So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Map Analogy...

I often get into discussions, and even debates, with Christians and non-Christians about creationism/evolution in all it's various hues and colors, and one of the things that comes up the most is the tossing around of "evidence" on both sides of the debate. Many creationists throw their "evidence" at the evolutionist and can't understand why he cannot see the forrest for the trees, and vice versa. I also often use an illustration about the nature of data, explaining why this happens, by talking about a map and how maps work.

I've wanted to post this for a while (It's been in "draft" status...i.e. "forgotten about" for like a month) but I have never gotten around to it. So, this kinda comes out of nowhere, but I'm going to simply post a quote of something I said about "the map analogy" along with what I often use for examples. This also is my original thought, so rip me off all you want but I'd appreciate the honor of a citation if you rip me off. I was debating someone a little while ago on evolution; specifically the nature of data and evidence. We throw those terms around so loosely and more often then not mean "data" when we say "evidence". Anyway, instead of re-typing the whole thing, here's the quote:


Well, when I look at the data, I don’t see 4 billion years. But then again, that’s just it: DATA only becomes EVIDENCE when it’s interpreted.

Take a map for example. A map is a whole bunch of lines, shapes, colors and symbols. It could be a road map, a star map, a neurosynaptic map, etc. Now I may look at a map and say “hmmm. I don’t have a clue what this is but I’ll try to decipher it.” I could examine the red lines and think “Hmm, well, these look like roads” and suspect that they’re roads. I could look at the purple “x” marks and think “these must be railroad crossings”. I could go through all the symbols and sort through everything and apply my logic, as best I can, to decipher the map.

But how would I KNOW I was correct?

I’d have to check the legend. The legend is the “key” to the map, which tells me what the lines, colors, shapes and symbols mean.

And when I look at the legend, THEN I have a authoritative basis for interpreting the data of the map.

I’d suggest that if the Bible is true, then it’s the “legend” of creation. It’s the “key” to make sense of everything; and not just morally. The Bible gives us a general foundation for the operation of both ‘hard’ and ’soft’ science; it allows us to make sense of the "data" of the entire universe and see what's what and how it all fits together.

When the Evolutionist examines the map (creation) without refering to the legend (scripture), they misinterpret the data. They see things as they are, but their understanding is horribly misaligned.

So when an Evolutionist examines a fossil record, he thinks “well, I understand how silt is laid down and I understand how pressure works on soil (etc.)” Then, he takes his observations and attempts to make a working interpretation of the fossil record to understand it.

But without the solid foundation of scripture (they eyewitness account of the only living eyewitness), the understanding of the Evolutionist is misaligned.

When I, the Christian, look at the same data, I take the SAME observations. I remember how silt is laid down and I think about pressure, but then I also remember that God says something about a worldwide flood in Earth’s past where EVERYTHING died. Then, I factor in the flood and say “Hmm. This flood helps explain other things like polystratic fossils, or how a dead organism survives long enough to even BE fossilized without being eaten or decomposed.”

Working from the same data, but DIFFERENT foundations, the Evolutionist and the Creationist see different interpretations of the data. In the words of the analogy, we see the same map but we use DIFFERENT LEGENDS to understand the map. The Christian looks at the legend on the map and the non-Chrisitan simply rejects the legend on the map and makes a new legend up.

So I don’t see the earth as appearing 4 billion years old. I don’t see fossils giving the “illusion” of evolution. I see the earth looking several thousand years old and I see the fossils screaming at me that God judges sin.

WAY different conclusions!


So, heres some pictures and maps. See if you can tell what they all are without the legends, but there is NO wiggle room; you've gotta be either 100% or nothing. Know what the map is a map of, where it's from, what the colors mean, etc. I'm also putting them in order of difficulty, with the easiest one first. I'll eventually post the answers after a few days, and we'll see how close anyone can get to getting them all! I'd turn this into a contest, but I have now prizes or anything. BUT, the person who gets the closest can maybe choose the next post topic or something. HA! Have fun all!

Okay. Now that I'm back on "serious post" mode, this should make for some fun times! Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


Blogger Craver VII said...

The first one looks like a U.S. & P.R. population map. #4 looks like a closeup of my buddy's exzema (sp?) scab. The last one is clearly what Salvador Dali sees when he blows smoke from his long skinny cigarrettes. But I don't know what the others are.

Sadly, it was a number of years before I realized that evolutionary theism was Biblically unsound. So, even though I was a Christian, I thought it was not an offense to God that I did not take his Word at face value on the matter of creation.

12:26 PM

Blogger michael lewis said...

The first map is probably Tmobile or Cingular coverage map. At least it's a mobile phone coverage map.

The fourth is the RM map of Saskatchewan. (I used to live in RM#487.)

There is nothing to assure us that this "legend" of which you speak is the Bible. There are many other religious traditions which also affirm Creationism. Why have you not accorded their "legends" into your analogy? If all of humanity has the signature of God written on each person, then why shouldn't other religions contain Truth?

4:36 PM

Blogger Joanna Martens said...

hey there friend,
it was great talking with you this sunday afternoon! I'd love to be able to hang with you and "your posse" when life isn't so hectic for me. Blessings!

6:25 PM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Micheal, What is the "signature of God"? Are you talking about the "imageo dei" in some way?

I definitely wouldn't suggest that other religious worldviews don't have truth, but they are NOT truth. Truth is that which corresponds with God, and God's mind is revealed (in part - Deut 29:29) in the Scriptures. Other religious systems may have some truth in them, but that truth is measured by the revealed mind of God in the scripture.

Are you suggesting that mankind can know ultimate "truth" outside of revelation?

8:56 PM

Blogger michael lewis said...

Not quite.

But I am saying:

All truth is God's Truth no matter where it's found.

7:02 AM

Blogger michael lewis said...

And really, the argument you use to dismiss the scientist's dismissal of your legend, well, the scientist can use the same argument against you.

7:03 AM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Okay. So you're NOT saying that mankind can recognize ultimate truth outside revelation. So then I guess I need to ask "what is revelation?"

11:47 AM

Blogger Craver VII said...

michael said, "All truth is God's Truth no matter where it's found."

I've heard that before, but we might ask ourselves, "How much does Truth matter to me? Would it make a difference in what I say or do?"

Even the quest for veritas can be wise or foolish depending on what we do when we get there.

armchair, that's quite an avitar!

I'm looking forward to see what develops in this legend concept.

12:58 PM

Blogger michael lewis said...

When will you disclose the legends to the maps?

1:47 PM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Hmmm. Do those pictures not appear for anyone else? It seems like Blogger isn't displaying them on my computer. I was going to post the legends today, but I noticed that the pics don't come up. I may have to re-post the images. DOH!

2:11 PM


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