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talk.origins FAQ (Creation) 3 of 3

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Archive-name: talk-origins/creation/part3
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Last-modified: 17 May 1998
Version: 3.2
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
[36] Some kinds of species seem to appear in the fossil record in simpler
or more primitive forms that the forms that are currently alive on earth.
Why would God create simpler forms of species rather than producing the
more advanced forms straight away?
[A] Some of these apparently simpler forms may have been intermediate
stages as it appears that God chose to create new kinds of species by
modifying existing ones, however the intermediate stages would have been
ecologically useful. God was managing ecosystems as well as anticipating
more complex kinds of life and there is no particular reason why changes
would have to occur quickly. A slow pace of change would have produced
more stability in ecosystems.

Introducing a new kind of animal in a form with limited effectiveness as a
predator would have allowed changes to ecological balance to occur slowly.
Natural selection could produce small changes in prey species such as
modifications in instinctive behaviour that would allow a prey species to
survive in the presence of a new predator. A new highly effective predator
arriving in an ecosystem would be likely to cause extinction if there were
multiple prey species or produce a small population if there was only one
species of prey.

[37] What is a kind?
[A] A kind is a created group of organisms. The creation account in
Genesis tells us that God created animals and plants "according to their
kind". Some people interpret this to be each species but in many cases the
term kind may also apply to a higher level of classification such as a
genus or family. The arbitrary nature of classification means that kinds
and our classification systems don't necessarily match. Among different
kinds of life to humans a kind may be a family in the classification
system, for example kangaroos and wallabies appear to be a single kind
although they belong to different genera.

An example of two different kinds are the the fossil _Australopithecus_
species including Australopithecus afarensis, A. africanus, A.boisei and
A. robustus that are thought to include a common ancestor of humans, and
the early _Homo_ species, Homo habilis and H. erectus.

All the Australopithecus species were one distinctly apelike kind. They
had relatively small brains around 450 cc in volume, thick skulls, faces
that jutted forward with a strongly protruding jaw, very large molars and
premolars, a conical chest that was narrow at the top and broad at the
bottom, little neck with no waist, an extremely apelike build with twice
the body mass of humans of equivalent height, long and very muscular arms,
short legs, toes that were long and curved, a high degree of sexual
dimorphism and the occipital lobes at the back of the brain were larger
than the frontal lobes.

Homo species have larger brains, thinner skulls, flatter faces, smaller
molars, a barrel shaped chest, a longer neck and a waist, a leaner build
more typical of modern humans, shorter and less muscular arms, longer
legs, shorter and straight toes, sexes of approximately equal sizes, and
the occipital lobes at the back of the brain are smaller than the frontal
lobes. There are other changes to the shape of the brain in Homo,
including the appearance of Broca's area, the part of the brain that
controls complex vocalisation.

The genus Australopithecus is thought to have evolved into the genus Homo
over the course of about 1.5 million years and approximately 10^13
zygotes, a relatively large number of base changes would need to have been
produced in this time and the number of beneficial mutations required may
not be sufficiently probable for evolution to explain this change.

[38] Are fossils that appear to be apes that walked upright or simpler
forms of humans evidence of evolution?
[A] No. If humans are directly descended from animals then these fossils
may indicate stages that are close to the path of common descent, although
different forms that do not appear to be direct ancestors of humans
indicate a degree of adaptation to different environments by random
mutations sorted by natural selection. This is consistent with progressive
creation by modification. If the first humans were created by the
modification of an upright bipedal species of animal, we are still a
deliberately created design.

The existence of species that walked upright on two legs and were similar
in appearance to humans would also have served a useful function for the
coming humans, since God already had the design of humans in mind and was
preparing the earth for us. Other species existing before humans may have
had a tendency to attack human sized individuals and the fights between
cave apes and potential predators would have produced natural selection
among then existing species for instinctive behaviour that favoured
aversion to upright bipeds. Fossil evidence of tooth marks in bones show
that early upright biped species such as _Australopithecus afarensis_ were
preyed on by tigers or similar predators. Cave dwelling apes that used
simple tools and weapons, particularly the more robust forms that had
larger bones and presumably stronger muscles that humans, would have been
useful for early humans in this regard by killing a proportion of these
predators so that alleles that produced aversion behaviour towards upright
bipeds became more common in the predator population. The cave apes may
have established an ecological niche for Adam and Eve and their
descendants.

[39] Who was Adam?
[A] Adam was the first individual of our modern species _Homo sapiens
sapiens_. The similarity of our DNA with that of chimpanzees suggests
common ancestry and therefore that that God formed Adam by modifying an
existing pre-human species, yet God changed Adam significantly from
existing pre-humans. Adam was the first individual of the Homo genus to
have a soul and this gave him and his descendants a sense of self that
changed the nature of thinking so that abstract thought and the use of
abstract concepts in language became possible.

There is a major change in the fossil and archaeological record called the
Upper Paleolithic Revolution that is dated around 50,000 to 35,000 Years
before the present, it shows the simultaneous appearance of a number of
novel objects in the archaeological record - evidence of the first
appearance of modern human culture. These new objects include
sophisticated stone tools that required a very high degree of skill to
produce, the use of bone and antler as raw materials for toolmaking, tool
kits comprising more than 100 different items that included implements for
fashioning rough clothing, beads and pendants for adornment and cave
paintings. Humans then began changing at a much more rapid pace with
significant changes appearing in thousands of years rather than in
hundreds of thousands or millions of years as had previously been the
case. Agriculture first appears after this change.

It is suggested by this writer that God modified the DNA of an archaic
_Homo sapiens_ zygote to form Adam and then Eve, and that this event
immediately preceded the Upper Paleolithic Revolution. This implies either
that the biblical record is inaccurate by a factor of 6 to 8 as a result
of errors in the duplication of the oldest manuscripts or that the dating
of the Upper Paleolithic Revolution is incorrect. The rapid pace of
cultural change that follows the Upper Paleolithic Revolution is
consistent with the appearance of a new species with a new mode of
thinking that arose when God gave Adam a soul.

Humans have a special place in God's creation and we are a different kind
to the archaic Homo species that lived before the creation of Adam.
Although the existence of a soul may not be part of our molecular biology
it is an integral part of our psychology and this mind within a mind of
Homo sapiens sapiens makes us think very differently to our presumed
ancestors.

The bible describes the creation of  Adam in this way:

".. 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." 
[Genesis 2:7]

This could refer to progressive creation by modification beginning with
the creation of an ancestral organism from inorganic materials, and the
giving of a soul to Adam. The word "life" in the bible is frequently used
to mean eternal life.

[40] What about Noah's ark?
[A] Noah's ark was a miracle and miracles need not follow physical laws or
scientific principals. We are not expected to understand how they
happened.

[41] Can the sophistication of humans be explained by evolution?
[A] No. Human culture has progressed in around 12,000 years from the
making of stone tools to the launch of spacecraft to explore the solar
system. This is a fleeting moment of geological time, much too short a
time frame for mutations sorted by natural selection to have produced the
required increase in brain complexity since microelectronic circuit design
and astrophysics require thinking skills considerably more advanced than
those used by simple hunter gatherers or the members of the first small
agricultural communities.

The sophistication of the human brain to enable very complex abstract
thought depends upon the use of written language. Very complex ideas are
not developed in a single generation but arise from the refinement and
extension of existing complex ideas over many generations, and only a
small proportion of the individuals in a large population will be able to
contribute to the development of these ideas. Written language is needed
to store the results of a gifted individual's effort in developing or
refining a very complex idea and make it accessible to that small number
of other individuals who are able to continue developing the idea,
including individuals in future generations. 

Individuals who lived before the development of complex written language
would be limited to ideas that could be understood by a significant
proportion of the population and transferred verbally, or ideas that could
be developed in a single generation. Evolution cannot explain the
development of the mental ability to understand and develop concepts so
complex that they require generations of rarely gifted individuals to
develop since this thinking sophistication represents potential that was
unused until very recently. Mutations and natural selection cannot
increase the functional adaptation of combinations of genes that are not
used, and the cultural environment where very complex ideas could develop
has only existed in recent millennia. We were created in God's image with
the potential to develop to our present stage of intellectual and
technological sophistication.

[42] Why should I believe the Christian version of creation rather than
the alternatives proposed by other religions?
[A] Around 700 BC the prophet Isaiah told the Jewish people of a coming
messiah who would be born of a virgin. Isaiah also described the things
this messiah would do on earth and explained in detail how he would suffer
for the healing of others. Other prophets including King David, the second
king of the nation of Israel, also described this coming heavenly king.

Around 30 AD a man named John began baptising people and telling them that
the kingdom of heaven was near, then John the Baptist was imprisoned. Soon
afterwards Jesus began his public ministry in Israel and John sent one of
his disciples to Jesus asking if he was the messiah who the prophets had
said was coming. Jesus replied:

"Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind
receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf
hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."
[Luke 7:22]

Jesus was not saying that people should believe he was the messiah because
he said so. He was pointing out that he was performing the miracles Isaiah
had predicted several centuries earlier that the messiah would perform.
Jesus later explained to his followers that he and God our creator are
one. He healed the sick, raised the dead and was raised from the dead, God
came down from heaven and lived among us in the person of Jesus.

[43] What are the moral consequences of advocating a belief in evolution?
[A] Evolution contradicts the bible because the bible states that God
created different kinds of plants and animals. The bible also describes
how to gain eternal life. If a supporter of evolution falsely claims that
the bible is wrong, and as a result another person disbelieves the bible
and loses their eternal life, then the actions of the evolution supporter
produce an outcome far worse than the killing of another human.

People wonder where life came from, and many people have been mislead to
believe that science has an explanation for the origin of life that has
been proved to be correct. This misleading of the public verges on
outright dishonesty when the unproved theory of evolution is presented
alongside other scientific explanations that are known with a high degree
of certainty to be true without distinguishing clearly between the two
types of explanations.

The followers of evolution have had 125 years to come up with a theory
that is a complete and valid explanation for the origin of living things
and they have failed to do so. The first living organism must have been
created by God.

Scientists have been claiming that the bible and, by implication,
Christianity is wrong and this is a false, misleading and harmful claim.
During the last century science has gained an exaggerated importance in
western philosophy and it is time for this harmful distortion to be
corrected. People look to science to help them understand the world and if
science gives them erroneous data then some very important decisions they
may make based on their understanding of who they are and why they are
here might be very wrong.

Science is a guessing game with rules, it is a useful way of answering
some types of questions but it cannot answer moral questions because our
understanding of the nature of humans and of human behaviour is imperfect.
The answers that science can give are limited to the hypotheses that can
be posed and tested, if an area is insufficiently understood for the real
answers to questions to be guessed then science cannot give us
understanding of that area. Science is unable to provide definitive
answers to questions of right and wrong in human behaviour since science
has only a limited understanding of humans.

Moral relativism, the idea that right and wrong can be determined by
arbitrary decisions based on what is known of the possible consequences of
actions, is junk philosophy. Rather than giving an answer to moral
questions it invites people to pick their own answer that may or may not
be correct. This limited view of living derives from the limited
understanding that science gives us of life.

We once had a Christian culture that integrated philosophy with moral
values, this has been replaced in a large proportion of popular culture by
a science oriented philosophy and almost a moral vacuum. This shift in
philosophy from religion to science has had a very harmful impact on our
society. The loss of moral values from popular western culture has
resulted in major social problems caused by damaging relationships
including family breakup, violence and the self destructive behaviour that
results from lost self esteem.

Christian moral values are the instructions for life given by the creator
of humans, if we disregard these instructions our lives will not work
properly and if our culture disregards these instructions then our culture
will develop serious social problems.

[44] Are there any unsolved problems in developing an understanding of the
Genesis account of creation that is also consistent with modern science?
[A] Yes. The genealogy found in the book of Genesis traces the ancestry of
Abram from Adam, and Abram lived during the early part of history that is
recorded in ancient texts other than the bible. The biblical genealogy
gives the ages of the fathers at the birth of their sons and simple
calculations give a time span of a little over 2,000 years between the
creation of Adam and the birth of Abram who lived about 2166 BC. The
Genesis account indicates that Adam was created about 6,000 years ago.

Radioactive dating indicates that individuals that used fire and tools and
had skeletons very similar to those of modern humans were present on earth
more than 12,000 years ago and the oldest human culture, that of the
Australian Aborigines, dates back at least 30,000 years based on
radioactive dating of charcoal from campfires. This seems to contradict
the 4,000 BC date for the creation of Adam.

Radioactive dating of Carbon samples is based on the assumption that the
ratio of the isotopes Carbon 12 and Carbon 14 in the atmosphere has
remained relatively constant over time and it is possible that this
assumption may not be correct, however tree ring studies indicate that
radiocarbon dating gives an accuracy of better than plus or minus 20
percent over 4,000 years or more. Radioactive Carbon dating is only useful
for samples younger than about 50,000 years, for older samples isotopes of
other radioactive elements or other methods are used.

Radioactive dating is done by comparing the amounts of particular
radioactive isotopes of elements in samples with the amounts of other
isotopes in the sample that are known to be the breakdown products of the
original radioactive atoms. Errors can occur when dating individual
samples as some of the original isotopes or their breakdown products may
have been lost. Radioactive dating is based on the assumptions that the
rate of radioactive decay has remained constant over time, that the
original samples contained only the radioactive isotopes and not a mixture
of the isotopes and their breakdown products, and that atoms of the
radioactive elements or their decay products have not been lost from a
sample. Although the former two assumptions seem valid in the opinion of
this writer, and the later one may be valid in many cases, dates obtained
by radioactive dating are not known with absolute certainty.

An alternative explanation to errors in radioactive dating may be that
either the ages or the number of individuals in the genealogy in Genesis
may have been incorrectly copied during the history of the manuscript.
This part of the bible is much older than the rest and while we can be
confident that the manuscripts we have of the later parts of the bible
contain very few errors, this may not be true of the very oldest part of
the bible, the creation account. The repetition of the phrase "according
to their kind" in reference to the creation of plants and animals enables
us to be confident that this phrase accurately reflects the original
manuscript.

[45] Why is it important to develop an understanding of the Genesis
account of creation that is also consistent with modern science?
[A] The bible tells us how to live and how to relate to God, other issues
are only addressed in the context of explaining our relationships with
others and with our creator. In order to relate to God it is helpful for
us to understand who God is and so Genesis tells us that God is the
creator of the universe, the earth, different kinds of plants and animals,
and of humans.

The bible does not go into detail about the process of creation since this
is not the focus of Genesis. We are told that God created different kinds
of plants and animals and that on a later occasion he created humans. It
is relevant to relate this small amount of information we are given about
creation in the bible to our quest for a scientific understanding of
nature since those of us who consider the bible inspired by God believe
these answers to be statements of truth, and therefore things that are
known for certain.

Given this view of the bible we have a limited number of reference points
that are authoritative statements of truth and we can gain a more detailed
view of the world with logical deductions that are the product of applying
the scientific method to observations of nature. If we want our
understanding of nature to be close to the truth then it must be
consistent with the statements of truth contained in the bible. If there
is an apparent disagreement between science and the bible then this
appearance of disagreement can only result from our imperfect
understanding of the bible text, errors in translation or in the copying
of the original bible manuscripts or from errors in observation or
deduction when using the scientific method to understand nature.

The scientific method and the accumulated answers to questions that have
come from using it are an important part of modern culture, however the
question of how to live and how to relate to God is more important.


The Apostle Paul writes:

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his
eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood
from what has been made, so that men are without excuse". [Romans 1.20]


References

All quotations from the bible are from the New International Version (NIV).

[#1] Miller, S. Formation of Organic Compounds On The Primitive Earth.
Reports On The International Symposium on The Origin Of Life On Earth,
Moscow 1957. The Publishing House of The Academy Of Sciences Of The USSR.

[#2] Joyce, J.F., Orgel, L.E., Prospects for Understanding the Origin of
the RNA World. In, The RNA World, 1993, Ed. Gesteland, R.F., Atkins, J.F.,
Cold Spring Harbour Press.

[#3] Ferris, J.P., Hill, A.R. Jr., Liu, R., & Orgel L.E., Synthesis of long
prebiotic oligomers on mineral surfaces. Nature Vol 381, p 59 - 61 (1996).

[#4] Crick, F., Introduction to "The RNA World", 1993, Ed. Gesteland,
R.F., Atkins, J.F., Cold Spring Harbour Press.


Notes

Some minor changes in this version.

This FAQ is also available at http://www.zeta.org.au/~jeffcox/creation.html
It is posted to the talk.origins usenet newsgroup in three parts but it is
actually a single document, please join the parts together and you might
like to delete the extra headers that will appear immediately before
points 18 and 36.


There is another talk.origins FAQ that answers questions on evolution from
a non creation point of view, it is also posted to the talk.origins
newsgroup and can be found at http://earth.ics.uci.edu:8080/


The author asserts ownership of the intellectual property of original
ideas contained herein. This document may be freely distributed, archived,
printed and copied, the document must either be reproduced in it's
entirety or be quoted from with acknowledgement of the source and author.
Posting a reply on usenet such as Re: talk.origins FAQ (Creation) is an
acceptable way of attributing a quote.


Version 3.2, 17 May 1998.


Jeffrey Cox <jeffcox@zeta.org.au>

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