I had a really interesting IM chat today about creationism and the evolution of life. It was with my best friend who is an Oxford graduate and a History teacher doing Teach First on the Aylesbury Estate in South London. It came off the back of my earlier post about evolution. With his permission I quote it verbatim below.

You can eavesdrop on two non-expert Christians trying to make sense of the world. This is us rapidly IMing, not stopping to think, research or spellcheck. Our sentences frequently have bad syntax and spelling; a bit like our mutating and evolving genomes in fact. Our ideas are half-formed and our arguments often unsubstantiated.

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nathanael: Hi mate

love the blog still

Sent at 10:51 on Monday

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nathanael: It’s kickstarted a very interesting debate with rush about evolution. She’s a bit more of a creationist, so i showed her your article

ruth not rush!

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me: i got it!

interesting, hope i can convince her. i realised i don’t really argue for theistic evolution, i simply assert it.

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nathanael: That’s one thing she pointed out!”

She’s not convinced by evolution at all. Thought your article was good though, but disagreed

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me: i wasn’t setting out to argue from the ground up for TE. i should do that in another post.

Sent at 10:57 on Monday

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nathanael: you really should. I’m a theistic evolutionist as well, so interesting discussions with Ruth. She asserts that macro evolution is still only a theory and finds it hard to fit evolution in with the bible

to be honest, some of her arguments have challenged me. I’ve always thought creationists were a bit kinda southern baptist loonies etc., and most rational people were evolutionists. But I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that

Ruth certainly isn’t loony!

Sent at 10:59 on Monday

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me: the big problem with TE is the Bible states that death came into the world thru Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Macroev states that life developed thru millions of years of predation, death and decay.

so she’s got a point.

Sent at 11:01 on Monday

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me: perhaps the Bible is talking only of spiritual death coming into the world. After all, in Genesis God gives the plants and fruit to the animals and humans to eat. The earliest Henrews knew very well that eating plants meant plant matter was dying. And that’s pre-Fall. So perhaps physical death was part of God’s creation plan from the start.

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nathanael: good point

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me: but! i’d rather have this little problem rather than having to discount practicaaly every piece of science we have to accomodate a young earth theory

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nathanael: What is the evidence for an older earth? How reliabel is the data?

Sent at 11:05 on Monday

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me: it is overwhelming, vast and solid. everything we ever learnt in physics, chemistry, biology, geography.

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nathanael: so young earth theory has no basis in fact at all

Sent at 11:08 on Monday

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me: no. thing is, the universe looks old. fossils in rock, red shift on expanding galaxies, lead/uranium levels in meteorites etc.

so Young earthers end up with this deceptive creator, making every appearance of an old earth. why would God do that?

Sent at 11:10 on Monday

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nathanael: yes, that’s what I said. What about the evidence for macro evolution? How convincing is this? Ruth doesn’t reckon we evolved in that way. I’m an evolutionist, but even I see some problems. Why don’t we see speices in transition today?

why are all humans basically the same?

Sent at 11:11 on Monday

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me: we do actually see loads of species in transition forms. there are all kinds of creatures that are halfway houses between two forms.

Not just lungfish and platypus. insects are good on this one.

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nathanael: mate, awesome. I’ve got lunch duty now but will be back in 25mins. Will you still be around? I’d love to chat more. So good to catch up

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me: humans being similar is not incompatible with evolution. yeah, would love to go deeper! safe

bye

Sent at 11:14 on Monday

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nathanael: Hi mate, still there?

Sent at 11:46 on Monday

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me: yep u there?

Sent at 11:48 on Monday

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nathanael: tom is your connection working? It keesp saying that you’re not receiving my chat!

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me: i’m getting it dont wory

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nathanael: ok cool

Sent at 11:55 on Monday

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nathanael: mate, I wanted to know, what do you think about us evolving from ape like creatures? What’s your opinion?

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me: brb

Sent at 12:02 on Monday

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me: i dont think it detracts from human dignity, any more than iron ore being dug from the ground detracts from the dignity of a ferrari.

Sent at 12:06 on Monday

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nathanael: is there strong evidence for human evolution? And when exactly would these people become human, ie, gain a soul and a relationship with God, ability to recognise sin etc.? An dhow does this fit in with Adam and Eve? Mate, sorry for all these questions. I do agree with you. I jut want confirmation of why I agree with you!

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me: as far as i’ve thought about it, these questions are the most pertinent ones.

i don’t know the answers to those questions- i can’t see and such-and-such a stage, at x-years BC humanoid creatures were given a soul.

i can’t say…

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nathanael: what about the existence of ADAM AND eVE? Is that purely symbolic?

Sent at 12:10 on Monday

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me: undecided: if they were symbolic, that wouldnt cause the gospel to collapse. But my feeling is that Adam and Eve were real historical people. the first beings that could be called human.

Sent at 12:11 on Monday

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me: for all we know, there were other gardens, other places where homo sapiens were created/emerged. the bible doesn’t mention them, but perhaps thats where cain and abel’s wives came form

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nathanael: yeah, that is a bit of a problem, that one!

is the evidence for human evolution strong?

Sent at 12:13 on Monday

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me: yes it is. remember, scientists aren’t generally conspiring to protect cherished theories at all (unless it’s human-caused climate change!)

The very process of science involves scientists trying to undermine and revolutionise old ideas with new ones. you get academic success for this, not for maintaining a status quo.

Sent at 12:16 on Monday

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me: you get kudos and yes financial success if you disrupt theories and surplant them. scientists by their nature want to do this, it’s part of their history and culture. so out of anybody, they would be keenest to attack evolution if it was a bad theory

Sent at 12:17 on Monday

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me: evidence always gets interpeted different ways by prosecution and defence, but:

our genomes are full of junk DNA, long chains of our DNA don’t do anything, they just exist there. seemingly left over from a past purpose.

Sent at 12:19 on Monday

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me: i believe this is still part of God’s design: but it is design in progress. like an artist who doesnt finish the painting, but lets you see pencil marks and the undercoat, so u can appreciate the artistic process. this is uncontroversial in art.

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nathanael: how do creationists then counter such evidence? What is there trump card?

or is it just based on the bible? Putting it antoher way, do creationists really see flaws with teh argument, or are they just saying the Bible must be right and then trying to form an anti-evolutionist slant

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are most creationists realigiou?

Sent at 12:22 on Monday

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me: creationists never start from  the science. they start from one interpretation of scripture then work back into the science, trying to undo it.

well to be creationsist you need a creator. and its probably only christians and muslims. i dont know about hindus etc.

Sent at 12:24 on Monday

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me: I commend them from starting with scripture of course. But i think the range of interpretation of scripture is fluid, while right now the science cant be re-interpreted legitmately. so we should let our theology of creation flex, not try to bend science.

i suppose the poster-child of creationism is the idea of Irreducible Complexity.

this is what the Intelligent Design group focus on.

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nathanael: which is that things are so complex that evolution couldn’t possibly have created it?

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me: pretty much

but it’s continually undermined by new discoveries in the science

the point of evolution as a mechanism is that lots of tiny changes over a long time produce constructions that seem impossibly complex.

a pretty genius method if God really did choose to make life that way

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nathanael: Are there many legitimate Scientists who are creationists?

Sent at 12:29 on Monday

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me: not as far as i know. ID have michael dembski with them, but he’s a mathematician. more importantly, Francis Collins is a theistic evolution. He directed the human genome project. He’s got a book thats easy to read about this

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nathanael: is he a Christian?

Sent at 12:32 on Monday

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me: evangelical, yes

oh, michael behe is also an ID advocate, a biochemist. so they have a few men.

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nathanael: fascinating stuff mate. MATE, I’ve got to go, work to do If you don’t mind, I might forward to Ruth your comments, which will spark further interesting debate, and mate, you really must do a blog on theistic evolution. Would love it so much

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me: fwd them please! oh, i might just post this conversation!

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nathanael: do, that would be great. Honestly, I would love it! It means that I wold be part of your famous blog

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me: gosh im hungry time for lunch

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nathanael: how many readers do you have?

I look forward to seeing myself in print

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me: not loads yet, its early days/ think i had 40 the day after i posted a link as my facebook status its all about consistent marketing. ppl i know who write blogs spent years doing it before i ever bothered to look!

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nathanael: true. Mate, have a good one. Great to chat. I check your blog every day. Look forward to seeing evolution thoughts

cheers

Sent at 12:39 on Monday

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me: love u! write some yourself once you’ve read Franic Collins’ The Language of God. bye!

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nathanael: be

bye

Sent at 12:41 on Monday

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What interests me is the very process of the conversation developing; a point in time; a work-in-progress. The actual phrasing of our views is evidently incomplete and insufficient, I freely admit. I think this reflects us as biological organisms, a stage in construction prior to completion.

Hope you enjoyed listening in. Feel free to virulently disagree! What do you think?

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