The concept of the multiverse has gained traction recently, made popular in some movies, but invented by some academics. Really it was conceived as a way to deal with the increasing impossibility of maintaining the credibility of evolution. Evolution is a random set of improvements and progress, but the problem is that we can’t test and repeat the process. Left to themselves, things don’t come together, they fall apart.
Evolution itself was an attempt to explain how we got here without God. Evolution is a belief system built by and for atheism. But these atheists want to claim reason as their own, and the more they try to prove evolution, the more irrational the speculations.
Enter the multiverse. This unprovable theory suggests that there are perhaps an infinite number of alternate universes where all is random, and ours just happens to have had its particular history. Of course it’s virtually impossible to think that all this could happen randomly, but increase the options, maybe the odds will be better than zero, and here we are. Well, something is odd.
The idea attempts to save evolution’s face, and buy some time for refusing to give God thanks. It also provokes the imagination, and allows us to have reasons to not give God thanks.
But what a failure to see.
For real, how amazing is our actual universe? We can’t even count our own stars, or the hairs on our heads. We were given bombardier beetles, microbiology, and coffee beans. And what other story of love and grace and sacrifice and gospel could be better than the one announced to us (1 Peter 1:25)? What a powerful and faithful God, a loved and loving Son, a powerful cross, an empty tomb. These are things into which angels long to look (1 Peter 1:12).
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:20–21 ESV)
All six bullets I’ve mentioned come from observation of the biblical story itself. In light of how obviously they refute theistic evolution, let alone naturalistic, I wonder if Darwin didn’t concoct his theory by sitting down with Genesis one in front of him and consciously writing an anti-Genesis story. Since he grew up in a professing Christian home, I think it’s reasonable to suppose he knew exactly the truth he was rejecting. What a shame that so many believers try to squeeze his anti-God scheme into Scripture.
And while we’re wondering out loud, could Moses have written the story in any other way that would have been more beyond doubt that he was referring to six 24 hour days? Henry Morris put it this way:
If the reader asks himself this question: “Suppose the writer of Genesis wished to teach his readers that all things were created and made in six literal days, then what words would he use to best convey this thought?” he would have to answer that the writer would have used the actual words in Genesis 1. If he wished to convey the idea of long geological ages, however, he surely could have done it far more clearly and effectively in other words than those in which he selected. (The Genesis Record, 54)
If the assignment was to leave open the possibility of evolution in chapter one, then Moses failed.
No matter how a person might attempt to fit evolution into Genesis by saying that God is responsible for it, he still must deny the Bible on some level. Either Scripture or “science” is wrong. We cannot eat evolution cake with Genesis one icing.
Finally, let me acknowledge that our belief in a literal six-day creation is built and framed by revelation. But belief in God’s Word is not the same thing as belief based on never seen, never proven guesswork. Beliefs in evolution are blind beliefs, nothing better than stabs in the dark. God’s Word, on the other hand, is light in the darkness. The biblical account of creation is night and day from theistic evolution.
At multiple points throughout week one, God declared His work “good.” When He gathered the waters together to make dry land, God saw that it was good (verse 10). When He made plants and trees yielding seed and bearing fruit, God saw that it was good (verse 12). When He set the sun and moon to rule the day and night, God saw that it was good (verse 18). When He created fish and fowl, God saw that it was good (verse 21). When He made livestock and insects, God saw that it was good (verse 25).
As He prepared the earth for life, specifically life for His image-bearers, God pronounced His own approving evaluation of creation’s goodness. That is, God declared creation’s beauty and quality and acceptability and desirability. (As a side note, setting up the earth for life is not the same as making little-life and causing it to mutate into more complex life.)
Then, God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (verse 31). There was nothing about His creation that was deficient or defective or hurtful. So here’s the question: if killing and death prevailed on the planet, with weak and mutant and in-between-stages creatures, as evolution requires, how could God claim “everything was very good”? Theistic evolution must imply that death is an acceptable good, that as long as the fittest survive and overall progress is being made, everything is okay. But in biblical terms, that is a very bad kind of good, and really no good at all.
This shoots as big a hole in theistic evolution as any of the previous bullets. Everything that reproduces, every plant, every animal, every fish, every bird, every insect, (even every human in a similar way), all reproduce according to their kinds.
On day three (verses 11-12), God created vegetation (remember that in the evolutionary timeline plants are not the first sort of organic life), and the phrase according to its kind is repeated three times. Apple trees produce apple seeds that grow into little apple trees. Orange trees produce orange seed that don’t grow into oak trees.
On day five (verses 20-23), God established that each individual type of water creature would reproduce according to their kinds (demonstrating that there were multiple kinds in the water), and every winged bird multiplied according to its kind.
Then on day six (verses 24-25), God established that livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth all would multiply according to their kinds. God made them distinct, and made them to reproduce keeping those distinctions. Humans may have successfully bred a cocker spaniel and poodle into a cockapoo, but it’s still a dog. We’ve never mated mosquitos with goldfish or squirrels into mosquish or squirritos.
And even though the phrase “according to their kind” isn’t included when God made men and women, they were the only creatures fashioned in the likeness of God’s image. Men are of a different kind altogether.
No kind jumps out its kind, there is no mutating across breeds or progression up the food chain. God placed limits and boundaries on the light and darkness, on the sea and the seashores, and on living creatures breeding according to their kinds. Fish belong in the water; flying is for the birds; men and animals were made for land. God creates, God separates, God distinguishes and defines and sets boundaries.
I really like the things you’re pointing out, and I appreciate your heavy use of Scripture, as “we” over here are no less than brutalized by your bullets. I just wanted to point out that your language can be a bit presumptuous at times, in that you don’t even seem to take the opposing side seriously. I realize that Calvinists are bred to make no apologies as they topple the walls of everyone else’s false doctrine, but I think next time you might consider your audience as you write these. (Of course, I anticipate you might draw from my previous comments to highlight my own presumptuous behavior, which I readily confess, but please know that in the context of this comment I’m sincerely trying to be helpful.)
SKH said October 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm:
Hi, Phil. I was wondering if/when you’d get enough time in your schedule for more interaction. Good to see you again.
Thanks for your (more or less) gracious encouragement and I do appreciate your concern for my presumptuousness. But honestly, I must be so presumptuous that I’m blind to what language I’ve used that sounds presumptuous.
I stated in the introductory post to this short series that my aim was to “shoot” at theistic evolution with the Genesis one account itself. Therefore, I hope my case includes more than just a “heavy use of Scripture”; I’m basing it entirely on Scripture. If Scripture is errant, I’m finished. But my “audience” are those who believe the Bible is God’s Word, and therefore inerrant and authoritative.
That said, perhaps my interpretation of Genesis one is wrong. I do not want to be presumptuous in my attempts to interpret God’s Word. So please, really, please, point out wrong interpretation. I’m not taking a “side,” I’m solely interested in the author/Author’s intent. I believe Moses made his case clearly (a point which I’ll mention in the conclusion post to the series), and therefore, the proper interpretation (again, granting that I may or may not have it) does indeed “make no apologies,” even if scientific claims are toppled in the process.
I am glad that you’re reading. I’m glad that you’re interacting. But perhaps you shouldn’t presume that you are my audience, especially if you believe that we must give science equal authority to Scripture. If that’s the case, there’s very little possibility of me pleasing you, since I believe Scripture’s distinctions between light and dark, true and false, right and wrong are not presumptuous at all.
SKH said October 27, 2008 at 4:49 pm:
While we’re on the subject, would you say that this quote is presumptuous?
There’s always some apprehension that I’ll come across as selectively belligerent, especially when I haven’t commented for a while, so thanks for the welcome.
As I read over your reply, I’m thinking that maybe the issue is more about Scriptural exposition than it is about evolution. I guess my problem could be summed up in that I get the impression that you are equating your interpretation of Scripture with Scripture itself. No doubt you are extremely qualified, both academically and spiritually, to interpret and communicate the Word (as I’ve been fortunate to experience myself the past few summers). What I’m after is some acknowledgment that your interpretation of Genesis, regardless of its scholarly support, is still one of many perhaps not equal but still valid models.
Since my reasons for keeping the door open to theistic evolution won’t really do too well in a comment box, I’m thinking maybe I should present those on my own blog. I certainly don’t want to shoot any bullets: I’d prefer that anyone who disagrees be conscious enough to make their point. If I do find the time to write, I’d be thrilled to have some scholarly feedback as opposed to my primitive fist-flinging.
Trinian said October 28, 2008 at 3:54 pm:
I look forward to reading your upcoming blog post, Phil. I hope that it contains either an actual textual criticism of SKH’s interpretation or a sound expository advancement of the competing viewpoint. Arguments that question the tone of an argument or simply laud the virtues of doubt and uncertainty ring rather hollow when placed opposite a clear viewpoint into the unrelenting perspicuity of Scripture. Again, you’ve said that your real argument cannot be contained by this meta, so I will await your post.
SKH said October 28, 2008 at 6:51 pm:
Phil, I like the phrase, “selectively belligerent.” Can I use that?
I’m very happy to make the issue entirely about Scriptural exposition (which, by the way, means that while I’ll eagerly await your posts about theistic evolution, I’m likely to be less interested if they don’t have to do with interpretation of Genesis one itself).
As for your newest concern that I’m proud, not just presumptuous, I really thought I went out of my way in my reply above to say, “perhaps my interpretation of Genesis one is wrong,” in addition to, “the proper interpretation (again, granting that I may or may not have it).” It seems like that is an acknowledgement of at least some sort. In fact, I explicitly requested exegetical critique.
But perhaps you could give me the benefit of the doubt about my attitude, at least for the sake of the discussion, and deal with the issue. It seems like you agree that the proper interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture. However, it also seems like you think it’s impossible for us to actually know the proper interpretation. Does that mean God revealed words but hid His meaning? Or, if you think it is possible to know what God meant by what He said, how so? And if we can/do know, how do you suppose God recognizes “many…valid models”?
Apart from scriptural exposition, this brings up a fascinating contention in current evangelical circles. It’s this: no one can be right. We must always hedge our bets so that we don’t offend anyone. It’s the awful influence of post-modern tolerance that screams tolerance = acceptance, and no one can ever be right because there are no absolutes.
I’m just curious – WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT IN SCRIPTURE?
Because John the Baptist did not say this to the Pharisees:
“I totally understand we’re all Israelites, and I genuinely appreciate your desire to serve the Lord. Now, I can’t judge your hearts, your motives, your beliefs, or your interpretations of scripture, but might I offer you a suggestion? You’re coming across a little strong. I think you’re misinterpreting some scriptures, though your reading is equally as valid as my own. In my desire for us all to love one another, can we talk about this some time over, say, dinner?”
I think it went something more like:
“Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’…He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (matt 4:7-12).
This is a matter of God’s Word – of defending TRUTH. Our example is the greatest prophet after Christ, in the likeness of Elijah. He pulled NO punches when shooting down false doctrine and ideas/beliefs/teachings that would cause people to stumble or send them to Hell. Nor should we when we are standing upon the truth of Scripture.
The hope of theistic evolutionists hinges on the word “day.” In order for evolution to fit in Genesis one, “day” must represent long periods of undefined time, more than likely covering millions of years.
The Hebrew word for “day” is yom. The question is, does yom ever refer to a period of time other than 24 hours? The answer is yes. Even in the first two chapters of Genesis, “day” is used at least three different ways.
“God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” (1:5) Here, Moses uses yom to indicate a 12-ish hour period.
“God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (1:14). Here, Moses uses yom to indicate 24-hour days as they make up years.
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (2:4). Here, Moses uses yom in reference to the entire creative week.
But note first of all, that even though there are different definitions, none of them involve ages or eons.
(Outside of Genesis 1, yom + ordinal number (used 410 times) always indicates an ordinary day, i.e. a 24-hour period. The words “evening”” and “morning” together (38 times) always indicate an ordinary day. Yom + “evening” or “morning” (23 times each) always indicates an ordinary day. Yom + “night” (52 times) always indicates an ordinary day. See Ken Ham’s study guide on “yom.”)
Second, the context establishes how long a day is in Genesis one. Every single day in the chapter is defined. It starts in verses 3-5, God creates light, separates it from darkness, calls the light Day and the darkness Night. And there was evening and there was morning the first day. The light/darkness, evening/morning, the [ X ] day formula is repeated for each of the first six days (verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
Third, there is no reason to take day in a figurative way, that is, as a metaphor or symbol of something else. Nothing else in the chapter is figurative. If “day” doesn’t mean “day,” why does “earth” mean “earth”? Why doesn’t “vegetation” represent something else? How can “man” mean “man”? It is strange, and inconsistent to suggest “day” means something other than what it typically does.
How do theistic evolutionists answer this?
According to young earth theory, the Sun was not created until Day Four, thus there could be no sunrise or sunset for the first three days of creation. However, God uses the terms evening and morning for those first three days. Therefore, they cannot be actual evenings and mornings. We are left with only one option. The words for Evening and Morning can only represent the beginning and ending of the creative period, and not actual sunrise and sunsets. (See Answers in Creation)
As if God could not create light or establish light/dark cycles apart from the sun, they simply ignore Moses’ account and force their assumptions into Genesis one.
Days are defined as solar days, 24 hour days as we know them today. It wasn’t millions of light/dark transitions in verse five that made the first “day.” Saying that a “day” represents long ages casts suspicion on every word in the account. The only reason to even suggest a day isn’t a day is because of presuppositions outside the text, and is the worst kind of eisegesis. Theistic evolution’s definition for “day” in Genesis one is perhaps one of the most fallacious and deplorable examples of reading into the text in all of Scripture.
Seven of the eight creative acts in Genesis one include a follow up phrase of immediate fulfillment.
Verse three, And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Verse six, And God said, “Let there be an expanse….” And it was so (verse seven).
Verse nine, And God said…and it was so.
Verse eleven, and it was so.
Verse fourteen, and it was so.
Verse twenty-four, and it was so.
Verse thirty, and it was so.
God said it, and it was done. No time passes. No development or evolution discussed. God commanded by His word and the creation was completed without interval. The repetition of and it was so is a rhetoric device that demonstrates God’s power to create instantaneously, and rules out small, gradual adaptations over indefinite ages.
Every verse in Genesis chapter one (except for verse 1) begins with the conjunction “and.” Here is one example where the ESV sacrifices for the sake of readability, translating many of the verses in chapter one with “and” or “then” or “so,” but not all of them. The NASB goes back and forth between “and” and “then,” but is at least consistent in recognizing the repetition of the conjunction. For the curious, the Hebrew conjunction is the same vav (or waw) that begins each verse.
Moses doesn’t skip through the story, he moves step-by-step, directly from one work to the next and from one day to the next. Not only are his readers intended to feel the immediacy of the progression, Moses leaves no empty space for long, indefinite periods of time. We go to bed, so to speak, and there’s more creative work by God the very next morning.
The immediacy of movement is one piece of evidence, but perhaps even more conclusive is that the sequence of evolution conflicts with the order of creation in Genesis one. For example, Moses reports the creation of vegetation on the third day (the third “age” according to most progressive creationists), the creation of birds and fish on the fifth day, and the creation of animals and insects on the sixth day. Evolution, however, supposes that the sequence started with simple cells (3 billion or so years ago), that gradually developed into to complex cells (2 billion years ago), then into multicellular life (1 billion years ago), to simple animals (600 million years ago), to ancestors of insects (570 million years ago), to complex animals (550 million years ago), to fish (500 million years ago), and then to land plants. This rough timeline is according to the Wikipedia entry which may or may not be every evolutionists’ preferred arrangement.
That means even if God did use evolution to form and fill the earth, the sequence of development is off. Maybe Moses jumped around, but that seems unlikely in light of the genre and the flow of thought. The crux of the matter is that the creation account, as it’s told in Genesis, can’t be made to correspond with the evolutionary chronology.
The bulk of the book of Genesis is in the narrative genre. “Narratives are stories, purposeful stores retelling the historical events of the past, that are intended for a given people in the present” (Fee and Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 90). Moses is telling a story, but it is a non-fiction story, an historical record of actual events at specific times in particular places with real characters.
Nothing in Genesis smacks of myth or fable, with fanciful, fictional events. There are no potions, no princesses, and no magical golden coins. Instead, this is a matter of fact account. Even if Genesis one were considered poetry, as a few current scholars suggest, that wouldn’t change its truthfulness. Though I think Genesis one is prose anyway, it wouldn’t make an exegetical difference, since the Psalms aren’t make-believe.
If Genesis one does not describe real events and real days, when does the pretend story stop? If chapter one is figurative, then reality can’t materialize until at least after chapter three, after the story of the fall, of Adam’s sin, and the coming of death. Evolution demands death, the “survival of the fittest,” creatures evolving in order to survive harsh environments and predators, which means that for evolution to take place, death must have also been occurring during those millions of years. So at least the first three chapters of Genesis are untrustworthy. When can we start depending on the straight stuff? If Moses isn’t (always) reporting actuality, and since he gives no indication of switching back and forth between what’s figurative and what’s fact, then he is a great deceiver, and by implication, none of Scripture can be trusted. The truth is, theistic evolution doesn’t stand in light of the narrative genre.
According to Genesis 1:1, the universe was launched in an instant, due to the initiating, intelligent, omnipotent, creative work of Elohim. In the first verse of the Bible our beliefs are framed about God, the one God, the only eternal God, the God who is distinct from, yet involved with His creation. He created time, space, and substance out of nothing. And as quickly as the second verse in the Bible, amidst this new and vast universe, God focuses His work on the earth. Genesis 1:2 describes the earth’s early condition, setting the scene for a week’s worth of forming and filling so that man could live on His planet.
Not only was this the first week ever, it was the original W.O.W. Week (“week of wow” week). There was nothing except for God before “wow” week. In that week, all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1).
I emphasize the word week because it seems that a very small minority believe there was only one, 24-7 week in Genesis chapter one, and the majority I’m concerned about are not those who reject the Bible altogether. A person who doesn’t believe in God and who has no commitment to Scripture certainly won’t hitch their wagon to the creation account. Naturalistic evolution, that is, the development of life apart from God, presumably the result of a big bang, using the formula “nothing times no one equals everything,” is not the problem (besides the fact that it is clearly ruled out by Genesis 1:1). It seems most scientists don’t even cling to that theory any longer.
But I am concerned with those who desire to reconcile Scripture with science, specifically those who desperately want to squeeze the millions of years required by the evolutionary theory into the Genesis one story. The problem is with professing Christians, those who believe in God, those who claim allegiance to the Bible, who struggle to cram a version of evolution into creation.
Most who desire to reconcile science (granting for the sake of argument that evolution can even be considered “science”) with Scripture call themselves theistic evolutionists or progressive creationists, but both of those approaches make a similar scrambled mess of exegesis. Two other attempts to stuff millions of years into Genesis one include the Revelation Theory and the Gap Theory. But theistic evolution seems to be the prevailing shot in the dark. Those persons want to keep both science and the Bible, so they look for ways to fit evolution into God’s design. They believe God worked through minute mutations and gradual development.
I don’t remember this being a popular position when I went to public high school. Back in the day, you were on one side or the other. You either believed God and the Bible and creation, or there was no god at all and the Bible was stupid and evolution was scientific fact.
Yet theistic evolution appears to be the common, Christian way of thinking today. By far, the majority of Genesis commentaries I’ve read presume theistic evolution to be the proper interpretation of the chapter. Even a loyal reader of the Void wants to “leave the door open” for God’s work through evolution, and suggested that theistic evolution gives God more glory.
So how do you answer that? What can you say to those who want God as the evolution mover? There are at least six bullets from Genesis chapter one alone that shoot down any notion of evolution, over six days or over millions of years, and prove it unbiblical. There are other biblical and scientific evidences available to the Christian apologist. But mathematical formulas about DNA strands or cracks in the fossil record are not as convenient or authoritative as a well-reading of the story itself. I want believers to be able to take anyone to Genesis one and show that God Himself says He didn’t create via evolution. Over the next six days I’ll post the biblical bullets. And so there’s no confusion, by saying “six days,” I’m referring to the next six, sequential, 24-hour days, as defined by the cycle of light and darkness.
UPDATE [9:55AM October 23, 2008]:
I received a comment on the above post with language in it that is not suitable for approval. The gist was that I am a total waste of time because I questioned the science of evolution and, as they said, evolution “is the most important concept in biology” and “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”
To be clear, I wasn’t sniping when I said:
granting for the sake of argument that evolution can even be considered “science”
I simply meant to point out, that according to the definition of science, evolution has never been observed nor has it been demonstrated or repeated through experiment, and therefore, evolution is more accurately outlined as a theory, not a fact.
Genesis 1:1 frames our beliefs about God in such a way that certain other beliefs are necessarily ruled out. As various commentators indicate, the creation account precludes:
Atheism, the belief that there is no god. Verse 1 assumes God’s existence. There is no proof provided, or apparently necessary. It is taken for granted. I guess the point is, only a fool would say there is no God (Psalm 14:1). God exists.
Polytheism, the belief that there are many gods. Verse 1 makes plain that there are not multiple gods responsible for the universe as the result of of their petty fights. He is one God.
Pantheism, the belief that god is part of creation. Verse 1 reveals that God is distinct from His creation
Dualism, the belief that both good and evil are eternal and have been battling forever. Verse 1 reveals that only God was around, therefore, only good was around.
And while we’re at it, verse 2 (and the rest of the Bible) rules out Deism, the belief that God created and then doesn’t intervene after.
Genesis 1:1 frames our beliefs about God in such a way that certain other beliefs are necessarily ruled out. As various commentators indicate, the creation account precludes:
In just ten English words (seven Hebrew words), Genesis 1:1 reveals that God exists, that God is one God, that God is separate from creation, and that He made somethings out of nothing. The origin of the universe is attributed to the only ever-existent, omnipotent, proactive, and purposeful Elohim.
That means our world is not an evolutionary result of chance, random variation, stray molecules, or willy-nilly gods. Genesis 1:1 shows God’s initiative (He moved first), independence (God moved apart from external influence) intention (God created with purpose), and intelligence (God created with creativity and order).
However, not everyone takes Genesis 1:1 and the rest of chapter one as truth. Is it because there isn’t enough evidence? Is it because the information is unclear? Is it because Moses seems like he’s speculating or making up a fairy tale? No. Moses treats this as pure history (as does the rest of the Bible, like Exodus 20:11; 31:17; Psalm 8; 104; Matthew 19:4-6; 2 Peter 3:5; Hebrews 11:3-4). God’s creation of the heavens and earth is not something to be proven, it is something to be believed. That is exactly the point in Hebrews 11:3.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Creation is an issue of faith. The revelation of intelligent design, from an initiating, powerful God as the first cause is there to be believed. You will never argue someone into creationism. They have all the information and evidence they need (see Romans 1:18-23). What they don’t have is faith.
If you get verse 1 right, you’re on the road to get right the rest of the Bible. If you understand that one, sovereign, initiating God created everything and controls it all, then you understand that you owe your every breath to Him. We are all a part of His story. This isn’t an academic exercise, it is an adoration exercise.
Trinian said September 29, 2008 at 12:05 pm:
Very nice. In college especially you get a lot of lectures about different creation stories and how the biblical account has pulled (stolen) elements from surrounding cultures – trying to show that it is not a novel or unique story. What you have outlined here is four important points that make a clear distinction between God’s account of creation and any other civilization’s story. Sure they may all talk about waters and serpents and such, but when you look at the foundation as you have, the unique distinctions are clear. The foundation of the transcendent and imminent eternal God is completely unique and clearly shown even in the first chapter of the Word.
And I don’t think you can ever overstate the importance of the intention of God in His creation. Isaiah 45 restates it well – [the Lord] Who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited. There’s just no way we can (rightly) conclude that it just sort of happened this way, or that God is making it up as He goes along. He made it, and He made it for a very specific purpose with a very intentional plan.
As for the creation being an issue of faith, absolutely – and it’s the kind of faith that Christ praises most often; not the sort that believes unequivocally in something it can’t see or understand, but the kind that looks at the physical and observable evidence and then by faith connects that evidence with an unseen and holy God (resulting in action, of course). Looking forward to more!
SKH said September 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm
Thanks for the comment. Maybe half of the fifteen or so commentaries I read in preparation suggested that Moses had at least read, if not borrowed from, other cosmogonies. Only one, that I recall, suggested that the other creation accounts borrowed from or were written polemically against Genesis. Oh our doubting age.
Interesting that you quoted Isaiah 45:18. That passage is the verse used by Gap theorists, suggesting that the tohu va bohu in Genesis 1:2 must have come after the earth’s deterioration (due to the fall of Satan or something) since Isaiah claims God did not create it “empty.” I indicated here that Isaiah is writing about God’s purpose in creation whereas Moses is writing about the process.
And finally, did I get the paragraph breaks in the right places?
Trinian said September 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm:
Funny how presuppositions work. I’m working on a lesson including that chapter, and I never would have come up with that interpretation just from reading the passage. It just seemed obvious that the word (whether it be void, empty, in vain, without purpose, etc) refers directly to the following statement that it was going to be inhabited.
If you’re going to start reading this passage with the kind of semantic viewpoint that you brought up – that God could not have created an “empty” world – then God had to have created a world instantly populated by people since Isaiah clearly defines “not empty” as “inhabited”. It’s ludicrous and makes God a liar for 5 days – unless His purpose for creating the world was for it to not be void, rather than being His Day 1 blueprint.
Just curious, are there any commentaries that would deny that Moses had read pagan cosmogonies? And yet so many books seem to jump from this scandalous “know about” theory to “constructed from” without probing anywhere further than similar symbolism.
Leila Bowers said October 2, 2008 at 10:18 pm:
I have never understood how academics use commonality in myths to prove they are all false. Logically, if all societies have a story about the flood, a dying god, creation, etc., wouldn’t that lead an intelligent person to assume they must all be rooted in one truth that has been distorted though various cultures over time? Wouldn’t it reveal there WAS a creation and a flood, and even in broken and pagan myths, the echoes of the concept of Messiah that Eve and Adam must have dimly understood and passed down to their children, down to their children, etc.?
I have heard the hypothesis that with the Tower of Babel not only did God confuse the languages, but also divided the people, perhaps linking with the theory of Continental Drift. Thus, the different mutations and similarities amongst world myths.
Phil said October 3, 2008 at 7:22 pm:
@Leila, it’s quite true that “an intelligent person” could conclude that these other faiths are mere variants of one primitive faith. But not everyone would agree that this one foundational faith is Christianity as we know it.
I really hate to sound like an agnostic, but where do we get the idea that “evolution” and God are incompatible? When making such attacks we should probably be more careful with our language and use the term “Darwinism” rather than the all-encompassing “evolution,” unless we intend to rule out any possibility of God being a driving force in macroevolution. We can’t take Genesis’ lack of scientific detail to mean that such details were not present: there is no mention of atoms in Genesis, but from scientific observations we can confirm their existence. Do we throw out the science, or adjust our reading of Genesis?
SKH said October 3, 2008 at 8:48 pm:
I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you are playing the devil’s advocate, because otherwise, this may be the least intelligent and most accommodating thing I’ve ever heard you say.
Sure not everyone agrees that the “one foundational” faith is Christianity, or better yet, the worship of Yahweh. It is also true that not everyone believes that Jesus is the Lord and Savior, or that the Bible is God’s Word, so on and so forth. What “everyone” agrees on is not what we’re after, ever.
As for evolution and God being incompatible, I would ask you to explain where the Bible talks about evolution of any kind. Really. For my part, I do intend to rule out any and all possibility of “God being a driving force in macroevolution,” because the Bible could not be more obvious that when God “said,” “it was so.” That means it wasn’t so after thousands or millions of years. It wasn’t so after thousands or millions of mutations that crossed taxonomic groups (since everything reproduced “according to its kind” and since no such fossil records exist, or for that matter could have existed if death came in Genesis 3 when Adam sinned [which Paul also confirmed in Romans 5]).
We don’t have to throw out science, but we do throw out conjecture as far and as fast as we can. Atoms can be discovered, sure. But no type of evolution (or Darwinism or what have you) has been or will be discovered, theistic or naturalistic. If you want unproven and unprovable, unobserved and undiscoverable, guesses for “science,” you can have it, right after you redefine “science.”
Phil said October 4, 2008 at 10:28 am:
Ok, my love of excessive wordage has detracted from what I meant to say. Basically, I was just hoping to confirm whether or not you really did intend to rule out all forms of evolution. I personally remain open to theistic evolution, and I don’t think it detracts at all from God’s role in creation. If anything, I believe it magnifies his supremacy as an intelligent and powerful force, orchestrating the formation of minute structures which we haven’t even begun to understand. True, the Bible doesn’t explicitly mention evolution of any kind. I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here since I haven’t studied any Hebrew, but I might ask if “it was so” denotes immediacy in the original language.
If your goal is to encourage healthy discussion of a still unsettled topic, I hope we can continue to exchange our views, being mindful that we’re both Christians and that the ultimate purpose of our discussion is to glorify Him. I don’t think such a discussion is possible, however, if we have the attitude that the other’s views are unintelligent and not worthy of consideration. Whether or not you would admit it, your affirmations about Genesis are as much conjecture as are mine, and I haven’t thrown them out yet. If they weren’t, Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan might be firebrand theists by now.
Leila Bowers said October 5, 2008 at 7:08 pm:
Phil – I grew up a Christian and fought evolution all the way through public school (I remember asking my 8th grade teacher where the space came from). My father is an anthropologist, so I was well armed, and was also firmly a theistic evolutionist throughout college. I encourage you to listen to the sermon I’m sure SKH will post from this Sunday. Also, a pivotal read for me was Jonathan’s Sarfati’s “Refuting Compromise.” It is an outstanding treatment from a primarily Biblical but also scientific perspective. Considering the man is a genius, it is a meaty and excellent text, and was the main force (other than my husband) in my converting to six-day Creation.
It really came down to this: Evolution is based on death and mutation. There is no way around that. Now, if you believe that death and decay and disability only came about after the Fall, because of Adam’s sin, per Romans 5, then it is absolutely impossible for God to have used evolution, in any form, to create the heavens, the earth, and everything on the earth. Moreover, as one who used to argue “the means don’t matter, as long as God did it,” I have realized it does matter – A LOT. How you treat Genesis 1 determines how you treat the rest of the Bible – what is literal and what is not. If you can treat Genesis 1 as an allegory, let’s say, or just “poetic writing,” then what keeps you from making the Exodus, Jonah, Elijah, and even Christ allegorical? You are on a very slippery slope when you take God-breathed, inerrant text and attempt to make it fit with man-centered, flawed philosophy or science (and that’s even conceding that Evolution has anything at all to do with science).
Phil said October 6, 2008 at 12:58 pm:
Leila, thank you first of all for putting up with my comment with such graceful patience and not becoming defensive. Re your 8th grade comment, I should point out that evolution is not synonymous with the Big Bang, although they do tend to flow neatly into each other. All I’ll say is that neither the Big Bang nor evolution make any attempt to explain where that initial singularity came from — I think religion can keep that one.
I do understand some of the reasons why people would prefer a literal interpretation of Genesis. Admittedly I haven’t heard all that there is to be said about it, so I’m very curious to look into that further. Since I don’t take the Bible to be as literal as some fundamentalists would, I remain open to differing views of Genesis and, as you put it well, “the means don’t matter, as long as God did it.” Don’t misunderstand, I’m not nearly that flippant about the creation account, but at this point my goal is to remain open on such a subjective topic that I don’t think can be so easily settled. A naive “black and white” view of Genesis simply won’t do in my opinion. Although the Bible is indeed inerrant, our interpretation of it is not. People can claim to preach or study “directly from the Bible,” but their interpretive set is invariably going to affect how they read it. While I’m sure we share the same fundamental views on what I’ll term more “basic” principles of Christianity, I think we have a lot more work to do with Genesis.
Leila Bowers said October 6, 2008 at 9:16 pm:
Phil – I encourage you then to pursue your curiosity and keep studying and digging deeper! Only the Word can convict, grow, and, as it were, prove its own “black and whiteness.”
I don’t think Genesis is in any way subjective – inerrant truth cannot coincide with subjectivity. Use the Bible to prove the Bible. An instance of this would be Sarfati, who commits a massive chapter in his book to the use of “yom,” the Hebrew word for “day.” Nowhere in the entire Bible does a definite adjective (i.e. “first,” “second,” etc.) + “yom” NOT equal a literal 24-hour period. That means it has to be a literal day, per the Bible (not subjective interpretation – the fact of the Hebrew language).
Finally, I don’t think we agree on “basic” claims of Christianity if you don’t believe death entered the world because of Adam’s sin. I believe that God created the world and it was good – no death, no decay, no mutation, no disability, no sin. Then, because of Adam’s sin, we fell and both spiritual and physical death entered God’s perfect creation (and we suddenly needed a Savior). This is why we have an entire Old Testament, Abraham, the Exodus, the Law, and the Prophets. They all point to Christ – if you don’t believe in original sin, there is no need for Christ to walk on this planet, and if no need for Christ to walk, teach, suffer, die, and rise again, then no Christianity.
So, if you believe that God could have used death and mutation to create a perfect world, and death didn’t enter the world via Adam’s sin, then we don’t have the same faith, because if God can use death, then He created it and introduced it to the World – we are not, then, sinners, and we have no need of Christ. That’s a pretty big basic element of Christianity.
Trinian said October 13, 2008 at 10:44 am:
Oh man, I’m missing out here… Phil, I’m grateful for your replies. It’s rare to find someone on the internet with your mindset who doesn’t immediately become hostile when challenged, so I’d like to take some advantage of that before you disappear back into the mist of the interweb to ask you a few questions that I’ve been curious about for some time. And please, for all of these, give me your honest beliefs and opinions.
First, certainly it cannot be argued that from your position you have essentially stated that Genesis (or this portion at least) is not the ultimate source of truth concerning the subject that it discusses – the creation of the universe and its inhabitants – and by this I mean that any data it gives us you believe must be considered in the overriding context of the available scientific theories of our time. Do you feel that in doing this that you have in any way placed God’s revelation as subservient to human understanding? If the answer is “no, not at all” and you believe that you can conclude evolution-like concepts or anything that would lead to a non-6-day schedule of creation where sin and death are present during the creative process from God’s revelation itself as the ultimate non-subservient source, I would be very interested to know.
Second, if however, the answer is yes and God’s revelation of how He accomplished His creation must comply with our understanding of the world around us, then my next question is what parts of the Bible do you believe are the ultimate sources of knowledge about the subjects they discuss, subservient to no human complaint, disagreement, or ideal? What makes these portions of God’s revealed inerrant scripture different from those portions that are not?
Third, this last question I’m stealing from SKH, since he made me so curious about it on Saturday… Please re-read Genesis 1-2 (I’m trusting you to do this) and answer the following hypothetical question: If God through Abraham wanted to convey that He had created the world in 6 literal days, what kind of word or phrase could He have used that He didn’t already that would have made that point clearer?