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Stephen E. Jones: Ideal Moment in Time for Humans To Have Been Created?

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  • Edward T. Babinski
    Ideal Moment in Time for Humans To Have Been Created? by Edward T. Babinski Old-earth and progressive creationists (Hugh Ross, Bernard Ramm, Stephen E. Jones)
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1, 2005
      Ideal Moment in Time for Humans To Have Been Created?
      by Edward T. Babinski

      Old-earth and progressive creationists (Hugh Ross, Bernard Ramm,
      Stephen E. Jones) have argued that humanity was created at the ideal
      moment in geological time, viz.:

      God prepared the way for the ascendancy of mammals and eventually
      Homo sapiens by planning and accomplishing the dinosaur's demise by a
      series of asteroid collisions (or a combination of major volcanic
      activity and a single asteroid collision). The vast forests grew and
      decayed for over a hundred million years because of God's plan to
      provide coal to humanity and that the coal might appear a natural
      product and not an artificial product inserted miraculously into
      Nature. The millions of sea creatures were born and perished to
      provide oil, natural gas, chalk, and diatomaceous earth for humanity.
      (To paraphrase Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and
      Scripture, [1955] Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint,
      p.155.)

      ---------

      REPLY: Arguments and claims about what "God" or "a Designer" did,
      and "why" they did it, are all "after the fact." It's always possible
      to come up with rationalizations and justifications for "why"
      something happened after the fact, and in this case it's even easier
      and you're free to invent whatever interpretations you like since the
      answers lay hidden in God's mind alone. (Interpreting Scripture is
      also like that. Two people can read Genesis, but interpret it quite
      differently, and neither of them can show the other "God's mind" to
      end the contest.)

      One can at best, point out alternative, equally ad hoc,
      interpretations, i.e., substituting different "reasons" in God's
      hidden mind.

      For instance:

      1) What if God or "the Designer" was planning on evolving upright
      dinosaurs with two free hands and more complex brains, but the
      asteroid spoiled the original plan, so the Designer switched plans?
      (Any Designer with infinite wisdom and infinite power could have
      designed an intelligent upright reptilian species. According to
      paleontologists, some species of dinosaurs were already moving along
      on two legs long before mammals arose, while other evidence indicates
      that some dinosaurs were clever hunters and even showed motherly
      defense of their young, long before the mammals came along.)

      -------------

      2) Why kill the dinosaurs via asteroid(s) and/or volancoes? Such
      blunt means wipe out entire ecosystems of plants and animals that
      could have produced far more biomass and more coal and oil if they
      had been left alive. That was supposed to be the original argument,
      wasn't it, to produce coal and oil? Instead, whole ecosystems and
      their biomass was burnt up via a huge catastrophic conflagration
      followed by a cloudy sky and cooler temperatures that again inhibited
      lush biomass grow. (Any Designer of infinite wisdom and power could
      have exterminated only the dinosaur species, leaving the rest of the
      living world unharmed and building up more biomass. Looks to me like
      a lack of foresite and imagination on the part of the Designer, kind
      of like using a sledge hammer to dethorn a rose bush. Instead, a lot
      of biomass went to waste, not just the dinosaurs, but ecosystems, and
      so the biomass engine was stalled.

      -------------

      3) That brings us to this question: Why are miracles O.K. for
      explaining the "progressive creation" of different species, but not
      O.K. for explaining the creation of the mineralogical environment
      that humanity was "waiting so long" to live in? I am talking about
      the idea that God could have simply inserted miraculously all the oil
      and coal in the earth that humanity would need, without having to
      create humanity so late in geologic time, and without having to wait
      for so many species to be created and then be destroyed and become
      extinct, and without having to stall the biomass engine a number of
      times, etc.

      A relevant quotation:

      Suppose that upon some island we should find a man a million years of
      age, and suppose we found him living in an elegant mansion, and he
      should inform us that he lived in that house for five hundred
      thousand years before he thought of putting on a roof, and that he
      but recently invented windows and doors; would we say that from the
      beginning he had been an infinitely accomplished and scientific
      architect?
      [Robert Ingersoll]

      --------------

      4) How do you know that the Designer "wanted humanity to have" oil,
      coal, gas, chalk, diatomaceous earth, etc.? Saying such a thing is
      after the fact. You can always invent lots of explanations after the
      fact, like:

      God put the nose and ears where they are so we'd be able to wear
      glasses.

      God made cork trees so we'd have something to plug up the ends of our
      wine bottles.

      God invented lamb's intestines so we'd be able to make lamb-skin
      condoms.

      God made radioactive elements so we'd be able to...

      You get the point.

      Quotations from folks with similar doubts:

      People who believe in "intelligent design" point us to the sunshine,
      to flowers, to the April rain, and to all there is of beauty and of
      use in the world. Did it ever occur to them that a cancer is as
      beautiful in its development as is the reddest rose? That what they
      are pleased to call the adaptation of means to ends, is as apparent
      in the cancer as in the April rain? By what ingenious methods the
      blood is poisoned so that the cancer shall have food! By what
      wonderful contrivances the entire system of man is made to pay
      tribute to this divine and charming cancer! What beautiful colors it
      presents! Seen through a microscope it is a miracle of order and
      beauty. All the ingenuity of man cannot stop its growth. Think of the
      amount of thought it must have required to invent a way by which the
      life of one man might be given to produce one cancer. Is it possible
      to look upon it and doubt that there is a design in the universe, and
      that the inventor of this wonderful cancer must be infinitely
      powerful, ingenious and good? [Robert Ingersoll]

      We are all naturally like that madman at Athens, who fancied that all
      the ships were his that came into the Port of Pyraeus. Nor is our
      folly less extravagant. We believe all things in nature have been
      designed for our use. Ask any theologian why there is such a
      prodigious number of stars when a far lesser number would perform the
      service they do us, and he answers coldly, "They were made to please
      our sight."
      [Bernard de Fontenelle, A Plurality of Worlds, published in 1686]

      WAS THE UNIVERSE MADE FOR MAN OR FLEA?
      Until the 1800s almost everyone had fleas and lice. In the 1600s it
      was considered bad manners to take lice, fleas or other vermin from
      your body and crack them between your fingernails in company.
      [Tim Woods & Ian Dicks, What They Don't Teach You About History]

      Obviously only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and
      compassion to create "the flea" - a tiny insect with a thin body for
      moving easily through hair, and with immensely powerful legs for
      leaping many times their body length onto passing prey; and with the
      added ability to not just harry and bite, but to spread infections,
      including plague germs which killed tens of millions of people in
      Europe and Asia in a few short years.

      My dear fleas, you are the cherished work of God; and this entire
      universe has been made for you. God created man only to serve as your
      food, the sun only to light your way, the stars only to please your
      sight, etc.
      [Voltaire, "Sermon Preached Before Fleas"]

      Are we really so splendid as to justify such a long prologue? The
      philosophers lay stress on values: they say that we think certain
      things good, and that since these things are good, we must be very
      good to think them so. But this is a circular argument. A being with
      other values might think ours so atrocious as to be proof that we
      were inspired by Satan. Is there not something a trifle absurd in the
      spectacle of human beings holding a mirror before themselves, and
      thinking what they behold so excellent as to prove that a Cosmic
      Purpose must have been aiming at it all along? Why, in any case, this
      glorification of Man? How about lions and tigers? They destroy fewer
      animal or human lives than we do, and they are much more beautiful
      than we are. How about ants? They manage the Corporate State much
      better than any Fascist. Would not a world of nightengales and larks
      and deer be better than our human world of cruelty and injustice and
      war? The believers in Cosmic Purpose make much of our supposed
      intelligence but their writings make one doubt it. If I were granted
      omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not
      think Man much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts.
      [Bertrand Russell, "Cosmic Purpose" in Religion and Science]

      Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an
      interesting world I find myself in and an interesting hole I find
      myself in. Fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me
      staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is
      such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air
      heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's
      still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to
      be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built
      to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by
      surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch
      out for.
      [Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)]

      -----------

      5) Knowing the remarkable varieties of species the Designer was busy
      creating for hundreds of millions of years prior to humanity's last
      minute arrival on the scene, it seems a shame to destroy the majority
      of them, sometimes slowly, sometimes in vast catastrophes. Like
      knocking over a game table. What kind of a "game plan" is that? While
      humanity only gets to puzzle over their bones?

      ------------

      6) Neither do we know how long man's "ascendancy" or those of the
      mammals will last. If we get along for 130 million years like the
      dinosaurs did we'll be lucky, and if we survive for a similar period
      of 130 million years, what will human beings look like by then?
      Maybe we'll have added genetic features via bioengineering? Or we'll
      build silicon brains or hybrid silicone/bio brains that keep track of
      far more knowledge. Or, some robotic, or bio-engineered species will
      replace humanity? Or some meteors or cosmic rays or solar flares or
      passing star or black hole or nearby nova will extinguish life on
      earth and some other civilized race traveling through our solar
      system will merely cite "the story of life on earth" as an object
      lesson concerning the dangers inherent in the cosmos.

      ----------

      7)What about life on other planets? If living organisms are found on
      Mars or Europa or some other distant world, how would the progressive
      creation hypothesis interpret such discoveries?

      ----------

      8)Reminds me of the account in Genesis that states God created the
      two great light (lamps) to rule the day and night on earth, but other
      planets in our solar system also have great lamps, even a multitude
      of lamps (moons) to rule their nights and "for signs and seasons" in
      their heavens. I might ask why this is so, and why those planets also
      have their own "days and nights" of their own unique duration? Seems
      to make the Genesis account appear a tad parochial, a tad earth-
      centered, having everything created just to light the earth and fill
      it, during "six" evenings and morning on earth. And a little awkward
      having to explain why God created all those other "lamps" to "rule
      the nights" of uninhabited worlds.

      Ed
    • Edward T. Babinski
      Ideal Moment in Time for Humans To Have Been Created? by Edward T. Babinski Old-earth and progressive creationists (Hugh Ross, Bernard Ramm, Stephen E. Jones)
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 1, 2005
        Ideal Moment in Time for Humans To Have Been Created?
        by Edward T. Babinski

        Old-earth and progressive creationists (Hugh Ross, Bernard Ramm,
        Stephen E. Jones) have argued that humanity was created at the ideal
        moment in geological time, viz.:

        God prepared the way for the ascendancy of mammals and eventually
        Homo sapiens by planning and accomplishing the dinosaur's demise by a
        series of asteroid collisions (or a combination of major volcanic
        activity and a single asteroid collision). The vast forests grew and
        decayed for over a hundred million years because of God's plan to
        provide coal to humanity and that the coal might appear a natural
        product and not an artificial product inserted miraculously into
        Nature. The millions of sea creatures were born and perished to
        provide oil, natural gas, chalk, and diatomaceous earth for humanity.
        (To paraphrase Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and
        Scripture, [1955] Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint,
        p.155.)

        ---------

        REPLY: Arguments and claims about what "God" or "a Designer" did,
        and "why" they did it, are all "after the fact." It's always possible
        to come up with rationalizations and justifications for "why"
        something happened after the fact, and in this case it's even easier
        and you're free to invent whatever interpretations you like since the
        answers lay hidden in God's mind alone. (Interpreting Scripture is
        also like that. Two people can read Genesis, but interpret it quite
        differently, and neither of them can show the other "God's mind" to
        end the contest.)

        One can at best, point out alternative, equally ad hoc,
        interpretations, i.e., substituting different "reasons" in God's
        hidden mind.

        For instance:

        1) What if God or "the Designer" was planning on evolving upright
        dinosaurs with two free hands and more complex brains, but the
        asteroid spoiled the original plan, so the Designer switched plans?
        (Any Designer with infinite wisdom and infinite power could have
        designed an intelligent upright reptilian species. According to
        paleontologists, some species of dinosaurs were already moving along
        on two legs long before mammals arose, while other evidence indicates
        that some dinosaurs were clever hunters and even showed motherly
        defense of their young, long before the mammals came along.)

        -------------

        2) Why kill the dinosaurs via asteroid(s) and/or volancoes? Such
        blunt means wipe out entire ecosystems of plants and animals that
        could have produced far more biomass and more coal and oil if they
        had been left alive. That was supposed to be the original argument,
        wasn't it, to produce coal and oil? Instead, whole ecosystems and
        their biomass was burnt up via a huge catastrophic conflagration
        followed by a cloudy sky and cooler temperatures that again inhibited
        lush biomass grow. (Any Designer of infinite wisdom and power could
        have exterminated only the dinosaur species, leaving the rest of the
        living world unharmed and building up more biomass. Looks to me like
        a lack of foresite and imagination on the part of the Designer, kind
        of like using a sledge hammer to dethorn a rose bush. Instead, a lot
        of biomass went to waste, not just the dinosaurs, but ecosystems, and
        so the biomass engine was stalled.

        -------------

        3) That brings us to this question: Why are miracles O.K. for
        explaining the "progressive creation" of different species, but not
        O.K. for explaining the creation of the mineralogical environment
        that humanity was "waiting so long" to live in? I am talking about
        the idea that God could have simply inserted miraculously all the oil
        and coal in the earth that humanity would need, without having to
        create humanity so late in geologic time, and without having to wait
        for so many species to be created and then be destroyed and become
        extinct, and without having to stall the biomass engine a number of
        times, etc.

        A relevant quotation:

        Suppose that upon some island we should find a man a million years of
        age, and suppose we found him living in an elegant mansion, and he
        should inform us that he lived in that house for five hundred
        thousand years before he thought of putting on a roof, and that he
        but recently invented windows and doors; would we say that from the
        beginning he had been an infinitely accomplished and scientific
        architect?
        [Robert Ingersoll]

        --------------

        4) How do you know that the Designer "wanted humanity to have" oil,
        coal, gas, chalk, diatomaceous earth, etc.? Saying such a thing is
        after the fact. You can always invent lots of explanations after the
        fact, like:

        God put the nose and ears where they are so we'd be able to wear
        glasses.

        God made cork trees so we'd have something to plug up the ends of our
        wine bottles.

        God invented lamb's intestines so we'd be able to make lamb-skin
        condoms.

        God made radioactive elements so we'd be able to...

        You get the point.

        Quotations from folks with similar doubts:

        People who believe in "intelligent design" point us to the sunshine,
        to flowers, to the April rain, and to all there is of beauty and of
        use in the world. Did it ever occur to them that a cancer is as
        beautiful in its development as is the reddest rose? That what they
        are pleased to call the adaptation of means to ends, is as apparent
        in the cancer as in the April rain? By what ingenious methods the
        blood is poisoned so that the cancer shall have food! By what
        wonderful contrivances the entire system of man is made to pay
        tribute to this divine and charming cancer! What beautiful colors it
        presents! Seen through a microscope it is a miracle of order and
        beauty. All the ingenuity of man cannot stop its growth. Think of the
        amount of thought it must have required to invent a way by which the
        life of one man might be given to produce one cancer. Is it possible
        to look upon it and doubt that there is a design in the universe, and
        that the inventor of this wonderful cancer must be infinitely
        powerful, ingenious and good? [Robert Ingersoll]

        We are all naturally like that madman at Athens, who fancied that all
        the ships were his that came into the Port of Pyraeus. Nor is our
        folly less extravagant. We believe all things in nature have been
        designed for our use. Ask any theologian why there is such a
        prodigious number of stars when a far lesser number would perform the
        service they do us, and he answers coldly, "They were made to please
        our sight."
        [Bernard de Fontenelle, A Plurality of Worlds, published in 1686]

        WAS THE UNIVERSE MADE FOR MAN OR FLEA?
        Until the 1800s almost everyone had fleas and lice. In the 1600s it
        was considered bad manners to take lice, fleas or other vermin from
        your body and crack them between your fingernails in company.
        [Tim Woods & Ian Dicks, What They Don't Teach You About History]

        Obviously only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and
        compassion to create "the flea" - a tiny insect with a thin body for
        moving easily through hair, and with immensely powerful legs for
        leaping many times their body length onto passing prey; and with the
        added ability to not just harry and bite, but to spread infections,
        including plague germs which killed tens of millions of people in
        Europe and Asia in a few short years.

        My dear fleas, you are the cherished work of God; and this entire
        universe has been made for you. God created man only to serve as your
        food, the sun only to light your way, the stars only to please your
        sight, etc.
        [Voltaire, "Sermon Preached Before Fleas"]

        Are we really so splendid as to justify such a long prologue? The
        philosophers lay stress on values: they say that we think certain
        things good, and that since these things are good, we must be very
        good to think them so. But this is a circular argument. A being with
        other values might think ours so atrocious as to be proof that we
        were inspired by Satan. Is there not something a trifle absurd in the
        spectacle of human beings holding a mirror before themselves, and
        thinking what they behold so excellent as to prove that a Cosmic
        Purpose must have been aiming at it all along? Why, in any case, this
        glorification of Man? How about lions and tigers? They destroy fewer
        animal or human lives than we do, and they are much more beautiful
        than we are. How about ants? They manage the Corporate State much
        better than any Fascist. Would not a world of nightengales and larks
        and deer be better than our human world of cruelty and injustice and
        war? The believers in Cosmic Purpose make much of our supposed
        intelligence but their writings make one doubt it. If I were granted
        omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not
        think Man much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts.
        [Bertrand Russell, "Cosmic Purpose" in Religion and Science]

        Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an
        interesting world I find myself in and an interesting hole I find
        myself in. Fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me
        staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is
        such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air
        heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's
        still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to
        be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built
        to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by
        surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch
        out for.
        [Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)]

        -----------

        5) Knowing the remarkable varieties of species the Designer was busy
        creating for hundreds of millions of years prior to humanity's last
        minute arrival on the scene, it seems a shame to destroy the majority
        of them, sometimes slowly, sometimes in vast catastrophes. Like
        knocking over a game table. What kind of a "game plan" is that? While
        humanity only gets to puzzle over their bones?

        ------------

        6) Neither do we know how long man's "ascendancy" or those of the
        mammals will last. If we get along for 130 million years like the
        dinosaurs did we'll be lucky, and if we survive for a similar period
        of 130 million years, what will human beings look like by then?
        Maybe we'll have added genetic features via bioengineering? Or we'll
        build silicon brains or hybrid silicone/bio brains that keep track of
        far more knowledge. Or, some robotic, or bio-engineered species will
        replace humanity? Or some meteors or cosmic rays or solar flares or
        passing star or black hole or nearby nova will extinguish life on
        earth and some other civilized race traveling through our solar
        system will merely cite "the story of life on earth" as an object
        lesson concerning the dangers inherent in the cosmos.

        ----------

        7)What about life on other planets? If living organisms are found on
        Mars or Europa or some other distant world, how would the progressive
        creation hypothesis interpret such discoveries?

        ----------

        8)Reminds me of the account in Genesis that states God created the
        two great light (lamps) to rule the day and night on earth, but other
        planets in our solar system also have great lamps, even a multitude
        of lamps (moons) to rule their nights and "for signs and seasons" in
        their heavens. I might ask why this is so, and why those planets also
        have their own "days and nights" of their own unique duration? Seems
        to make the Genesis account appear a tad parochial, a tad earth-
        centered, having everything created just to light the earth and fill
        it, during "six" evenings and morning on earth. And a little awkward
        having to explain why God created all those other "lamps" to "rule
        the nights" of uninhabited worlds.

        Ed
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