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Science and the Bible: The Gap Theory

Discussion in 'General' started by SoulofaGremlin, Apr 15, 2020.

  1. SoulofaGremlin

    SoulofaGremlin Typing...

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    Hello everyone. So, this these thoughts have been on my mind for a while now, but I think I'm in a good headspace now to voice them. This is just a timid probing for answers so sorry ahead of time if anyone is upset by this.

    So, some information about me:

    I'm a firm believer in God. After all these years, and all my spiritual ups and downs, that has not changed. And in the intersection of faith and science that's the easiest to coincide - just say he jump started the Big Bang, sat back and watched the Law of Physics and life start and evolve and BOOM. Clockmaker God. It's a valid theory.

    But one I didn't hold.

    I have always been Christian. My family is Roman Catholic, and I went to a private Christian school.

    That's where I first came across this dichotomy between science and the Bible.

    See, the school was Fundamentalist - they took the Bible literally, word for word (it's "Infallible" is the word, literally written Truth). Therefore, everything was through that lens. Our Biology class was all about refuting Evolution and "defend your faith" (they assumed science/evidence would always be against you. Same in Geology class, though there we did learn about Young Earth and Old Earth Creationism!

    Yeah, I got lucky (blessed) that I ended up as well adjusted as I did.

    Now, enough about me, to the crux of the matter. A common misconception is for people to think this contention is true for the entirety of organized religion. This isn't true. While there are likely many arguments I'm unaware of, I am very familiar with one: the Gap Theory.

    This theory holds that there is a "gap" between the first and second verses. A gap of billions of years (I know this already feels like a hilariously unlikely work around for some of you, but hold on). It holds that God created the universe in the first verse, then stars, planets, both rocky and gaseous, and liquid water formed as in science, then life started and evolved as in the fossil record, and then the earth became a water world, covered in a murky darkness that prevented any light to emit from the sun, stars and moon, and God then recreated life. in verse two. Everything then continues on literally.

    From my point of view, this has several problems (not just the basic premise). First off, the order is all wrong. The stars, sun, moon, and outside galaxies already existed, but they are only "created" on the fourth day. The argument here is that from the viewpoint of stone age man (which Abraham was) they would appear to be created on the fourth day, but they were already there. I find this flimsy. Which leads to my second point, billions of years passed between the first and second verse, but there's no mention of it at all? Not even in vague, metaphorical terms? I call bullshit.

    And the third point.

    This undercuts the whole argument of a sin nature, doesn't it? That Jesus had to die for. In this reading death and sin had existed billions of years before Eve ate the apple of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent (Satan) didn't tempt her to bring sin into the world - it already was. Personally, this is a point I rather like, as natures and sweeping generalities always rubbed me the wrong way. But yeah, it does make a Christian reading of the Gap Theory untenable.

    So yeah, what are peoples' thoughts on this? Is there a better way to alleviate the tensions between science and Christianity other than the Gap Theory? Hand wave it all away as just metaphor, symbolism, and allegory? Or should I just chuck my Christian faith (not my faith in God; that I won't budge on - no way I'm going atheist) out with the bath water?
     
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  2. Cu Roi

    Cu Roi Hound of the Plains

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    As much as I'd like to help you, I don't think you'll find many devout Christians schooled in apologetics on this site, considering what this board is. I suggest asking around in other places more devoted to that sort of stuff.
     
  3. SoulofaGremlin

    SoulofaGremlin Typing...

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    Yes. I imagine so. I posted this thread on all three boards of the SB-SV-QQ Trifecta. For better or worse, these anime weebs are my audience; my people.
     
  4. tabron89

    tabron89 Experienced.

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    There is no such thing as the Gap Theory.

    What people don't understand is that human perception of time did not exist before humans were made in the first place.

    The Bible flat out states "You know these guys? The ones at the very beginning who could live for nearly a thousand years?"

    .....

    "Guess what: Their time on Earth is barely noticable by God for he has existed before the creation of the Universe, before the creation of Space and Time.....the reason why he made everything?"

    "He wanted us to help terraform the Earth because at his level of power, simply appearing in "low power mode" causes gale force winds, storms, earthquakes and accidental radiation poisoning because no one may look upon the face of God and yet live."

    We're pretty much lucky that he could hold back long enough for Adam and Eve to settle in the Garden of Eden for a few decades, because outside of the Garden, it was pretty much a barren wasteland.

    So....yeah, you have to remember that the first few chapters is God dumbing things down so Moses could write it down into a format that we humans can understand because you try to explain universal laws of physics, biology, energy to matter conversion to others when they tend to die from old age when you blink or turn your head away for a second.

    He had other, more pressing concerns, such as teaching Moses how to do sanitation, useful medical advice and social engineering and law giving, because at time, humans sucked at everything because they weren't really talking to each other and instead wanted to kill each other over plots of land or women.
     
  5. SoulofaGremlin

    SoulofaGremlin Typing...

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    ...uh, that's all very nice and meta physical, but that doesn't change the fact that we can now understand the universe, and what we know doesn't match the Genesis account even remotely.

    On another board (SV) one of the members argues that the Creation Stories are metaphorical - and we're never meant to be taken literally.

    I take that to mean they're wrong.
     
  6. Cherry Lover

    Cherry Lover Well worn.

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    Yeah, there really isn't an answer to that. As you say, the Genesis account of the creation does not match scientific evidence even remotely. Which means that either it's false, or that God is intentionally manipulating the fossil record and other scientific evidence in order to trick people into believing that he doesn't exist, thereby condemning them to eternal torture. Personally, I don't see how you can claim that a God who would intentionally trick people into eternal torture just to "test their faith" can possibly be described as "good", so I would say that the "God is faking the evidence" hypothesis is not tenable. So, if you want to continue to believe in the Christian God, the only reasonable assumption is that the creation myth is entirely false.

    Note, BTW, that, according to the Bible's own account, no human ever saw any of the process of creation. So the Genesis account is either something that was directly dictated from God or, else, it's something some guy just made up to explain the current state of the world. And, since it's clearly not dictated by God due to being patently false, it must be made up.
     
  7. Darma

    Darma Versed in the lewd.

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    It's based on the creation myths of babylonian mythology like a lot of the stories in the old testament. The original abrahamic faith wasn't born in a vacuum and adopted a lot of the populer beliefs and tales of the religions surrounding it like all religions do.
     
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  8. Cherry Lover

    Cherry Lover Well worn.

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    Yeah, so the Babylonians made it up, then....
     
  9. SoulofaGremlin

    SoulofaGremlin Typing...

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    As I mentioned in that very quote, saying that the Creation Stories are metaphorical and not meant to be read literally holds some water. The books in the Bible were all written differently. Taking Revelation literally, for example, is a effort of futile frustration.

    Traditionally, Moses is seen as the author of Genesis - God having given him a vision of Creation and the first days on Mt. Sinai. But that basically means "No one knows who wrote it".

    Edit: Note, I'm talking about Christian/Jewish tradition. I'm well aware that the Creation Stories have several stories to draw from.
     
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  10. Darma

    Darma Versed in the lewd.

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    Pretty much most all myths that dont have a state sponsored church enforcing a book of doctrine start to heavily plegerize surrounding religious myths and beliefs of they're neighbors.
     
  11. jo demon

    jo demon Undertale, Yay

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    I’ll admit, I’ve never understood the whole taking the Bible as literal truth thing, it was written by people, and people are fallible.

    I will say, one of my favorite versions I’ve heard is that the day’s referenced in the beginning aren’t the same days as we use, which considering that at the time, light and dark didn’t exist, make a sort of sense.
     
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  12. Cu Roi

    Cu Roi Hound of the Plains

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    Christian theology holds that even if the words were written by humans, the words were divinely inspired. Otherwise, if any part of the Bible is fallible, how can you trust the rest?
     
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  13. SoulofaGremlin

    SoulofaGremlin Typing...

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    Yeah, that's how it was described to me in my old highschool. I have a more nuanced view of the books of the Bible now, but interpreting all of them literally can get wacky.

    Especially with Revelation.
     
  14. Deatin

    Deatin ...

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    I figure the Bible has been translated and edited by human hands for long enough that it might as well be historical fiction and trust that God made sure that the general message still fit.
     
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  15. Dakkaface

    Dakkaface Magical Defender of Justice

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    So a moment of background here - I had a similar experience to you in early childhood. Devout Catholic family, private Catholic schools, I even went to a Catholic university for the first couple years of college.

    The difference is that my schools were actually good and never tried to sabotage my science lessons. At 9 years old I was asked to provide the reasoning that led to my answers. I had to show work in math class, write out why I made the interpretations I did in reading and lit, go through the mechanics of why we felt the world to work as it did in science. And then in religion class, you answered the questions by regurgitating answers directly from the text. You were not allowed to provide your own answers. It was quite plainly, bullshit. The very stark dichotomy in how they taught science & math compared to how they taught religion is what led to me discarding much of the dogma that surrounded me.

    'Science is always against religion' is also a pile of crap. Science has actually given greater credence to multiple biblical accounts. The parting of the sea during Exodus & the great flood are things that happened. That the flood was merely the Black Sea instead of the whole world, or that the sea that was parted was the reed sea, not the Red Sea is immaterial. They happened. The fact that they did not happen exactly as depicted in the Bible is merely more evidence that it should not be taken as literally the direct word of God. We already know of multiple translation errors that have crept in over the years. Poisoner/witch, Red/reed, hell, the very name of the Messiah is mangled, as Jesus isn't a name he'd have responded to, as his name is more closely rendered as Yeshua. He also looks nothing like the usual iconic images and stations of the cross would have you believe. He was Middle-Eastern. Jesus was a brown dude, probably with curly black hair, not the white guy with the long brown hair that is still the standard depiction.

    If you want an even stronger indicator, look into the Gnostic Gospels and how biblical canon was decided. Look at what was discussed and later laid down as canon in the Council of Nicea. The vast majority of the Bible wasn't written down until 50-100 years after Jesus's death. Some parts didn't get tacked on til the fucking 5th century. The New Testament is basically a collection of old bishops' favorite Jesus fanfiction. And that's before you get into all the syncretism that runs both ways. Christianity subsuming local gods as saints, subverting pagan festivals, the parallels with Dionysis, etc. Hell, papal infallibility wasn't formally declared until the 19th century and wasn't even suggested until the 13th.

    I don't identify as Catholic any more, obviously. I don't subscribe to the dogma of original sin and the need for Jesus's sacrifice. At best one could call my beliefs Deism, but I also swing rather animist at times. Clockmaker God likewise solves the problem of evil - it is impossible to be be simultaneously omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent while evil continues to exist. In the dichotomy, sacrificing omni-benevolence is easiest.

    I cannot tell you to 'chuck your faith,' but on any level of analysis, treating the Bible or Church as if it is infallible is not supported. Continue in your Catholicism if you feel like you can. I ceased taking communion long before I ceased attending church, as I felt that going through the motions without the belief was disrespectful, but eventually I stopped even attending services.
     
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  16. Lord Invictus

    Lord Invictus Impropérium nulla oblivione eris Gone for Good

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    My personal opinion on these issues, is that...they can’t really be reconciled. So one either becomes a fundamentalist, rejects the Bible, or instead simply chooses to have faith.

    That to me is the mature thing to do. “I know there is conflict, but I have faith in God and his Word regardless”.
     
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  17. Heaven Canceler

    Heaven Canceler Behind You!

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    I haven't really bothered too much with this, but isn't the literal taking of the bible a more recent thing? I am just googling and it looks like even in ancient BC times people would kinda make jokes about how not everything in there makes sense if you take it literal. At leat if Wikipedia is to be trusted, the whole thing only started to be treated seriously by bigger groups as late as the 18th century... which is like a sneeze away in historical terms.

    Edit: Another thing from wikipedia is that apparently the Catholic Church officially agrees with divinely directed Evolution being a thing.
     
  18. Borerwriter

    Borerwriter Eat the hot dogs, human.

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    I just find it hilarious. Science shows off all the facts you need to know about life except for what happens beyond death.

    Meanwhile, all religions around the world dictates how you should act in your everyday life, what you should fear, what you shouldn't do and what is your rights as a human being. 99% of them are used to control and gains wealth from others.

    Psychology, social beliefs, conditioning and fear is what caused humans to believe that religion should triumph over science, and even fight back if confronted by scientists.
     
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  19. Lord Invictus

    Lord Invictus Impropérium nulla oblivione eris Gone for Good

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    Arghh the 2000s called, they want their edgy atheist ranting back.

     
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  20. HypoSoc

    HypoSoc Time, once consumed, has no meaning

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    Coming as a believer from a different Abrahamic faith, I've always found Biblical Literalism to be a very strange concept. I don't think I was ever taught that the stories were "true" in the sense that they depict events or immortal revelations.

    Regardless of whether or not the bible is fictitious (which I lean towards strongly as I was taught that the literal world of creation is a more important canon than any book, and that, as one created in the lord's image with the ability to discern and question and make my own judgments) the words are the same words that have been studied for millennia (down to the spelling errors), and these are how those words were interpreted. Taking the the bible as fact in defiance of an honest attempt to understand the world is, in my tradition, a greater rejection of the divine.

    It's also pretty different that I was taught that what you believe and how devote you are has zero effect on your soul and afterlife: The laws are there, and there is no reward for following them, nor any penalty for failing to follow them. In that sense, I have no supreme need to be correct. I am not damned to eternal hellfire for doubting.
     
  21. Drak4806

    Drak4806 Well worn.

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    I remember watching some science program years ago where they interviewed one of the researcher at CERN who was a Catholic priest (or maybe it wasn't CERN since Iit was over a decade ago). He said the more he learned about physics the more it reinforced his faith because only God could create such a system. That always stuck with me even throughout my edgy atheist phase in school.

    There's also the fact that the Church has support evolution for decades.
     
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  22. Lord Invictus

    Lord Invictus Impropérium nulla oblivione eris Gone for Good

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    Science doesn’t tell you anything about eternity.

    Or metaphysics.

    And nothing about morality.

    To be sure, humanism and materialism do.

    But they are not science.

    The scientific method is a useful tool for gaining information about the world. It can’t tell us anything about how human beings ought to live. Or anything outside of its purview-things not natural.

    Materialism will of course say the natural is all there is, that we have no souls-and that morality is at best a bunch of subjective guides. Or abstract calculations.

    The difference here is science is a method, materialism is a philosophical school.

    Atheists conflate the two all too much.
     
  23. Germtheory3Z

    Germtheory3Z Experienced.

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    I don't know if it's a relevant answer but as a lifelong atheist I've kind of convolutedly come around to the plausibility of creationism from the other side via simulation hypothesis. It's basically the idea that if our theoretical ability to simulate life digitally is great enough to mimic sapience then at some point we would likely create a simulation of something like our universe and it's very unlikely we're the single, original, universe in that situation. It can't be proven decisively, unless someone finds a matrix like bug in the system, but it would create a materialistic justification for a belief in god. There's no reason to simulate an entire universe if you're interest is in humans, just to set the parameters for whatever your experiment is and let it run from there. All of the evidence would still appear to be there for anyone in the simulation after all.

    On a more personal level I don't think most people really need to believe the metaphysics of some religion to be a member. There are some too literal thinkers (like me) who just can't do it even if they like the community but 95% of people don't have to ever really think about it. The religion has it's morals, it's community and it's rituals and as long as you're participating in that you don't really need to consider yourself insincere for not believing one small part of the book that doesn't seem to really effect your behavior in any way.
     
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