Tuesday, February 21, 2006

No-Sun Photosynthesis?

While referenced in another post, I felt this interesting enough to post separately.

When you speak with those who object to the concept of biblical inerrancy, you'll hear the Genesis account of creation attacked regularly. Supposedly, photosynthesis cannot happen without sunlight. The Genesis account tells how God created light, but this supposedly would not have been enough to sustain plant life. Impossible to have photosynthesis without the sun.

Well, not so fast. According to the Science Buzz blog and other sources, scientists have made an interesting discovery. A green sulfur bacterium that requires light for growth was found where the only light source is geothermal radiation. The discovery of this organism was reported by J. Thomas Beatty and associates at the University of British Columbia, Canada; University of Munich, Germany; Arizona State University; University of Alaska Fairbanks; College of William and Mary, VA; and the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. This previously unknown bacterium was found in a deep-sea hydrothermal vent where the only source of light was from geothermal radiation.

Hmmm. Wonder how that could happen? Could it also be that a sovereign Creator can do what He wants? Even have plants growing with no SUN light? Jesus wondered if He would find faith on the earth at His return. Seems like the ones stirring up a lot of doubt are those who claim to be His followers.


Rob said...

Hey Sola,

In the spirit of making us all think. What about the flat-earth problem. If it was a literal day which side of the earth was God on? This was an argument against the round earth.

Here's another one. Cain kills his brother and God puts a mark on him. He freaks out because when other people see this mark he'll get killed. Also Cain goes and builds a city. A city means lots of people. Where did they come from?

In terms of old earth vs young earth here's another one. The stars are suns that are millions or billions of light years away. Meaning it would take a billion years for that light to get to earth. How can the universe only be 10,000 years old if the light couldn't get here unless it was a billion years old?

You're right that a creator can do what He wants, but what's the motivating factor for Him to create an earth that looks old? The more information we get the older the universe looks. Is God trying to trick us?

Lots of questions.


SolaMeanie said...


I'll have to answer briefly tonight as I am coming off of a major migraine headache that hit me about noon today. Please excuse me if I am not as sharp as usual.

As to the round vs. flat earth, I have never quite understood where that one came from. The Scriptures talk of the "circle of the earth," so it is odd that the Catholic Church had such a hissy fit over it. Of course, the Catholic Church didn't think the common man ought to have the Bible back then, so it shouldn't surprise me. But I do wonder at it getting trotted out as an argument AGAINST Scripture.

As to the Cain question, it seems to me that with the long lifespans, quite a lot of breeding could have taken place. I mean, Methuselah lived 969 years (that is..if you think those are literal years, LOL). If our average lifespan is 70 years now and we have married couples with ten children or more (they didn't have the pill back then), I don't think it really presents that much of a problem.

As to the young/old earth question, I am not a scientist or a mathematician. But from a common sense side, if there was a "Big Bang"...that had to explode with quite a lot of force...and speed. I would have to consult with a creationist scientist for the technicals. But it is not hard for me to believe that God created ex-nihilo.

If I stand before you with a flashlight and turn it on..then begin backing away from you..you will still see the light until I get too far away or over the horizon. Why couldn't the stars have been formed in the Big Bang, and the force of the explosion catapult them away at tremendous speed. But the light is still there from when the stars were close. Get my thinking here? That is just a conjecture. However, I think you have a clue in your own statement, "looks old." Maybe that's just it. How it looks and reality might be quite different. I wouldn't say so much that God is trying to trick us, although He has been known to allow delusions as part of judgment. I think the problem is mankind's unbelief.

The long and short of it is..the Bible has been proven right often enough to make me give it the benefit of the doubt. Remember the Hittite empire? That was supposed to be a bunch of hogwash until lo and behold, the archeologists finally found it.

SolaMeanie said...

Oops..one more comment. This is an honest question, not a dig. With so much doubt about Scripture, I wonder that you even want to be known as a believer in Jesus Christ. How can you divorce the Lord from His Word? If you believe His Word is not true, how can you be His follower?

SolaMeanie said...

Hi again, Rob..

Just thought of something else in connection with the flat earth and "what side was God on." Whatever side of the argument one takes, the thing we always forget is that God dwells outside time in eternity. He is separate and distinct from His creation. We dwell inside time and cannot see things from God's perspective. So He actually wouldn't have been on any "side" of the earth.

One other thing is when people want to take passages of Scripture that are written in a poetic sense and say that these passages were intended to be direct descriptions. For instance, I could write that the sky was a black shroud over my head. That is a poetic/prosaic literary device intended to illustrate a thought. I don't mean that the sky is a literal burial shroud made out of black velvet. Again, it's that common sense thing. When Jesus said He was the door, we don't look for a knob on him. But we know perfectly well what He meant. Unless we're inclined to be stubborn and argumentative.

Rob said...


To your questions about Christ etc. I ask these questions because too often Christians set these up as hoops I need to jump through in order to believe that Christ died for the sins of humankind and rose again.

Many scholars have argued Genesis 1 sounds an awful lot like ancient Hebrew poetry. But that isn't taught in 'conservative' churches at all. Instead we are taught that the Bible is literal in every aspect. Instead, why not say one possibility is that these verses are literal, the other is that they're poetry. In this case it doesn't matter.

Where this really stems with is my years of youth work. In my church, students would be taught apologetics, young earth, literal creation, Bible as a science book. This worked because they were sheltered by us there youth leaders and by there parents.

Then after the first year in University they would come home and say you lied to me. There's lots of ways of looking at things, and you didn't prepare me for that. Then we would say, believe the Bible is absolutely literal or you can't have a relationship with Christ (not explicitly but implicitly).

When my wife and I were in Youth at this same church, we had 150 kids. Of those 150 kids who came on a weekly basis, 4-5 are left in church. If these stats were unique to my church then we could write it off. The latest stats I've seen suggest 5-10% of those who attend youth ministry 10 years ago are in church today.

I'm not blaming the evil 'conservatives' for this, because liberal churches have done no better. (Mostly because the gospel has been completely lost in those churches an no one can figure out why to go there).

I really think there's a 3'rd alternative. If I'm talking about creation with my non-Christian friends and I say the world is 10,000 years old. They're going to say "the world is 4.5 billion years old."

Then I'm going to offer my evidence, they're going to offer their evidence and we go around in circles.

Instead, why not say, "there's lots of ways to look at creation it could be the world is 4.5 billion years old but who do you think Jesus is?"

I don't think the Bible was set up as a science book. I don't know if God cares about science much. I do know that the Bible is true, and I know that science is looking for truth so eventually the 2 should come together. (Truth doesn't necessarily mean literal. There can be figurative truth as well). When I look at the story of creation the truth I get from it is that God did it. Whether young or old, evolution/creation God did it. Then we screwed it up and pulled the roof down on our heads. Isn't that true if it's literal or figurative?

My caution to conservative Christians is don't add to the gospel. To be saved I don't see where it says I have to take the Bible literally in all cases. I know you're really concerned about the slippery slope. I think that's a good concern.

Science needs to have the same caution. For many years science was out to prove God doesn't exist. All they did was provide overwhelming evidence that this all couldn't have come from nothing. DNA, the universe, everything is way too complex to have just happened. The deeper we get into the Atom (once thought to be the smallest particle) we have protons, and neutrons, and ions. Now we've discovered Quarks (particles that exist in more then 1 time at once). God did this, and we screwed it up. That's the message of Genesis.

Just my thoughts I hope they make sense. I'll be sure to pray for your headaches. I'm sorry to hear you get those.


SolaMeanie said...

Hi, Rob..

Sorry it took me so long to respond to this. Busy weekend etc. I am teaching a class on cults and my current cult of the month are the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I hope I can assure you that I am not just a knee-jerk fundie who doesn't think. I am most certainly a biblical conservative, but not because I haven't thought it through. I have read quite a bit through the years because of my interest in apologetics, especially responses to challenges to our faith. I am encouraged to know that there ARE answers to most of the objections of our critics, and when we don't have an immediate answer, a good one usually turns up with enough prayer, research and study.

I appreciate what you say about kids going off to school and losing their faith. Unfortunately, it's happening in seminaries also. They head to seminary thinking they're going to be equipped for ministry only to find out they have professors who don't believe what they're supposed to be teaching.

As to creation, yes..there are lots of ways of looking at the issue, but typically the churches do NOT teach kids very well about the real holes in so-called evolutionary theory, nor how to answer the objections they'll hear in school. It's not just knee-jerk "The Bible sez it, ah buhleeve it an' thet sittles it." (My attempt to write a Southern drawl.) I was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Henry Morris today, one of the pioneers of creation science. Among creationists, there are some who are more credible than others, but the number of degreed scientists throwing Darwin out is growing.

The whole issue of dating is very controversial and you can see scientists on both sides of the spectrum. Some say carbon 14 is accurate while others say it's not. A friend of mine sent me the following comments which I thought were interesting . . .

"Old earth young earth- Genesis 1:3 3 And God said, Let there be light:
and there was light. (It just "was". There was no "travel" at creation. If you accept that God, as defined, is capable of this then the Bible is simply stating a fact. It was just one facet of the environment he was putting in place. He wasn't building it old. He was only putting it in place to then begin the processes. In our clumsiness we try feebly to measure it. Incidentally we have been wrong in measurement/understanding many times in our scientific history.)

We choose to define/measure it "old". That is a label that ignores God's statement of a young earth. He's not "making it look old" we are classifying it as such. If I create something red and everyone gets together and decides it is yellow, it doesn't follow that I was trying to mislead everyone by calling it red. BTW Larry Vardiman has an interesting presentation on the latest issues on carbon dating and its implications. Actually the more info we get it either doesn't fit conveniently into the old earth paradigm or speaks against it. There is very little coming to light that can actually be fitted into that paradigm. Current research from macro to micro is pointing to some other explanation. Of course they are desperately looking for alternate explanations but are having to be very creative in the process. I could go on and on. From not enough time even in 15 billion years to not enough observable mass in the universe, to dependent "live or die" organic system designs, they blow it off by blowing off God but they never answer the questions this research raises. They say they don't know but whatever it is it can't be God. That is an irrational conclusion."

I agree with you that the Bible is not a science book. I also agree with you that not everything in the Bible is literal..that some things are literary devices, word pictures etc. But we must be careful not to compromise the authority of God's Word by making things non-literal when God intended them to be literal. The context is usually the first clue when this takes place.