Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Biblical Evolution

Do you reject Darwin's theory of evolution. Do you believe that all species of plants and animals were fixed during the six days of creation? Do you believe that biological evolution is totally incompatible with the book of Genesis? Then take a look at this charming tale from the King James Version of Genesis:

Genesis 30:31 And he (Laban) said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock:
32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.
33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.
34 And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word
35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.
36 And he set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.
37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.
39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban's cattle.
41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.
42 But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
43 And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
Exodus 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory.
2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.
3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.
4 And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,
5 And said unto them, I see your father's countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.
6 And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.
7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked.
9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.
10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.
11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.
13 I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.

What is going on here? Jacob starts with a flock of white sheep and a flock of dark goats. Then he 'evolves' them into flocks of spotted sheep and white-streaked goats. These are his wages for many years of service to Laban. Jacob takes the least desirable of the animals and leaves weak sheep and goats for Laban.

Jacob's spotted sheep are valuable, but less desirable than pure white sheep. The first reason is that white wool can be dyed many more colors than brownish wool. But the most important reason for the Israelites is that the spotted animals cannot be used for sacrifice. Only the best pure white unblemished animals can be offered to God. The ideal sacrifice is a perfect yearling male animal. However this means that the Israelites were poor breeders of animals. When the best yearling males are sacrificed, the quality of the herd will decline. The best yearling males are exactly the ones that should be preserved so that they can pass on their genes.

Jacob's method of breeding spotted sheep is based on the theory that what a female sees during mating determines the appearance of the offspring. If the female sees a white object during mating, the offspring will be white. If she sees something striped, the offspring will be spotted or striped.

Acccordingly, Jacob plants striped rods where the sheep mate in order to produce spotted lambs. This biblical theory of evolution contradicts everything that we know about DNA and genetics. There is absolutely no scientific foundation for this practice.

This sounds a lot like witchcraft. Is Jacob putting a hex on his sheep? Or something like the 'evil eye'. Witchcraft was banned under the Law of Moses. "You shall not allow a witch to live." [Ex. 22:18] Should Jacob be put to death for insulting God? It seems that God doesn't mind. Genesis 31:11-13 says that God put his seal of approval on this episode.

Since the biblical writers did not condemn this practice, they obviously considered it legitimate. So we must look beyond witchcraft for an explanation. The belief probably arises from the observation that children resemble their mothers, while others resemble their fathers. For example, I have the brown eyes of my mother, but my sister has the blue eyes of our father. So how can a brown-eyed mother give birth to a brown-eyed son and a blue-eyed daughter? The people of biblical times might have said that when my sister was conceived, mom was gazing into the blue eyes of her hubby. But in my case, my mom must have had her eyes closed.

Scientifically speaking, this is a lot of hooey. But people of ancient times knew nothing of modern science. It wasn't their fault that that it took thousands of years for genes and DNA to be discovered.

If this practice wasn't witchcraft, what was it? Most likely it was a folk belief, an 'old wives tale'. The ancients saw a cause-and-effect relationship here. They knew that mating caused pregnancies. They knew that drought caused crop failures.

But their understanding of cause and effect was very limited. They did not understand what causes rain. They did not understand that water vapor evaporated from large bodies of water formed clouds. And when these clouds are cooled, the water vapor condenses and falls as rain. They thought that when God wanted rain, he opened some of the 'windows of heaven'. [Genesis 7:11] Then the waters above the firmament [Genesis 1:7] gushed through these openings and fell on the earth as rain. However such a folk belief relies upon a primitive concept of natural causality.

The power of a scientific theory often arises from the ability to make predictions. For example, Newton's theory of gravitation made it possible to predict thatr a certain comet, called Shoemaker-Levy 9, would crash into Jupiter some 18 months later. Therefore, let's ask, can we make preditions from the biblical theory of evolution? Yes, indeed. We can make this prediction: If a lioness sees a man and eagle while mating, the offspring will have the body of a lion, the head of a man, and the wings of an eagle. Before you reject this as utter nonsense, consider the fact that statues of such creatures, called cherubim, have been found throughout Mesopotamia. The great sphinx of Egypt is a cherub without wings. (Did the sphinx have wings originally?) And since God posted cherubim to guard the Garden of Eden [Gen. 3:24] these creatures must truly exist, as any fundamentalist will tell you.

Anyone could perform some experiments to test the biblical theory that what a female sees during mating influences the appearance of her offspring. For example, place a pair of white mice in a cage. Line the cage with pictures of zebras so that the mice can see them while mating. Then the biblical theory of evolution predicts that the offspring of these mice will be striped like zebras. But I have never known anything like this to happen.

I know of no evidence that supports this theory. Through science we know that the union of sperm and egg determines the appearance of the progeny as well as its gender and many other characteristics. From the millions of sperm deposited by the male, one eventually fertilizes the egg. Today we know that fertilization does not occur at the moment of mating. Fertilization occurs hours or days later. One sperm out of millions is the lucky one. it is a matter of chance. One would think that if what a woman sees influences her offspring, it would be what she sees at the moment of fertilization, not the moment of mating. And what a female sees at the moment of fertilization is anyone's guess. There is no way that I can find any scientific credibility in Jacob's theory of evolution. But it is the 'word of God.'

Tradition has it that God dictated the first five books of the Old Testament to Moses. So why did God tell this hooey to Moses? And what did Moses think of it? Now Moses had experience with the breeding of sheep. For many years he shepherded the flocks of his father-in-law. Did Moses say that he never saw this happen? Did he learn something new?

It amazes me that God never told Moses about DNA. It is one of the most wondrous things that God hath wrought. God ought to be proud of his invention -- a proud poppa. But not a word is said about DNA. Why?

Darwin's theory of evolution depends upon two processes occuring at the same time. The first process is mutation -- spontaneous changes in the DNA of the egg or sperm that unite to form an embryo. The second process is selection -- the weeding out of plants or animals that are 'less fit' -- less capable of surviving and procreating. The "Origin of Species" is much more credible than any evolutionary theory based on Genesis.


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