ICR Totally Mangles the Purpose & Significance of Pasteur’s Experiments

ICR didn’t invent science-ignorance–but they surely do their best to keep it alive!

When it comes to science, it is hard to beat ICR (Institute for Creation Research) for defiant ignorance.  Here is the caption below their silly video misstating what Louis Pasteur accomplished in discrediting old wives’ tale about “spontaneous generation” of maggots from meat and lice from sweaty shirts:

“In the 19th century, the theory of abiogenesis was widely accepted, much like evolution is today. Charles Darwin strongly promoted the idea that life was generated spontaneously from non-life. However, Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist and believer in biblical creation, made a startling discovery that turned this notion completely upside down.”

http://www.youroriginsmatter.com/thats-a-fact/view/109/Louis+Pasteur

Yours truly, Professor Tertius, posted the following rebuttal, but it apparently flew right over the heads of ICR groupies:

1) Abiogenesis refers to life from non-life. The Bible describes abiogenesis in Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord made HA’ADAM (“the human one”) from the dust of the ground.” The dust of the ground is a perfectly reasonable way for ancient Hebrew to refer to the chemical elements of the earth’s crust. God made the man (a living biological organism) from the dust of the ground (non-living ingredients.) That is the very definition of abiogenesis!

2) Those who are monolingual sometimes assume that Genesis 2:7 is not abiogenesis because God is involved. No. While the English language uses the same word for a spirit being alive as for a biological organism being alive, the original languages of the Bible so often carefully distinguish between the two by using entirely different words. (For example, when Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” he was NOT saying “I’m a biological organism”. The Greek word is not BIOS but ZOE. ZOE does not mean biological life. BIOS provides that meaning.) Furthermore, science is not theology and it doesn’t make theological statements because the scientific method has no tools or procedures for detecting supernatural entities such as God. So the word “abiogenesis” is strictly concerned with the matter-energy world, not spiritual things. So both Christians and non-Christians in the sciences can agree on abiogenesis without debating theological topics. The bottom line is that both modern science and the Bible speak of abiogenesis, living things from non-living ingredients, without a conflict.

3) The opposite of abiogenesis is biogenesis. If biogenesis was some sort of scientific law found in science textbook (It’s not), that would mean that living things always produced living things right into the “infinite past”. And that would mean that biological life is eternal and therefore the universe is eternal. It is not! Both science and the Bible agree that there was a time in the past when no living things existed, and a time when the first non-living ingredients became a living organism. Abiogenesis. Of course, a born-again, Bible-believing Christ-follower believes that the agent who made that abiogenesis possible is God the Creator. Science doesn’t make theological determinations because theology can’t be tested under the scientific method. So it is Biblical theology which adds that extra commentary on the emergence of life: God made living things and that explains abiogenesis. Science only knows that abiogenesis somehow happened. Biological life is not eternal. It had a beginning because God willed it!

4) The video on Louis Pasteur is confusing “spontaneous generation” and abiogenesis. From ancient times people made wrong assumptions about some forms of life. They thought maggots arose from dead meat. They thought body lice came from dirty clothes. Pasteur conducted specific experiments to debunk those specific claims of tradition and folklore. It is impossible for anyone to somehow conduct an experiment to determine “Under no circumstances and at no time could life arise from non-living ingredients.” Indeed, because of that logical impossibility, that is why nobody making the false claims about Louis Pasteur debunking “abiogenesis” ever describes how he could have done so! The scientific method CANNOT somehow prove a negative. So Christians can be confident that Dr. Pasteur did NOT somehow disprove Genesis 2:7, the life from non-living ingredients described in the account of God making Adam from the dust of the ground.

[This intentional obfuscation of the word “abiogenesis” is a great example of the Argument from Equivocation fallacy. Equivocation fallacies are common in Internet discussion forums, especially when YECs are involved.]

In summary, the Bible says that both the universe and biological life had a beginning. Modern science has determined the same thing: they both had beginnings. So once again, the Bible and modern science are not necessarily in disagreement. The Bible describes livings things coming from “dust” (the chemical elements of the earth’s crust) and Science concurs.

It is time to end the artificial, unnecessary, pointless war between science and the Bible which YECs constantly insist on manufacturing.  Moreover, the Bible can be cited in support of what scientists do: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” — Proverbs 25:2
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4 Comments

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4 responses to “ICR Totally Mangles the Purpose & Significance of Pasteur’s Experiments

  1. TomS

    Pasteur was not concerned with the spontaneous of animals large enough to be seen without a microscope. That had mostly been settled by then. It remained open concerning microscopic life.
    Back when the question when it was not clear where new life came from, there were a number of different opinions. One is Preformation, that living things existed inside the bodies of their ancestors, back to their creation. Opposed to that is Generation, of different types: Univocal Generation, generation from the bodies of their parents;
    Equivocal Generation, generation from a different form of life (this would include metamorphosis, when a butterfly forms from a caterpillar); and Anomalous Generation, living from non-living.
    The Bible seems to have examples of Equivocal Generation, as when the bees formed the carcass of the lion slain by Samson; the Plagues of Egypt seem to speak of the frogs and the flies coming to be by Anomalous Generation; and Preformation, when it speaks of someone pre-existing in one’s ancestors.

  2. Most Bible readers are probably unaware of the bugonia concept which TomS is associating with the bees in the lion carcass story and Samson’s infamous riddle. Bugonia and the implication of spontaneous generation of a sort was a belief throughout the Mediterranean lands, though all of the examples I can recall from ancient texts involved cows or oxen. It is indeed interesting to think about how those bugonia stories from the ancient world may have influenced the bees in the lion carcass.

  3. P.S. By the way, when I casually write “all of the examples I can recall…involved cows or oxen”, I am not implying that bugonia can’t or didn’t ever apply to any animals except cows or oxen. I’m simply speaking honestly of my aging memories and not always reliable powers of recall. So I was simply stating that the examples of bugonia that I can still recall from various studies long ago are limited to those two animals but I assume that concording from the TLG database (of all ancient Greek literature) would yield a great many examples which would dwarf the few I can remember.

    I appreciate TomS’ comments because he often mentions evidence from the ancient world which most Christians don’t come upon even in their best OT commentaries. Unlike so many Internet forums where comments are focused on two purposes–high-fiving the ideological allies and attacking those who disagree–from the beginning I have hoped that readers here will find the comments will enhance and supplement the didactic value of the blog. Indeed, I’ve already benefitted from a number of insightful comments here.

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