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Mike Bennett

Dory,
Great discussion. On your discussion of fossils I would like to go one further. The slowly laid down sediment theory is not valid. An animal or plant must be covered immediately, put under large amounts of pressure and be sealed off from air to even possibly form a fossil. All fossils are like your plant fossil (unless they are extremely small) they go through several layers of "strata" that were supposedly layed down over millions of years.

We are supposed to believe that an animal would die, fall in a lake or in a field and just lay there without rotting or being eaten by other animals and having their bones scattered to kingdom come for thousands of years. Even if you bury an animal it will decompose, bones and all, in a reletively short period of time.

The progressive creationist and evolutionists somehow feel that God is confined to the laws of the universe. They seem to start with the premise that God couldn't create the earth fully formed. He created Adam as a fully formed adult, why not the earth?

I design machinery for a living. When I design and build a piece of machinery I am outside of this "creation" and I am in no way constrained by the specific things I have designed it to do. The evolutionist view would be the same as saying in the "universe" of the machine only A, B and C happen then I, as the engineer, could only have used A, B and C to create it. Rather flawed logic. The evolutionist starts with the premise that there is nothing outside the universe and I think the progressive creationist does the same, he just doesn't realize it.

One thing I find interesting is the light year argument. If a thing is 100 light years away then the universe has to be at least 100 light years old for us to see it. If you will notice the first thing God created was light. There was light without stars to give it off. Now I am not a physicist, but it seems to me if the garden hose is full of water to begin with you don't need to wait for water to travel the length of the hose for it to come out the end.

Even if that is bad physics (which it may be) it would be like me creating a machine and writing the software to say that the machine will only run so fast. I can however, go back and change the software to make it run faster if I like, after all, it is my "universe".

Rusty

Dory,

Good couple of posts, although I disagree with you.

The Romans reference to death entering the world specifically states that it was death through sin... only humans sin. The text also specifically states that it was death to people that entered the world through sin. I don't believe it is correct to posit that this text supports death to animals (in general).

In one of the comments I've seen the claim that progressive creationists are accepting evolutionary theory and that their interpretive approach confines God to the laws of physics. This is simply not the case. The question we are addressing is not: Could God create in 6 24 hour days? but, rather, How did God create?

Progressive creationists believe that God is certainly capable of creating the universe in 6 24 hour days. Concluding that God was confined to the laws of physics and, therefore, that's why it took him so long to create, imposes a preconceived notion of time constraints (it also ignores the valid aspect of intentions). While we humans are certainly constrained by time and effort, God is not. While he may have chosen to circumvent the laws of physics he established, he may also have chosen to use those very laws of physics (or a combination of both)! What may appear long, from our point of view, may actually be quick, from a purely naturalistic point of view. What I'm saying is that continued research is revealing that our appearance in the universe, based purely on the laws of physics, comes at the earliest and most opportune time. That doesn't square with a chance (evolutionary) model, but it squares nicely with a model which posits that the process was planned and guided.

We need to be careful in how we approach a "natural reading" of the text of Genesis (or the whole Bible, for that matter). The age of the universe and / or the length of creation has only been a major concern in the past 150 years or so. The ancients were not as concerned with that aspect of the Genesis 1 creation account as we are... and for good reason - it's not the primary intent of the text. Consider the context of the text of Genesis: to firmly establish for the Israelites, who had just left Egypt, that the natural realm was created by God, and is controlled by God. It, the natural realm, was not to be worshipped (as in the animistic religion of the Egyptians). God alone, who is sovereign over the created realm, was to be worshipped. We see this reiterated in other Biblical narratives of the time (e.g., the 10 plagues account, in which God systematically denigrates specific Egyptian deities). Also, we see a Sabbath pattern established in Genesis 1 which is paramount to a later revelation of Levitical law (a 6/1 pattern not limited to days only).

In understanding the "How" of creation one must not limit themselves to the Genesis 1 account of creation. A "natural reading" must include all references of creation throughout the entire Bible. Immediately following the Genesis 1 account one finds the account in Genesis 2. And immediately one finds that there are issues with Day 6 that hinder a 24 hour only approach (i.e., the amount of activity that must take place before the sun sets on Day 6... all young earth interpretations I've read on this fall woefully short of convincing (IMHO)).

I would also take issue with the concern that animal death before the Fall is not part of God's "good" creation. Is such a concern attributable to preconceived notions of a technologically based society? IOW, would the ancients have considered carnivorous activity by animals to be "bad" (vs. God's "good")? Psalm 104 states "The lions roar for prey, seeking their food from God." It appears that the method in which the lions obtain their food is actually part of God's plan.

David Mobley

Dory,

Nice post. Two thoughts: One, I hope you'll get to responding to Jeremy Pierce's arguments, as well. He argues that that part of Genesis 1 uses a literary style which suggests that a chronological interpretation is not intended -- so if he's right, his argument would be that a "natural" reading does not imply chronology.

Also, along those lines, I'm not convinced that it's quite as easy to determine the natural reading as you make it out to be. The natural reading is, of course, whatever it would have meant to the people who read it. This may hinge to at least some extent on how they would have understood the word "day", and I don't think you've shown that they necessarily would have thought it meant a literal day -- so I'm not convinced that that's the natural reading. Certainly it is in modern English -- but that's not the same thing.

It may be true that, in the absence of compelling evidence to read it otherwise, our main reason for doing so would be the scientific evidence. But that's not the same as putting science OVER what Scripture says, as long as no one can show that Genesis demands a literal, 7-day creation interpretation.

I don't think it's necessarily a huge problem to allow science to influence how we read Scripture. I certainly agree that Scripture is the final authority -- but if science had never said otherwise, most of us would still probably think that the sun orbits the earth, since Scripture talks about the sun going down (or rain falling, etc.). Science has influenced our interpretation of Scripture, now, by helping us realize that we misunderstood when we thought Scripture taught the earth was flat.

I don't want to get too into this. I really don't think it's an issue of fundamental importance, and I hope that one day I'll be able to "see the creation video", in the words of a friend, to find out how it all really was.

In closing: I will believe anything that Scripture teaches, whether or not it seems problematic from a scientific point of view, because I'm convinced that the Bible is true. But I'm not convinced that Scripture teaches a literal seven day view. And in that case, science may help us understand which view is correct; I don't think this is problematic. Both creation and the Bible record the works of God, so correct science will not be at odds with a correct interpretation of Scripture.

Dory

I do want to comment more on the death issues, Rusty. I planned to do that in another post. That's an interesting part of the discussion.

Mike, your point about the light reminds me of God "stretching out the heavens."

David, the chronological literary structure of Genesis 1 seems obvious on the surface of it. I haven't seen Jeremy's arguments that you speak of, so I can't respond to them until I do, but from a strictly literary standpoint I don't see how the chronological structure can be denied. It seems like denying that "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" has an AABBAA rhyme pattern. Each section begins with the creative works of God, and ends with, "So the morning and evening, were the nth day."

That (the literary structure) is a separate issue, however, as to what the meaning was. Gap theorists say there can be an eon of time in there somewhere. Day-age theorists say the days are eons. Others say the whole thing is mere allegory. I say the gap is simply not there. Day-age creates more scientific problems than it solves, and the allegorical interpretation doesn't fit the style of the writing here. (Examples of Hebrew allegory can be found in the visions recorded Daniel or Revelation. There are visions, beasts,judgments, stars falling from heaven, mountains rising up out of the ground, etc.)

On what the word "day" means in this passage, I would refer you to this article, which says it far better than I ever could. Link The nuts and bolts of it is that the use of the Hebrew word yom in the singular with an ordinal number (such as first, second, etc.) always means a single normal day. There are no counter-examples in Scripture. So if the word yom in Genesis One is referring to an age of time, or is merely symbolic or allegorical, it is the only place it is used in this form with that meaning in Scripture.

This is a great discussion! I'll love seeing that "Creation Video," too David! There is going to be so much to learn in those days. We'll all feast on bread, wine, and humble pie!

Rusty

Dory,

I would argue that the day-age interpretation fits in better with the scientific understanding than the young earth position. However, I'm a bit perplexed as to why, on the one hand, young earth proponents accuse day-age proponents of buying in to science and, on the other hand, turn around and advocate that day-age isn't viable because it creates scientific problems? It almost seems that young earthers pick and choose the science they want to accept. Can you clarify what scientific problems day-age creates?

With regards to the ordinal-day argument for Genesis 1, we need to understand that such an arrangement is not a rule of grammar for Hebrew. Nor are we limited to interpreting the text by a majority rule. Simply because many other instances (and it isn't every other instance) where the ordinal-day combination is used indicates 24 hour days doesn't mean that all instances must indicate it. Since no other place in scripture indicates God's creative action in this day by day manner it should not be surprising that the text is unique. Also, considering that care was taken to indicate that each of the first 6 days have a beginning and end, we should note that there is no indication that the 7th day has ended.

Dory

Rusty, I don't know what others say or why, but what I meant about the scientific problems with day-age, is that if this theory is embraced because it seems to solve certain scientific problems (supposed age of rocks/fossils, for example), it fails in that by creating other problems.

Just off the top of my head I would suggest the following possible problems: The existence of algae and photoplankton for ages without the marine life necessary to keep the populations in check and thus depleting the water's resources, such as CO2, an atmospheric oxygen cycle with no carbon dioxide producers, flowering plants without the pollinating birds and insects that many of them require. We are not told when bacteria are created, though if you believe in long ages, then they would be necessary when plants exist in order to break down plant matter. Yet how could bacteria that rely on "higher" life forms (as M. darwiniensis is dependant on termites) exist then?

As to the use of the word "yom" (day): I would suggest you read the link I provided, because obviously my summary didn't explain it very well, and I am no expert in this area. (smile). The article I referenced was a linguistic study. It deals with how the word yom is used based on its different meanings. It doesn't have quite as many meanings as 'day' does in English, but it can be used to mean an era or age. However, when it is used that way, it is used in the the plural, and is not accompanied by an ordinal number (1st, 2nd, etc.), but rather by a cardinal number (1, 2) if it is accompanied by a number at all, or otherwise by an article (the days of Noah).

So, as an example, when we read in Genesis 8:13 about the first day of the month the form is the singular form of yom with an ordinal number and it clearly refers to a normal day. This is the same grammatical construction as in Genesis chapter one. However if the term yom is used to indicate a period of time longer than a single day, such as, "In the days of Abraham," it would be used in its plural form and never with an ordinal number. Anyway, if that doesn't make sense to you, please read the article.

Love your blue parrot photo, by the way, Rusty! http://newcovenant.blogspot.com/2005/02/you-belong-at-zoo.html

Rusty

Dory,

Thanks for your comment on the parrot photo (I've got a larger version of that, and other shots from the SD Zoo, at Imago Articulus).

My initial comments were directed toward misconceptions about how the day-age interpretation views neo-Darwinism (or, the evolutionary paradigm). While I wasn't intending to get into the nitty-gritty details of old-earth vs. young-earth, it seems that such a venture is inevitable.

You might want to reference this chart (PDF) which gives a possible scenario of how the 6 days of creation fit into the 4.8 billion year old age of the earth. When you reference algae and plankton as having to exist for great periods without marine life, what are you basing that on? And, what do you mean by algae and plankton? I ask that last question because there are distinctions between various groups of cyanobacteria, stromatolites, etc. In Origins of Life (Rana & Ross), the argument is made that over 3 billion years of bacterial life is needed before the environment is ready for advanced life precisely because of the problems of C02, heavy metals, environment, etc. Note, again, that this is not an argument which states that God is constrained by the laws of physics, but that he is actively working within the laws of physics (that he established). It can analagous to a construction project in which specific events occur at the precise time they are needed because of intelligent guidance. We see life appear at the very earliest possible time it can. We see that the life that appears prepares the environment for advanced life to appear later. We see that the geologic and water cycles operate in a manner which compensates for the sun's increasing brightness. "Chance" occurrence, as in a purely naturalistic model, cannot address such precise timing.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we sometimes expect the text of Genesis 1 (or the Bible) to give us more detail than it truly does. The Genesis 1 account is pretty much describing the creation of the universe on one page. It doesn't state when bacteria were created or when dinosaurs were created because, and this goes back to my earlier contention, that was not the intention of the author.

I've read arguments on the meaning and usage of ordinals for the Hebrew word "yom." I believe that there is certainly an argument to be made that the usage in Genesis 1 indicates 24 hour days. However, no one can claim that such an interpretation is mandated by the rules of grammar and / or translation. As long as that's the case, then I have the room to work within a day-age interpretation.

We all have bias and preconceived ideas that we bring to the table. I come from a planning & scheduling background, so I can readily see the use of the concept of "phases" when planning and executing work. Virtually all our projects are set up into sequential phases, which vary in length of time, but which must occur in proper sequence in order for the successful completion of the project. In analyzing or presenting a project's schedule, we will tailor its representation depending on the audience we are presenting it to. If we are discussing the day to day activities with the engineers involved, then we will have a very detailed schedule in front of them. But if we are presenting the schedule to upper level managers, then we will present a high level summary schedule which collapses the intricate details into summary activities within the sequential phases of the project. Furthermore, we may highlight only specific aspects of the project that we think are critical (e.g., paying special attention to the delivery of a critical piece of equipment rather than highlighting when the porta-potties will arrive).

In a sense, then, the day-age interpretation is simply stating that the Genesis 1 creation account is a high level summary schedule, highlighting specific instances of God's creative work.

Truthseeker

I think this is a fascinating discussion and it is amazing how much is posted on so many blogs and websites with so many interpretations on how God created the world and universe. I wonder if we try to fit too much of what we see in the world today into the creation's beginning. Anyway, keep up the discussion, I am personally satisfied with the account God gave Moses. By faith I accept that recorded six day creation, my God is that powerful and He didn't need that rest on the seventh day, but knew that man would need it, so He set the precedent for man's need. God can speak and it is done. When He created the world He set forth the laws of science, but He wasn't then and isn't now bound by them in my humble, simple opinion. Guess I am just not sophisticated enough to think otherwise. God can create something new or old, because He is God. May God be with you as you sift through all these theories. I will check in to see how it goes from time to time.

Martin LaBar

VERY interesting reading, posts and comments. Thanks to all authors.

Rusty linked to a chart, which, as he says, might be used in correlating the six days of Genesis 1 with long periods of time. Perhaps the "days" were long periods of time, but, if so, simply stretching out the days won't quite do it. Genesis 1:21 says that "great creatures of the sea," (NIV) presumably including whales (although that isn't certain) appeared on the fourth day. Land mammals, supposedly the ancestors of whales, appeared on the fifth. More critically, Genesis 1:20 says that birds appeared on the fourth day, and they supposedly descended from reptiles, which don't seem to have appeared until the fifth day.

The most important question about origins is "Who?" Genesis 1 isn't clear on "How?" "Why?" or "When?" but it starts out with Who. That's crystal clear.

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