Guest Post By Malik: Intelligent Design

This is a guest post written by Malik, author of the blog, The Struggle Within to add his perspective to the Intelligent Disign debate that we are having this week. I am opening the blog up to other guest posters so if you are interested in posting on any subject of your choosing, email me at: jamesmanning1969@yahoo.com.

Thanks for taking the time to consider my perspective. I’ll start by emphasizing that the bible, although literally true, is not a linear account of physical events. It uses symbol and metaphor to describe both physical and spiritual realities, and the usages of words that describe time, such as days, weeks and years, are not always customary usages.

First let’s look at the varying ways in which the bible uses calendar time. An excellent example is the prophecy of Daniel concerning the appearance of Jesus. These are the verses in question:

Dan. 9:24 Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.

Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.

Dan 9:26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed.

Daniel says that the time between the restoration of Jerusalem and the appearance of an anointed one is seventy weeks, and then he says it’s seven weeks and sixty two weeks. Which is it? Let’s first consider an interpretation of the seventy weeks.

“These seventy weeks begin with the restoration and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, concerning which four edicts were issued by three kings. The first was issued by Cyrus in the year 536 B.C.; this is recorded in the first chapter of the Book of Ezra. The second edict, with reference to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, is that of Darius of Persia in the year 519 B.C.; this is recorded in the sixth chapter of Ezra. The third is that of Artaxerxes in the seventh year of his reign—that is, in 457 B.C.; this is recorded in the seventh chapter of Ezra. The fourth is that of Artaxerxes in the year 444 B.C.; this is recorded in the second chapter of Nehemiah.” –Some Answered Questions

The specific edict that Daniel refers to in verse 9:24 is the third edict issued in 457 B.C by Artaxerxes in the seventh year of his reign, restoring the temple rites. Seventy weeks equals 490 days (7x70). Each day is a year, for according to the Bible, days also refer to years: “forty days, for every day a year.” (Num 14:34) And also, “And you shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years.” (Lev 25:8) Christ was crucified at 33 years of age. 457 + 33 = 490, the time appointed by Daniel.

However in the next verse he says the appointed time is seven weeks and sixty two weeks, immediately after referring to seventy weeks. How do you reconcile the two seemingly different time periods?

There are two events that Daniel makes reference to. The first is the command to restore the temple rites in Jerusalem by Artaxerxes (Dan 9:24). The second is the completion of the restoration of Jerusalem (Dan 9:25), which was completed over a period of 49 years (from the time the wall of Jerusalem was built to the time the temple and the city was completed – cf. Daniel’s Seventy Weeks by Walter T. Robinson). That is the seven weeks. From that time to the appearance of Christ is 62 weeks. The 69 weeks is 457 years, the time elapsed between the restoration of the temple rites and the birth of Christ.

I only mention all of this in order to emphasize that there are many levels of meaning to the words in the Bible, and any part must be read in the context of the whole in order to derive the full meaning. Taking a specific verse out of context and interpreting it according to present-day usages and concepts, as Creationists do, is a poor and misleading method of reading the bible, and does violence to the intent and spirit of the verses. The fact that the apparent meaning is not always the intended meaning is something that the followers of Jesus have always had trouble wrapping their heads around, as the Gospels illustrate numerous times. “Eat your flesh and drink your blood? John the Baptist is Elias? Born again? What?!”

Now let’s consider what’s actually said in Genesis. First of all, as we’ve already established, there’s no reason why we have to interpret “day” as meaning a 24 hour day. We’ve already seen that days are used as years. There’s no reason to believe that days can’t also refer to epochs.

Now let’s compare the order of events as given in Genesis with modern scientific theories.

Day 1

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

The formation of proto-planets from stellar material after the Big Bang is a widely accepted theory. And obviously there is light (Day) and the absence of light (Night) in space. No conflict with day one.

Day 2

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

Most scientists believe that the atmosphere and oceans formed as a result of the condensation of the gases surrounding the primordial earth. No conflict with day two.

Day 3

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

According to modern scientific theory, after the formation of the oceans and atmosphere, algae began to grow on the oceans and converted CO2 into oxygen. Then plants began to grow on land. No conflict with day three.

Day 4

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

Now day four may seem to be problematic, if you take it to mean that stars were created after the earth, but if you take it as a description of the sky as viewed from earth, there is no conflict, and in fact it fits quite well with current theories of the formation of the moon. There is no universally accepted theory of moon formation, but the current frontrunner is the “big whack” theory. The idea is, something rammed the planet, and tore off a big chunk of it, which became the moon. Let’s see how that theory might fit with the text of Genesis.

The Big Whack theory speculates that an object colliding with the earth kicked up a massive debris cloud (which would obscure the sky) and eventually the cloud coalesced into the moon (revealing the sun and the stars). Some versions of the theory speculate that there actually two whacks: one that accelerated the angular momentum of the planet (which would change the length of the day) and another that slowed its spin (which would give us the length of our current day). At any rate, after the planet and atmosphere stabilized, life on earth came to be regulated by the rhythms of the sun and the moon, and it is the rhythm of the days and seasons that is emphasized here.

Day 5

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

It is widely accepted that animals appeared after plants. No conflict with day 5.

Day 6

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And finally, it is widely accepted that the human species appeared after the first animals roamed the earth. No conflict with day 6.

With all that said, I don’t believe that there necessarily has to be perfect conformity between modern scientific theory and our understanding of the Bible in order for one or the other to be correct, for our understanding of both science and religion is necessarily limited (i.e. there’s always more to learn). But we need both, in order to fulfill God’s will and purpose. When we exclude the knowledge that comes from reason and experience, we fall into fanaticism and superstition. When we exclude the knowledge that comes from faith and assurance, we fall into selfishness and animalism.

All of this is simply to demonstrate that there does not necessarily have to be a conflict between modern scientific theories and the text of the bible. It is never necessary to abandon faith for reason, or reason for faith. Each reinforces and complements the other. There is only a conflict when we make our own narrow and dogmatic conceptions the final arbiter of truth, and substitute them for the plain and evident testimony of God’s handiwork and His Word, in contravention of both faith and reason.

 

28 Responses to Guest Post By Malik: Intelligent Design

  1. Dell Gines Says:
    But it is only faith that is soteriological by nature. By grace through faith are we saved. So pragmantically, faith is supreme to reason, if the two were on a scale and one had to decide between the two.

    I would argue however, that faith is reasonable, because reason is a means to attain an end, not an end in and of itself, as so many people want to define it to be.

    It is reasonable for someone to want to be saved, and it is reasonable for them to want to know the means of being saved. It is reasonable to have faith if one believes that faith is the means of salvation.

    So like I said, if there is a choice one has to make between the two, I will choose reasonable faith, over reasonable doubt, and I am not talking about Jay-Z's first album :).

    Secondly, there is dissention even among creationist amongst the time line of genesis, so it is not really fair to arbitrarily dismiss creationist this way:

    "Taking a specific verse out of context and interpreting it according to present-day usages and concepts, as Creationists do, is a poor and misleading method of reading the bible, and does violence to the intent and spirit of the verses"

    You have some that believe in a dual creation, that there was an original earth that was destroyed when satan was cast out of heaven. You have those who believe that there was a period of time between the creation of man and the fall of man, that could have been thousands of years, before the timeline of 6000 recognized historial years as we know it, and a few other variations.

    Finally, one thing I have recognized (not you Malik) is that people are confusing evolution & the universe being created. Evolution & the big bang are not synonimous *sp events, and for one to have occurred does not necessarily mean the other had to as well. Intelligent design encompasses both, evolutionary theory does not.

    Great layout of the verses though bruh, it is good to see someone actually using the bible in discussions about religious perspectives.
  2. James Manning Says:
    As you have illustrated, a literal interpretation of the Bible is not required to believe in its premise. I’ve come to the conclusion that ID is worthy of study but not in a science class. As you have demonstrated, it is impossible to teach it without first understanding the bible.

    The question I have is, how do you structure ID within a biology, physics and earth science curriculum? And it is the only other theory that we allow into the classroom. Do Buddhist and Hindu have another interpretation? Are they not as valid as the bible or are we saying that the book of genesis is the only book with a theory worthy of challenging evolution?

    I think the entire concept is valid but is problematic and should be taught separately if at all.
  3. Malik Says:
    Hm, I guess it comes down to a epistemological question. How do we know what we know? There are basically two kinds of knowledge: there is inner subjective knowledge, which is born of intuition and direct experience; this is the foundation of faith. And there is knowledge born of inductive and deductive reasoning, which is the foundation of science.

    Faith needs no empirical data or deductive reasoning to arrive at its conclusions. I know that my mom loves me, simply because she does. I can't quantify it or experimentally analyze it, but I know she does as sure as I know that I'm living and breathing, because I feel it in the depths of my being. In the same way, I know that God loves me. That's faith, "the evidence of things unseen".

    Science proceeds by means of observing things that ARE seen. We know that the sun will rise tomorrow by virtue of inductive reasoning. The sun has risen every morning of every day of our lives, and we therefore make the reasonable assumption that it will continue to rise for as long as we are alive, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. That's common sense, the beginning of scientific knowledge. If we want to know for a scientific certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow, we will explicitly and consciously state our assumption about the rising of the sun, and devise experiments to verify the truth or falsity of our assumptions.

    So in a way, science is just a way of verifying what common sense tells us. Sometimes our common sense is right, but often it's wrong, and that's why science is necessary. Classic example: it's common sense to believe that the sun rotates around the earth, until you actually evaluate all the data, and find out that your assumption was wrong. The first person to find that out is in for a hell of a rough time though, when he tries to convince everyone else that what is obviously right is actually deceptively wrong.

    So where was I going with all of this? Oh yes, in order for our knowledge to be complete, we need both science and religion, both faith and reason, both because our faith can be misplaced, and our ability to quantify is limited. If we insist on making our faith the sole measure of what is known, even when the evidence of what we see and experience unambiguously contradicts what we believe, than we become fools and fanatics. For example, if I fervently insist and believe that my wife loves me, even though she sleeps with other men on a regular basis, flat out tells me how much she hates me, and misses no opportunity to abuse me, than I don't have faith; I am a fanatic, I have a mental disease. Even though I've never experienced the love that I insist exists, and even though all of the evidence contradicts my assertion, I still go on believing it. That is why faith requires reason. We are very capable of self-delusion.

    On the other hand, if I know that my wife loves me, and she constantly demonstrates it in every way possible, and yet I insist on skeptically verifying her love, and constantly check up on her, and demand that she account for every minute of her day, and constantly insist that she reassure me that she loves me, then I am a selfish and insecure fool. That is why we need faith, because we are very capable of blindly refusing the testimony of both mind and heart in favor of "evidence".

    So, reason never contradicts true faith, and at the same time true faith transcends skeptical inquiry. But without both faith and reason, our knowledge is faulty and incomplete.
  4. James Manning Says:
    Excellent point, Malik.
  5. Dell Gines Says:
    Let me toss this out Malik...why does our faith and knowledge have to be complete?
  6. Dell Gines Says:
    Oh yeah James, it isn't just Christians who believe in intelligent design, most monotheistic religions do, so it is not a question of knowing 'bible'.
  7. Deb S. Says:
    Great post.
  8. Malik Says:
    "Why does our knowledge have to be complete?"

    So that we don't become a bunch of mindless robot-monkeys.

    Don't confuse "complete", with "perfect and comprehensive". We'll never know everything. But we can be assured and confident of the things that we do know, and our knowledge and understanding can always become more complete.

    There is one thing that, according to the Bible, we're charged to do above all. Love God with all of our:

    1) heart
    2) mind
    3) and soul

    I would argue that those three things correspond with perception, reason and faith. If we're not continually employing all three, and not continually striving to grow in assurance, understanding and faith, then we're behaving as if our knowledge and love of God is perfect. Since that can never be, when we fail to strive to deepen our knowledge and understanding by using all of the tools that we are given (perception, reason and faith) we are falling short of the command that we are given, and are committing a sin of ommission.
  9. Cynthia Says:
    Malik,

    First, I would like to say this was one of the best explanations to explain why and/or how creation doesn't contradict evolution.

    Now having said that, I still say that evolution does indeed contradicts creationism.

    From what I understand,

    The 5th day of creation, God allegedly created the water creatures of all kinds and birds.

    The 6th day of creation, God allegedly created all land animals including man. Now this poses a problem for evolutionist. The fossil record shows the opposite order.

    What about the Second Creation Story (Genesis 2:4 to 2:25)? How do you account for the contradiction of the first?

    This site is the best example to show the discrepancies between the first creation story and evolutionary theory. What you will find is that evolution contradicts each and every day of God's creation.

    Based on the above, this is why people are having this discussion. If creation could explain evolution I don't think people would be having this discussion
  10. Revka Says:
    Dell Gines,
    Brilliant, Brilliant.

    James,
    I like your sincerity. You just seem like a really sweet guy.

    Malik,
    Heart, Soul and mind are 3 seperate things, but all in one working in harmony. It is hard to separate them.
  11. Malik Says:
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  12. James Manning Says:
    Malik, I see you removed the post but I was able to read it in my email.

    Here is a question for you and Dell, and Malik you did answer this in your last post I think.

    Q: I believe in God. And I believe that God is the author of everything that we see and know. Having said that, is it possible to believe the following and believe that there is no conflict:
    1. believe that God set everything in motion,

    2. believe that the book of Genesis is an interpretation of how the universe was formed, believe that evolution did take place with the knowledge that it is not a perfect theory,

    3. believe that some of the ID theory do not align with what scientific data has shown

    4. and believe that scientific data does not invalidate an existence of God.

    The primary thing that I am getting at is that God is as real to me as the computer that I am typing on. But I know the bible leads itself open to many interpretations when it comes to how we became so I look to the scientific data to see what it say. based on the validity of a lot of the information, I have to assume that some interpretations of the bible do not align with what we know. not to say that the bible is incorrect, but to say that the interpretations are.

    Malik, you mentioned that a day could possible mean an epoc. that may be true, and based on other facts that you laid out about interpreting timelines in the bible, that is more than likely the case. therefore, it is reasonable for me to question the validity of trying to squeeze the creation of the universe into a 6000 year window. this is not a rejection of the bible, just a rejection of some of the science. just as dell rejects some of the science as it pertains to evolution.

    and here is where i agree with dell. it may be quite logical to assume that we could teach ID in the classroom from a secular position. i just haven't seen a way to make that leap. if someone knows of a scientist that has, i will be open to reading it.
  13. James Manning Says:
    @ Rebe,

    Thanks for visiting. It is an interesting discussion and it has been an education as I knew that it would be.

    I should probably pay Dell, Malik and Cynthia a salary - i'm just playin'. But I do appreciate you guys taking on this discussion in the manner in which you all did. Excellent.
  14. Cynthia Says:
    More on the fallacy of ID.

    The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.
  15. Malik Says:
    I think the Catholics are smart as hell. They see where all this ID business is leading to, which is the establishment of the idea that the Bible cannot be true unless it contains a linear and physically verifiable account of creation and history. In the interests of promoting that interpretation, Creationists are cutting faith in God out of the picture, and leaving us to worship scientists and scholars who supposedly hold the keys to the Kingdom. Bad flippin' idea.
  16. Malik Says:
    James, I deleted it because I don't want to get into the business of trying to "prove" the truth of the Bible. I answered the asked question, and I should leave it at that.
  17. Cynthia Says:
    In the interests of promoting that interpretation, Creationists are cutting faith in God out of the picture, and leaving us to worship scientists and scholars who supposedly hold the keys to the Kingdom.

    I hate these types of statements and don’t have patient for them. This is ridiculous. It appears whenever people can’t get their message across to you or if you have an opposing view that shows the fallacy in their arguments, then these types of statements emerged probably out of frustration. What scientists do you know are asking people to worship them? Whenever people try to introduce religion into the classroom, the bible is the thing that will be attacked. This is just plain old common sense and this is what I was trying to show.

    Another thing, that old saying, you can't teach an old dog new tricks is true. Adults will probably continue to believe in everything no matter what, but as their children are exposed to the many discrepancies in the bible, they will begin to question their parents' judgment. To me, common sense dictates that if God created the world like the bible says, then everything in the created world would reflect that reality. If the stories aren’t true, then one can conclude that either the bible is false, the bible shouldn’t be taken literally, or that God didn’t create the world. With this type of analysis of the bible in schools, I bet you will have an exponential increase in the number of people who don’t believe in the bible at all during the next 2 – 3 decades.

    Why would anyone want their religion to be subjected to this type of scrutiny? This whole ID issue doesn’t make any type of logical sense from a religious perspective at all.
  18. Malik Says:
    Cynthia, you're making assumptions based on your own prejudices. I said nothing of the sort. The "scientists" that I'm talking about are Creationist scholars who advance scientific claims. According to them, you have to believe in their claims about science and their "scientific" interpretation of the Bible before you can believe in the Bible. That's worshipping the scientist, and that doesn't wash with me. I'm talking about matters of belief within the community of believers. I could care less what anyone else chooses to believe or not to believe.
  19. Malik Says:
    Well, actually, I do care, but it's none of my business what people ultimately choose to believe.
  20. Cynthia Says:
    Malik,

    I don't have any prejudices one way or the other about this subject. I'm leaning more towards the teaching of ID in science classes. I would love to teach this class. On the other hand, your prejudices are shining through loud and clear even to the point where you can't even be objective with the differences in the stories.

    Btw - the way the sentenced was constructed, I thought you were talking about real and legitimate scientists and not creationist who say they are scientists. My apologies...
  21. Malik Says:
    No worries, we're cool.
  22. Malik Says:
    And for the record, I think that on the whole you've been pretty even-handed about the issue. It was just a misunderstanding. I need to write less and sleep more. I'll be glad when this damn semester is over, although the blogging has actually helped me with writing papers.
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