males fighting each other, the victor getting sexual access to the female. In human populations we often see cultural preferences influencing sexual selection, marrying and reproducing with someone because of shared religious, political, economic , or linguistic (among other factors) backgrounds. This can prove problematic in some populations where negative mutations can build up in small groups for want of new genetic material (call that in-breeding, if you like). In the past the British royal family had problems with sons being born with hemophilia because sexual selection often resulted in closely-related people having children together (but of course the royals wanted to keep the wealth and the power in the family; unfortunately for those keeping the blood-line pure, that blood-line also included hemophilia).

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            T 5:18 Thanks for the considerable essay on evolution. Of course, creationists try to find one part of the process and ignore the rest to make their case.

            We can expect them to do that in replies.

          • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

            @T

            As a “wordsmith” I must warn you that the time you just spent writing a logical reasoned approach will be quickly be rebuked with a one liner from good ole H, merely passing off you comment.

          • T says:

            Sheesh, Demosthenes, I hope not. That took me awhile. :)

          • entech says:

            Easily and quickly refuted, it fails the sieve of scripture test.

          • T says:

            Entech, ALL sciences fail that particular test.

          • Henry says:

            (I misplaced this in a thread above).
            You provide much generalities and information regarding the theoried processes of evolution. What are their individual contributions and timelines? How much does each supposed evolutionary process as a percentage contribute to a new specie from a former specie? For example from ape (or common ancestor) to man: 50% mutation?, 10% genetic drift?, 30% natural selection?, 10% sexual selection? etc. Is this just unscientific guesswork and generalities? And where are all the evolved species in between ape (or common ancestor) and man today? There would possibly be a very large number of “stages”. It is not unreasonable to think some of these would have continued to survive if they existed, some lines being static, some dynamic in their “evolving”.

          • T says:

            I’ve know of nothing that suggests a breakdown (in percentages) of the different mechanisms and I don’t see the relevance in attempting such a formulaic breakdown. And all the intermediate species include many Australopithecine and Homo species (all now extinct with just us left). As best we can tell we shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees (our closest living relatives) around 8 million years ago.

          • Henry says:

            T:“As best we can tell we shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees (our closest living relatives) around 8 million years ago.”

            That is odd. One would think there would be more “varieties” between said common ancestor and us. There aren’t. We are told it isn’t even survival of the fittest.
            http://redriverfreethinkers.areavoices.com/2012/09/11/romneys-white-jesus-obamas-black-one/#comment-59045
            So therefore, some of these previous life forms should be alive, as we are told sometimes the weakest/weak survive. Strange.

          • T says:

            Getting back to the percentages. It’s not really relevant because different circumstance apply in each case. Sometimes it’s mutation that is responsible for the change (and perhaps some selection affecting the prevalence of that mutation in subsequent generations). Sometimes populations migrate (which would involve gene flow and genetic drift) and sometimes they don’t. Applying specific percentages and ratios to the mechanism just cannot be done.

            And I would hesitate to use the word “stages” as it implies a “fits and starts” pace to the process. This get into the whole punctuated equilibrium versus gradualism debate (which borrowed somewhat from the field of geology) and did lead to some problems of classification: when do know when you’ve reach the point where you can classify a population as being a new species? Fortunately, advances in genetics are answering some of the questions.

          • T says:

            Henry: “That is odd. One would think there would be more “varieties” between said common ancestor and us. There aren’t. We are told it isn’t even survival of the fittest.”

            Why would one necessarily think that. We know of quite a few intermediate species. And I think I made my point on the phrase “survival of the fittest” clear in the link you referenced.

            Henry: “So therefore, some of these previous life forms should be alive, as we are told sometimes the weakest/weak survive. Strange.”

            Species can go extinct for a variety of reasons, not just a lack of physical strength. Disease, loss of habitat, cataclysmic event (meteor), starvation, climate change, over-hunting, etc. Sometimes physically weak species do survive, but being physically weak does not mean you are not evolutionarily fit. To be fit simply means you survive long enough to reproduce and pass your genetic material on to the next generation.

          • Henry says:

            (oops, I did it again)

            T: “Applying specific percentages and ratios to the mechanism just cannot be done.”

            Sounds blurry.

            E=mc^2 had to be proven out in excruciating detail for acceptance. Meanwhile the science of evolution can be the whim of the advocate.

          • T says:

            It’s not a whim, just situational. E=MC2 is measuring something entirely different. Specific mathematical formulas can be successfully applied to some phenomenon and not to others.

            Henry October 5, 2012 at 2:07 am
            “Haven’t you read? The same way you can fit five fish and two loaves of bread in twelve baskets.” Now, that’s a whim.

            Perhaps continue this discussion when I’m not so tired…

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            T 3:19 Thank you for staying with this discussion. We have not had before you anyone in the field willing to banter. It is helpful to us all.

          • Henry says:

            I am not talking about how a specific formula is applied situationally. I am talking about the looseness of the assumptions and lack of verification of what is claimed in evolutionary science. It is given a pass under the rules of science, and unfortunately for the science itself has gotten too far without being properly vetted. (Kind of like Obamba.)

            Good night.

            As far as the

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