Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Bible is in Harmony with modern Science ?

An email from Mervin Sanders to myself, Mark Harrison and Mark Townsend on 26th May 2010

This is one of the best examinations of JW claims that the bible and science are in agreement, that I have ever read.

Thank you Merv.


Hi Marks/Derek

We have a situation here which I personally find quite stimulating.

1 The Marks accepting
and using biblical scripture which they take as being divinely inspired
and therefore 100% accurate and infallible

2 Derek rejecting biblical scripture as fairy tale and bunkum

3 Myself regarding the
bible (plus add-ons) as important historical evidence of a visitation
to our planet 6000 years ago, yet due to the technological restrictions
of both the writers and the translators, and due to the time between
oral tradition and the words being put on paper, a number of
inaccuracies have incurred. Plus censorship over the years.

If only God had the foresight to commit the whole lot to stone instead of just the 10 commandments!

I have taken more time
to look at your bible science as this is more my field of expertise.
Although I commonly use the same translation of the bible as you for
everyday reading as I find it easier, I tend to go back to the original
Hebrew in these discussions rather than another's interpretation,
particularly the WTB&TS. who let's face it, have been wrong on a
number of occasions.

I fully recommend
Strong's Concordance which gives a list of potential alternative
meanings in the original language, if like me, despite being an avid
bible student, you have not had the time to learn the original bible
languages yourself. You can find it right here on the Net.


The Hebrews were devout students of the wonders of the starry firmanent (Amo 5:8; Psa 19).
In the Book of Job, which is the oldest book of the Bible in all
probability, the constellations are distinguished and named. Mention is
made of the "morning star" (Rev 2:28; Isa 14:12), the "seven stars" and "Pleiades," "Orion," "Arcturus," the "Great Bear" (Amo 5:8; Job 9:9; 38:31), "the crooked serpent," Draco (Job 26:13), the Dioscuri, or Gemini, "Castor and Pollux" (Act 28:11). The stars were called "the host of heaven" (Isa 40:26; Jer 33:22).

The oldest divisions of time were mainly based on the observation of the
movements of the heavenly bodies, the "ordinances of heaven" (Gen 1:14-18; Job 38:33; Jer 31:35; 33:25).
Such observations led to the division of the year into months and the
mapping out of the appearances of the stars into twelve portions, which
received from the Greeks the name of the "zodiac." The word "Mazzaroth"
(Job 38:32)
means, as the margin notes, "the twelve signs" of the zodiac.
Astronomical observations were also necessary among the Jews in order
to the fixing of the proper time for sacred ceremonies, the "new
moons," the "passover," etc. Many allusions are found to the display of
God's wisdom and power as seen in the starry heavens (Psa 8; 19:1-6; Isa 51:6, etc.)

Above is my defence of biblical astronomy, known also amongst other nations of the time, and
mostly gleaned from the times the Israelites spent in captivity in
Egypt and Babylon before the spoken word was committed to print. If
your version of the bible disagrees, look up the Hebrew/Greek
alternatives in Strong's and form your own opinion rather than what the
Society tells you to believe.

To business ...

The Bible is in harmony with modern science.

A careful consideration of all of the evidence shows that the most questionable area is the interpretation of Biblical literalists.

The Watchtower Society's
complete lack of comprehension of science, while pretending the
opposite, was one of the main things that clued me in as to their true
nature. This is a commentary on the Watchtower Society's 1989 book The Bible: God's Word or Man's?, Chapter 8: "Science: Has It Proved the Bible Wrong?"

Chapter 8

Science: Has It Proved the Bible Wrong?

In 1613 the Italian
scientist Galileo published a work known as "Letters on Sunspots." In
it, he presented evidence that the earth rotates around the sun,

A minor point here which
shows the lack of familiarity of the WTB&TS with science and its
terminology: in the parlance of astronomers "rotate" is used
exclusively to describe the motion of a body around its own axis, while
"revolve" refers to a body going around another body in an orbit. Thus,
the earth revolves around the sun, and it rotates on its own axis.

rather than the sun
around the earth. By so doing, he set in motion a series of events that
finally brought him before the Roman Catholic Inquisition under
"vehement suspicion of heresy." Eventually, he was forced to "recant."

Why was the idea that
the earth moves around the sun viewed as heresy? Because Galileo's
accusers claimed that it was contrary to what the Bible says.

That is exactly what the Society says about the arguments of people who disagree with it.

Let us note that in the
same publication, the WTB&TS later returns to this topic to attempt
to answer the charges of Galileo's accusers. It does so in its usual
fashion: by setting up strawmen and knocking them down.

It is widely held today
that the Bible is unscientific, and some point to Galileo's experiences
to prove it. But is this the case? When answering that question, we
have to remember that the Bible is a book of prophecy, history, prayer,
law, counsel, and knowledge about God. It does not claim to be a
scientific textbook. Nevertheless, when the Bible does touch on
scientific matters, what it says is completely accurate.

Not always. Consider,
for example, your quote what the Bible says about our planet, the
earth. In the book of Job, we read: "[God] is stretching out the north
over the empty place, hanging the earth upon nothing."

Much could be said about
this, but let us simply note that the Greek philosopher Anaximander
(ca. 6th century B.C.E.) also thought that the earth was hung upon
nothing. He conceived of the earth as a cylinder, suspended on nothing
at the center of the sky, which was a hollow sphere surrounding the
earth. So the Bible's reference to the earth hanging on nothing is not

We will also see that
every reference in the Bible to the shape of the earth indicates a
flat, circular form -- not a sphere. So if the Bible's reference to
God's "hanging the earth upon nothing" is literal, it is not far from
Anaximander's idea.

(Job 26:7) Compare this
with Isaiah's statement, when he says: "There is One who is dwelling
above the circle of the earth." (Isaiah 40:22) The picture conveyed of
a round earth 'hanging upon nothing' in "the empty place" reminds us
strongly of the photographs taken by astronauts of the sphere of the
earth floating in empty space.

This is among the worst
of the Society's arguments about how the Bible is consistent with
science. The Hebrew word translated "circle" hardly ever means anything
but "circle", and in the Bible means only circle. In the Hebrew it never means "sphere". See 2329 of Strong's Concordance.

When we look at all
of the Biblical references to the shape of the earth, we find a
consistent picture: the earth is a flat, circular structure (like a
pizza pie) with the dome of the sky suspended above it like a tent.
What the Society has done here is to capitalize on the fact that the English word "round" equally describes a sphere and a circle.

Furthermore, the
Society's argument ignores the fact that many of the ancients knew
perfectly well that the earth is spherical. When it is convenient,
Watchtower writers will even acknowledge this. The December 22, 1977 Awake!
(p. 17) acknowledged that the Greek scholar Pythagoras, of the 6th
century B.C.E., knew it. Many other Greek thinkers knew it as well,
including Anaxagoras (5th cent. B.C.E.), Aristotle and Aristarchus (4th
cent. B.C.E.), Eratosthenes (3rd cent. B.C.E.; he actually measured the
diameter of the earth to within 12% of the correct value), Hipparchus
(2nd cent. B.C.E.), and Ptolemy (2nd cent. C.E.). There is even
evidence that the ancient Sumerians, around 2000 B.C.E., knew that the
earth is spherical. So even if the Bible writers really had in mind the
true shape of the earth, the fact that other ancient peoples knew it
does not prove anything about the Bible's inspiration or lack thereof.

Now, what does the Bible really
say about the shape of the earth? Nowhere does it say that it is
spherical. On the contrary, all of the references indicate, as I said
above, a flat, circular shape like a pizza pie. Let's see what a few
scriptures say, to get the general flavor.

In the New World Translation Daniel 4:10-11 relates Nebuchadnezzar's dream:

"'Now the visions of my
head upon my bed I happened to be beholding, and, look! a tree in the
midst of the earth, the height of which was immense. The tree grew up
and became strong, and its very height finally reached the heavens, and
it was visible to the extremity of the whole earth.'"

The word "midst" means
"middle" or "centre." Consistently, other Bible versions say "a tree in
the middle (or center) of the earth." This verse says that the tree was
visible to the extremity of the whole earth, and therefore paints a
picture of a flat, circular earth. The tree stood in its center and had
its top in the heavens so as to be visible from all over the earth.
This would be impossible on a spherical earth. But the picture is
completely consistent with the idea that God "is dwelling above the
circle of the earth".

Daniel 4:10-11 describes
a vision given to Nebuchadnezzar by God, and the Society says it is a
major prophecy of the Bible. Why would God give a prophecy of such
importance by giving an incorrect picture of the shape of the earth? If
Daniel and his contemporaries had a mental picture of the earth as a
sphere, and the vision pictured the earth as a sphere, what part of the
earth could be called the center? How could a tree of any height be
visible to its extremities? If Daniel had a mental picture of the earth
as a sphere, and the vision pictured the earth as a flat circle with
the tree in its center, would not Daniel and his readers have been
confused? The logical conclusion is that Daniel's mental picture and
the vision were consistent, and therefore that the scripture suggests
the picture the Bible writers had of the shape of the earth. It
suggests a flat, circular area large enough to hold all the kingdoms
known to the Bible writers, with the heavens a hemispherical vault
nestled down over the earth, not unlike the picture in Greek mythology.
If one says that this scripture is just using picturesque language,
then equally well can it be argued that Isaiah 40:22 is too.

The Interpreter's Bible argues similarly:

.... the ancient Oriental conception of the world tree.... was commonly conceived of as being on the navel of the earth, and so in the midst of the earth.
In those days the earth was thought of as a disk, with the heavens as
an upturned bowl above it; thus the tree is pictured as growing in the
center of the land mass of this disk and extending upwards until its
top touched the vault of heaven, in which case, of course, it would be
visible from any point along the edge of the land mass. [Vol. 5, p.
410, Abingdon Press, New York, 1956]

The picture in Daniel is further strengthened by the account of the Devil's tempting Jesus. Matthew 4:8 says:
Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
Again the picture is
that all the kingdoms of the world could be viewed from a sufficiently
high mountain, which is not possible on a spherical earth. If this was
not the intended picture, then why was it used? The Devil could have
showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world from anywhere at all.

With this picture of a flat, circular earth in mind, note how Isaiah 40:22 makes complete sense:

There is One who is
dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as
grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine
gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell.

This scripture, and the
picture of a flat, circular earth with a roof over it, also make sense
as rendered in other Bible translations. This is typical:

God sits throned on the vaulted roof of the earth. (The New English Bible)
There is nothing in
Isaiah 40:22 to conflict with the picture of a flat, circular earth.
Other scriptures give a similar picture. Job 22:14 says of God:

.... on the vault of heaven he walks about. (New World Translation)

.... he walketh in the circuit of heaven. (King James)

.... he prowls on the rim of the heavens. (The Jerusalem Bible)

Job 37:18 says the heavens are hard like a metal mirror:

With him can you beat out the skies hard like a molten mirror? (New World Translation)

Can you beat out the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal? (The New English Bible)

Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a heavy metal mirror? (King James)

Will you.... Be with him to consolidate heavens strong as a metal mirror? (The Bible in Living English)

Can you help him to spread the vault of heaven, Or temper that mirror of cast metal? (The Jerusalem Bible)

As to viewing the vault of heaven as a thin metal sheet, Isaiah 34:4 mentions:

And the heavens must be rolled up, just like a book scroll. (New World Translation)

.... and the skies will curl back like a roll of paper. (The Bible in Living English)

The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 5, says concerning the word pictures in Isaiah 40:22:

The earth is conceived
as a dome. In Prov. 8:27 the circle (hu'gh) is the "vault over the face
of the abyss" (teh'om); in Job 22:14 Yahweh walks upon the vault of the

Of course, the sky is
immaterial. What we perceive as a solid dome over our heads is simply
the scattering of blue light from white sunlight. Many other scriptures
refer to the earth in connection with a circle, and various
translations render the verses in such a way that a picture of a
circle, not a sphere, emerges. Many of these scriptures might be viewed
as using allegory or poetic license to make a point, not as a literal
statement of the shape of the earth or the composition of the heavenly

But this is precisely the point about Isaiah 40:22. In fact, the scripture makes absolutely
no sense if interpreted completely literally and with the idea that
Isaiah had in mind a spherical earth: the idea that God is sitting
"above" the spherical earth means that he is out in space somewhere,
and is even sometimes directly below people on one side of the
earth, and sometimes off to the side. One can certainly interpret the
idea of "above" as allegorical, but that kills the claim that Isaiah's
words prove that he knew the earth is spherical.

The book of Job, in the
scriptures quoted above, obviously uses both figurative and literal
language; any conclusions showing which it is using in any particular
case are open to a great deal of argument and will be biased by the
prejudices of whoever is making the arguments. In other words, the
Bible cannot be used to prove anything about what its writers believed
about the shape of the earth.

In light of all the
scriptures that talk of a circular earth, heavens like a beaten metal
mirror that can be rolled up, and the lack of definitive context for
Isaiah 40:22 that shows that it refers to a sphere, one cannot claim
that the scripture says the earth is spherical. Therefore Isaiah 40:22
cannot be used to prove that Bible writers were divinely inspired.

The question as to what
Isaiah 40:22 really means illustrates the point that there can be more
than one interpretation of what a Bible writer is really saying.
Describing wisdom, Proverbs 8:27 in the New World Translation says:

when he prepared the heavens I was there; when he decreed a circle upon the face of the watery deep.

The Interpreter's Bible comments (Vol. 4, p. 832):

Vss. 27-31 describe
wisdom at the creation of the world. She saw God spread out the
firmament like a vault over the earth. She saw the mighty waters of the
deep hemmed in at God's command by the great land masses. She was by
God's side as he created the universe and the various forms of life
that were to inhabit it. Compass or circle: The term probably refers to the "vault" or solid expanse of the sky which, like a dome, rested on the deep....

In like manner, many
more of the Society's arguments about the inspiration of the Bible can
be shown to rest on a foundation of wishful thinking.

Consider, too, the earth's amazing water cycle. Here is how Compton's Encyclopedia
describes what happens: "Water ... evaporates from the surface of the
oceans into the atmosphere ... Steadily moving air currents in the
earth's atmosphere carry the moist air inland. When the air cools, the
vapor condenses to form water droplets. These are seen most commonly as
clouds. Often the droplets come together to form raindrops. If the
atmosphere is cold enough, snowflakes form instead of raindrops. In
either case, water that has traveled from an ocean hundreds or even
thousands of miles away falls to the earth's surface. There it gathers
into streams or soaks into the ground and begins its journey back to
the sea."1

This remarkable process, which makes life on dry land possible, was well
described about 3,000 years ago in simple, straightforward terms in the
Bible: "All streams run into the sea, yet the sea never overflows; back
to the place from which the streams ran they return to run again." --
Ecclesiastes 1:7, The New English Bible.

The only thing in the quoted scripture that is not completely obvious is the idea that the waters return
to the place from which they originally ran. But even this is not a
particularly surprising statement. I will leave it to you to figure out

even more remarkable is the Bible's insight into the history of
mountains. Here is what a textbook on geology says: "From Pre-Cambrian
times down to the present, the perpetual process of building and
destroying mountains has continued.... Not only have mountains
originated from the bottom of vanished seas, but they have often been
submerged long after their formation, and then re-elevated."

Compare this with the poetic language of the psalmist: "With a watery deep just
like a garment you covered [the earth]. The waters were standing above
the very mountains. Mountains proceeded to ascend, valley plains
proceeded to descend -- to the place that you have founded for them."
-- Psalm 104:6, 8.

Here we run into some fairly typical WTS failings: ascribing far more authority to a source
than it deserves, quoting out-of-date sources and claiming that the
extremely obvious poetic descriptions in some Bible passages are
somehow scientifically accurate.

The Book of Popular Science
by Grolier is often quoted in WTB&TS literature, and that was
published in 1967. A book whose title contains the words "popular
science" is by definition not a "geology textbook". Anyone who thinks
different is ignorant of science and of the publishing industry.
Obviously, the WTB&TS try to bolster theircase by ascribing more
authority to this source than it deserves. Of course, this says nothing
about whether the quoted source is accurate.

However, I next note the date of the source: 1967. In the 1960s the science of geology underwent
a revolution centered around the theory known as "plate tectonics". In
1967 the science of plate tectonics was still being hammered out by
various geologists in many forums including standard scientific
journals. The ultimate findings, which were published in the late 1960s
and 1970s, did not find themselves into popular works until
much later, many of which became available in the 1980s. Popular works
in 1967 still reflected the fact that scientists until then had little
idea of the origins of mountains and so on, and that for all anyone
knew, mountains and valleys rose and fell sporadically without any
rhyme or reason. The WTB&TS quote reflects that ignorance very
nicely. For example, in 1967 the "popular" works on geology had no idea
how the Hawaiian Islands -- a gigantic volcanic chain extending from
the big island of Hawaii all the way to the Kamchatka Peninsula -- had
formed. But the geologists were working and eventually figured it all
out. References will be given on request. Naturally, the WTS and the
popular book it quoted knew nothing of these developments. One wonders
why the Society choses to quote an outdated book, when by 1989 plenty
of good works on plate tectonics were available.

Finally, you might consider the Bible's rather obvious idea that mountains ascend and
valleys descend, and that "waters" once covered them. Once again, if
you need an explanation as to why this is obvious, I will gladly
provide it.

"The very first verse of the Bible states: "In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) Observations have led scientists
to theorize that the material universe did indeed have a beginning. It
has not existed for all time. Astronomer Robert Jastrow, an agnostic in
religious matters, wrote: "The details differ, but the essential
elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the
same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply
at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy."

True, many scientists, while believing that the universe had a beginning, do not accept the statement that "God created."

Nevertheless, some now admit that it is difficult to ignore the evidence of some kind
of intelligence behind everything. Physics professor Freeman Dyson
comments: "The more I examine the universe and study the details of its
architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense
must have known that we were coming."

8Dyson goes on to admit: "Being a scientist, trained in the habits of thought
and language of the twentieth century rather than the eighteenth, I do
not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of
God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent
with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its

His comment certainly betrays the skeptical attitude of our time. But
putting that skepticism aside, one notes there is a remarkable harmony
between modern science and the Bible's statement that "in the beginning
God created the heavens and the earth." -- Genesis 1:1.

Wow. So many words to describe so simple a concept: most scientists and the Bible agree that
there was a beginning to everything. Well, whoop-de-doo. Most ancient
cultures agree that everything began at some point. So what? Were those
ancient writings and legends inspired by the God of the Bible? Clearly
not. Why then, would anyone argue that a particular apparent legend --
the Biblical version of origins -- was any different?

If the Bible is so accurate in scientific fields, why did the Catholic Church
say that Galileo's teaching that the earth moved around the sun was
unscriptural? Because of the way authorised religion interprets certain
Bible verses.

Here the Society slides onto extremely thin ice. Why did JW leaders once teach that doctors'
claims that vaccinations are beneficial to health were unscriptural?
Because of the way the Governing Body interpreted certain Bible verses.
Ditto for their teaching about organ transplants, and the idea that the
physical heart was the seat of emotions, and the claim that a person's
personality resided in the blood, and the claim that God kept his
throne on the star Alcyone in the Pleiades constellation, and the claim
that Christ had returned in 1874, and that "the saints" had been
resurrected in 1878.

A few more examples ....

1One passage says: "The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises." (Ecclesiastes 1:5, The Jerusalem Bible)
According to the Church's argument, expressions such as "the sun rises"
and "the sun sets" meant that the sun, not the earth, is moving. But
even today we say that the sun rises and sets, and most of us know that it is the earth that moves, not the sun. When we use expressions like these, we are merely describing the apparent motion of the sun as it appears to a human observer. The Bible writer was doing exactly the same.

This argument sounds awfully good to some people today, who know about space satellites and
trips to the moon. But in Galileo's day plenty of ignorant religionists
had only the words of the Bible to go on. Does the Bible not say that
God created the earth in six days, and that it is fixed on its
foundations, and that the sun rise and sets, and that God specifically
created each kind of animal? Which of these, among many other
statements, can be properly evaluated without the help of solid
science? The answer is: not many.

14 The other passage says: "You fixed the earth on its foundations, unshakeable for ever and ever." (Psalm 104:5, The Jerusalem Bible)
This was interpreted to mean that after its creation the earth could
never move. In fact, though, the verse stresses the permanence of the
earth, not its immobility. The earth will never be 'shaken' out of
existence, or destroyed, as other Bible verses confirm. (Psalm 37:29;
Ecclesiastes 1:4) This scripture, too, has nothing to do with the
relative motion of the earth and the sun. In Galileo's time, it was the
Church, not the Bible, that hindered free scientific discussion.

Once again we find the Society liberally interpreting some Bible passages as figurative and
others as literal. Note that it's not so easy for a Biblical literalist
to deal with what Job 38:6 says about the earth:

Into what have its socket pedestals been sunk down, or who laid its cornerstone?

Is this passage dealing with the permanance of the earth? How can anyone know for certain?

When other passages are
examined in like manner it becomes obvious that the Society is willing
to interpret Bible passages literally or figuratively, based not on a
systematic method, but arbitrarily and based on its current
understanding of "science".

Evolution and Creation

There is,
however, an area where many would say that modern science and the Bible
are hopelessly at odds. Most scientists believe the theory of
evolution, which teaches that all living things evolved from a simple
form of life that came into existence millions of years ago.

The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that each major group of living things was specially created

Can both be correct?

Genesis gives no time scale for the creative days, and it is quite possible that God
specially created many types of creatures one at a time, or created a
few types that gradually evolved into the many we see today as well as
the huge number of extinct forms in the fossil record, or that he even
created just one kind at the very beginning which evolved into every
living thing we see today. It is even possible that God simply created
the conditions under which life could arise more or less on its own. In all these cases God is still the ultimate creator and author of life.

The fossil record
certainly shows a long history of life, where many forms arose and went
extinct, only to be replaced by a whole new set of forms. Some of these
forms existed for hundreds of millions of years.

It is interesting to note Mark H's notion that the bible teaches that animals only produce "their own kind"

In Lake Victoria in Africa there is a population of fish called "cichlids", which is a
general category comprised of dozens of species. These species vary
greatly in physical form and habits. Some eat vegetation and some are
predators. One kind only eats the scales from other fish by taking a
bite out of the side of them. Another kind only eats the eyes of other
fish by lunging at them and biting the eye out. None of the various
forms interbreed. All apparently descended from a small ancestral
population that got isolated in Lake Victoria some 10,000 years ago
around the end of the last ice age. If that is not "descent with
modification" so as to produce new species, I don't know what is. No
one knows of any limits on such modification, especially given millions
of years instead of a few thousand.

Darwin and other early theorists based these ideas on the rather obvious physical sequence
from fish to reptile to mammal, and so forth. Of course, this is an
extreme oversimplification. In any case, the science of genetics has
nicely confirmed the apparent physical sequences in that the more
distantly two kinds of creatures appear to be related physically, or in
time, the more different they are genetically. This is shown by the
fact that the DNA of chimpanzees and humans is 99% identical. They are
obviously built quite similar physically, and fossil evidence indicates
a common ancestor on the order of 6 million years ago. Frogs are
another interesting case. There are thousands of species, and they
differ from one another physically and genetically far more than do
chimps and humans. They have also been around for some 300 million
years and have had far more time.

As a matter of fact, what Darwin observed on isolated islands was not out of harmony with the Bible, which allows for variation within a major living kind.

Some cichlids evolved into herbivores and others into predators. How could that happen if "kinds" were absolutely immutable?

Once again we find a gross oversimplication to the point of absurdity. That living things
have evolved, in the sense that the population of living things has
changed radically over time, has been proved as conclusively as any
historical science can possibly be. To reject that is to reject all of
science. Sure, plenty of scientists assert that there is no God and
that life arose entirely on its own (and this cannot be proved in any
sense) but these two concepts -- the descent of life and the origin of
life -- are independent concepts. Watchtower writers depend on their
readers' ignorance to get away with this sort of "reasoning".

We, however, need to know whether evolution has been proved to such an extent that the Bible must be wrong.
Once again we see that black and white thinking.
Is It Proved?
How can the theory of evolution be tested?
The most obvious way is to examine the fossil record to see if a gradual change from one kind to another really happened.

This is an extremely common argument that has been popularized largely by the young-earth
creationists. Darwin proposed that the evolution of life had to be
extremely gradual. However, paleontologists have unearthed plenty of
evidence that life evolved at an extreme variety of paces, from hardly
any change at all over millions of years to the extremely rapid pace
seen in the Lake Victoria cichlids. The fossil record is so sketchy
that finding a record of extremely rapid evolution is unlikely;
nevertheless such records have been found.

For example, it was long
proposed that some reptiles evolved into mammals. Well of course the
real story is rather more complicated, and I certainly will barely
scratch the surface here by giving one example of change that is
documented in the fossil record.

Early forms of reptiles
had a jaw that consisted of four bones. They also had one earbone. Over
a period of some 100 million years new animals appeared that had more
and more of the characteristics of mammals, which have one jawbone and
three earbones. Amazingly, two of the reptile jaw bones apparently
migrated into the head and became earbones in various types of animals
during this time, and another bone disappeared. Not possible, you say?
Well, kangaroos, bandicoots and hedgehogs undergo a similar sort of
bone migration during their embryological development. There have even
been fossil animals discovered that have two hinged jaw systems
functioning side by side, one something like the old style and the
other something like the new. For details on this see:

  • Ashley Montagu, ed., Science and Creationism, p. 247, Oxford University Press, New York, 1984.

  • D. R. Selkirk and F. J. Burrows, editors, Confronting Creationism: Defending Darwin, pp. 82-92, New South Wales University Press, Kensington NSW Australia, 1988.

  • James A. Hopson, "The Mammal-like Reptiles: A Study of Transitional Fossils," The American Biology Teacher, vol. 49, no. 1, p. 25, January, 1987.

Next note what a well known scientist had to say about details of the evolution from reptiles to mammals (G. Ledyard Stebbins, Processes of Organic Evolution,
pp. 142-148, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1971).
He spoke about what he called transitional forms between, and the
origin of, various categories of animals:

If categories become well defined because forms intermediate between them become extinct,
then in the history of groups having a good fossil record we should be
able to find periods when categories which are now well defined were
connected by transitional forms. If we analyze the fossil record of
vertebrates, this is exactly what we see. Among modern animals, the dog
and bear families are regarded as definitely related to each other, but
even when all contemporary members of the two families are considered,
nobody has any difficulty in distinguishing bears from dogs, foxes, and
coyotes. In the Miocene and early Pliocene epochs, however, the
situation was different. At that time, animals intermediate between
dogs and bears were common, so that paleontologists have great
difficulty in deciding just when the dog and bear families became
distinct from each other...

Going farther back in
the fossil record, we learn that in the latter part of the Eocene
epoch, primitive animals which are now clearly recognized as
forerunners of the principle families of carnivores: dogs, cats,
weasels, civets, and their relatives, were linked together by a complex
network of resemblances...

There are... many differences between modern reptiles and amphibia in the structure of
their skeletons, and these have been used by paleontologists for
recognizing the first reptiles to appear. An eminent paleontologist, A.
S. Romer, remarks of these animals: "Primitive Paleozoic reptiles and
some of the earliest amphibians were so similar in their skeletons that
it is almost impossible to tell when we have crossed the boundary
between the two classes."...

In respect to the early evolution of mammals, the same situation exists. The distinctive
characteristics of modern mammals; warm blood, hair, and the ability to
suckle their young, cannot be determined in fossils. In respect to
their skeletons, however, modern reptiles are, and the dinosaurs were,
very different from modern mammals. On the other hand, the animals
which dominated the land in the later Permian and early Triassic
Periods, before the dinosaurs appeared, were the mammal-like reptiles
or therapsids, which in both their skulls and teeth were almost halfway
between typical reptiles and primitive mammals...

During the Triassic Period, the therapsids gave rise to several groups of rather small,
light-boned and active reptiles, which because of their specialized
teeth were known as the "dog tooths" (cynodonts)... These animals
existed for more than twenty million years during the latter half of
the Triassic Period. Their skeletons were mammal-like in most respects,
except that they had not yet acquired the three mammalian ear bones...
the counterparts of two of them (quadrate and articular) were still
part of the lower jaw... Recently discovered skulls indicate that the
shift from jaw to ear bones took place gradually. Commenting on this
situation, an eminent paleontologist, E. H. Colbert, remarks: "All of
which indicates how academic is the question of where the reptiles
leave off and the mammals begin."...

The first true mammals appeared in the late Triassic Period, about the time when the cynodonts
were becoming extinct. The age of dinosaurs began later, during the
Jurassic Period. During the entire period when the earth was dominated
by these reptilian giants, small active mammals existed side by side
with dinosaurs.

These facts tell us that the transition from reptiles to mammals was very gradual, taking place
over a period of approximately 100 million years. It took place
simultaneously with the beginning of the major adaptive radiation of
the reptiles themselves. Mammals are simply a further extension,
through directional evolution, of one particular radiant line of

The transition from reptiles to birds is more poorly documented than are the other
transitions between classes of vertebrates. Nevertheless, many of the
smaller reptiles in the group ancestral to dinosaurs and crocodiles had
light skeletons from which those of birds could have arisen, and
moreover walked exclusively on their hind legs, as do birds.
Furthermore, the earliest fossil birds, from Jurassic deposits of
Germany, had jaws containing teeth and forelimbs with well developed
fingers... We classify them as birds because feathers are preserved
with their skeletons; but if their preservation had been somewhat
poorer and the feathers were not present, these animals might well have
been classified as reptiles.

Thus the fossil record of vertebrates strongly suggests that the characteristics which
distinguish the modern higher categories appeared first as distinctive
features of certain species or genera. They became characteristics of
families, orders, and classes only after descendants of the animals
which first possessed them developed them further, radiated into
numerous adaptive niches, and became separated from other groups by
extinction of intermediate forms. In other groups of organisms such as
insects and higher plants, in which the fossil record is far more
fragmentary, profound gaps exist between many orders, suborders, and
classes. Furthermore, no transitional forms are known between any of
the major phyla of animals or plants. In view of the incompleteness and
biased nature of the fossil record in all of these groups, and the
extremely long time, measured in hundreds of millions of years, since
the various phyla of organisms evolved, the large gaps which exist
between many major categories of organisms aside from the vertebrates
are most reasonably ascribed to known imperfections in the fossil

A further point must be emphasized in connection with the evolution of families, orders, and
classes. This is its "mosaic" character. As pointed out in connection
with both the evolution of amphibia from fishes and of mammals from
reptiles, the various characteristics which now distinguish the more
evolved class probably evolved separately, some relatively early,
others much later, at periods of evolutionary time which in some
instances were separated from each other by millions of years...

Consequently, we cannot speak of any single "step" in the evolution of mammals from reptiles.
In some instances, such as the change in position of the jaw bones to
the ear, a relatively small number of genetic changes may have
triggered off the evolution and establishment of a new adaptive complex
with respect to that particular character... These changes would
however, have occurred at the level of subspecies or closely related
species. A contemporary taxonomist, transported to the Mesozoic era and
not knowing anything about the evolutionary future, would probably have
classified the first population bearing all three bones; hammer, anvil
and stirrup, in its middle ear, as an aberrant species belonging to the
then widespread group of therapsid reptiles. As stated above, this
group probably already possessed a mixture of characters which we now
associate on the one hand with reptiles and on the other with mammals.

So obvious is this lack
of evidence in the fossil record that evolutionists have come up with
alternatives to Darwin's theory of gradual change.

Another gross distortion typical of the Society's Creation
book. The reference is to the theory called Punctuated Equilibrium that
paleontologist Stephen Gould and his colleagues have promoted. This
idea acknowledges that most of the time evolutionary change is slow or
non-existent, and proposes that under unusual circumstances evolution
can proceed at an extremely rapid pace. Because most of the changes
will not appear in the fossil record, since the chance of an animal
becoming a fossil is slight, the fossil record appears like a series of
still photographs taken from a football game at 30 second intervals --
most of the action is missing but the overall flow can be inferred from
the results.

As the references given above show, there is plenty of fossil evidence for both gradual and
"punctuated" evolution. Darwin naturally proposed an incomplete theory,
which has been modified in light of later developments. No surprise,
since that is the way science works. Science is not a static body of
knowledge given by God, but is a dynamic body of knowledge always
subject to modification if and when new discoveries clarify ideas or
even cause old ones to be discarded. Some things, of course, are so
solidly established that it is extremely unlikely that they will ever
be discarded.

What the WTB&TS does, in effect, is to argue that since Darwin's ideas have been modified,
the entire theory of evolution -- what existed in 1859 and what exists
today -- along with all of the evidence for the various aspects of the
various sub-theories -- should be discarded. THey do this by using the
fuzzy idea that since Darwin's idea of exclusively gradual evolution has had to be modified to account for the appearance in the fossil record of extremely rapid evolution, Darwin's idea should be discarded along with the more modern
ones. The fallacy of the WTb&TS argument should be obvious to all

The truth is, though,
that the sudden appearance of animal kinds in the fossil record
supports special creation much more than it does evolution.

A matter of opinion. The degree to which either is supported is a matter of spirited debate.

Living creatures are programmed to reproduce themselves exactly rather than evolve into something else. Of course
living creatures contain genetic material to reproduce themselves
exactly. But they are not 100% accurate. That's why mutations arise.

There are also built-in constraints. Plants reach a certain size and refuse to grow any larger.
Fruit flies refuse to become anything but fruit flies under any
circumstances yet devised.Mutations induced by scientists in fruit flies over many decades failed to force these to evolve into something else.

True, but nature itself has provided many examples of things evolving into something else. The
exact mechanism may be in question but the fact of the evolution is not.

The Origin of Life

Another thorny question that evolutionists have failed to answer is: What was the origin of life?

Once again we note the lumping of "descent with modification" -- which the fossil record
strongly indicates -- with ideas on origins, which are admittedly
fuzzy. This sort of lumping allows poor thinkers to think that
everything they lump together may be of equal quality, which is a gross
fallacy. Some scienitists with a similar mindset would lump everything in the bible as bunkum.

How did the first simple form of life -- from which we are all supposed to have descended -- come into existence?

No one disputes that this is an unanswered question.

Centuries ago, this would not have appeared to be a problem. Most people then thought that
flies could develop from decaying meat and that a pile of old rags
could spontaneously produce mice. But, more than a hundred years ago,
the French chemist Louis Pasteur clearly demonstrated that life can
come only from preexisting life.

Another fallacy. Pasteur demonstrated that today and in a short time span
life does not appear spontaneously. He demonstrated nothing about
conditions that may have existed a long time ago, nor about whether
life can spontaneously generate under the right conditions.

So how do evolutionists explain the source of life?

Most don't. They accept
that life, once it appeared by whatever means, evolved by some
mechanism to what it is today. Those mechanisms are what concern 99% of
life scientists today. The few who concern themselves with a purely
non-supernatural theory of origins subscribe to what the WTB&TS writer describes:

According to the most popular theory, a chance combination of chemicals and energy sparked a
spontaneous generation of life millions of years ago. What about the
principle that Pasteur proved?

Note again the wrong notion about what Pasteur showed.

The World Book Encyclopedia
explains: "Pasteur showed that life cannot arise spontaneously under
the chemical and physical conditions present on the earth today.
Billions of years ago, however, the chemical and physical conditions on
the earth were far different"!

The Bible's explanation, that 'life came from life' in that life was created by God, is convincingly in harmony with the facts.

However, the "evolutionary" explanation is also in harmony with the facts. What's a truthseeker to do?

Why Not Creation

the problems inherent in the theory of evolution, belief in creation is
viewed today as unscientific, even eccentric. Why is this?

The drive to separate religion from science and everything else is strong and
understandable. When religion invokes the idea of God as the ultimate
source, and then baulks at the question of what is the origin of God,
it is evident that religionists have no ultimate answers to the
question of origins any more than anyone else does.

No scientist, in contrast with dogmatists like JW Governing Body members, is likely to state with 100% confidence that anything has occurred in the past. But this is not a problem because, in
contrast with certain religious leaders, scientists do not claim to
speak for God, or go from door to door to convince others to change
their lifestyles to match theirs because they have the Truth!

The truth is that the theory of evolution, despite its popularity, is full of gaps and
problems. It gives no good reason to reject the Bible's account of the
origin of life. The first chapter of Genesis provides a completely
reasonable account of how these "unrepeatable" "unique events" came
about during creative 'days' that stretched through millenniums of time.

In the same way, the Catholic Church justified its stance with respect to Galileo.

Dinosaurs extinct because of the Flood

This is a common myth propagated by pseudoscientists and general crackpots. It dates to the
late 19th century and was largely instigated by one Henry Howorth, a
fringe geologist who could think of no other interpretation for the
finding of frozen large animals in the Arctic than a huge catastrophe.
Unfortunately, Howorth and others badly misinterpreted the evidence and
thought that events that have since been shown to have occurred over
perhaps 30,000 years were instantaneous. The extinctions mentioned took
at least 8,000 years. For example, a dwarf species of mammoth still
lived on certain Mediterranean islands as recently as 4,000 years ago,
while its cousin the Siberian Mammoth died out some 6,000 years earlier.

There is, in fact, no evidence whatsoever that at some single point in time large numbers of
large mammals became extinct, and that there was a simultaneous sudden
change in climate. There certainly was a change in climate from about
18,000 through 10,000 years ago, during which many animals became
extinct, but it was a warming trend that signaled the end of the last ice age.

There is absolutely no evidence for the Society's claim that "tens of thousands of mammoths
were killed" simultaneously and then "quick-frozen in Siberia". Once
again this is due to the horrible misinterpretations of Howorth and a
few others. A number of large mammals have been found that upon careful
analysis proved to have died of quite natural causes and were gradually
frozen, and which partially decomposed before they froze. A look at the
reports from the intrepid Russian scientists who took two years to
recover acarcass shows that the carcass was badly decomposed deep
inside. The outer portions were frozen and preserved well enough that
sled dogs ate some of the meat, but the men who dug it out realized
that the flesh was already in bad shape when it was frozen. One of the
more enlightening aspects of their report concerned the unbearable
stench from the carcass, which even permeated the frozen ground around
it, which proves that the carcass was decomposed during the freezing

Perhaps the best disproof of the notion of "huge numbers of quick-frozen animals" is the
1979 discovery of a partial frozen bison carcass in Alaska. This was
dubbed "Blue Babe" because of the blue mineral crystals that had
accumulated on the hide during the more than 30,000 years it remained
in the Alaskan permafrost. It turned out that the bison, a form now
extinct, had been killed and mostly eaten by lions. That lions had done
the deed was found from a piece of lion tooth that had broken off and
become lodged in the frozen flesh of the forequarters. The lions ate
most of the body, leaving the skin and much of the forequarters. The
head was virtually intact. There is no way such a thing could have
happened during the cataclysmic events of a Flood

. In a nutshell, ice ages have come and gone roughly every 100,000 years for about the last three million years.

At any rate, in the 1920s and 1930s, archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered in
Mesopotamia the remains of a great flood. Unfortunately for biblical
literalists, it proved to be local to the region. Very likely it was
this, or a similar large but local flood in the vicinity of the Tigris
and Euphrates rivers, that gave rise to the legend that spread around
the world.

This argument about the widespread idea of an ancient Flood is actually by far the
strongest that the Society has. But it is far from conclusive, and it
certainly doesn't prove it as a fact.

The two best documented ancient cultures -- the Egyptians and the Chinese -- have records going
back more than 5,000 years and yet these records show nothing of a
Flood. This completely contradicts the WTB&TS chronology that
places a global Flood in 2370 B.C.E., about 4,400 years ago. However,
there is much evidence that the Mesopotamian Valley, the region where
the biblical Elohim resided during this period, suffered a major flood.

Enuff for now



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