Hate Mail

Newton Lih

[Editor's note: polite but not very knowledgeable high schooler]

June 29, 2001:

I must admit that once again, as an idiotic high schooler, my knowledge of science is extremely flawed and perhaps you could clear things up, and perhaps I could explain some of our less (to none) scientific beliefs of creationalism.

If you promote creationism as a religious, admittedly unscientific notion, then I don't have a problem with it because that would be honest. Frankly, that's the way Christians should approach their religion in general. Religion is not science, and attempts to reconcile religion with science are a complete waste of time.

If you feel that a world without religion of any kind is lacking something, that's your choice and there are many who would agree with you. But if you try to pretend that your religion is scientifically defensible, you are only deceiving yourself.

First, when considering Second law of Thermodynamics arguments. I agree 100% that the law has scant to do with evolution. But my question still remains of how life is generated. I believe you will agree that the chemical makeup of a dead organism is relatively the same (hopefully) as a living one, of course with decaying. So in the chemical approach, one cannot determine if something is alive or not can it?

A rock isn't a rock any more if it's melted, even though its chemical makeup remains the same. Does this mean that we have no way of differentiating between rocks and lava, or that the difference between them is a mystical thing which requires divine intervention? Of course not.

[Editor's note: now that I look back at my post, I realize that a lump of coal and a diamond would have been a better example than a rock and a pool of lava. Oh well ...]

My approach is how life can occur? We have yet to be capable of generating life, doesn't mean we won't be able to be, that is a question of science, which I am unfamiliar with.

We can't make a planet either; does this mean that it can only be done by God and that it is impossible for the natural universe to do it on its own? It's a matter of time and resources and feasibility, not one of scientific impossibility.

Now secondly, I have a qualm with your recitation of the scriptures, simple, and easily corrected, if you choose. It is more of a whine. I find that the indentation you use for your page is different from mine.

I tend to group multiple lines together into paragraphs in order to save space. This is not an attempt to mislead or misrepresent the Bible; it is an attempt to make economic use of space on my web pages.

Of course there are many versions of the bible, with corrections, and others, but it was interesting because one could interpete things differently according to how words and sentances are seperated.

Which only reminds us once again of the difference between theology and science. Scientific observations need not be encountered in a particular sequence in order to make sense.

I'm not sure what version of the Bible you used as I stated before, but I am referencing here from MY Bible, which is the New International Version or NIV. Now I quote from my passage.

Genesis 2:4

"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens - and the shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth..."

This may be a translation error of the Bible, because as you can see, the word 'when' and that of "In the day..." can meant quite different things, and so in this perspective, to my Bible, I see no contradiction.

First and foremost, the phrase "in the day" comes from the King James version, which is very widely used. Not being a Hebrew scholar, I couldn't say whether it's more accurate to the original or not. However, the two stories are contradictory regardless of whether you use "when" or "in the day", because the sequence is different.

In the first story, things were created in the following sequence:

Day 1: The Earth, light and darkness, day and night
Day 2: The sky
Day 3: The plants
Day 4: The stars, the Sun, and the Moon
Day 5: Sea creatures and flying creatures
Day 6: Land creatures, including mankind (both male and female)

The order is laughable, since God supposedly separated day and night and made the plants before making the stars and the Sun! Anyway, in the second story, things were created in the following sequence (all in one day according to the King James version):

1: Adam
2: The garden of Eden
3: The trees
4: The four great rivers (what about all the OTHER river systems on Earth?).
5: All the animals
6: Eve (because Adam needed a "helper", thus defining the subservient role of women for Judeo-Christian fundamentalists)

That's a pretty obvious contradiction, isn't it?

Concerning the man walking before the trees etc were grown, I think this is another reading error as there is nothing about creating them after it. I think even in the layman's terms, "growing" could never replace "making" or "forming" or "creating" even in your version which states

"...that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground...."

Now tell me when something has to grow to be considered created. Does not a seed represent a plant just as well as a tree?

OK, the word "grow" is indeed different from the word "create". However, Genesis 1:11(NIV) says that God made the "seed-bearing plants and trees on the land" on day 3, three days before making human beings.

Did you get that? Seed-bearing plants and trees. You're trying to argue that if God had made the seeds before making Adam in Genesis 2, then there is no contradiction. However, a seed is not a tree; it is something that might eventually become a tree. It won't necessarily become a tree; if you see a box of seeds, do you point at it and say "look! Trees!"?

The Bible itself distinguishes between seeds and plants. In Genesis 1:11 (NIV), God makes the "seed-bearing plants and trees on the land". Now, if God regarded seeds and plants as synonymous terms, the term "seed-bearing plants" would be rather odd, wouldn't it? Face it; Genesis 1 describes fully grown trees, 3 days before Adam was created.

Genesis 2:19

"Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air"

In my version, it states that God HAD formed. I think this is very different from just merely "forming". SO I think the Bible is still consistent.

That's the "second creation" argument, which I already mentioned on my site. And no, not only is it a big stretch, but even if we accept it, it still doesn't make the Bible consistent. There are contradictions all over the place, and I chose to mention the ones in Genesis only because they're the first.

For example, Numbers 23:19 says that God doesn't lie or change his mind, but in Exodus 32:14, he changes his mind, and in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, God sends "a powerful delusion" to unbelievers, so that they will believe the lies of the AntiChrist and be condemned to eternal torture. And what about the contradictory commandments in Exodus 20 and 34, not to mention Jesus' revisionism, in which he stated that the first two commandments were "love the Lord God with all your heart" and "love your neighbour as yourself?" Is it really necessary to prove to you that the Bible is not consistent?

Some of our disagreements are purely based upon the different and multiple translations of the Bible, but I'm afraid that the one from the tree may be from a simple reading error.

It's a "reading error" to differentiate seeds from trees? I don't think so.

And oh yes, I agree that the Earth is at least 3.5 billion years old. But we also consider this. In Genesis 1, it states:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters"

Now during the translation of Hebrew to English and whatnot other languages, it is important to know that the Hebrew word for "space/carbos" and "water" are identical. If we were to consider spacial rifts and eddies, one might from a non-educated view compare it to that of water.

Spatial rifts and eddies? This is real life, not Star Trek. The only verifiable distortions in spacetime are the result of gravitational curvature. Moreover, those people had no concept of outer space, so they were undoubtedly talking about liquid water when they wrote that down.

God most probably presented this to Moses (the one stated to have written the Torah or first 5 books of the Bible) it was probably in a dream, so everything must come from the person's perspective as God takes him through this "walk" of time.

And you assume that God would dictate a scientifically reasonable sequence of events to a person for whom there is no such thing as science?

The words "earth" and "heaven" are also held in opposites, stating a seperation between what is called the "mortal" realm and that of the "spiritual" realm.

And where does it state in Genesis that God is referring to the mortal realm and the spiritual realm when he said he created the heavens and the earth? You choose to interpret this in an incredibly loose fashion because you know it is hopelessly irreconcilable with science and logic.

"And God said "Let there be light," and there was light"

One major theory of what is happening here is something comparable to the Big Bang theory. An explosion would be percieved as a light to most human beings not educated in science.

"Human beings not educated in science", meaning Creationists? If he was talking about the Big Bang when he created light in Genesis 1:3, then he is saying that the Big Bang occurred after the creation of the Earth, in Genesis 1:1!

Even if we use your wild word substitutions, this would mean the Big Bang occurred after the creation of the physical universe (earth) and space-time (the waters), which is just as bad.

"God saw that the light was good, and he seperated the light from the darkness" The seperation is that of removal of chaos, no where is the seperation stated to be instantaneous. Something of a lessening of chaos.

Which contradicts the second law of thermodynamics.

"God called the light "day," and the darness he called "night." And there was evening and there was morning - the first day"

Consider something. The ancients had no concept of time as a 24 hour day. It was defined as a period of time, in which they consider a recognizeable "beginning" and "end" of day.

Don't be silly. They didn't have clocks, but they certainly had some vague grasp of how long a day was.

[Editor's note: the Bible explicitly describes an evening and a morning for this "day" which he dismisses as an another term for an eon. Is he going to argue that the ancients didn't have any concept of morning and evening either?]

In this consideration where one observes that God had NOT CREATED the sun yet, it would be very difficult for this person to concieve of a day (note also that Old Testament held the world to be a sphere, look it up in Isaiah).

Again, don't be silly. It would be incredibly easy for even the most primitive ancient person to roughly grasp the subjective length of a day, unless he happened to be in Antarctica. When speaking to even the most primitive person, one would not describe a period of many billions of years as a "day". One would, at the very least, say "many days" instead of "one day".

Also, the Bible is self-contradictory on the matter of the Earth's shape. While Isaiah 40:22 describes it as a circle (which some translate as "sphere"), Revelation 7:1 says it has four corners and Matthew 4:8 has Jesus being shown "all the world's kingdoms" from the top of a single mountain, which is impossible unless the world is flat.

The simplest way to observe this would be a rovolution of the galaxy around the center of light ( or big bang). Now this revolution would take SIGNIFICANTLY more than one 24 hr day, which would account for a perhaps an extended time when no life was existing anywhere.

Actually ...

  1. The Big Bang is the origin of the universe but it could hardly be described as the center of light for the early humans, who obviously looked to the Sun.

  2. The visible-spectrum radiation that we consider "light" is the result of stellar activity, not the Big Bang (which left nothing but an expanding universe and a lot of invisible background radiation).

  3. The galaxy is rotating around its own center, not the point of the Big Bang. There are lots of galaxies in the universe.

And finally, I reiterate that while early Man might not have been able to precisely quantify the length of a day, he would certainly know the difference between many days (never mind billions of years) and one day.

"And God said, 'Let there be an expanse between the waters to seperate water from water.' So God made the expanse between the waters to seperate the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse 'sky.' And there was evening and there was morning - the second day."

Once again I refer to the translation of the word for "water" to be comparable to that of space and we note that there is a seperation of expanse, meaning the seperationg of gases, say nebulas, gas giants, etc, and the expanse represents the "empty space" between them.

Of course, a more rational explanation would be that they were referring to the clouds, and the invisible reserves of water that they imagined to be hiding up in the sky. You know, those reserves that came down in the Great Flood, which is yet another example of how scientifically laughable the Old Testament is?

[Editor's note: and what's this "revolution of the galaxy" nonsense he's talking about? Is he trying to argue that the word "day" in Genesis refers to a complete revolution of the Milky Way galaxy? If so, how does he explain the fact that the timeframe still doesn't match up, not to mention the explicit description of a morning and evening, and the fact that the stars weren't created until day 4? If there were no stars in the first three days, then what precisely was rotating? And does it ever occur to him that since the Bible distinguished between the Sun and the stars, it's quite obvious that the writers of the Bible didn't realize that the Sun is a star?]

This is where we might consider the Earth (planet) to begin formation because it is the solidifying of all that junk (I have no idea of how to describe the Earths original substances). Another day = another revolution of the galaxy = long time.

Again, all of this is predicated upon the notion that early Man had absolutely no grasp of time whatsoever, and could not differentiate between a day and an eon. Early Man wasn't that stupid.

Note also the statement of "under the expanse" and "over the expanse" which may be comparable to the atmosphere. or any gravitational force holding the things together.

Since when is a gravitational force comparable to an "expanse?" The concepts have no relation to one another whatsoever!

Now beginning the third day we observe a radical change, that of the surfacing of land etc. I have truly no patience to type out the passage but if you do want me to in a future correspondance I'd be happy to. But, we observe that third day we begin the conversation of plant life. From third day and beyond, I believe it would be appropriate to apply everything to direct relation to that of the earth. And so on and so forth.

Ah, so "Earth" means the planet Earth from day three and beyond, but it means "mortal realm" in day one and day two? And you don't see how the Bible doesn't make sense? You must deliberately interpret it in a grossly inconsistent manner to create even the most vague perception that it make sense!

And you still ignore the fact that according to Genesis 1, God made the plants before he made the stars and the Sun. That is a huge problem for realism, since all heavy elements came from supernovae, which means that an entire generation of stars had to live and die before our solar system could form. Obviously, the stars and the Sun had to come before the plants, but according to Genesis 1, the plants predated the stars and the Sun!

I find it amusing that you pore so carefully over every conceivable word that you can twist or simply replace in order to pretend that the Bible is scientifically defensible, but you suddenly say that you lack the "patience" to quote the part of Genesis 1 where it is said that the plants were created before the Sun and the stars.

One hint: you don't have to type anything out. Just go to www.biblegateway.com and you can simply copy and paste passages with your web browser, from any of several different translations. You can also do word searches (for example, look up "death"; it gives you an idea of just how hateful and unjust those ancient Israelites were).

[Editor's note: Another huge problem for this goofy interpretation of the Bible (apart from its inconsistent treatment of the text) is the fact that God instructed us to observe the sabbath day which occurs once every seven twenty four hours days in honour of God's own seventh day of rest. If the seven days of Genesis actually represented 15 billion years as our young friend insists, then it would be 15 billion years before our next mandated sabbath day. In other words, you can put off going to church for a while]

Now we come to the creation of animals where I think we both agree that first came sea creatures, than birds and finally land creatures. Now this is extremely presumptious of me to even consider comparing the two, but if we were to observe the life of a mosquito and quite a few other insects that maintain a larval form in water, we observe that it moves from water to air. Modeling this tiny form of dare I say it "evolution" in the definition of www.dictionary.com "A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form", once might have the audacity to claim the possibility of avians and the like coming before land creatures.

Two serious problems here:

  1. The metamorphosis of insects from larval to mature form has nothing whatsoever to do with the process of evolution. It is not even remotely analogous.

  2. The dictionary.com definition is wrong. Dictionaries are good places to look up colloquial English, but they are terrible places to look up proper scientific definitions. If your entire research into the mainstream scientific position on evolution theory has been to look up the word "evolution" on dictionary.com, then this explains why you're a creationist.

[Editor's note: I had a funny feeling about his honesty, so I decided to go to dictionary.com and look up "evolution" there. Interestingly enough, it promptly provided several definitions, and he quoted the first one. However, we are talking about biological evolution (since "evolution" is a word with many uses), and the general purpose definition which he quoted was immediately followed by an official "biology" definition, which looked like this: "Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species."

Interesting, isn't it? He deliberately ignored a clearly marked definition of biological evolution in favour of a general purpose definition that was clearly inapplicable to this debate, but which was more convenient for his purposes. Unfortunately, this is quite typical of creationists; they are defending an invalid doctrine, so they are forced to be habitually dishonest, concealing information that confounds them]

Next up, the expanse of time, we note that Adam and Eve are NOT the first humans to be created. Note that Genesis 1:27

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it..."

we observe then in Genesis 2:7

"the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being"

Note that for this second man will become Adam, as you no doubt know, was the one to have the breath of life breathed into him.

So Adam was just one of many humans (which certainly doesn't sound like what the passage was intended to describe), and he was the only one who was given the "breath of life"? What does that mean? All who aren't descended from his line are automatons rather than living beings?

So you don't have to worry about who Cain married and all that wonderful stuff. Adam was created to be custodian of the Garden of Eden, not the first man, it is to an extent a replication.

In other words, most human beings are not descended directly from Adam, even though God holds us all responsible for his "inherited sin". The way you interpret the Bible, God is even more cruel and unjust than I thought!

This is the end of all I have to say for now.

I wish to tell you how I hold you in the highest esteem Mr. Wong, and that if I insulted you in anyway, than I apologize for it here and now and am greatly ashamed if I have.

I didn't find your criticism insulting at all, and you should be commended for your impeccable manners. However, I didn't find it compelling either. To be perfectly honest with you, the idea of reconciling the Bible with science strikes me as such a silly enterprise that it makes me laugh.

I am only wishing to show a different approach to the creation belief, and how it may be resolved with that of science.

Shouldn't you learn some science before you try to show that your Bible can be reconciled with it? Perhaps if you learned some science, you would understand that it simply cannot be done.

The only way to achieve peace between science and religion is to decide that the Bible was written by people who were interpreting their own visions and who could be wrong. Very wrong, in some cases. Your religion would therefore be based on your personal conception of God and your personal spiritual experiences. You would be influenced by written records of stories handed down from the spiritual experiences of others throughout time (eg. the Bible), without being slavishly tied to them.

I have no illusions that I can evangelize you, or convince you in anyway of creationism because as a Christian I believe that no human can persuade another, one God can.

On the contrary, humans persuade one another of their ideas all the time. That has been one of the reasons for holy wars throughout history: the fear that others would teach your children to follow their ways instead of yours. It's not easy to persuade another, but it can be done.

However, you're right in your conclusion that you won't convince me, since I'm a hard-headed skeptic, which means that I like to analyze and criticize. It also means that I have to see some kind of evidence for something before I'll accept its existence. People like me have never been good candidates for religion, and creationism is religion, not science.

Perhaps you hold these arguments and belief to be strawmen attacks, and if they are, respond to them as such. Thank you for your time.

Last updated: August 5, 2001

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