Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


The Ancient Science in the Bible

Ancient Science Diagram GIBERSON.jpg

Every Friday, “Science and the Sacred” features an essay
from a guest voice in the science and religion dialogue. This week’s
guest entry was written by Denis O. Lamoureux, author of the books Evolutionary Creation and I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution.

I am both an evangelical (born-again Christian) theologian and an evolutionary biologist. Stated another way, I love Jesus and I accept evolution. Of course, such a claim is not often heard in our churches. But if I am allowed only one argument to explain my views, it is this: the Bible is not a book of science, but a book to meet the Lord.

In fact, Holy Scripture features an ancient science of the structure, operation, and origin of the universe and life. The diagram presents the world as conceived by ancient Near Eastern peoples, including God’s chosen people, the Hebrews. It may come as a surprise to most Bible-reading Christians, but a 3-tier universe is found in the Word of God. A few of these ancient conceptions of the natural world include:

(1) The earth is flat. The word “earth” appears over 2500 times in the Old Testament (Hebrew: ‘eres) and 250 times in the New Testament (Greek: ge). Never once is this word referred to as spherical or round. Instead, the universe in the Scripture is compared to a tent with the earth as its floor (Ps 19:4, Ps 104:2, Is 40:22).

(2) A circumferential sea borders a circular earth. Proverbs 8:22-31 and Job 26:7-14 describe the creation of the world. The former states, “God inscribed a circle on the face of the deep” (v. 27); and the latter, “God has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters” (v. 10). The Bible also asserts that the earth is circular. Isaiah writes, “God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in” (Isa 40:22).

(3) The earth is immovable. The Bible records three times that “the world is firmly established; it cannot move” (1 Chr 16:30, Ps 93:1, Ps 96:10). The stability of the earth is understood to be like that of a building set on the solid foundations. The biblical writers frequently refer to this solid base as “the foundations of earth” (Job 38:4-6, Prov 8:29, Jer 31:37). For example, “God set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” (Ps 104:5).

(4) A solid domed structure, termed the “firmament,” holds up a body of water over the earth. Created on the second day of creation, the firmament separated the “waters above” from the “waters below” (Gen 1:6-8). Notably, this heavenly dome and body of water did not collapse during Noah’s Flood. As the psalms of King David’s day reveal, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims the work of His hands” (Ps 19:1); and God “stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of His upper chambers [i.e., God’s celestial temple] on their waters” (Ps 104:2-3).

(5) The sun moves across the sky. Created and placed in the firmament on the fourth day of creation (Gen 1:14-18), the daily movement of sun is found in King Solomon’s observation: “The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises” (Eccl 1:5). It also appears in the psalmist’s praise, “The sun rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other” (Ps 19:6).

Of course, many Christians are quick to point out that all of passages cited above are only “appearances” in nature. That is, these are phenomenological descriptions (Greek phainomenon: appearance). The earth “looks” flat, “seems” to be surrounded by water, and “feels” stationary; the sky gives the “impression” of being a blue body of water overhead; and the sun “appears” to cross the dome of the sky, rising and setting every day. However, to ancient peoples like the biblical authors and their readers, these are descriptions of the actual structure and operation of the universe. As history reveals, the notion that the earth was immovable and that the sun moved daily across the sky was part of astronomy up until the early 1600s. In fact, this was the issue of the Galileo controversy.

So what’s the bottom line? Don’t go to the Bible to find scientific facts; go to Scripture to meet Jesus. In the same way that the Lord personally meets each of us wherever we happen to be, the Holy Spirit came down to the level of the ancient biblical writers and employed their understanding of the physical world in order to communicate as effectively as possible life-changing spiritual truths. By using an ancient science in the Bible, God revealed the inerrant Message of Faith that He created the world, not how He created it.

For more on the ancient science in the Bible see:
Denis O. Lamoureux’s I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution (2009), pages 43-70, and his website: www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure

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Dan

posted August 21, 2009 at 8:39 am


Dr. Lamoureux,
Thank you for a great essay. I have told people that I believe I can make a much stronger case for the earth being flat and stationary from the Bible than I can for a young-earth creation without common descent. I hope many Christians will read your essay and see how much of modern science a person would have to reject to accept the Bible as intending to be a guide for science theory.
I will be referencing your essay in the future when I debate fellow Christians. Thanks!



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Your Name

posted August 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm


Thank you for this essay. I’ve made a similar, less coherent argument, to friends. This sums it up nicely. The Holy Scriptures are not meant as a science book, but as 2 Timothy 3:15 says, they “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Timothy goes on to say that the Scriptures are useful preparation “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Bible itself never advertises itself as a science textbook. It’s stated purpose is for instruction in (1) salvation and (2) Godly living.
Thanks for sharing the great essay.
John



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Dave

posted August 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm


Dan,
While I agree that the Bible is first and foremost a guide to salvation and Godly living (thanks, John) and not a science text, I also think that the Bible’s descriptions and explanations of the physical universe (as inspired by the Spirit) are accurate, one way or another.
When it comes to such descriptions:
1. are you proposing that the people who wrote the Bible were simply giving it their best shot and that Biblical explanations of creation are not accurate, or
2. are you proposing that though the Bible’s descriptions are strange or quaint to us in light of our scientific knowledge of the universe, they are accurate (if not on a level we understand)?
Thanks!



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Your Name

posted August 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm


“…many Christians are quick to point out that all of [the] passages cited above are only “appearances” in nature.”
To which I normally respond: “Yes – ancient science was based on how things naturally appeared to the naked eye! Without the ability to look deeper into the fabric of the cosmsos, appearences = reality.”
Of course, once you bring up the obvious fact that Moses’ description of the cycle of life (ie: animals reproducing “after their own kind”) was also phenomenological… well, now we’re in “literal” territory! Huh? How about a little consistency here?
It reminds me of Dr. Morris’ commentary on Genesis 1:16-17. Even though God only creates one firmament in verse 6, Dr. Morris simply assumes that there must have been two “expanses”: one below the heavenly waters for the birds to fly in, and one above the heavenly waters for the planets and stars. What? Isn’t this the same person who stronly condemns inserting extra-biblical time into the days of creation? How is it that he can invent extra-biblical firmaments whenever he wants?
Great essay!



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm


Sorry Denis, I didn’t intend for my comment above to be anonymous. Again, great post!
Gordon



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Mark Futato

posted August 21, 2009 at 6:08 pm


Nice concise article and nice graphic. I have two suggestions for making the graphic a bit more accurate. One, the “waters below” are not only the seas at the ends of the earth but they are also below the earth, which is why the earth needs a foundation: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Ps 24:1-2). Two, on the “waters above” the artist could add God’s house which, like the earth, is built on beams, because it is built on the “waters above”: “He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters” (Ps 104:2-3).



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Edward T. Babinski

posted August 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm


In fact there are a variety of “scientific creationisms,” each one attempting to explain away the verses focused on by the others, from flat-earth creationism to geocentric creationism to young and then old earth creationism to theistic evolution. See the attached article, “Varieties of Scientific Creationism.”
See also the article “Interpretations of Biblical Cosmology” at the same website.



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Beaglelady

posted August 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm


Dr. Lamoureux,
This was an great post that all Christians should read. I bought your book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution and I highly recommend it. It is a readable yet scholarly treasure trove of information about understanding Genesis and much more.
(btw, you should update your web site. It doesn’t even mention your latest books!!!!)



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Beaglelady

posted August 21, 2009 at 6:57 pm


Oops– meant to say “scholarly yet readable” instead of “readable yet scholarly”
(Wish we could edit posts!)



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anon

posted August 21, 2009 at 7:23 pm


Jesus studied in Egypt, so he would have know what a crock this article is.
What is lacking today is an understanding that not every culture is as stupid as the one saying all those before were even stupider than they are. Those doing this usually are propping up a belief system that required stupidity for adherence.



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Bill Rubink

posted August 21, 2009 at 11:13 pm


Be it known than the author, Denis Lamoreaux, is a dentist, not a biologist, and has no post graduate training in advanced biology, let alone evolutionary biology. To advertise himself as an evolutionary biologist is delusional. But what do we expect from another dentist theologian? Perhaps he should come to Texas and join the SBOE.



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Bill Rubink

posted August 21, 2009 at 11:39 pm


Lamoreaux’s Education from his published CV
1997 PhD University of Alberta
Oral Biology: Dental Development & Evolution
1991 PhD University of St. Michael’s College
Interdisciplinary Theology: Evangelicalism & Evolution
1987 MCS Regent College
Genesis 1-11
1987 MDiv Regent College & Carey Hall
Pastoral Ministry
1978 DDS University of Alberta
General Dentisty
1976 BSc University of Alberta
General Science (Biology)



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Paul Bruggink

posted August 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm


Bill,
Be it known that Denis Lamoureux has a BS in biology, a DDS, a MDiv in Pastoral Ministry, an MCS (Master of Christian Studies) in Genesis 1-11, a PhD in Interdisciplinary Theology: Evangelicalism & Evolution, and another PhD in Dental Development & Evolution (which means that he has done two PhD dissertations in the area of evolution). He currently serves as an Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta and probably hasn’t practiced dentistry in years. He is also a former Young Earth Creationist. With the possible exception of the Rev. Dr. Sir John Polkinghorne, he is as qualified as anyone to speak and write on science and the Bible, whether you happen to agree with him or not.



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Cliff Martin

posted August 22, 2009 at 9:30 am


Actually, it does not take advanced degrees in evolutionary biology to figure this out. Anyone familiar with Egyptian and Mesopotamian and other Ancient Near Eastern cosmologies will read Genesis 1 and immediately “get it”. In terms of the science of origin, Moses (and all other Biblical writers) thought exactly as his contemporaries, and wrote from that perspective. It is from within that perspective that he draws out an accurate and wonderful depiction of the person and character of the Creator. The message of early Genesis is about the knowable, provident God; sadly this message is often lost in the fervor over the science.
I was for 30 years a convinced Young Earth Creationist. There is so much evidence favoring evolution that I now consider it undeniable. There are a small, but rapidly growing number of “non-scientists” like myself who accept the evolutionary account. But if you were to survey Bible-believing advanced degree biologists, you would find the percentage of them who accept evolution overwhelming. Francis Collins tells us that it is nearly all of them. And no, they are not all dentists!



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Elijah A. "NatureBoy" Alexander, Jr.

posted August 22, 2009 at 9:44 am


In being a “Christian Atheist” because Isaiah 7:16 indicates Yeshua ha’meshiach (Jesus the christ) had to forsake the concept of god and devil in order to choose nature over civilization, I disagree in principle with what is said.
I see all scriptures, not only the Bible, as a pre-scientific explanation of existence. The Bible, especially, indicates a never ending set of cycles but the writers saw existence {meaning having no beginning nor end} being made rather than being eternal. Their reasoning was since they make the things without life they are dependent on, the things with life would require a maker also. Thus, they were describing existence in the pre-scientific language of their day. That is why Romans 1:8 suggests everything will be recognizable in the last days when science reveals the way “made” things are.
Man’s problem is we are still segregating in our explanation rather than integrating the different concepts. We see good and evil, right and wrong because our approach was not the one someone else used. It is in being abstract {having no physical means of determining the validity of} judges we blind ourselves from similarities to see the actuality of existence.



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted August 22, 2009 at 10:34 am


Hello Bill Rubink
On August 21, 2009 11:13 PM you wrote:
“Be it known than the author, Denis Lamoreaux, [sic] is a dentist, not a biologist, and has no post graduate training in advanced biology, let alone evolutionary biology. To advertise himself as an evolutionary biologist is delusional. But what do we expect from another dentist theologian? Perhaps he should come to Texas and join the SBOE.”
For your information, Sir:
I have a PhD in biology—-dental development and evolution of teeth and jaws (some of the best evolutionary evidence). Did it during the early 1990s when evolutionary developmental biology was being crystallized. It was evo-devo that converted me to embrace evolution.
Though my academic focus today is on the relationship between science and religion, I remain active in evolutionary science. Currently, I am in the lab of paleontologist Dr. Michael Caldwell, the Chair of Biology at the University of Alberta and known internationally for his 1997 Nature paper on the snake with legs (Pachyrachis).
Here’s the provisional abstract of our work:
A HISTOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE REPLACEMENT, IMPLANTATION, AND ATTACHMENT OF TEETH IN ICHTHYOSAURS
CALDWELL, Michael W., Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, CANADA.
MAXWELL, Erin E., Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, CANADA.
LAMOUREUX, Denis O., St Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, Edmonton, CANADA.
The tradition has long held that most post-Triassic ichthyosaurs show an aulacodont form of tooth implantation; in other words the teeth sit loosely in a dental groove without hard tissue attachment to the pleurae of the tooth-bearing elements. Our examination of the gross morphology of ichthyosaur teeth, their attachment, implantation and replacement, indicates a great deal of variation not reported in the literature. In order to further investigate ichthyosaur tooth attachment, we undertook a histological study of the tooth-bearing elements of several post-Triassic ichthyosaurs (Ichthyosaurus communis, Maiaspondylus lindoei, Platypterygius longmani) and present here the results of our investigations. We recognize the presence of typical vertebrate dental attachment tissues including alveolar bone (adhering to the pleurae of the tooth-bearing element), osteocementum (forming the massive bony base around the root dentine), root osteodentine (forming a labyrinthine or plicidentinous fabric within the osteocementum bundle), osteodentine in the crown, and infolded enamel (forming the crown). We have not been able to identify any Sharpey’s Fiber scarring within the osteocementum or alveolar bone and thus cannot conclude the presence of a calcified portion of the periodontal ligament. However, considering that both alveolar bone and osteocementum are present, and that there is a significant space between the two tissues as preserved, we suggest that the periodontal ligament was present as uncalcified collagen fibers. An important observation, suggesting unsuspected aspects of growth and replacement in the ichthyosaur dentition, concerns the deposition and growth osteocemetum into the pulp cavity of the tooth crown; previous studies have discussed the “reduction” of the pulp cavity in ichthyosaurs – we suggest that this reduction is an artefact of hypertrophic growth of osetocementum and not a real reduction of the size of the pulp cavity by hypertrophic dentine growth as is observed in other vertebrates possessing plicidentine.
Mr Rubink , if you are interested in straightening us out on any aspect of our abstract, plse do so.
Regards,
Denis



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Martin Miranda-Cordero

posted August 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm


To Mr. Bill Rubink: To discredit someone that has done research on the basis of a supposed lack of a tittle is a proof of ignorance and makes a poor argument. God gave wisdom and knowledge to many people in the past that were not professionally educated for the task. He gave those to the first engineer, the first carpenter, the first plumber, the first brick mason, etc. We human beings can use the great power of observation to reach conclusions that professionally trained people overlook. Please show some respect and keep an open mind. Next time choose a better argument not base on your ignorance of the subject. If you have information to rebate the author’s viewpoint, then show those arguments, not the supposed lack of a tittle, which has been shown the author has it.



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Arthur

posted August 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm


Why Denis, do you consider these minor permutations in tooth formation of ichthyosaurs as hard scientific evidence that all Creatures, extant and extinct, share a common ancestry with some initial progenote, a progenote that presumed by evolutionists to have come into existence via abiogenesis, each of which are all part of the package sold to young minds as fact by the pro-evolution cabal that dominates our science and education systems. I too love science and I hate evolution because its’ evidences for selling it to students and the public are so far from being based upon ‘hard science’.
Perhaps you know something I do not know. Perhaps you are aware of new classes of proteins introduced to the ichthyosaurs genetic code by mutations to the DNA code that produced these variations whom you spoke. If so, congratulations, the Nobel Prize will be soon granted to you or whoever it was made this 1st time ever discovery. If that is not what happened, then your observation at all, but rather, mere expressions of their existing genetic code.
But what was it really. Was it a change in diet or ecology that triggered existing recessive genes to become dominant, After all, a change in diet among horses can cause teeth variation, e.g. The presence of certain proteins in the diet can trigger the transformation of horse molars from cutting type to grazing type in offspring. Zero evolution.
Evolutionists have sold the idea that Eohippus, Orohippus, and Eohippus are 3 different species of horse. The biggest difference between them is molar in lieu of a pre-molar. They are not only the same species, but they are also known, by scientists in the know, they are known to NOT BE ancestral to the horse. The rest of the Horse family are merely radiations of existing genes of the horse type adaption varying ecologies.
My long search for the scientific evidence of Evolution (I use to be an evolutionist) has failed to turn up any evidence what-so-ever when held to the scrutiny of Hard Science as all actual Hard Sciences are. Physicists in general have a hard time accepting evolution as taught today because, as proposed, it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
And what about the fossil record? It does not look like Evolution at all. Each major body type appears suddenly in the fossil record, remains unchanged for their duration in the fossil record, and either their unchanging body plan became extinct or are alive today. All radiations of a type are merely expreesions of the very diverse traits inherent in their DNA. The fossil record looks exactly like God made each type of creature according to its’ kind. Paleontologists use to fake it by giving differing names to the same species when found in out-of-sequence geolologic layers.



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Arthur

posted August 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm


BTW, Denis, You may be interested Jack Cuozzo’s book, ‘Buried Alive’. His specialty is teeth and he has done remarkable work on clarifying the information concerning Neanderthal Teeth, and what they reveal about them.
With regard to the heavens, Job writes that the Earth hangs on nothing. The circle of the Earth to me is the one that the sun makes when signing on it. And when scritpure declares that the earth is round, I take that to mean it is round like a ball. I could go on, but my point is you can not let ancient beliefs determine what Scripture actually means, everyone will adapt what they read to their own limited perceptions. The scientific method helps understand the mysteries all around us, and God seems to have set it up so that we can observe all His Creation and unravel its’ mysteries, both Macro and Micro. It’s a sin when humans try to shove their pet dogmas down our throat, be it religious or their pet science beliefs such as evolution.
I believe the Bible to be God breathed and of great importance to all humankind. It is unlike any other book ever written. Perhaps we share this view.



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Martin Miranda-Cordero

posted August 22, 2009 at 7:53 pm


Although you quote Isaiah 40:22 you missed to mention that the verse indicates the shape of the earth: a circle, from the Hebrew “chuwg.” “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…”
The Bible, even though was influenced by the believe of some of its writers, has valid scientific data that was not validated for centuries, making it to be far ahead of its time. For exmaple, it mentions the rain cycle in Job 36:27: “He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams.” It talks about the movement of the winds and their influence int the weather in Job 37:9: “Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north.” The Bible has many valid scientific pieces of information that are worth digging. It also talks about the best ways to take care of our bodies. It shows that the original factory diet was vegetarian, that it is not good to consume alcohol and that consuming too much sweet stuff is not good:
Genesis 1:29; 3:18
Proverbs 23:31 “Look not thou upon the wine”
Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat too much honey.”
Many read the Scriptures with a critical and skeptical eye because they do not know either how accurate its scientific declarations and prophecies are. Only a book inspired by a real God can make the claim to open the curtain to the future. Studying the prophecies with an open mind will help you have faith on an instant creation. Too bad many also believe in evolution and not on a God that speaks and things are created instantly. I just wish I had the time to talk face to face. I can not get how a Christian can believe in the ignorant idea of evolution. It is an oxymoron. Well, I have to admit here that I belief in the big bang theory: God spoke and bang! It happened.



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Arthur

posted August 22, 2009 at 7:54 pm


I do not mean to go on and on, but I just want to add that I believe you when you say you are a Christian, and I welcome you as a brother in our shared faith.



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Arthur

posted August 22, 2009 at 8:18 pm


Good points Martin Miranda-Cordero!
The Book of Job, the oldest Biblical book, has many accurate scientific statements that was far far ahead of its’ time period. The Mosaic Law listed many health and eating codes that are also far advanced than the practices of the surrounding peoples of Moses’s day.
We know that Adam and Eve had children. Jewish ancient writings state they had 53 children. In order to have offspring, they engaged in incest, brothers with sisters, and it was not sin. Even Abraham married had his half sister as his wife. It is my belief that one main reason incest is banned under the Mosaic Law was due to mutations *e.g. copy errors) were accumulating in our human genetic code and inbreeding assists in fixing the resulting genetic defects into the inbreeding community.
The wisdom of the Bible far exceeds the wisdom of the eras each book was written in.



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Wolffe

posted August 23, 2009 at 1:33 am


Some food for thought…
If a Christian truly believes that life came from non-life or if a Christian truly believes that the earth is billions of years old (according to evolutionists)… then we, as “born-again” Christians are bordering on heresy because Jesus himself said in Matthew 19:4 “… Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female” in which He clearly states that man was created at the beginning.
In order to believe that man was created “billions” of years later, one must believe in death before sin which also borders on heresy because according to Romans 5:12 which states, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men”. When exactly did death occur? Before and after Adam’s sin?
I agree that the bible is not a science text book and thank God, because ALL science text books continuously change, but the Word of God NEVER changes. However, whatever the bible touches on, beit scientific foreknowledge for example, it has always been and will remain always the authority.



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Charles Pugh

posted August 23, 2009 at 6:56 am


As one who has ministered on the college campus and in the community where the modern Creation movement was hatched, I still find it incredulous that so many highly educated and intellectual people give up consistency and much more to appease Academia or worse, salve their conscience.
Language allows for symbolic usage and in fact the context sometimes demands it. A book that transcends cultures and time must needs also utilize the freedoms of language. However, if we fail to seek to take a normal, historical/grammatical approach to Scripture (i.e. “literal”) unless otherwise indicated through context, we lose both the baby and the bath water.
When you go down that slippery slope, you can pick and choose what you want to believe through your own hermeneutic comfort. You have no right/authority to then say you believe in a literal Jesus who is the GOD/MAN and Who conquered death through His Resurrection. You can simply explain away what you find scientifically unpalatable.



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Charles Pugh

posted August 23, 2009 at 7:21 am


P.S. You might also wish to reference some articles on my website (www.vtlessonstolearn.com), such as “Intelligence and Ignorance” at: http://www.vtlessonstolearn.com/node/38



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm


“Physicists in general have a hard time accepting evolution as taught today because, as proposed, it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.”
Excuse me? Physicists overwhelming ACCEPT evolution. If you claim they do not in any appreciable numbers, you’ll need to cite a study for that. And this nonsense about evolution violating the 2nd law has been explained over and over again.
There are several lines of reasoning that can be used to challenge evolution — but not this one. Only one who is ignorant of both physics and biology would state such a thing.
“And what about the fossil record? It does not look like Evolution at all. Each major body type appears suddenly in the fossil record, remains unchanged for their duration in the fossil record, and either their unchanging body plan became extinct or are alive today.”
Even if this statement were true (which it is not — see marine invertebrates and microfossils), where does that leave us? With a God who runs a 3.8 billion year biological R&D program? A God who creates different groups of living things every few million years — 99.9% of which were not “intelligently designed” enough to survive? And all of this so he could make a pair of humans from scratch, complete with thousands of pseudogenes buried in their genetic code (many of which we share with our other primates)?
No thanks — I’ll take a creator who got it right the first time! Who gifted the universe with the requisite properties of self-organization. A unvierse capable of generating complex biological structures worthy of having a relationship with their Creator.



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Ken Nahigian

posted August 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm


Comment to Wolffe, food for more thought:
“Jesus himself said in Matthew 19:4 ‘… Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female’ in which He clearly states that man was created at the beginning.”
Jesus clearly states nothing of the sort! Please re-read the passage in its context. He simply asked the Pharisees if they had read the ancient tale; in other words, referred to a “Just-So” story to make (illustrate) a moral and theological point. That is not like saying the legend was literally.
In the same way, you might say “Haven’t you heard about the boy who cried wolf?”, in order to convince a child not to pull the fire alarm. But that doesn’t mean the fable actually happened.



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Callee

posted August 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm


Charles,
You write:
“However, if we fail to seek to take a normal,historical/grammatical approach to Scripture (i.e. “literal”) unless otherwise indicated through context, we lose both the baby and the bath water.”
Lamoureux’s post is indicating, through revealing the ancient Near East context, that we should not get our conception of the physical world (here our geology, our astronomy) through Scripture. Unless you do actually believe that the earth is flat and immovable with a circumferential sea and a firmament over top?!! There is ancient understanding of geology and astronomy in the Bible, which is OK, because God came down (accommodated) to the ancient Hebrews—he met them where they were at, i.e., using their science-of-the-day—to reveal foundational spiritual truth that God created and sustains the world.
Going further, Lamoureux shows that there is evidence from the Bible itself against getting our science from the Bible. Re: Genesis 1-3, he writes “A close examination of these opening chapters reveals conflicts and contradictions in the order of the creative events. For example, light appears before the creation of the sun in Gen 1; birds are created before the male and female humans in Gen 1, but after the man and before the woman in Gen 2. Instead of viewing these Biblical facts as a threat to our faith, these features in the Word of God are subtle signposts pointing us away from the assumption that Gen 1-3 is a historical record of actual events in the origin of the universe and life.” (p.86, I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution).
Yes, let’s use the intelligence that God has given us. When we look at context, we see that God accommodated to the level of the ancient Hebrews (by using science-of-the-day or literary techniques-of-the-day) to reveal Himself, His Will, life changing Messages of Faith!! We need to think about separating these theological truths from the incidental ancient vessels they are delivered in.



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g

posted August 23, 2009 at 10:05 pm


WWJD What would Jesus Draw?
If Jesus were asked to draw a represention of the Earth/Heaven etc. What would he draw?
The picture as drawn at the beginning of this article? Would he draw a picture representing the Cosmos as we know it>/
If he drew the one represented here..then what would that mean?



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eddie fowler

posted August 24, 2009 at 8:06 am


There are only five basic disciplines of science. They are: time, force, action, space & matter; there is no more. Isn’t it ironic GOD chose to include them in the 1st book,1st chapter,1st verse of His Word? “In the begging(time) GOD(force) created(action) the heavens(space) and the earth(matter). Later in the sequence of creation we find the word “day”;coming from the Hebrew “yom”;Meaning sun up to sun down- a literal 24 hr. day.



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David G. French

posted August 24, 2009 at 8:17 am


I found your comments both refreshing and repulsive.
1) Refreshing: Often people of deep trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and committment to His Lordship, kiss their intellect good-bye thinking that to deviate from the church’s standard interpretation of our world is equal to rejecting Jesus as a means to knowing God and ultimate truth. There is no conflict between the bible’s explanation of creation and science’s theories of evolution. The conflict is between the biases of both poles of thought. So I breathed deeply from the refreshing thoughts expressed.
2) Repulsive: The verses sighted have very little to do with verifying that the author of the bible (the Holy Spirit) led those composing Scripture to give explanation of creation reflecting ancient mythological or superstition. It is your spin that brings up the idea that He thought the world was flat or the middle of a sea.
I believe those statements are limited for one reason, they are simple truth. The fact that the bible does not try to give details of God creation is validation that the bible is true. For example, the various “days” or “stages” of creation are remarkably compariable to science’s limited understanding of evolution. Why? Because both are true, there is no conflict. Your statements are repulsive not because of a lack of sincerity on your part but because they call out for relegating the Bible to be a “religious” book rather than a book of truth that rarely attempts to deal with science.



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Elijah A. "NatureBoy" Alexander, Jr.

posted August 24, 2009 at 8:30 am


Mark Futato,
There is another interpretation to the 2 waters. The day 2 waters where the firmament separated them, if we see 2 civilizations in a cycle to the Bible, represent people. Even the light and dark of day 1, in a cycle, would represent people. Here is how I would say it.
The dark civilization (Revelation 21) without sun, birth, death and the opposites we know today, would have people to be redeemed a the end of it. Since light is the absence of all color it would represent ignorance; with dark being the presence of all colors it would represent wisdom, so the wise and foolish were segregated on day 1. On day 2 the wise were raptured which is the firmament. Thus, day three’s separating of waters to produce land would be the sinking of Atlantis or loosing the crust from over the waters leaving only the land.
There is another way of looking at the Bible’s revelation since everything science has found operates in cycles.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 24, 2009 at 9:18 am


“…the various “days” or “stages” of creation are remarkably compariable to science’s limited understanding of evolution.”
If you read the Genesis creation acount at face value, then compare it first to (1) a modern western view of origins and then to (2) an ancient near-eastern view of origins — the biblical narrative will have much more in common with the ANE account, and little (if anything) in common with the modern western account.
This point is so obvious that one would have to – as you put it – “kiss their intellect good-bye” to deny it.



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted August 24, 2009 at 10:53 am


Hi,
There were a couple good questions above regarding the “circle of the earth” and the earth being “suspended over nothing.” Below is an excursus from my book I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution (pp. 63-64) that deals with this topic.
Hope it helps,
Denis
Excursus: Scientific Concordism in Isaiah 40 and Job 26?
Two popular verses that Christians often use to “prove” that modern science appears in the Bible are Isa 40:22 and Job 26:7. The former is presented simply as, “God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth;” and the latter, “God spreads out the northern skies over empty space, and suspends the earth over nothing.” Read through a twenty-first century scientific mindset, Isa 40 could be seen as depicting the outline of planet earth from outer space, and Job 26 as referring to it being suspended by gravitational forces. If these are correct interpretations, then modern science was placed in Scripture well before scientists discovered these facts of nature. Scientific concordists argue that only a God who transcends time could have revealed such information ahead of time, and consequently, this is solid evidence that the Bible is divinely inspired.
However, these two examples are classic biblical proof texts. They are ripped out of context and then manipulated by reading into them (eisegesis) notions that were never intended by the human author or the Holy Spirit. As noted earlier, Isa 40:22 in its entirety reads, “God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” Clearly, this verse reflects a 3-tiered universe. The cosmos is compared to a tent, with a domed canopy above and a flat floor below. This is an analogy that is used in Scripture to describe the structure of the world (Pss 19:4–5, 104:2–3). Moreover, the ancient science in Isa 40:22 is consistent with other passages in this biblical book. Isaiah asserts that at the judgment “the sky will be rolled up like a scroll” and “all the starry host will fall” to earth (34:4). He also claims that God is “the Creator of the ends of the earth” (40:28) and that He took Abraham “from the ends of the earth, from its remotest parts” (41:9). Thus, Isa 40:22 must be interpreted in its context and in light of ancient science. The circle of the earth refers to the circumferential shore of a flat circular earth.
The scientific concordist interpretation of Job 26:7 also tears this verse out of the context of its chapter and book. Ancient astronomy is clearly seen a few verses later with “The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at God’s rebuke” (26:11). Belief that the heavens had foundations makes sense because the inspired author accepted the reality of the firmament, as seen in the question, “Can you join God in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” (37:18). The location of the divine dwelling in the 3-tier universe is reflected in another question, “Who can understand how He thunders from His pavilion?” (36:29). In other words, the Lord lives just overhead in a place where the rumble of thunder arises. The book of Job also features ancient geology. “God unleashes His lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth” (37:3), “He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble” (9:6), and He asks, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (38:4). In addition, the Hebrew word tālāh, which is translated as “suspends” in Job 26:7, appears in the context of hanging up an object, like a utensil on a peg (Isa 22:24), weapons on a wall (Ezek 27:10), or a lyre on a tree (Ps 137:2). Job 26:7 does not refer to hovering in empty space; it simply states that the earth is not hung from anything in the universe.
The scientific concordist interpretations of Isa 40:22 and Job 26:7 are proof texts. Regrettably, many Christians rip these verses out of Scripture and their ancient scientific context, and then conflate them with modern scientific ideas. The popular concordist understandings of the circle of the earth and the suspension of the earth over nothing are unbiblical.



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g

posted August 24, 2009 at 11:41 am


Just curious.
It appears to me that on this board, as well as other boards, the debate about the ‘Bible’ being literal or figurative with regard to creation seems always to revolve around ‘evolution’.
What about other scientific disciplines, say astronomy, which tells us that many of the metals present on Earth ,gold, lead, etc. could have only come from the remnants of stars that had ended their cycle in a nova/super nova.
This idea suggest very strongly that the Earth isn’t/wasn’t the first kid on the cosmological block. By the accounts of what I have read, the Earth was formed by the slow accretion of space debris which included matter thrown off by dead and dying stars. Thus Earth has the presence of certain metals that would not otherwise exist here.
So clearly, the Earth is a later arrival to the cosmos and not ‘in the beginning’.
Another question I have is, if the Earth were created instantaneously, what would the physics of that creation look like?
Imagine, all the material needed to form the Earth suddenly accretes…what would the energy release be of the collisions?? How could matter stay stable with that much energy released in such a short time..wouldn’t the energy released create an astronomical temperature that if matter even stayed in a solid state it would take eons to cool??
I am not a scientist nor have I studied anything in terms of the classroom for many years so these questions may be irrelevant. But I am searching for faith and am also very connected thinking and rational thought.
My preference would be to close my eyes and ears to science and ‘just believe’ it would reduce the stress level.
But now I am faced with finding faith using the ‘Bible’ that I was taught had all the answers, but then what appear to be glaring innaccuracies. So I find myself drawn to sites like these hoping to find a balance in the dialogue.
So far, to little avail. I must admit I tend to keep finding Science trumping what i call Religion based science. Religin based science to me is science that seems to be pursued in order find evidence to maintain certain religious beliefs.
So far, nothing as convincing as I would like.



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Miles Davis

posted August 24, 2009 at 2:21 pm


That goofy chart is what happens when someone tries to over-literalize the bible within a modern scientific discussion. It’s what happens when you attempt to mix genres or different disciplines of knowledge together when they should remain separate.
The Hebrews did not have any “description of the actual structure and operation of the universe.” Moreover, the Hebrews were a very poetic people, and they used observed phenomena as their imagery—and with beautiful, dramatic, breath-taking results.
To imagine that the Hebrews had a detailed cosmology is totally anachronistic. It’s a product of modern thinking invalidly imposed back upon a pre-scientific people. It’s a wrong-headed move.
C’mon Denis O. Lamoureux, you’re making me feel like I’m in the Creationist Museum all over again. Stop the insanity.



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted August 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm


Dear Miles, A few comments:
(1) “That goofy chart” is commonly found in the professional Old Testament literature/commentaries.
(2) You are right that Hebrew literature is stylized/poetic (eg parallel panels, chiasms, word play, etc), but reducing Genesis to purge it of its scientific/historical content and intent is an EISEGETICAL imposition on your part of your ASSUMED literary categories. Ironically, you commit the very error you charge me with. Again, get up to speed with the professional literature. Kent Sparks would be a good intro for someone like you.
(3) And if you can find a 3-tier universe diagram in a Creation Museum, it will be a first.
Regards,
Denis



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Miles Davis

posted August 24, 2009 at 6:06 pm


Denis O. Lamoreux,
Professional OT commentaries are modern thought, not ancient thought. You will find neither a chart nor even a discussion of its contents among the ancient rabbis. It’s simply not part of any known Jewish teaching tradition.
Instead, the chart and its contents are an absurd modern attempt to literalize Hebrew poetic flourishes and see what might come of it when they are combined together into a neat graphic. It’s idiotic, and the ancient Hebrew authors wouldn’t begin to recognize it. They didn’t have any such cosmology, nor did they ever make any attempts at a cosmology. The ancient Hebrews were not in any way scientifically minded, nor were they systematic in trying to “discover and dissect the cosmos.” In such matters, they simply spoke poetically and phenomenologically.
To now sit here and have you say, “Here is their cosmology” is just plain dumb. Sorry. Someone has to call you on it.



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted August 24, 2009 at 6:42 pm


Dear Miles,
Such brimming confidence! You state:
“You will find neither a chart nor even a discussion of its contents among the ancient rabbis. It’s simply not part of any known Jewish teaching tradition.”
Really?
Please check:
First Book of Enoch. The Astronomical Book (§72-82): a treatise from the third century BCE on meteorology, astronomy and the calendar.
Also check:
Book of Watchers (§22): Sheol or the Underworld.
Cordially,
Denis



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Paul Seely

posted August 24, 2009 at 7:00 pm


To the one who said, “So I find myself drawn to sites like these hoping to find a balance in the dialogue.”
You are correct that science makes it very doubtful that the earth was the first kid on the block.And this scientific scenario contrasts with the account in Genesis 1, which begins with the earth covered by a primeval Deep ocean (Gen 1:2). This is one of those many places where the biblical account lines up with ANE cosmology: The major creation accounts in both Egypt and Mesopotamia begin with a primeval ocean.
You were apparently bought up with the popular a priori idea that when God inspired Scripture he had just three choices: lie, make a mistake, or tell the absolute truth (about science/history as well as about faith and morals).
To give you a better approach. Here is an actual event taken from a book about Bible transloators: a Bible translator went to a tribe in New Guinea whose economy and social system depended upon and revolved around the raising of pigs. They knew nothing of sheep. In order to communicate the message of Scripture to these people, he translated John 1:29b, “Behold, the Pig of God, that takes away the sin of the world.”
Since this verse is very simple Greek, and there is no linguistic basis whatsoever for translating the Greek text “Pig” instead of “Lamb,” we can be sure that even though it is not the absolute truth about what the text says, it was also neither a lie nor a mistake. The point is that God, like the missionary had a fourth option: Phrase the word of God in terms of the cultural background of the readers/hearers. Missionaries call this contextualization. Or it could be called accommodation. In any case it is a perfectly moral and wise option which God had when inspiring Scripture, and the evidence indicates that he employed this option.



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Paul Seely

posted August 24, 2009 at 8:17 pm


To add to Dr. Lamoureux’s citations of Jewish literature discussing the literal cosmology he has set forth in his diagram, I add from my paper, “The firmament and the water above, Part I: The Meaning of raqia’ in Gen 1:6-8,” Westminster Theological Journal 53 (1991) 227-240 [http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/01-Genesis/Text/Articles-Books/Seely-Firmament-WTJ.pdf];
“Jews speculated as to what material the firmament was made of: clay or copper or iron (3 Apoc. Bar. 3.7). They differentiated between the firmament and the empty space or air between it and the earth (Gen. Rab. 4.3.a; 2 Apoc. Bar. 21.4). They tried to figure out how thick it was by employing biblical interpretation (Gen. Rab. 4.5.2). Most tellingly they even tried to calculate scientifically the thickness of the firmament (Pesah£. 49a).”
Also from my paper, “The firmament and the water above, Part II: The Meaning of ‘The Water above the Firmament’ in Gen 1:6-8,” Westminster Theological Journal 54 (1992) 31-46 [without endnotes at http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/seelypt2.pdf
“Jews speculated as to what material the firmament was made of: clay or copper or iron (3 Apoc. Bar. 3.7). They differentiated between the firmament and the empty space or air between it and the earth (Gen. Rab. 4.3.a; 2 Apoc. Bar. 21.4). They tried to figure out how thick it was by employing biblical interpretation (Gen. Rab. 4.5.2). Most tellingly they even tried to calculate scientifically the thickness of the firmament (Pesach. 49a).
In Genesis Rabbah the rabbis discussed the water above the firmament, clearly indicating that they understood it to be a body of water (4.5.2 E) above a solid firmament (4.5.2 A-D). Clouds, on the other hand, were below the firmament and rose up to it in order to be filled with water from the water above the firmament (b. Ta’an 1.9b). This concept of a solid firmament with a body of water above it is also set forth in b. Sanh 109a where the builders of the tower of Babel are described as trying to “ascend to heaven, and cleave it with axes so that its waters might gush forth.”
The fact is, pre-scientific peoples all over the world have believed in a cosmology with a literally solid sky dome over a flat earth; and (if they were near a large body of water), surrounded by an ocean. See my paper on the firmament Part I, especially pp. 228-29 for clear evidence that this cosmology was literal.



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Miles Davis

posted August 24, 2009 at 10:39 pm


You’re suggesting that Enoch is some consensus of ancient Jewish cosmological thought?



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Charles Pugh

posted August 25, 2009 at 1:38 am


Callee, et al,
Interesting that the discussion has come more to the starting point. This is crucial. If you start with man’s views in whatever culture at whatever time you will find variance and even contradictions. When you start with the Bible, you will see a development of God’s story within humanity and how HE relates to man, but you have an unchanging GOD with Truth communicated and only alleged contradiction.
The statements of Scripture in their totality and textual context (not human context, which is subjective) must be the starting point for ANY search for knowledge. Otherwise, we will be lost in a sea of opinion with some boats bigger or even more secure than others (c.f. TRUTH and Consequences: http://www.vtlessonstolearn.com/node/114).
The Bible is not a book on the particulars of geology or astronomy, but it is an inspired historical record that can be trusted in whatever area to which it speaks. Not every person speaking as recorded in the Bible is speaking directly for GOD, yet it all is recorded for our learning. There are multiple examples of Scriptural statements related to the physical Universe and obviously said to be from the LORD Himself (many even from Jesus Christ Himself). These are what many scientists and those espousing Darwinian evolution explain away from their human starting points and the formula of evolutionary belief of time and chance=matter/reality.
Callee, GOD does meet us where we are, but does not leave us where we are nor does HE want us to understand Him from man as the starting point, with his limited understanding and knowledge of the Universe.
Science is about observing in the natural world. The Bible deals with the natural world and the unseen spiritual world. It also explains multiple examples of GOD working supernaturally (more often what I call meta-naturally) in His Creation.
Genesis 1-3ff is an actual historical record. Genesis 1 and 2 clearly differ in purpose of emphasis and thus should not be seen as parallel Creation accounts. Chapter 2:4 begins the account which looks back at the particulars within the Creation week. They do not contradict (unless you fail to understand the various ways we all use language and insist on a completely linear approach). There is a light/energy apart from the sun and seeing Gen. 2:19 summarily, rather than as a consecutive order as alleged, is more in line with what chapter 2 is clearly purposing to teach.
Dr. Lamourex, could you explain whether or not you believe in the Virgin Birth and on what scientific basis? What about the miracles of Jesus Christ? What about His resurrection? If you accept the miracles there, then why do you not accept the miracles of Creation, if they happen to contradict the current thinking of men?
The theories of men (e.g. “Gap theory,” “Progressive Creation,” “Theistic Evolution,” “Punctuated Equilibrium,” etc.) are attempts to accommodate the natural with the supernatural. The two coexist, yet are opposite according to our common definition.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm


Charles, I understand where you are coming from and can appreciate the simplicity of your approach. Sola Scriptura! But here is the problem: there is this anoying thing called data that we collect by making observations of the natural world. When none of this data makes sense in terms of a literal application of Genesis, we have no choice but to return to the text and re-examine our traditional presuppositions. Of course, many would stop right there and say our entire faith is bogus. And others would have you believe that these data do not exist, or that they would confirm the literal truth of Scripture if properly interpreted. But these are false choices.
Consider this: the amount of deception that would have been required for God to fabricate the entire cosmos according to Genesis, and give it the false appearence of graducal development over billions of years goes far beyond Adam and Eve having belly buttons, or the trees of the Garden having rings, etc…
One would basically have to conceed that God planted loads of data that were completely extraneous. Data that serve no other purpose but to cast doubt the Bible and traditional theology. Does that sound like something God would do? And we’re not just talking about fossils and distant starlight, but several independant lines of hard evidence from multiple scientific disciplines that all converge neatly onto the same scenario of natural history. A scenario that looks nothing like what a literal reading of Genesis suggests.
Again, I appreciate the position of “God said it, therefore I believe it” — but if that were a practical hermeneutic, we’d still belive the earth rests firmly at the center of the cosmos!



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Beaglelady

posted August 25, 2009 at 3:35 pm


Gordon Glover:
Great posts, and I’m so glad you are here. You are more patient with explanations than I could ever be. I also wanted to mention that I found your video series Science and Christian Education on YouTube, enjoyed it very much, and so I bought your book. The book was really good too. Please continue to post on this blog.
Everyone else: Gordon’s 16-part video series may be found here.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 25, 2009 at 6:27 pm


Denis,
You claim that the Bible isn’t about science (the physical world), but about a relationship with Christ (the spiritual world) and argue that it can’t be about the physical world because Scripture endorses the errant 3-tier view of “ancient science.” However, even if the language of the Bible might reflect this errant view, it doesn’t follow that its theology endorses this errant system. Although we talk about the “sun rising,” this doesn’t mean that we believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Rather, we often speak in terms of appearance—something that facilitates comprehension. We also speak poetically. Therefore, the question becomes, “Does Scripture merely borrow the language of ancient science or does it also ascribe to its worldview?”
In order to prove the point that Scripture ascribes to this worldview, you cite examples of the correspondence between Scripture and “ancient science”:
“The earth is immovable. The Bible records three times that “the world is firmly established; it cannot move” (1 Chr 16:30, Ps 93:1, Ps 96:10). The stability of the earth is understood to be like that of a building set on the solid foundations. The biblical writers frequently refer to this solid base as “the foundations of earth” (Job 38:4-6, Prov 8:29, Jer 31:37). For example, “God set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” (Ps 104:5).”
Although you wish to prove that the Bible is also errant in affirming that “the earth is immovable,” the verses you cite in support fail to prove your point. Rather than teaching that the earth can’t physically move from one position to another, in all three verses, the phrase “cannot be moved” is in parallel with the world as firmly “established!” This means that the earth will persist, by the grace of God.
Proving this is not difficult. There are numerous verses that also describe how the righteous shall never be moved (Psalm 15:5; 30:6; 112:6; Proverbs 10:30). This doesn’t mean that they are fixed in one spot and can’t move. Instead, it means that they shall persist, protected by our Lord.
You use the final set of verses to prove that the earth is resting upon a solid foundation and that this pedestal renders the earth motionless. Instead, “foundations of earth” should be understood as that which forms the core or supports the things of earth. For one thing, if the earth were resting on a pedestal, the references to “foundations” (“mosad”) would not be in the plural, suggesting many foundations. More importantly, “foundations” are part of the earth itself, rather than something upon which the earth rests (Deut. 32.22; 2 Sam 22:16; Psalm 18:7, 15. Even the “heavens” have their foundations (2 Sam 22:8). Certainly, this does not suggest that the heavens also are resting upon an unmovable foundation!
Although you are correct to point out that Scripture refers to God as dwelling in heaven (in accordance with your “ancient science” model), this clearly doesn’t prove that Scripture agrees with this model. This is merely another example of Scripture using the popular language of the day. Instead, Scripture portrays God as omnipresent, as a God who cannot be contained by the heavens:
1 Kings 8:27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
In summary, Scripture might borrow the language of the surrounding world, but not its ideas. You have disparaged the Bible by limiting it to spiritual matters. Furthermore, it’s theologically untenable to maintain your distinction between physical and spiritual things. Although you affirm that God created the world, you demure at the idea that the Bible tells us how. If the latter is “science,” then the former is also science.
Many similarly say that the Bible is not a history textbook but a vehicle to encounter God. However, such a distinction can’t be maintained. Clearly, there can be no cleavage between what historically happened on the Cross and the theology of the Cross. Likewise, there can be no cleavage between God creating the world “very good” without death and the theology of the Fall and Redemption. To undermine one is to undermine what has been built upon it. It is an offense to Scripture to coerce an alien philosophy upon it.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 25, 2009 at 9:15 pm


Hi Daniel. Sorry for butting in, but I’m sure Denis has his hands fullwith the academic year getting ready to start.
Indeed brother, if Christ did not rise from the dead our faith is futile! So I understand wanting to protect biblical authority by defending the historicity of the creation account. However, I don’t think the slope is as slippery as you might think. In fact, we’ve been navigating this incline for almost 500 years!
For example: Calvin once preached from the pulpit that those who asserted the “earth moves and turns are possed by the devil…” and aimed to “pervert the order of nature”. It might not be immediately clear to a modern Christian why Calvin would say such a thing, but if you read his commentary on Genesis 1:6, you will find that his understanding of the cosmos was consistent with the scholastic tradition inherited from Augustine, Aquinas, etc. Included in this tradition was the belief that the heavens were perfect and immutable, while the sub-lunar realm was corruptible. Quite literally, heaven was up there (perfection) — hell was down here (corruption).
Of the firmament in Genesis 1:6, Calvin writes, “The work of the second day is to provide an empty space around the circumference of the earth, that heaven and earth may not be mixed together. For since the proverb, ‘to mingle heaven and earth,’ denotes the extreme of disorder, this distinction ought to be regarded as of great importance.”
According to medieval science, which was a fusion of Greco-Roman philosophy and cosmology with Christian theology, it makes pefect sense that the PHYSICAL realms of heaven and earth should not be mixed together — hence the firmament. So for the medieval theologian, to suggest that Earth was simply another star (re: planet) hurling through the immutable heavens was considered to be theologically unacceptible science.
In fact, heliocentrism could only be true if the physical realms of heaven and hell were “spiritualized” away — and the Reformers were not willing to go there. Sournd like a familiar problem? For what does it mean for Christ to have “descended into hell” and to have “ascended into heaven” and be physically “seated at the right hand of God” if heaven is not physially beyond the firmament? Paul even reiterates what he firmly believed was a physical reality when he says in II Cor 12:2 that Christ ascended to the 3rd heaven — the traditional dwelling place of God in the ancient cosmology. Was the Apostle wrong? Or was he simply speaking truth, but from within an ancient cosmology?
Modern Christians wrestle with death before the fall and original sin just as medieval Christians wrestled with the impact of the new astronomy on traditional theology and philosophy. That doesn’t mean our struggle is any easier than theirs, but it should encourage us that a scientific hypothesis Calvin once refered to as “perverse” and Luther called “wicked” is now fully embraced by even the most conservative of modern Christians.
I submit that modern Christian theology is no worse for the wear because heaven and hell lost their physical address in the cosmos. In fact, you might say that we are better prepared to handle the challenges of modern science after having liberated our faith from the stranglehold of Aristotles philosophy. Is it possible that Christian theology still has some vestiges of Greek philosophy? Was it not the Greeks who were obsessed with the idea of perfection (recall the immutability of the heavens)?
The geologic record of physical death preceeding man (and by logical extension, preceeding the fall) is as clear as the astronomical evidence of a moving earth. What are we to do about it? Are we to cling to this idea of a perfect pre-fall creation just as medieval Christians clung to the idea of a perfect physical heavens? Or is it possible that just as heaven and hell were reassigned to the spiritual realm, perhaps the conseqences of our sin are likewise spiritual? Brother, this in no way threatens the reality of Christ’s bodily resurrection.
I’m not saying any of this is easy, but I don’t think ideas about old-earth/evolution are as much of a threat to traditional Christian orthodoxy as many of us think they are.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 26, 2009 at 11:45 am


Gordon,
Thank you for your irenic and thoughtful response, but it fails to assuage my concerns. You wrote, “I don’t think the slope is as slippery as you might think. In fact, we’ve been navigating this incline for almost 500 years!”
This might be true, as you point out, but the slope didn’t become as slippery as it might have because God had provided many able servants to point people back to the text of Scripture (Jude 3).
Too often, people have testified that they have lost faith in the text because of the theory of evolution. I too had refused to consider that the Bible might be the Word of God as long I was convinced that evolution was fact. I had understood them, as many others have testified, to be utterly incompatible. They communicate such divergent worldviews. While the Bible clearly states that everything was “very good” at its creation, the animal world had been herbivorous (without death), evolution asserts that the bloody struggle of survival had been God’s chosen tool to advance the species.
The perfection of the initial state isn’t a matter merely of Genesis 1 and 2; it’s an understanding suffused throughout the Bible. Paul states that our present corrupted state was a product of creation having been subjected to it and not created as such (Romans 8:20-22). The Bible also envisions a glorious restoration to the way things had been (Acts 3:21; Rev. 21-22), not to a primordial survival-of-the-fittest.
Instead, the Bible teaches that, rather than God having been responsible for a bloody and faulty design, the problem of sin, death, and corruption lies with us (Gen. 3)! Hence, the promise of a Messiah, a second Adam to correct the wrongs!
Evolution has it backwards, moving from chaos to organization and functionality. Scripture presents a very different picture—a move from perfection to disintegration followed by an even more perfect state. If evolution is correct, and species progressed through a struggle for survival, then who could blame Adam and Eve for wanting to be like God and taking the fruit? They would have merely been following along with God’s foundational survival plan. Who could blame the more fit Cain for killing his naïve brother?
Evolution coerces an alternative understanding of sin upon the unsuspecting Christian. Let’s just take your Karl Giberson for an example who wrote:
“Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (“Saving Darwin,” 9-10)
If one buys into Darwin and becomes a theistic evolutionist, Darwin’s acid not only dissolves the creation account, but also everything that rests upon it. Consequently, Giberson surrenders the concept of sin to Darwin without a protest. Sin becomes “selfishness,” which is not such a bad thing after we understand the important role that it plays in Darwin’s theory. How so? “Selfishness, in fact, drives the evolutionary process.” (12) After Darwin’s acid does its work on sin, sin becomes a good and necessary thing!
Nevertheless, Giberson still calls himself a Christian—perhaps because he acknowledges that there is such a thing as sin, although only when it achieves “pathological levels of selfishness.” (13). As such, he becomes a perfect example of how we can’t serve two masters—evolution and Christ. One will have to be compromised in order to make the two systems compatible, and it always seems to be Christ.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm


Hi Daniel, I can’t disagree with your point that creation according to the Scriptures is more theologically satisfying than is Evolution, but those consideration do not determine how scientific consensus is reached. Moreover, choosing to reject evolution doesn’t make these theological problems disappear, it only exchanges one set of problems for another set of problems. Let me explain:
When you consider the various independent lines of physical evidence from different scientific disciplines that all neatly converge onto the evolutionary scenario, there are numerous data sets that could have just as easily pointed to special creation, or that need not exist at all if God was truly unconstrained in His creative acts. Here are just a few examples to ponder:
(1) Since all living things are related via commen descent, the distribution of anatomical features throughout the species follows a very distinct pattern of groups within groups (or a nested heirarchy). This pattern need not exist at all if special creation is true.
(2) Since speciation requires reproductive isolation, the distribution of species around the globe also follows a very distinct pattern. It’s not the pattern one should expect to see given a recent radiation from the mountains of Ararat. The blind and colorless salamander that dwells only in one cave in Virginia did not cross the desert and the ocean and take up residence in North America 4500 years ago! Nor the 5000 species of fruit flies native to Hawaii, nor the marsupials of Austrailia, etc…
(3) Since each period of geologic time has its own unique flora and fauna, we naturally see changes throughout the geologic column. It’s not the jumbled mass of death and destruction that we should expect to see from a year-long global flood, but rather a careful distribution that is so uniform, it is often referred to as “the law of faunal sucession”.
(4) Lastly, since our DNA has no mechanism to clean itself up, every living thing carries with it a detailed record of its evolutionary history. If there were ever an opportunity for God to expose the foolishness of evolution, he could have easily done it using molecular genetics. Since the genetic code is redundant, God could have given every species a unique code for common metabolic enzymes without any change to the protein sequence (and therefore function) of the enzyme). Or, he could have given every living thing the exact same genetic code for common metabolic enzymes. If special creation were true, God could have simply done either of these two things and ruined evolution forever.
Why is it that out of the infinite number of possibilities and patterns avaiable to God during creation, He took every opportunity to build into His creation evidence of a history that never happened? Why does He say, “thou shalt believe A” — then fabricate the entire cosmos as if “B” happened instead?
I’m not saying that these are easy questions. But I am saying that simply rejecting evolution doesn’t make your problems go away. It simply exchanges a God who creates a world with death, for one who creates a world at odds with His Word. Which is worse? As for me, I’ll take a God who wields death as an instrument of creation over one who intentionally decieves us. And that might be where we agree to disagree so to speak.



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Ronald L Klaus, PhD

posted August 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm


This article makes the point that we ought to go to the Bible “to find Jesus,” not to learn science. It is hard to argue with that. However, in the lengthier piece on his website the author goes a step farther, claiming that it is quite all right to look at any “scientific” statements in the Bible as wrong, being the product of a pre-scientific age.
“More concisely, evolutionary creationists claim that through an ordained and sustained evolutionary process God created the entire universe and all of life, including human beings. They firmly argue that the Bible is not a book of science and contend that the purpose of Scripture is to reveal the Lord and His will. According to this position, the science in God’s Word typifies the ‘science of the day’ when the Biblical authors were writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This ancient science is a vehicle used by God to communicate as effectively as possible His spiritual truths to men and women.”
His language is a bit ambiguous but it seems that he is saying is that the scientific statements we find in the Bible are to be taken to reflect the “science of the day,” i.e., are incorrect science by our modern understanding. He seems to be illustrating this by presenting an ancient view of the cosmos as in this posting, claiming that the Bible writers not only believed it but inserted these views into the Bible.
This is a slippery slope. Let’s take archeology, another science, which is a first cousin to evolutionary biology. Both look at past relics to study past events. Are we also to disregard biblical statements about ancient cities, civilizations and events? Was there ever a city called Jericho and did its walls fall down flat? Did Luke get his descriptions of Roman cities and the political structures of his day right? And let’s get right to the central point where this all will lead. Are Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection historical events?
This all raises the question of credibility. One of the things that reinforces the claims of the biblical writers is their credibility on reporting other, seemingly peripheral matters. If they were very accurate on these we are more apt to trust their reports of their more incredible reports, like the miracles and the resurrection. If the Bible is inspired, and therefore kept from error, let us say in their spiritual claims, why didn’t the Holy Spirit keep its authors from stumbling when it comes to matters touching science?
It goes even further. If they didn’t get the science right, maybe they didn’t get the archeology right either. But then maybe they didn’t get the ethics right either. Maybe biblical sexual conduct principles are also for a pre-scientific age. This is not just an imaginary issue. It is being argued that way already.
I am not arguing for a “wooden” interpretation of the Bible. I do believe that the language and culture of the day has to be taken into account. We always have to ask, “How did the original recipients hear this text?” But if any part of the text, given proper and sensitive interpretation is, in some sense “wrong,” we have set the stage for a relativistic drift—indeed, it is already happening and we are reinforcing it.
Now back to Lamoreaux’ claims that the Bible teaches, or at least assumes an incorrect ancient view of the cosmos. The issue here is not what the biblical authors believed themselves, but what they put into the Bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Why would the “most effective” communication of spiritual truth be based on incorrect science? Rather than claiming that wrong science crept into the Bible I think we have to look at the texts and interpret them correctly.
Lamoreaux actually states the correct principle but then somehow rejects it. Issues such as he brings out are properly interpreted, as he says, phenomenologically, that is, as the author or his hearers would have perceived them. If we think about this, it is the proper, indeed the only way to look at these texts. The Bible needs to speak to all people of all cultures, both pre-scientific and scientific. How can it possibly do that in a way that is both true and yet understandable across all cultures? I suggest that a phenomenological approach is the only possible one that works. Everyone, both scientists and savage see that the sun apparently moves across the sky. So that is the way we would expect the biblical authors to describe it. It is the only universal way of talking about it. Even scientists talk about the beauty of a sunrise. Why don’t they say earth-turn? Because it’s the way even scientists perceive it.
Actually, what is remarkable about the Bible is how restrained it is about making scientific statements. There is a lot that the authors don’t buy into considering the understandings of their day.
Let me then comment on the specific items he puts forward, one by one. Again, I concede that ancient people accepted the views the Lamoreaux sets out. Likely, Moses did. But the principle question is what got into the Bible. I am asserting that all the points Lamoreaux raises can be explained when they are interpreted phenomenologically. In that sense they are “true,” because they are the true observations of average people. We do apparently see the sun move and there is nothing wrong in talking about it that way. We still do.
(1) The fact that the Bible doesn’t teach a spherical earth is an argument from silence. Talking about it being like the foundatation for a tent being spread out isn’t an absolute geometrical claim. Even today’s architects draw a straight horizontal line for the ground line of the buildings they design. This doesn’t mean they believe in a flat earth.
(2) Modern translations of Proverbs 8 and Job 26 like the NIV about a sea circling the earth don’t translate the passages as Lamoreaux suggests. There is no mention of seas surrounding the earth. But even if they did, aren’t the continents really big islands? Isn’t it the oceans that are continuous around us?
(3) The earth being a stationary foundation is phenomenological. Even in the ancient world, they must have known about earthquakes in which the earth moved. This is a comparative term being used to drive home the point of God’s steadfastness in a comparative way. Compared to everything else, the earth seems immovable. Even in modern physics we often use it as a stationary reference point.
(4) The “firmament” is probably the hardest issue to explain. Firmament is an English word used by the King James translators. At the time of the translation they may not have had a very clear idea of how water was held suspended in the atmosphere and so they used “firmament.” Modern translations use a word like “expanse.” The literal meaning of the Hebrew word does refer to a bowl that is hammered out so that it covers a large area. But Hebrew was not as rich or even as definite a language as our modern ones are. We have to ask,”Just how would Moses have explained this differently?” He may have had no better way to refer to a “great expanse” above the earth that also held water. The point he is making is clear: there is water on the surface of the planet, and evidently also above us. He is saying that as part of the creation process God separated the two. In his day this may have been the best way to communicate that idea.
(5) I have already shown that this is a legitimate phenomenological way of describing the sun’s motion.
From an apologetics point of view I think it is a much better idea to explain these issues phenomenologically rather than claiming they are pre-scientific errors. That is not only possible but will keep us off the slippery slope of relativism.
___
1. Denis O. Lamoureux, “Evolutionary Creation” from http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/3EvoCr.htm
accessed Aug. 24, 2009



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted August 26, 2009 at 7:19 pm


Dear Charles Pugh,
Loved your e-mail. On 25 Aug you wrote:
“Dr. Lamourex, could you explain whether or not you believe in the Virgin Birth and on what scientific basis? What about the miracles of Jesus Christ? What about His resurrection? If you accept the miracles there, then why do you not accept the miracles of Creation, if they happen to contradict the current thinking of men?”
I believe in:
(1) the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus (conception through the Holy Spirit)
(2) the miracles of Jesus (walk on water, water to wine, etc)
(3) the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Now you are being perfectly logical in asking why not also “the miracles of creation.”
The answer rests in the literary genre. The type of literature we have in the New Testament that records the ministry of Jesus is different from that of Genesis 1-11. There is no one-size-fits-all-passages interpretation techniques.
In addition, it is clear that Genesis 1 talks about the creation of the firmament. Now, no one believes there is a hard dome over our head. Consequently, it was never created as stated on the 2nd day. So what do we make of this in God’s Word? Answer: The Holy Spirit accommodated and used the astronomy of the day (ancient astronomy) to reveal that He created the dome over our heads.
This DOES NOT undermine Holy Scripture; it only indicates that, by grace, God comes down to our level. He does it in our prayer life, and He did in the Biblical revelatory process.
Blessings,
Denis



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Charles Pugh

posted August 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm


Hi Denis,
It is good to interact with you and that our world today allows for such quick and direct interaction with people all over the world. It is also encouraging to see the response to this article. These are certainly issues needing more healthy debate and discussion.
Thinking is not the enemy, though thinking incorrectly or unbiblically is. This is the deeper point I am making and one it appears you also agree to. The Bible must be our first and final authority for Truth and what is true. We are indeed on a slippery slope when we begin to explain away its plain teachings. Many do accommodate the clear teachings of Scripture, including the claims on the Person of Jesus Christ.
The posting and discussion here is generally the type of thing we looked for in a 2002 Creation vs. Evolution Debate on the Virginia Tech Campus. Were it not for the 04-16-07 Tragedy at VT, I’d still be ministering on the campus, though that is another and my own story. I believe and know the issue of Creation is at the heart of it too. For now, my situation has changed, thus my personal website and upcoming book. We do all need to look for a more Irenic way of interacting (as Daniel Mann noted in a post earlier today).
It is reassuring to hear you unequivocally stand on the miraculous Person and work of Jesus Christ. I think most commenting would agree on this. To me, the word “accommodation” conveys a concept contrary to The unchanging GOD, yet I believe I understand the way you are trying to use it. (There is the error of Process Theology or more recently framed as “Open Theism” that confuses others today. I have an interesting story of related inside information there, which I can personally share at some point if you wish.) In the best sense of the word, Jesus Christ is the accommodation of GOD to men as The GOD-Man.
To the particulars of your article or more recent comments, I think you hit a key issue that others have been discussing too in talking about the “firmament.” You are right to note that “no one” or I’d qualify that by saying “few, if any” or “no one engaged in the thinking” believes that we have a hard dome over us. The text does not say or describe it as “a dome,” though some commentators do. I would take issue with your conclusions from that, as I do not see the text itself claiming this. Unfortunately that usage does limit the understanding and I can thus see your arguing against that (what I would say) “straw man.”
When you take a normal reading of the text and think about it all, you understand that GOD had to have first created some kind of firmament or space (heaven) to separate HIMSELF from HIS Creation. The firmament on Creation Day 2 is obviously the “stretched out space” or atmosphere of the earth, which we scientifically know allows for our existence on this planet and the earth’s unique sustainability of life, in an otherwise lifeless (as we understand it) Universe.
GOD does indeed come down to us or fill us as we allow HIM to do so. I know and am writing about this in my own experience too. :-)



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PHS

posted August 27, 2009 at 1:37 am


Since, as most agree, Moses and his first readers (hearers) believed, for example, that the sky was solid, how could they speak of the sky without thinking and communicating that it was solid? Perhaps in poetry; but Gen 1 is not poetry in spite of a few poetical touches. When they said, “God made the firmament.” (Gen 1:7), the word “firmament” means what it meant to them, not to us. Historical-grammatical hermeneutics means, as Chales Hodge put it, that “The words of Scripture are to be taken in their plain historical sense. That is, they must be taken in the sense attached to them in the age and by the people to whom they were addressed.” Accordingly, statements about the firmament and the like are not phenomenal language, but language assuming actual, factual entities.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 27, 2009 at 8:39 am


Charles Pugh,
Congratulations on your upcoming book. I know that pulling off something like is not easy!
I’ve got two questions for you. Firstly, it appears that Amos clearly understood the firmamant as a dome when he wrote in 9:6,
“The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens and has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, he who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth…” (NAS)
Similar passages are found in Job and the Psalms. And regardless of whether the firmament is a solid dome or an airy expanse, you can’t wiggle out of the fact that Moses assigns the heavenly bodes to this space — between the upper and lower waters.
This clearly reflects ANE thinking. Martin Luther, who also shared your view that the Bible must be the ultimate authority on all matters to which it speaks (including science), said the following concerning the solidness of the firmament and the upper waters:
“Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which heaven are the waters… We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding.”
Do you, Charles, “wickedly deny” this arrangement based on the authority of modern astronomy? Or do you conveniently reinterpret the scriptures, as Henry Morris did in his commentary on Genesis, to say something that they do not? (Morris adds a second firmament). I’m genuinely curious because when I hear people reject old earth/evolution based solely on the authority of Scripture, I always wonder if they are being consistent in their application of the Scriptures to the study of nature, or if they are simply picking and choosing what passages they want to believe are authoritative.
Like Denis and many others, I do not believe ANY biblical teaching on the material structure, function, or formational history of the cosmos is authoritative. Some of it might even be accurate, but I do not believe the nature and scope of biblical authority extends to matters that are bound by temporary human culture.
My next question to you is this: there are creationist organizations today who claim that God’s word is our highest authority in matters of science. They claim that if God created the world from nothing and sustains its very existence (which I agree with), then He should know better than we how it works (which I also agree with). However, they apply this logic to the Bible’s teaching on geocentricity and reject all astronomy since Copernicus (which I don’t agree with).
Based on your shared assumptions about the nature and scope of biblical authority, and your shared aversion to explaining away the plain and straightforward reading of any biblical text, how would you, Charles Pugh, engage these brothers in the Lord? Is their desire to apply God’s Word to every aspect of our knowledge misplaced? How would you go about trying to convince them that the Bible makes no such demands of its modern readers?
In case you are not familar with these creationists organizations, you can find their arguments here:
http://www.fixedearth.com
http://www.staticearth.net
http://www.geocentricity.com
Gordon



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Daniel Mann

posted August 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm


Gordon,
I’m sorry that I failed to respond to your earlier response, but I was seduced into action by your last one where you reaffirm that the Bible reflects the theology of the “ANE” (Ancient Near East?). To support this claim you cited Amos 9:6, where the NAS translation reads, “founded his vaulted dome over the earth.”
However, it is difficult to determine the theology of the OT from this wording alone, especially in light of the fact that other translations deal with these underlying Hebrew terms differently: “he who builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth” (NIV).
More troubling is the theistic evolutionists’ reasoning in regards to citing these examples. It seems to go like this: “If the Bible is wrong about the physical world, then it’s safe to assume that the Bible isn’t interested in teaching science or even physical facts. Its interest is solely in the spiritual.”
The problems with this type of reasoning should be obvious. Should we also conclude that if scientists are wrong about science, they also don’t have an interest in science? Should we then conclude that if the Bible is wrong about one spiritual truth, then it too isn’t interested in teaching spiritual truths?
What verses can you cite to prove that the Bible’s only concern is spiritual? On the contrary, the Bible makes no such distinction between the physical and the spiritual to suggest that the physical isn’t really relevant. We can’t separate the physical fact of the Cross from the theology and redemption of the Cross. We can’t separate physical events from theological truths. Paul recalled that Adam was created before Eve (a physical event, science—affirming Gen 2) to support the theology of male headship (2 Tim. 2:13).
Nor can we separate the creation from subsequent events and theology. In arguing against divorce, Jesus appealed to the creation account of the first marriage where they became one flesh (Gen. 2; Mat. 19). For Jesus, this was normative because this portrait of marriage was from “the beginning” and preceded the Fall and therefore presented the ideal and normative picture of marriage, ruling against the evolutionary worldview. He also affirmed the historicity of the Jonah account (Mat. 12:40) and the flood account (Mat. 24:38-39) and their accompanying theology.
Another distinction, equally untenable, is the establishment of “non-overlapping domains” of influence, where religion is granted its sovereignty over the spiritual while science over the physical. In order to solidify this peace, religion is granted the intuitive and the unprovable, while science is granted facts and the provable. Religion is granted the innocuous, untroublesome, private realm of the heart, while science is ceded the public—the classroom and all other public domains outside of the church.
However, these domains are clearly overlapping. The Christian has a Biblically mandated concern about facts, science and history while the evolutionist enthusiastically posits his theories about the origins of guilt, shame, personality and morality.
Other theistic evolutionists make other unwarranted distinctions in hope of establishing a comfortable marriage bed where Darwin and Jesus can co-habit. For instance, science is about naturalism and proximate causes while God, involved only with ultimate causes, doesn’t belong in the science class. However, this distinction is neither fair nor scientific.
It’s not fair because the science classroom is only allowed to consider natural causation. Perhaps the ultimate cause is supernatural? Perhaps also the proximate causes are based upon laws that originate and have their being in the mind of God as opposed to a multitude of free-standing, independent and unintelligent laws or forces? If we can consider natural causation, why not also super-natural? Why must naturalism have an exclusive monopoly upon our thinking?
It’s not scientific because science is fundamentally about finding the truth about causal relationships. What if you were a detective trying to solve a murder and, from the get-go, you decided, without adequate justification, to eliminate all suspects over six feet tall from consideration. This would bias our investigation and ultimate findings. By eliminating the possibility of intelligent causation and limiting it to only unintelligent causation, this is exactly what we would be doing.
Dan,
Would you please refer me to the place where Giberson had responded to me.



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Gordon

posted August 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm


Daniel, I appreciate everything you are saying and can follow your logic (I used to believe as you do so its easy for me to sympathize). But your position is simply not functional for those of us called to faithfully interpret the facts of natural history. When the entire universe conspires against the literal truth of “bible science”, we should have the freedom to rethink some things. That’s how the Chruch made it through the 17th century revolution in astronomy.
The simple fact that death preceeded the creation of man is one of the most obvious things to observe. Ditto with the antiquity of the earth and cosmos. In order to maintain your position, which I admit is a very theologically satisfaying position, one has to ignore enormous amounts of data — data which can not in any way be interpreted in light of the Biblical creation timeline.
And just so you know I have no problem with supernatural causality. Moses crossing the red sea, Christ performing miracles and being raised from the dead — I’m cool with that. But when there are mountains of evidence to suggest that something did not happen the way the bible says it happened, like the Noahic flood or the order/timframe of creation, you effectively have to believe that not only did God use miracles to accomplish something that has a perfectly natural explanation, but that He also used miracles to cover up the fact that He used miracles to accomplish it! Why would he create the cosmos in 6 days, but then plant mountains of data across multiple scientific disciplines that serve no other purpose but to cast doubt on the scriptures? Why would He destroy the world by a great flood, then remove all the physical evidence of the deluge and replace it evidence of a different history? It just makes no sense to me.
I’m curious how you would respond to the questions I posed to Mr. Pugh in my last comment.
Gordon



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Beaglelady

posted August 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm


“What if you were a detective trying to solve a murder and, from the get-go, you decided, without adequate justification, to eliminate all suspects over six feet tall from consideration. This would bias our investigation and ultimate findings. By eliminating the possibility of intelligent causation and limiting it to only unintelligent causation, this is exactly what we would be doing.”

Well, let’s say that your relative was murdered and no suspect had been found. What if a detective trying to solve this case simply decided that God had struck the person dead? What would you think?
Or what if your kid had epilepsy, and medication doesn’t help very much. The doctor then decides it’s probably from demon possession. (You see, in his medical school they didn’t limit their studies to natural causation.) Is this the kind of doctor you want?



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Edward T. Babinski

posted August 27, 2009 at 11:56 pm


Arthur,
You think Denis O. Lamoureux (professor of evolutionary biology) should read Jack Cuozzo (a creationist orthodontist)?
CUOZZO TRIES TO ARGUE THAT “NEANDERTHALS” WERE “HUMAN BEINGS HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD,” AND THAT AN ANCIENT HUMAN DREW A CAVE PICTURE OF A “DINOSAUR” GOING HEAD TO HEAD WITH A MAMMOTH
Cuozzo in his book titled BURIED ALIVE tries to find ways to argue that Neanderthals were merely pre-Flood human beings who had lived for centuries, and their brow ridges developed over long periods of time. But Cuozzo’s Neanderthal hypotheses have been debunked by fellow Christians such as Hugh Ross and Stephen Meyers. See the following webpage for some criticisms of Cuozzo’s claims by Hugh Ross:
http://www.bibleandscience.com/otherviews/ross.htm
Cuozzo debate recap:
http://www.bibleandscience.com/science/debate.htm#cuozzo
In 1992 in Israel archaeologists discovered an infant Neanderthal that had all the anatomical features of the adult like a large forward brow, and jaw showing that these features are not due to old age (contra Cuozzo’s hypothesis). The same is true for about a dozen other Neanderthals arranging from infant to juvenile. See Hugh Ross, “Neanderthal Tot Discovery,” Facts and Faith, vol. 8. No 1 (1994), p. 4. and Christopher P. E. Zollikofer, Marcia S. Ponce de Leon, Robert D. Martin, and Peter Stuckl, “Neanderthal Computer
Skulls,” Nature, 375 (1995), pp. 283-285.
Cuozzo also claims that many hominid fossils, even the strikingly
human-like Turkana Boy (homo erectus) are non-human.
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/wjackson.html
Cuozzo joins a bunch of other creationists who cannot agree which of the latest hominid discoveries are “human” and which are “ape,” which ought to tell you something right there. The following webpage features a pictorial comparison of the views of Cuozzo and other creationists as to which skulls are “apes” and which are “humans.” This comparison page is worth taking a peek at!
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/compare.html
Creationist arguments: Buried Alive
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/buriedalive.html
Chris Stringer responds to Jack Cuozzo’s “Swanscombe skull fragments”
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/stringercuozzo.html
Paleontologist reviews Cuozzo
http://drydredgers.org/jack0005.htm
Creationist arguments: Neanderthals
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/a_neands.html
I should add to the Cuozzo discussion above that the “vast ages of the partriarchs” are nowhere attested in ancient archeological digs and investigations of ancient human skeletal remains, not even those going back to Abraham’s day: “It is certain that one cannot build up a chronology on the spans of years attributed to the Patriarchs, nor regard it as factual that Abraham was seventy-five years old when he left Harran and a hundred when Isaac was born and that Jacob was a hundred and thirty when he went into Egypt, for the evidence from the skeletons in the Jericho tombs shows that the expectations of life at this period was short. Many individuals seem to have died before they were thirty-five, and few seem to have reached the age of fifty.”–Dr. Kathleen Kenyon (the eminent excavator of the city-mound of Jericho)
See also:
http://www.skeptical-christian.net/articles/age_patriarchs.html
and
http://www.bibleandscience.com/bible/books/genesis/ancients.htm
Cuozzo’s book also featured a photograph he took of a supposed “cave
drawing” showing a “dinosaur” going head to head with a mammoth or
mastadon, as found on the wall of a cave in France. The cave was later closed and Cuozzo hinted that its closure might be the result of his discovery of that “dinosaur drawing” he found inside it, because evolutionists fear such evidence would controvert their hypothesis that most dinosaur species died out millions of years ago. Having examined the photo in Cuozzo’s book and also viewed the one online version at his website, I can say that the mammoth drawing is easy to make out and easy to see as a mammoth, but the “dinosaur” much less easy to make out.
Viewing such a “dinosaur drawing” reminded me of a photo I had seen in the past of a pile of rubble on the Moon that was far more astounding. The pile of rocks on the moon closely resembled the skeletal structure of the known fossils of a particular species of dinosaur. The resemblance was uncanny. I have seen similar “similacra” between objects in nature and the living things they resemble in a magazine called “The Fortean Times.”



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Callee

posted August 28, 2009 at 12:19 am


Gordon,
Loved that last post. Reminds me of a Robert Frost quote I came across recently:
“How many times it thundered before Franklin took the hint! How many apples fell on Newton’s head before he took the hint! Nature is always hinting at us. It hints over and over again. And suddenly, we take the hint.” – Robert Frost
Indeed all that evidence for evolution keeps hinting. Too bad evolution keeps getting conflated with an atheistic worldview— “evolution or God”, science is the only way of knowing, evolution automatically means purposeless and driven by chance. Absolutely it is possible that God created through an evolutionary process: in Dan’s words, “Perhaps also the proximate causes are based upon laws that originate and have their being in the mind of God as opposed to a multitude of free-standing, independent and unintelligent laws or forces?”. The scientists who say it’s evolution or God are stepping beyond the boundaries of science and making a faith claim, the faith claim that science is the only way of knowing. And what are the boundaries of science? The physical world. Science will NEVER give us ultimate answers.
I know, that “non-overlapping domain” stuff can be frustrating, but we have to start somewhere, and it helps us start defining terms and categories, which I strongly believe we need to do in order to engage in meaningful conversation with others.
In the last part of your post Dan, I have a concern with how you define science. You wrote “It’s not scientific because science is fundamentally about finding the truth about causal relationships”. Too wide a definition. I’d add “in the physical world (nature), using observations and experiments”. And just like in your example with the detective, allowing supernatural explanations in science would bias the investigation (thanks Beaglelady!). Putting supernatural causation in science is asking more of science than it can give, of course.



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Thor Ramsland

posted August 28, 2009 at 1:50 am


G, I liked your post on Aug 23, where you asked:
“WWJD What would Jesus Draw?
If Jesus were asked to draw a represention of the Earth/Heaven etc. What would he draw?
The picture as drawn at the beginning of this article? Would he draw a picture representing the Cosmos as we know it>/
If he drew the one represented here..then what would that mean?”
I think it depends on who he’s drawing the picture for. One for his disciples would be quite different than one for a 24th century astrophysicist. But why does he need to draw the picture in the first place?
For his disciples, he’d draw it exactly like this article’s picture, and he’d draw himself moving back and forth from Earth to the “Realm of God”. He actually did draw it quite clearly. You don’t have to read very far in John to get the picture.
John 1:32 – “And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Sprit descending from heaven like a dove…’ ”
John 1:51 – “And He [Jesus] said to him [Nathaniel], ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hearafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
John 3:12-13 – “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things. No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
John 3:31 – “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.”
John 6:32 – Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:40 – “This is the manna that comes down from heaven”
John 6:58 – “This is the bread that came down from heaven”
John 8:38 – “You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world.”
That’s just through chapter 8 – writing down every single reference to ancient cosmology and biology makes reading through John a bit tedious :) Now before anyone says this are merely figurative references, Jesus’ use of the bread of life/manna is a metaphor, but a metaphor for an historical event where manna actually fell from heaven. And we can’t forget the ascension.
Luke 24:51 – “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.”
Acts 1:9-11 – Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
“He descended into hell…”
“He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father…”
– Apostles Creed.
Do we really need to come up with all sorts of explanations about how this doesn’t really mean that the context of 1st century Palestine was a 3 tiered universe. Doesn’t it all make a little more sense in the context of this ancient cosmology? Does the Apostle’s Creed make any sense at all outside of it? So yes, Jesus painted the ancient picture.
Your second excellent question – what does this mean if Jesus drew the picture that way. Here are my thoughts
The apostles and witnesses to Jesus life were the mediators of his life on Earth. They created the record of events we now read. They spread the gospel, received the Holy Spirit, planted churches, and gave their lives. Without their commitment and written records, we likely wouldn’t know anything about Jesus today.
In the minds of his disciples God lived up above the sky in his heavenly vault. It was his physical throne. It wasn’t figurative language to them. It was a real place. If Jesus was to communicate his relationship with the Father, he would speak of God’s location in the context of 1st century Jews – God in heaven above the sky, and the Son of Man’s co-presence in that place. Jesus’ metaphor of the bread of life, and the way he describes it in the passages above, only makes sense in the context of this cosmology. The bread of life would come from heaven just as the manna fell from heaven to the Israelites. If God was going to visibly send his Spirit to Jesus for 1st century Jews to witness, he would display it in a way that witnesses would comprehend – The Spirit would descend on Jesus from heaven like a dove. If Jesus was to establish his place at the right hand of the Father to his 1st century Jewish disciples, then he would ascend into heaven. In all of these things, Jesus painted a picture of his identity with a 1st century cosmological scene.
The ascension in particular is nonsensical in a 21st century context. Where’d he go??? It’s ridiculous from our perspective if we ignore the context of ancient science.
It’s through the ascension that I’m convinced of the need for God’s accommodation. Not because the ascension doesn’t match 21st century knowledge, but because 1st century followers *HAD TO* be shown Jesus’ relationship to the Father. The ascension did just that, in a way that perhaps no other act could.
Accommodation is nothing new to Christians – The word became flesh and dwelt among us; While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – We usually just call it grace.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 28, 2009 at 10:22 am


Gordon,
Thanks for acknowledging that we encounter great problems when we try to put Jesus and Darwin together. It is vexing to dialogue with a Christian who pretends that they go together like peanut butter and jelly.
I think that we’d both agree that, despite the challenges, we must somehow seek to reconcile the physical world with the Bible, recognizing that they both represent God’s singular truth. We’d also agree that this endeavor is made even more difficult because we “see in part.”
We both probably work from what we know and try to apply it to what we don’t know. We take what is most certain and use it to illuminate what is less certain. However, I think we take divergent paths from this point. While you might start with the modern consensus of the community of science as certainty, I start with Scripture, as Scripture mandates (2 Cor. 10:4-5; John 15:5-8). It becomes my lens through which I see everything else.
You might regard this as putting my head in the sand and refusing to take an unbiased look at the real world. However, I see Scripture as a good pair of glasses that brings the world into sharp focus. In fact everyone wears his own lens. The question becomes this: “Does my lens obscure or illuminate what’s out there? Does Darwin blind or lead research in fruitful ways?”
Several esteemed archeologists have claimed that their diggings had been profitably guided by Scripture. Scientists have stated likewise. Karl Giberson even had an interesting post on this subject. (Please see my July post, “Christians can’t do Science!”)
Our paradigms exercise tremendous influence over our selection and organization of the facts. This helps to explain our variant ideas. While you regard evolution as an unassailable fortress, I see it as a tottering façade. Likewise, two people can write my autobiography; one will make me into a saint, while the other can have me looking like a rank sinner, all depending upon the facts they choose. This same principle pertains whether in regards to science, history, or any other discipline. (I don’t mean to relativize the facts, but merely the way we humans make use of the facts.)
Here’s one example out of many. While you, choosing certain supporting facts, may regard dinosaurs as having pre-dated humans by millions of years, Creationists point to other evidences—ancient drawings of people fighting dinosaurs, dinosaur recorded history, a footprint containing both species, DNA found in a dinosaur remains.
You write about how many disciplines are bringing together convergent evidence for evolution. Evolutionists point out the agreement between several systems or measures of dating the earth and its objects. However, we need to see this claim in light of the fact that there are literally thousands, even millions, of possible ways to date. Each object moves or deteriorates at its own formulaic way and rate. So each object becomes a possible source to assess dates, given certain presuppositions. Creationists have pointed to many of these—the movement of the moon towards the earth, the deterioration of Saturn’s rings, soil formation, sediment deposits. The list is potentially endless.
If all these possible measures exist, it becomes easy for us to cherry pick which measures agree with our hypothesis and forget the rest. It also becomes easy to find agreement for evolution between the various disciplines. Besides, there is a lot of energy, time and resources being invested to prove this very thing. I would be surprised if they didn’t find oodles of evidence in this unbalanced manner.
It’s like an insurance company going to court with their team of lawyers. How could they not build an overwhelming case for their client!



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Daniel Mann

posted August 28, 2009 at 11:17 am


Thor,
Even though I disagree with your main point, I do appreciate your comments. The verses you’ve cited argue against the position of theistic-evolution, which tries to argue that the Bible is trust-worthy when reporting on spiritual things, but follows the errant ancient conception of the world when reporting on physical or scientific things.
Your verses demonstrate that if we use the reasoning and conclusions of the theistic evolutionist, the Bible is trustworthy in Neither its scientific nor its spiritual teachings (if we can even make such a distinction!). In contrast, I’ve tried to argue that the Bible uses phenomenal language, the language of appearances and common usage, but doesn’t adopt its theology or worldview.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm


BeagleLady,
I would want a doctor who was willing to follow the trial of the evidence and to not rule anything out arbitrarily because he didn’t believe in intelligent causation.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 28, 2009 at 4:40 pm


Daniel,
I’d love nothing more than to dive into the data and spend some time picking it apart together — I think you will find that the interpretation of it is not a equivocal as you have been told. But that’s probably not appropriate for this forum. That might be how I would naturally respond to your previous comment, but I’ll refrain out of respect for the original topic.
However, I do want to address one thing you said. “I start with Scripture, as Scripture mandates (2 Cor. 10:4-5; John 15:5-8). It becomes my lens through which I see everything else.”
As good as this sounds on the surface, I doubt you actually live by this credo when it comes to the science as revealed in the Scriptures. I apologize for sounding like a broken record on this point, but I would really like to know how — given your application of scripture to the study of nature — you would answer the “Biblical Astronomer” I referred to in an earlier post to Mr. Pugh. This exercise is important because by taking issue with the “Biblical Astronomer” over the relative motion of the earth and sun, it challenges you to put yourself in the shoes of an EC with respect to the scientific consensus of earth history. Do we go with the science present in the bible and discount all modern observations, or do we revisity traditional interpretations of scripture in light of new facts? That is the dilemma.
I also wanted to thank you for being so gracious and patient with us.
Gordon



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Daniel Mann

posted August 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm


Gordon,
You have been so patient and gentle with me, so I gladly indulge you in your “Biblical Astronomer” challenge. However, I may be misunderstanding it. So I must trust you to set me straight if I go too far astray.
It sounds like your challenge goes like this: “Modern, uncontrovertible science teaches heliocentrism while the Bible teaches geocentrism. Is it possible to reconcile the two without compromising Biblical revelation?” It certainly seems to me that we live in a heliocentric solar system. In fact, I think we can actually observe this fact. So how do I make sense out of the Biblical revelation?
I just don’t think that the Bible teaches geocentrism, although I think that there is a verse that talks about the earth being at the center. Curiously, it just might be at the center, not of the solar system, but of the universe! It seems that the other galaxies are expanding away from the earth at the same speed in whatever direction we look. Now, perhaps this might be explained elsewise, but what if this is fact? What then would you say about the science of the Bible?



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Thor Ramsland

posted August 28, 2009 at 8:07 pm


“In contrast, I’ve tried to argue that the Bible uses phenomenal language, the language of appearances and common usage, but doesn’t adopt its theology or worldview.”
I’m not quite sure I follow you with the verses quoted in my earlier post. Does this mean that Jesus “appeared” to ascend into heaven? Or Jesus ascended into what appeared to be heaven? That it seemed like the Spirit descended from what looked like heaven? That something that sounded like a God’s voice seemed to say, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased” and seemed to come from heaven? That what tasted like manna appeared to come from what looked like heaven? But none of this actually happened the way it was described – it just appeared that way?
Not sure if you intended this, but you seem to refer to the Bible as its own author – that it “uses” phenomenal language, that it has a theology to adapt or not adapt. Authors use language and have theology, not books. Books mediate a message from an author, just as the post you’re reading is mediating a message from me. So who is this biblical author that is using this phenomenal language?



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm


Daniel,
http://www.geocentricity.com
http://www.fixedearth.com
http://www.staticearth.net
Spend a few minutes browsing one or more these sites, then you will have a better idea of what I am asking you. It has more to do with the relative motion between earth and the sun, not necessarily where the center of cosmos is located — although that is part of it.
I’m curious to know, if you had some time with a brother who held this position, how you would repond to them. Especially to the charge that, “If we doubt the scripture when it speaks of the ‘rising of the sun’ then how can we trust it when it speaks of the ‘rising of the Son’?”
Gordon



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Thor Ramsland

posted August 28, 2009 at 8:37 pm


Daniel,
Apologies for not clarifying – that last post was meant as a response to yours from this morning.
-T



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Daniel Mann

posted August 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm


Gordon and Thor,
I’m not sure that I see your problem. Or perhaps the problem you see isn’t really a problem. I too say “I got up before the sun rose.” This doesn’t mean that I endorse the theology of a geocentric solar system. It simply demonstrates that I (and others) condescend to use familiar, phenomenal language in order to be understood. If I used more precise, scientific language, no one would understand me.
Likewise, when the Bible uses terminology like, “He went up to heaven” or “went down to hell,” it might simply reflect the usage of familiar terminology without teaching that hell is in the ground and heaven is in the sky. Sometimes, it’s a difficult call and represents an interpretative problem. However, an interpretive question isn’t the same thing inspiration question. I believe that the Bible is divinely inspired even if I have a hard time interpreting it.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 29, 2009 at 8:21 am


Daniel,
I don’t think you had time to look at those websites. That’s ok — I will try to summarize for you. Their argument is much more sophisticated than simply the supposed phenomenological nature of a few verses. That would be like me trying to clear the air between us by saying, “Perhaps Moses simply used phenomonological language when he described the animals descending after their own kind.” This would be the least of your worries. As we both recognize, a theological avalanche follows this single intrepretative shift. So it is with the modern day geocentrists. They link our eventual acceptance of Heliocentric theory as a capitulation to the knowledge of man over the revealed Word of God.
The argument by modern day geocentrists goes something like this:
1.) God created the universe and thus knows better than man how it works. Therefore, we should believe the plain and unambiguous meaning of Scripture rather than the tentative scientific theories of man.
2.) The bible mentions the relative motion between Earth and the Sun some 67 times (a list of which can found on those websites). In all of these verses, the earth is fixed and the sun is in motion. In NONE of the verses does the earth move.
3.) If the literary genre of a passage is unclear, we interpret the less-clear passage of the Bible by the more-clear passage of the Bible. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. And if you bring a question like, “Does the the sun orbit the earth or vice versa?” to the scriptures — the only answer you will get is geocentricity. Only by bending and twising the clear meaning of God’s word does one reject this teaching.
4.) The only reason we are having this discussion is becuase modern science has made a claim contrary to the Word of God. Prior to the 17th century, everybody understood that the sun orbited a fixed earth. The Bible has always been clear on the matter, and every biblical commentator prior to modern astronomy interpreted it as such (the Church faters, St. Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, ect…). As such, there is no good reason to doubt its clear teaching in light of the fallible science of man (unless you work for NASA). Christians who entertain the motion of the earth only do so to appease the modern scientists.
Gordon



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Daniel mann

posted August 29, 2009 at 11:46 am


Gordon,
I’m very willing to acknowledge that people have divergent and errant (and even embarrassing) interpretations of Scripture, and also that interpretation can present difficulties. However, this doesn’t argue against my position–that the Bible is the Word of God and therefore it should be regarded as authoritative.
Jesus certainly regarded Scripture in this manner (Matthew 5:17-18), and if we are His followers, we should do no less.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm


Daniel,
I’ve enjoyed our discussion, but feel like this should be my last comment — so you can consider it my “closing remarks” on this thread.
I suspect that a committed bible-believing geocentrist would eat your lunch if that were the heart of your argument. Since when is accepting the plain and straightforward reading of Scripture over the wisdom of man errant or embarrassing? Don’t misunderstand my tone: I get what you’re saying, but you would really have to explain that one to him!
Heliocentric theory is a conclusion based on data taken from extra-biblical sources. It has no basis whatsoever within the text of Scripture. If one is truly comitted to seeing all things through the lens of God’s Word, then one must always start with the premise that God’s word is accurrate and interpret the extra-biblical data accordingly. Not pick and chose when to start with Scripture, and when to start with an extra-biblical source.
Here you seem quite comfortable viewing Scripture through the lens of a scientific theory that did not even exist until 1500 years after Special Revelation was sealed up. I don’t fault you for your response, I just question what appears to be an inconsistency in your treatment of Biblical science. My desire here is that you see it as well.
I too am willing to acknowledge that people have divergent and errant (and even embarrassing) interpretations of Scripture (as it is my personal hobby to challenge them), and that we must be humble when attempting to understand ancient texts and apply them for our time. And like you, this changes not the fact that all of Scripture is God-breathed. I wouldn’t struggle with the theological implications of modern science if I didn’t have a high regard for Scripture.
We might both cringe when a geocentrist claims that a faithful interpretation of Scripture demands a fixed earth, but I am equally embarrased by a brother who insists that all of creation is only 6,000 years old. In fact, if I had to choose one and reject the other, I would go with geocentricity over young earth creationism. Not only is the biblical case for a fixed earth much stronger (ie: there have always been disagreements between Christians over the meaning of the Genesis “days” but the Church was unanimous on geocentric thoery until science upset the apple cart), but the scientific case for geocentricism is stronger than the scientific case for a young earth. Note: I still think geocentricism fails in the end, but YEC science doesn’t even make it out of the gate without a generous helping of “special pleading”!
So it appears to me that fundamentally our views (EC vs. YEC) are not so divergent after all. We both understand the principle of accommodation, and we both allow some extra-biblical knowledge to influence how we understand and apply God’s Word to the study of nature. The only difference, it would apppear to me, is to what degree we each do this.
If this is the case, would it not be better to acknowledge that we all do this and tread carefully and graciously when opening God’s Word rather than for one side to to pretend that “we don’t compromise the word of God one iota” while accusing the other side of having dangerous and “slippery” hermeneutics?
Thank you again for hanging in there with me. — Gordon



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Charles Pugh

posted August 29, 2009 at 9:18 pm


Dear Gordon, et al,
I have not avoided response, but have not yet been able to thoroughly think through and look over the websites you gave. 2 more VT students were brutally murdered a couple of days ago and my attention has been on issues there. I did write a related blog on my website too: http://www.vtlessonstolearn.com/node/118.
I’m glad Daniel could interact with you more on some particulars you raised. A few quick thoughts before I have to leave for another third shift night at work:
1. I would interact with Geocentrists the same way I do with everyone, but particular to whatever we are discussing.
2. You should be careful to not set up this as a straw man to argue your point. The same should not be done for what commentators have said, such as Martin Luther, whom you referenced. It is easy to point to problems in other people’s arguments and then use this to say yours must be correct.
3. As I referenced to Denis before, it is quite obvious and logical to conclude that GOD had to create space to separate Himself from His Creation. You could call this a firmament if you’d like. I see this wrapped up in Genesis 1:1.
4. Perspective must be a consideration here too. When you look at the world from man’s limited viewpoint, you speak in those terms (c.f. much of Ecclesiastes). When you look at the world from GOD’s perspective (c.f. the “Thus Saith The LORD” statements and much of the teaching of Jesus) you have a different perspective.
5. The earth is the center of attention for the LORD and we can scientifically prove this–at least to date with NO signs of life anywhere else in the UNIVERSE! There are other thoughts there, which I cannot detail now. We understand more of the rotation today and see the relationship of celestial bodies to the Sun; there are interesting spiritual thoughts there too.
Well, I need to run for now. I hope to look more at what you referred me to and post again later.
Charles Pugh :-)



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J. Rice

posted August 29, 2009 at 11:07 pm


Premodern people had premodern cosmologies (and also premodern physiologies, etc., etc.). Thus, it should come as no shock that the Bible’s cosmology (as illustrated quite well in the article’s graphic, above) is premodern, and from our perspective, almost Neanderthal. That’s why, for one example, Joshua’s “long day” (Joshua 10) is literally true, but in a perverse and absurd sort of way. Yes, the sun really did stand still; but it did so because in its orbital relation to the earth, it always was and always will be still.
If you think that the Bible magically fell out of the sky from the deity, then you can start asking all kinds of fallacious questions of the texts. You can ask an ancient Near-Eastern creation narrative (whose genre is mythological) modern geological and biological questions. When you do so, as did Ussher in the 17th-century and as do modern-day fundamentalists, you get all sorts of absurd answers.
But isn’t such questioning an unfair interrogation of the texts? If a man has multiple PhDs in English lit/poetry and has a tenured position at a top university, he’s probably one of the best in his field. So if I want to know something about Chaucer, Byron or etc. I should go to him. But if I ask him a physics question about particle acceleration, etc., he might draw a blank, and I might mistakenly think him to be a dullard. But he’s not. I’ve just asked him the wrong type of question, and in doing so have treated him with intellectual unfairness.
In like manner, it’s unfair to interrogate ancient scriptures with modern scientific questions. Instead, try to ask the right questions and you might get some really good answers. If we come away from Gen. 1 and 2 believing that the universe was formed by an intelligent, good creator, that the world is real (not just an illusion as in Shankara’s version of Vedanta), that the world is good and thus worthy of responsible stewardship, and that humans are endowed with great dignity, somehow being distinguished from other animals by being made in God’s image, that might be a very productive reading.
But if we come away from those chapters believing that an anthropomorphic deity sat on the ground, made a clay man and blew on it so it came to life; all in a single 24-hour period, then Dawkins, Harris, et. al. are correct that we’re delusional.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 30, 2009 at 9:49 am


Gordon, you state, “Heliocentric theory is a conclusion based on data taken from extra-biblical sources. It has no basis whatsoever within the text of Scripture.”
Even if you are correct, this does not constitute a problem. I believe in many things unspecified by Scripture. I believe I live in New York and that Albany is the capital of New York. However, these beliefs do not challenge the authority and pre-eminence of Scripture.
In contrast, Denis O. Lamoureux’s posting regarding the “3-Tier Universe” does! He reasons that since the science of the Bible is errant, we can just dismiss it in favor of evolution: “the Bible is not a book of science, but a book to meet the Lord.”
Clearly, he has chosen to define the Bible through the authoritative lens of the science community at the expense of Scripture. Nor can we limit the corrosive effect of Darwin’s acid to just the physical teachings of the Bible. If we apply this same theistic-evolution reasoning to the spiritual aspects of the Bible (“Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated…”), then we can set aside the entire corpus of Scripture in favor of the scientific consensus of our day.
The question becomes, “What is our foremost point of reference? Where do we find truth? What is most important to us? Is it Scripture or is it the modern scientific consensus?” Sadly, the theistic evolutionist has separated himself from the orthodox Christian community by his embrace of Darwin, as Karl Giberson demonstrates about his own Darwin-led transformation:
“Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science….[Darwin’s] acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, ‘Christ as the second Adam,’ the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (“Saving Darwin,” 9-10)
Although Giberson does claim that he has preserved some essentials of the Christian faith from Darwin’s acid, we’re left wondering how long this will be, now that he has allowed Darwin into the driver’s seat. At least Giberson is honest about what happens when we regard Darwin and macro-evolution as pre-eminent truth.
The question is also, “What does faithfulness to Christ entail? What does it mean to abide in His Word?” Does it mean that we can degrade parts of His Word which fail to conform to modernity and relegate them to an inferior position?
One comment asserted: “it’s unfair to interrogate ancient scriptures with modern scientific questions.” However, if Scripture is errant in what it teaches about the physical world, why not also the psychological world, the epistemological world, the world of history, and ultimately the spiritual world? Jesus stated that if one can’t get right the things of this world, then why suppose that he could get it right about the next world (John 3). If the Bible has been duped by errant science, perhaps also by errant psychology and eschatology?
Gordon, you conclude this way:
“We both understand the principle of accommodation, and we both allow some extra-biblical knowledge to influence how we understand and apply God’s Word to the study of nature…If this is the case, would it not be better to acknowledge that we all do this and tread carefully and graciously when opening God’s Word rather than for one side to pretend that ‘we don’t compromise the word of God one iota’ while accusing the other side of having dangerous and ‘slippery’ hermeneutics?”
Although graciousness is always in order (and I’ve consistently appreciated your contributions and tone), placing ideas on equal footing is not. Very real distinctions must be made. Similarly, Jesus sounded a warning, not so much against people, but against their teachings (Matthew 16:6). We too have a mandate to be on guard and to protect the glorious Gospel message (Jude 3) which transforms lives.
As Giberson has ably pointed out, some ideas, namely Darwin’s, are both powerful and corrosive of the Christian faith. Ironically, Giberson claims that we can happily embrace both Darwin and Jesus. The question that Christianity must ask is, “Which Jesus?” Another is this, “Can WE choose the verses that we are going to live by, and still regard them as God’s truth?”



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Beaglelady

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm



If we apply this same theistic-evolution reasoning to the spiritual aspects of the Bible (“Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated…”), then we can set aside the entire corpus of Scripture in favor of the scientific consensus of our day.

But we don’t apply “theistic-evolution reasoning” to spiritual matters. We don’t have to, and there is no reason to do so. That’s the whole point of Dr. Lamoureux’s post: “the Bible is not a book of science, but a book to meet the Lord.”
At any rate, the Ascension is not about Jesus blasting off like the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-128 mission.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm


Daniel,
I didn’t have to read more than the first paragraph of your last comment to conclude that you are still not understanding my point (although I did read the entire comment anyway). I know that I said my last comment was my last word on the subject. I said this because I didn’t think I could have stated my case any more clearly. But apparently I have failed miserably, so all I can do is apologize for not being able to communicate effectively.
Your analogy about living in NY is entirely moot since the bible makes no claims about your residence. I honestly don’t see how this analogy is even relavent to our present discussion. But when it comes to geocentricity, the Bible is clear. The earth does not move (unless God is angry and shakes its foundations), while the sun makes it way across the firmament each day, and hastens back to its place of rising each night. According to your stated hermeneutic, that should be your starting point for interpreting any claims based on extra-biblical considerations.
However, you state that these 67 passages of Scripture are not scientifically accurate — ok, great. But know this: for almost 1600 years, that was not the consensus among theologians. In fact, there is not one Christian who dismissed these verses as non-literal prior to the 16th century and many who explicitly warned against such dangers.
So the $64,000 question is this: why did modern Christians change their interpretation of these verses from literal to figurative/phenomenological? Did the text change? Were there other yet undiscoverd heliocentric texts that helped theologians to understand the many geocentric texts? Was there some fault in medieval systematic theology that necessitated a shift in cosmology?
I’d think the answer to all of these questions is a resounding NO! The reason for the paradigm shift had nothing to do with exegesis, and everything to do with scientific evidence. The traditional application of scripture just couldn’t stand up to the accumlating evidence that earth indeed moves. So theologians stopped fighting that battle and wisely concluded that the purpose of scripture is not to teach celestial mechanics (even though the bible clearly makes claims about heavenly phenomena).
So my point is this: your argument about starting with the Word of God and interpreting all evidence in light of its clear teaching is hollow. Unless you, Daniel Mann, are a biblical geocentrist, I don’t see how you can be consistent in your application of scripture to the study of nature.
Again, it’s very possible that I’m failing miserably to make my point in a coherent way. I apologize if I’m not being clear. Perhaps if there is anyone else out there passively observing our banter they can jump in?
Gordon



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Daniel Mann

posted August 30, 2009 at 8:24 pm


Gordon,
I’m glad you haven’t dropped out of the dialogue, even if it seems that we have reached an impasse. You wrote,
“There is not one Christian who dismissed these verses as non-literal prior to the 16th century and many who explicitly warned against such dangers.”
Although this is an interesting observation about how culture influences interpretation, this is irrelevant to my major concerns and even Lamoureux’s posting. My question isn’t about how theologians understand the Bible, but what the Bible actually teaches. In contrast, you seem to be preoccupied with questions of interpretation and therefore ask, “why did modern Christians change their interpretation of these verses from literal to figurative/phenomenological?”
I think I have been consistent in admitting that interpretation is influenced by many factors including personal maturity, culture and even our growth in knowledge, even the knowledge of science. However, the question of interpretation is very different from the question of whether or not the Bible’s teachings about the physical world are trustworthy. They are trustworthy, although perhaps difficult for us, who are not familiar with the culture and language of the Biblical periods, to interpret.
I’ve argued against Lamoureux’s contention that the teachings of the Bible endorse the errant ANE science, although perhaps employing its familiar language. While he claimed that the Bible taught that the earth didn’t move, I retorted that this couldn’t possibly have been the Bible’s teaching based upon the context and also the fact that the Bible also claims that the righteous shall not be moved. This usage makes it clear that this terminology is figurative rather than literal. The righteous clearly do literally move around!
You then wrote, “The reason for the paradigm shift had nothing to do with exegesis, and everything to do with scientific evidence. The traditional application of scripture just couldn’t stand up to the accumulating evidence that earth indeed moves.”
As I have pointed out, we can’t separate exegesis from our growth in knowledge. Ideally, they should work together. Allowing science to play a role in interpretation is the way it should be! This doesn’t compromise Scripture. What does compromise it are the blanket indictments issued by theistic evolutionists (TEs), disqualifying Scripture from teaching about the physical world. This creates a vacuum in Scripture, allowing evolution to be imposed. Even worse, TEs are both subtracting from the Word (its teachings) and adding to the Word (alien teachings) against the warnings of Scripture (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 30:6; Rev. 22:18). It’s not simply Genesis 1 and 2 that are compromised, but also the many NT teachings predicated upon it (Acts 3:21; Romans 8:20-22; Rev. 21-22).
Once TEs strip away science from the teachings of Scripture, there is no rationale to hold on to its teachings about history, geography, psychology, and finally sin and redemption. I don’t need to prove that we are looking at a slippery-slope. There are thousands of testimonies out there of Christians who started to slip on the Darwinian banana peel. Many of these have claimed that this initial slip had given them a sense of freedom, only to later find that they couldn’t/wouldn’t stop the slide.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 31, 2009 at 1:12 am


Daniel,
I do think we can agree on one thing — we appear to be at an impasse! However, for the sake of others who may be following our dialogue, I will do my best to address your concerns.
I think most TE’s would agree with you that the Scriptures are indeed trustworthy. But if a question is beyond the scope of their authority, then we should not feel compelled to call upon the Scriptures to answer it. Do you really think the mustard seed is the smallest of the seeds? Perhaps it was the smallest seed known to Jesus’ immediate audience, but only a fool would turn that into divinely-inspired botany! And if ANE taxonomy classifies bats with birds and whales with fish, then I would expect the biblical authors to make the same mistake (which they do). I read these passages as vestiges of ANE science, not as authoritive scientific teaching for out time. Clearly bats and whales are mammals — not birds / fish!
Likewise, with all of the evidence we now have suggesting how the cosmos works and how things came to be, I can’t understand why we would go to the scriptures for such knowledge — especially when confronted with the obvious fact that the biblical descriptions of the cosmos are in near-perfect alignment with those views commonly held by educated persons of that time and place.
Because of modern archeological finds, scholars today have very detailed descriptions of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cosmologies — something that no theologian had access to prior the mid 19th century. This has to effect how we understand scripture. It’s not that the Bible “endorses” the ANE science as you said, but rather there was simply no other vocabulary around at the time to describe the cosmos. We EC’s call this the principle of accommodation. The Holy Spirit shouldn’t have to prompt Moses to invent sturctures such as planets, galaxies and nebulae — structures that his immediate audience wouldn’t recognize. If revealing astronomical truth is not God’s intent, Moses can just label all of these things as “stars” and get on with it.
Likewise, we shouldn’t expect the creation of the physical heavens to look like the modern structure we know today, but the ancient dwelling place of God — complete with a solid dome, heavenly bodies beneath the dome, waters above the dome, heavenly storehouses used to hold parcipitation, and the windowns and doors (of heaven) form which the wind, rain, hail, and heavenly bodies entered and exited the firmament. And that is exactly what a plain and straightforward reading of Scripture clearly suggests.
Given this, it’s interesting to me that when the question is “what does the bible teach concerning the relative motion of the earth and sun” — you are quick to say “well, you know, interpretation can be tricky sometimes — we might have to consider the scientific evidence”. But when the question is “what does the bible teach concerning the age of the earth” — you want a superficial reading of Scripture to trump all evidence to the contrary. I just don’t get it (actually, I do get it because I thought the same thing for many years before the cognitive dissonance finnally caught up to me).
You are comfortably standing on one banana peel, and yet your only concern is with the peel I’m comfortably standing on. Ironically, you don’t seem the least bit aware of what it took just for you to be able to stand on your banana peel. The enlightenment and the anti-Christian attitudes of deism and atheism that followed the scientific revolution of the Renaisance were a direct result of the the Church caving in to the new astronomy. The Church lost a huge measure of intellectual capital and many people lost faith in the sufficiency of Scripture. For the first time in history, large numbers of educated westerners felt the freedom to think for themselves and to openly question the presumptive authority of the past.
Personally, I think the pendulum swang way too far and the baby (scripture) often got tossed out with the bathwater (wrong-headed interpretations / applications of scripture). But the Good news was that we now have a theology that is 100% compatible with a cosmos lacking a physical heaven and hell — and we now have a hermeneutic that is 100% compatible with a cosmos wherein the earth can move freely around the sun. And these same tools can be applied whenever general and special revelation seem to clash!
You said, “the question of interpretation is very different from the question of whether or not the Bible’s teachings about the physical world are trustworthy.” But are they? How do we know we’ve got the right interpretation? You obviously don’t think the bible’s teaching on celestial mechanics is trustworthy (or at least the traditional interpretation of it), even though it was considered trustworthy for thousands of years. For you it’s simple: they had it wrong; we now have it right.
But my question to you is this: how do we know that we are right and everybody else (prior to the 16th century) was wrong? If we are going to toss out a few thousand years of exegetical precedent, then we should at least be clear on what basis we are doing this — should we not? I submit that were it not for modern science, specifically Renaisance astronomy, we would interpret the bible today no differently than the generations of Christians and Jews that preceeded Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton.
I think we have more than enough data to confidently say that we (Christians) were wrong to claim that the Bible required a 6000 year-old universe. And we were wrong to claim that our theology required no physical death before the fall. This admission is no different than acknoleging that we were wrong to say that the Bible required us to believe that the heavens were immutable or that the sun orbited a fixed earth. In other words, the Bible is doing just fine: but we Christians have a long and embarrasing track-record of applying it incorrectly and demanding that it answer questions well outside of its original scope.
Gordon



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Daniel Mann

posted August 31, 2009 at 2:30 pm


Gordon,
I sincerely sympathize with you in your search to resolve your sense of “cognitive dissonance.” I too share this quest, but it seems that we have found different solutions. Your example of the mustard seed illustrates this. You might be right that smallest of seeds, mentioned by Jesus as a “mustard seed” (at least, translated into English as such), may not be the smallest seed. But it might have been the smallest seed with which His audience had familiarity. To have scientifically cited the smallest seed might simple have perplexed His audience if they had had no familiarity with it!
This leads us back to the source of our differences. Did Jesus’ use of “mustard seed” as the smallest seed reflect:
1. His errant view of the physical world or
2. His willingness to use familiar terminology for the sake of understanding?
Lamoureux has clearly selected #1, that Jesus was wrong. This of course carries the conclusion that, in many regards, we can’t trust what Jesus teaches. This conclusion makes us the judge of Scripture—to decide where Scripture is errant and where it’s not—in place of Scripture judging us! It also forces upon us an unbiblical distinction: that we can trust Jesus’ spiritual teaching but not His teachings about this world.
Alternative #2 suggests that we have to be careful about determining what Jesus was actually teaching, and therefore sensitive to the immediate context and even the overall context of Biblical revelation in order to determine whether or not we are looking at phenomenal language. (You have appropriately pointed out that interpretation can be very difficult, and this suggests that some degree of tentativeness is appropriate regarding many of our conclusions.) Likewise, #2 also rules out TE’s thesis that the Bible is teaching errant science, which we should therefore replace with the more reliable teaching of evolution.
It is here that you seem to equivocate. On the one hand, you wrote that, “the Scriptures are indeed trustworthy,” but then you seem to side with #1, writing that the Biblical cosmology follows that of the ANE and is therefore untrustworthy. But then you make another twist: “It’s not that the Bible ‘endorses’ the ANE science…but rather there was simply no other vocabulary around at the time to describe the cosmos.” Bravo!
This latter statement conforms to #2, but other things you say conform to #1. Either the Bible is trustworthy or it isn’t. I think that the TEs have reduced their cognitive dissonance by enthroning evolution as their guiding light and ultimate authority and therefore have coerced the Bible into conformity—an offense to our Lord (Mat. 15:8-9).
In your final paragraph you wrote, “And we were wrong to claim that our theology required no physical death before the fall.” Indeed, this is a contentious question between old and young earthers.
Whichever way we decide, we must humble ourselves before the authority and clear teachings of Scripture, of which there are a number outside of Genesis 1-3:
1. Genesis 5:29 He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.” (This suggests that we need to take the curse and the resulting corruption of the original creation as literal!)
2. Acts 3:21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (This is talking about our final hope, which could not possibly be fulfilled by a restoration to a world of survival-of-the-fittest!)
3. Romans 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (If death came through Adam, then we have no Scriptural warrant to say that it pre-dated Adam!)
4. Romans 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (The creation had been “subjected” to “decay,” it was not created that way!)
Let me add here that if you change the revelation regarding death and Adam, you must necessarily also modify the theology about the 2nd Adam, Jesus!
When you so dogmatically state that death had to pre-date Adam, you do so against the many counter-indications of Scripture. On what basis? Evidently, you have adopted a higher, more trustworthy authority that has allowed you to set aside certain verses.
I am deeply sorry for having to say something so offensive, but I write this compelled by Scripture itself. I pray you understand.



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Gordon

posted August 31, 2009 at 3:37 pm


Daniel,
I checked the site this afternoon and found that you just responded — how providential is that?
I’m curious: where have I said the bible is not trustworthy? My whole point is that the bible is trustworthy as long as it is faithfully interpreted — and in our interpretations, we must carefully consider what the text is attempting to teach and not go beyond that (as creation science does). Our apparent agreement about Jesus’ use of the mustard seed demonstrates this, as does our agreement that the bible is not explicity teaching geocentricism despite the many passages that refer only to this arrangement, and the incompatibility of heliocentricism with Christ’s physical ascension.
And I’m 99.99% sure that Denis L. would not say that the ancient science presented the Scriptures makes them untrustworthy for what they are intended to teach. So now I’m wondering who gave you the impression that Evolutionary Creationists don’t trust the bible? Hopefully we can move past that straw man.
You said, “I think that the TEs have reduced their cognitive dissonance by enthroning evolution as their guiding light and ultimate authority and therefore have coerced the Bible into conformity—an offense to our Lord.”
O.K. — a little too wordy for a bumper sticker, but a geocentrist could just as easily say, “I think that the heliocentrists have reduced their cognitive dissonance by enthroning modern astronomy as their guiding light and ultimate authority and therefore have coerced the Bible into conformity—an offense to our Lord.” In fact, that is exactly what they say! Go to their websites and see for yourself. They claim that the only reason Christians accept heliocentric astronomy is that they have elevated man-made science above God’s word. And yet your answer to them is simply, “sorry, your interpretation is incorrect.” Don’t you see the irony here?
As far your theological / scriptural case for no death before the fall — I get it. I sang that same tune for many years. But no matter loudly you sing the song, it doesn’t make the physical evidence of death before sin go away. You seem to ignore this observation just because it doesn’t fit your theology — just as all of Christendom ignored Supernova 1054 because it didn’t fit thier medieval theology (while Chinese, Arab, and Native American astronomers all made detailed records of this event).
There is a big pink elephant in the room with us. I’m asking you what does this big pink elephant mean? And you are trying to warn me of the philosophical consequences of believing in pink elephants! But… it’s standing the right there… looking at me? You would experience this same frustration in arguing with a biblical geocentrists who offered you only the many bible passages that describe heaven as a physical place above the clouds! And proceeded to wear you down with qustions like, “How it is that Christ has ascended in bodily form and is physically seated at the right of God if you spritualize away the physical heavens? What next? Are we to then believe that Christ’s resurrection was not physical, but some sort of spiritual event? Paul said that if Christ has not been raised then our faith is futile. Ergo: heliocentricism = futile faith.” Blah blah blah…
In fact, I could turn your exact statement around. “When you so dogmatically state that there is no physical heaven above the clouds, you do so against the many counter-indications of Scripture. On what basis? Evidently, you have adopted a higher, more trustworthy authority that has allowed you to set aside certain verses.”
But even you would agree that when it comes to taxonomy, the size of seeds, or celestial mechanics — science is more trustworthy than scripture!!!!
As you can probably tell, I’ve had the distinct “pleasure” of debating these modern-day geocentrists. It is indeed ans exercise in futitlity, but I can tell you that there is little difference between their hermeneutic and yours (except perhaps that they are more consistent)!
I found nothing offensive in your last comment, but I appreciate your caution. Thank you for continuing to be gracious despite the frustations that our dialogue may be causing.



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted August 31, 2009 at 4:21 pm


Dear Charles,
You wrote:
“3. As I referenced to Denis before, it is quite obvious and logical to conclude that GOD had to create space to separate Himself from His Creation. You could call this a firmament if you’d like. I see this wrapped up in Genesis 1:1.”
Charles, this is NOT what the Hebrew word (raqia’) means. Using your methodology, you could turn the Bible into just about anything you fancy. In contrast to you, I SUBMIT to the very words in the Word of God.
Best,
Denis



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted August 31, 2009 at 4:25 pm


Dear Beaglelady,
You wrote:
“At any rate, the Ascension is not about Jesus blasting off like the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-128 mission.”
Clever, very clever! With your permission, I’ll be using this in my Sci-Rel class this term.
Thanks,
Denis



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Daniel Mann

posted August 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm


Gordon,
Your argument sometimes becomes, “We have been wrong in our interpretations before. Therefore, you shouldn’t be dogmatic about your interpretation now.”
Although this should give us a reason for caution and some restraint, it becomes incoherent if taken literally. It means that any scientist, theologian, ethicist, judge or simply a grandmother can’t be dogmatic about anything because they’ve been wrong before. However, this reasoning is inherently dogmatic, but claims you can’t be dogmatic, and so it disqualifies itself.
You compare my dismissal of TE with the geocentrists’ dismissal of my science or observation-based heliocentrism. I don’t think that the analogy holds for a number of reasons:
1. Heliocentrists can faithfully construe the Biblical evidence against geocentrism so that the Bible isn’t compromised. I don’t think that TEs can get to first base in this regards.
2. There is nothing in the Bible that constrains us from using external wisdom or scholarship for interpretive purposes as long as it doesn’t nullify Scripture. TE necessarily does violence to Scripture. Heliocentrism doesn’t! Although as you say, the geocentrist might accuse me of having “elevated man-made science above God’s word,” I haven’t done so. I hope I have already demonstrated how Scripture can be legitimately construed against geocentrism.
3. While your geocentrists seem to be a strange bunch, I don’t regard their ideas as dangerous as Darwin’s corrosive acid that will consume the entire Christian faith if given a foothold, as many lives have evidenced. Besides, as uneducated and kooky as the geocentrist might be, he perhaps shows more of a desire to honor God by abiding, however mistakenly, in His Word. “Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
Similarly, when I question the directionality of heaven and hell, I still recognize that I am bound by the revelation of Scripture. I might decide that the language is phenomenal (language of appearance), but I will have to be convinced exegetically of this. I think that this is very different from declaring the Bible errant in many of the things it teaches about the physical world, not because of internal and contextual reasons, but because of eisogetic reasons (applying an alien philosophy upon Scripture).
You claim that I am unwilling to look at the evidence for pre-Adam death. I do regard such evidence, but my confidence in Scripture instructs me to regard this evidence as insufficient to override Scripture. However, you seem to regard these scientific findings as more certain than Scripture and consequently seek to re-align Scripture accordingly.
Believe me, I do not pretend that your pink elephant doesn’t exist. He is simply not so imposing to my eye. Indeed, we may fail to resolve all of the dissonance. I can’t answer every challenge that the evolutionist pitches my way. However, we’ve established our priorities and have decided to accept a certain degree of dissonance, but in different areas. But as Paul proclaimed: “Let God be true and every man (including scientists) a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Gordon, thanks for bearing with me!



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 31, 2009 at 7:35 pm


Please disregard that last comment. I refreshed my browser and it pulled this old comment from my chache.
Administrator: please delete my last comment, thanks!
Gordon



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Gordon J. Glover

posted August 31, 2009 at 7:36 pm


I know this has to end eventually, but if you would be so kind as to indulge once more…
“Heliocentrists can faithfully construe the Biblical evidence against geocentrism so that the Bible isn’t compromised. I don’t think that TEs can get to first base in this regards.” — Let me get this straight: your response to the biblical geocentrists is that they are imposing questions upon the text (questions of celestial mechanics) that are outside the scope of biblical authority. We would agree that those 67 passages, however geocentric they might be on the surface, are set firmly within a particular cosmological context that was culturally bound and is therefore not authoritative for modern Christians. Moreover, scientific discovery has helped inform our hermeneutic so that the Bible is not made to teach false science. But my response to the Young Earth Creationst is no different: they are imposing questions upon the text (questions of natural history and geologic processes) that are outside the scope of biblical authority. And the mountains of evidence suggesting that the age of the earth far exceeds the biblical estimate has helped inform our hermeneutic so that the Bible is not made to teach false science.
I still don’t see the difference.
“Although as you say, the geocentrist might accuse me of having “elevated man-made science above God’s word,” I haven’t done so.” — yes Daniel, you have. You have taken heliocentric theory, which has no basis in Scripture and didn’t even exist until the 16th century, and elevated it above the plain and straightforward reading of scripture which unequivocally describes the cosmos as geocentric.
“I hope I have already demonstrated how Scripture can be legitimately construed against geocentrism.” — No, you haven’t. Show me one verse that supports this and I will show you 67 that support geocentricism. And where there is ambiguity, such as you have raised with the word “established” or the phenomenological use of the terms “rising” and “setting” – we are bound to interpret the less-clear passages by the more-clear passages.
“I might decide that the language is phenomenal (language of appearance), but I will have to be convinced exegetically of this. I think that this is very different from declaring the Bible errant in many of the things it teaches about the physical world, not because of internal and contextual reasons, but because of eisogetic reasons (applying an alien philosophy upon Scripture). — Sounds good, but there is nothing internal to Scripture suggesting that the 67 geocentric verses are phenomenological. If there were, then at least one theologian should have noticed this prior to the 17th century. But alas, it was the alien philosophy of heliocentricm that gave us no other choice but to claim these passages as phenomenological as a last resort to spare the Scriptures from false teaching. As I have been arguing all along, your acceptance of heliocentricsm and a spiritual heaven is based on 100% extrabilical evidence over and against a plain reading of Scrpture.
“You claim that I am unwilling to look at the evidence for pre-Adam death. I do regard such evidence, but my confidence in Scripture instructs me to regard this evidence as insufficient to override Scripture.” — but you’ve already shown us that you are willing to override scripture (by slapping the “phenomenological” label upon it) when the scientific evidence is sufficient to warrant such a move. So perhaps we need to go on a field trip? I could show you things that have no coherent interpretation other than that the earth is much older than a plain reading of Genesis would seem to suggest, and death has been a natural part of the created order long before the creation of man.
Gordon



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Beaglelady

posted August 31, 2009 at 7:50 pm


“At any rate, the Ascension is not about Jesus blasting off like the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-128 mission.”

Dr. Lamoureux,
I’d be honored!!
-Beaglelady



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Beaglelady

posted August 31, 2009 at 7:51 pm


Dr. Lamoureux,
I meant to say I’d be honored for you to use my comment.
-BeagleLady



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Charles Pugh

posted August 31, 2009 at 11:01 pm


To Denis, Gordon, Daniel, Beaglelady, et. al,
A few comments are in order and I wish to also specifically address our esteemed author who began this discussion. I believe we all desire to speak biblically and logically and as aptly conveyed, graciously.
Denis,
I find it fascinating that you have quickly judged me conform to a methodology where “you could turn the Bible into just about anything you fancy.” That sounds like the P.K. Principle I plan to write about some day, though to be fair, it could be that I have not yet engaged to the level of detail that Daniel has.
To your point:
While I am not a Hebrew scholar, I have some basic understanding of Hebrew words and do in fact “SUBMIT to the very words of the Word of God” (note the relevant slight difference there ). I also have access to the many wonderful tools we each can utilize to study Genesis 1:1, etc. I did not specify the word for “beginning” to represent the word for space in Genesis 1:1. As I understand it and for purposes of meaningful discussion, we have 5 separate words there:
1. H7225
ראשׁית
rê’shîyth
ray-sheeth’
This is where I see TIME, which was Created, as we understand GOD to be Eternal. Time is relative, depending on your fixed point of measurement. Along with all of the “data” (often deified to discount or at best diminish the Inerrancy of Scripture), thinking about Sci. Fi. programs and literature can also stretch your understanding there. :-)
2. H430
אלהים
‘ĕlôhîym
el-o-heem’
GOD, Who we understand to be a plurality from this very word and further revealing Himself in Creation, the Covenants (Scripture) and the Person of Jesus CHRIST.
3. H1254
בּרא
bârâ’
baw-raw’
“Create” or “call into existence” is what GOD has done. HE only being ETERNAL (Deuteronomy 33:27; 1 Timothy 1:17, etc.) . This includes everything that is not GOD, be it time, space, or matter.
4. H8064
שׁמה שׁמים
shâmayim shâmeh
shaw-mah’-yim, shaw-meh’
“Heaven” is also plural in ending here as with Elohim and can be translated “heaven” or “heavens.” We do not translate Elohim as “GODS” as this would distort our understanding of GOD’s Unity. Starting with only GOD, who is ETERNAL, this word must then encompass what holds everything that is not GOD, thus SPACE.
5. H776
ארץ
‘erets
eh’-rets
The EARTH becomes the focal point for the additional words describing the work of GOD. This is the MATTER from which GOD forms the remainder of His Creation.
Therefore, on the very words of Scripture, I conclude that GOD, a diverse Being, Created from nothing all of the Space-Time-Matter Universe. This is the plain reading of the text and the foundation for everything else we understand.
It is easy to get lost in the opinions of man. Scripture is also clear there. The very center verse of the Bible echoes this as well:
Psa 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
Gordon,
I would like to address what you asked me before, yet do not want to do so without looking further at the particular arguments of the geocentrists, with whom you obviously have extensively interacted. You need not believe that biblical consistency is limited to a geocentrist position. You are welcome to give me a particular passage or two to discuss as a reference if you want a more immediate response.
Also, if you wish to use “data” as your overwhelming argument for your current position, that is fine, yet specific data must continue to be referenced, analyzed and compared in order to get beyond the alleged “impasse.”
When the organization I founded at Virginia Tech sponsored a Creation/Evolution Debate (along with the Freethinker organization), we found that it was important to follow up with a more particular discussion. Our group alone then sponsored another event (far less in attendance than the approximately 1,100 who came for the Debate), which we entitled “Creationism Explained.” There, a panel of 6 people, including myself, a couple of students in our group, a biologist, a medical doctor, and a professor all discussed more foundational issues, including Interpretation of the data being a key point explaining the varying positions.
Daniel, I appreciate your detailed interaction in this discussion in ways I have not had time or been able to address. It appears to me at this point, we are more aligned in our understanding, whereas Denis and Gordon or more aligned with their understanding.
Beaglelady,
Good to hear from you too, though in a much less detailed way. ;-) I concur that it would be unrealistic to visualize the ascension of Jesus as a blasting off of the space shuttle or something. Acts 1 and not television conception or observation of NASA endeavors gives us the primary Scriptural data there.
Grace and Peace to all,
Charles :-)



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Beaglelady

posted September 1, 2009 at 7:13 am


Charles,
FYI, Dr. Lamoureux is an expert on the 1st 11 chapters of Genesis.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 1, 2009 at 8:52 am


Charles,
Good to hear from you again. You might be right about looking at the data together. When it comes questions about the antiquity of the earth, and thus questions about death occuring before the creation of man, it helps to move from the general to the particulars.
The particulars in this case would be the geologic column with its many layers superimposed one atop the other. Each layer contains the fossilized remains of past ecosystems — and only the topmost layer ever contains human remains. Let us set aside the theory of evolution for the time being, since this is merely a way for scientists to explain the universal and consistent progession of flora and fauna up the geologic column in terms of natural causes. For the young-earth creationist, the more pressing problem is why is there a geologic column in the first place? The very existence of this universal structure baffled geologists of the early 19th century who were operating from within the general framework of Genesis.
The fundamental challenge posed by the geologic column is this: is it the result of a single year-long global flood, or does it represent a much longer period of time and can therefore be used as a chronological index of what species lived during what periods of earth history? If the former is true, then there is no reason to abandon traditional interpretations of Scripture that attribute physical death to the fall of man (ca. 4000 BC). However, if the latter is true then we have a problem. Either the Bible is useless and our faith is irrational, or we need to return to the Scriptures with a hermeneutic that is robust enough to accommodate the facts of nature. EC’s and TE’s opt for the latter. Since God is the author of both general and special revelation, our efforts to reconcile all truth as God’s truth should not be in vein.
But before we examine the particulars, it helps to begin with the general age of the cosmos. For the purposes of our current discussion, it matters not whether the universe is 13.7 billion years old, 15 billion years, or whatever. What matters is that it is older than 6,000 years by several orders of magnitude.
The easiest way to demonstrate this is simply to look up. Our milky way Galaxy is 100,000 light years across. Our solar systems is about 2/3 of the way from the center to the perimeter. The Andromeda galaxy, at 2.2 million light years from earth, can be seen with a pair of binoculars. Light travels through empty space at 186,000 miles per second — or 1 ly per year. Ever since the mid 80’s when speed of light began to be measured to a high precision using lasers, the measurement never waivers. In fact, the standard meter is now expressed in terms of how far light travels through empty space in a given abount of time.
The fact that our visible horizon extends beyond 6,000 light years should be enough to make any reasonable person think twice about young earth creationism. There are only 4 ways a strict concordist can resolve this obvious tension: (1) God created all light from beyond 6,000 ly en route, (2) The speed of light was many times greater after creation, and has been steadily decaying ever since, (3) all visible objects are actually located within a 6,000 ly radius from earth, and (4) the cosmos really is old, but because of relativistic time dialtion effects, it is actually “young” when measured in earth years (similar to the twin paradox).
I’m not sure which of these 4 explanations you assume resolves the tension created by taking in nightime view of the Milky Way across the winter sky (assuming you seek in your own mind to resolve such tensions), but I’d be happy to discuss any of them. If I misunderstood your request to “reference the data” then I apologize and we don’t have to dive into this.
Gordon



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted September 1, 2009 at 11:14 am


Dear Charles,
Nice try. So you know how to cut & paste stuff. Might impress some, but for those of us in the theological academy, your attempt to justify yourself is just smoke & mirrors.
You missed the point completely. You wrote:
“3. As I referenced to Denis before, it is quite obvious and logical to conclude that GOD had to create space to separate Himself from His Creation. You could call this a firmament if you’d like. I see this wrapped up in Genesis 1:1.”
The firmament is NOT a “space” between God and His creation, because that is not the meaning of the word firmament. The firmament is a hard (firm) structure holding up the “waters above.”
Bottom line: concordism fails (again). The Holy Spirit accommodated and used the astronomy-of-the-day in the revelatory process.
Submit to the words in God’s Word.
Blessings,
Denis



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Daniel Mann

posted September 1, 2009 at 11:57 am


Gordon,
We seem to be honing in and getting down to some specifics, and I think that’s important. You wrote, “As I have been arguing all along, your acceptance of heliocentricsm and a spiritual heaven is based on 100% extrabilical evidence over and against a plain reading of Scrpture.”
While you are correct about my using extra-Biblical material as an aid to interpretation, you are mistaken about it being “over and against a plain reading of Scripture.” You will have to show some specifics here.
You also charge, “you are willing to override scripture (by slapping the “phenomenological” label upon it…” Once again, you must demonstrate how regarding the terminology of Scripture as “phenomenological” overrides Scripture. Clearly, Scripture uses terminology in many different ways. Jesus refers to Himself as a “door” and a “way” or road. This shouldn’t be understood as Jesus teaching that He’s made of wood or stone. The responsible interpreter (or exegete) must seek to understand the terminology in the manner in which they were used and intended to be understood.
When I challenged Lamoureux’s contention that the Bible’s statement that the “earth could not be moved” proved that it taught ANE cosmology, it went unanswered. Among other things, I argued that this same terminology is also applied to the righteous “who could not be moved,” proving that the usage is figurative and shouldn’t be used to understand that the bible taught that the earth literally couldn’t move. In pointing out the way Scripture legitimately uses phenomenal or figurative terminology, I’m not overriding Scripture but clarifying it.
This is in contrast to Lamoureux. You had claimed that I had been mistaken in charging that he denigrated Scripture by claiming that it taught errant ANE theology. So I went back to check. He contrasts my position — “even if the Bible uses ANE familiar terminology, it doesn’t teach ANE cosmology” – with his own – that the Biblical authors had it WRONG and did teach ANE theology!
“Of course, many Christians are quick to point out that all of passages cited above are only “appearances” in nature. That is, these are phenomenological descriptions (Greek phainomenon: appearance). The earth “looks” flat, “seems” to be surrounded by water, and “feels” stationary; the sky gives the “impression” of being a blue body of water overhead; and the sun “appears” to cross the dome of the sky, rising and setting every day. However, to ancient peoples like the biblical authors and their readers, these are descriptions of the actual structure and operation of the universe. As history reveals, the notion that the earth was immovable and that the sun moved daily across the sky was part of astronomy up until the early 1600s. In fact, this was the issue of the Galileo controversy.”
Of course, it follows that if the Biblical authors had it wrong, then Jesus also had it botanically wrong when He stated that the mustard seed was the smallest seed. I don’t want to lay out, at this point, the various reasons why I believe that the Bible is fully God-breathed and therefore without errors. I just want to point out that TEs have a sub-Christian view of Scripture.
Accordingly, Jesus also had it wrong about going up to heaven and down to earth. He had endorsed the errant ANE cosmology at this point, according to TEs. And He had it wrong about many other spiritual matters, unless we become sensitized to the way He used language (plucking out eyes and cutting off hands). This represents responsible interpretation, not like the TEs who claim that the Bible is teaching errant science merely because the Bible uses the language familiar to the people.
This brings us back to our view of Scripture. Do we really treat it as fully God-breathed or do we manipulate it in accordance with a more important goal. Hitler tried to appropriate it in a way similar to the TEs. He attempted to forge a rival church—the German Christians—claiming that we were to serve God in the spiritual matters of our heart. However, in our physical and external life we were to serve the State.
TEs attempt to do something similar, claiming that we can trust Scripture in spiritual matters, but not in physical matters. As bogus as this distinction was for the Germans, it remains bogus and unscriptural for us today.
Charles, I do intend to read your contribution to our discussion and Gordon’s response!



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm


From the homepage of http://www.staticearth.net
“Since a stationary Earth is THE foundational creation fact in the Bible, it is also the taproot of Bible credibility! Along with the creation of all biological life and mankind which followed, God’s creation of an immovable, stationary Earth constitutes the basis – the taproot – for His “tree of knowledge” with its trunk (the creation of mankind) and all its limbs and branches. Satan knows that if he can kill this taproot – this foundational knowledge – with pseudo-science this would cause the whole “tree of knowledge” to wither and die in time. That’s why he started there first!”
You can find the list of 67 geocentric bible verses by following this link — http://www.staticearth.net/verses.html
Let us consider why, in every single instance, the Scriptures describe the geocentric arrangement and never refer to the modern arrangement. These biblical descriptions of geocenticism go far beyond the phenomenological descriptions of “sunrise” and “sunset” — and they do not hang on the translation of a few words like “established” or “unmoved”, but are pervasive throughout the Scriptures.
This is not to say the the Bible specifically teaches that all Christians living in the 21st century must be geocentric in their cosmology, but if you were strictly looking to the scriptures to answer the question of whether it is the earth moves around the sun or vice versa: geocentricity is all you will find from Genesis to Revelation. Why is that? Let us consider the facts of history…
Aside from a Greek outsider named Hipparcus who lived in the 2nd century BC, there is no indication from any historical record that people seriously considered a moving earth until the mid 16th century when Copernicus offered the heliocentric system as a way to reduce the cumbersome epicyles that plagued Ptolemy’s system.
Kepler did away with Aristotle’s perfect circular orbits in 1605. In 1610, Galileo observed several phenomena that were incompatible with geocentric cosmology with his new telescope. And when Newton published his Principia in 1687, the physics of the earthly and heavenly realms was unified into one system — destroying the immutable heavens of Aristotle, Augstine and Aquinas forever.
Once people were freed from the presumptive authority of the past (ie: Aristotle’s philosophy conflated with Christian theology), they embraced the heliocentric system even though there was no direct evidence to support a moving earth. Ironically, evidence demonstrating the orbit of earth around the sun did not come until Friedrich Bessel observed the parallax of Alpha Centari in 1838. And evidence demonstrating the earth’s rotation did not come until 1851 when the French physicist Léon Foucault hung his famous pendulum in the Paris observatory.
I believe that the reason we find only geocentric cosmology in the Scriptures is simple — geocentricism was the best most up-to-date science of the day. When you or I say “sunrise” or “sunset” it’s obviously phenomenological because we are fully aware of Earth’s double motion. When Isaiah says in 55:10 that the “trees clap their hands” this is also a literary device because Isaiah must have known, as we do, that trees don’t have hands.
But when the Psalmist says that the heavens are like a tent for the sun to dwell in, and that the sun enters the sky like a bridegroom coming forth from his chambers, and runs across the firmament like a champion to run his course, and then during the night the sun hastens back to his place of rising — well, that’s a little too much detail to be casually dismissed as phonomenological. Especially when one consideres that viewing the sun as an orb that enters/exists the sky-dome each day/night through chambers at the east/west horizons was a common misconception of that time and place (see the picture posted by Denis above).
These are errors by 21st century standards, even though they were considered factual accounts of nature by ANE standards. Do we impose our post-enlightment cosmology onto the ancient scriptures, or do we judge them by the same standards that their immediate audience would have judged them by? Had Moses or the Psalmist described a heliocentric cosmology, the Scriptures would have contained errors at the time of their writing since there was no extra-cultural stanard by which to evalute scientific statments. In fact, the only way that God’s people would have known of an alternate (non-geocentric cosmology) was for God to reveal it to them. And if He did reveal it to them, then we should find it in the Scriptures. But we don’t find it! What we find is 100% geocentric.
So we conclude that since God does not teach error, these scriptures are not scientifically binding on us today. How could they be? Do we conclude that God knows less about the cosmos than Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler or Newton? That would be absurd! So we use the principle of accommodation and conclude that God allowed the biblical authors to use culturally-local science when describing the created world.
Now there are folks who think this is a dangerous move. You think it’s dangerous when done to accommodate the extrabiblical evidence concerning the age and formational history of the earth. Others think it is dangerous when done to accommodate the extrabilical evidence concerning the motion of the earth and sun. Ironically, even these geocentrists dismiss the Bible’s many descriptions of a flat earth as language accommodated to a pre-scientific culture! But for some reason, when it comes the relative motion of the earth and sun, they don’t like the fact that God would allow the biblical authors to make scientific statements that later generations of Christians would judge as false by a science that didn’t exist during biblical times. So they reject the notion that earth moves.
And in doing so they emply all of the same arguments that you are using against me to defend a universe that was recently created more or less in its present state.
Gordon



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Daniel Mann

posted September 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm


Gordon,
Thanks for your response. I do appreciate your perspective on science and have learned from it. However, to return to our point of departure—I had challenged you with two concerns:
1. To prove that the Bible is errant in that it teaches errant ANE cosmology.
2. To prove your two charges:
a. “You [Daniel] are willing to override scripture (by slapping the “phenomenological” label upon it…”
b. “As I [Gordon] have been arguing all along, your acceptance of heliocentricsm and a spiritual heaven is based on 100% extrabilical evidence over and against a plain reading of Scripture.”
You’ve barely dealt with #1, although you’ve reiterated your claim that there is great similarlity between what the Bible says and ANE cosmology. However, you have not demonstrated that the Bible’s usage of familiar ANE language reflects the actual teachings of the Bible.
In regards to #2, you cited one Psalm (19) as evidence that “These are errors by 21st century standards” and insist that I am “overriding Scripture” by ignoring this “evidence.” You wrote,
“But when the Psalmist says that the heavens are like a tent for the sun to dwell in, and that the sun enters the sky like a bridegroom coming forth from his chambers, and runs across the firmament like a champion to run his course, and then during the night the sun hastens back to his place of rising — well, that’s a little too much detail to be casually dismissed as phonomenological.”
This terminology, this context and this genre of literature is clearly poetic. It twice makes use of simile (“like”) and several metaphors (“bridegroom,” “champion,” “runs,” “hastens”). Even before the verses you cited, this Psalm declares that “they pour forth speech…display knowledge.” Clearly, the Psalm isn’t attaching a pagan understanding to the skies, teaching that they literally speak or that the sun is a “bridegroom” and will be getting married.
It is not teaching errant ANE cosmology. It is celebrating the glory of God’s works which are not a collection of random, lawless, pattern-less occurrences, but phenomena that demonstrate God’s laws, wisdom and sovereignty, as did the Mosaic laws (Psalm 19:7-11) to which the Psalmist compares them. In fact, this demonstrates that Scripture anticipated later scientific findings regarding the incredible regularity and fine-tuning of the universe. In this sense, Scripture does teach science, contrary to the assertions of the TEs.
You haven’t even begun to demonstrate your assertion—that I override Scripture as the TEs do. But even more importantly, as have the other TEs, you have charged Scripture with error—something you have yet to prove.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 1, 2009 at 8:58 pm


Daniel,
Let me try this: imagine an isolated tribe in South America that has little contact witht the outside world. They are not in any way influenced by modern science and everything they understand about the world around them is derived from simple observation. However, they do have a primitive form of writing and all members of their community are educated in their spoken and written language, customs and traditions.
Now imagine that we send a team into their camp to copy some of their texts and are majically able to translate their writing into English (I know, it takes time to figure out a tribal tounge, but bear with me on this one). One thing that immediately becomes clear is that they firmly believe the sun and moon are discus shaped rather than spherical. Not only do we have this in writing, but they actually have detailed drawings of what they think these objects look like from the side and they are clearly 2-dimensional.
Pretend now that you decide to become pen-pals with a particular member of this tribe. You write to him and ask how his day is and he responds with the following, “The morning sun glows red like an earthen dinner plate”. Would anyone in their right mind conclude that his description of the moon is phenomenological, allegorical or poetic? Now if your wife said this to you, then sure. But what magnitude of special pleading is required to insist that despite having no prior contact with the outside world, and despite being educated according to the all the customs and triditions of the tribe, that somehow this individual really knows the moon is a sphere and is choosing to have poetic moment? Please.
That is, in effect, what you are saying about the human authors of the Scripture.
We have a very detailed account of what the Egypitans believed about the cosmos. If you want to believe that Moses, despite being educated in the best Egyptian schools according to all the wisdom of Egypt, had some sort of advanced non-errant knowledge of the cosmos as we know it today, but chose instead to describe it in phenomenological, allegorical, and poetic terms using a cosmological lexicon that just happens to mirror the errant structure of the ANE cosmos, then I have nothing left to say.
Concerning #1 above: I never said that the Bible teaches errant cosmology. I do maintain that the Bible’s description of the physical cosmos is incorrect by modern standards, but that is not the same thing as staying the Bible teaches falsehoods. Since the Holy Spirit never intended to teach science in the first place, we are wrong to force the Scriptures to answer qeustions about the structure, operation or formational history of the cosmos — as the modern geocentrists do.
Concerning #2 above: Even though I don’t believe the Bible requires Christians today to hold an errant cosmology, if one choses to ignore scientific discovery and build a cosmology strictly according to the biblical text, they will end up with a errant cosmos that is nearly identical to that which all ANE cultures believed. This fact can not be denied or explained away by claiming the authors had correct knowledge of the cosmos but chose instead to use literary devices.
So any Christian, such as Daniel, Denis and Gordon, who accepts a modern comology, is in effect denying the literal truth of the cosmos as described [but not explicity taught] by the Bible and is instead employing non-traditional interpretations of these passages by either (1) making them allegorical, phenomenological or poetic [Daniel]; or (2) recognizing them as accommodations to an ancient [temporal] science that is incidenctal to the timeless [eternal] message of scripture [Gordon and Denis].
Knowing what we know about ANE culture and cosmology, I contend that (2) is the more natural choice for relieving the tension.
Gordon



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Charles Pugh

posted September 2, 2009 at 12:36 am


Dear Denis,
Forgive me for confusing the issue with the facts –i.e. the very words of Scripture. Have you been so long in the “theological academy” that you have lost the ability to think and independently reason with the very inspired words of God? I trust not. We could reason ad infinitum with the varying and often contradictory opinions of men. Are you accepting a primary English definition of “firmament” or being distracted by the “firm” beginning of the English word? In my last post, I simply laid out and dealt with the first words of Scripture in Genesis 1:1 and the word for “heaven.” Granted, there is a different word for “firmament” in Genesis 1:6, which is used some 17 times in the Old Testament and not always reflecting the “firm” or “hard dome” definition you have ascribed. Rather than deal with the actual Hebrew words (whether or not I copied and pasted them or pulled them from some book in the “theological academy”) you have resorted to common fallacies in reasoning and argumentation to bolster your position. That may work for those often ignorant of logic and reasoning (likely, many of the students whom you teach), but it should not work for those serious about dealing with an issue and logical argumentation itself. It certainly should not work with those interested, as you claim you are, in submitting to the very words of God. Did you miss the nuance there in what I alluded to before?
You should not simply brush away the weight of the actual Hebrew words I detailed by deeming me as someone who gave it a “nice try” and “knows how to cut & paste stuff” or who is merely “attempt[ing] to justify [my]self” or having resorted to “smoke and mirrors.” That, my friend, is clearly an “Ad Hominem” argument. You should know better than this. It would be good for you and each of us to read and live by Jesus’ words in Matthew 7. We would do well to live by Romans 2, and James 1 (looking into the “mirror” there). I appreciate your challenge that also led me to study the 45 references translated “smoke” as well. I fear that many of your students may not be able to adequately challenge you, as thinking and reasoning is becoming more of a lost art in today’s “enlightened academy.” In your brief response to my understanding of the actual words of Genesis 1:1, you simply went back to your presupposition for the word “firmament” to support your conclusion. In essence, you are thus “begging the question.” You might indeed be correct in your conclusions if your diagram were actually inspired, as are the very words of Scripture.
Your diagram is interpretive from your own presupposition (albeit that which may be held by a majority in the scientific community or “theological academy”) about the very words of Scripture or the beliefs of those who wrote them or to whom they were originally revealed. I submit that the diagram you posited may indeed be an accurate interpretive position of various people looking at the Scripture from their own limited knowledge; However, I do not accept this as what God intended from the very Hebrew words or even “accommodated” to man, as you posit. From a complete study of Scripture and our scientific knowledge of the Creation (remember it is yet vastly incomplete), clearly the position you posited in the diagram is not accurate. You are at least correct in your conclusion there.
It is clear that you are legitimately making a distinction in the Hebrew word translated “heaven” in Genesis 1:1 and the Hebrew word translated “firmament” in Genesis 1:6 as the diagram illustrates (Dare I give or “copy & paste” those actual Hebrew words of Scripture here?). The Hebrew word translated as “firmament,” which you deem to mean “a hard (firm) structure holding up the ‘waters above’,” is not an accurate or complete definition of the Hebrew word. The Hebrew word translated “heaven” is also used some 420 times in Scripture. If we want to get into a philosophical or scientific discussion of how to define something as “firm” or “not firm,” that might also be interesting. I assume you are aware of that science as well? I wonder what you do with the inspired text of Genesis 1:8, which clearly reads that “God called the firmament heaven.” I submit that this is a serious problem for your argument and even the accuracy of the diagram itself.
Furthermore, what Charles, Denis, Daniel, Gordon, the “theological academy” or any other group believes about a particular thing does not make it true or not true simply because it is the accepted position of one or all of us. That defies the very basics of logic. We would also do well to acknowledge that many groups of people have clearly added or taken away from the Body of Scripture throughout the ages. We are clearly warned against doing this (Revelation 22-18-19; Proverbs 30:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32). A consensus in any scientific or even theological community does not out of hand necessitate a complete agreement with what God has revealed in His inspired Word. This is why we must logically and biblically argue our positions and be open to refinement. The biblical argumentation must further encompass the Body of Scriptural teaching, unless you accept that the Bible only “contains the Word of God” (what I alluded to before).
It appears to me that Gordon has also been on somewhat of a chase for a “Red herring” with the geocentrism vs. heliocentrism debate. Gordon, as I referenced before, it appears that you have accepted that geocentrists are the only ones consistent with a literal/plain hermeneutic of Scripture. I do not concur and quite obviously neither does Daniel. That is a good discussion, however, and somewhat related, though it probably requires a separate post and commentary discussion. You and Daniel have been going at it very well there, yet this still begs the question of what Denis originally postulated with his diagram.
Denis, if you’d rather me gently ;-) do a more detailed critique of your original article, I can try to do this, though you’ll need to be patient with me to find time to do so. I think I have already brought out some of where that would eventually lead in the discussion.
Just as Gordon suggested for Daniel in his recent illustration, I would appreciate your stepping away from your presuppositions for a moment and actual deal with the simple logic of what I have brought out about GOD needing to have a separation of space between HIMSELF and His Creation. Try to forget for a moment that I said, “you could call this a firmament if you’d like.” What do call that? How does that concept fit with what you have illustrated in your diagram? Based on what we know of GOD being “light” (1 John 1:5, etc.), what would you logically say was the first thing HE would have necessarily Created? I find that many have not thought about this to the extent that I have (I am not saying there that this automatically makes my current understanding completely accurate ;-) ). Do you accept that the LORD is indeed distinct from His Creation? If not, then we’d better start by discussing more about the particulars of Theism verses Pantheism or Panentheism.
With Best Regards,
Charles :-)
John 17:17



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Daniel Mann

posted September 2, 2009 at 10:34 am


Dear Gordon,
To return to the core issue: You and the TEs are convinced that you can reconcile Darwin and the Bible. However, you do so at a staggering price:
“I do maintain that the Bible’s description of the physical cosmos is incorrect by modern standards, but that is not the same thing as staying the Bible teaches falsehoods. Since the Holy Spirit never intended to teach science in the first place…”
Earlier, I tried to argue that you can’t make such a distinction between science (the physical world) and the Bible’s spiritual message, citing numerous verses where science and religion are inseparably combined, and you to agree. At least, you offered no objection. Therefore, in order to make this unbiblical distinction, you must attempt to justify it.
You offer the analogy of ignorant tribesmen to illuminate the status of those who wrote the Bible as if to say, “You can’t blame the Bible writers. They are like ignorant tribesmen.” Perhaps they were ignorant about a number of things, but this analogy fails, because it doesn’t take into consideration the role of the Spirit. Hence, the Bible is not only the word of man, but ALSO the Word of God, who is not an ignorant tribesman. (It’s this type of reasoning that convinces me that TEs have a sub-Christian view of Scripture, and therefore take great and unwarranted liberties at compromising or “accommodating” it.) You continue in this manner:
“Since the Holy Spirit never intended to teach science in the first place, we are wrong to force the Scriptures to answer questions about the structure, operation or formational history of the cosmos…”
Let’s take an example of “formational history”: “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
Many TEs take “dust of the ground” to mean a prior-life-form, and that God “created” humankind from this “dust.”
However, such exegesis fails to do just to the context. Later God informs Adam and Eve that “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)
To be consistent, the TE must conclude that God is saying that He will bring humankind back to his prior hominid-status. %&??*&?? However, this inconsistency does not stop the TE from forcibly imposing an alien philosophy upon Scripture. Jesus had warned against this very thing when taught that we can’t serve two masters. One will have to be compromised, and it always seems to be Scripture.
In contrast, although we have to step carefully when interpreting Genesis 1-3, there are certain lessons about the physical world that we can learn from these chapters, things that also accord with the theology of the rest of the Bible:
1. God made a perfect world. There was no death or threat. God created a woman for Adam. Both were at such peace, they went naked.
2. We screwed up the perfect world.
3. Nevertheless, God promised deliverance (through a 2nd Adam). (As far as I know, none of this follows ANE cosmology!!)
Darwin has it backwards. Creation was always screwed up—a vicious survival-of-the-fittest. We aren’t the problem but rather the heirs to the problem, kinda letting us off the hook. This portrait not only fails to accord with Genesis, but is also out-of-step with the rest of Scripture.
How does Scripture fall short of external reality? You cited Psalm 19, but I responded that you had misinterpreted its poetic language. (Nobody maintains that the Bible is teaching that the sun is a “bridegroom” who is about to get married!) Furthermore, Psalm 19 actually anticipates modern science’s understanding of the laws that render the heavens completely orderly and comprehensible.
You conclude, “Knowing what we know about ANE culture and cosmology, I contend that (2) is the more natural choice for relieving the tension.”
You have still failed to show that the Bible does not simply use ANE terminology, but also endorses and teaches its errant cosmology. (And this is what you must do!) However, even you seem to deny that Scripture teaches this, contra the TEs: “I never said that the Bible teaches errant cosmology.”
If this is your stance (and I hope it is!), then you shouldn’t discount what the Bible teaches about the physical world.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 2, 2009 at 11:27 am


Daniel,
Sorry if this stings a little but I don’t know how else to put it: As long you continue to live in a world completely isolated and uninformed by modern science, I guess you can get away with a scientific worldivew that is based 100% on the teaching of Scripture (which borrows from ANE science). But unlike the ignorant tribesman who did not have access to the latest and greatest information, you have chosen to live as an igorant tribeman just to avoid having to rethink your theology in light of the obvious facts! You are doing exactly what the modern day geocentrists are doing — turning a blind eye to the facts and retreating back into the crumbling fortress of a systematic theology that was formulated prior the age of discovery.
I don’t know if you intentionally avoided my earlier comment proposing that we look at the scientific data, or if you just haven’t seen it yet. But if you want to continue this discussion, I should introduce you to the pink elephant! Otherwise, I’m afriad we will keep arguing in circles over ANE cosmology. It might be more fruitful to examine the following claims:
(1) That the earth and universe is much older than the biblical creation timeframe.
(2) That many years of death and decay preceed the creation of man.
These two statements are as true as the double motion of the earth! Neither depend on the theory evolution to be true. And they can be demonstrated just as easily as Focaut’s pendulum and Bessel’s stellar parallax.



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Daniel Mann

posted September 2, 2009 at 1:12 pm


Gordon,
You are mis-characterizing me. I am not ignorant, nor do I want to be ignorant of the world of science, but, as I have explained before, the Christian prudently places Scripture above the present scientific consensus.
Regarding the facts of science, “Art” just made an interesting post under the second most recent “BioLogos” post, “A Culture War.” — In short, the paleontological findings support creationism, not Darwin!



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Matt

posted September 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm


Gordon,
I teach Earth science in public schools and I have to admit that I have questioned both theories for quite some time. I was raised as a Christian, went to college and was bombarded with this idea of evolution. I can honestly admit that I never converted to atheism or theistic evolution, although many public education institutions could make that an easy transition. I have always held firm to the faith that God created everything is 6 days, and took a rest on the seventh day; I mean wouldn’t you too after having made everything in the universe in that short amount of time? He was really busy….
Up front: I believe it is awesome that you obviously acknowledge God as Chief of Staff of our universe and not an atom-sized particle (dot) that magically created itself. I have to admit I do not understand how God could always exist, but I don’t believe any man does. If he did, he himself would BE God. The God of the Bible (the one I worship) is all-powerful (Rom. 15:13) and needs no help creating anything. He has always been here, and I cannot wait to ask Jesus himself what it was like when it all began. One negative aspect of any belief system is that since no man (or woman) lived at the beginning of time we have no scientific evidence to prove neither creation nor evolution. We simply hold onto our faith, which one day will be revealed to everyone (Rom. 14:11; Phil 2:11) “Every knee will bow…every tongue will confess…that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Creationists hold on to the Bible as our evidence, and evolutionists hold to “science” as theirs’. Why is the Bible not scientific? Because it also tells us what must do and better not think of doing? Is it possible that we just might have our hides chaffed by reading it? Evolution is not science; it is clearly a RELIGION!!! It has never been observed, only theorized! Most people who support it are highly agnostic or atheist! I get highly insulted when those who are Christians want to hold onto both accounts. Using science to cover up such a huge brainwash such as evolution is very mis-leading.
I am not hating on you brother, I am just trying to help clarify some misconceptions you have about our Earth and its creation. It would be nice if “so-called current scientific research” and the Bible could co-exist, but they simply do not. There is a lot of current research that is available to scientists to prove did not create itself or that God needed help. I would suggest reading some articles from the Institute for Creation Research (www.icr.org), as well as many publications from creationists such as Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Henry Morris, etc.
In public schools, too many teachers stick to the “facts” of evolution. When did it become fact? There has never been (or never will be) any transitional fossil, layer of rock, ancestor that could count as evidence for evolution. Did anyone see the fossil while it was alive? How do you know that fossil is millions of years old? Radioactive dating is definitely inaccurate, because fossils cannot be dated accurately or even approximately.
I stick to the intention of the Scriptures: they ARE the inspired (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21), inerrant, infallible words of God written and recorded through over 40 men. Yes, most of these men were murderers, liars, thieves, etc. but they were used as they were created: for a purpose (Is. 48:16). Their purposes were to record God’s Holy words and help us translate what we need to know: God created us to serve Him. Adam and Eve messed all that up by eating the forbidden tree of life in the Garden of Eden.
People are bent on destroying others’ faith that the Bible is completely, unequivocally 100% truth, and most of the time their philosophy is that there are so many translations of the word. If they would have stuck with the original translation, the King James Version, then they wouldn’t have any problems. However, we have to make it readable for those who just don’t want to read the Scripture and study sound doctrine. This is where all the cults and Christendom comes from; they worngfully interpret it and make it mean what they want it to mean.
Why does the universe have to be billions of years old? Because a group of atheist science “scholars” cannot handle the truth of God’s word? Maybe because it would destroy Darwin’s work that is strictly devoted to the ideas of James Hutton and Charles Lyell: man is continuing to evolve higher and more complex from simpler forms (bacteria are actually very complex) and is ultimately the God of his or her own universe. Would it destroy years of research many have devoted to evolution? Of course it would! However, it would also simultaneously clarify the misconception that God needed help in order to be deemed the Creator of the universe. I ask you: how do gases collide at rates faster than the speed of light and forms planets, stars, meteors, etc.?? Has anyone ever actually seen a star form? A black hole? Proven the dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago? All theories….
What did Jesus say about those who meddle with the faith of young ones? “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Lk. 17:2) I teach Earth science in the public schools and I do cover everything from the “big bang” perspective; however, I also share the MANY fallacies that this disproven, archaic, religious worldview called EVOLUTION contains. There is nothing unlawful about what I am doing; I am actually keeping science “science” and teaching the kids to problem-solve, critically-think, develop higher reasoning skills, and become sound debaters which unfortunately is essential in today’s society.
Brother, I will continue to pray that you stick to your faith in Christ dying for your sins and being thankful (as I am) for being saved. I cannot wait to enter Christ’s kingdom after we leave this dreadful Earth. Like the famous church hymn, “What a Day That Will Be.” I just pray that those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior will come to repentence and begin a life that praises our Creator and our originally perfect universe.
Matt



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Daniel Mann

posted September 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm


Thanks Matt,
Even though Jesus’ warning of Luke 17:2 sounds so harsh when we apply to the TEs, I really believe that love demands that we communicate to them the seriousness of what they are doing and the impact they are having on others.



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Gordon

posted September 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Daniel and Matt,
Whether it’s crashing planes into buildings, throwing children into a volcano, blowing up abortion clinics, supporting southern slavery, or burning teenage girls for fear of witchcraft — it’s clear that in every age and in every culture, nothing causes people to shut down their rational faculties more quickly than the sincere belief that God endorses their interpretation of his revelation.
To say that the field of paleontology supports creationism better than evolution is wrong on so many levels. For one, there are virtually no professionally-trained practicing paleontologists who would call themselves creationists. This is a significant statistic considering that in every other field of science, you have a few folks here and there with legitimate credientials that would call themselves creationists. In the earth and life science, the percentage is probably on par with the percentage of professional historians that deny the holocaust, professional archaeologists who think aliens built the pyramids, and structural engineers who think Geroge Bush planted dynamite inside the World Trade Center. But nevertheless, they are out there. But paleontology is the one field where you find virutally no creationists! Hmmm…..
I appreciate your strong desire to understand the Genesis creation story as scientifically accurate, but wanting something to be a certain way doesn’t make it so when the facts are so heavily stacked against you. Sooner or later you have to look at the facts objectively and set aside the way you want things to be and look instead at how things actually are.
I’ve been a Christian all my life, and for most of that time I was a rabid creation scientist. I’ve read so much of the literature, regurgitated so many of the arguments, and debated with those nasty old-earthers. But one thing that I never bothered to do in all of that time is examine the arguments on the other side. Why bother if you think God endorses you beliefs? But once I stepped outside of my comfort zone and looked at things objectively, I quickly realized that I was being misinformed and misled by my fellow Christians.
If either of you are willing to do this, simply respond to the challenge I laid out a few comments back. If not, then I still count you as friends and brothers, but our dialogue has reached its limit.



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Daniel Mann

posted September 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm


Gordon,
Since you’ve mentioned the 9/11 conspiracy theory, let me mention to you my friend Bob, who is a strong believer in this. Upon his strenuous insistence, I watched a DVD laying out the conspiracy case. I found that there were many things that I couldn’t answer—how the buildings came straight down, the presence of molten metal that could only result from implanted explosives….. Bob might think me close-minded, but despite all of the “evidence,” I must reject this theory. There are just too many other considerations against the notion that “Bush did it!”
Thank you for your generous offer to consider the evidences, and under other circumstances, I’d be inclined to take you up on it. I’m intensely interested in science, but also intensely uneducated in it. As with the above conspiracy theory, I trust that there would be many details that I would be unable to answer. Nevertheless, there are so many other over-reaching considerations that make it totally implausible to me—as implausible as spontaneous generation—even though I had once believed it in.
This brings us to your challenge regarding “belief”:
“…it’s clear that in every age and in every culture, nothing causes people to shut down their rational faculties more quickly than the sincere belief that God endorses their interpretation of his revelation.”
We all have our interpretations, whether regarding a holy book, spirituality, or even science. All facts require interpretation, and all interpretations are subject to our culture and our heart’s commitments. You seem to be suggesting that because of our Biblical commitments, we (Matt and myself) are more inclined to “shut down [our] rational faculties more quickly.” Are you leaving yourself out of this equation? Are the evolutionists also above this warning? Are you suggesting that people who believe in God are more narrow-minded?
Some of us have come to a faith in Christ after years of struggling with doubts and adopting all forms of philosophical or therapeutic systems. I had come from a Jewish background and had been highly dysfunctional, so wracked by various life-controlling emotions that I couldn’t think straight. I was left back in school and had dropped out of college three times, unable to cope. I was a walking time-bomb, but Jesus has become my Savior. He promised,
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
He has set me free—free to think, to enjoy, to weigh evidences. He has also given me confidence in who He is. This has meant that I no longer have the overriding need to prove myself or to retaliate or become defensive when confronted with oppositional ideas. I am confident that it’s no longer about me and my righteousness or performance, but His alone (Gal. 2:20). Therefore, I can now see as I never have been able to before. Everything good that I have is because of Him. Perhaps now you understand why I would never compromise His Word.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 2, 2009 at 7:40 pm


Daniel,
Thanks for not getting upset at me for acting somewhat emotionally in my last post. Just a few points of clarification though:
“…there are so many other over-reaching considerations that make it totally implausible to me—as implausible as spontaneous generation—even though I had once believed it in.” — you’re missing the point. All one has to do is demonstrate the impossibility of a recently created earth / cosmos, and the direct evidence of death before the creation of man and it’s back to the theological drawing board. The obvious fact that some of these other questions have no easy answers is beside the point. That’s what scientific research is for and new discoveries are being made everyday. If you’re going to approach the topic with intellectial honesty, you have to deal with what we do know, not what we don’t know. That’s why the WTC conspiracy theories fall apart even though they raise some challenging questions with no air-tight answers. And what we do know about astronomy, physics and geology is more than enough to disqualify the genesis account from being scientifically and historically accurate.
“Are you leaving yourself out of this equation? Are the evolutionists also above this warning? Are you suggesting that people who believe in God are more narrow-minded?” — no sir, as I too believe in God and that Jesus was God incarnate. And as you pointed out on your blog recently, Atheists can be every bit as irrational! You have to look at the data as a whole and ask yourself, “which explanation seems more plausible”. If something has perfectly natural explanation, like the geologic column for instance, there is no reason to assume God performed a miracle to create the same feature (a year-long global flood), only to cover up his divine intervention with another miracle to remove the evidence of the first miracle and replace it with evidence that suggests a different material history (trace fossils, isotope ratios, faunal sucession, etc..). The examples of this sort of thing are endless.
I share your Christian experience, and I do not wish to compromise God’s Word. But my experience with certain data sets forces me to re-evalute traditional interpretations — just as you have done with the traditional location of heaven just above the clouds. 400 years ago, you would have been skeward for suggesting that heaven was not phsically above us. Read the biblical account of the ascension. Paul even says Christ was taken up to the 3rd heaven. Care to point that out to me on a map?. What are the consequences of such a radical shift in cosmology? Did Christ therefore not physically ascend? Was he therefore not physically raised? Where do you draw the line?
We Christians made it through that shift and we’ll make throught this one.



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Beaglelady

posted September 2, 2009 at 9:20 pm


If they would have stuck with the original translation, the King James Version, then they wouldn’t have any problems.

Well that is certainly very telling. I hope you are kidding.

I would suggest reading some articles from the Institute for Creation Research (www.icr.org), as well as many publications from creationists such as Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Henry Morris, etc.

All esteemed scholars, to be sure! btw, Kent Hovind, who ran a creationist theme park in Florida, is serving time in federal prison. Three years ago a federal jury found Hovind guilty of fifty-eight charges, including failing to pay payroll taxes for his employees, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, and “corruptly endeavor[ing] to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws” in a number of ways.



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Daniel Mann

posted September 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm


Gordon,
No, I don’t blame you for getting emotional. I haven’t exactly made it easy for you. But as you understand, there is a lot at stake. I believe that TE is undermining the church. If we were to have a coffee together, you would be surprised at the change in our communication.
You wrote, “I do not wish to compromise God’s Word. But my experience with certain data sets forces me to re-evaluate traditional interpretations.”
As you know, I have no problem with wanting to “re-evaluate traditional interpretations.” We both agree that we have to be very self-critical, and this includes re-examination of what the theologians have said. But you also wrote, “And what we do know about astronomy, physics and geology is more than enough to disqualify the genesis account from being scientifically and historically accurate.”
This is what I find troubling, and now your adding “history” to those things you would disqualify. Once you “disqualify,” you are no longer talking about interpretation. Do you not see that this undermines the entire Bible? Paul and Jesus both regarded the creation and the fall as historical, but you regard the present consensus regarding “astronomy, physics and geology” as more reliable, and therefore disqualify the very thing that Jesus affirms. This is both tragic and sub-Christian.
OK, let’s talk science. You wrote, “All one has to do is demonstrate the impossibility of a recently created earth / cosmos, and the direct evidence of death before the creation of man and it’s back to the theological drawing board.”
It’s not quite so easy as all that. There’s a lot of philosophical ground-work that has to precede the gathering and examination of the facts. Let’s just consider the question of dating. Before, I had used the analogy of someone writing my biography. There are many millions of facts that comprise my life. A biographer, by simply choosing out of the many millions, can paint just about any picture of me. He can make me out to be a saint of a scoundrel.
This is paralleled by science. There are potentially many millions of ways to date the earth or life. Each rock has its own rate of decay or change. Every planet, atmosphere, magnetic pull and even orbit is also changing according to certain laws. Everything is subject to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and entropy in its own formulaic way. All can potentially be used to gauge age. However, what’s to control the way we use the facts, which ones we use and which we disregard? Unless there are some rules established, the evidence for age and dating can be used in the same irresponsible way that the biographer can use the millions of facts of my life.
This portrait is further complicated by the fact that the chosen facts, because there are so many of them, can be arranged in a way that looks perfectly coherent, to make us feel that we have a complete and trustworthy picture.
Science is also complicated by another problem. There is such an imbalance in the facts that are being pursued and collected. You probably know far better than I the amount of funds going into the pockets of evolutionists, and you also know the zeal with which they are pursuing those facts that will justify their enterprise. I would venture to say that 1000 times more funds are going to promote these findings than for ID or YEC combined. Should it be a surprise that the Darwinists are able to paint just about any portrait they so desire with all the resources at their disposal?
To make matters worse, whatever stones that our David picks up to defend against the Goliath of evolution are disqualified by the scientific community who retain a virtual monopoly. And when they are unable to invalidate the stones, they mercilessly call the creationists “liars” and “hucksters.”
In light of the above problems, you would have to demonstrate that your “facts” represent a random sampling, not simply those cherry-picked to prove your particular bias. In order to do this, we would also have to hear the other side’s presentation—the side that is disdained, even by TEs.



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Beaglelady

posted September 2, 2009 at 10:20 pm


I would venture to say that 1000 times more funds are going to promote these findings than for ID or YEC combined.

And just what are the grant proposals that IDists and YECreationists are supposedly writing up and submitting? Even without grants, these organizations collect enormous amounts of funds from their supporters. Surely some could be used for research.



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Beaglelady

posted September 2, 2009 at 10:39 pm


“It’s not quite so easy as all that. There’s a lot of philosophical ground-work that has to precede the gathering and examination of the facts.”

Yes, either you are willing to confront the evidence or you aren’t. What do you think of ice cores? How can they give us a detailed picture of the earth’s climate going back many thousands of years?



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 2, 2009 at 10:44 pm


Ok, you’ve stepped on the scientific ball-field. I hope you’ve got your pads on! :)
“Do you not see that this undermines the entire Bible?” — the data is what it is. You can’t just deny something obvious because you think it undermines the bible. You have to deal with the facts at hand and explain to people why the Bible is relavent despite them.
“There are potentially many millions of ways to date the earth…” — According to who? Ken Ham and Henry Morris? Professional geologists only condier one method of dating the earth reliable: isochron dating of meteorites. All other natural processes are inter-dependant and subject to influence by factors that can’t be quantified from studyting the sample itself. And all other samples (besides meteorites) are tainted by the geologic activity of earth. Fortuneatly we have thousands of samples collected from hundreds of locations (even from the moon) and each of these can be independently tested in various laboratories accross the globe. And the answer is always the same: 4,550,000,000 years give or take a few million.
“However, what’s to control the way we use the facts, which ones we use and which we disregard?” — it’s very simple. For isochron dating to be reliable, there must be multiple minerals in a single sample that all contain the same radio-isotope in varying quantities. Ratios of parent and daughter isotopes for each mineral are plotted on the same chart and unless they all fall on a straight line, the sample is corrupt and is tossed out. If the ratios are co-linear, then the y-intercept is the original isotope ratio and the slope of the line passing throught the existing ratios is the age of the sample. It’s really quite an impressive thing.
“Unless there are some rules established, the evidence for age and dating can be used in the same irresponsible way that the biographer can use the millions of facts of my life.” — there are rules. The creationist just don’t like them. When ICR studied this issue (the RATE project), they concluded that God must have the created the solar system with the concordant ratios of parent-daughter isotopes in the minerals of all extra-terrestial rocks. Gee, how convenient!
“This portrait is further complicated by the fact that the chosen facts, because there are so many of them, can be arranged in a way that looks perfectly coherent, to make us feel that we have a complete and trustworthy picture.” — Johnny Cochran would be proud of you. That sound like the defense he used to get O.J. off even thought his DNA was spread all over the crime scene. The facts only “complicate the portrait” when you don’t like what they suggest.
“You probably know far better than I the amount of funds going into the pockets of evolutionists, and you also know the zeal with which they are pursuing those facts that will justify their enterprise.” — And more money is spent on medical research than on shamanism or scientology. Why, because money follows results. For instance, if ICR or AiG had a geological model based on the Noahic flood that oil and gas companies could use to locate fossil fuel and mineral deposits, you would see millions of dollars pouring in from the private sector. But only mainstream old-earth uniformitarian geology and micropaleontology have demonstrated results in the field where it counts.
“And when they are unable to invalidate the stones, they mercilessly call the creationists liars and hucksters.” — and don’t forget to add “tax dodgers” to the list (Kent Hovind).
But before you even consider the geologic record, you must deal with the astronomical record first. You can witness the antiquity of the cosmos simply by looking up at night. The furthest object visible to the naked eye is Andromeda Galaxy some 2.2 million light-years away. You don’t have to be an astrophysicists to conclude that if light travels 1 ly per year, then the photons striking your retena from Andromeda have been traveling for 2.2 million years.
And before you state that the constancy of the speed of light is just an unfounded assumption (an argument that many creationist have recently abandoned in favor of light-created-en-route), the speed of light can be measured with a high degree of precision using lasers, and the its constancy over the entire history of the cosmos can be observed by taking measurements of distant phenomena such as millisecond pulsars and radiometric decay of supernova remnants.
There is no amount of special pleading that can force our entire visible horizon of about 10 billion light-years to fit into the young-earth scenario.



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Charles Pugh

posted September 2, 2009 at 10:54 pm


Are any of you familiar with the Scientific Research projects of the Institute for Creation Research, now located in Texas?
I have had the privilege of serving in the area where the modern Creation movement began. Believe me, there is a spiritual war still raging here in Blacksburg and at Virginia Tech. You should be aware enough of that from the news stories here.
In May of 2006, I had the privilege of attending one of the initial conferences detailing the work and results of the R.A.T.E. project (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth). Before you simply dismiss this out of hand or look for evolutionary or the “theological academy’s” critiques of that, would you consider looking at the detail of the great amount of “data” they have gathered and worked with? They even published a technical book detailing the results expected from their model and then another after the results came in. Guess how that worked out?
Denis, I’m still waiting for a response from you or Gordon or others from my last post.
Charles :-)



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Daniel Mann

posted September 3, 2009 at 6:09 am


Gordon and BeagleLady,
You have dismissed my Biblical arguments because they do not agree with the prevailing scientific consensus, and now we sweep aside my philosophical prolegomena as if it isn’t at all relevant. Instead, you want me to consider your cherry-picked “evidences,” and then you fail to appreciate my reluctance to party with you.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 3, 2009 at 8:47 am


Daniel,
Cherry-picking? If you walked into a cave and found a bottle of Cabernet from 1979, you would not conclude that the entire cave must be 30 years old. That’s exactly the sort of cherry-picking that takes in creationist circles. And unfortunately, the folks they peddle this to either want to believe so badly that they suspend all ordinary critical thinking, or they don’t have the background to understand that they they are being misled.
If you want to have a serious discussion about the age of the cave, don’t hide behind the 1979 Cabernet. Let’s look at the relavent data. In the case of the cosmos, its the distant starlight. In the case of the earth/solar system, its the isochron data from hundreds of meteorites that were not compromised by earth’s geologic processes.
I’m happy to discuss if you’re up for it.
As for the R.A.T.E. project, I followd it with great interest, as I was an avid creationist whe they begain the research in the late 90’s. And when they published their findings about 4 years ago, I was so disappointed at the lack of scholarship, critical thinking and integrity that I began looking at the scientific case for an old earth. This is one of the things that marked the turning point in my approach.
Charles, your question to me about whether or not I’ve seen the “great amount of data they [RATE] have gathered and worked with” is comical considering that the only “data” that R.A.T.E. worked with were the scientific data that, by their own admission, confirms over 500 million years of radioactive decay. The whole purpose of R.A.T.E was to explain away the data, and that was a total failure!
There have been some real whoppers in the secular scientific community: cold fusion, pildown man, the Cardiff giant, ect… But in a slight-of-hand that no real scientist could ever get away with, R.A.T.E. claimed that since they already knew from Scripture that the earth is only 6000 years old (I thought that was the issue under investigation?), some yet-undiscovered phenomenon must have accelerated the decay in a way that gives consistently gives old ages for inorganic minerals found in the earth’s crust, but did not affect the decay of other unstalbe isotopes (like C14 into C12 and others). They have no idea what could have caused this rapid atomic decay, but in order to fit the data, it must have happened both before and after the flood, so they claim that the Fall and the Flood both triggered an acceleration event.
The problem is that nuclear decay produces heat. In fact, it’s what keeps the core of the earth molten. And the creationists can’t seem to figure out how the earth survived the tremendous release of heat energy that would have accompanied such rapid decay events (enough heat to vaporize all of the oceans and melt the entire planet if released over a short period of time).
So in another slight of hand, they brazenly assume that not only was there a mysterious force to cause the rapid radioisotope decay, but there was another mysterious force to remove the heat generated by the reactions, and this unknown mechanism only cooled the nuclear material, not the oceans or the atmosphere. Despite these insurmountable problems they are still confident that someday these mysterious thermodynamic processes will be discovered. And if not, well that’s ok too because perhaps the earth was created with the ratios of parent-daughter isotopes we see today and there was no isotope decay.
You don’t have to be geneious to understand that science doesn’t work like this. You don’t start out with your conlusion and then force every observatin to fit your system, and you can’t just dismiss negative evidence against you on the basis that it doesn’t fit your system.
And yet, the R.A.T.E. “scientists” billed their findings as, “groundbreaking” — very dissapointing. But like I said in a previous comment, nothing cuases people to suspend their capacity for critical analysis and rational thinking faster than thinking the bible endorses their conclusions.
Just so you know, I don’t think any of this is a threat to God’s word because questions of earth history are outside the scope of biblical authority. The real threat to biblical authority comes from the creationists who invite unblievers to check their brains at the door before entering the sancturary. Any non-believing scientist who reads the R.A.T.E. report will run as fast as he can in the opposite direction. And that is sad. There was once a time when Christians owned the natural sciences. Groups like ICR and AiG or only taking us further into the Christian ghetto.



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Daniel Mann

posted September 3, 2009 at 9:05 am


Gordon,
You wrote, “Groups like ICR and AiG or only taking us further into the Christian ghetto.”
Ultimately, you want us to place our faith in you and your set of “facts.” Meanwhile, in order to dispel your own dissonance, you (and the rest of the TEs) are compelled to denigrate the two above groups along with the IDers. Why are your facts any more authoritative than theirs? (Don’t tell us about the prevailing scientific consensus!) Why should we place our faith in your “facts” in opposition to our faith in God’s Word? Would this be rational? Are you perplexed about why we should regard Scripture as more authoritative?



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 3, 2009 at 10:57 am


“Why are your facts any more authoritative than theirs?” — Nobody owns the facts. Facts are what they are, and all truth is God’s truth. It’s up to us to make sense of them in a coherent and intellectually responsible way. ICR, AiG and the DI have put themselves in a position where they are forced to explain away the facts. They the Johnny Cochran’s of the natural sciences. That was the whole point of R.A.T.E. — “how can we make this inconvenient data go away?”
“Ultimately, you want us to place our faith in you and your set of facts.” — No, I just want people to think for themselves. To approach creation science with the same critical thinking skills, objective analysis, and rational skepticism that they would have at their disposal when watching an infomercial, viewing a 911 conspiracy DVD, or examining the wild claims of Mormons and JW’s.
“Why should we place our faith in your “facts” in opposition to our faith in God’s Word?” — Why would you want to take a theological position that puts God’s Word at odd the facts? You decry the modern day geocentricist for their “errant” and “embarrasing” exegesis (even though it was considered orthodox for 1600 years), but then commit the same error. Yes Daniel, I must admit that I am perplexed.
But that coffee you talked about earlier sound pretty good about now!



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Paul H Seely

posted September 3, 2009 at 11:59 pm


As a partial answer to Mr. Pugh, my research on the firmament shows that Lamoureux’s diagram is correct. See “The firmament and the water above, Part I: The Meaning of raqia’ in Gen 1:6-8,” Westminster Theological Journal 53 (1991) 227-240 [http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/01-Genesis/Text/Articles-Books/Seely-Firmament-WTJ.pdf];
“The firmament and the water above, Part II: The Meaning of ‘The Water above the Firmament’ in Gen 1:6-8,” Westminster Theological Journal 54 (1992) 31-46 [without endnotes at http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/seelypt2.pdf
Since I wrote these papers, I have learned that a Babylonian document mentions “heaven” (a cognate with the Hebrew word for “heaven”) as being made of a particular kind of stone. The Hebrew word for “heaven” can refer to the solid firmament as well as to the space above and below the solid firmament.



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Charles Pugh

posted September 4, 2009 at 1:32 am


Gordon,
I have found that the Creation Scientists are usually more honest with the “data” than are the Evolutionary Scientists, particularly those from ICR or AIG. Certainly both positions come with their own presuppositions. It appears to me that you were overwhelmed by the arguments of evolutionary thinking and the published materials of the “academic elite.” Am I correct to observe that since you had unanswered questions about Young Earth Creationism, you then swung over to the Old Earth position and Theistic Evolution? What about their unanswered questions?
The R.A.T.E. team scientists did honesty look at the scientific data. Yes, they had a belief in the model they started with, but so do the evolutionists. It is disingenuous at best to think that evolutionists are more intellectually honest or open with the data. In fact, they completely discount the possibility of anything other than an evolutionary conclusion. The R.A.T.E. team scientists did not discount finding counter evidence. They even took the risk of publishing the expected results from their creation minded model at the beginning of the project. I don’t see that degree of faith with evolutionary scientists. The R.A.T.E. team went out of their way to illustrate their intellectual honesty with the data. They had independent laboratories and groups (and even those committed to the evolutionary model) to collect and document the data. Did you hear about how the C14 was found in the coal deposit samples? Did you read about how they even stumbled across testing diamonds for C14 and amazingly discovered C14 in diamond mine samples around the world as well? What do the evolutionists do with that? Why is it that they dismiss the many examples of dating methods that show a younger age of the earth? Why were the other radioisotope dates given from the scientific laboratories loyal to the academy varying so much in giving dates? Should not the dating methods of evolutionary thinking be more consistent if they are reliable measures of the age of the earth? What do you do with the helium dispersion in the Zircons of Granite Rocks? How do you account for the radio-halos and how this clearly demonstrates an age stamp?
I have found that there are many more questions unanswered by evolutionists than by creationists. Maybe that is naive’, but that has been my observation repeatedly from my own personal study, from talking with highly educated evolutionary professors, and from being challenged by many zealous students committed to an evolutionary position. These intelligent people are often out to even disprove the Bible or at least a literal reading of it.
Certainly, neither side has all of the answers, but I find that the evolutionary explanation for life (whether you say that GOD started it or not) falls short much further than creationism’s explanations and taking the Bible at face value (with an historical/grammatical hermeneutic).
I’d love to join you and Daniel for a coffee sometime too, especially since I don’t drink beer. ;-)
Charles :-)
John 17:17



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 4, 2009 at 9:28 am


Good morning to you Charles!
Allow me to address a few of your points:
“I have found that the Creation Scientists are usually more honest with the “data” than are the Evolutionary Scientists, particularly those from ICR or AIG.” — How is concluding the data says “A” but insisting that “B” is true even though there are no known thermodynamic processess to support “B” being honest with the data? You’ll have to explain that one.
“Certainly both positions come with their own presuppositions.” — yes, natural science assumes the continuous operation of ordinary providence from creation to the present. When there are singularities in the available data that have no explanation, such as the origin of space and time, the origin of life from non-life, or the origin of sentience from simple organic function, then the limits of science have been exhausted and they turn to the philosophical. At that point, ones’ religious presuppositions will influence how they speculate. The Christian scientist understands that the hand of providence sometimes leaves behind no coherent data for us to analyze. The athiest is forced to keep looking for a natural explanation. The problem with creationists is that they want to invoke miracles for things that are well understood and documented, just to maintain a particuarly narror interpretation of Scripture. So I would say that when it comes to science, creationist presuppositions are more UN-reliable than atheist ones.
“It is disingenuous at best to think that evolutionists are more intellectually honest or open with the data.” — Uh, let’s see: to join AiG and ICR you have to suscribe to a statement of faith that says no matter what the evidence says, you will not compromise your beleif in a young earth. However, secular science thrives on discovery and paradigm shifts. Nobel prizes are never awarded to those who jump on the bandwagon. You have to overturn the bandwagon and set it on fire!
So tell me once again how creationism is more objective with the facts? To even suggest such an absurdity requires the consumption of large quantities of “Kool-Aid”.
“In fact, they completely discount the possibility of anything other than an evolutionary conclusion.” — false again. Mainstream theories, including evolution, are constantly under assult from within. Even though the sucess of evolutionary biology has given scientists a very high confidence in the model, there is always the possibility that there is another explanation that works better. Nothing so far even comes close to explaining the available data, but whoever could discover a new paradigm of earth history and back it up with data would literally be the next Isaac Newton. Who wouldn’t want to start a revolution in biology?
In fact, the scientific literature is littered with critical analysis of evolution. New Scientist just recently published an article called, “Darwin was Wrong” that highlighted some of the perplexing issues in genetic phylogenies that still need resolution. In fact, were it not for this critical self-reflection, creation scientists wouldn’t have any peer-reviewed journal articles from with to shamelessly quote-mine!
“Why is it that they dismiss the many examples of dating methods that show a younger age of the earth?” — because those dating methods show no such thing. If you spent some educating yourself on radioisotope dating, you would know that C14 has nothing to do with dating the age of the earth. This might seem counterintuitive for somebody not familiar with geochronology (something that creationists are more than willing to shamelessly exploit), dating anything from the earth has nothing with dating the earth as a whole. Geologic processes are constantly resetting the molecular clocks, so dating a particular sample only tells you the age of that sample, nothing else. Now, this is more than sufficient to dismiss all claims of a 6,000 year old earth, but it will not give you any overall consistency when trying to determine the age of the earth itself.
“Should not the dating methods of evolutionary thinking be more consistent if they are reliable measures of the age of the earth? What do you do with the helium dispersion in the Zircons of Granite Rocks? How do you account for the radio-halos and how this clearly demonstrates an age stamp?” — Again, none of this “gotcha” science matters. I already explained the limitations of these various methods when dating the earth as a whole. These methods might be reliable for relative dating between certain geologic layers to establish general patterns, but scientists know better than to assume they are reliable for dating the earth as a whole.
To their credit, the R.A.T.E team acknowledged that the data indeed shows consistent radio-isotope decay beyond 500 million years. But even if you limit the age of the earth to that number (which significantly errs on the young side), the creationists are still off by 5 orders of magnitude. So the whole point of R.A.T.E. was to fit this data into the system that they swore and oath (statement of faith) to uphold — and to put forth as many red-herrings as they could by finding inconsistency in data that (a) has nothing to do with dating the earth, and (b) is already documented and well understood in the mainstream literature.
“I have found that there are many more questions unanswered by evolutionists than by creationists.” — of course there are. You can answer any question with, “Because God did it that way” — but unfortunately that is not how science works. If the data lead to no rational conclusion, “I don’t know” is perfectly responsible answer. But even hen the data do lead to rational conclusion (ie: the earth must be old), if creationist don’t like the conclusion they will simply reject it and keep looking for a way out.
“These intelligent people are often out to even disprove the Bible or at least a literal reading of it.” — and the creationists are teeing the ball up perfectly for them by making demonstrably false claims based on a misunderstanding of Scripture. They think they are standing up for God’s word, but they are instead contributing to the marginalization of Scripture and to Christians in general.
“I’d love to join you and Daniel for a coffee sometime too, especially since I don’t drink beer.” Now that would be a good time!



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Daniel Mann

posted September 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm


Charles, Gordon, and anyone else who’s still awake:
Here are some of my observations about our discussion. Both sides want to claim that science is on their side, and it’s interesting to observe the nature of the arguments employed to establish this claim.
1. The use of expect testimony.
2. Vilifying the opposing “experts” with terminology that includes, “narrow,” “dishonest,” “liar.”
3. Justifying one’s own experts, asserting that they are objective and peer reviewed.
4. The appeal to a scientific consensus.
5. Dogmatic assertions about the nature of science and its findings without any reasoning to back up these claims.
Unsurprisingly, we haven’t been enabled to feel the weight of the opposing position through this kind of exchange. Although we have been talking science, precious little that resembles the nature of science has been exchanged. What are the reasons for this?
Science is held in high esteem, especially because of what it has been able to achieve technologically. These are achievements that we can feel, see and profit from. Understandably, evolution wants to ride on these esteemed coat-tails, but it can only do so with a slight-of-hand. Macro-evolution can’t be seen or touched; it has never been experimentally induced. It has never cured a disease, nor even added an inch onto anyone’s physical stature. Furthermore, it requires further extrapolations to convert this theory, which makes assertions about what had happened HISTORICALLY, into a scientific theory.
Besides, generating theories is not something easy for science. Although science can identify certain causal (?) relationships, generating theories to explain these relationships requires a quantum leap for several reasons. Any two points can be connected with an infinite number of lines. Likewise, any two “facts” or findings can be connected or explained by a potentially infinite number of theories.
Furthermore, when confronted with a potentially infinite number of “facts” or findings, there has to be rigorous controls set in place to regulate the usage and interpretation of these facts, especially in light of the fact that the evolutionists have the man-power and money to generate globs of self-serving findings, and can utterly overwhelm their opposition. The social sciences resort to a “random sample” to insure valid results. When we’re dealing with almost unlimited potential findings, it becomes too easy to string selected findings together to make any case. As I had pointed out before, evolutionists leave out certain findings regarding the modernity of the dinosaurs, and emphasize other findings which bolster their own position. All of this makes scientific theories highly theoretical.
Although it is true that there is criticism and accountability within the evolutionary establishment, it seems to go only so far, as the documentary “Expelled” pointed out. To go further means expulsion.
Although many consider themselves evolutionists, I would venture to say that this is not because of the persuasiveness of the evidence—for few of us have been able to directly handle and evaluate it—but because of the weightiness of “expert” testimony and the power of the media and university, contra the claims that evolution is the conclusion of thinking people. (By saying these things, I do not wish to demean science, but rather to make us appropriately skeptical of many of evolution’s claims along with the tenuous nature of theorizing.)
I’m sure you have been able to anticipate my conclusion—If we are willing to believe certain incredible things (like life coming out of non-life and humans coming from a single cell) by virtue of “expert” testimony, we should be even more willing to believe less incredible claims by virtue of more reliable expert testimony (I’m waiting for you to swallow this hook!). This brings us back to the authority of the Bible. Still want to do coffee?



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Beaglelady

posted September 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm


Daniel wrote,

“Any two points can be connected with an infinite number of lines.”

Gotta love that one.



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted September 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm


Hi,
For those who did not notice: Paul Seely’s papers on the firmament and heavenly sea were published in Westminster Theological Journal. This is a very, very conservative evangelical journal.
Best,
Denis



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 5, 2009 at 10:42 pm


Daniel,
You seem to be fixated on the theory of evolution, but haven’t yet dealt with the obvious case for an old earth and cosmos.
I’m willing to let slide all of your mistatements about evolution if you will deal with the evidence for an old earth and cosmos — which is completely independent of the theory of evolution. You seem to want your interpretation of Genesis to stand or fall on whether or not evolution is true, but there is enough conclusive evidence that the earth is several orders of magnitude older than 6,000 years to overturn YEC.
Gordon



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Beaglelady

posted September 5, 2009 at 11:41 pm


Dr. Lamoureux,
Please tell Paul Seely that the link to his paper is broken.
Also, you might encourage your students to visit this site and become involved.
Thanks.
– The BeagleLady



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Paul Seely

posted September 6, 2009 at 2:12 pm


BeagleLady et al,
The links to my papers will work IF the initial and final brackets are removed. Sorry for the confusion.
Paul



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Daniel Mann

posted September 7, 2009 at 5:29 pm


No Gordon,
I will not play in your science-sandbox with you. For one thing, I’m not a scientist. However, interesting this young earth debate is, I find that I’m ill-equipped to debate the scientific evidence.
Besides, I think that the proper and primary battleground for the Christian is Scripture itself. This is where the Christian faith ultimately stands or falls. I wouldn’t even bother to give a second look at evolution if it wasn’t being used as a cleaver to slice away significant chunks of Scripture, as you yourself admit by dismissing the science and history of Scripture.



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted September 7, 2009 at 6:45 pm


Dear Daniel,
I appreciate your concerns. You write:
“I wouldn’t even bother to give a second look at evolution if it wasn’t being used as a cleaver to slice away significant chunks of Scripture, as you yourself admit by dismissing the science and history of Scripture.”
But Daniel, the Word of God states that the Lord created a firmament to uphold a body of water over us. I doubt you believe that these structures exist. Consequently, are you not using your astronomical knowledge “as a cleaver to slice away” Creation Day Two in Genesis 1.
Blessings,
Denis



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Daniel Mann

posted September 7, 2009 at 10:22 pm


Denis,
In essence, your argument seems to go this way:
1. Genesis is wrong about the firmament.
2. Therefore, Genesis can’t be teaching science and history.
3. Therefore, the Bible isn’t interested in teaching science and history, but merely how to savingly enter into a relationship with Christ.
4. Therefore, since the Bible has nothing truly to say about science and history, there can’t possibly be any contradiction with the theory of evolution.
There are multiple problems with this argument:
1. Even when Genesis and the rest of the Bible uses terminology from the errant ANE cosmology, it doesn’t mean that it endorses this cosmology any more than saying “the sun rose a 6 AM” endorses a geocentric belief system. I’m not sure what is the proper way to interpret “firmament,” but concluding that the Bible is errant because it uses this term is not only unfounded, but this conclusion is illegitimately imposed externally and not exegetically.
2. You have failed to demonstrate that the Bible makes a distinction between science (and history) and theology, as you have been trying to do. There are no verses that you can use in support of this distinction. On the contrary, the Bible melds these “distinctions” together, producing theological truths from both science and history. Both Jesus (Matthew 14:40; 24:38-39; 19:4-5) and Paul (1 Tim. 2:13-14; Romans 15:21-22) often make use of science and history to make theological points. Most obviously, the theology of the Cross depends upon the history of the Cross, and the theology of the Fall (Gen. 3) rests upon the science, history and perfection of creation (Gen. 1, 2). Therefore, by dismissing the science and history of the Bible, theistic evolutionists (TEs) also compromise and dismiss the theology of the Bible.
3. We may not be able to reconcile all the teachings of the Bible with the prevailing scientific consensus, but it’s preferable to live with this tension than to forcefully impose evolution on the Bible. When we do so, we are subtracting and adding to the Word against the dire warnings of Scripture (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19; Proverbs 30:6; Matthew 15:6-9, 13).
In your attempt to reconcile Scripture to the prevailing consensus, you might be making Jesus more palatable to certain individuals, but the question then becomes, “Which Jesus!” However, my contact with diehard evolutionists has shown me that they have just as much disdain for TEs as they do for creationists, perhaps even more. They regard TEs as disingenuous. I would love to see TEs offer conferences for these individuals, but they wouldn’t come. Instead, the TE finds himself reduced to pedaling his wares in the church.



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Charles Pugh

posted September 7, 2009 at 11:45 pm


Greetings Denis, Gordon, et. al.,
I do find this exchange of information and opinion profitable and even challenging. It is also interesting to me to see the various arguments that we all use and how so often they are the parroted arguments of others. This does not mean that we are not doing our own thinking; it just means that we often limit ourselves to think in our own boxes. It is easier (I don’t think we would argue the science and general consensus of observation here ;-) ) for men to isolate an issue and analyze it extensively.
Honesty is a key aspect of what we must adhere to and mutual respect for one another as human beings Created in the Image of God. I find that few have the endurance to continue in an honest and open dialogue due to the constraints of living and in fact the choices we make. Further, there comes a point when we are unwilling to even try to think with another outside of our own worldview. This venue of dialogue does have advantages and disadvantages. Were we to meet in person at some point, as suggested at times, we could get further on particulars and personally be challenged to further study in areas where we can’t logically answer the lingering questions, be they scientific, philosophical or biblical.
Personally, I am an “open minded” person and one who is certainly committed to the facts and fully committed to the first and final authority of the Word of God, which is the objective and living record from the Living Word of God—Jesus Christ. I have written extensively in my blogs (and focused on this personally in ministry over the years) about reality and the FACTS (“data,” etc.) being what we each must accept. If you care to read a more recent blog overview (that I believe I referenced before) called “TRUTH and Consequences,” you can find that at: http://www.vtlessonstolearn.com/node/114 (My blogs are overviews of what I see and am learning and primarily only one page each in MS Word).
I love to discuss and even do scientific things (and back in the day ;-), even won the top award for science at my High School. I love most to focus on the spiritual things. In fact, ;-) this is the biblical priority (not to excuse “doing science.”) as noted in passages such as 2 Corinthians 4:18. I also take Hebrews 11:3 at face value. Over the years, I have particularly interacted with many on both sides of this Creation vs. Evolution issue and even with that smaller group that seek to integrate the two sides (as with this group). I find this integrationist position to be particularly untenable, just as I do with psychology and the Bible (that even personally being the impetus for my current ongoing tragedy). I see the worldview of Evolution or what I have often framed for discussion in my blogs as “Naturalism” (c.f. “Mother Nature vs. Father Creator!”: http://www.vtlessonstolearn.com/node/17 and/or “HIGHER Education”: http://www.vtlessonstolearn.com/node/41 ).
I would like to address a key argument that Gordon brought out, and that is the statement that “all truth is God’s truth.” This is true and not true, depending on what you mean by truth. Too often, we get the philosophical aspect of facts mixed in with the facts themselves. This makes a discussion like what we having to be interesting, yet often frustrating. It also means that a lot of arguments are put out there (as I noted earlier), making it increasingly easy to “cherry pick” or be distracted from the original argument. I brought that out in an earlier post as well. As an aside, It is also interesting to note the flurry of activity, even amongst ourselves, at particular times (like between 9 and 11pm on September 2nd) in when we post and that to which we respond. My current own split work schedule (laboring [appropriate on this Labor Day ;-)] in a way I am currently forced to because of my tragedy) limits my own interaction at times. Getting back to the “all truth is God’s truth” argument, I find that this is often used as a trump card to “force one’s hand” or even “end the game.” Naturalists like to say that “nature” is the 67th book of the Bible (though I don’t believe that has been explicitly stated yet here). They then take what they frame as this “67th Book” and interpret the rest of Scripture by it (quite inconsistently, I might add).
I have taken particular interest in your original article, Denis, as I did much research in this area a few years back when doing graduate work in a class taught by Dr. John Whitcomb (one of the most respected conservative Old Testament scholars still living today, who was gloriously saved when studying at Princeton many years ago). My paper was on “The Vapor Canopy Theory,” so I have thought much about the biblical teaching of “the waters above.” I still have many questions on this and am open to scientific argument. I noted some of those in my post particularly in response to you, Dennis on 09/02 12:36am.
I have yet to have adequately looked over the geocentrist arguments that Gordon has had much thought in or been able to read the more recent paper noted by Paul. If either of you wish to send me any particular information there, it would be easier for me to more thoroughly review if sent in an email (candspugh@juno.com). I do not want to speak too quickly for or against any things there without taking more time to study them. I can and will go “head to head” or “toe to toe” with anyone on the teachings of the Word of God, which I do know more thoroughly (not that I have all of my questions answered there either ;-)).
On additional area I will address here: I find it fascinating to observe that we are at such a point of discussion and even disagreement about the very things that are alleged to be FACT. Either some of us are simply ignorant of information that is indisputable fact, or we are unwilling to acknowledge what is fact and what is faith. When we discuss “time” and in particular a time when we have no corroborative record of written history, then we are talking much about “faith” and “perspective.” None of us observed the origin of the Universe and is quite arrogant and presumptuous for us to say “thus saith Charles, Denis, Gordon, Daniel, Beaglelady, etc.” as if we have scientifically proven what we posit. On the other hand, it is naïve’ and quite often even lazy to simply leave difficult questions with a “God did it.” I understand the biblical teaching of the Creation mandate for man to require much more of us—even defining much of our human experience and meaning.
One final thought and observation is that it is quite interesting for me to see how the arguments for Evolution and even for the “quite impressive” isochron dating of meteorites (as Gordon pointed out in an earlier post) puts the discussion into the less known and less scientifically observable area of space. Gordon, there are many questions with this dating method as well, and you still have the unknowns of parent/daughter ratios, particularly with those meteorites that have been found (and obviously impacted) in our own world of observation. Uniformitarianism is a nice theory for an apparently consistent result in the data, yet clearly our world and even Universe has changed MUCH over the years (with some foundations remaining more consistent, allowing for reputable research in the first place). Gordon, I do not understand how you have “been a Christian all [your] life,” as the Bible clearly teaches we are all born sinners separated from God. I assume you are saying that you have come from a Christian background. I would love to hear your personal story of conversion to Jesus Christ! There is the more important “Gospel Mandate” that we, as believers in Christ have as well.
Grace, Peace and Truth to us all,
Charles Pugh
Philippians 1:20-21
Romans 13:11
John 17:17



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Gordon

posted September 8, 2009 at 11:43 am


Hello all. To Daniel first,
On not wanting to discuss the scientific evidence for an old earth you said, “…I think that the proper and primary battleground for the Christian is Scripture itself.” — As I’ve already pointed out, statements like this are highly disengenuous. If the qeustion is one of the structure, operation or natural history of the physical world, such as the age of Earth, the movement of the heavenly bodies, the size of seeds, or the classification of bats and whales, the scientific consensus can’t be held hostage to an ancient scientific worldview. In each of these cases and in many others, “sola scriptura” will give a WRONG answer based on out-dated science. When discussing these and other questions, we have no choice but to consider extrabiblical evidence!
“Even when Genesis and the rest of the Bible uses terminology from the errant ANE cosmology, it doesn’t mean that it endorses this cosmology any more than saying “the sun rose a 6 AM” endorses a geocentric belief system.” — If by “endorsing” you mean “authoritative teaching” then we are in violent agreement. In fact, that’s the whole point here: the biblical references to ancient science are not authoritative teaching for our time. And yes, they may have been phenomenological, but ALL ANCIENT SCIENCE IN THE WAS PHONOMENOLOGICAL! What other data did ancient man have other than how things appeared to the naked eye?
“Therefore, by dismissing the science and history of the Bible, theistic evolutionists (TEs) also compromise and dismiss the theology of the Bible.” — so tell me what theology was compromised when the Church aboned the old cosmology that placed the physical heavens just above the clouds? Paul even uses that ancient “science” when describing Christ’s ascension to the 3rd heaven. So according to your logic, no physical heavens = no physical ascention, no physical ascention = no physical resurrection, no physical resurrection = no Christianity! In fact, this is one the arguments used by modern Geocentric creationists. How would you respond to this? Probably the same way I am responding to you now. And they would in turn accuse you of compromising the clear teaching of scripture, just as you are doing to me.
“We may not be able to reconcile all the teachings of the Bible with the prevailing scientific consensus,” — why do we have to? The science of the Bible is obviously the science of the ANE, and can’t therefore be authoritative for our time. No reconciliation is necessary — “but it’s preferable to live with this tension than to forcefully impose evolution on the Bible.” — again, who is imposing evolution on the bible? We don’t need to impose anything on the bible, we just need to read it as is was written. I don’t impose heliocentricm when I read the bible even though I fully accept it. I don’t impose “spacism” when I read the bible even though there is no solid sky holding back an ocean of water above us, etc… Rather, I recognize that the authors wrote from within a scientific worldview that was culturally-bound. Isn’t that how we interpret and apply the Law in modern society? Specifically the case Laws of Exodous? We see these statutes through the lens of culture and history, which means we separate out the spiritual principles from the material details and the language that they are packed in. Does personal liability only apply to flying axe-heads, open pits, wild oxen, and rooftop decks? Of course not! We have to distill the timless principles from the timely worldview used to deliver them to a particular people who lived in partucular place in a particular time with issues and concerns vastly different than our own. I submit that we must do the same thing when reading theological truths that are packed in ANE science.
Ironically, the creationist and the atheist both agree that if the science of the Bible is outdated, then the theology of the Bible must be outdated as well.
Gordon



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted September 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm


Dear Daniel,
You write:
“I’m not sure what is the proper way to interpret “firmament,” but concluding that the Bible is errant because it uses this term is not only unfounded, but this conclusion is illegitimately imposed externally and not exegetically.”
Respectfully, Daniel, if you don’t know what the Hebrew word raqia’ means (firmament), then you have to disqualify yourself from this discussion. And any conclusion that you make, on this issue, has no foundation. As I said to Charles: You must submit to the very words in the Word of God.
Blessings,
Denis



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 8, 2009 at 4:53 pm


Hi Charles, a few things…
“This does not mean that we are not doing our own thinking; it just means that we often limit ourselves to think in our own boxes.” — Granted. But most TE’s/EC’s came from a Young-Earth background. So they are at least familiar with the arguments in both “boxes”.
“My paper was on “The Vapor Canopy Theory,” so I have thought much about the biblical teaching of “the waters above.”” — According to the Scriptures, excluding all other evidence, the upper waters are above the sun, moon and stars. Martin Luther said in his lectures on Genesis that to deny something so plainly taught by Moses (that the waters are above the heavenly bodies) is “wicked”. So right away, we can dispense with concordism as a consistent way of understanding scripture. The “vapor canopy” idea and Henry Morris’ “2nd Firmament” are just 2 examples of the selective nature of YEC hermeneutics. Even the geocentrists attempt to explain this away.
“I do not want to speak too quickly for or against any things there without taking more time to study them.” — Wisdom indeed!
“When we discuss “time” and in particular a time when we have no corroborative record of written history, then we are talking much about “faith” and “perspective.”” — I couldn’t DISagree more! Ancient records are probably the LEAST reliable guide to the past. Forensic analysis is much more reliable, especially when there are several independent lines of corroborating evidence that converge on a single solution.
“One final thought and observation is that it is quite interesting for me to see how the arguments for Evolution and even for the “quite impressive” isochron dating of meteorites (as Gordon pointed out in an earlier post) puts the discussion into the less known and less scientifically observable area of space.” — not at all. Extra-terrestrial material left over from the creation of our solar system is completely isolated from the processes that corrupt samples taken from the planets.
“Gordon, there are many questions with this dating method as well, and you still have the unknowns of parent/daughter ratios, particularly with those meteorites that have been found (and obviously impacted) in our own world of observation.” — I don’t think you understand how isochron dating works. It tells you the original p/d ratios from the current p/d ratios by ploting similar isotopes found in different minerals of the same sample. If the points are co-linear, then the sample has not been corrupted since its formation. If even one point does not fall on the isochron line, then the sample is suspect and disarded.
“I assume you are saying that you have come from a Christian background.” — Yes, raised in the Church (PCA) since day 1 and am raising my children the same way. I don’t think it’s at all necessary, nor preferable, to have a “testimony” that involves a definitive moment of “conversion”. If we are raised to know the Lord, then it should be a continuous process of learning and sanctification from as far back as one can remember. It was the same for my wife. Needless to say when we join a church, our testimonies are both quite boring!



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Charles Pugh

posted September 9, 2009 at 5:25 am


A few thoughts while I have a few moments:
Good to hear more of your background, Gordon, though I was not asking to hear some spectacular story of conversion. ;-) My own testimony could said to be fairly boring, until it became much more fascinating after 04-16-07. I completely agree that salvation involves a process of growth and sanctification (a real weakness in churches today), yet I also know there must be a point in time where a person comes to the realization and acceptance of the Person of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for their own sin and resurrection for their justification. I do not believe you “have to have” a particular date and time to know you are saved, only that you know today that you have made this decision and been converted at some point in the past (for me, I distinctly remember this being when I was 4 years old).
If one never comes to realize that they are lost or separated from a Holy GOD, then the salvation from sin that Jesus Christ procured will not be applied to their account. These people may believe in GOD and even the Gospel and the Person of Jesus Christ (the demons certainly do—c.f. James 2:19) yet they can only be religious and cannot even fully understand the spiritual teachings of Scripture—they are mere “natural men” (I Corinthians 2:14). Jesus must be more than just The Savior–He must be an individual’s personal Savior for that person to become justified. Faith is indeed a journey, but it will not end with the LORD and eternal life, unless it first began there. I think you would agree that your parents, church affiliation, works of righteousness, etc. cannot make you personally right with GOD. You only come to truly know GOD when you acknowledge that you are eternally lost from the presence of Almighty GOD and accept His way of Salvation in the substitutionary atonement of the historical and biblical Person of Jesus Christ.
I may be somewhat ignorant of isochron dating, but I still have questions about this and you still have assumptions which you even somewhat admitted. You are assuming that conditions today are the same as they have been throughout history and you are assuming the history. You did not address this point of Uniformitarian thinking. Granted, we have “established laws” that allow for solid research today, yet we do not KNOW that these laws have always operated the same as we observe today. We also do not KNOW the exact starting point. You are assuming a bold claim to say this is “Extra-terrestrial material left over from the creation of our solar system.” The biblical record clearly declares that there have been vast changes in the earth and even the Universe since the Creation (c.f. 2 Peter 3:5-7 and even Dr. John Whitcomb’s charts describing “the 5 worlds” described in Scripture).
On the time question, I was thinking of the point of references for how we measure time on earth verses how it is measured in reference to other celestial bodies in our Universe. The question comes down to the starting reference point; then you begin to deal with other means of corroborative evidence and their weight in the debate.
Denis, you also have yet to answer my questions about the “very words of Scripture” and you keep going back to your understanding of the word for firmament (understandably as this is the basis of your article). I would still like to hear your understanding (forgive me if I missed it in a previous post) of how that squares with the text of Genesis 1:8, where GOD called the firmament (raqia) Heaven (shawmahyim, shawmeh). To me, this argues against your restrictive use of raqia, insisting that is must refer to “a solid domed structure” as the word for heaven clearly does not. You also failed to address how this word for firmament is used in the rest of Scripture. In addition, you followed your restrictive definition later with, “Notably, this heavenly dome and body of water did not collapse during Noah’s Flood.” That bold and declarative statement is based upon what authority (please do NOT try to say it is science!)? Granted, it could be true as seen in similarity to the “save or create jobs” statement leading to the current Government Administration’s position that their stimulus bill is a huge success (based on “save” or “heavenly dome” in your case), despite clear unemployment evidence otherwise. I also wonder then how you might shop at the local 7:11? ;-)
Charles :-)
John 17:17



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Daniel Mann

posted September 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm


Gordon,
I’ll respond to one of your points that I think is central to your position and that of the TEs: “The science of the Bible is obviously the science of the ANE, and can’t therefore be authoritative for our time. No reconciliation [between what Scripture says about the physical world and science] is necessary.”
With this bold and unbiblical statement, you dismiss whatever the Bible has to say about the physical world, necessarily including history, geography, and biology, which necessarily includes psychology. Where do you draw this line? Should we also dismiss what the Bible has to say about our feelings and the good and holy life? These are not independent of our biology, and, according to you, the biology of the Bible is clearly a reflection of errant ANE science. Your distinctions are not only unbiblical, they are also unscientific, which tends to make the TEs repugnant to true evolutionists—the very people you should be wanting to reach for Christ.
I want to demonstrate how absurd these distinctions are, so it might be best to use some simple examples. The Bible states that Lazarus rose from the dead, but all miracles impinge on the physical world. Will you then rule them out and declare the Bible errant in its account of miracles? Will you also deny the resurrection of Jesus? According to your distinctions, you must.
Will you also deny prophecy? This too deals with phenomena within the physical world. However, Jesus taught that He performed both miracles and prophecies to promote faith. If you deny the former, the latter (faith) is left without intellectual foundation.
You seem to also deny the ascension because it too smacks of ANE cosmology, suggesting that Jesus is ascending to a non-existent heaven—also a product of errant ANE cosmology.
What do you believe in and why? I’m very unclear. At least Giberson was more transparent when he stated that the acid of Darwin corroded away his belief in “the fall, ‘Christ as second Adam,’ the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.”
TEs have clearly made their choice in terms of what is their supreme authority. By claiming that the Bible doesn’t authoritatively teach anything about the physical world, they have stripped away every defining aspect of Scripture, and have left it vulnerable to any interpretation that anyone wishes to place upon it. But this was their proclaimed objective, to re-define Scripture in such a way to make it amenable to the prevailing scientific consensus.
However, in doing this they have subtracted and then added to Scripture (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19) and have tragically led others in the same direction (Romans 1:32). Let me just conclude with several verses which demonstrate that Scripture ascends beyond ANE cosmology and anticipates modern science:
1. TIME IS NOT ETERNAL: 2 Tim. 1:9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
2. THE UNIVERSE HAD A BEGINNING: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Contra the steady-state theory that had ruled science).
3. THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE PHYSICAL WORD AREN’T VISIBLE: Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4. LAWS: Jeremiah 33:25 This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth,
5. WATER CYCLE: Job 36:27 “He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams.” (Also Amos 9:6)
6. DINOSAURS?? Psalm 74:14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.
7. INNUMERABLE STARS: Jeremiah 33:22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’ ”
8. ROUND EARTH, EXPANDING UNIVERSE: Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. (Scripture claims that the universe was created, rather than having existed eternally, as the atheist had supposed.)
9. STARS AS GUIDES TO SEASONS AND GEOGRAPHIC POSITIONS: Genesis 1:14 lights in the expanse of the sky… [would] serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.”
10. GOD WORKS THROUGH FIXED LAWS: Jeremiah 33:25 states that God accomplishes His purposes through “fixed laws of heaven and earth.” (Although science demonstrated that phenomena operated according to laws, the Bible long before posited the operation of the God’s laws.) (Also Job 38:33)
11. COUNTLESS STARS: Jeremiah 33:22 states, “I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore. ” (Also Job 11:7-8; 22:12)
12. ROUND EARTH, EXPANDING UNIVERSE: “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in” (Isaiah 40:22; 42:5).
13. THE EARTH DOES NOT SIT ON A PEDESTAL AS ANE COSMOLOGY HAS IT: Job 26:7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.
14. STRESS NEGATIVELY IMPACTS HEALTH: Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
15. UNHEALTHY QUALITY OF EXCREMENT: Deut. 23:12-13 Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.
16. FOSSIL FINDS IN THE MOUNTAINS: Psalm 104:6 …the waters stood above the mountains.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm


For Charles,
“You are assuming that conditions today are the same as they have been throughout history and you are assuming the history.” – Of course my friend. That assumption is the foundation of science and logic! What place would induction and deduction have in whimsical and unpredictable universe? That doesn’t garuntee that a conclusion based on this premise will be true, but that is how science works. If you want to draw a conclusion that ignores this premise, you are free to do so. It might be interesting or even true, but you can’t call it science.
“Granted, we have “established laws” that allow for solid research today, yet we do not KNOW that these laws have always operated the same as we observe today.” — True, but we don’t need to know that they have always operated the same as we observe today. But to rule out YEC all we need to is establish a time-horizon of how far back we reasonable apply them. For instance, radiometric decay rates can easily be observed in distant galaxies, billions of light-years away. Since the observed measurements from the distant past are identical to current measurements here on earth, we have confidence that nuclear decay rates do not vary with time or space. This is more than enough to rule out a 6,000 year-old universe/earth.
“We also do not KNOW the exact starting point.” — Think about what you’re saying. We can’t pin-point the origin of the cosmos so therefore the cosmos might be only 6,000 years old? What if you were arguing with a friend over the age of an elderly man on the bus and since you couldn’t agree weather he was 70, 75 or 80, so your friend suggests that he might be an infant? How rediculous would that be? Even though we don’t have complete knowledge of the man’s natural history, we know enough to confidently declare that the man is not an infant, a toddler, a teenager, or a young adult. Yet, that is essentially the core argument of young-earth creationists.
“You are assuming a bold claim to say this is “Extra-terrestrial material left over from the creation of our solar system.” The biblical record clearly declares that there have been vast changes in the earth and even the Universe since the Creation (c.f. 2 Peter 3:5-7 and even Dr. John Whitcomb’s charts describing “the 5 worlds” described in Scripture).” — Again, it really doesn’t matter where it’s from. Its too old to fit into the Genesis chronology and that is a huge problem for biblical concordists.
Until next time…



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm


Daniel, you seem now to really be grasping at straws. I hope that is not an indication of you level of frustration.
Let me address some of what you said.
“The Bible states that Lazarus rose from the dead, but all miracles impinge on the physical world. Will you then rule them out and declare the Bible errant in its account of miracles?” — No. I’ve already answered this question. If God is sovereign over the physical cosmos, then he alone directs the course of nature. Therefore, if God wants to raise the dead, then the dead shall rise. These singular instances of physical dicontinuity can neither be proved or disproved via the scientific method.
“Will you also deny the resurrection of Jesus? According to your distinctions, you must.” — No, I must not. Again, science can not draw any conclusions about a singular event that leaves behind no data to analyze (unless someone actually finds Jesus’ body).
“You seem to also deny the ascension because it too smacks of ANE cosmology, suggesting that Jesus is ascending to a non-existent heaven—also a product of errant ANE cosmology.” — Wrong again. I accept it, even though it can no longer be understood as the ancients understood it. Perhaps God taking Christ up into the clouds was in itself an accommodation to ANE cosmology.
“What do you believe in and why? I’m very unclear.” — I affirm the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds.
“By claiming that the Bible doesn’t authoritatively teach anything about the physical world, they have stripped away every defining aspect of Scripture, and have left it vulnerable to any interpretation that anyone wishes to place upon it.” — on the contrary, by placing scripture back in its original cosmological context, we intrepret it as it was written and meant to be read. The concordist is the one who must answer for his abuse of God’s Word. Once you rip the Bible from it’s ANE context, you lose the interpretive reference point that itself was inspired. And once you shift the interpretive reference point away from what the authors intended to something that was unknown to that original culture (ie: modern scicence/history), then YOU HAVE DECLARED YOURSELF (and whatever you happen to think is important) THE CHANNEL FOR THE AUTHORITY OF THE TEXT!
“But this was their proclaimed objective, to re-define Scripture in such a way to make it amenable to the prevailing scientific consensus.” — Wrong again. Scripture doesn’t need redefining. It just needs to read and understood as it was written. It is the concordist who seeks to mold and shape the Bible to fit modern science (by a blend of faulty hermeneutics and scientific slights-of-hand).
“…This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time..” — That’s almiost comical. For 2500 years, the scientific consensus was that of an eternal universe, and people still used the expression to denote a long time ago. So let me get this straight: you want “sunrise” and “sunset” to be interpreted as figures of speech, even though geocentricism was the prevailing scientific consensus during biblical times. But then you want the phrase “beginning of time” to be read as a scientific statement of fact even though all ANE cultures believed time and matter were eternal? Have you ever head the term, hermeneutical gymnastics? You’ve just won the gold!
“THE UNIVERSE HAD A BEGINNING: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Contra the steady-state theory that had ruled science).” — And how did they begin? As a solid dome holding back the upper waters, and the sun, moon and stars were below the waters. And the earth and light were created before the sun? And the moon is a luminary? Etc… I know you want it to all be scientifically accurate, but good grief — how can it?
“THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE PHYSICAL WORD AREN’T VISIBLE: Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” — Verse 1 give us the proper context: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” — it would seem to me that having just defined faith as that which is not visible, the author is not making a point about physics. This is exactly the type of concordism that is so disingenous. By ignoring the frame of reference given to by the author and placing ourselves in his cognitive environment, we declare ourselves the channel of biblical authority by forcing the text to answer questions that are outside of its original scope. Are we to really to assume that Hebrews is talking about atoms and quarks? C’mon now.
“LAWS: Jeremiah 33:25 This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth…” — You might want to let your friend Charles know about that. He’s seems to question the uniformity of nature.
“WATER CYCLE: Job 36:27 “He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams”” — and He opens and closes the windows of heaven, which were believed to be openings in the firmament, to start/stop the rain from storehouses just above the dome (Gen 7:11; 8:2).
“DINOSAURS?? Psalm 74:14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.” — What would you think if you found a fossilized t-rex skull or legbone in the desert? That it must have belonged to a monster?
“INNUMERABLE STARS: Jeremiah 33:22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” — I assure you that the number of stars is finite, just as the grains of sand no the beaches. But since nobody can count them all, they are considered to be innumerable. Tell me how this proves the scientific reliability of the Bible?
“ROUND EARTH, EXPANDING UNIVERSE: Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” — there are several hebrew words for ball or sphere, but a word that translates into “disk” is used here. Given the many other references to the “corners of the earth” and the fact that the tree in Nebucadnezzar’s dream was tall enough to be seen “from all the ends of the earth” – I’d say that if we interpret scripture with scripture, we get a flat earth, not a shpereical earth. And the expanding universe is based on a very long age of the cosmos — are you an old-earth creationist now?
“STARS AS GUIDES TO SEASONS AND GEOGRAPHIC POSITIONS: Genesis 1:14 lights in the expanse of the sky… [would] serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.”” — all ancient cultures knew this already.
“GOD WORKS THROUGH FIXED LAWS: Jeremiah 33:25 states that God accomplishes His purposes through “fixed laws of heaven and earth.”” — ANE cultures made astronomical calendars that could predict the seasons, etc… This is not new revelation.
“THE EARTH DOES NOT SIT ON A PEDESTAL AS ANE COSMOLOGY HAS IT: Job 26:7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.” — Again, you ignore the context at your own peril. The word “nothing” is ths same word for formless and emptiness (the tohu/bohu of creation). It represents the primeval emptiness that was associated with pre-creation by all ANE cultures. To say that God hangs the earth on “formlessness and emptiness” is simply to say that he “spreads the earth over the waters” (Psalm 136:6). Again, you must interpret Scripture with Scripture, not scripture with 21st century science. You are doing the very thing you accuse TE’s of doing.
“UNHEALTHY QUALITY OF EXCREMENT: Deut. 23:12-13 Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.” — do you really need a word from the Lord to know not to leave poop laying around the camp? Are you implying the the Godless heathens slep in their tents with piles of excrement?
“FOSSIL FINDS IN THE MOUNTAINS: Psalm 104:6 …the waters stood above the mountains.” — Why are there only marine invertebrates on the tops of mountains? Why no traces of all of the other advanced life forms (or plants) killed in the flood? Why only creatures that lived in the ocean? Answer: sedimentation, uplift, erosion. These are obviously ancient sediments that predate the transition of life from the ocean to the land. It takes a long time to raise up mountains and erode them down to expose the pre-devonian strata.



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Daniel Mann

posted September 10, 2009 at 1:57 pm


Gordon,
I’m glad to read that you acknowledge the miracles of the Bible, even though they represent teachings about the physical world—something you claim that the Bible doesn’t teach authoritatively. However, in light of this, you must now revise your claim that the Bible doesn’t have authoritative teachings about the physical world. (I’m still perplexed about what Bible teachings are totally separate from the physical world, and therefore, what we may confidently trust!)
Regarding the question of interpretation, you wrote, “by placing scripture back in its original cosmological context, we interpret it as it was written and meant to be read. The concordist is the one who must answer for his abuse of God’s Word. Once you rip the Bible from it’s ANE context, you lose the interpretive reference point that itself was inspired. And once you shift the interpretive reference point away from what the authors intended to something that was unknown to that original culture (ie: modern scicence/history), then YOU HAVE DECLARED YOURSELF (and whatever you happen to think is important) THE CHANNEL FOR THE AUTHORITY OF THE TEXT!”
You are correct that the exegete (interpreter) must try to place himself back into the mindset of the original audience. Furthermore, we both agree that this audience was a product of their culture, perhaps even errant ANE cosmology to some extent. However, from here, you make a quantum leap, concluding that Scripture can’t rise above its culture by teaching accurately about the physical world.
In this, you degrade Scripture, making it no more than a human creation. You claim that Scripture couldn’t teach “something that was unknown to that original culture.” If Scripture is both the word of man and the Word of God, how can you rule out this possibility? The entire essence of prophecy rules against your low view of Scripture. The very presence of prophecy declares that God is speaking. Besides this, ultimately, Scripture is authored by the Holy Spirit. How then can you suggest that He is bound by the culture and can’t reveal scientific truth? Those who wrote Scripture also recognized the Spirit’s authorship and therefore meditated on their own writings:
1. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” 1 Peter 1:10-11
2. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
In reference to 2 Tim. 1:9 “…This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” you responded, “That’s almiost comical. For 2500 years, the scientific consensus was that of an eternal universe, and people still used the expression to denote a long time ago. So let me get this straight: you want “sunrise” and “sunset” to be interpreted as figures of speech, even though geocentricism was the prevailing scientific consensus during biblical times. But then you want the phrase “beginning of time” to be read as a scientific statement of fact even though all ANE cultures believed time and matter were eternal? Have you ever head the term, hermeneutical gymnastics? You’ve just won the gold!”
Arbitrarily, you refuse to allow Scripture to teach anything revelational, anything that is opposed to errant ANE science. In effect, what you are saying is this: “ANE science wouldn’t know these things (the finitude of time), therefore, Scripture couldn’t possibly be teaching them.” You refuse to hear anything that Scripture is saying apart from what you have already determined that it must be saying. Once again, you seem to deny the Divinity of Scripture and demonstrate your disregard of Scripture. In all of the verses I had cited, you either denied that Scripture could possibly teaching something that pre-dated modern science or that everyone knew it anyway. If Scripture is God-breathed, as you seem to claim it is, how can you arbitrary dismiss that it can reveal accurate science?
In contrast, Jesus had a high view of Scripture, claiming that it couldn’t be over-turned (Matthew 5:17-18; John 10:35). In reference to Hebrews 11:3 which states that “what is seen is not made out of what is visible,” you wrote, “Are we to really to assume that Hebrews is talking about atoms and quarks? C’mon now.” Once again, you are betraying a low regard for Scripture, having pre-determined what Scripture is able to reveal. Why, if you are willing to take Scripture’s word regarding the Resurrection, are you not willing to hear it regarding other aspects of the physical world?
Imposing the errant ANE science on everything that Scripture says isn’t an example of sound interpretation. Instead, if reflects your ANE colored glasses through which you have chosen to see everything. Regarding Job 26:7, “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing,” you wrote, “It represents the primeval emptiness that was associated with pre-creation by all ANE cultures.” To prove your point, you erroneously assert that “The word “nothing” is the same word for formless and emptiness (the tohu/bohu of creation). To say that God hangs the earth on “formlessness and emptiness” is simply to say that he ‘spreads the earth over the waters.’”
Once again, this reasoning reflects your disregard for Scripture. First of all, all of the versions (9) I consulted used the term “nothing” and not anything like you asserted– “spreads the earth over the waters.” But perhaps you know better than these nine translations. More seriously, the Hebrew term is “bel-ee-mah,” and not your “tohu/bohu” as in Genesis 1. Trying to make everything conform to your presupposition — Scripture is locked into the errant ANE science — is unacceptable exegesis.
Gordon, I write strongly and perhaps painfully to your ears, not because I want to prevail over you, but in hope that you might see that by choosing evolution, you have biased yourself against Scripture.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 10, 2009 at 7:59 pm


Hi Daniel,
“However, in light of this, you must now revise your claim that the Bible doesn’t have authoritative teachings about the physical world.” — Then allow me to be more specific. If Isaiah declares that the “trees clap their hands” (55:10), I think we can safely conclude that this is not meant to be authoritative teaching about the physical world (ie: trees having hands). Isaiah is obviously using a literary device, but we would have no way of knowing this apart from our personal experience with trees (ie: scientific knowledge). A true concordist might be stuck having to argue that trees in Isaiah’s day did have trees because “that’s what the bible says” — but both you and I would know better than to do that.
Our disagreement is not really over whether we should or should not bring scientific knowledge to bear on our understanding of scripture, but rather (1) to what degree and (2) whose version of science. I choose ANE science since (a) the bible is full of it and (b) it was the common science during biblical times. We have no right to impose modern science on the Bible; whether it be a sperical earth, heliocentricism, anatomy, botany, geochronology or evolution. You are convinced of a spherical earth and geocentrism and are therefore happy do dismiss all biblical references to geocentrism as “non-authoritative” (ie: literary devices/phenomenology). I am convinced of the antiquity of the earth and am therefore happy to do likewise.
“However, from here, you make a quantum leap, concluding that Scripture can’t rise above its culture by teaching accurately about the physical world.” — Sure it can. And where it does, it should increase our faith. But where it doesn’t, there is no need to force it to say something that it doesn’t.
“You claim that Scripture couldn’t teach “something that was unknown to that original culture.”” — It could, but in terms of science, I don’t see it.
“How then can you suggest that [God] is bound by the culture and can’t reveal scientific truth?” — because He doesn’t. Just like Denis said, there is not a single instance of advanced scientific knowledge being revealed in the Bible.
Even the Law of God, whose underlying principles are eternal (Matt 5:17), is culturally bound. Do you force your wife to wear a head-covering in church? Do you forbid her to speak? Or do you only take the “spiritual lesson” of head coverings and disregard the physical detials? How can you hold scripture in such “low regard” as you accuse me of doing?
“If Scripture is God-breathed, as you seem to claim it is, how can you arbitrary dismiss that it can reveal accurate science?” — I can write something that contains accurate science, but that doesn’t make it inspired. If you want to claim that God gave the Hebrews advanced scientific knowledge, then you must demonstrate that Scripture teaches something that was not already known at the time. You haven’t done this.
Moreover, you must interpret Scripture with Scripture, not impose your post-enlightenment western scientific worldview on scripture. For instance, if Job claims that God’s “measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea…” and asks “Who stretched the line on [the earth]?” and declares that God “looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens (Job 11:9, 38:5, and 28:24)”, you must interpret “circle” to mean a flat shape. Where there is ambiguity with the translation of a word, you always interpret that word by the bulk of Scripture, not the other way around. You have no authority to impose “sphericity” into the text when Job clearly writes from a flat-earth perspective. That is basically like putting words in Job’s mouth that he didn’t speak. Most of your examples were along these lines.
In refering to what I said about Hebrews, you said, “Why, if you are willing to take Scripture’s word regarding the Resurrection, are you not willing to hear it regarding other aspects of the physical world?” — I’m just interpreting Scripture with Scripture. The author clearly defines faith in verse 1 in terms of “things unseen”. And so I am bound to use his definition of “invisible” when reading the following verse about creation. I have no right to impose my own definition onto the text, and neither do you. But that is what you do when you redefine “invisible” in terms of particle physics. Concordism is an abuse of Scripture.
“Imposing the errant ANE science on everything that Scripture says isn’t an example of sound interpretation. Instead, if reflects your ANE colored glasses through which you have chosen to see everything.” — Just think how absurd this statment is. The Hebrews were not just members of ANE culture, they were contributors! The patriarchs came from the surrounding cultures, Moses was educated in all wisdom of Egypt, and Paul was a citizen of Roman culture. This was their cognitive environment from which they communicated to one another, and through which God communicated to them; and thus TO US THROUGH THEM. So to read the text through ANE lense does not impose anything! That is the cognitive environment from which the text is authored. In fact, those who fail to consider ANE context are the ones imposing extra-biblical science onto the Scriptures!
Regarding Job 26:, I noticed that Denis dealt with this above. I will refer to you back to his comments on this.
Gordon



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Charles Pugh

posted September 11, 2009 at 3:43 am


Hi Gordon,
If I had the freedom to do so, I might spend a bit more time on a point by point rebuttal. For now, I’ll try to respond to your direct statements. I have a couple of questions I would like to have you answer in order to help me understand what you are saying.
I think I understand what you are saying by ANE cosmology, yet I am wondering if there is some sort of ANE “Bible” to help determine what is considered ANE. Is this cosmology what has been determined from extra biblical sources? You yourself said “Ancient records are probably the LEAST reliable guide to the past.”
I would also like to know exactly how you define a concordist? It appears that you are looking at someone who espouses geocentrism as the only one who could be a concordist and thus consistent. It also seems to me that you are thus taking corcordism to be a negative thing. If I am correct there, then what would be the basis for that belief, if not your evolutionary paleontological or your ANE glasses? Why would that not be circular reasoning?
That is what I meant when I say you are assuming the history. Obviously, we all have to start somewhere. You assume a big bang and an evolutionary development from protoplasm to people. That, my friend, is hardly synonymous with even a cursory reading of Scripture or the statements of Jesus Christ, even if you deny the Bible speaking to scientific matters. Macro evolution is NOT science, though most certainly we see micro evolution or change (as defined in this instance) on a horizontal level.
In fact, many who are committed to Naturalism or Evolutionary Darwinism are even coming to believe in more of a punctuated equilibrium idea (just as the summer research magazine from Virginia Tech just discussed in its study of BIG changes in evolution). No matter how much time you give it, evolution from protoplasm to people is impossible. The philosophical reason that people look for this explanation is not so that they can be good scientists. It is because they do not want to be accountable to a Holy God who they believe would limit their perceived freedom. The accommodation you and Denis have attributed to GOD is in fact your own accommodation to Evolutionary Darwinism. That is P.K. as I alluded to earlier. ;-)
You make some pretty bold claims too about radioactive decay in space equaling what we know to be true on earth. I have some questions there and wonder where you get this information. I may just need to think through that further, yet it seems to be outside of what science could discover, since any pictures of these distant galaxies in space can only be visually observed without physical testing.
A person’s age is determined by factors where we have some ability to compare on the basis of how we understand words like infant, toddler, teenager or young adult. That is not the same as saying that you know the starting point for the cosmos. That is hardly an equivalent comparison for saying that we can know the earth is a certain age, 6,000 years or 4.5 billion years or whatever age you grant. Why is all the time needed anyway? It doesn’t help the problem of going from protoplasm to people, much less from non-life to life (of course you can say “God did it” there or in some punctuated ways, yet how is that then science?).
Exactly what is this “extra-terrestrial material” that you have referenced? How is it known to be such and how are the dates determined to say it is older that other testable material? Are you not assuming a lot to even say it is a certain age, especially if you have it being from outside the earth’s atmosphere?
Until next time,
Charles ;-)
John 17:17



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm


Hi Charles, I hope you were not up at 3 AM on my account!
“Is this [ANE] cosmology what has been determined from extra biblical sources?” — Yes. We have very detailed records of ANE cosmology, including their many detailed creation stories. “You yourself said Ancient records are probably the LEAST reliable guide to the past.” — indeed they are the LEAST reliable. But that doesn’t mean they are UN-reliable. We do, however, have other ways of ascertaining historical information such as archaeological and forensic study that are more reliable than the written records / eyewitness testimony / oral tridition, etc. But when it comes to ascertaining the ANE cognitive enviorionment, we have no data apart from ancient writings and diagrams.
“I would also like to know exactly how you define a concordist?” — Scientific concordism is the false premise that the bible must always concord, or line up, with modern science. The most consistent way to read scripture, however, is using the principle of accommodation which is the premise that God communicated to ancient man through his own worldview and thus all biblical statents about the structure, operation, and natural history of the cosmos are limited to the science of the day.
The easy way to check test these two premises is to do the following: step away from your modern, western, mindset and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the cosmological worldview of the ANE. Then spend some time reading the scriptures as the original audience would have read them, and compare this to what you get when reading them through the lens of modern science. Which makes more sense? Which seems more natural? Do we have to force the waters above the sky-dome to be some sort of pre-dilluvian vapor canopy (which is aparently also an ante-dilluvian reality according to the Psalmist)? Do we have to invent a 2nd firmament on the other side of the canopy so the heavenly bodies have an “expanse” to live in? Do we have to imagine a dense haze obscuring the sun for 4 days to avoid the obvious fact that daylight can’t exist without it? Or that earth has to orbit something? No! We simply must understand that none of these would have been problems when operating from within the ancient cosmology, which was the most up-to-date scicnece at the time the Scriptures were written. And since it was not God’s intent to correct the scientific errors that his people inherited from the surrounding cultures (or else he failed miserably at this), He simply accommodated his language to theirs.
Scientific Concordism assumes that it was God’s intent to give his people advanced knowledge of the physical cosmos. Therefore, they are forced to impose a modern western scientific worldview onto the scriptures. Not only was a 21st century western worldview completely foreign to the original authors and their immediate audience, what makes us so confident that modern science is a true representation of reality? Granted, it seems to explain the available data, but we are never more than one discovery away from a scientific revolution in any field! Are we really so arrogant as to think that future generations of humans will not look back on our acheivements with pity at how little we actually knew about the universe we inhabit? The modern scientific consensus is just as tentative and contemporary as was medieval science, or ancient science. Why must we force God’s word, which is supposed to transcend culture, which is supposed to be timeless and eternal, to match things the way we see them today? Scientific concordism fails.
The most natural intersection of science and scripture is not 21st century western science, nor some future science, nor medieval science — but the science that existed during the time God revealed himself to man. The burden of proof is on the corcordist to show that the Bible contains advanced scientific knowledge — something that has not been demonstrated by any stretch.
“You assume a big bang and an evolutionary development from protoplasm to people.” — Becasue this assumption fits the data. If some other scenario fit the data better, than I would have to consider it as well.
“Macro evolution is NOT science, though most certainly we see micro evolution or change (as defined in this instance) on a horizontal level.” — Tell me what qualifies you to make that statement? The millions of evolutionary biologists who do science everyday based on common descent would stronly disagree with you! Can you fathom the level of arrogance it takes to make such a bold statement that you know nothing about? Why don’t you tell that to Neil Shubin, who used macro-evolution combined with plate techtonics and geochronology to determine the precise geographic location of the fossilized remains of fishapods; the transitional species between fish and tetrapods? Why don’t you tell that to the oil and gas exploration companies who employ thousands of evolutionary micropaleontologists who sort through core samples of ancient marine sediments to examine the macroevolutino between various invertebrate species in order to date the geologic strata and pinpoint, with extreme accurracy, the exact location of fossil fuel deposits? If you want to see just how powerfull of a theory common ancestry actually is, I suggest you watch lessons 10-13 of my video series on YouTube — http://www.youtube.com/glovergj
“In fact, many who are committed to Naturalism or Evolutionary Darwinism are even coming to believe in more of a punctuated equilibrium idea (just as the summer research magazine from Virginia Tech just discussed in its study of BIG changes in evolution).” — Scientists are committed to the data, and to providing rational explanations of the data that give us models that aid further exploration (like where to look for transitional fossils). So they constantly refine their models based on the latest information. The evolution of Darwin’s day is very different from evolution today. How many elements did the periodic table have on it during the time of Darwin? What did physics look like during the time of Darwin? Real science can change and adapt to new discovery. Creationism is immune from new data because creation scientists have to sign “statements of faith” that no matter what the data say, they will not waiver from the standard creation scenario. That’s a joke.
“No matter how much time you give it, evolution from protoplasm to people is impossible.” — what do you base this statement on? There is more than enough evidence to suggest that it did happen. That our tiny brains can’t comprehend it, or that nobody was around to witness it, or that it can’t be repeated in the laboratory is irrelavent to the question of whether or not it happened.
For example: If I return home from a vacation and find my household goods missing, and then I notice that my neighbor has all of my stuff, I can reasonably conclude that he came into my house while I was gone and took my belongings. Even if nobody saw him do it, and there are no signs of forces entry, and my security system never went off, I can absolutely confidently conclude that somehow he was able to take my things because there no other explanation for why they are now in his house and not in my house. People like you, who have not even bothered to look at the evidence in the house next door, simply see no signs of forced entry and conclude that “there is no way somebody broke into your house and took your things.” But a gap, or lack of knowledge about a particular process, is not evidence against it. If you want to determine whether or not X happened, then you make predictions based on what you should find if X is true, then you go out and collect data and determine the probability of that scenario. In the case of my belongings, my theory about my neighbor is confirmed by looking inside of his house and his fingerprints all over the inside of my house. I never need to know exactly how he pulled it off, although the defense would surely keep the focus on this knowledge gap. As far as evolution is concerned, the theory is confirmed again and again every time a new discovery is made. It matters not whether Charles in Virginia, a non-biologist, can wrap his mind around the details of it.
“The philosophical reason that people look for this explanation is not so that they can be good scientists. It is because they do not want to be accountable to a Holy God who they believe would limit their perceived freedom.” — This just borders on slanderous! There are genuine Evangelicals who are at the forefront of evolutionary science. There are many other beleivers who accept it as God’s means of creation: C.S. Lewis and B.B. Warfield were among them. A non-believer has no choice but to accept evolution, but a Christian who accept evolution is genuinely being a consistent scientist. You have either fallen for the creationist propoganda machine, or you are part of it. I hope the former is true.
“You make some pretty bold claims too about radioactive decay in space equaling what we know to be true on earth.” — A bold claim is usually one that either flies in the face of evidence or has a high probably of being falsified. What I said about the radiometric decay of interstellar isotopes has been verified by observation. There is nothing BOLD about it, you can examine the research for yourself.
“…any pictures of these distant galaxies in space can only be visually observed without physical testing.” — You’re kidding, right?The light coming from these distant stars tells us everything we need to know about them. In fact, the element Helium was not first discovered here on earth, but in the sun (a star). We discovered it by analyzing the sprectral emission/absorption lines of the light coming from the sun. Only later did we discover Helium here on earth. Think about how absurd your statement above is. That’s like saying “studying the sun isn’t scientific becasue we can’t go get a sample and bring it back to earth and study it.” Who would say such foolish thing? Yet, you just basically said that about distant suns!
“A person’s age is determined by factors where we have some ability to compare on the basis of how we understand words like infant, toddler, teenager or young adult. That is not the same as saying that you know the starting point for the cosmos.” — We have enough information about the evolution of stars, and have seen enough of them at every stage of their lives to characterize, with a high degree of confidence, just about any star we can see. And we know that the cosmos can’t be younger than the stars it contains, even if the exact date is hard to pinpoint. So my analogy is sound. I suggest that it is your understanding of science that is lacking.
“Why is all the time needed anyway? It doesn’t help the problem of going from protoplasm to people, much less from non-life to life (of course you can say “God did it” there or in some punctuated ways, yet how is that then science?).” — the age of the universe is what it is. Nobody “needs” it. If something can’t be explained naturally, like how life could arise from non-life in the short time following the period of heavy bombardment (4 bya) and the first appearence of bacteria (3.8 bya), then it’s ok to leave that space blank. Christians can posit a miracle as “placeholder” if they want, I don’t care one way or the other. But scientists don’t go around fudging the time-line just to “get what they need” – don’t shoot the messanger.
“Exactly what is this “extra-terrestrial material” that you have referenced? How is it known to be such and how are the dates determined to say it is older that other testable material?” — they are space-rocks that contain minerals that date back to the formation of our solar system and remain unaffected by any physical processes since their formation, making them more reliable than earth, moon, or martian rocks. Whenever a meteorite is found that contains radioisotopes, isochron dating is used and the data are always consistent with the age of our sun. I suggest you look it up or look at my previous explanation, although I’d be happy to explain it again.
“Are you not assuming a lot to even say it [meteorites] is a certain age, especially if you have it being from outside the earth’s atmosphere?” — the only assumption necessary is that the speed of light and the rates of nuclar decay have been constant at least over the last 4.55 billion years; something that can be directly observed by looking at the remnants of distant supernova explosions (which produce unstable isotopes that decay at the same rate).



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Charles Pugh

posted September 11, 2009 at 4:13 pm


Hi Gordon,
I was up later last night preparing for my transition to the overnight days of my split shift at work. My sleep schedule is all over the place and I have some interesting hypotheses there too. ;-)
Thank you for taking time to explain more of what you are saying. I would like to address those things more and plan to in the next few days. My busier schedule happens from now through Sunday, so I’m not sure how thorough I can be right away.
Quickly here, I do understand what you are saying about scientific observation and light. I also hope to watch the video’s you referenced too. If you’d like to do some scientific observation on sound, then I suggest you give me a call (540-552-5083). I’ll have to be talking on my office phone. It doesn’t work on the other phones in this same way. Any time day or night a phenomenon is occurring when I sing a Bible oriented song. It has not occurred with secular songs to date. That is a pretty bold claim too, yet I assure you it has been occurring since a statement I made after my first involuntary commitment following the VT Tragedy on 05-21-07. I began specific documentation and further testing just a few weeks ago on 08-21-09. I have found no natural or physical explanation for this. I have over a dozen witnesses in various places that can substantiate this. I cannot guarantee a response, but it likely would occur even if you gave me an answering machine to sing on–this has been done too, though I am actually cut off when I sing on my own cell phone voicemail! I know firsthand and have been engaged in the battle over the years, that there is a Satanic stronghold in this area where the Modern Creation Movement began. I am at the epi-center of the spiritual battle here that few others even yet realize, at least to the extent that I do. All I am writing comes from my knowledge of the Word of God and my experience in life and ministry in this area.
A lot more has been happening in my life, including MUCH than science cannot explain. This is one reason why I am trying to finish the book I have been working on about it all. I would like to also refer you to a challenging article (introspectively too) that I wrote back on 05-22-09 called “DELUSION” found at: http://www.vtlessonstolearn.com/node/99 .
I hope to address your other points sometime soon.
Sincerely,
Charles ;-)
John 17:17



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Beaglelady

posted September 11, 2009 at 8:38 pm


Charles,
The American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan has an excellent, fascinating collection of meteorites. If you want, you can learn more about meteorites here



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted September 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm


Dear Charles,
You write:
“The accommodation you [Gordon] and Denis have attributed to GOD is in fact your own accommodation to Evolutionary Darwinism.”
Statements like this Charles are unhelpful, and inaccurate. I embraced the notion of accommodation while I was an anti-evolutionist. Moreover, I am NOT a Darwinist. I reject Darwin’s view of evolution.
Charles get up to speed before you press that send button . . .
Respectfully,
Denis



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Charles Pugh

posted September 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm


Greetings All,
A couple of quick comments before work tonight.
Thanks for the link Beaglelady and thanks Denis for commenting and clarifying your position that you are not a Darwinist. Do you also believe in an evolutionary process of protoplasm to people as it appears that Gordon espouses?
I have been thinking a lot about accommodation today and if you think about it in the most basic sense, you can legitimately say that any Revelation of GOD is an accommodation for we are NOT GOD and we do NOT understand all of His ways, for they are past finding out (Romans 11:33). This does not mean that we do not search and “do science” as this is part of HIS original mandate for us. We do KNOW what HE has revealed to us in His Infallible Word to be without error.
I had much rather take the Word at face value, even if I may not immediately understand it, than to take any people’s view of it, whether it be ANE cosmology (which I suspect is not uniform) or the RCC or the PCA or Luther or Calvin or Spurgeon or the academic community or the consensus of modern science or me or you or any group of people. Man’s views change all the time, but GOD’S WORD does not! We had best (as I and Dennis have pointed to the Word there) be careful to not add or take away from the words of this book! We each will give an acount for ourselves in this much for sure!
Charles :-)
John 17:17



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Beaglelady

posted September 11, 2009 at 11:42 pm


“I am NOT a Darwinist. I reject Darwin’s view of evolution.”

Dr. Lamoureux,
Please explain what you mean by this.
Thank you.
(And thanks for continuing to post here.)



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Gordon J. Glover

posted September 12, 2009 at 10:00 am


Charles, you hit the nail on the head when you said: “Man’s views change all the time, but GOD’S WORD does not…”
This is, I think, the foundation of accommodation. Since human culture varies so much across time and geography, it’s would be impossible to read the bible consistently if each people-group filtered God’s word through their own cognitive environment. This would be a usurption of biblical authority because each person would approach the scriptures with his own personal sense of what the text is saying. But we have to remember that God didn’t speak directly to us (21st century western Christian). Rather, he spoke to us VIA a particular people who lived in a particular time and in a particular place with own language, customs, culture, social norms, cosmology, etc. So it only seems natural that if we really want understand the text at face value in such a way that transcends culture and remains true for all of eternity, then each person reading God’s Word should set aside their own cultural perspective and seek to read the text through the eyes of the original audience. This doesn’t require scientific apologetics or hermeneutical gymnastics; it requires some study of comparative literature from the culture that surrounded and preceeded God’s people.
Here is a rather lengthy excerpt from an article by Paul Seely that illustrates the point: “The effective communication of divine revelation may even require changing facts in order to adapt them to a very different culture. In the Chinese culture, the dragon is associated with good luck and blessing. If a missionary insists on speaking of the “dragon” in the book of Revelation,the cultural background of the hearers will automatically associate good things with Satan. If the missionary
adheres strictly to the facts of the text, the message will be distorted.
In Korea, white robes are only worn for funerals and mourning. If a missionary sticks strictly to the facts of the text when translating Rev. 7:9, the great multitude of saints in heaven will all be in mourning as far as the Koreans are concerned. In parts of Africa, if you strew branches in the path of an official, it is an insult to the official. If then a missionary translates Matt. 21:8 according to the actual text, the Africans will be very confused about Palm Sunday.
One might ask, Can a missionary be perfectly moral yet make the book of Revelation say “tiger” when it really says “dragon” or say “red robes” when it really says, “white”? If the missionary does, the translation will not be speaking in accord with the facts. Would the missionary be guilty of lying if the translation did not agree with the facts? Must the translation be absolutely true to the facts even if it causes misunderstanding or stumbling? Is that God’s will and way? Would it not be perfectly moral for a missionary or God to accommodate the message to the culture of the people to whom he is speaking? Does the Bible not have a supra-cultural message which can be best communicated by departing from the facts and clothing the message in the cultural terms of the people to whom it is given?
God is not lying or erring, therefore, when his Word does not agree with the findings of modern science because the science per se which he has incorporated into Scripture is not a revelation from God but is simply an accommodation to the science of those times.
We must not forget that the various revelations in the Old Testament did not come to a people whose minds were a tabula rasa. Rather, they came to a people who had cultural ideas which were deeply ingrained before God’s revelation in the Old Testament ever came to them. These pre-ingrained cultural ideas invited and even sometimes demanded
adaptations, which, like a missionary’s translation, may depart from strict adherence to the facts. In the case of Genesis 1–11, I have
shown elsewhere that some of the content is certainly accommodated to the science of the times.”



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Charles Pugh

posted September 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm


Hi Denis, Gordon or others who may know,
A quick question for now:
Denis, are you or others here directly involved in the Biologos group that is featured in this Science and The Sacred forum?
Thanks,
P.S. Anyone can let me know if they are interested in testing the science experiment I mentioned before. ;-)
Charles :-)
John 17:17



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Denis O. Lamoureux

posted September 14, 2009 at 5:39 pm


Beaglelady,
I wrote:
“I am NOT a Darwinist. I reject Darwin’s view of evolution.”
You asked:
“Please explain what you mean by this.”
Sure. There is a problem with the word “Darwinist.” Regrettably, it has come to mean an atheistic evolutionist, as popularized by Dawkins. Darwin’s views are complex, and they evolved over time. See my paper: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2004/PSCF3-04Lamoureux.pdf
So I definitely accept biological evolution, not Darwinism.
Hope this helps,
Denis



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Beaglelady

posted September 16, 2009 at 10:09 pm


Thank you, Dr. Lamoureuxwr



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Charles Pugh

posted September 16, 2009 at 11:20 pm


To Gordon, Denis and others who may still be reading this forum,
I appreciate the interaction here as I have been cut off from so many whom I have interacted with, especially since 04-16-07. Satan would like to cut me off for good and continues to try, but GOD will only allow him to go so far. I have been learning from the interaction here as I am from everything I am reading and studying and all that is happening in my life (c.f. Prov. 14:6; 18:1, etc.). I am personally experiencing numerous examples of what many would call supernatural events, though I have preferred to call it meta-natural. This basically has been discovered through my noting patterns (good and bad) of events in my life and trying to understand them as well as seeing GOD directly answer many of my prayers that would be unreasonable from a mere naturalistic perspective. If one works from an either/or or natural vs. supernatural paradigm, then you would have to say what I am experiencing is supernatural. The fact that GOD has given me some repeatable phenomena enables me to actually do some science in these areas too. ;-) This particularly relates to when I listen to sacred music in my home or sing sacred music on my phone line. I am interpreting and understanding more about these things by faith from my theological foundation. My training is in theology, yet I have always had an interest in science. Hasn’t Theology been called “the Queen of the Sciences”?
Gordon, I can see that you have a gift of teaching. I learned from the videos of your teaching that I watched today (#10-16) and hope to take time to see the others at some point. I do agree with much of what you are teaching, though I also have some disagreement and questions at various points. I do not necessarily want to bring all of those into this continuing discussion, though I would like to ask a few questions that also relate to previous comments various ones have made here.
1. Related to the idea presented as Accommodation:
As I noted before, in a broad sense you can say that any explanation of anything from GOD to man could be called accommodation as HE has communicated to man where man was at the time of his development and change, while GOD Himself has remained unchanged (e.g. Malachi 3:6). Gordon, while I respect your PCA heritage (I do not know the particular theological background of Denis or the others here), your applying a principle of accommodation lends itself more toward a dispensational theology, rather than a covenant theology. I wonder if you have really studied any explanation of dispensational theology.
1) I understand the desire to use a principle of accommodation to help make the theological clash of faith and science more palatable, particularly when it comes to the foundation of Origins and Gen. 1-11, yet where does this principle of accommodation end? What is your hermeneutic there?
2) I assume that you, Denis and others with an integrationist position are also taking Moses to be the direct author of Genesis 1-11. Do you then see Genesis 1-11, and particularly the Creation accounts in chapters 1 and 2 as kind of a dictation from GOD to Moses? Did Moses draw from the cosmology of others in his day? If you say it was GOD accommodating an ANE cosmology (uniform or not as we understand it), then why do you so readily dismiss the possibility that GOD would have Created with an appearance of age or even with patterns of similarity (seen more readily from the naked eye observation or through study of molecular patterns)? Would taking the position of Moses only being the editor of the material in Genesis 1-11 change your view any? Do you believe that the genealogical records in Genesis 5 are accurate, or are the long ages of humans living them somehow exaggerated or some kind of other accommodation?
3) I accept that you and other integrationists say you believe in the miracles of Jesus and even other miracles in Scripture, though not many specifics have been given beyond the Creation related questions. How do you or even can you scientifically explain the miracles? Do you believe in a global or only a local flood? Do you accept that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish or whale and survived to tell about it? Do you accept that the Apostles had some supernatural help in healings or other un-natural phenomenon? How about generally GOD communicating directly with any human being? What about the changes that suddenly happen in the lives of those who trust Jesus Christ after living a wicked life? Again, this goes to the question of accommodation.
2. Related to the idea of Uniformitarianism, which is foundational for radioisotope dating and crucial to paleontology and the foundational teaching of the geologic column:
1) Do you accept that the world as we in the 21st century have come to understand, has always operated according to the scientific principles we use today?
2) How might this relate to your theological understanding of sin? Did sin only affect human beings or did it affect the rest of the Creation as well? Has sin impacted the heavens? We do have other Bible commentary there, even beyond Genesis 3.
3) Do you believe that GOD and or Satan or even other angels can at any time suspend any natural laws as we know them? If so, how might you explain that scientifically? If not, and you still believe in past miracles, at what point did the spiritual/natural interaction cease? How might that have impacted the natural processes afterwards?
3. Finally, to the particular area of believing and standing on the specific words of Scripture:
1) What is your hermeneutic for what words to take literally, figuratively or as some sort of accommodation? For example, how do you know when to take “firmament” so literally, as with the explained dome definition? Should “heaven” be taken literally too and is there only one heaven or are there two or three or more? I understand that you do not accept that there is more than one firmament, yet why believe in more than one heaven?
2) I understand the importance of learning the background of idioms or figures of speech. I also understand why the background of the particular author writing Scripture is important in better understanding the meanings of what was written. How do you differentiate the words that are written by the human authors and those words that GOD directly gave to them? Do you see greater weight in the direct “Thus saith the LORD” statements of Scripture verses a historical commentary or narrative? How might you know if Jesus was merely accommodating his hearers or if the LORD was only accommodating in the dictation portions of Scripture? Is our 21st century scientific understanding the basis for this?
3) Do you see a generality in many statements and words of Scripture that allows for varying levels of understanding and interpretation? In other words, are the words of Scripture both wide and deep?
Gordon, I liked the way you used practical illustrations and pictures in your teachings, yet I would like to ask a question about your puzzle illustration. Is the puzzle science or is it the Word of God or is it both? What might you say are the pieces of the puzzle? What happens to the picture and your ability to complete the puzzle if you have pieces from 2 different puzzles?
Paul, I still plan to review the papers on the firmament that you wrote and Denis, I also would welcome any further communication or comments from you or any others reading here.
Sincerely,
Charles ;-)
John 17:17



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