Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Houston, Here’s the Situation (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

We had a couple of good conversations last week centered on the difficulties introduced into our faith by the scientific evidence for evolution and the age of the earth. (Posts here: Houston, We’ve Had a Problem and Houston, We Still Have a Problem.) There are several aspects of the situation to be discussed, authority, exegesis, anthropology, science… theology. To think about this in a little more detail, I
want to return to Dr. Mohler’s speech.
After discussing various ways to reconcile an old earth with scripture
he concludes the section:

In other words, the
exegetical cost–the cost of the integrity
and interpretation of scripture–to rendering the text in any other
way, is just too high. But I want to suggest to you that the theological
cost is actually far higher.

The exegetical question is significant. Given the scientific evidence, how do we understand scripture as truthful and trustworthy, as authoritative? Peter Enns’s response to Dr. Mohler provides a start on this, as does John Walton’s book  The
Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate
. On the issue of authority I find it helpful to remain focused on Christ as the foundation of our faith. Scripture is a lamp; it provides reliable illumination, but is not the foundation. This change of focus helps me wrestle with the issues because it emphasizes an understanding where other information, tested against the whole, will shape our interpretation of scripture – but will not weaken the foundation of our faith. How we understand scripture as revelation inspired by God changes in subtle but important ways. Others who commented have other takes on the understanding of scripture as truthful and trustworthy.

The theological question is, I think, a more significant question. Evolution and old earth may not cause exegetical problems, but what about theology? Are the theological problems insurmountable?  In his speech Dr. Mohler suggests that the theological problems are profound. This seems something of an overstatement. There are challenges -  but are they really any more significant than the challenges that Christians have wrestled with in the past? The details and challenges are somewhat different in each generation – but each generation must wrestle with the nature of God revealed in scripture and the narrative story we find ourselves within. So the first question to consider today is this:

What is the theological cost of an old earth, even more an evolutionary understanding of creation?

But we can not stop there. We have to look at the flip side of the coin as well.

What is the theological cost of a young earth understanding of creation? Where are the theological difficulties?

It is not true that old earth thinking uses duct tape and rationalization to integrate science and faith while young earth provides a well engineered self consistent approach. We all wrestle with our understanding. Thinking Christians have realized this for 2000 years, from Origen, Augustine and the Cappadocian Fathers to Calvin and the other reformers. Dr. Mohler’s ‘untroubled consensus’ is a fiction. There is no easy fix if we just believe and follow the “natural reading” of scripture.

To consider the theological difficulties of a YEC position let us begin with Dr. Mohler who continues from the quote above – in what I think constitutes the best part of his speech – with a description of the biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption and new creation (from the transcript here):

But we also come to understand that this text is telling us a story, and that story, just in a redemptive historical framework, has to be summarized so that we know our accountability to the story and the narrative; the grand narrative of the Gospel can include no fewer movements than these: creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. … We understand that the Bible presents a doctrine of creation that is more than merely an intellectual account of how the world came to be. … The doctrine of creation is absolutely inseparable from the doctrine of redemption.

The second movement is of
equal importance and that is the fall. Every worldview is accountable to
answer the question “Why are things as they are? What is broken and how
did this happen?” …

These then take us, as scripture takes us, to redemption. And there we come to understand that God, before the universe was created, had a purpose to redeem a people through the blood of his son. … But the grand narrative of scripture does not leave us merely there. It points toward consummation, final judgment, new Jerusalem, new heaven, new earth. It points towards the reign of God demonstrated at the end of history and the conclusion of this age.

Some of us might quibble with aspects of the way Dr. Mohler casts this narrative, others find it wholly consistent, but many, even most, of us will hold to the overall broad brush stroke picture he gives. This is where we must start.

Dr. Mohler suggests that the theological cost to this narrative of any old earth paradigm is far too costly. This is nowhere more significant than in our understanding of Adam and the sin of Adam. There are two problems with an old earth as Dr. Mohler sees it:

(1) It
requires an arbitrary claim that God created Adam as a special act of
his creation and it entangles a good many difficulties in terms of both
exegeses and a redemptive historical understanding of scripture.

(2) what we know in the world today as catastrophe, …, death,
violence, predation–that these are results of the fall. … Was it true
that, as Paul argues, when sin came, death came? Well just keep in mind
that if the earth is indeed old, …, there were all the effects of sin
that are biblically attributed to the fall and not to anything before
the fall.

He goes on:

Some who hold to an old earth in dealing with this question suggest that what Paul is actually talking about–what the scripture claims–is when sin came, spiritual death came. But I would suggest to you that is a very difficult claim to reconcile over against the totality of scripture. And the whole idea that before there could be humanity and certainly before there could be Homo sapiens and before there could be Adam and before there could be sin, there were all the effects of sin written backwards. Let me just point out in the first place that no Christian reading the scripture alone would ever come to such a conclusion, ever. And once you try to come to that conclusion, it’s very difficult to actually reconcile with the scriptures, with the grand narrative of the Gospel.

Here we need to stop and think through the theological implications and difficulties.  Is it true that an old earth introduces profound theological difficulties? Is it true that an old earth means that the effects of the sin of Adam are written backwards in time? It is here we find the first place where Dr. Mohler’s claim of “untroubled
consensus” runs into problems. It is far from the “untroubled consensus” of the church. Peter Bouteneff’s book Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives makes
this clear. Reading Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin make this clear. Augustine wrestled with Genesis in much that he wrote, including in The Confessions.

The first key point is that Dr. Mohler’s preference for a young earth view of creation based on the significance of death before the fall introduces as many theological difficulties as it clears up.   The theological issues introduced by this view that trouble me most are the mission and purpose of creation, the significance of the Tree of Life in the garden, and the presence of evil on earth before and without the fall of Adam. This is not likely to be an exhaustive list, but it is a start.

The mission of God and purpose of Creation. Dr. Mohler hinges his discussion, a significant portion of it, on nonhuman death before the fall. But the idea that all death was introduced by the sin of Adam raises serious questions about the purpose of creation. With respect to death, and the nature of death, even John Calvin, who attributed natural calamities to the effect of sin, does not appear to attribute all death to Adam’s sin. In his commentary on Genesis 3 he reflects:

For dust thou art.
Since what God here declares belongs to man’s nature, not to his crime
or fault, it might seem that death was not superadded as adventitious to
him. And therefore some understand what was before said, ‘Thou shalt
die,’ in a spiritual sense; thinking that, even if Adam had not sinned,
his body must still have been separated from his soul. But, since the
declaration of Paul is clear, that ‘all die in Adam as they shall rise
again in Christ,’ (1 Corinthians 15:22,) this wound also was inflicted
by sin. Nor truly is the solution of the question difficult, — ‘Why God
should pronounce, that he who was taken from the dust should return to
it.’ For as soon as he had been raised to a dignity so great, that the
glory of the Divine Image shone in him, the terrestrial origin of his
body was almost obliterated. Now, however, after he had been despoiled
of his divine and heavenly excellence, what remains but that by his very
departure out of life, he should recognize himself to be earth? Hence
it is that we dread death, because dissolution, which is contrary to
nature, cannot naturally be desired. Truly the first man would
have passed to a better life, had he remained upright; but there would
have been no separation of the soul from the body, no corruption, no
kind of destruction, and, in short, no violent change.
(Gen 3:19
from Commentary on Genesis – Vol. 1, emphasis mine)

The dissolution of humans – the return to dust – is attributed to the sin of Adam. Calvin considers this human death to be both bodily and spiritual – not just spiritual. But even without sin there was a mission for mankind on earth. They were to be fruitful and multiply – and eventually to pass to a “better” life. The Garden was not intended as a permanent home. There was biological death – just not human death. The idea that animals would have returned to the dust of the earth even without the sin of Adam is not troubling. Certainly Calvin taught a young earth – but not because biological death of animals without the sin of Adam was a theological problem.

Taking this a bit further, it seems to me that if we attribute all death – all animal death, all insect death – to the fall, the theological difficulties are far greater than those introduced by an old earth. In this case how do we avoid the conclusion that the purpose of creation was Fall and redemption? It is one thing to note that God knew the consequence of creation, “that God, before the universe was
created, had a purpose to redeem a people through the blood of his son.”
It is another thing altogether to suggest that the purpose of creation was tied up in the Fall.

The mission of God in creation is tied up with the progress of time and the cycles of life. A view of creation that attributes these cycles to the sin of Adam is troubling. 

Here I also note in passing that even John Piper, who takes a literal
view of the special creation of Adam, and Eve from Adam, does not find
old earth or death before the fall troubling. (What
should we teach about creation?
, HT Chaplain Mike at The
Internet Monk
)

The Tree of Life. This isn’t so much a theological issue as an exegetical scriptural point. We should also note in reading Genesis 2 and 3 that one of the trees planted in the middle of the Garden was the Tree of Life. If death (all death) was alien to God’s good creation, what in the world is the significance of the Tree of Life? It appears that death was not alien to creation – even in Genesis 2-3. After the fall Adam and Eve were sent from the garden to keep them away from the Tree of Life. There is no implication in the story that humans were created for bodily immortality in the present creation. There is no sense in the text that all biological death is entailed in the death resulting from the fall.

France_Paris_Notre-Dame-Adam_and_Eve ds2.JPG

The Snake and the presence of evil. And then we have the snake – no matter how you read Genesis 3, evil was active in God’s good creation before the fall of Adam. The snake “more crafty than any beast of the field” was in the Garden. We identify the snake with Satan on account of Revelation – but it should be noted that this is not done in Genesis. The physical, biological, snake and its biological descendants are cursed for its role as tempter, not as unwitting dupe, but as culpable active participant. (So far as ‘untroubled consensus’ goes, Calvin spent a good deal of ink in his commentary discussing the snake – because it was, even then and long before, a bone of contention.)

I don’t think it makes sense to read Genesis 1-3 in a literal historical fashion – but even a literal historical reading causes problems for the idea that there was no room for biological death and corruption without the fall of Adam.

The second key point is that an Appearance of Age or Mature Creation view introduces severe theological problems of its own. We are not talking about Adam with a navel or trees with rings. We are talking about light from the explosions of supernovae that never existed. We are talking about fossils of animals that never existed, remnants of civilizations that were never there. We are talking about scars and wounds and remains of events that never occurred. This isn’t Adam with a navel – a closer analogy would be Adam created as an 18 year old with a limp from where he broke his leg when six, a scar from the time he smashed his thumb with a rock, a misshapen toenail from the time it was stepped on by a horse, and weak bones from a deficit of vitamin D. It isn’t a tree with rings – but a tree reflecting droughts that never happened, holes formed by insects that never existed, bent over by storms and winds that never  blew and pecked by woodpeckers whose remains are found – but never actually lived. If this “history” is the result of sin – creation groaning – then an
appearance of age YEC position suggest the sin of Adam is written backward in virtual time rather than real time. How does this solve Dr. Mohler’s quandary? How can we hold an Appearance of Age view without concluding that God created the world with a deceiving appearance and gave us scripture so that we would know the truth? This has profound theological implication – and, I suggest, leads to a view of the nature of God inconsistent with the nature of God revealed in scripture.

Where do we go from here?We understand“, as Dr. Mohler said, “that the Bible presents a doctrine of creation that is
more than merely an intellectual account of how the world came to be. It
is a purposeful account of why the universe was created by a sovereign
and holy and benevolent God …
”  Genesis 1-3 truthfully tells the story of origins. It relates a purposeful story of origins. Our reading should be Christ-centered. But, along the lines suggested by John Walton, it does not relate a
literal historical account of origins, the purpose is, perhaps, better described as functional. It is truthful, but must be read with an eye for literature. The questions asked and answered are deep human questions, not scientific and historic questions. Dr. Mohler is correct that the doctrine of
creation is inseparable from the doctrine of
redemption. But how this works out needs to be considered carefully. The
theological problems are not removed by what Dr. Mohler calls “the common sense natural” literal young earth reading
of scripture.

I conclude at a place quite similar to Dr. Mohler, there are questions for which we do not yet have answers, and no expectation that we will ever have all the answers in this life. We all need to have the humility to admit the problems and seek solutions and understandings in the community of the church.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Cor. 13: 12-13 NASB

Lets start a conversation. What do you think?

If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:11 am


RJS,
Thanks for this excellent post; you’re probing into the very things that are shaping Mohler’s own concerns, namely, theological issues at stake. Unfortunately, Mohler’s view locks orthodoxy into one theory of origins and it is one that the text itself does not affirm. Neither the text nor science affirm the complete origins of death as a result of Adam’s sin, and the serpent’s temptations indicate that sin was already present before Adam and Eve. If sin was present, so also was death.
But you’ve hit on what I think is the most powerful problem for YEC: the deception of God. God gave us minds, and here we touch on the Thomastic, medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation theories of the human intelligence and that God gave us minds to comprehend our world with accuracy, to use and if our minds are completely wrong — and by “our” I mean thousands and thousands of independent working scientists, then we are left with far more of a problem that Mohler is permitting. If God made a world that we are unable to comprehend accurately, then we really are in trouble.
Thanks again for this awesome post.



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angusj

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:21 am


If we believe scripture is inerrant, then it’s hard to find fault with Mohler’s reasoning, even though it collides catastrophically with a 21st century scientific understanding of how life began. However, if scripture is not inerrant (but still inspired and authoritative), we can allow Paul’s understanding of creation and the fall to be culturally conditioned (and hence flawed in the detail) yet still accept the truth in his application (eg the necessity for Jesus’ atoning death).



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Scot McKnight

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:37 am


angusj,
I disagree. Here’s why: why does the word “inerrant,” which means “not wrong, not error,” imply a particular hermeneutic for Gen 1-3? Let’s flip this around and say the word “inerrant” means “true,” which is much better word than “inerrant,” and then ask if what Gen 1-3 says is “true.” I believe it is true. But why does that mean that I have to read the word “day” as 24 hours as the true meaning?
In other words, boiled down to one simple point, a commitment to inerrancy or to the truthfulness of Scripture doesn’t imply a commitment to one kind of truth. And I’m not asking here for variant readings of Gen 1-3 but for the one, true reading. I think how Mohler reads Gen 1-3 is mistaken because it is not the best reading of that text in its ancient historical context.
How does one avoid, in this view, the earth resting on pillars as the Bible says? That’s a plain, literal reading too. We know it doesn’t, and we know it doesn’t because of science, and because of science we know the text is a figurative set of words, and we know too that the ancients were using images to describe the world in which they lived — according to their own lights and knowledge. Once we let science in the door to render pillars an image, then science is in the door and it becomes a tool to help us understand how the ancients thought.
By the way, I don’t know that you are actually agreeing with Mohler; I see your comment as a thought experiment and I entered into the same with you in this comment.



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J.L. Schafer

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:41 am


I agree with angusj. The main theological cost of an old earth is that we lose inerrancy, as most seem to define it. But these doctrines of inerrancy incur a great cost as well, because they force Christians to spend way too much time thinking and explaining away scientific and textual evidence to the contrary, focusing on (what many of us would say are) non-essentials and distractions from the mission that Jesus gave us. As far as I can tell, Scripture testifies to its own inspiration and authority but not its inerrancy, and even inerrant-ists seem admit that the doctrine is, at best, only implicitly taught in the Bible.



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T

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:43 am


RJS,
I’m glad that you are raising some serious theological questions that remain even with a YEC view. I think people tend to think, as Mohler implies, that YEC resolves all theological questions.
One that I have is whether species physically changed after the Fall, and if not, how did carnivores, parasites, and similar creatures function? Again, were animals created with venom, spikes, claws, etc. but with no intention that they would be used until after Man sinned?



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Dan

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:46 am


You have to deal not only with Genesis, not only with Paul (whom you have decided was “culturally conditioned” regarding origins to accept as true historical details that were false, but inexplicably is not culturally conditioned regarding future unseen realities) but you also have to deal with Peter.
Peter, in the context of harshly condemning false teachers, coupled belief in the future return of Christ with belief in creation and the flood. He said fairly bluntly, “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.”
IF Peter was completely wrong in the supporting details of his thesis, it would seem only logical that his thesis is also wrong.
Could it be, as Peter suggests, that human rebellion is not merely moral but also intellectual? Could it be that the human race is, as Peter insists, deliberately forgetting and explaining away the truth of creation? Or as Paul said “holding the truth in unrighteousness?”
Seems to me the unending faith in the ability of fallen, finite and on occasion militantly atheistic scientists to explain the distant past using reason and present day observations is a bit optimistic for Christians who claim to believe in the fallenness of man. And the hermeneutic that says Paul and Peter can be culturally conditioned to be wrong about the details but somehow right about the “spiritual” truth makes it virtually impossible for the scripture to be the “canon” or “measuring rod” of truth. How exactly does the term “apostolic authority” apply if naturalistic science deems Paul and Peter to be primitives who were mistaken about the central quesions of where we came from and how evil originated?
Genesis 1 certainly doesn’t give enough detail to tell us how God createdin scientific jargon, but the historicity of Adam and the fall are in my mind central to the creation-fall-redemption narrative that defines Christianity. Eliminate those historical events and we are left with a different religion. On that, I think Mohler is correct.



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:09 am


J.L. Schafer (#4),
An old earth understanding may damage a particular version of inerrancy – but the text itself demolishes that view on grounds other than Genesis and the age of the earth. The view doesn’t hold up to the internal evidence of the text from Genesis through Revelation and everything between.
A consideration of the difference in timing of Jesus’s crucifixion in the synoptics and John, the timing of Jesus actions in the temple overturns that version of inerrancy. So does a comparison of the OT histories of Saul, David, and Solomon (among others) and a straight through reading of Exodus.
If by inerrancy we mean that scripture is the truthful, reliable word of God – then an old earth reading does absolutely nothing to “inerrancy”.
We gain nothing by holding to a view of scripture that is neither explicitly biblical nor implicitly biblical. In fact there is great theological cost to such a view.
I think you are agreeing with me – but I wanted to make my position here clear.



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T

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:10 am


Dan,
I don’t know if anyone is disputing Peter’s summary of creation. Also, I think its important to realize that picking and choosing alternative readings of Paul and the other apostles and writers of scripture is nothing new, and nothing new to conservative Christianity. Paul says flatly for instance, “Greet one another with a holy kiss” but few do so. More controversially, he says not to forbid speaking in tongues, but many congregations do exactly that. What does apostolic authority mean if we can just blow off Paul’s explicit commands in these and other ways based on theories that have far less support than old earth theories?
Paradigms have the capacity to illuminate and blind. I’m not sure which YEC does more.



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Andy Holt

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:21 am


I just finished Walton’s book The Lost World of Genesis One and found it to be the most compelling exegesis of Genesis 1 I’ve come across yet. I also recently had a difficult conversation with some teachers at our church on this issue. It seems like the prevailing mindset in this issue is one of warfare, of fighting fire with fire. “You’ve got your scientific proof for evolution, well here’s my scientific proof of creationism, and it’s way more reliable!” But I think a true reading of Genesis 1 would act like a much needed bucket of water. I really believe that the science of material ontology is, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant to the discussion of Genesis 1, and for that matter, the rest of Scripture. The theology is so much more important, and when we see the depth of it, the science disappears like a vapor.



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Taylor

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:28 am


“What is the theological cost of an old earth, even more an evolutionary understanding of creation?”
A constant literal interpretation of every genre of scripture.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:28 am


The Design Spectrum
Scot #1,
I am not a YEC, but I think you overstate the problem of the deception of God. When Jesus fed the 5000, where did the extra fish and loaves come from? Did they have “apparent age”? If a scientist examined the leftovers, what would he or she conclude about their origin. If they were wrong, does that mean that Jesus deceived them?
God creates A for reason B. Scientist examines A not knowing about B. Scientist draws wrong conclusions about origins. That doesn’t mean God deceived the scientist.
We need to be humble about extrapolating conclusions back into deep history without knowing all the possible intervening causes and effects. Scientists who do history without acknowledging it are likely to adopt bad methodologies and come to wrong conclusions.



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DRT

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:44 am


Scot really stated my views in 1 and 3. I like your take Scot where we substitute truth for inerrant. Inerrancy in the way Mohler says it really is a particular interpretation, not inerrancy.
But to RJS other question as to what theological problems it makes if one were to adopt a YEC interpretation of genesis then Houston, we really have a big problem. It seems to me that if the earth is young, then we have a God that is purposely misleading us. That would seem like a sin to anyone I know and therefore we have sin in god?.
If we adopt a god who lies then we end up with clergy and teachers who lie?it is bad and a terrible cost.
I agree that adopting a YEC view takes away some of the most important questions we can ask. What does the serpent represent? Why is the subtle difference in ordering between the two different creation accounts tell us? What do those differences mean about what is important? Is free will bad? Is it just the exercise of choice that makes free will have bad consequences? Is it possible for people with free will to not sin? And many more.
It reminds me of believing in Santa throughout your whole life?.
captcha: smarten real (how could I have gotten a better one?)



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Josh

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:00 am


I sometimes have a tough time following everybody who posts on here, as I am sure all are much smarter than I. My mind starts to think about other OT stories that I wonder now if they truly happened, or if they are just fables told to make a point? The story of Job? The story of Noah? The Crossing of the Red Sea?
Maybe I am just not understanding the things being said correctly.



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Dan

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:02 am


DRT wrote: “It seems to me that if the earth is young, then we have a God that is purposely misleading us.”
Why do folks continue to say that when Paul’s insistence on a historical Adam and historical fall would be even more deceptive if untrue?
Why, why, why do the folks here and at Biologos think God speaks more clearly through naturalist interpretations of fossils, rocks and genes than through verbal language in scripture? Why is it unthinkable that God would “lie” by leaving unexplained phenomena in nature, but thinkable God would decieve by weaving an entire narrative in scripture of creation-fall-redemption that is built on false details?
Seems like the commitment here is to the assured results of science and scripture always loses. Merely insisting scripture can be “true” in a different way doesn’t solve the problem. If Paul is wrong about his supporting details, then his thesis is wrong.



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Rick

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:16 am


Dan #14-
“Merely insisting scripture can be “true” in a different way doesn’t solve the problem. If Paul is wrong about his supporting details, then his thesis is wrong.”
But what are those “details”? Could we be assuming they say certain things about the Fall, when in fact they don’t?



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J.L. Schafer

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:28 am


RJS #7,
Yes, I was agreeing with you. Another prototypical example: Jesus cleansing the temple, which John places at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the synoptics place during Passion Week. Those who compiled the canon surely saw the inconsistency, and yet they included John and the synoptics together without attempting to reconcile the details.
And that brings up another cost: To uphold inerrancy as a non-negotiable article of our faith, we may have to suppose that those who compiled the canon were careless or perhaps wrong in their own
views of the Scripture, because these inconsistencies didn’t seem to bother them.
Your use of “inerrancy” seems to be another one that I haven’t heard before. There are so many different definitions that its hard to keep track of them all.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:34 am


Dan,
Do you think the earth is resting on pillars?
Job 9:6 says so. So does Psalm 75:3.



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J.L. Schafer

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:36 am


Oops, RJS, you already mentioned the temple cleansing. And yes, of course, some will say that Jesus must have done it twice. We can resolve any apparent inconsistency by making arguments like that. But the parsimony principle eventually says: enough now, this way of handling the text is too unnatural.



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J.L. Schafer

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:43 am


I really like what C.S. Lewis said about inerrancy:
http://www.crivoice.org/lewisbib.html
It’s probably asking too much of us, and of the Scripture itself, to have one single definition of inerrancy that applies equally to every passage without regard for genre.



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megan

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:01 am


Superb as always, RJS. Thanks.



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J Hammer

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:01 am


I am reminded of this infographic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelpaukner/4077736695/
I find it helpful in understanding just how different the ancient Hebrew cosmology was, not just to a modern scientific viewpoint, but also to a YEC viewpoint. YEC claims to be true to traditional cosmology but its just not so.
captcha: to rampart



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BIll

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:03 am


There seems to be a whiff of a Bultmann-type agenda emerging. As Bultmann sought to de-mythologize the NT proclamation, the aim here seems to be aimed at the Genesis accounts of creation – as the methodology being urged has significant impulses throughout Scripture ultimately leading us back to the Bultmann enterprise.
The effort here seems to be suggesting, as reasonable and intelligent persons, that we must wear the lenses of scientific truth when reading the Scriptures (note the method here does not reach the level of interpretation – simply at the level of reading). This effort rests on the unspoken, and unproven, presupposition that science is paradigmatic and foundational. PDS @11 raises the danger of allowing this presupposition to run rampant.
As to science being paradigmatic and foundational, a number of thinkers have addressed this point of view, and raised serious question as to the scope of such knowledge, including Derrida and Lyotard (in the field of philosophy), Velinde’s emerging theories about gravity also raise the concern that prevailing scientific theories may be shaken (in the science field) as well theologically as McLaren, in his writings and lecture based on Polyani’s work on knowing and even Crosson in his little essay about the myth of progress and ever-shifting reigning paradigms.
Respectfully, the question is not as posed in the opening post – “given the scientific evidence, how do we understand scripture as truthful and trustworthy, as authoritative?” – rather the question may better be raised, in light of Scripture how do we approach living in this age?



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Scot McKnight

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:07 am


Bill,
It sure seems to me that RJS is asking precisely your question: “In light of Scripture how do we approach living in this age?”
Either-or thinking is what got us into this problem and we can only escape that problem by ending the either-or method.
Philosophy of science people are attracting ideas persons but scientists continue to examine hard data.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:20 am


I believe Greg Boyd’s “God At War” offers a very strong theological option to consider, that reconciles many (not all – I don’t think any theory will reconcile all) of the difficulties presented above.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:21 am


The Design Spectrum
YEC folks err by overstating the certainty that we can have in understanding God’s intent for us in interpreting certain passages of Scripture.
TE folks err by overstating the certainty that we can have in extrapolating back in deep history (where certain naturalistic presumptions are required).
I hope Scot or someone answers the questions Dan and I raise in #11 and #14.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:27 am


Scot #23,
“Philosophy of science people are attracting ideas persons but scientists continue to examine hard data.”
Is that what you meant to say?



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:28 am


If the universe is billions of years old, why is there still so much hydrogen left? Where’s it coming from, since fusion is the main engine driving the stars?
The geological evidence is indeed troubling for a YEC, but there is evidence equally as troubling for TE folk.
captcha: carter’s threat (isn’t that a little behind the times?)



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kevin s.

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:39 am


@PDS
“I am not a YEC, but I think you overstate the problem of the deception of God. When Jesus fed the 5000, where did the extra fish and loaves come from? Did they have “apparent age”? If a scientist examined the leftovers, what would he or she conclude about their origin. If they were wrong, does that mean that Jesus deceived them?”
Quite right. Well, it was a question, but assuming it is rhetorical, your point is quite right.
In my view, this speaks to the credibility of science to shape our theological worldview. As Christians, if we begin with the assumption that scripture is true AND science is true, we are approaching truth claims through a different lens than either scientists or theologians.
In their work, scientists begin with the assumption that there is no powerful God who can shape time and matter. They have to do so. That’s what science is. Science cannot explain the resurrection, nor can it explain the feeding of thousands of people from a single basket of fish and bread.
Science cannot demonstrate how all the matter in the universe was created, or even approximate how it might be so. There is no way to apply the scientific method to the creation of matter, since the event is not repeatable.
And so, science cannot reveal historical truth in its entirety. It must operate under the limiting parameters of its method. That is fine for determining why, say, penguins swim in circles. But as the amount of repeatable data sets diminishes, science becomes far less useful.
If you want to believe the human evolved from monkeys, or evolved from the same species as did monkeys, and still believe in original sin and the need for redemption, that is fine. But if you believe that science has something to say about original sin, you are putting your faith in a paradigm that will always be incomplete, and will always separate you from God.
There are people, a whole movement of people in fact, who are doing just this.



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BradK

posted July 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm


Bill, would you care to elaborate on how Verlinde’s theories on emergent gravity cause science to be “shaken” in any relevant way? Specifically, how are they any different from the changes in the understanding of gravity that Einstein (and others ) brought about to the Newtonian understanding of gravity? Rather than challenging the scientific paradigm, these would seem to strengthen it instead. Somebody (maybe Ray Ingles) has posted here before that the view that the earth is perfectly spherical and the view that the earth is flat are both wrong, but one of them is much more wrong than the other. To invalidate science to the extent required for the view of scripture advocated by Mohler there would have to be something much more fundamentally challenging than Verlinde’s theories or anything like them. Mohler’s view would seem to almost have us completely doubt the evidence of our senses.
Nick, even aside from the geologic evidence, the astronomical evidence makes YEC untenable. Simple parallax and standard candles like Cepheid variable stars put the age of the universe in the millions of years at least. The heavens truly declare the glory of God and simple observation of the heavens makes a certain kind of inerrancy that results in insistence on a young earth untenable.



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BradK

posted July 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm


pds,
“When Jesus fed the 5000, where did the extra fish and loaves come from?”
I’d be interested in your answers to this question and how you arrive at that answer.
“Did they have “apparent age”? If a scientist examined the leftovers, what would he or she conclude about their origin? If they were wrong, does that mean that Jesus deceived them?”
Since these type of questions seem to be in the area of speculation to generate thinking, here is more food for thought:
Did the extra loaves and fishes come from sacks or baskets of food that Jesus had previously stored away to provide for his disciples? If that was the case, what would it mean for your faith? Would it mean that Jesus had deceived you?



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BIll

posted July 13, 2010 at 12:42 pm


BradK @ 29 I am not a physicist in any sense of the word, so I cannot speak to the validity of Verlinde’s proposals, however, the point of the reference was that he is causing the existing paradigm to be considered and possibly reconsidered. As such, my point was that we can not hold to science as paradigmatic in assessing validity. Science is also shifting in its emphases. As Einstein forced re-thinking Newton, Verlinde (with Hawking and Jacobsen and string theory in general) may ultimately force a re-thinking of Einstein. Hence, shaking the reigning paradigm.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm


Here’s another theological question I wrestle with in the debate between YEC and TE:
In Deuteronomy and the prophets, YHWH goes to great lengths to tell Israel that he didn’t choose them as His people because they deserved it. They were the least of peoples, the most irrelevant, “the ugly ducking,” if you will.
Science has shown us how miniscule and irrelevant the Earth is in the cosmic arrangement of things. We’re a little planet orbiting a puny star in one of the arms of an utterly average galaxy.
One would guess that God knew this when He inspired Moses, et al, to write down the Genesis 1-3 narratives – one major theme of which is the centrality of Earth and humanity to the Creation story. Why the contradictory themes? The Creation account seems like an excellent place to play up the natural irrelevance of our little corner of the cosmos.



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Percival

posted July 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm


I notice a lot of negative wording and a somewhat fearful tone with some of these posts. “What have we lost?” And even, “Houston, we have a problem.” But personally, I have been excited about what I have been learning about the way God communicates with us. I look at my growing understanding of inspiration, my emerging synthesis of spiritual and material understanding, and my view of the intersect of the divine and the human and I am encouraged by new vistas.
However, I realize that, “Houston, we have an opportunity” does not have the same ring to it.
Thanks RJS and Scott. You are enriching me.



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DRT

posted July 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm


Brad @ 30
Or did most of the people have some traveling food in their clothes (let’s face it, the people were not that stupid) and when someone offered to give up his food for the many, Jesus shamed the crowd into sharing their food (miraculously) with each other. The true miracle is that Jesus got them to share.
Or he made them out of thin air, we don’t know.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 12:56 pm


The Design Spectrum
BrakK #30,
It seems most likely that Jesus created the fish ex nihilo with apparent age, so that they looked and tasted like fish that came into being through normal reproduction. If a scientist looked at the DNA and did a population genetics study, she would very likely be wrong. There was no intent by Jesus to deceive the scientist. He just had other reasons to create the fish with apparent age.
What do you think?
I find the dogmatic assertions by the folks at Biologos about what can and cannot be true regarding Adam and Eve based on population genetics to be mind-boggling. It requires a presupposition that God did not intervene in history in any way that might skew their analysis. This seems like a bad idea in light of Job 38.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm


Nick #32,
“Science has shown us how miniscule and irrelevant the Earth is in the cosmic arrangement of things. We’re a little planet orbiting a puny star in one of the arms of an utterly average galaxy.”
That is one way to spin the facts in a rather out-dated Saganesque way. But our planet is also amazingly fine-tuned to support life in many, many stunning and apparently coincidental ways. You may want to read The Privileged Planet or Rare Earth.



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DRT

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm


Or the real miracle was that he made the baskets. The people already had the food.
captcha: lectured manufacturer (I kid you not!)



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BIll

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm


Scot @ 23 – my desire was to expose an underlying presupposition, that the question, respectfully, comes across, to me, as “in light of Scripture, as filtered through a scientific understanding of reality, how do we maintain our view of the truth, truthworthiness and authoritative nature of Scripture?” which to me is a different question than the one I suggested. So unfortunately I see that either/or dichotomy continuing to be in play. Is it possible to hold one’s grasp on science in suspense without necessarily suspending one’s intelligence? Either/or of course not, both/and obviously, however, I suspect the either/or remains dominant in western thought.



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kevin s.

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm


“Did the extra loaves and fishes come from sacks or baskets of food that Jesus had previously stored away to provide for his disciples? If that was the case, what would it mean for your faith? Would it mean that Jesus had deceived you?”
It would mean that the biblical account is so incoherent that I would question the validity of the remainder of the gospel texts. It would be disastrous for my faith, as it would certainly impact my understanding of the resurrection.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm


PDS #36,
“That is one way to spin the facts in a rather out-dated Saganesque way. But our planet is also amazingly fine-tuned to support life in many, many stunning and apparently coincidental ways. You may want to read The Privileged Planet or Rare Earth.”
Indeed, in many of the same ways that Israel was fine-tuned to support the mission of God in many stunning and apparently coincidental ways. Yet God, time and again, reminds them that it is only because of Him – not because of their specialness or centrality – that they were so “amazingly” blessed. But the Genesis 1-3 narrative contains none of that sort of storytelling. “And He also created the stars” is hardly a way to play up the size and scale of the universe in comparison to their world. You make my point very well – thank you.



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Jonathan

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:23 pm


BIll (31)
As best I can tell, what is paradigmatic about science is not any particular theoretical apparatus (which changes frequently, we all know, as new evidence is gathered and new problems are solved), but rather a general heuristic (i.e. anticipatory) method of investigating the data of sense for explanatory correlations/’laws’.
So, the shift in emphasis in terms of explanatory models would not undermine the trustworthiness or untrustworthiness of science as a method. Rather, if it DIDN’T change its explanatory models, it would be unable to provide progressive and cumulative results, thus failing as an investigative method.
In other words, the contents of scientific theory changes over time because science (when operating well/authentically) is learning.



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DRT

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:25 pm


nick gill, this seems obvious but I suppose it was because god did not want to tell us that we are not special. I think there is a recurring theme in the bible that humans are special (though I have a hard time seeing why on many days). The message is that god cares for all people. Isn’t that clear?



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BradK

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm


Bill @31,
The nature of science as self-correcting and always changing is part of the scientific paradigm itself. To claim that because scientific theories are not 100% accurate forever and for all times and are subject to change means we can not hold to science as paradigmatic in assessing validity is a major stretch. It’s like saying that because Einstein came along and made changes or refinements to Newtonian gravity, we can’t ever be sure that gravity is responsible for our planets traveling around the sun.
DRT @34,
“Or he made them out of thin air, we don’t know.” You hit the nail on the head with that last part. We don’t know because God has not told us. If/when we make assumptions about things God did not say, or even things he did say, we can turn out to be mistaken.
pds @35,
I completely disagree that Jesus creating the fish ex nihilo with apparent age is most likely. Is there any exegetical reason whatsoever to draw this conclusion from what is written in the scripture? The passage does not even use the word create or say in any way that Jesus created the fish. To assume that he did so is idle speculation. Now I’m not about to assume that there was food in the crowd that people shared or that Jesus had food stored up for the purpose of feeding them either. I’ve always leaned more toward the miraculous in this story. But to assume something so highly speculative in an attempt to use it as evidence for God having created a universe with apparent age is hardly convincing.
Fwiw, I’ve always found Job 38 to be most appropriate as a warning for those who insist that the earth is young or that humans could not have evolved or that God simply must have done things some certain way that they insist is “clearly described in scripture.” Other passages that come to mind are “behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” and “our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”
captcha: seers growing



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Dan

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm


Scot 17. Please. I find the question about the earth resting on pillars insulting and condescending. Everybody understands that figurative language exists in scripture. Name one conservative interpreter who does not. Whether the language is figurative is of course dependent on context and genre, the dispute here is whether or not Genesis 1-3 are intended as history or not, and whether the rest of scripture treats Genesis 1-3 as history.
The question is: Is there any reason within the text to assume Paul was speaking figuratively when he spoke of Adam or that Peter was speaking figuratively when he said those who deny the earth was once destroyed by water were “scoffers”. What was the intent of Peter and Paul? What in the context of scripture leads us to believe genealogies that name David and Abraham as historical figures should name Adam and not intend him to be seen as an historical figure? If the genealogies, Paul and Peter did intend to portray Adam as historical, then is scripture deceitful? Is it less deceitful for scritpure to portray historical non-truths than for God to allegedly “lie” by leaving phenomena in the cosmos that naturalistic scientists interpret as contradictory to Genesis?
RJS has repeatedly said Paul was simply mistaken about ADAM, being a product of his culture. Assuming this is true, why then should I believe Paul was correct in his understanding of the purpose of marriage, the meaning of Christ’s redemptive work, the relationship of Jew to Gentile, etc?
You still link to Tony Jones on this site. Tony thinks Paul’s views of same-sex relationships were cultural. What is the hermeneutical basis for disagreeing with Tony if we accept Paul’s understanding of the origin of sin and death are “cultural”?
Again, the issue here is that a great deal of scripture and most of the understanding of it through 2000 years of church history assumes not a scientific description of creation in Genesis, but the historical realities of creation and the fall of a historical Adam and Eve. That is what Al Mohler was rightly defending, not some nonsense about reading obviously figurative passages with a wooden literalism.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm


DRT #42,
“nick gill, this seems obvious but I suppose it was because god did not want to tell us that we are not special. I think there is a recurring theme in the bible that humans are special (though I have a hard time seeing why on many days). The message is that god cares for all people. Isn’t that clear?”
But that’s precisely what He told Israel, over and over and over. They were *not* special, EXCEPT (and until) God chose them. They were not special – they were actually the complete opposite of special – His choice of them is what MADE them special.
That’s *not* the sense you get from the Genesis 1-3 narrative, which clearly suggests that this corner of the cosmos is inherently special – the rest of His creative work is dismissed with such a curt little toss-off phrase. They seem to miss a huge narrative opportunity to play up a major theme of the Hebrew Scriptures if, after millions of years, God *chose* to do something special over here.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm


The Design Spectrum
BradK #43,
“I completely disagree that Jesus creating the fish ex nihilo with apparent age is most likely. . . . To assume that he did so is idle speculation.”
You asked me for my answers and I said what I thought was most likely in good faith. You then twisted my answer to assert that I am “assuming” something. I am not.
All this without giving your answer and what you think is more likely and why.
You are missing the basic point:
1. Jesus had the power to create the fish ex nihilo.
2. Nothing in the text permits us to rule this out as a possibility.
3. If he had done so, after the fact scientific studies with naturalistic presuppositions would likely have been wrong as to the origin of the fish.
4. Jesus had no intent to deceive scientists.
5. Scientists studying the fish with naturalistic presuppositions would likely have deceived themselves by their faulty methodology.



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R Hampton

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm


Pope Benedict XVI, June 16, 2010
Today I would like to continue the presentation of St Thomas Aquinas, a theologian of such value that the study of his thought was explicitly recommended by the Second Vatican Council in two documents, the Decree Optatam totius on the Training of Priests, and the Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, which addresses Christian Education. Indeed, already in 1880 Pope Leo XIII, who held St Thomas in high esteem as a guide and encouraged Thomistic studies, chose to declare him Patron of Catholic Schools and Universities…
The main reason for this appreciation is not only explained by the content of his teaching but also by the method he used, especially his new synthesis and distinction between philosophy and theology … For St Thomas the encounter with the pre-Christian philosophy of Aristotle (who died in about 322 b.c.) opened up a new perspective. Aristotelian philosophy was obviously a philosophy worked out without the knowledge of the Old and New Testaments, an explanation of the world without revelation through reason alone. And this consequent rationality was convincing. Thus the old form of the Fathers’ “our philosophy” no longer worked. The relationship between philosophy and theology, between faith and reason, needed to be rethought. A “philosophy” existed that was complete and convincing in itself, a rationality that preceded the faith, followed by “theology”, a form of thinking with the faith and in the faith.
The pressing question was this: are the world of rationality, philosophy conceived of without Christ, and the world of faith compatible? Or are they mutually exclusive? Elements that affirmed the incompatibility of these two worlds were not lacking, but St Thomas was firmly convinced of their compatibility indeed that philosophy worked out without the knowledge of Christ was awaiting, as it were, the light of Jesus to be complete.
This was the great “surprise” of St Thomas that determined the path he took as a thinker. Showing this independence of philosophy and theology and, at the same time, their reciprocal relationality was the historic mission of the great teacher. And thus it can be understood that in the 19th century, when the incompatibility of modern reason and faith was strongly declared, Pope Leo XIII pointed to St Thomas as a guide in the dialogue between them. In his theological work, St Thomas supposes and concretizes this relationality. Faith consolidates, integrates and illumines the heritage of truth that human reason acquires. The trust with which St Thomas endows these two instruments of knowledge faith and reason may be traced back to the conviction that both stem from the one source of all truth, the divine Logos, which is active in both contexts, that of Creation and that of redemption.



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J.L. Schafer

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm


Dan #44:
Are you absolutely sure that the authors of Job and Psalm 75 believed that they were using figurative language, i.e. that you are not projecting a modern understanding into their mindset? And are you absolutely sure that when Paul was making references to passages in Genesis that he was doing so with a literalist interpretation of those passages? I don’t mean to be being argumentative or condescending. These are honest questions.



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm


Dan (#44)
I have wandered around on the issue of Adam in posts on this blog – in part because I am not sure how literally it should be taken. This is true both in Romans and in Genesis. I will continue to explore the various facets of that particular question. This particular post will stand with either a literal or figurative interpretation of Adam.
Scot’s question about pillars was to the point. What is literal and what is true, but not literal history?
The point of this post though is the YEC interpretation of both scripture and creation. I think that the idea that all death originated from the fall is theologically flawed. It is certainly not a position of consensus within the history of the church.
It is also exegetically flawed, even if one takes a literal view of Genesis 1-3. There is absolutely nothing in Romans 5 that must tie animal and insect death to the fall. And Genesis 2-3 casts a very different vision of pre-fall creation.
The appearance of age view also has serious theological ramifications.



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Scott Morizot

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm


A God who created the cosmos 6,000 years ago with every appearance on every level from astrophysics to the subatomic of being billions of years old and with a complete supporting biological, geological, and paleontological record is a trickster god in the worst sense. Personally, I have no interest in worshiping such a god. Others have made the same point, but I come from such a pluralistic background that I don’t assume that just because someone uses a label like ‘christian’ to describe themselves, that they are somehow automatically describing the same god. There are “christians” with an anthropology, christology, and perspective of creation so different from mine that we hardly even touch on any significant point. By and large, it seems to me that those who hold the modern YEC perspective tend to be that far from my perception of truth and reality. It doesn’t threaten or bother me that others believe something different than I believe. I’ve believed a lot of different things myself in the past. But it does mean I don’t see any way to really bridge that gap.
Nevertheless, since RJS (in this post) and Mohler (in his presentation) both raised it as a theological issue, I thought I would comment briefly. As RJS points out, there are a host of theological issues with the idea that non-human death and evil did not exist prior to the fall. However, as far as I’ve been able to tell, the only real theological “problem” raised by a non-YEC, non-literal “Adam” view is that it does not permit the idea that all human inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin physically from Adam. Of course, that’s not a particularly traditional interpretation of the NT texts and has a lot of issues with it as well. I certainly don’t believe it and never have. I have a long series on that topic at my site at the URL above if anyone is particularly interested in the topic. But I can’t think of any other theological “problem” that a modern YEC view resolves.



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Deets

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:09 pm


Dan #44. I think you make the point clear here. While you interpreted Scot’s question as condescending there are many generations of people who would not have understood the pillars to be figurative. It was only through science that we came to know that.



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BradK

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm


Nick, the sense of “this corner of the cosmos” being special that some get from the Genesis 1-3 narrative is the result of understanding the context to be that of God preparing, inaugurating, and coming to rest in his temple. What makes this part of the cosmos special is God’s entrance into it and presence in it as described in the beginning of Genesis. What makes humanity special is its bearing of God’s image. The tragedy of the fall is humanity’s separation from God and God’s original purpose for humans and for the whole world. The rest of the biblical story is the story of God’s redemption of humanity and the redemption of the rest of his world through humanity.
How does an understanding that God crafted the cosmos over billions of year prior to his unique relationship with humans detract from that narrative? Some would argue the opposite, that failing to recognize the greatness of God’s work in creation of a vast cosmos over a vast length of time detracts from the narrative and diminishes the special thing he has done with humans.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm


Scott Morizot at #50,
“But I can’t think of any other theological “problem” that a modern YEC view resolves.”
Here’s one: When did the primate receive the image of God?
Here’s another: Where does Luke’s genealogy transition from figurative to literal?
Here’s a third (semi-related to the first): If humankind came into existence in exactly the same way as every other lifeform, why does Genesis 1-2 suggest that God did something different to bring them into existence?



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BIll

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm


BradK – “It’s like saying that because Einstein came along and made changes or refinements to Newtonian gravity, we can’t ever be sure that gravity is responsible for our planets traveling around the sun.” That is precisely what I am saying – if Verlinde is correct, and I acknowledge that the jury is out on his theories, and further acknowledging he may very well have been engaging in hyperbole when he stated “gravity does not exist,” the claim that science is the paradigmatic standard for assessing truth requires just as much of a dogmatic posture as Mohler.
I am not suggesting that science is meaningless, rather that confining the world, and obviously here, Scripture, to a scientifically determined litmus test is not only theologically erroneous but intellectually erroneous. I find the suggestion by Jonathan, @41, to be compelling, that the power of science is as a “general heuristic (i.e. anticipatory) method of investigating the data of sense” though I personally would omit the words “explanatory” and “laws” and insert “developing recurring correlations”, without a need to hold too tightly to a fuller sense of explanatory. In other words, science is not necessarily or exclusively the bright line for testing validity and I would expect a honesty in recognizing that as more data is gathered, investigation occurs, etc., that the paradigm would shift or as Jonathan rightly noted, learning happens and there remains the potential for another Copernican-type revolution.
While recognizing the prior discussions of bread and loaves may have a touch of tongue in check, obviously applying a scientific analysis to the narrative by force requires a view that this event is mythological, hence my earlier reference to a Bultmann-like ideology at play here. Approaching YEC/TE discussions from the either/or of science as the playing field will always result in YEC being labeled ridiculous. Approaching the issue from the perspective that Scripture is accurate in its rendering of the divine story (which requires a faith stance that is not ultimately reducible to science or logic), and then asking how does science, and other forms of knowledge and understanding, fit within the divine story seems to me to be a more excellent way, all the while acknowledging, as RJS rightly pointed out, we will always be in some form of tension (1 Cor. 13).



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R Hampton

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm


why does Genesis 1-2 suggest that God did something different to bring them into existence?
It’s the same reason that the Earth is described as being supported by pillars.



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AHH

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm


I especially commend RJS’s comments about the problem of “apparent age”, which colorfully point how serious this problem is for those of us who don’t believe God is a deceiver.
It is NOT just “apparent age” — a more accurate term would be “apparent history”. It is not just a matter of God possibly creating things in a mature form — it is that these mature forms bear all sorts of marks testifying to historical events that (in the interpretations of YECs) never happened.
One could imagine God creating mature rocks, but why would God create them (not only on Earth but also the Moon and Mars) with isotopes in just the right ratios to indicate billions of years of age? One could imagine God creating mature plants and animals, but why would God plant phony evidence of an evolutionary history in their DNA?
This distinction between “appearance of history” and “appearance of age” seems to have been missed by some of our commenters. For example, pds #11 mentions the loaves and fishes that might have had “apparent age”. But the evidence for the age of the earth and for common descent is more like if the loaves were in wrappers with date stamps from a particular bakery in Jerusalem, complete with a couple of embedded hairs that could be DNA-matched to the head of a specific baker and a pinch surreptitiously taken off the side by the baker’s hungry assistant.



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T Woznek

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm


The foundation for theology is “God is God and we are not.” It is perfectly consistent for an all knowing, powerful, etc God to have a historical, scientific and poetic account of creation. I find fault with the premise that our understanding or knowledge is more evolved or informed today as in times past.
If God was there and as one who is truth, why would He give an inaccurate account of creation, death and suffering to Moses? Why would He do that, knowing full well this debate would occur? The Bible’s point is God revealing Himself to man, not just a story of redemption. For if it were just redemption, for what purpose would God do such?
God made the Sabath holy based on His time frame for creation. He spoke the universe into existence. I think the issue is not young vs. Old, but in accepting God as He revealed Himself and the account of that revelation.



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm


@Deets #51,
Exactly. Its possible the author of Job and Psalms thought there were pillars. I believe that Luther and Calvin argued against the Copernican sun-centered universe because of a literal interpretation of Joshua 10:13
So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm


BradK #52,
I agree with your creation-temple theology, but Genesis 1-3 carries none of the suggestion that God “chose” an otherwise completely irrelevant part of the cosmos. In fact, a phrase like “and he also created the stars” suggests that it is the rest of the cosmos that is irrelevant, not the corner He chose to make special after it laid around irrelevant for millions of years.
Where in the Genesis 1-3 narrative do you find the kind of language employed in Deuteronomy and the prophets to describe Israel before God chose them? If this corner of the cosmos just laid around like the rest of the cosmos for millions of years until God chose to start his temple project here, one would expect to find the same sort of ego-deflating instruction.



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DRT

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm


As far as genre, clearly Gen 1 to Gen 2:3 is a creation poem.
The second creation account in Gen 2:4 to Gen 3 is an allegory, to me at least.
But there are clearly two different stories there if someone is going to try and treat this literally. The first is definitely a poem, it has all the hallmarks of poetry.



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Jonathan

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm


@ nick gill (53):
Your 1st and 3rd questions raise a more fundamental question: Is there something other than our biology that makes us essentially human?
If you’re inclined to answer “the Imago Dei,” I’d hope you’d include an explanation of what the Image of God in human beings is, exactly.
I’ll admit in advance that I think the answer to my question is “yes,” but I’m still working on what exactly it is… Could use the help of sharp minds on that one.
I don’t think this is too much of a rabbit trail either. I believe this question is central to the overall discussion at hand.



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BradK

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm


pds,
No. I did not twist anything you said. You in fact are assuming that Jesus created the fish. If this is not an assumption, please direct me to the particular verse in scripture where it says that he did this.
You also specifically asked for my thoughts and I gave them. One of those thoughts is that you are assuming something not evidenced in scripture. I see no reason for your objection here.
“1. Jesus had the power to create the fish ex nihilo.”
Of course.
“2. Nothing in the text permits us to rule this out as a possibility.”
Nothing in the text requires it either. Which is why I called it speculation. Nothing in the text rules out the other options I proposed nor a host of other possibilities that haven’t been mentioned. It just doesn’t say. The text is silent on specifics here.
“3. If he had done so, after the fact scientific studies with naturalistic presuppositions would likely have been wrong as to the origin of the fish.”
Or if he had done so, after the fact scientific studies with naturalistic presuppositions might have been able to determine that the fish were created ex nihilo. Maybe as a result of the creation of the fish there would have been a residue of a newly discovered element that they could have called exnihilonium. Or maybe he didn’t create the fish ex nihilo. Maybe he broke the fish in half and the head grew a tail and the tail grew a head right before the eyes of the disciples. Maybe science could analyze those fish and find some physical characteristic that distinguished them from other fish. Again, it’s all speculation.
“4. Jesus had no intent to deceive scientists.”
Of course not.
“5. Scientists studying the fish with naturalistic presuppositions would likely have deceived themselves by their faulty methodology.”
Or not. It is simply impossible to make the claim about what is likely when everything you are talking about is pure speculation.



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm


Nick,
Most of us (many of us) will agree that God did something different resulting in humans being special and in the image of God.
With respect to the way this is portrayed in Genesis – it is described in the context of common knowledge. In Genesis 2 God formed man in the same way he formed the beasts – out of the ground. The only anomaly is the formation of woman out of man.
If we take a literal interpretation, why is man formed after the animals in Genesis 1 and before the animals in Genesis 2?



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R Hampton

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm


BIll,
If Verlinde is correct, it would not negate the accuracy of the Einstein model, just as Einstein did not negate the accuracy of the Newtonian model. Physics would have a new explanation for gravity – a result of maximizing Entropy rather than mass distorting space/time – but the understanding of how gravity influences cosmology would largely stand.
Also, theology is itself a rational process that has refined (Aquinas) and redefined (Luther) Christianity throughout history. So the problems of science apply equally to the problems of theology: that is, nature and scripture may be perfectly true, our understanding of both will always be flawed. None the less, we continually strive to improve our knowledge of truth.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm


why does Genesis 1-2 suggest that God did something different to bring them into existence?
It’s the same reason that the Earth is described as being supported by pillars.
Impossible. The Earth IS supported by pillars – pillars of gravity and magnetism and other forces rather than granite and cement – but pillars of force keeping it in its place/course nonetheless. The pillar image does not deliver a contradictory message.
In Gen 1-2, the narrator goes far out of their way to deliver the message that humankind was not created in the same way as the rest of the living, breathing things. That contradicts the message that humankind came into existence in exactly the same way as every other kind of creature. I’m no dogmatic YEC advocate, but that’s definitely one of the reasons I still don’t accept TE. Besides the amount of hydrogen left in the universe, and the ludicrously different answers delivered by the wide array of radiometric age tests.



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Rick

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm


RJS-
“If we take a literal interpretation, why is man formed after the animals in Genesis 1 and before the animals in Genesis 2?”
Now I agree w/ the Walton/Sailhamer approach, but in regards to your statement, does Genesis 2 indicate a sequence of such events, or just that they happened?



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm


The Design Spectrum
BradK #62,
Thanks for your detailed response.
You said,
“I did not twist anything you said. You in fact are assuming that Jesus created the fish.”
No, I am not “assuming” that. I said I think that is the most likely. Do you not see the difference? I am not sure how Jesus got the fish there.
We agree that much of this is speculation. However, the Biologos folks don’t seem to recognize this. They make assertions of “fact” based on historical population genetics studies of human DNA. These assertions require that they assume that God did not intervene in any way that might skew the results. Their claims of “scientific fact” require that God did no creating ex nihilo. This is faulty reasoning that has no Biblical basis.



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DRT

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm


AHH #56 Great add. It is not just apparent age, but apparent history.
Good job! I too can believe that God could create it all with apparent age, probably because that would be the only way it could be, but the apparent history is the big problem.
captcha: of fueling (that tells me he created the history so we would have fuel!)



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R Hampton

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm


the narrator goes far out of their way to deliver the message that humankind was not created in the same way as the rest of the living, breathing things. That contradicts the message that humankind came into existence in exactly the same way as every other kind of creature
In Catholic theology, there is no contradiction.
Pope Benedict XVI, October 31, 2008
The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is capax Dei, points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject. Thus the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that ?every spiritual soul is created immediately by God ? it is not ?produced? by the parents ? and also that it is immortal? (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366). This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology, and invites exploration of it by modern thought.



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm


Rick,
I asked the question because it seems a serious discrepancy for a literal historical reading. The purpose is different, the function is different, the timing is different. I think that both teach important truths – but both cannot teach a literal historical progression.
In Genesis 1:
God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
But in Genesis 2:
(After land, mist – no shrub…)
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
… (Plants etc. formed)
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm


AHH (#56) and DRT (#68),
It is not just apparent history. It is an apparent history that, by Dr. Mohler’s view, includes the consequences of Adam’s sin cast backwards in ‘virtual’ form. I do not see how this solves a theological problem.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm


RJS #63,
“Most of us (many of us) will agree that God did something different resulting in humans being special and in the image of God.
With respect to the way this is portrayed in Genesis – it is described in the context of common knowledge. In Genesis 2 God formed man in the same way he formed the beasts – out of the ground. The only anomaly is the formation of woman out of man.
If we take a literal interpretation, why is man formed after the animals in Genesis 1 and before the animals in Genesis 2?”
Thank you for your kind response. I appreciate the opportunity to interact with you. As I’ve suggested in previous posts, I’m not defending the popular literal interpretation (I’m much more of an open theist than a YEC advocate) — although I believe Gen 2:19 can be just as accurately translated “had formed” (a la Darby, Douay-Rheims, NIV, ESV), which solves the order dilemma. Another, more theologically interesting solution is for us to notice that a great theme of Gen 2:4b-23 is the uniqueness of mankind. Genesis 1 gives humanity pride of place at the end of the line; Genesis 2 gives humanity pride of place at the beginning. Neither one is necessarily chronological, although the creation poem of Gen 1 certainly suggests something like chronology.
Where does God breathe the breath/spirit of life into the animals in Genesis 2? That seems to be a clear difference between the human creation and the rest of the “living things.” TE seems to leave no room for God to do anything unique to whatever pre-human stage became humanity – in the TE narrative, humanity develops just like whales and horses and every other complex organic lifeform. I don’t mean to suggest that you are necessarily advocating any particular form of TE; rather, I’m just pointing out one of my difficulties with the theory.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm


The Design Spectrum
AHH #56,
The appearance of age arguments work to attack the full blown YEC arguments. But they don’t work on an old earth some evolution + some special creation paradigm.
The fossil record is a mixed bag. It contains the appearance of age and the appearance of history, which is why I am not a YEC. But it also contains the “appearance of sudden appearance.”
Evolutionary theory has to deal with the “appearance of suddenness” problem in the fossil record, which not just limited to the Cambrian Explosion. There is simply no evidence of slow, gradual transitions from one phylum to another phylum. Did God do that to fool us?



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm


nick,
Two things:
First -
Now you are defining a TE view and not allowing it to distinguish between humans and animals. Very few who hold to an evolutionary creation will take this naturalist view. Rather the teaching of scripture is that God did something special in forming mankind in his image. A naturalist view may not discriminate, but a TE view generally does.
Second -
With respect to the comparison between Genesis 1 and 2, I don’t know Hebrew well enough to judge details. But it takes pretzel twists in logic, not minor word nuance, to reconcile these accounts as literal historical accounts. In Genesis 2 we have land, with no plants because no man – then man, then plants to be cultivated, then animals as companions, then woman. In Genesis 1 we have plants, then animals, then mankind to rule over them.
The order is different, the message is different, the purpose is different. True – but not literal historical timelines.



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R Hampton

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm


nick gill,
In the Catholic TE narrative, God gave souls to two humans. That’s the greatest example of divine intervention, bar none.



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Marcus

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm


Hi RJS,
When you say, ‘On the issue of authority I find it helpful to remain focused on Christ as the foundation of our faith. Scripture is a lamp; it provides reliable illumination, but is not the foundation.’ do you mean that when we say that Christ is the word of God and Scripture is the word of God we mean different things (I am legitimately asking – not trying to be difficult :) )? What’s the relationship between the two if both are the word of God in different senses?
I flesh this out a little more on my blog if you don’t want to derail things in this direction here.



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BradK

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm


pds,
I am not familiar enough with BioLogos to know what kind of assertions they make, but any assumption or assertion that God did not intervene in any way is beyond the scope of science. Even most atheist scientists that I have encountered will admit this when pressed. Of course science makes no assumption that God did intervene either. Personally, I take the view that God has, does, and will intervene continually in everything that occurs in nature.
I’m not sure I follow you on your comment that “their claims of “scientific fact” require that God did no creating ex nihilo.” Do the folks at BioLogos claim that ex nihilo creation is a contradiction of science?
Btw, regarding the other comment about the “appearance of suddenness” in the fossil record, don’t forget that, geologically, sudden is millions of years. The shortest estimates of the duration of the Cambrian Explosion are 5-10M years. It may have been 40-50M. Sudden is a relative term. The geologic record generally can’t record anything that is really sudden.



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nick gill

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm


RJS,
I agree that it takes pretzel twists in logic to suggest that they’re both chronological accounts. I don’t believe there’s any reason to demand that they’re both chronological. In fact, neither one *must* be, but there’s also no reason that *neither* one can be – which is the assertion under investigation. The anthropological orientation of Genesis 2 only undermines the dogmatic assertion that Genesis 1 *must* be absolutely literal.
And one definitely suggests a more chronological orientation than the other. Eugene Peterson beautifully draws out in “Christ Plays in 10,000 Places” that Genesis 1 is clearly saying something important about TIME, while Genesis 2 is clearly saying something important about place.
I agree that there’s far more going on in Genesis 1-3 than anything related to marking a starting point for God’s project. That’s not the purpose of any of the chapters. But the vast array of different answers to the question, “How old is the universe?” that come from different schools of scientific inquiry cause me to keep some form of young creation among the plausible theories.



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AHH

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:51 pm


pds #73,
I think for once we may have an area of agreement. While the sorts of evidence discussed here (for which “appearance of age/history” arguments are untenable) establish an old Earth and common descent beyond a reasonable doubt, I agree that they do not eliminate the possibility of some special non-natural intervention(s) as a part of the common descent, and/or at its beginning stages.
Probably you and I would disagree about the strength of the evidence for such interventions, and perhaps about their role in apologetics and theology. But in terms of feeding the “warfare” mentality between science and faith, and in terms of the witness of the faith to the scientifically literate, if Christians (including ID proponents) could accept the evidence in God’s creation for great age and for common descent, most of our problems in this area would be alleviated.
As RJS mentions, that acceptance may create tension with certain doctrines of Scripture and even with some theology — but as we wrestle with the theology we shouldn’t be under the illusion that old theological paradigms are without problems.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm


The Design Spectrum
BradK #77,
On the Biologos blog, Dennis Venema and Darrel Falk claimed that it is a scientific fact that humans did not descend from a single pair of ancestors. Their logic requires that they assume that God (or other unknown causes) never intervened in a way to skew their population genetics assumptions.
Here is the post and my discussion with them:
http://biologos.org/blog/does-genetics-point-to-a-single-primal-couple/
I don’t think we can be sure one way or the other from the genetic evidence. When we are doing historical science, we should not be claiming “scientific fact,” but rather the “best explanation” of all the evidence.



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:56 pm


nick gill,
I don’t think ‘neither one can be’ is the assertion under investigation.
Rather I think the assertion under investigation is the assertion that ‘any common sense natural reading of the text’ provides a clear historical picture only called into question by modern science (actually it was wrestled with long before because of issues discussed at places in this post and the comments following).
The more important assertion is that death before the fall is a theological nightmare – an assertion I think is also untrue and does not represent the consensus thought of the church through the centuries.
Finally there is the assertion that apparent age is a trouble free interpretation (it is not).



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm


@Marcus,
“do you mean that when we say that Christ is the word of God and Scripture is the word of God we mean different things”
My answer is yes. I don’t think anyone understands that Christ is scripture or that scripture is Christ. I’ve never heard it taught that way.
I’ve never read anything that compared and contrasted the Word of God (Jesus) with the word of God (scripture), so I probably can’t answer your second question.



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Marcus

posted July 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm


@Kenny #82,
I’ve never heard someone come out and baldly say Bible=Jesus, but I do think that a lot of people functionally approach Scripture like that or come very close to affirmations along those lines. E.g., if my memory is correct I believe I heard Bryan Chapell say at the Gospel Coalition in 2008 that when Scripture is read you are hearing Jesus.



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DRT

posted July 13, 2010 at 4:19 pm


RJS, after your Mohleresqe comment concerning the projection of Adam’s sin back in time I went and re-read the whole darn thing. I should have started in the end since it is in the next to last paragraph
“if I?m asked why does the universe look so old, I have to say it looks old because it bears testimony to the affects of sin. And testimony of the judgment of God. It bears the effects of the catastrophe of the flood and catastrophes innumerable thereafter. I would suggest to you that the world looks old because as Paul says in Romans chapter 8 it is groaning. And in its groaning it does look old.”
Yes, that is what he is saying, what a shame. He is also making the value judgment that everything old is somehow inferior, actually he says old=sinful and old=wrath old=catastrophes
He is showing a very immature thought there. It is actually quaint if he was not teaching people to go out and tell it to others.
I guess that scripture is getting more sinful and corrupt as it ages….



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm


@Marcus,
Ok you’ve given me something to think about. :) I did a few Google searches and I actually found a couple sites where people were arguing that we should not refer to scriptures as The Word of God — only Christ. That the Bible should be called the words of God.



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pds

posted July 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm


AHH #79,
Thanks for your comment. I generally agree with you about where we agree and disagree, and many of your other good points.
Captcha: grunted it :)



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Marcus

posted July 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm


@Kenny #85,
It does make me wonder, if we mean different things by Jesus is the word of God and the Bible is the word of God then should we do just that and change our terminology? Are we creating unnecessary confusion? Even if we do I think we need to be more precise about what we mean. I’m not sure that I understand what exactly I’m affirming when I affirm that ‘Jesus is the word of God.’ But because of John 1 I know that I need to affirm that.



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Norm

posted July 13, 2010 at 4:54 pm


I do agree that the theological implications are profound for everyone and evangelicals more than some. Genesis origins theology is intertwined with NT theology and ultimately eschatology. What we may (and are) discovering through all of this is that the church has bungled and appropriated a lot of bad theology over the centuries. When the fat hits the fan it may not be a pretty sight and many a misconstrued traditions may need to be reevaluated and set straight. I think we see this going on in some arena?s of the church even now. Brian McClaren and his push I believe are built somewhat upon some of this reorientation. Previously in days of old we fought actual wars when ideas came up against the old. However democratically it plays out there will be anxiety from established religion because the simple minded approach will have less appeal to a broader constituency in the long run.
Actually in the process of discerning the meaning of Genesis we may have the seeds of correcting bad theology so in that vein it may indeed be a long awaited blessing to the church instead of what some consider a curse.
Mohler has a problem with coming to grips with the idea of ?Spiritul Death? and assumes his position is ironclad. This speaks to his lack of sophistication in NT theology and a misreading that starts in Genesis. Paul absolutely understood ?death? in the Jewish framework as ?spiritual? and that indeed has huge implications for those who teach otherwise. Once a student of the Bible recognizes that the ?death? being overcome was the reuniting with God what Adam lost spiritually then the complete Biblical narrative starts to come better into focus. It will be the dawn of a new day for many a Christian who has floundered under improper guidance for centuries. This is what is staring Dr. Mohler in the face and as the leader of that tradition I understand his reluctance.



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Scott Morizot

posted July 13, 2010 at 5:08 pm


I find the assertion that God “intervenes” in nature troubling. I’ve noticed that at times the discussion seems to be about how much or how little God “intervenes” in creation. I suppose I take more literally Paul’s statement that in him we “live and move and have our being”. If God is everywhere present and filling all things, then it does not seem to me that “intervening” or “not intervening” are useful categories. It seems to me that when we study creation, we are studying an expression of the energies of God. The mystery is not in God’s intervention, but in the space he somehow makes for the rich, complex, and multi-faceted creation we perceive to exist even as he fills, inhabits, and sustains all of it. The “natural” forces we perceive and study, even if presently disordered to some extent in that mystery of freedom, are themselves the actions of God. He certainly transcends creation, but to separate “nature” from God to the extent that God has to “intervene” to shape and direct it seems to me to place too much distance between God and creation and seems like an unnecessary concession to a secular perspective or reality.
At least, that’s how things look to me. It’s something I thought I would throw out there.
As far as the three questions I was asked go, I’m not sure I understand why the question of “when” there were human beings in the image and likeness of God matters. I assume God knows and can sort that out. I don’t see how that in any way matters to us. And in spite of claims to the contrary, a “plain” reading of genesis seems to me to clearly indicate that the “garden” was formed in the middle of a creation that was not a garden and that there were other peoples outside the garden.
As far as Luke’s genealogy (and Matthew’s) goes, the more interesting question is, as far as I can tell, “What was the purpose of each?” Matthew was writing his gospel primarily for Jewish believers and Luke primarily for formerly pagan believers. (At least, that’s what most people all the way back to the earliest records we have seem to indicate.) So the obviously didn’t serve the same purpose. I would say Luke was using his genealogy to connect Jesus to all the nations, not just the Jews.
And finally, God breathed his spirit into man. Intelligence, feelings, life (a soul) and a body are things humanity shares with the animals. The biblical story is that we also have a spirit, a part of ourselves designed for communion with God and to reflect God into creation. We were created not immortal, but with the potential for either immortality or mortality (that’s obviously what the tree of life in the garden represents) but turned from God and became mortal in our nature. In our common nature we are disordered and mortal. In first joining his nature to ours, suffering as we suffer, and ultimately dying, Jesus joined our mortal nature fully and completely with the divine nature. In the resurrection, then, he destroyed death. It is no longer in the nature of man to die. I’m not sure I see how either a YEC or a non-YEC reading has any theological problem on the question of whether or not God has interacted with man in a special way.



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm


@Marcus
Well.. it’s even more complicated than that. If “The Word” and the “The Word of God” always refer to Jesus, then we might need to re-examine how we read some verses in scripture. Take:
Heb 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
What if we should read it:
For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, He penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; He judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
I’m not saying that’s correct, but it’s interesting.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm


Kenny, that text, along with the Jews being entrusted with the oracles of God (logia), proves that argument wrong. Heb 4:12 is not referring exclusively to Jesus but to the Word of God (as in Torah). There’s a bit of a popular little argument going around that the NT never says “Logos” for Bible, and this text in Hebrews has to be refashioned to make the point. Not worth it; our use of Word of God for Bible has a long history, and a good one, but it not consistent with the Bible’s own way of referring to the Bible. Anyway, the “word” (debar) in the OT is too common to let this point go any further.



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like a child

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:22 pm


Great article. While I favor a theistic evolutionary model, I think it complicates interpretation of scripture immensely (maybe it’s just me). I think overarching issue is not so much reconciling evolution with Genesis, but reconciling any part of Scripture with our own limited reality. I accept evolution, and honestly, I have less trouble reconciling evolution with the Bible, than I do reconciling NT miracles with my own common sense. I respect Mohler’s view in that it is much easier to have faith and hold to an inerrancy model of Scripture.
RJS, thank you for your honesty and humility when you state “I conclude at a place quite similar to Dr. Mohler, there are questions for which we do not yet have answers, and no expectation that we will ever have all the answers in this life. We all need to have the humility to admit the problems and seek solutions and understandings in the community of the church.” It makes me feel a bit more sane for having so many doubts about Biblical miracles. We really should put the focus back on Jesus. If am to reconcile that Jesus is the resurrected son of God, then all other issues pale in comparison. Were the multiplication of loaves and fishes a miracle or not? I don’t know – the logical part of me likes the interpretation that excludes a miracle, but if I’m supposed to believe in Jesus, why not believe the feeding of the 5000 was a miracle too (I’m playing the devils advocate here, I like the non-miraculous interpretation myself).
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2010/07/houston-heres-the-situation-rj.html#ixzz0tbSSKIyh



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Matt Edwards

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm


Great post, RJS. I really like the way you illustrate the problems with YEC (not a tree created with rings, but with damage done by birds that never existed, etc.).



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm


Scot,
Thanks for the response. I appreciate the correction.



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Dan

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm


No one has yet answered the basic thrust of my point. Too busy quibbling about whether folks capable of building pyramids might have used “pillars” as figurative language I guess.
1. It has been suggested that the YEC argument of apparent age creates an irreparable theological problem because it suggests God “lied” in possibly creating a world that might have various phenomena that suggest long age.
2. It has then been suggested that the New Testament Apostles and biblical geneologies which seem to clearly present an historical Adam, an historical fall and resultant death, is all factually wrong as far as the cosmos is concerned.
3. The obvious conclusion that God misled us in the “inspiration” of authoritative scripture is casually dismissed as no theological problem at all, even though Paul builds a huge theological argument on Adam’s sin and the resultant introduction of death to the entire human race.
Again, why are so many willing to slam YEC with the charge that their view implies God “lied” in nature, but not willing to look in the mirror and deal with the implication of their own view that God “lied” in the written apostolic witness by repeatedly presenting Adam, the fall and the curse as historical?
This is an inconsistency big enough to drive a planet through. But I know I waste my breath. For the record I do not insist on a 24 hour day or a 6000 year earth, only on an historical fall. Everyone seems to want to focus on the “narrative”, but they don’t seem to want to acknowledge that in setting aside the fall, they have completely altered the narrative. The meaning of death changes. The meaning of redemption changes. Christianity becomes something other…



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Marcus

posted July 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm


Kenny, On the train home I was reflecting my earlier comment, and I do think that we need to continue calling both Scripture and Jesus the word of God. I’m still struggling to see how categorizing them both as ‘the word of God’ works. Even if we attempt to say, ‘it’s because they’re both revelation of God’ doesn’t that then get us into the danger of implying inequality within the Trinity? I’m not sure, but it seems like that danger could be lurking?



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm


@Dan #95,
I’m not really dogmatic about any of this, but I see a clear difference between God accommodating inspiration to the knowledge and culture of the time versus creating a world to look purposely old.
We already know that God did accommodate His will to the culture. This is why Jesus can say about divorce:
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law.”
So why couldn’t he accommodate His revelation to Paul or Peter’s understanding of creation and the world?
Also, I’m not convinced that “Pillars” or “the sun stood still” were meant to be merely figurative. And if they were, they certainly weren’t always interpreted that way.
I can at least understand the purpose of accommodation. I can’t understand a purposely old looking Earth.



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RJS

posted July 13, 2010 at 7:44 pm


Dan (#95),
With respect to this post I am not arguing against any of your points. They are all worth consideration.
I am only arguing against the view that Dr. Mohler presented in his speech. If you stand – say with Dr. Piper (see the link in the post) – the comments I have made here don’t apply to your position.
I expect that is at least part of the reason that your concerns haven’t been discussed much.



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Justin Topp

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm


@Dan #95,
@Kenny Johnson #97 may have addressed some of your concerns. But I also wanted to add… lots of scientists have shown using multiple different methods that YEC is incompatible with what we see in nature. In science, we attribute truth to reproducibility and strength in numbers. In addition, science just seems to work very well.
We then compare all of this with the testimony of 1 individual, Paul, who depending upon your view of inspiration either was writing via the hand of God or simply out of his own mind. Clearly there’s a lot of ground to cover between these two extremes. But if one doesn’t attend to the 1st extreme, you can see why the “weight” of science is much more difficult to ignore than Paul’s thoughts. I don’t like using the word “lie” because it attributes deception by God, when it’s really all our own inability to understand everything completely.
This is just one hack’s attempt at your questions… so take it for what it’s worth.
scienceandtheology.wordpress.com



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Scott Morizot

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm


Scot (91), I want to say yes, but. Dabar (or debar) is simply the Hebrew word for word, statement, act, thing. That’s not really the issue. Rather it’s specifically the Dabar Yahweh or Ha-Dabar Elohim, which is somewhat difference. I’m not sure, but I believe the first time we see that is in Genesis 15:4 where it is clearly not talking about any sort of scripture.
There are places where Dabar Yahweh can be seen as referring to Torah, but even that is complicated. As part of the context for Jesus saying that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he is there among them, I remember Bishop Tom Wright describe a first century Jewish saying to the effect that wherever two or three are gathered together studying Torah, God (or the Ruach Yahweh — I forget) is in their midst. So to the extent that the divine Dabar Yahweh was associated with Torah, it does seem that Jesus stated that was him. (That’s not the only place, but an example that stuck in my mind.)
I was listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko’s latest podcast (which interestingly is a series on Darwin and creation) and I remember where he commented that Jewish tradition and belief really reveals a Trinity as well since they consider the Dabar Yahweh and Ruach Yahweh divine. Christians just hold that the divinity of the Word of God and the Spirit of God is revealed in such a way that we Christians see them as personal (or hypostatic). I’m sure I mangled what he said, but the idea stuck with me.
While I’m not a scholar, I do listen to a lot of different scholars. And I’m not at all convinced that Christians using “Dabar Yahweh” to refer to anything other than (at least ultimately) Jesus of Nazareth has either broad or deep roots in Christian tradition. That particularly seems to be a central point of John. The divine “thing” of God was actually a Son who became flesh. It was a great mystery revealed to all in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.



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Scott Morizot

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:01 pm


I’ll also note that there may very well be a bit of translation team bias in the version of Hebrews 4:12-13 posted in #90. Here’s the NKJV version.
“12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
The perfectly natural reading of the text as rendered above is that it does not refer to Scripture, but to Christ. It doesn’t require any twisting of the text of all. And when I research non-Protestant (and even some Protestant) commentaries on the passage, that’s exactly what they say it means. I think it’s a better example of twisting the translation in order to make it refer to the Bible than the other way around.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm


Dan,
I may have missed but has someone denied the fall?
As I see it, you want to think your reading of Romans 5 is absolutely right; any other view of Romans 5 not only disagrees with you but denies Gen 1-3. This to me is clear in your #3. It’s a classical case of assuming your conclusion in order to make your case. There are other ways to put together both Gen 1-3 and Romans 5. I affirm the Fall as historic event; more is made of Rom 5 than I think either Paul intended or was implicit in his Jewish world, but I think Paul connects sin and death to Adam. From Adam on is his argument; and from Christ on is also his argument. I don’t see anyone really denying that, but maybe I’m wrong on that.
The word “lied” is a little too strong, but I’d like you to consider this point: At the heart of Mohler’s apologetic is an assumption that he can look at a text, examine it “empirically” and exegetically and inductively and deductively, make intelligent and accurate conclusions, all rooted in the Enlightenment and beyond scientific method (read Machen and Warfield and Hodge), and then — at the very same time — weigh in against the scientific method and contend that our minds are blinded by the Fall and therefore are all mistaken in what we see and can test according to scientific methods. Do you see the irony here?
Those who think God didn’t lie in creation and how it fits with Gen 1-3 (say theistic evolution) aren’t saying God “lied” in Rom 5, and they may have realism at work in their view of the Fall and Adam but not in the way you have that realism.
But I can’t for the life of me understand why we have to be so dogmatic about what was said in Gen 1-3 when it comes to origins and cosmic language. My goodness, John Walton’s book surely should put some caution in our convictions.
One more, Dan, and I hope you take this as it is meant: I value your conversation but you want to ratchet it up so often to accusatory language. Engage the discussion; this isn’t a fundamentalist site, that’s for sure, but we are reasonably civil. Please don’t insist that others answer your questions. That’s not the way conversations turn at times.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm


Scott,
Don’t give us that “perfectly natural” stuff, not on this post!
Some take Word in Heb 4:12 to refer to Son of God, but most don’t. It’s rare, and it’s a tough one to prove since Hebrews, which has plenty of christological thinking, doesn’t have a Logos Christology. Quite easily taken as “the utterance of God” in Scripture. The case the other way is harder, and no one wants to deny that Logos in Scripture isn’t instantiated in incarnational form in Christ himself. That’s theology, but it is not clear it is the author of Hebrews.



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Scott Morizot

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:55 pm


This seemed like the perfect post on which to use the phrase “perfectly natural”. ;)
Peace.



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Dan

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:53 pm


Scot: You wrote: “At the heart of Mohler’s apologetic is an assumption that he can look at a text, examine it “empirically” and exegetically and inductively and deductively, make intelligent and accurate conclusions, all rooted in the Enlightenment and beyond scientific method (read Machen and Warfield and Hodge), and then — at the very same time — weigh in against the scientific method and contend that our minds are blinded by the Fall and therefore are all mistaken in what we see and can test according to scientific methods. Do you see the irony here?”
I could counter regarding TE “At the heart of the TE position is an assumption that we can look at raw natural data (rocks, fossils, genes), examine them “empirically”, inductively and deductively, make intelligent and accurate conclusions about the distant past, all rooted in the Enlightenment, uniformitarianism, naturalism and the secular scientific method and then — at the very same time — weigh in against objective linguistic exegesis and contend that our minds are blinded by the enlightenment and therefore are all mistaken in what we read from a text. Do you see the irony here?”
Is that not fair? Is that harsh?
As for ratcheting up the rhetoric, it is simple frustration from a lot of fruitless debate over many years. I don’t mean to sound so grumpy, but I have been all but called an IDiot (not necessarily here) for simply suggesting ID is in the realm of valid science, much less defending a normative view of Genesis, so “ratcheting up the rhetoric” seems like a one-sided warning in the subjective side of my mind. Plenty of comments from the other side are indeed condescending, so forgive my sensitivity. Not everyone who considers folks like me anti-science and anti-intellectual are tactful and kind.
But it is not rhetoric when I say the meaning of the fall is being altered when one accepts TE. I honestly believe that. Obviously most here disagree, but the solid connection between sin and death is clearly altered in the TE view, which I think is at the heart of Mohler’s address and is certainly vital to most YEC apologists. Death is not an enemy to be vanquished if TE is true, rather death is part of God’s method of creation. The meaning of suffering and evil change. One of the central reasons I am a Christian would melt away. The Christianity I have believed for decades would be changed into something radically different, because the origin of suffering would be attributable to God rather than to the fall. The answer to the question “why do we suffer” changes.
There is a cost to TE. And I think it is unnecessary because I think the high level of faith folks here place in naturalistic science is completely unwarranted when it comes to origins.



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Justin Topp

posted July 14, 2010 at 12:57 am


I find the idea, to use Polkinghorne’s words, of a creation that is able to “create itself” at least in some part (i.e. via evolutionary means) to provide a much more favorable view of theodicy than the alternative of a fall. Also, a God that empties himself to do this and then suffers with us makes more sense of the world around us and the Christian story, at least to me personally.
I haven’t been around the blog long enough to know how IDers have been treated in the past, but as a scientist I can safely say that no scientists support it. Instead, apologists do. That’s not to say that you or them are idiots. It’s just unscientific. I can think of many worse things to say to people. I also think that there is some use for apologetics… as long as it’s appreciated for what it is.
I can appreciate from personal experience though the desire of Christians who accept evolution to then turn around and “evangelize” their evolutionary beliefs. It is quite freeing as a scientist to be able to hold that both scientific truth and religious truth are attainable and that they are not mutually exclusive. For me, it was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulder and I could, to put it rather crudely, use my whole brain all of the time. Statements like those made by Mohler do a disservice because, and again, this is from experience, unless young Christians are sheltered they will come into contact with evolution and will likely come to see that scientists are not all militant atheists as another poster put it, and that they are pursuing the data where it rightfully leads. And if young Christians have to choose one or the other while holding a dinosaur bone in one hand and a Bible in the other… well, you see where I’m headed.
I for one am happy that I can stand alongside of them when they are presented with science and reassure them that their faith, while potentially changed intellectually, does not have to change personally and/or die out. I actually just wrote a post on this for BioLogos if you’re interested (http://biologos.org/blog/evangelicalism-adaptation-and-the-personal/).
scienceandtheology.wordpress.com



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Michael Russell

posted July 14, 2010 at 2:18 am


Hi all, I’ve picked up a little of the thread here, but not read it all. This will sound unlikely, I know, but I think we’ve all, for most of church history, mis-understood key sections of Genesis 1-11.
I think what we’ve missed is this: All of the biblical patriarchs, from Adam through to Noah, lived in a different physical world to ours. The whole account of Genesis 2:4-4:10 and Genesis 4:25-8:14 is set in this other physical universe. There were two ‘miraculous’ crossings from that world to ours. The first was the eviction of Cain from that world to ours, explicitly mentioned in Genesis 4:11-14 with implications described and explained in Genesis 4:15-24. The second was the miraculous translation of the ark of Noah from that world to ours, implied between Genesis 8:14 and Genesis 8:15. The implications of the ‘translation’ of the ark into our world are spelt out in Genesis 8:16-9:18.
Start there, and I think the solutions to our problems on science (and history) and Genesis fall out. I have 36000 words on the subject, a draft form of my Masters thesis, which you can read at http://originofhumanity.blogspot.com



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Vali

posted July 14, 2010 at 5:29 am


Dan,
The Bible speaks about suffering even before the Fall. God says about Eve that He will increase the pain when she will give birth tho her child. That means that suffering was present in Creation even before the Fall, only that not as strong as after it…



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Vali

posted July 14, 2010 at 5:36 am


Justin, you said that ID is unscientific…What is your proof in this respect? Has K. Miller really answered Behe’s challenges? I’d rather doubt that…



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Scot McKnight

posted July 14, 2010 at 7:15 am


Dan,
Mohler is the one making the claim, so the irony applies to him.
Your style is, as you put it, grumpy. Which is why you have to try to turn the argument around against everyone all the time.
Join the conversation, but give up the victim idea. No one here thinks you are in idiot or ever made the suggestion. Grumpy, yes. We’re at a coffee table, talk with us.



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RJS

posted July 14, 2010 at 7:22 am


Dan,
ID really isn’t to the point on this particular post. Neither is theistic evolution. The point is simply old earth vs young earth – and more importantly the biblical reasons some want to require a young earth understanding.
Vali (#108) makes another point to add to my list in the post – the curse increased pain in childbirth, it did not introduce pain in childbirth.
The connection between sin and human death (and human’s creation in the image of God) is altered in the view of some who hold to a TE or OEC position. But not of all, and it is not a prerequisite for an old earth view.
But – the view of death (all biological death) and ‘pain’ that requires a YEC view, makes it something worth building a fence around, is an unbiblical view of death and even pain. I think that the view of death that Dr. Mohler puts forth (consistent with that put forth by many who hold to YEC today) is an unbiblical distortion. It is not internally consistent with even a very literal reading of the text of Genesis, but is something patched onto the text by a misinterpretation of Paul in Romans 5:12. It is not the consensus position of the church through the millenia.



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DRT

posted July 14, 2010 at 7:23 am


Dan, I feel for you. I for one have used some language that is harsh and to the extent that it has offended you I apologize and will try to be more sensitive.
But, at least to me, saying the earth is old and saying there was not fall are not equivalent. I believe our job is to figure out the truth in what is in the bible in light of the understanding that the earth is old. The fact that it is old does not mean the bible is not correct, but it probably means that some lines of exegesis are incorrect.
I do have very strong objections to Mohler because he is making is arguments primarily based on the implication of recognizing the truth instead of judging whether the truth is true. That makes no sense. He has access to vast resources and choses to put his fingers in his ears and talk loudly so that he will not hear what makes sense. He could be contributing to moving forward and understanding what the implications are instead of teaching others something that seems to have run its course.
Again, I don’t want to overstate my views either. Just because the earth is old does not mean that there was no fall, that God did not create the earth etc. The natural reading (sorry Scot) of the bible still says that God did these things and that people sinned even when they had it made! It still says people made the wrong choice even though they had every reason to make the right choice. I do doubt that it was a single event as is shown, but remember these people were transmitting a story via verbal means for many many years. They had to make it simple, memorable and correct in effect. It makes sense.
Justin Topp, I am with you. I thank Scot and RJS for providing this space to work these things out. I like to be able to use all the gifts that God gave me in his service. To think that i would have to turn off my brain to believe in God strikes me as wrong.



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pds

posted July 14, 2010 at 9:44 am


The Design Spectrum
Scot #110,
You said,
“No one here thinks you are in idiot or ever made the suggestion.”
That is simply not true about those skeptical of aspects of evolutionary theory commenting on this blog. Much worse has been more than suggested of me and many others here, without any objection by you or RJS. Show me where you have rebuked strident evolutionary proponents for their rhetoric. Your rebukes, and those of RJS tend to be very one-sided. It’s enough to make anyone grumpy.
I don’t think Dan has said anything uncivil on this thread, yet you have felt the need to criticize his style and tone. At the same time, blatant insults and name-calling by others get a free pass. None of us is perfectly neutral and I don’t expect it. Let’s just be honest about it.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 14, 2010 at 9:59 am


pds,
C’mon. Dan called himself grumpy, and he’s right. And now you’ve gotten grumpy because you want to side with his grumpiness.
I see your comments as relentless, committed, and argumentative … but all within the bounds of civil discourse. But this comment of yours goes a little too far: “Much worse has been suggested of me…” Than the word “idiot”? “Blatant insults” … “name-calling” … Not accurate, pds. I don’t like “strident” rhetoric, which I think this comment of yours is close to being, and when I see it I try to call it. But this requires judgment and what I see as strident you might not, and vice versa.
One-sided — who’s not? But I challenge you to find a blog where this much diversity goes on about the topics we discuss. It can get heated, pds, but RJS and I have to call it the way we see it. Yes, this blog advocates a theistic evolution approach to origins; but comments from opposing views are always present. Remember to think of what it’s like for the other person to take your relentless approach.
I don’t think I said Dan is not civil; he’s civil always. But he gets grumpy. Grumpiness doesn’t make for conversation.



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pds

posted July 14, 2010 at 10:10 am


The Design Spectrum
Scot #102,
You seem to affirm “theistic evolution” and “the fall as a historic event.” Could explain what you think happened at the time humans appeared on earth and how the fall took place? Many of the more prominent theistic evolutionists tend to be vague, or take a position that does deny “the Fall” as it is generally understood. Have you set forth your position elsewhere?



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Fish

posted July 14, 2010 at 10:33 am


At least for me, the fall isn’t necessary for my faith. But my faith isn’t based on logical analysis of the Bible. If I get too rational and logical, I would probably end up Buddhist or agnostic.
A God that would put suffering and death on the entire human race forever for the sins of two people is not a lot different than a God that uses death as a part of creation. In a sense, the latter God might be a more just God.



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pds

posted July 14, 2010 at 11:01 am


Scot #114,
I will try to find the examples of insults from the past. Here is one, but this is far from the best example:
“Could pds point to the specific experimental evidence for ID, preferably papers in refereed scientific journals? I realize that the overall scientific establishment, from his perspective, is largely a conspiracy based on errant assumptions and thus we might have to find our experimental evidence elsewhere.”
http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2009/09/evolutions-place-6-rjs_comments.html
I never said anything close to this.
You sound a bit grumpy yourself, but I have no problem with that. Grumpiness is not inconsistent with civil discourse. Why bring up Dan’s twice? I would love for there to be a place for discussion where theistic evolution and ID perspectives are discussed from a Christian perspective with respect and equal footing. My own perspective is a mix of both.
Overall, you do a faily good job here, but I think the comment moderation at Telic Thoughts does a better job of being even handed to all sides. But, of course, I admit that I am not neutral either.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 14, 2010 at 11:09 am


pds,
If that’s your example, we’ve got no problems. All you had to do was clarify.



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RJS

posted July 14, 2010 at 11:10 am


pds,
This is a worthless exercise – I can go through the comments on this blog and pull out places where people have said disparaging things about TE in general and me in particular. I can even pull out some where you have said such sorts of things, once essentially casting doubt on my faith in a time of exasperation (you then back pedaled and said you didn’t mean me, but some others with a TE view).
But we have to be able to let some kinds of comments simply roll off the back and concentrate on the real issues. Otherwise we get nowhere.
Slow to take offense and quick to respond in generosity of spirit.
Captcha: smartest action



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pds

posted July 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm


The Design Spectrum
Scot,
“If that’s your example, we’ve got no problems.”
I already said it was far from the best example. I guess I should have waited till I found the juicy ones.
RJS,
“This is a worthless exercise – I can go through the comments on this blog and pull out places where people have said disparaging things about TE in general and me in particular.”
It is not a worthless exercise, because I said there had been blatant insults and Scot said that was “not accurate.” I agree that there have been insults, both blatant and implied, by both sides.
“But we have to be able to let some kinds of comments simply roll off the back and concentrate on the real issues. Otherwise we get nowhere. Slow to take offense and quick to respond in generosity of spirit.”
Totally agree.
I spoke up mainly because I empathized with Dan and wanted him to know that he was not alone here. Many times I have felt very alone here, which is partly why I stopped commenting. It was perhaps a mistake to come back.



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RJS

posted July 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm


pds,
Well, I hope you keep coming around because your questioning and push back always helps me refine my ideas and thinking. Sometimes it adjusts my ideas, sometimes my approach to expressing my ideas.
While few people who comment here often would take a YEC approach, more than you think are sympathetic to many of your ideas. A significant number who e-mail me off line are quite sympathetic in fact.
Thinking things through means going back and forth on ideas. It also means that I try to convince and expect those who disagree to try to marshal arguments to convince me of their position. Sometimes it takes a long time.
But we have to keep a thick skin – or we get nowhere.



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Norm

posted July 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm


Trying to argue over the literalness of a poetic or apocalyptic type piece of literature can get one bogged down rather quickly. My suggestion is let scripture interpret scripture and see what it brings you. The pain increasing from childbirth becomes a Hebrew motif all the way through the OT to Revelation and always represents bringing forth faithful children thus Eve as the Mother of all the ?Living?. Has anyone cared to ask whom the scriptures identify as the ?Living?? Isn?t it those who come to life or being born again through Christ? Childbirth is just a literary symbol that paints an image of pain and difficulty for the establishment of the church. Nothing more or nothing less and it?s that simple. Eve should be well understood through Pauline theology as the ?wife? and he actually tells us point blank that Genesis 2:24 is about Christ and the church (the wife).
Eph 5:31-32 ESV “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (32) This mystery is profound, and I AM SAYING THAT IT REFERS TO CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.
If Paul can understand Genesis symbolically can?t we also figure these things out? Why the fear of following Paul?s lead?



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Percival

posted July 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm


Is it possible that “the fall” can describe a condition and an event? The condition is reflected in our biology as well as our society. The event happens on a daily basis. I realize that this implies that there was not a time when this state of fallen-ness was not a human reality, but that does not mean it will always remain our lot, does it? I’m just beginning to think through these questions, but it would seem to be a good topic for future posts.



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Edward T. Babinski

posted July 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm


@SSC
Hi SSC!
I once sent a large packet of geological data regarding the Green River formation (millions of varves) to a YEC in Australia who read them and left behind the YEC view of Australia’s Answers in Genesis group, even after a letter from Dr. Sarfati denouncing me at as apostate.
I’m an exYEC with articles that question YECism online, just google
babinski flood geology
I also recently contributed a chapter titled, “The Cosmology of the Bible” to a new book, The Christian Delusion. You can probably read that chapter online at amazon.com via their “Look Inside” feature. The endnotes in myi chapter delve into typical YEC misinterpretations of biblical texts that they claim presage modern astronomy. I show that there are no hidden nuggets of modern astronomical wisdom in the Bible. The Bible’s flat earth assumptions are plain to see from Genesis to Revelation.



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