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Perhaps the major reason for Evolution's success is that it has been able to control the definition of "evolution" as "common ancestry" and therefore its alternative, Creation, as "not common ancestry." Therefore, if a creationists accepts that evolutionist defintion, then all an evolutionists has to do is provide evidence for common ancestry and the evolutionist wins the argument. But if the"the standard scientific theory" of evolution is that "human beings" and everything else "have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind ," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis), then evolutionists must show two things, not one. The evolutionist must not only that: 1) "human beings" and everything else "have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life" (i.e. universal common ancestry); but also 2) that "God had no part in this process" (i.e. always and everywhere a fully naturalistic mechanism). If God supernaturally intervened at any point in the process that produced "human beings," from the origin of the Universe, including the origin of life, to the origin of Man, then "evolution," as so defined by the "the standard scientific theory" of evolution, is wrong. In other words, if God had any part in the process that produced "human beings," then it was a form of Creation not Evolution!
Why I (a Creationist) Accept Common Ancestry (Not Evolution)
Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biol.)
[P]lants and animals, most remote in the scale of nature, are bound together by a web of complex relations. (Darwin, 1859, pp.124-125)Before Darwin, the predominant creationist theory was the Great Chain of Being. Though it is no longer tenable, it did have some important insights. Central to that theory was a recognition that all life is linked together by a chain of similarities. Even ancients such as Aristotle (350 B.C.) were aware of the vast unity of life. The unity of life could not possibly result from chance, nor from multiple sources, nor from multiple designers acting independently. Life must have come from some single common source. Evolutionists say "common descent." Creationists say "common designer." Life could have looked like an art gallery with many artists - yet it does not. This is not happenstance. It is premeditated design. It is a major factor in message theory. All life is linked together by a complex web of similarities. Life looks like the product of a single designer. (This single designer can be a single being or design team.) Message theory says nature was intentionally constructed to look this way." (ReMine, W.J., "The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory," St. Paul Science: Saint Paul MN, 1993, pp.18-19. Emphasis original) and I knew that humans and chimps shared about 99 percent of their proteins and genes:
"Both estimates indicate that the average human protein is more than 99 percent identical in amino acid sequence to its chimpanzee homolog ... the nucleic acid sequence difference of human and chimpanzee DNA is about 1.1 percent." (King, M.-C. & Wilson, A.C., "Evolution at Two Levels in Humans and Chimpanzees," Science, 11 April 1975, Vol. 188, p.112)but I interpreted this as the result of common design, not common descent:
"Notice, this is exactly what we would expect as evidence of good creative design and engineering practice. Suppose you were in the bridge-building business, and you were interviewing a couple of engineers to determine whom you wanted to hire. One fellow says, `Each bridge I build will be entirely different from all others.' Proudly he tells you `Each bridge will be made using different materials and different processes so that no one will ever be able to see any similarity between the bridges I build. ` How does that sound? Now the next fellow comes in and says, `Well, out back in your yard I saw a supply of I-beams and various sizes of heavy bolts and cables. We can use those to span either a river or the San Francisco Bay. I can adapt the same parts and processes to meet a wide variety of needs. You'll be able to see a theme and a variation in my bridge building and others can see the stamp of authorship in our work.' Which fellow would you hire?" (Parker, G.E., "Creation: the Facts of Life," Master Book Publishers: San Diego CA, 1980, p.26).
I later realised that this was a fallacy of false dilemma because there are not two, but three possibilities: 1. design without descent (e.g. separate creations); 2. descent without design (e.g. Darwinism, atheistic evolution); and 3. design with descent (e.g. theistic evolution, mediate creation-my position now).
I therefore argued vigorously against common ancestry on the Internet for about a year, until in 1995 I was convinced by the evidence and a series of `coincidences' that common ancestry was true.2[top]
An important part of my full acceptance of common ancestry was when I came to see that it is not necessarily evolution. The following are some quotes which helped me see this. [top]
Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species acknowledged that common ancestry was not enough, but what he needed to show was a fully naturalistic mechanism:
"In considering the Origin of Species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist, reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings, on their embryological relations, their geographical distribution, geological succession, and other such facts, might come to the conclusion that species had not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties, from other species. Nevertheless, such a conclusion, even if well founded, would be unsatisfactory, until it could be shown how the innumerable species inhabiting this world have been modified, so as to acquire that perfection of structure and coadaptation which justly excites our admiration." (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," , Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 6th Edition, 1928, reprint, p.18. My emphasis). [top]
Darwin was able to write his Origin of Species (1859) without even using the word "evolution" in it, instead using the more accurate and neutral term, "descent with modification":
"To begin with a paradox: Darwin, Lamarck, and Haeckel-the greatest nineteenth-century evolutionists of England, France, and Germany, respectively-did not use the word evolution in the original editions of their great works. Darwin spoke of `descent with modification,' Lamarck of `transformisme.' Haeckel preferred `Transmutations-Theorie' or `Descendenz-Theorie.' ... Darwin did use evolve in this vernacular sense-in fact it is the very last word of his book. `There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.' .... Darwin shunned evolution as a description for his descent with modification .... Evolution entered the English language as a synonym for `descent with modification' through the propaganda of Herbert Spencer." (Gould S.J., "Darwin's Dilemma," in "Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, Reprint, 1991, pp.34-37) [top]
Michael Denton's observation that common ancestry was compatible with many philosophies of nature, including some forms of creationism:
"It is true that both genuine homologous resemblance, that is, where the phenomenon has a clear genetic and embryological basis (which as we have seen above is far less common than is often presumed), and the hierarchic patterns of class relationships are suggestive of some kind of theory of descent. But neither tell us anything about how the descent or evolution might have occurred, as to whether the process was gradual or sudden, or as to whether the causal mechanism was Darwinian, Lamarckian, vitalistic or even creationist. Such a theory of descent is therefore devoid of any significant meaning and equally compatible with almost any philosophy of nature." (Denton, M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, pp.154-155. My emphasis). [top]
Phillip E. Johnson's concession that "God ... might have chosen to work through a natural evolutionary3 process":
"I am a philosophical theist and a Christian. I believe that a God exists who could create out of nothing if He wanted to do so, but who might have chosen to work through a natural evolutionary process instead. I am not a defender of creation-science, and in fact I am not concerned in this book with addressing any conflicts between the Biblical accounts and the scientific evidence." (Johnson, P.E., "Darwin on Trial," , InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, p.14. My emphasis) [top]
Phillip E. Johnson's point that creationists can "believe that ... simple forms of life evolved gradually to become ... humans4:
"Clearing up confusion requires a careful and consistent use of terms. In this book `creation-science' refers to young-earth, six-day special creation. `Creationism' means belief in creation in a more general sense. Persons who believe that the earth is billions of years old and that simple forms of life evolved gradually to become more complex forms including humans, are `creationists' if they believe that a supernatural Creator not only initiated the process but in some meaningful sense controls it in furtherance of a purpose. As we shall see evolution' (in contemporary scientific usage) excludes not just creation- science but creationism in the broad sense.' (Johnson, P.E., "Darwin on Trial," , InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL., Second Edition, 1993, p.4. My emphasis)
"If an omnipotent Creator exists He might have created things instantaneously in a single week or through gradual evolution over billions of years. He might have employed means wholly inaccessible to science, or mechanisms that are at least in part understandable through scientific investigation. The essential point of creation has nothing to do with the timing or the mechanism the Creator chose to employ, but with the element of design or purpose. In the broadest sense, a `creationist' is simply a person who believes that the world (and especially mankind) was designed, and exists for a purpose." (Johnson, P.E., "Darwin on Trial," , InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, p.115. My emphasis)
"In a broader sense, however, a creationist is simply a person who believes in the existence of a Creator who brought about the existence of the world and its living inhabitants in furtherance of a purpose. Whether the process of creation took a single week or billions of years is relatively unimportant from a philosophical or theological standpoint. Creation by gradual processes over geological ages may create problems for biblical interpretation, but it creates none for the basic principle of theistic religion. And creation in this broad sense, according to a 1991 Gallup poll, is the creed of 87 percent of Americans. (Johnson, P.E., "What is Darwinism?" in "Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law & Culture," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1998, p.23. My emphasis) [top]
Christian philosopher Del Ratzsch's point that common ancestry does not preclude supernatural intervention in the ancestral chain:
"Suppose contemporary evolutionary theory had blind chance built into it so firmly that there was simply no way of reconciling it with any sort of divine guidance. It would still be perfectly possible for theists to reject that theory of evolution and accept instead a theory according to which natural processes and laws drove most of evolution, but God on occasion abridged those laws and inserted some crucial mutation into the course of events. Even were God to intervene direc law and inject essential new genetic material at various points in order to facilitate the emergence of new traits and, eventually, new species, that miraculous and deliberate divine intervention would by itself leave unchallenged such key theses of evolutionary theory as that all species derive ultimately from some common ancestor. Descent with genetic intervention is still descent-it is just descent with nonnatural elements in the process." (Ratzsch, D.L., "The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1996, pp.187-188. My emphasis) [top]
Leading Darwinist, Richard Dawkins, quoting Darwin, pointed out that if God supernaturally intervened at any stage in common descent then it was not evolution at all":
"Darwin ... wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, the leading geologist of his day: `If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish...I would give nothing for the theory of Natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.' [Darwin C.R., letter to C. Lyell, October 11, 1859, in Darwin F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin", John Murray: London, 1888, Vol. II, p.210]. This is no petty matter. In Darwin's view, the whole point of the theory of evolution by natural selection was that it provided a non-miraculous account of the existence of complex adaptations. For what it is worth, it is also the whole point of this book. For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.248-249. Emphasis in original.)Another leading Darwinist, Daniel Dennett, agrees with this, adding that it "It made a nonsense of the central point of evolution" if "evolution ... had to be helped over the jumps by God":
"Darwin often, and correctly, harped on the claim that evolution could only be gradual (at best, you might say). As Dawkins (1986a, p. 145) says, `For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all. It made a nonsense of the central point of evolution." (Dennett, D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life," , Penguin: London, 1996, p.290. My emphasis)That is, if God created by supernatural intervention at any stage in common descent. then it would then be creation not evolution:
"If we want to postulate a deity capable of engineering all the organized complexity in the world, either instantaneously or by guiding evolution, that deity must already have been vastly complex in the first place. The creationist, whether a naive Bible-thumper or an educated bishop, simply postulates an already existing being of prodigious intelligence and complexity. If we are going to allow ourselves the luxury of postulating organized complexity without offering an explanation, we might as well make a job of it and simply postulate the existence of life as we know it! In short, divine creation, whether instantaneous or in the form of guided evolution, joins the list of other theories we have considered in this chapter." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.316-317. My emphasis) [top]
Leading atheist Michael Shermer bemoans the fact that only "a paltry 12 percent" of Americans "accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process" (my emphasis)
"Facing such a reality, perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis) [top]
Evolutionists regard those who accept common ancestry as creationists, if they don't accept that the mechanism was fully naturalistic. For example, leading Intelligent Design theorist, Michael Behe accepts "that all organisms share a common ancestor", but he is regarded by evolutionists as a creationist, because he argues that natural processes alone were insufficient to explain life:
"Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it." (Behe, M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," , Free Press: New York NY, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2006, pp.5-6. My emphasis)Evolutionist philosopher Robert Pennock regards Behe as a "creationist" even though Pennock realised that Behe accepts common descent:
"Intelligent-design theorist Michael Behe has said that he has no reason to doubt the truth of common descent, but he does doubt the power of natural selection to shape the full range of biological complexities. In Darwin's Black Box he claims to have found a number of such "complex organs" to prove his case. This is clearly an important claim. ... So what does Behe have to say? We already have a fairly clear idea given our earlier discussions of critical passages from Darwin's Black Box Behe hopes to show the impotence of Darwinism by pointing out purportedly profound explanatory gaps. Trying to do this is nothing new. ICR's Duane Gish has tried to do this by pointing out gaps in the fossil record. ... Indeed, as we saw, almost every creationist attack proceeds in the same way, by citing something that Darwinism supposedly cannot explain." (Pennock, R.T., "Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism," The MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1999, Fourth printing, p.264. My emphasis)Behe (along with others who accept common ancestry, e.g. "Michael Denton" and "Alvin Plantinga") is included by Pennock in the category of "intelligent design creationism":
"A more powerful movement is gaining strength within the Tower and is beginning to take the lead in the battles against evolution in the field. This is the group of creationists that advocates `theistic science' and promotes what they call -intelligent-design theory.' Creationism-watchers have called the advance guard of intelligent design creationism (IDC) the `upper tier' of creationists because, unlike their earlier counterparts, they carry advanced degrees from major institutions, often hold positions in higher education, and are typically more knowledgeable, more articulate, and far more savvy. There are a dozen or two names that appear most frequently in association with the ideas of intelligent-design and theistic science, but because this variation of creationism is still relatively new and its advocates have not all published or explicitly identified themselves under these labels it is not yet clear whom to list among its leaders. Walter Bradley, Jon Buell, William Lane Craig, Percival Davis, Michael Denton, Mark Hartwig, J.P. Moreland, Hugh Ross, and Charles B. Thaxton are important figures. Another is John Angus Campbell, a University of Memphis rhetorician, and he mentions Nancy Pearcey, Del Ratzsch, Tom Woodward, John Mark Reynolds, Walter ReMine, and Robert Koons (who is a colleague of mine in the philosophy department at The University of Texas at Austin), as being among the `key players' of `our movement.'' Among the more well- known names to sign on to the crusade are Michael Behe (Lehigh University) and Dean Kenyon (San Francisco State University) on the scientific side, and Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen (both of Notre Dame) on the philosophical side. Perhaps more significant, however, are the younger members of the group-William Dembski, Paul Nelson, Stephen C. Meyer, and Jonathan Wells. These `four horsemen' have dedicated their lives to the creationist cause and have been collecting multiple graduate degrees (Dembski in mathematics, philosophy and theology; Meyer and Nelson in philosophy; and Wells in religious studies and molecular and cellular biology) so they will be fully armored and ready to ride forth." (Pennock, R.T., "Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism," The MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1999, Fourth printing, p.29. My emphasis)Another leading evolutionist, Eugenie Scott, also calls Behe "an intelligent design `creationist'" even though she is aware that Behe has stated that he has "no reason to doubt common descent" and thinks that "evolution occurred, but was guided by God":
"[Eugenie] Scott refers to me as an intelligent design `creationist`,' even though I clearly write in my book `Darwin's Black Box' (which Scott cites) that I am not a creationist and `have no reason to doubt common descent`. In fact, my own views fit quite comfortably with the 40% of scientists that Scott acknowledges think `evolution occurred, but was guided by God.' Where I and others run afoul of Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is simply in arguing that intelligent design in biology is not invisible, it is empirically detectable. The biological literature is replete with statements like David DeRosier's in the journal `Cell': `More so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human' [DeRosier, D.J., Cell, Vol. 93, 1998, p.17]. Exactly why is it a thought-crime to make the case that such observations may be on to something objectively correct?" (Behe, M.J., "Intelligent Design Is Not Creationism," Science, dEbate, 7 July 2000. My emphasis)What makes Behe a creationist in the eyes of leading evolutionists is that he claims that "the materialist mechanism" is inadequate to explain life's "information" and "irreducible complexity" and therefore there must have been "an intelligent designer guiding the process":
"Further on that, because it is such a crucial point: my colleague Michael Behe in his well- known book Darwin's Black Box says he has nothing against common ancestry; there may be common ancestry from the first bacterium up to present-day organisms (or there may not be; he accepts that as a possibility). What he says is that you need an information source to produce the irreducible complexity, and the materialist mechanism can't do that. There has to be an intelligent designer guiding the process. Is Behe a theistic evolutionist or a creationist? Is he a friend of science or an enemy of science? In these terms, the answer is that he is an enemy of science. Why? You could very easily call his view theistic evolution. What makes Behe a heretic, rather than a member of the team, is that he says there is evidence of the need for intelligence. You see, that crosses the faith/reason boundary and brings the intelligent designer into the realm of things that can be seen by evidence, that objective observers can evaluate, instead of the realm of purely subjective belief. That is why he is on my side rather than their side, whereas somebody else whose position sounds superficially the same would be clearly on the other side." (Johnson, P.E., "Evolution and the Curriculum: A Conversation with Phillip Johnson and Gregg Easterbrook," Ethics and Public Policy Center, February 2000, No. 4. My emphasis) [top]
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna (who is reportedly close to Pope Benedict XVI) has recently drawn a distinction between "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry" which "might be true" and "evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection" which "is not":
"The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things. Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neoDarwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science." (Schönborn C., "Finding Design in Nature," The New York Times July 7, 2005. My emphasis) [top]
Dennett conceded that there is no way to scientifically differentiate between the effect of supernatural intervention by an Intelligent Designer (e.g. God) and natural causes:
"Indeed, all the biologists I have queried on this point have agreed with me that there are no sure marks of natural, as opposed to artificial, selection. In chapter 5, we traded in the concept of strict biological possibility and impossibility for a graded notion of biological probability, but even in its terms, it is not clear how one could grade organisms as "probably" or "very probably" or "extremely probably" the products of artificial selection. Should this conclusion be viewed as a terrible embarrassment to the evolutionists in their struggle against creationists? One can imagine the headlines: "Scientists Concede: Darwinian Theory Cannot Disprove Intelligent Design!" It would be foolhardy, however, for any defender of neo-Darwinism to claim that contemporary evolution theory gives one the power to read history so finely from present data as to rule out the earlier historical presence of rational designers-a wildly implausible fantasy, but a possibility after all." (Dennett, D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and The Meanings of Life," , Penguin: London, 1996, reprint, pp.317-318. My emphasis) [top]
Three examples, two from the Bible and one from science, make it clear that common ancestry and supernatural intervention are not mutually exclusive:
The first example is Eve. If Adam was descended by a processes of reproduction from a hominid ancestor, which in turn shared a common ancestor with all other organisms, and Eve was specially created from Adam's side (Gen. 2:20-22), then all her descendants would share a common ancestry with all other life, but it would not be by a fully naturalistic process of parent-child reproduction.5
The second example is Jesus. Christian theology maintains that Jesus was fully human and therefore on his mother's side, Jesus shared a common ancestor with all humans. But according to the New Testament, on his father's side, Jesus was born of a virgin, the result of a special supernatural intervention by God (Lk 1:35; Mat. 1:18).
The third example is Dolly the cloned sheep. She was the offspring of one ewe (which provided the cell nucleus) and another ewe (which provided the cell, minus a nucleus), and there was no male involved.6: And Dolly has gone on to bear her own offspring.7 So Dolly and her offspring have a common ancestry with all other sheep, even though there was human intelligent designer intervention in the process.
The following is an outline of the Biblical evidence for common ancestry of humans with animals:
The Bible nowhere states that man was not created via common ancestry. [top]
"But, on the other hand, the Scriptures do not disclose the method of man's creation. Whether man's physical system is or is not derived, by natural descent, from the lower animals, the record of creation does not inform us. As the command `Let the earth bring forth living creatures ` (Gen. 1:24) does not exclude the idea of mediate creation, through natural generation, so the forming of man `of the dust of the ground' (Gen. 2:7) does not in itself determine whether the creation of man's body was mediate or immediate. We may believe that man sustained to the highest preceding brute the same relation which the multiplied bread and fish sustained to the five loaves and two fishes (Mat. 14:19), or which the wine sustained to the water which was transformed at Cana (John 2:7-10), or which the multiplied oil sustained to the original oil in the O.T. miracle (2 K. 4:14). The `dust, ` before the breathing of the spirit into it, may have been animated dust." (Strong, A.H., "Systematic Theology," , Judson Press: Valley Forge PA, 1967, reprint, p.465. My emphasis).
"What strikes one about the Jewish description of creation and early man, compared with pagan cosmogonies, is the lack of interest in the mechanics of how the world and its creatures came into existence, which led the Egyptian and Mesopotamian narrators into such weird contortions. The Jews simply assume the pre-existence of an omnipotent God, who acts but is never described or characterized, and so has the force and invisibility of nature itself: it is significant that the first chapter of Genesis, unlike any other cosmogony of antiquity, fits perfectly well, in essence, with modern scientific explanations of the origin of the universe, not least the 'Big Bang' theory." (Johnson, P., "A History of the Jews," Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1987, p.8. My emphasis)
In the two places in Genesis describing the making of man, the first (Gen. 1:27) does not say how man was made:
Gen. 1:26-27 "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
and the second (Gen. 2:7) which does, cannot be literal otherwise one would have to maintain that God literally breathes:
Gen. 2:7 "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." [top]
Man's uniqueness in the Bible is not how or from what he was created but that man uniquely was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; 1Cor 26-27; 5:1; 9:6; 1Cor