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Announcing an online course on science and the Bible

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  • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
    Dear AR-talkers, This summer I am going to teach a nine-week online course on Science and the Bible. The course will meet online Tuesdays, July 14 through
    Message 1 of 9 , May 31, 2009
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      Dear AR-talkers,

      This summer I am going to teach a nine-week online course on "Science and the Bible." The course will meet online Tuesdays, July 14 through September 8, from 9:00 to 10:30 pm Eastern time, on PalTalk (http://www.paltalk.com/). This will be a serious, in-depth course examining different approaches to the vexed issues of creation and evolution (and related matters) as fairly and carefully as time allows. A detailed syllabus will be provided (it is not ready yet). The course will interact with classic figures and perennial issues as well as the most current, up-to-date publications by leading scientists and biblical scholars (of differing points of view). Here is a tentative outline of the course:

      1. History of science (Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Hawking)
      2. Revelation and the philosophy of science (general v. special revelation; realism v. nonrealism in science; how science changes; models for relating science and theology; naturalism)
      3. Models of creation and evolution (young-earth and old-earth creationism, theistic evolution, atheistic and pantheistic evolution)
      4. Genesis 1-3 and creation (Genesis 1:1 and creation ex nihilo; age of the earth and universe; origin of life and its diversity; origin of the human race; historicity of the Fall)
      5. Genesis 4-9 and creation (the genealogies and the antiquity of the human race; the nature, extent, and universality of the Flood; interpretations of the Flood and of geology)
      6. Creation in the rest of the Bible (wisdom literature [Psalms, Proverbs, Job]; Romans 5 and 8; creation and its consummation in biblical eschatology)
      7. Physical sciences and creation (origin of the universe, fine-tuning and design arguments)
      8. Biological sciences and creation (origin of life, arguments for and against macroevolution, ID)
      9. Human sciences and creation (origin of human race; mind-body problem and modern brain science)

      Each class session will consist of a lecture running approximately one hour, followed by about half an hour of discussion in which attendees will be able to ask questions either audibly by microphone or by typing their questions. Persons of diverse views on the scientific and theological questions are invited and encouraged to join the class and participate in the Q&A sessions.

      This course, which is being produced by Reclaiming the Mind Ministries as an elective course of The Theology Program, will normally cost $100, but RMM has tonight just announced an early-bird special of $80 for those who sign up this week:

      http://store.reclaimingthemind.org/SearchResults.asp?Cat=22

      In Christ's service,
      Rob Bowman
    • Heinz Schmitz
      If Jehovah s Witnesses were to give a course in this fashion on Bible translation you would scream foul for their lack of credentials in the field. I wonder,
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 8, 2009
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        If Jehovah's Witnesses were to give a course in this fashion on Bible translation you would scream foul for their lack of credentials in the field. I wonder, on this course that you offer on science for a fee, do you have any credentials in the field of Science, particularly Biology and especialy evolutionary biology?

        Heinz

        --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "Robert M. Bowman, Jr." <faithhasitsreasons@...> wrote:
        >
        > Dear AR-talkers,
        >
        > This summer I am going to teach a nine-week online course on "Science and the Bible." The course will meet online Tuesdays, July 14 through September 8, from 9:00 to 10:30 pm Eastern time, on PalTalk (http://www.paltalk.com/). This will be a serious, in-depth course examining different approaches to the vexed issues of creation and evolution (and related matters) as fairly and carefully as time allows. A detailed syllabus will be provided (it is not ready yet). The course will interact with classic figures and perennial issues as well as the most current, up-to-date publications by leading scientists and biblical scholars (of differing points of view). Here is a tentative outline of the course:
        >
        > 1. History of science (Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Hawking)
      • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
        Heinz, You wrote:
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 14, 2009
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          Heinz,

          You wrote:

          << If Jehovah's Witnesses were to give a course in this fashion on Bible translation you would scream foul for their lack of credentials in the field. I wonder, on this course that you offer on science for a fee, do you have any credentials in the field of Science, particularly Biology and especialy evolutionary biology? >>

          Heinz, your question proceeds from a couple of false premises. First, I would have no objection to a Jehovah's Witness teaching a course on Bible translation, if he had some expertise relevant to that subject area. A few (such as Rolf Furuli) do have such expertise. Of course, merely being a JW would not qualify anyone to teach such a course, just as being a Baptist would not (although the number of qualified Baptists far outstrips the number of qualified JWs). So your comparison is irrelevant.

          Second, I am not teaching a course "on science" (note the lack of any qualifier). I am teaching a course on "Science and the Bible." The nature of this course is that it is interdisciplinary; one can imagine a person well qualified to teach such a course from a variety of professional specializations.

          I wonder if you would be criticizing me if any of the following were the case:

          1. I was a professional theologian and a layman in science, but held to the standard biological theory of evolution.

          2. I was a professional scientist and an evolutionist, but held no credentials in the study of religion or the Bible.

          3. I was a professional biologist but a young-earth creationist.

          I suspect that your answers would reveal that the bugaboo for you is not really my qualifications, but my positions on the issues.

          I also suspect that you don't even know what my positions on the issues are. You likely think you do know what they are, on the supposition that all evangelicals hold the same views on all such issues. But we don't.

          My credentials for teaching such a course are actually substantial. I am a professional biblical scholar, and as such, I bring professional expertise to the "Bible" side of the "Science and the Bible" discussion. I studied the history and philosophy of science at the university and also took relevant courses at graduate school, so I am very well-acquainted with the issues pertaining to the intersection of science and theology. I have written on these subjects in three books and in several articles. I have also worked with at least three authors who have published extensively on science-Bible issues. I may not be a rocket scientist, but I happen to be the son of a rocket scientist (literally), and I have studied science-Bible issues and explored the entire range of views on these subjects (with some changes in my own views from time to time) for about 35 years.

          If you like, you may audit the course free of charge and see for yourself if I have the requisite understanding of the scientific (and theological) issues. A fee is charged only to those who are enrolled in The Theology Program and seeking a certificate.

          In Christ's service,
          Rob Bowman
        • Heinz Schmitz
          ...
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 16, 2009
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            --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "Robert M. Bowman, Jr." <faithhasitsreasons@...> wrote:
            >
            >Rob: You wrote:

            << If Jehovah's Witnesses were to give a course in this fashion on Bible translation you would scream foul for their lack of credentials in the field. I wonder, on this course that you offer on science for a fee, do you have any credentials in the field of Science, particularly Biology and especialy evolutionary biology? >>

            Rob: Heinz, your question proceeds from a couple of false premises. First, I would have no objection to a Jehovah's Witness teaching a course on Bible translation, if he had some expertise relevant to that subject area. A few (such as Rolf Furuli) do have such expertise. Of course, merely being a JW would not qualify anyone to teach such a course, just as being a Baptist would not (although the number of qualified Baptists far outstrips the number of qualified JWs). So your comparison is irrelevant.

            Reply: It is not irrelevant and you and I know of no one at Bethel qualified to teach such a course. You would rail even if the NWT translators were teaching this, so I cannot take your position seriously.

            Rob: Second, I am not teaching a course "on science" (note the lack of any qualifier). I am teaching a course on "Science and the Bible." The nature of this course is that it is interdisciplinary; one can imagine a person well qualified to teach such a course from a variety of professional specializations.

            Reply: You are including in this course a segment on "macroevolution" and your views on this and your lack of expertise taints this from the outset.

            Rob: I wonder if you would be criticizing me if any of the following were the case:

            1. I was a professional theologian and a layman in science, but held to the standard biological theory of evolution.

            Reply: If a fee is charged and a certificate is granted, then yes.

            Rob: 2. I was a professional scientist and an evolutionist, but held no credentials in the study of religion or the Bible.

            Reply: If a fee is charged and a certificate is granted, then yes.

            Rob: 3. I was a professional biologist but a young-earth creationist.

            Reply: I would treat such a one as I would treat an astronomer who believes in astrology...as someone who needs professional help.

            Rob: I suspect that your answers would reveal that the bugaboo for you is not really my qualifications, but my positions on the issues.

            Reply: If you are not qualified to instruct anyone about evolution, then what should anyone care about your position on it? Furthermore, your position can have serious consequences for the student in the long run. A correct understanding of evolution has positive ramifications for the study of medicine and a correct understanding can be a benefit to society. A prejudicial view of this science benefits no one, and your student now faces tougher scrutiny when seeking admission to medical schools if that is what he wishes in the future.

            Rob: I also suspect that you don't even know what my positions on the issues are. You likely think you do know what they are, on the supposition that all evangelicals hold the same views on all such issues. But we don't.

            Reply: I have your book _20 Compelling Evidences_ and I think I know what your position is. The very mention of "MACRO" evolution say a lot as well.

            Rob: My credentials for teaching such a course are actually substantial. I am a professional biblical scholar, and as such, I bring professional expertise to the "Bible" side of the "Science and the Bible" discussion.

            Reply: And Timothy Dwight could say the same, but he still denounced small pox vaccinations.
            You will teach _Biological sciences and creation (origin of life, arguments for and against macroevolution, ID)_ yet in the scientific community the micro-macro division is an artificial construct made by creationists and does not accurately reflect the actual processes of evolution, and I can tell by your Compelling Evidences book that you don't understand probabilities in science nor do you understand how life adapts to certain environments. But then, this is the same book that paralleled the Admonitions of Ipuwer with the 10 plagues of Egypt. One is disappointed that this is not as apparent when one actually reads the entirety of the Admonitions. I have come across Christians that feel similarly. Your arguments are those of special pleading and poor reasoning, and you have to wonder how history will judge your writings and your teachings. The Evangelical's full and eventual embrace of the all of evolution is not that of an "if", it is a "when." Like Timothy Dwight, history may just reduce you to a caricature, and perhaps even a dangerous one at that.
            Heinz
          • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
            Heinz, You wrote:
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 16, 2009
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              Heinz,

              You wrote:

              << It is not irrelevant and you and I know of no one at Bethel qualified to teach such a course. You would rail even if the NWT translators were teaching this, so I cannot take your position seriously. >>

              You've made up your mind on this and many other claims, which is why you don't take me seriously. I would have absolutely no objection to the NWT translators or other JW leaders teaching a course intended primarily for JWs and charging a fee to cover modest expenses. That is analogous to the situation here. RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those who do so are mostly evangelicals. There is nothing wrong with this.

              I had asked:

              I wonder if you would be criticizing me if any of the following were the case: 1. I was a professional theologian and a layman in science, but held to the standard biological theory of evolution.

              You replied:

              << Reply: If a fee is charged and a certificate is granted, then yes. >>

              Then this:

              2. I was a professional scientist and an evolutionist, but held no credentials in the study of religion or the Bible.

              You replied:

              << If a fee is charged and a certificate is granted, then yes. >>

              I see that to salvage your consistency you are being absurd. So apparently the only type of person you would agree is qualified to teach a course on science and the Bible is an evolutionary scientist who also has professional qualifications in religious or biblical studies. With this sort of narrow and rigid qualifications, presumably you would not allow a biologist to comment on cosmology or an astronomer (even one holding to evolutionary theory) to comment on biology, at least in the context of a course for which a fee is charged. Likewise, if the instructor was a professional biblical scholar you would presumably not want him to comment on the history of science-Bible controversies, since those are matters of modern history and not biblical studies per se. You aren't willing to consider the possibility that someone might be professionally trained in one area and knowledgeable enough in the other area to do a good job of explaining the cross-disciplinary issues.

              You wrote:

              << If you are not qualified to instruct anyone about evolution, then what should anyone care about your position on it? >>

              No one is twisting anyone's arm to take the course. Your criticisms are expressions of intolerance.

              You wrote:

              << Furthermore, your position can have serious consequences for the student in the long run. A correct understanding of evolution has positive ramifications for the study of medicine and a correct understanding can be a benefit to society. A prejudicial view of this science benefits no one, and your student now faces tougher scrutiny when seeking admission to medical schools if that is what he wishes in the future. >>

              This is laughable. The course makes no pretense of preparing anyone for medical school. Anyone wanting to go to medical school would submit academic records from his or her undergraduate degree program, not a certificate from an online course for lay people wishing to enrich their knowledge in a non-degree setting.

              I wrote:

              My credentials for teaching such a course are actually substantial. I am a professional biblical scholar, and as such, I bring professional expertise to the "Bible" side of the "Science and the Bible" discussion.

              You replied:

              << Reply: And Timothy Dwight could say the same, but he still denounced small pox vaccinations. >>

              I see you have read Christopher Hitchens. Bringing up Timothy Dwight is a rhetorical ploy, not a serious criticism of *my* teaching the course. Dwight is not an issue here.

              You wrote:

              << You will teach _Biological sciences and creation (origin of life, arguments for and against macroevolution, ID)_ yet in the scientific community the micro-macro division is an artificial construct made by creationists and does not accurately reflect the actual processes of evolution, and I can tell by your Compelling Evidences book that you don't understand probabilities in science nor do you understand how life adapts to certain environments. >>

              Your statements reveal that you are the one who is ignorant of science. The distinction between microevolution and macroevolution is not a creationist construct; it is a standard distinction in mainstream evolutionary science. For example, two biology professors at secular state universities published an article earlier this year in _Nature_ entitled "Darwin's Bridge between Microevolution and Macroevolution" (12 Feb. 2009). The authors, David N. Reznick and Robert E. Ricklefs, explained that microevolution refers to adaptive changes at or below the species level that can be observed in nature and in the lab, whereas macroevolution refers to changes above the species level that "cannot be witnessed because it occurs over intervals that far exceed the human lifespan." Reznick and Ricklefs think a connection or "bridge" between these two can be found, but they acknowledge the distinction. And this is not an isolated example in the literature; it is commonplace.

              Again, Heinz, no one is being forced to take the course or pay a fee for it. I invited you to audit the course free of charge (which you neglected to acknowledge in your response). The person who is displaying prejudice in this situation is you.

              In Christ's service,
              Rob Bowman
            • Heinz Schmitz
              ... RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those who do so
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 16, 2009
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                --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "Robert M. Bowman, Jr." <faithhasitsreasons@...> wrote:
                >
                > Heinz,
                >
                > You wrote:
                >
                RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those who do so are mostly evangelicals. There is nothing wrong with this.

                Reply: Evangelicals are a part of society, and teaching false information has a negative effect on society.

                > I see that to salvage your consistency you are being absurd. So apparently the only type of person you would agree is qualified to teach a course on science and the Bible is an evolutionary scientist who also has professional qualifications in religious or biblical studies.

                Reply: The entire premise of a course like this is ridiculous. Your brand of faith has been famously hostile to science while it is science that has done more for our well being than any ancient superstition. Your students are ill-served and I suspect your conclusions will have detrimental effects.

                >>With this sort of narrow and rigid qualifications, presumably you would not allow a biologist to comment on cosmology or an astronomer (even one holding to evolutionary theory) to comment on biology, at least in the context of a course for which a fee is charged.

                Reply: This is not a comparable analogy at all, and it is amusing that you think it is. A more likely analogy would be that of witch-doctor teaching a course on physics.

                >
                > You wrote:
                >
                > << If you are not qualified to instruct anyone about evolution, then what should anyone care about your position on it? >>
                >
                > No one is twisting anyone's arm to take the course. Your criticisms are expressions of intolerance.
                >

                Reply: And your insistence in this course of action is foolhardy. I am trying to help you and others like you to see your faulty thinking in the area of science.

                > You wrote:
                >
                > << Furthermore, your position can have serious consequences for the student in the long run. A correct understanding of evolution has positive ramifications for the study of medicine and a correct understanding can be a benefit to society. A prejudicial view of this science benefits no one, and your student now faces tougher scrutiny when seeking admission to medical schools if that is what he wishes in the future. >>
                >
                > This is laughable. The course makes no pretense of preparing anyone for medical school.

                Reply: I never said it did, but it does create a prejudice, and an unearned one.

                > << Reply: And Timothy Dwight could say the same, but he still denounced small pox vaccinations. >>
                >
                > I see you have read Christopher Hitchens. Bringing up Timothy Dwight is a rhetorical ploy, not a serious criticism of *my* teaching the course. Dwight is not an issue here.
                >

                Reply: I did not need Hitchens on this one, and I can easily move from Wright to anesthesia to germ theory to modern "evils" such as Gardasil. Christians have always been enemies of social, moral and scientific progress, and you are one of the enablers.

                >
                > Your statements reveal that you are the one who is ignorant of science. The distinction between microevolution and macroevolution is not a creationist construct; it is a standard distinction in mainstream evolutionary science. For example, two biology professors at secular state universities published an article earlier this year in _Nature_ entitled "Darwin's Bridge between Microevolution and Macroevolution" (12 Feb. 2009).

                Reply: Yes, Rob, you can find scant references to it amongst secularists, but it is more often than not used amongst Christians. For instance, simply go to google and just START typing in M A C R O and the first drop down suggestion is "macroevolution creationists."

                >
                > Again, Heinz, no one is being forced to take the course or pay a fee for it. I invited you to audit the course free of charge (which you neglected to acknowledge in your response). The person who is displaying prejudice in this situation is you.
                >

                Reply: I do wonder sometimes if I am being prejudiced, but there are negative ramifications to wrong thinking and this can impact others and it can become detrimental in the long run for the rest as a whole.
                Heinz
              • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
                Heinz, I wrote: RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 16, 2009
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                  Heinz,

                  I wrote:

                  RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those who do so are mostly evangelicals. There is nothing wrong with this.

                  You replied:

                  << Evangelicals are a part of society, and teaching false information has a negative effect on society. >>

                  So now your objection is simply that you disagree with what I will be teaching. Your earlier objection that I am unqualified because I am not a professional scientist has finally been revealed to be a smokescreen, as I predicted. Hey, successful predictions is a hallmark of good science, isn't it?

                  You wrote:

                  << The entire premise of a course like this is ridiculous. Your brand of faith has been famously hostile to science while it is science that has done more for our well being than any ancient superstition. Your students are ill-served and I suspect your conclusions will have detrimental effects.... Christians have always been enemies of social, moral and scientific progress, and you are one of the enablers. >>

                  This allegation that Christianity has been hostile to science is a myth. If you take my course (again, you can audit the course for free), this is an area where you will learn something. In the syllabus material that I will be providing for the course, I cite several historians, including some who are not Christians (of any kind), who have effectively debunked this myth. Ronald Numbers, a leading historian in the field of science and religion, is an example.

                  I had written:

                  Your statements reveal that you are the one who is ignorant of science. The distinction between microevolution and macroevolution is not a creationist construct; it is a standard distinction in mainstream evolutionary science. For example, two biology professors at secular state universities published an article earlier this year in _Nature_ entitled "Darwin's Bridge between Microevolution and Macroevolution" (12 Feb. 2009).

                  You replied:

                  << Yes, Rob, you can find scant references to it amongst secularists, but it is more often than not used amongst Christians. For instance, simply go to google and just START typing in M A C R O and the first drop down suggestion is "macroevolution creationists." >>

                  I tried that, and "macroevolution creationists" did not come up in the drop down list--not even after I had typed "macroevolution creationist." Maybe you're using another version of Google?

                  In any case, Heinz, your claims on this issue are simply false. Creationists did not originate the distinction, and evolutionists use the distinction regularly and routinely.

                  In Christ's service,
                  Rob Bowman
                • Heinz Schmitz
                  Heinz, I wrote: RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 17, 2009
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                    Heinz,

                    I wrote:

                    RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those who do so are mostly evangelicals. There is nothing wrong with this.

                    You replied:

                    << Evangelicals are a part of society, and teaching false information has a negative effect on society. >>

                    Rob: So now your objection is simply that you disagree with what I will be teaching. Your earlier objection that I am unqualified because I am not a professional scientist has finally been revealed to be a smokescreen, as I predicted. Hey, successful predictions is a hallmark of good science, isn't it?
                    Reply: You are unqualified, and this is made more apparent by what you will be teaching. Once you invoke God, miracles or the supernatural, you have left the realm of science, as any true scientist knows.Anything else is trickery and deception on your part.

                    Rob: This allegation that Christianity has been hostile to science is a myth. If you take my course (again, you can audit the course for free), this is an area where you will learn something.
                    Reply: How can you say that with a straight face when much of Christianity is presently is presently hostile to the accepted science of evolution? Do I need to invoke Timothy Dwight again. What about Cardinal Bellarmine? The denial of germ theory. The stand against anesthesia. I talk to Christians online all the time, and many are very hostile to medicine and science, and vehemently so. This is how they are taught. The last time I mentioned something like this you cast it aside as the ramblings of a teenager or a minority, but they are not. You are the minority Rob, they are the norm.
                    "Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God." - Martin Luther

                    Rob: In any case, Heinz, your claims on this issue are simply false. Creationists did not originate the distinction, and evolutionists use the distinction regularly and routinely.
                    Reply: Creationist did not invent the terms, they are not that clever, but they did embrace it, popularize it, misuse it, and gave it the popularity it presently has. Scientist generally do not use the terms and many feel it is a false distinction anyways. It is like acknowledging that a woman can become pregnant, but denying that she can actually give birth.
                  • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
                    Heinz, As Han Solo put it, Boring conversation anyway. This thread is now closed. In Christ s service, Rob Bowman
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 18, 2009
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                      Heinz,

                      As Han Solo put it, "Boring conversation anyway."

                      This thread is now closed.

                      In Christ's service,
                      Rob Bowman



                      --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "Heinz Schmitz" <christian_skeptic@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Heinz,
                      >
                      > I wrote:
                      >
                      > RMM charges a modest fee for those who wish to take its courses and have their learning of the material tested and a certificate issued. Those who do so are mostly evangelicals. There is nothing wrong with this.
                      >
                      > You replied:
                      >
                      > << Evangelicals are a part of society, and teaching false information has a negative effect on society. >>
                      >
                      > Rob: So now your objection is simply that you disagree with what I will be teaching. Your earlier objection that I am unqualified because I am not a professional scientist has finally been revealed to be a smokescreen, as I predicted. Hey, successful predictions is a hallmark of good science, isn't it?
                      > Reply: You are unqualified, and this is made more apparent by what you will be teaching. Once you invoke God, miracles or the supernatural, you have left the realm of science, as any true scientist knows.Anything else is trickery and deception on your part.
                      >
                      > Rob: This allegation that Christianity has been hostile to science is a myth. If you take my course (again, you can audit the course for free), this is an area where you will learn something.
                      > Reply: How can you say that with a straight face when much of Christianity is presently is presently hostile to the accepted science of evolution? Do I need to invoke Timothy Dwight again. What about Cardinal Bellarmine? The denial of germ theory. The stand against anesthesia. I talk to Christians online all the time, and many are very hostile to medicine and science, and vehemently so. This is how they are taught. The last time I mentioned something like this you cast it aside as the ramblings of a teenager or a minority, but they are not. You are the minority Rob, they are the norm.
                      > "Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God." - Martin Luther
                      >
                      > Rob: In any case, Heinz, your claims on this issue are simply false. Creationists did not originate the distinction, and evolutionists use the distinction regularly and routinely.
                      > Reply: Creationist did not invent the terms, they are not that clever, but they did embrace it, popularize it, misuse it, and gave it the popularity it presently has. Scientist generally do not use the terms and many feel it is a false distinction anyways. It is like acknowledging that a woman can become pregnant, but denying that she can actually give birth.
                      >
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