Young (Earth) Creationist

A recent conversation with #1 inspired me to resume my recent series of posts on creation. It went something like this:

“Dad, are you a long-earth believer?”

“What do you mean?”

“Mommy told me that you believe that God made the earth in millions of years.”

“Yep. How about you?”

“I’m a short-earth believer; I believe that God made the earth in one day. That’s what the Bible says, isn’t it?”

And so the rubber meets the road, as it were, for my doctrine of creation. What do I do about the fact that I believe my 7-year-old is in error? By which I mean, for how many days should I keep him locked in his room with the collected works of Hugh Ross and Meredith Kline before I bring him before the elders to be stoned for incorrigibility?

Just kidding.

Here’s how I see it. For some doctrines (like the doctrines of grace), it’s critical for children (for all people!) to be taught only the truth; it would be dangerous and negligent for parents to attempt to instill only “neutrality” and expect it to work out in the end (i.e. “I’m raising my children with no religion/all religions, so they can choose for themselves”).

But for creation, I’m not worried that he might come out on the wrong side of things. Certainly for now, I am happy to accept that my child has a simplistic doctrine (after all, he is a child). In time, as he understands more science and exegesis, I’m looking forward to being able to discuss with him the strengths and weaknesses of various alternatives, and why I settled with the balance of beliefs that I did. And if he ends up disagreeing with me, that’s fine (that is, as long as he remains orthodox!)

To that end, I will be making sure that he understands (more importantly than the ins and outs of various doctrinal systems of creation) that the doctrine of creation is not an article on which Christianity stands or falls. 1 Cor 15 specifies the resurrection as such a doctrine, and I agree with Luther when he identifies sola fide as another. But not creation.

To maintain that “the entire Christian faith stands or falls on how Genesis 1 is interpreted”, is to invite mass apostasy among our children. I might grant such pre-eminence to Genesis 2, (Covenant of Works) and 3 (Covenant of Grace), but as for Genesis 1, I agree with the sentiments of Francis Collins:

Young Earth Creationism does even more damage to faith [than to science, by depriving it of talent], by demanding that belief in God requires assent to fundamentally flawed claims about the natural world. Young people brought up in homes and churches that insist on Creationism sooner or later encounter the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of an ancient universe… What a terrible choice they then face! To adhere to the faith of their childhood, they are required to reject a broad and rigorous body of scientific data, effectively committing intellectual suicide. Presented with no other alternative than Creationism, is it any wonder that many of these young people turn away from faith, concluding that they simply cannot believe in a God who would ask them to reject what science has so compellingly taught us about the natural world?

So my primary objective with the doctrine of creation is not to indoctrinate my kids into a particular view of creation, but to ensure that they have access to alternatives beyond the false dichotomy of Young Earth Creationism vs. Atheistic Materialism.

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129 Responses

  1. For the record, Collins (father of the Human Genome Project) is a theistic evolutionist, and the “…” in the quote reads “and the relatedness of all living things through the process of evolution and natural selection.” Caveat emptor.

  2. Rube,

    Your humor always gets a huge out loud gafaw from me! That comment about the elders and stoning caught me off guard. Well done.

    Regarding the article you linked to by James Jordan, does he give you any cause for pause in your thought at all? Do you ever think to yourself that “maybe” you are incorrect?

    Regarding the quote from Collins, it is so full of bias and presuppositions, that I can’t believe you would quote him favorably. Did you ever talk to our common F-18 pilot friend about his paper on isotope dating?

    Make sure you ask #1 to re-read Genesis 1 and tell you how many ‘days’ the bible says it took God to create the world.

    Blessings,

    kazoo

  3. …James Jordan, does he give you any cause for pause in your thought at all?

    Since he holds the doctrine of creation in so much higher esteem than the doctrine of justification, he has zero credibility in my eyes.

  4. Hi Rube,

    I noticed you had one of Dr. Collins’s books with you in church this morning. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but he’ll be speaking at Point Loma Nazarene University this Friday night if you’re interested. My wife and I will certainly be in attendance; in fact, Dr. Collins has granted her a personal interview on Saturday!

  5. Rube,

    James Jordan signed this. In it regarding justification it says:

    Justification by Faith Alone
    We affirm we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. Faith alone is the hand which is given to us by God so that we may receive the offered grace of God. Justification is God’s forensic declaration that we are counted as righteous, with our sins forgiven, for the sake of Jesus Christ alone.

    We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active and personally loyal faith. Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust in accordance with the age and maturity of the believer. We deny that faith is ever alone, even at the moment of the effectual call.

    So, if I am understanding you correctly, by linking to the article with your comment about justification you are making a statement that because he is FV, he doesn’t find the doctrine of justification important or at least not as important as YEC. Is that right?

    If so, what in the quote I provide from them do you think diminishes the “proper” doctrine of justification? Or, do you just think that he is lying when he signs that paper?

    From the long series of posts I read mostly from Clark that Ron linked to, I can see what problems he has with Shepard, but it seems that this FV paper is not in agreement with Shepard on justification.

    kazoo

  6. The article by Jordan is interesting but I don’t think it properly represents all the reasons one might look for an alternative to a 6 day creation and I don’t believe the reasons are simply intellectual sloppiness, to quote him.

    The most compelling idea for me, and put forth well in Collins’ book is the idea of God creating to deceive. As Reuben has touched on elsewhere, the speed at which light travels, for instance, begs questions…and the case studies of dna in Collins’ book are also worth thinking about. Both of these outside the scope of isotope dating. It just seems odd that we can measure the speed of light accurately, come up with a number, and then have to believe it is not so, because it did not exist then.

    To the point then—it is not necessary to look for inconsistencies in the Biblical creation account to have reservations about it being literal. The tenor of Jordan’s article, while zealous, doesn’t cover all the bases for me.

  7. Well, first, I am very zealous for the brainwashing, I mean indoctrination of children. I think it’s very important. About Genesis 1, perhaps if a child is asking questions, one should consider emphasizing that the passage is very majestic, and quite unlike anything else in Scripture. It’s not exactly poetry, but it’s not exactly prose either. It is completely sublime, and no matter how you interpret it, if you aren’t in awe of it, there’s something wrong with you.

    Also, I think it’s important to emphasize the basics with children that we can all agree on. That God is the Creator of all things out of nothing by the Word of his power. And you can teach them that we have been given this story in terms of a week, 6 days. But I’d emphasize God as Creator, by his Word, out of nothing.

    Now these things might be absent from some interpretations of Gen 1. Any interpretation of Gen 1 that does not include God as Creator, by his Word, out of nothing, is wrong, perhaps even…liberal. There are people that interpret the passage in such a way as to undermine these very important basic truths, and to do so is to do great damage.

    As for what the narrative exactly means, we, as the Church, don’t know what it means. We cannot agree. I have an analogical view of the passage, but I’d be a fool to say that I understand it in any kind of satisfying way. There is a considerable amount of awe-inspiring mystery involved. If this passage does not humble you, I don’t suppose any passage will.

    And here’s something very important for us to understand. We cannot allow our interpretation of scientific data (note well that there’s no talk of uninterpreted objective fact here, but interpreted data) to TRUMP the Bible. Again, I have an analogical view of Gen 1, but I struggle to assure myself that I’m not giving greater weight to scientific theory than to Scripture. I keep asking myself again and again if it is truly the passage itself that is pushing me to have an analogical view. I think it is, but nonetheless, I ask myself this question frequently.

    Of course, the converse of this is also true. We cannot allow our interpretation of Scripture to simply TRUMP clear truths revealed in general revelation, in nature. The heavens, after all, do declare the glory of God. The same God who inspired Scripture also created the heavens and the earth. The two are NOT at odds. One must NOT be made to simply trump the other, because we begin with the presupposition that they agree. We have to remember that our interpretation of both is fallible, and may be incorrect.

    So then, when we look at this passage, and we look at interpreted scientific data, we have to reconcile our understanding of them. If interpreted data seems to contradict our understanding of Scripture, then we have gone wrong somewhere. If we’re sure about the one, then we need to go back to work on the other. And if we find we are sure about that, then we need to return to what we previously thought we were sure about, and try again.

    And again, and again, and again.

    If a seminary education has taught me anything, it’s that mastery of any biblical text or concept is much farther from our grasp than we usually think it is.

    Consider the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Just when we think we’ve mastered it, we find ourselves relying on our works in our day to day lives. Just when we think we really get it, we come to a passage that seems to contradict it, and we can’t figure it out.

    Any seasoned minister will tell you that whenever they get done preaching through a book, that’s when they think they might be ready to preach through that book.

    That is not to contradict our doctrine of perspicuity. We believe that what we need to know for salvation is abundantly clear in Scripture, but we don’t think Scripture is so clear as to be simple, or that whatever first occurs to you when you read it must be right.

    No, a well nuanced doctrine of perspicuity will allow for the true nature of Scripture: that it is to be chewed on again and again, and revisited, and reworked, and re-examined. There is no such thing as mastering the biblical text. Actually, quite the reverse is true, it masters us, not the other way around.

    If that is true of the Scriptures, isn’t it also true of the book of general revelation? In our day and age, everyone wants to master everything. They want to break everything down to a simple mathematical formula and move on to the next thing, so that at the end of it all, we will simply be masters of everything, knowing everything and understanding everything without any questions.

    I know Scripture doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t seem that big of a stretch to me to think that the universe might be too. After all, we’re only fallible men.

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
    Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

    The Bible doesn’t give simple mathematical formulas. It gives puzzles and bids us to return to them again and again, and to struggle to understand the wisdom contained in it. It doesn’t answer all our questions, but instead asks us to engage our minds and think about things. If we think we have mastered it, and that it is simple, we can be sure we haven’t gotten the point.

    There is a saying in the world that says, “Wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.” It sounds very wise, because it doesn’t seem to make sense. But the Bible says something very similar, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Well, of course to fear the Lord is to be humble before him, to recognize that you are not God, that you don’t know as much as him and that you cannot know as much as him, and that therefore, when he speaks, you’re going to be outmatched.

    I can think of no better example of this than Gen 1. There are God fearing, solid reformed men on every side in the debate. This should humble us greatly. (I speak as much to myself as anyone else. I am guilty of forgetting these things myself.)

    Don’t ever think you’ve mastered any text, especially Gen 1. Be confident, if you’ve studied it and considered many arguments, but don’t think you’ve mastered it. Don’t ever think you’ve had the last word or that the last word has been said. There is always more to say, and that text will always have more to teach you. Always.

  8. Re the use of the Collins quote:

    Brutal. How could you conceivably use such a quotation in support of your position? (That was my thought even before Echo filled in the “…” portion, but is emphasized even more because of that).

    Either way let’s work with the portion you gave replacing “creationism” with the resurrection.

    Young people brought up in homes and churches that insist on Christ’s resurrection sooner or later encounter the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of once dead, always dead… What a terrible choice they then face! To adhere to the faith of their childhood, they are required to reject a broad and rigorous body of scientific data, effectively committing intellectual suicide.

    I conclude alone with echo that…

    And here’s something very important for us to understand. We cannot allow our interpretation of scientific data (note well that there’s no talk of uninterpreted objective fact here, but interpreted data) to TRUMP the Bible….

    Of course, the converse of this is also true. We cannot allow our interpretation of Scripture to simply TRUMP clear truths revealed in general revelation, in nature.

    As for your 7-year old he’s at the point now where you train him to either believe in the miraculous portions of the scripture or question everything that seems contrary to our general understanding.

    Personally I’d take the “more with age” approach. I.e. you may feel it’s best to teach your children where babies come from at the first moment that ask, but I personally would stick with the stork until they’ve gained more knowledge.

  9. RubeRad,
    A great post, as usual. My young ‘uns are at the age where this is becoming an issue, particularly as it’s caused their parents great turmoil at a former church.

    Your quote from Collins is very telling:
    Young Earth Creationism does even more damage to faith [than to science, by depriving it of talent], by demanding that belief in God requires assent to fundamentally flawed claims about the natural world.

    I don’t want my kids – or any Christian, for that matter – to fear science, or fear that there is a conflict between science, the Creation account, and the rest of Scripture. Jordan’s paranoid damnation of anything but a 24/6 paradigm, and his elevation of that paradigm above all other Scriptural doctrines, is very telling. It sadly reflects much of what I’ve seen and heard in the YEC camp.

  10. […] April 7, 2008 in Uncategorized Rube has a provocative post. […]

  11. You had me until Francis Collins. Such finesse … and then the sledgehammer?

    If you really buy Francis Collins’ denunciation of young earth creationism as intellectual suicide, you should be doing all you can to persuade #1 against it. What other forms of metaphorical suicide would you permit him to court sans your intervention?

    Alas, Collins joins the list of those targeted in this mockery.

  12. Wow! A lot to respond to just from overnight! You can always count on a Creation post to stir the hornet’s nest!

    Kazooless, RE: Jim Jordan, I don’t want this discussion to threadjack over to FV, but my point is that I find it very hypocritical of him to whine and complain about persecution of the FV, who he lauds as open-minded scholars who should have the freedom to question and reinterpret crusty old traditions, but anybody other than 6×24 is a heretic and should be disciplined out of the church and barred from ordination.

    Dbalc, you make a good point about the resurrection, which I also already made. 1 Cor 15 is special revelation that Christianity stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection. So if denying YEC somehow forces denial of the resurrection, then absolutely, let God be true, and every scientist (and our own eyes) liars. But my whole point is that Christianity does not fall apart if the traditional doctrine of creation changes (any more than it fell apart when we learned that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth).

    And I’m surprised that everybody is so surprised at my use of (agreement with?) that Collins quote, which merely expresses a sentiment that I’ve had myself, before I ever read it from him. Sorry, but I truly do feel that it’s dangerous to set the problem up as only two options: YEC or heresy.

  13. If you really buy Francis Collins’ denunciation of young earth creationism as intellectual suicide, you should be doing all you can to persuade #1 against it. What other forms of metaphorical suicide would you permit him to court sans your intervention?

    I dunno, you got any ideas? There’s a lot of things you can do in this life that don’t require an “orthodox” understanding of the age of the universe. If #1 grows up and finds himself so theologically convinced of YEC that non-YEC would for him be theological suicide, then I will load the intellectual bullets into his intellectual gun. But if he were to walk away from the faith because I taught him that Christianity stands or falls with YEC, well, I don’t even want to finish that sentence because I would end up trivializing with overblown rhetoric.

  14. Any interpretation of that does not include God as Creator, by his Word, out of nothing, is wrong…

    I agree completely with this—my concern is that YEC people seem to think that those who might disagree, are rejecting God as Creator.

    The idea of teaching as majestic is also well said. And as scientific knoweldge advances, I am constantly amazed at His handiwork as regards the details, micro (dna, etc.), and macro (planets, galaxies and the like) and leaves me humbled and worshipful.

  15. Ekktar, thx for dropping by! Thanks also for loaning me the Collins book. While you wait for me to finish (relevant parts of) it, you might be interested in this very short audio touching on theistic evolution.

  16. Ekktar: YEC people seem to think that those who might disagree, are rejecting God as Creator

    I’m a YEC person, and I do not think disagreement with YEC equates with rejection of God as Creator.

    Indeed, one of my concerns is that OEC people seem to think that those who might disagree, are rejecting science as reliable.

    It’s also quite easy for a YEC person like myself to affirm this sentiment from you:

    Ekktar: And as scientific knoweldge advances, I am constantly amazed at His handiwork as regards the details, micro (dna, etc.), and macro (planets, galaxies and the like) and leaves me humbled and worshipful.

    It’s easy to imagine the worst in a position you oppose. YEC and OEC people share more in common than our dear Francis Collins would like us to believe.

  17. It’s easy to imagine the worst in a position you oppose.

    True, and that’s why I risked an FV threadjack to link to JJ — to demonstrate that I am not reacting against a straw man.

  18. RubeRad: If #1 grows up and finds himself so theologically convinced of YEC that non-YEC would for him be theological suicide, then I will load the intellectual bullets into his intellectual gun. But if he were to walk away from the faith because I taught him that Christianity stands or falls with YEC, well, I don’t even want to finish that sentence because I would end up trivializing with overblown rhetoric.

    Let me paraphrase to make sure I understand you correctly. You don’t want to be guilty of teaching your son that following Christ requires subscribing to YEC, because then doubting YEC would cause him to doubt Christ.

    However, if your son comes to that false equation himself (following Christ requires subscribing to YEC), then you will persuade him against YEC (intellectual bullets), even at the expense of his faith in Christ (theological suicide).

    Better outright rejection of Christ than YEC? It’ll come sooner or later, so you might as well help it along?

    Tell me I’m getting that wrong, because I’ve read it five times and am doing the best I can. Chalk this up to me “imagining the worst” — but your imagery (handing a loaded intellectual gun to your son so he can commit theological suicide) is quite provocative.

  19. You read me completely wrong. From Collins, “intellectual suicide” = “believing YEC” = “discarding science”. So I am looking at someone who is convinced that “non-YEC = theological suicide”, such that the only choices are “theological suicide” or “intellectual suicide”. And if it comes down to that, I would absolutely prefer that #1 embrace YEC and commit “intellectual suicide”, than he commit “theological suicide”. Better a Christian despite YEC, than an atheist because of YEC.

  20. I was very interested in your web post. I have been a young earth creationist for all my life but have recently begun to read up on whether there is room in Genesis 1 for evolution and an old earth.

    Do you recommend any good books? Have you talked about possible objections on your site before.

  21. RubeRad: Better a Christian despite YEC, than an atheist because of YEC.

    Whew, glad to hear it. Because in the end, all that counts is a relationship with the resurrected Jesus Christ.

    David: I have been a young earth creationist for all my life but have recently begun to read up on whether there is room in Genesis 1 for evolution and an old earth.

    I’ve been a young earth creationist less than a third of my life — and want to be the first on this thread to applaud you, David, for seeking out alternate views. Closed minds accomplish little.

  22. Welcome David; there are lots of book recommendations, and lots more at this blog, if you poke around the Creation tag.

    As for books, maybe start with this one, since you get to see disagreeing Christians respond to each other (although as I’ve noted in recent posts, I think the 6×24 team is kind of weakly represented).

    I keep wanting to read this freely downloadable book to find out what a PhD mathematician should believe concerning creation (and why a student of Kline rejects his Framework theory).

    You might also be interested in reading the OPC Report on Creation, which discusses 5 different views, and lays out the doctrinal anchors which any slippery-slopers need to be aware of.

    Beyond that, I recommend anything by Hugh Ross. Maybe start with A Matter of Days. You might find, however, that Ross pushes a little too hard, making statements like “The Bible predicted a hot big-bang cosmology thousands of years before modern science discovered it”. I find that Ross’ exegesis is most strained in claiming that Day 4 intends “God had made the sun, moon, stars, …” and that the creative work of that day consisted only in thinning the atmosphere from translucent to transparent, finally making them visible to the earthbound point of view. But Ross is solid on literal Adam & Eve and the Fall, unlike most Theistic Evolutionists.

  23. Thanks for the links Reuben. I’ll look forward to digging into them.

  24. I like this post. I don’t think your average strict literal interpretation guy understands how he is basically cutting his throat in Genesis 1.

    My parents raised me that way, and on a steady diet of Christian radio “science” programs and some fairly terrible lecture programs, I got to doubting heavily everything in the Bible. I was able to reconcile world views in such a way that central themes of Christianity could exist alongside being a devoted geologist.

    I would say you’re never to young to get your kid asking questions, but he should understand that he might get a little stone rash from time to time.

    you would be surprised how many geology majors are militant atheists because of one YEC Pharisee or two too many in their past.

  25. Echo,

    Well done post. I agree.

    Everybody, I am NOT one of those that calls an OEC like Rube a heretic. I was just playing the devil’s advocate.

    Ekktar,

    It just seems odd that we can measure the speed of light accurately,

    Interesting assertion. While I pretty much think that it is true as well, it doesn’t prove anything OEC vs YEC related. But this has been discussed before on this blog.

    kazoo

  26. I highly commend the OPC’s report on creation. VERY well done, and a lot of effort put into it by careful exegetes of Scripture.

  27. Casey, thanks for stopping by!

    I would say you’re never to young to get your kid asking questions, but he should understand that he might get a little stone rash from time to time.

    I don’t understand — is that geologist lingo?

  28. No, that’s from the hurled stones of his fellow parishoners.

  29. Speaking of hurled stones …

    Casey: I don’t think your average strict literal interpretation guy understands how he is basically cutting his throat in Genesis 1.

    No, I haven’t stopped beating my wife. Er, I mean yes, I have stopped beating her. No wait, I haven’t — I mean —

    Cast of Characters
    Average Strict Nonliteral Interpretation Guy (ASNIG)
    Average Strict Literal Interpretation Guy (ASLIG)

    Enter ASNIG, stage left. Enter ASLIG, stage right. Confrontation.

    ASNIG: Do you understand that you’re basically cutting your throat in Genesis 1?
    ASLIG: No!
    ASNIG: Just as I suspected: you don’t understand it.
    ASLIG: Yes I do.
    ASNIG: So you admit you’re basically cutting your throat in Genesis 1!
    ASLIG: No, wait, I don’t — I mean —

    The humor lies in realizing the roles are perfectly reversible. ASLIG could just as easily state that he doesn’t think your average strict nonliteral interpretation guy understands how he is basically cutting his throat in Genesis 1.

    Not very productive discourse, that.

  30. that’s why theology is fun. I reread Placher’s History… last month. You can’t tell me he didn’t chuckle from time to time writing it.

  31. In the Quran, it says that Allah created the heavens and the Earth in six days (50:38) but it clarifies that a day in the sight of Allah is thousands of years in length. I wonder if a similar interpretation of Genesis is linguistically possible.

  32. Thanks, Kazoo for the reply—let me expand the thought then, and forgive me if I tiptoe too far to the edge, but I do so purposefully. In the past I have read a lot of Robert Capon, most notably known for the Supper of the Lamb, a Culinary Reflection. He mentions that, even if evolution is true, as some point, there is the first sentient couple, and they are responsible to make the moral choice that we know Adam and Eve made…

    So I guess I am asking why this is bad or wrong, from the perspective of a YEC—if we take the years out of the equation, which I know we can’t, but just for the sake of the conversation, how is God lessened or how have we slipped onto the slippery slope, in this case, years notwithstanding. I am trying to make the point here that I am not asserting that Genesis has any of the errors that Jordan asserts that people make…thanks for feedback on this, amigos.

  33. Collins states that Cain obviously married from among an extra-edenic human population. With such a system, how is Adam the federal head of those humans of whom he is not the ancestor? How do they get original sin?

  34. @asad123, 1 Pet 3:8 says “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” but to my knowledge, it is not common to found an old-earth creation on that one verse.

  35. To the author of this post:

    It is sad to see a man reject the plain teaching of scripture. By doing so, you reveal who your god really is. By teaching your children to reject the plain teaching of scripture, you will come under a strict judgement. I would not want to be standing before God and have to tell Him that I taught my children that His Word was not true.

    Don’t be suprised when they grow up and reject your faith.

    God’s Word is true, no matter what men may say. No one is truly educated until He understands God’s Word and trusts in Him alone. Everything else is merely indoctrination.

    To the rest:

    When men allegorize or deny the teaching of scripture in favor of the so called wisdom of men, they do two things. First, if the book can not be trusted from the beginning, it does not follow that it can be trusted anywhere. You may as well use it for toilet paper.

    Second, if Genesis is allegory, who then is going to give the interpretation? You? Why should I listen to what you have to say? Anything you say, after denying the truth of Scripture, is meaningless.

    Allegory is a means to get power over people. it puts interpretation in the hands of a select few, and makes the people subject to them. The same is true for sience, so-called.

    Stop elevating yourself to the position of a god, and repent. But, you will probably not listen…

    Peace.

  36. Doug, as a YECer myself I can attest that RubeRad is devoted to Jesus Christ and His Word. His dilemma (and that of most others here) is a sincere one: how to reconcile God’s two revelations, general (nature) and special (His Word). We wouldn’t expect them to disagree, yet they seem to. Is God deceiving us by making nature look older than it really is? It’s respect for God, and fear of labeling Him a deceiver, that drives them to consider other possibilities for Genesis’ intended meaning.

    I don’t agree with them — I believe we can find reconciliation between general and special revelation if we consider our own misreadings of Scripture and false assumptions about science. These are arguments I’ve begun, and hope to continue, presenting here at Blogorrhea. But their God really is Jesus Christ. Denouncing fellow believers over creation/evolution issues won’t persuade them that general revelation lies to us.

    You presented points worth arguing. I think they would win an audience if you extended these thoughts:

    Doug: God’s Word is true, no matter what men may say.

    Could you share some examples of human falsehoods regarding an old earth?

    Doug: First, if the book can not be trusted from the beginning, it does not follow that it can be trusted anywhere. You may as well use it for toilet paper.

    Could you flesh out your criticism of OEC trust in Genesis chapter 1 as metaphorical truth? OECers do use the Bible as a rule for life.

    Doug: Second, if Genesis is allegory, who then is going to give the interpretation? You? Why should I listen to what you have to say? Anything you say, after denying the truth of Scripture, is meaningless.

    Allegory is a means to get power over people. it puts interpretation in the hands of a select few, and makes the people subject to them. The same is true for sience, so-called.

    Could you explain how your own interpretation of some passages (Revelations, Daniel’s visions) avoids the slippery slope of allegory?

    I believe in a 6×24 creation, and I believe it can be intellectually and rigorously defended. But I’m choosing to challenge you a bit here, Doug, because these are my brothers, I love them, and it grieves me to see an earnest dilemma like creation vs. evolution causing division in the church. We can disagree and debate without disrespect or division.

    Footnote: A lot of new voices on this thread. What’d you do different this time around, RubeRad? Running GoogleAds to bring people here?

  37. I think I might have gotten some WordPress luv, since my stats are showing a lot of referrals from wordpress.com. And linkage from Heidelblog brought even more.

  38. […] Young (Earth) Creationist […]

  39. These is no dilema. Evolution is a belief system that is designed to draw men away from God, a product of a world captive to the kingdom of darkness. We are never called to reconcile so-called natural and special revelation. We are called to be reconciled to God in Christ. Sinful humans will invent ways to avoid God. “Science” is no exception.

    The God who created and sustains all now calls all men everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel.
    Either believe His Word, or don’t. But do not masquerade as a Christian.

  40. What if I told you I don’t believe in evolution, but that God supernaturally placed every species that ever was on the earth fully-formed?

  41. I would ask what you mean by “God”?

  42. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord — who was the Word by which all created things were made.

  43. How do you know that this particular “God” you are believing in is correct, and how do you know that this particular “God” created all things?

  44. The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and proved to the world that he was God by his resurrection.

  45. So, did this “Word” tell you that he created all things by an audible voice, a sign, a scrap of paper, a phone call, a text message, or some other means of communication? How do you know? What are the mechanics of communication that this “God” used to communicate these things to you?

  46. Regis, I’ll go with (c) “Scrap of paper”, final answer — although the information recorded on scraps of paper is the testimony of witnesses to miraculous signs, audible voices, and other means of communication.

    Look, this is fun and all, but I’ve got other things to do. I’ll check in later or tomorrow, but I’ll leave you with this: I find it hard to believe that you really think

    We are never called to reconcile so-called natural and special revelation

    Obviously you believe that scientists are wrong and sinful. Do you not also believe that the proper Christian response at least partly includes demonstrating exactly how they are wrong? Or are AiG and ICR wasting their time in trying to reconcile science with the bible?

  47. I rest my case. Thank you for an interesting conversation.

    Peace.

  48. Doug, when you say that it is clear who RubeRad’s god really is and then make a prediction about his children, you come across as very judgmental and ungracious. You cannot speak with certainty about what is in another person’s heart or about the future of his kids’ salvation. Kindness goes a long way in discussing issues, especially among Christians.

    I don’t doubt that many “old agers” disregard much of what the Bible says, but no doubt RubeRad believes the Bible to be true. What is at issue with him and others is determining how God’s word should be read. What’s plain to one is not necessarily plain to another. There are part’s of scripture that are clearly not meant to be read literally (e.g., the Psalms, the parables, the apocalyptic sections). The question here is, “Is meant to be read in a strict literal sense?” I am not sure that most people reduce Genesis to allegory, as you say RubeRad is doing. Some might take a lot of its language poetically.

  49. David,

    Two things I have noticed. One: When someone is being led to a conclusion that they do not want to contemplate, they pick up their toys and leave the room.

    Two: People read a lot into a comment box reply about motives and attitude.

    When someone rejects the plain reading of scripture, they do indeed reveal who their god really is: themselves.

    The point is that you do not get an old earth view by exegessis of the text. There is nothing in the text of Gen 1 to give you an old earth view. What you get is six litteral 24 hour days followed by a day of rest. The only way to get anything else out of the text is to introduce something into the text from outside of Gen 1.

    Since Rube left the room, what I was going to ask him (eventually) is on what basis he believes Jesus is God (creator, redeemer, etc) but does not believe that Gen 1 is to be taken literally.

    Without the accurate revelation of the Word, there would be no reliable way of knowing. If you can’t trust the beginning of the Book to speak accurately, you may as well throw the rest away.

    And If one is going to say that the Bible is true, then one can not allegorize the parts that one does not like. At that point, It is no longer true, except in a post-modern sense.

    I made no prediction about his children and their salvation. I simply said – “Don’t be surprised.” Thats all.

  50. Doug: When someone is being led to a conclusion that they do not want to contemplate, they pick up their toys and leave the room. … Since Rube left the room …

    Ha — RubeRad owns the room! More than that, at 133,136 words in two years, he’s the number two contributor here (second only to Echo). His commitment to this dialogue far outstrips your Flash Inquisition.

    So when RubeRad says he’s got other things to do and will be back tomorrow, I think we can infer that he has other things to do and will be back tomorrow.

    Doug: I made no prediction about his children and their salvation. I simply said – “Don’t be surprised.” Thats all.

    Maybe you don’t realize how harshly that comes across online. In person you might be able to pull that off with compassion and earnest concern, but online it sounds like a threat.

  51. Doug,

    Thanks for giving 6-dayers like myself a bad rap. Your posts made me feel about being a 6-dayer how watching movies on racism (say, Rosewood) make me “proud” of my white heritage.

    Rube,

    Make sure to admit that Collins would mock your non-theistic evolutionist position too. So you’re not out of the woods. Why not theistic-evolution? All the best scientists in the world believe in evolution. This is a major flaw I see in your method in this debate.

    Echo,

    I agree with your statement to the effect that,

    And here’s something very important for us to understand. We cannot allow our interpretation of scientific data (note well that there’s no talk of uninterpreted objective fact here, but interpreted data) to TRUMP the Bible….

    Of course, the converse of this is also true. We cannot allow our interpretation of Scripture to simply TRUMP clear truths revealed in general revelation, in nature.

    And since I believe (currently) that the exegesis bears out a literal 6-day reading, and since I (currently) do not find the scientific evidence to be “clear” (let alone my investigation into philosophical matters of realism vs. anti-realism, which bear on this debate), then I am not an epistemic criminal of sorts. My position is rational, not subject to epistemic blame, not a dereliction of my epistemic duties, and it is produced by properly functioning cognitive faculties, and not subject to undefeated-defeaters, and is based on the testimony of an all-knowing God, and so is warranted.

    So, according to your criteria above, I should remain a 6-dayer given my current epistemic situation.

    I wonder, though, how would we apply your criteria to this situation:

    “Say someone S fully believes that Scripture teaches some doctrine D and S also fully believes that nature reveals some teaching T.”

    What should S do? Should S say that she is probably wrong about D or T? Should she withhold judgment until she changes either D or T? Does anything–either D or T–trump the other? How would you flesh this out?

  52. Galatian 4:16

    Peace.

  53. Paul M: What should S do? Should S say that she is probably wrong about D or T? Should she withhold judgment until she changes either D or T? Does anything–either D or T–trump the other? How would you flesh this out?

    Abraham’s Example

    Let’s look at how Abraham fleshed it out. From Hebrews chapter 11:

    By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

    Abraham knew four incompatible things:
    (A) Death is the end of life.
    (B) Isaac had not fathered a child.
    (C) God promised that Abraham would be a father to many nations.
    (D) God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

    (A) and (B) were matters of natural observation, (C) and (D) matters of special revelation. Each in itself was true — but all four together couldn’t be true. Abraham’s options:

    Question natural observation
    Opt.A: Death must not be the end of life.
    Opt.B: Isaac must have fathered a child secretly.

    Question special revelation
    Opt.C: God meant that Abraham would be a metaphorical father to many nations.
    Opt.D: God meant that Abraham should sacrifice Isaac metaphorically.

    Abraham chose neither metaphorical understanding of special revelation. Nor did he opt to question one case of natural observation (Isaac’s parental status) that would have left other cases (parental status in general) intact. Further, Abraham did not choose not to choose — he didn’t walk into his sacrifice of Isaac without resolution.

    Instead, Abraham subordinated natural observation to special revelation. He doubted a natural law that every human being had observed from the beginning of time. He reasoned that God could raise the dead.

    This is no inconsequential passage: it stands at the heart of the identity of the nation of Israel, and for this intellectual act — a reasoning against the reason of natural observation — Abraham is listed as a model of faith in Hebrews chapter 11.

    D can trump T.

  54. Doug,

    I don’t have a problem with the *truth* of 6-day creation, but in the way you’re *expressing* that truth in an anti-intellectual way.

    Christians are not called to be ostriches.

    I can deal with the *arguments* Rube puts for without having to invoke comments about “Da Debil.”

    And, I never implied that you were an *enemy* of mine.

    And you said many things, so I don’t know what your reference to Gal 4:16 is aiming at? *Everything* you’ve said here? Well, you’ve made a couple of grammatical mistakes, and so *those things* can’t be the “truth.” You’ve also said statements like this:

    “It is sad to see a man reject the plain teaching of scripture. By doing so, you reveal who your god really is. “

    And that’s simply ignorant conjecture. I could just as easily comment on the lack of any exegesis or logical argumentation in your posts and tell you that you’re revealing who your anti-intellectual god really is. If a position is true, it’s defensible and so you need not resort to the veiled threats that litter the landscape of your posts.

  55. Forrester,

    Thank you for those comments. You could also appeal to the initial revelation that he and Sarah would bear a child. Given their age, and given belief in T, Abraham laughed at God. He shouldn’t have. So D should have trumped T there as well.

    If I’m reading you, then the cash value of your post is that it perfectly fine, epistemically permissible, etc., for someone to let what they believe to be the teaching of Genesis trump arguments from science.

    Since that is perfectly rational, perhaps the comments to the effect that 6-dayers are kind of intellectual children should end?

    Ineed, take these two evidences E are see which trumps which:

    [E1] A perfect, all-knowing, infallible being said P.

    [E2] A imperfect, finite, fallible and tenative conclusion subject to falsification said not-P.

    Now, given [E1] and [E2], what is the more rational thing to believe, P or not-P?

  56. Paul,

    Now who is being unkind? There is nothing in what I said that is anti-intellectual.

    “Da Debil”?

    Nothing I have said has been dealt with seriously, except to call it conjecture.

    And, that is twice that the word “threats” has been used. I threatened no one.

    I think it is sad to see anyone reject the plain reading of scripture. I think it reveals who their true god is: themselves. There is nothing anti-intellectual about taking God at His Word, is there?

    Why not just address the issue of the consequences to allegorizing the text, and the fact that a rejection of a literal interpretation of Gen 1 invalidates the rest of Scripture?

    Simple questions really.

  57. Paul M: If I’m reading you, then the cash value of your post is that it perfectly fine, epistemically permissible, etc., for someone to let what they believe to be the teaching of Genesis trump arguments from science.

    I would only consider this kind of trumping in a case in which both sides are as valid as we can tell. I began the special revelation argument here (and have hoped to continue).

    Clearly other cases exist in which general revelation informs us that special revelation speaks metaphorically (sun revolving around earth). Subordinating special revelation to general revelation in such a case does no theological damage.

    Which raises the question: what theological damage occurs through the subordination of Genesis chapter 1 to natural observation? I hope to provide some thoughts on this soon.

    Paul M: Since that is perfectly rational, perhaps the comments to the effect that 6-dayers are kind of intellectual children should end?

    This can’t be directed at me! I’m a 6x24er myself.

    Paul M: Ineed, take these two evidences E are see which trumps which:

    [E1] A perfect, all-knowing, infallible being said P.

    [E2] A imperfect, finite, fallible and tenative conclusion subject to falsification said not-P.

    Now, given [E1] and [E2], what is the more rational thing to believe, P or not-P?

    As for [E1] or [E2], again that partly depends on correct understanding of the message P, which is why I grant that OECers have room to argue.

  58. Doug, I’m sorry that I misinterpreted your comment about Rube’s children. To be fair, though, you did write “Don’t be surprised when they grown up and leave your faith,” emphasis on “when.”

  59. Doug,

    I’m a 6-dayer and so I don’t need to address anything about allegorizing, do I?

    I also didn’t say you were “unkind.”

    I also deal with you as seriously as you present yourself.

    It’s fallacious to say that someone who denies the “plain reading of scripture” (whatver you mean by that) has made themselves a God. But, if you must persist, then put forwad a group of premises wherein the truth of the conclusion follows from the truth of the premises. If you can’t do that, keep your unargued conjectures to yourself.

  60. Forrester,

    I am a 6-dayer too. I was simply pointing out that the “children” and “simplistic” comments directed at 6-dayers should end.

    As far as yoiur last comment, the P and the not-P are intended to have the same meaning. One denies what the other asserts. So, in that sense, it doesn’t depend on metaphores etc., because then they’d be equivocating on what P is. So, if P is given a constent value in my [E1] and [E2] example, which is the more rational evidence to base a belief on, [E1] or [E2]. The answer is obvious. Just like if you used a calculator to add two 1,000 diget numbers, or did it in your head. The calculator is the better bet, how much more than the infallible, all-knowing creator’s testimony?

  61. Paul,

    How’s this?

    1. God has revealed how He created the universe in Gen 1

    2. The plain reading of the text indicates that He did it in 6 literal days. (Morning & Evening, the first day, etc…)

    3. A denial of 6 literal days = a rejection of God’s revealed Word.

    4. The person who rejects God’s Word is therefore be putting something or someone in God’s place as the authority by which this revealed Word is judged. (I suggest that it is themselves, since they are the one who is passing judgement of the revealed Word of God.)

    5. A rejection of God’s Word is therefore a rejection of God Himself.

    6. A rejection of God results in an elevation of the subsitute god, themselves.

    7. Therefore, the new god is the self.

    Better?

  62. The plain reading of the text indicates that God has arms.

    A denial that God has arms = a rejection of God’s revealed Word.

    Maybe the problem is in this “plain reading” hermeneutic that you espouse, no?

  63. 1. God has revealed how He created the universe in Gen 1

    2. The plain reading of the text indicates that He did it in 6 literal days. (Morning & Evening, the first day, etc…)

    3. A denial of 6 literal days = a rejection of God’s revealed Word.

    4. The person who rejects God’s Word is therefore be putting something or someone in God’s place as the authority by which this revealed Word is judged. (I suggest that it is themselves, since they are the one who is passing judgement of the revealed Word of God.)

    5. A rejection of God’s Word is therefore a rejection of God Himself.

    6. A rejection of God results in an elevation of the subsitute god, themselves.

    7. Therefore, the new god is the self.

    Yikes. For starters, God did not reveal how He created the universe in Gen 1, He revealed that He created the universe. The creation account is not a cookbook describing how to cook up a planet, but a description of a loving God fashioning all things ex nihilo. Nothing in Scripture requires a 6×24 paradigm, nor does a longer creation period endanger the rest of Scripture.

    To follow Bruce’s example, God also has wings. Is a rejection of the physicality of God’s wings a rejection of God himself?

    Doug – is your God bigger than your understanding of Him?

  64. Okey Doky.

    1. God spoke = method = how
    2. God created ex nihilo in six 24 hour days = method = how

    Plain reading: The use of normal grammar in its ordinary form.
    Example: Morning, evening, first day. Morning evening second day, etc.

    A faithful workman recognizes the difference between the types of literature used in Scripture. Just because Jesus is described as the door, obviously does not mean He is made of wood. Duh.

    The issue is a rejection of the Word of God as revealed in Gen. 1 Why is that so difficult for the enlightened fellows here to understand?

    What is so wrong with accepting God, taking Him at His Word first, and then evaluating all you see, here, experience, and learn based on its agreement with what He has revealed?

    The last couple of chapters of Job would be a good place to go for a primer on how one should address the Creator God and approach His Word.

    You know what the plain reading of scripture means, you have simply chosen to reject it.

    My understanding of God is so big, that I believe He could have created it in one instant as we see it today if He chose to do so.

    How about you? Can God create an antique?

  65. Well, with all the high schoolers playing in the yard, this kindergarten kid is hesitant to jump in (with Doug).

    However, I would just like to ask if there were any “plain reading” or therapeutical views of Genesis 1 & 2 before Darwin’s time that suggested anything other than 6 literal 24-hour periods? It seems to me that in 1800 years of exposition, any interpretation medthod that Rube or other OEC’s want to apply wouldn’t be new from Darwin’s period and on, right?

    In other words, it wasn’t until this God hater Darwin became popular that people felt they needed to question what scripture was teaching. So I think this goes back to the College Professor Paul’s statement about P vs non-P.

    kazoo

  66. therapeutical should be hermeneutic. spell checker must have choked. Sorry.

    kazoo

  67. Augustine was pretty much an old earth kind of guy, as was Ireneus and most of the ‘church fathers.’ What’s your point, Kaz, that an old earth view is a recent invention?

    Doug – Francis Collins, the man whose team is credited with cracking the human genome (story here) is coming to realize that there is a God of creation. Is he damned to hell for all time because he is a theistic evolutionist? I don’t know how or why the Holy Spirit has moved in the man’s life, but it’s clear that it has. Anthony Flew was committed atheist before coming to see the hand of God in DNA evidence. Flew is a theist. Do you reject the work of God in these men’s lives because they have a different view of Creation? My God is bigger than that.

  68. Howdy Doug,

    You wrote:

    Paul,

    How’s this?

    1. God has revealed how He created the universe in Gen 1

    2. The plain reading of the text indicates that He did it in 6 literal days. (Morning & Evening, the first day, etc…)

    3. A denial of 6 literal days = a rejection of God’s revealed Word.

    4. The person who rejects God’s Word is therefore be putting something or someone in God’s place as the authority by which this revealed Word is judged. (I suggest that it is themselves, since they are the one who is passing judgement of the revealed Word of God.)

    5. A rejection of God’s Word is therefore a rejection of God Himself.

    6. A rejection of God results in an elevation of the subsitute god, themselves.

    7. Therefore, the new god is the self.

    Better?

    Not better. There’s more gaps in that than in the mouth a an Appalachian Mountain hayseed without dental insurance.

    One example is that it doesn’t follow from “the plain reading is X” that “the intended meaning of the text is X”. That’s a non-sequitur. So, you can’t get from P2 to P3. You need *another* premise:

    2a: The plain reading of a text is always the real meaning of the text.

    But this is patently false.

    As far as P3 goes, that’s a begging of the question. Ruben thinks that a denial of 6 literal days *is not* a denial of God’s word.

    So, Ruben thinks that God’s word does not teach X, and so he could hardly think he is rejecting God’s word by rejecting X.

    This means that Ruben is not rejecting God’s word as he sees it (now, he could be wrong, and I think he is, but this is an *external* fact but the claim that someone is putting themselves up as God is an *internal* fact, thus you have another non-sequitur), and so this means that your P4 is false.

    You also intimate in P4 that Ruben is outwardly admitting that God’s word is false. But he is not doing this, so he is not “judging” God’s word as if he were the authority on the matter.

    You also make a *probabilistic* claim in P4 yet you present your conclusion (P7) as *necessarily* following from the above premises. You would need an “I suggest” in your conclusion. So as it stands your conclusion goes beyond your premises.

    I could pick on more things (for instance you need to tie P5 to P6 since the one doesn’t automatically follow from the other), but I’ve done enough to show that your argument is invalid and unsound.

    So, I ask again, would you care to present an actual logical argument for your claim, or has the intellectual state of Christianity been reduced to backing up conclusions based on fallacious and unsound arguments? If we can do that, anything follows!

    1. If you make fallacious arguments then you hate God, the Lord of reason.

    2. Doug makes said fallacious arguments.

    3. Therefore, Doug hates God, the Lord of reason.

    Unfortunately, though this argument is unsound (I think P1 is false), it is valid and so better than yours.

    Now, I agree with you that Genesis is not intending to give us a metaphor or offering poetry, and so I think this is an area where Ruben is off. But, *given his assumptions,* he’s not doing any of the things you blame him for. You must actually *deal* with his arguments rather than simply *assuming* your reading of the text.

    Thou shall not try to bully people with illogical reasoning or question-begging premises.

  69. I’m with Bruce. The anthropomorphic language needs to be accounted for.

  70. Augustine=instantaneous creation – not literal 6 days, but you knew that from reading these threads.

  71. Paul,

    When I said that special and general revelation cannot be made to trump each other, I was not putting forth an argument in favor of a non-literal view. In fact, the subject of my discourse was revelation in general, not Gen 1 specifically. Truth be told, I was speaking to all sides of the debate.

    Since general and special revelation must agree, then one cannot trump the other. However, we can’t access revelation apart from our understanding/interpretation of it. In other words, we don’t have the pure (noumenal) revelation (if you’ll pardon the Kantian terminology), but we have the interpreted revelation. Sure, the Spirit helps us to get it right, but we’re still flawed.

    So what we end up comparing is our interpretation of special versus our interpretation of general. There is no piety involved with saying that MY interpretation of the one should trump MY interpretation of the other. However, I may wisely recognize that I must be wrong somewhere, and side with the one that I am most convinced of, concluding that I have interpreted the other improperly.

    But if that’s the case, it is cause for a humility about the interpretation of both, since you must be wrong somewhere, and you don’t know where.

    For my part, it has been good for me to see Doug’s position being argued against by 6-24 guys, because Doug is very much what I think of when I think of literal guys. I’m glad to see that the guys on this thread are not like that.

    Forester,

    Abraham did not have a crisis of pitting general revelation with special revelation, which he solved by saying that God could raise the dead (as if he made up this idea on his own). No, rather, he concluded that Isaac’s death wouldn’t keep him from keeping his promise, because God is greater than death. So he obeyed, not knowing what would happen, since it was the same God who promised the one and commanded the other. He was able to obey the command only because he was trusting in the promise. His refusal to obey the command because carrying out the command would seemingly nullify the promise would not be true trust in the promise.

    E

  72. Echo,

    Right, the actuality of the case is not contradictory for either SR or GR.

    That’s why I asked if *someone* was *convinced* that such and such implied this or that.

    In that situation, what to do?

    So, yes, I could be mistaken in my reading of SR, or in my reading of GR.

    But, as I think you even implied, if I do not think that GR is “clear” (your terminology), but I *do* think that my reading of SR is clear, or the best available option, I should, in this instance, side with SR.

    So, in many instances, the leanred 6-day guy is doing the most intellectually respectable thing by holding to 6-day. If he’s familiar with the arguments on both sides, then you should not fault him. That’s was my point.

    I also think this is an interesting question:

    Take these two evidences E are see which trumps which:

    [E1] A perfect, all-knowing, infallible being said P.

    [E2] A imperfect, finite, fallible and tenative conclusion subject to falsification said not-P.

    Now, given [E1] and [E2], what is the more rational thing to believe, P or not-P?

    So, one could see in this instance how one could trump the other for a reflective person.

  73. Okay, here’s an interesting quote from a book I’m reading: David Berlinski, The Devils Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions, Crown Forum, 2008, p. 103.

    Before I quote it, though, let me offer some background on Berlinski. Berlinski has a Ph.D from Princeton and has taught philosophy and mathematics courses at universities around the world. He claims on page 1 to be “a secular Jew. [His] religious education did not take. [He] can barely remember a word of Hebrew. [He] cannot pray. ]He] has spent more years than [he] cares to remember studying mathematics and writing about the sciences.” He also believes the universe is old.

    Now, on p. 103, after pointing out how scientists simply re-arrange and put forward new versions of space and time in order to make certain theories work, he states:

    “When scholars persuaded of the essential inerrancy of the Bible attempt to reconcile the Book of Genesis with contemporary estimates of the age of the cosmos, they do so by changing the time mentioned in the Bible and so altering its nature. These efforts are not necessarily foolish. Often there is real ingenuity required, and no little physical competence. [These views] have not been well received by physicists. who in their retirement often enjoy writing critical assessments of biblical scholarship, a vocation that allows them to demonstrate their knowledge without ever defending it. The gravament of their concerns lies less with the plausibility of various schemes than with their motivation. And that is frankly and honestly in service of religious agenda.

    I also was reading through atheist Julian Barbour’s book the end of time. It was put out by Oxford Press, and has had its arguments published in peer reviewed journals. He is a British physicist. Other scientists think his views interesting and promising.

    What is he trying to argue. Basically:

    “Closely related to this work is my study of time. Mach remarked “It is utterly beyond our power to measure the changes of things by time. Quite the contrary, time is an abstraction at which we arrive through the changes of things.” Thus, time as such does not exist but only change. Much of my research has been devoted to the implications of this insight. I have shown how, alongside the relativity of motion, the notion of time as change can be built into the foundations of dynamics. In fact, this idea is contained in a hidden form within general relativity. Its potential consequences for the yet to be found quantum mechanics of the universe are profound. The quantum universe is likely to be static. Motion and the apparent passage of time may be nothing but very well founded illusions. This is the thesis of The End of Time, which is aimed both at the general reader and physicists.”

    In a profile in The Sunday Times (October, 1998), Steve Farrar wrote: “Barbour argues that we live in a universe which has neither past nor future. A strange new world in which we are alive and dead in the same instant. In this eternal present, our sense of the passage of time is nothing more than a giant cosmic illusion. ‘There is nothing modest about my aspirations,’ he said. ‘This could herald a revolution in the way we perceive the world.'” Cosmologist Lee Smolin notes that Barbour has presented “the most interesting and provocative new idea about time to be proposed in many years. If true, it will change the way we see reality. Barbour is one of the few people who is truly both a scientist and a philosopher.”

    And so what if this “scientific” outlook takes the lead? SO much the worse for old earth creationism’s “scientific” support! There is no time or motion! No “billions” of years.

    So, the tide could turn very quickly, as indeed it does when spending scientific currency to bolster a position, and then where would the Old Earther be?

  74. Paul,
    That’s a completely nonsensical argument, if it was an argument. Is your point that scientists say foolish things? And Christians never say foolish things?

    All truth is God’s truth, Scriptural or scientific. If there is an apparent conflict between the two, the fault is in our interpretation, whether of Scripture or of science.

    Unfortunately, much of the YEC perspective revolves around the fallacious idea that their’s is the only true story, and that everyone else, by definition, is heretical or at best a flawed Christian.

    In the words of a wiser man than I, ‘lighten up, Francis.’

  75. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the analysis, but as the son of Appalachian Mountain Hayseeds I am deeply offended. How did you know?

    I reject your conclusion that the plain reading is not the intended meaning. It is in Gen 1. Using that thinking, anything would be possible with any word in the entirety of Scripture.

    The plain reading is the intended meaning here, because there is nothing in the context that leads to the conclusion that creation happened in something other than the time period stated. That conclusion comes from outside of the text, a fact that is indisputable.

    It does not matter what one “thinks” the text says or means. What matters is what God said, and if one will bend the knee. I suspect that people who deny the literal 6 day creation, because they reject the plain reading of the text and insert evolutionary ideas into the Word of God, do so because they believe themselves to be superior to God. That is really not a new thing. Man has been doing that since the fall.

    Why else would someone question God’s own account of creation?

  76. Hi Steve,

    Regarding Collins & Flew: It doesn’t sound like they are there yet. There is nothing in the two articles you linked to that mentioned recognition of one’s own sin, repentance, and trusting in Christ alone for personal salvation.

    There are a lot of people who believe in God, but who are not Christian. Even the demons believe, and they tremble…

    BTW, I don’t consign anyone to hell. If someone goes there, it is because they chose to reject God’s revelation of Himself, their love of their own sin, and their failure to turn to Christ and be forgiven.

  77. Steve,

    Notice please that I asked a question. I only made a point if the answer to that question is “Yes, it is a new theory.” What you say points out that it isn’t, so I’ve made no point. :)

    Also notice I’m not a hard line “you’re hell-bound” YEC guy either.

    Last comment, I thougth the Holy Spirit was a “person” not an “it.”

    kaz

  78. Paul,

    You said:

    [E1] A perfect, all-knowing, infallible being said P.
    [E2] A imperfect, finite, fallible and tenative conclusion subject to falsification said not-P.
    Now, given [E1] and [E2], what is the more rational thing to believe, P or not-P?

    Echo:

    Sure. P. But you oversimplify the equation. I’m not pitting the Word of God against the word of a scientist. If you read what I wrote again, which you quoted, I think you’ll find that you and I are actually arguing the same point here. Note that I said interpreted scientific data should not be made to trump the Bible.

    In other words, if you take a non-literal view of Gen 1, it had BETTER be because you see some reason in the TEXT for such a view.

    For my part, regarding the text, I see nothing in the text that FORCES me to see the days as 24 hour days. In all truth, I don’t rule out the 6-24 view as not possibly what the text means. I hold that the text doesn’t DEMAND of me that I interpret it that way, and when I interpret a text, I like to affirm only what I think it is forcing me to affirm. I do not affirm what it might possibly mean, but only what it MUST mean.

    Now I understand that a lot of well educated ordained men feel forced to interpret the text according to the 6-24 view. Fine. Go in peace. I disagree, but when it comes to interpreting Scripture, any two ordained men will almost always have some little disagreement or other over almost any passage. No two ordained men would preach the same passage in the exact same way. Why? Because they view it a little differently.

    Orthodox people can interpret passages differently, at least within certain bounds. I bet you and I can even interpret the phrase “in the space of 6 days” differently.

    So yeah, anyone who is convinced from a careful study of the text that the 6-24 view is correct should definitely hold to that view, regardless of what scientists say.

    By the same token, anyone who holds to a non-literal view ought to be able to explain why their view comes from the passage, and not science.

    Nonetheless, it is not evil to see science (or archeology for that matter) saying something, and recognizing that that seems to contradict what the Bible says, and then returning to the Scriptures to see if in fact you had interpreted it correctly.

    For example, once upon a time, people probably interpreted the “four corners of the earth” in the Bible literally. But I bet no one would now that we know the earth is round. And how about this: what if I said that the phrase “four corners of the earth” was meant to be taken literally to the original audience, and yet I still don’t take it literally now, and I don’t think I ruin the authority of the Word of God when I do so? What if I just say that that’s part of the way that the truths of Scripture were communicated to those people, that it spoke to their level, as if speaking in a different language, nothing more? What then?

    As the Bible spoke in the Hebrew language to the Hebrews, and in Greek to those who spoke Greek, so the Bible speaks about four corners of the earth to those who conceived of the earth as flat and having corners.

    Given this state of affairs, what do we say when we come across passages that speak of the four corners of the earth? Do we say that we’d rather believe God than men and insist that the earth must actually have four corners?

    Boy, I hope not.

    Just how far IS the East from the West anyway? Don’t they meet again on the other side of the globe? Or do we rather insist that the Word of God is of more authority than the word of man, and that the East must not really meet again with the West on the other side of the globe, because to say so would make God a liar? Am I making God to be a liar by saying that the East and the West actually aren’t far apart at all, because there is no extreme west and no extreme east, since they meet again? Or am I saying that God lied when I say that there is no absolute eastern limit of the world? Of course not. And yet I have allowed science to help me interpret the passage. I have allowed it to help me reexamine what I think about the passage.

    So I rather realize that the people to whom the original words were written did conceive of an eastern extreme and a western extreme, and that this was actually the greatest distance they could imagine. Therefore, I recognize that the point is that God removes our sin far away from us. The point of the passages in which similar things are said is not to affirm something about the flatness of the earth. That’s never the main point of such passages. The Bible never says, “Listen, my son, while I instruct you about the nature of the earth. It is flat, not round.” Nowhere does the Bible say anything like that. If it did, then that would be the point of such a passage, that the earth is flat. But it never does. No, it only uses that as an illustration to make some greater point. It speaks in a way that the people at the time would understand.

    I’ll discuss implications and applications of this once you’ve raised objections to it, and others as well I’m sure.

    E

  79. Steve,

    I have no clue what you’re referring to. I do not think OEC’s are heretics, and I have admitted many times that I could be wrong. Indeed, I even expressed my position in tentative terms above. Don’t tell me that you’re one of those guys who doesn’t read my posts but responds anyway.

    Doug,

    I showed that your argument was fallacious and unsound. So, unless you think fallacious and unsound arguments are acceptable, your comments wastes both of our time. Please, put forward a legitimate argument, or take back your ignorant conjecture.

    You need to prove your claim that “the plain reading is necessarily the intended meaning.” To deny this does not open oneself up to unmitigated skepticism as you suggest. You’re committing another fallacy, that of hasty generalization and slipper slope.

    Furthermore, Ruben would deny that, one you include other knowledge, exegetical insights, etc., your reading is not the “plain” reading of the text only, at best, the prima facie plain reading that vanishes upon further inspection.

    So, your premise begged the question, as it is.

    So, care to put up a logical argument, or did I have you pegged when I called you an anti-intellectual?

  80. Echo,

    I’m not arguing with you. I am just trying to make the point that a six-dayer can be rational in his views, and, given some situations, for him, holding to 6-day creation is the most rational thing to do.

    I’m trying to point out one relevant one a six-dayer can totally undercut the ‘scientific” argument against it. I believe I showed that, if S believes the text to be teaching X, then that is some pretty strong evidence. I would add that it is stronger than this evidence: “A scientist fallibly concludes -X.” Now, I’m not saying that -X and X could both be *true.*

    Lastly, since we have talked about this before, I can only give you my same answer in response to your four-corners comment:

    1. I believe the exegetical intent of Genesis 1 is to *teach* (among other things) a literal, 6-day creation.

    2. I do not believe the exegetical intent of the 4-corner passages is to *teach* a flat earth.

    It comes down to exegesis for me, my friend.

    I’m sure you would admit that *if* I take the exegesis of the inerrant text to be teaching 6 literal days, then I am conscious-bound to hold to that over any errant science textbooks. Would you agree?

  81. OK, finally I’m back. Thanks everybody for jumping to my defense. I think by this point, the discussion that doug was trying to have with me has been had, and I’d like to pick up on just two things.

    First, if doug cares to, I would like to see his response to my question about whether the Christian is at all responsible to correct the scientific errors of the ungodly scientist? For if doug cannot be convinced that the Christian is “called to reconcile so-called natural and special revelation”, then there is zero point yammering on in this current vein about P1 vs. P2 or SR vs GR, because for doug, there don’t even exist two separate categories to balance (note “science, so-called” and “so-called natural” revelation). So how about it, doug, are AiG and ICR wasting their time trying to convince the unbelieving scientist that a 6×24 creation is evidenced in nature?

    Second, and more importantly, to do with one of doug’s original statements:

    I would not want to be standing before God and have to tell Him that I taught my children that His Word was not true. Don’t be suprised when they grow up and reject your faith.

    Paul scolded doug for using “veiled threats,” but I don’t blame doug at all in this, for I see it as a reaction to the identical “veiled threat” that I made to doug and all his kind in my original post.

    So doug, since you’ve been so bold, I’m sure you won’t be offended if I return your (dis)favor: I would not want to be standing before God and have to tell him that I taught my children that if they can’t remain convinced of 6×24 in the face of science, they can’t be Christians. Don’t be surprised when they grow up and reject Christianity altogether in favor of science (it happens every day).

    I am less worried that my kids will grow up and reject my faith, than I am that your kids will grow up and reject yours; for the simple reason that “my faith” contains a smaller set of propositions that absolutely must be believed in order to be a Christian. “My faith” doesn’t stand or fall on 6×24. “My faith”, the faith that makes me a Christian, is faith in the gospel — the conviction of my sin, and faith that guilt for my sin has been imputed to Christ, and Christ’s own righteousness has been imputed to me. And if, in God’s election, any of my children fall from “my faith”, then indeed they will not be Christian.

    You spoke perhaps more correctly than you intended when you said

    BTW, I don’t consign anyone to hell. If someone goes there, it is because they chose to reject God’s revelation of Himself, their love of their own sin, and their failure to turn to Christ and be forgiven.

    I agree completely with that statement. Where you go off the rails is in assigning salvific status to someone’s correct understanding of God’s revelation of His creation!

    I only pray that if any children of you or your kind fall from “your faith”, they fall only to “my faith”, and not fall away from faith in the only gospel that saves.

  82. Yes, you must go with your conviction about what Scripture says. Like you said, we’re not arguing that point.

    However, my interpretation of Scripture or yours can be just as fallible as the scientists’ interpretation of nature. That’s the point I’m trying to make.

    But you’re quite right. Arguments that try to demonstrate that we should read Gen 1 in this or that particular way because of what science says, is flawed.

    However, if there were a Reformed scientist, who was an expert in such matters as geology or something like that, were to say that he has been convinced in his study of nature to take a second look at his interpretation of Gen 1, I don’t think he’s wrong in the slightest.

    Of course, in that case, he would need to turn to the experts in Scripture, the experts of Hebrew exegesis, and consider their arguments very carefully, and he must try to do so without prejudging those arguments according to his knowledge of nature.

    In other words, the book of nature can be an occasion to send us back to the Scriptures, but it cannot be an interpretive lens through which to read Scripture. We cannot try to make Scripture fit our nature-borne presuppositions. Or at least we shouldn’t.

    By the way, I recently discovered (because an elder told me) that on day four, the Hebrew doesn’t say the sun, moon and stars were created ex nihilo. It says they were formed. It’s a different verb than “create”. It means form out of pre-existing stuff. So the sun, moon and stars could be said to have been the form that the formless light of day 1 was given on day 4.

    While this is not enough to make me take the account as literal, it is enough to make me see it as a rational interpretation. What remains convincing to me is Gen 2:4, where it says that heaven and earth were created in just one day, not 6. Because of this, I do not feel forced to take the days literally in Gen 1. Because of this, I still see the 6-24 view as positively affirming what the text MAY mean, but doesn’t HAVE to mean, and that violates my understanding of exegesis. But it is rational to disagree with this rule of mine. If you’d care to respond to this very specific argument, I’d hear it.

    Also, I’d be interested in your response to a couple of other things. And I’m just asking honestly. The seventh day has no morning-evening refrain. Should that day be taken literally? It seems that even if we take the 6 days literally, the 7th day entails the Lord’s eternal Sabbath rest, thus making the week as a whole figurative/analogical.

    Further, Jesus said, “My Father has been working until now…” and the context is the Sabbath. It seems his claim is that God has not yet entered his Sabbath rest. I honestly don’t know what to make of this; I’d be interested in your take, because the two passages must be reconciled somehow.

    Also, it seems to me that the words of the Lord to Job in Job 38ff indicate that we actually don’t know how God created all things, because we weren’t there. This leads me to believe that perhaps Gen 1 doesn’t teach what you think it does, though of course I could be wrong.

    And it seems to me that Gen 1 speaks in language that signifies a flat earth. This is based on the waters being separated, etc. The narrative makes a lot more sense when viewed from a flat earth perspective, and thus I see the language having a condescending posture, and thus analogical, talking to us in baby talk if you will.

    These things don’t definitively prove that the narrative should be taken analogically, but they cause me to refuse to affirm that the days should be taken literally, because these points I have raised are reasons why I do not feel FORCED to take them literally.

    I don’t think 6-24’s are irrational, but I do see them as affirming what Scripture is not insisting on – though again, I leave the possibility open.

    If we affirm about Scripture only what it MUST be saying, then some things are left to being somewhat mysterious, and we frequently have to say that we aren’t sure what it means, and leave it at that. So something is lost when we abide by this rule. However, we are more sure about what we believe if we abide by this rule, and we are checked from speculating.

    So I’d be interested in your take on the hermeneutical rule (affirming only what we are forced to affirm), as well as the other points I have raised. I have decided of late to give the 6-24 view as fair a hearing as I can give it.

    E

  83. Paul: interesting quotes there. The Berlinksi guy, as far as I can tell, is actually describing not YEC, but OEC; for it is OEC that apply all their “real ingenuity” and “physical competence” in “changing the time mentioned in the Bible and so altering its nature”; while YEC apply their skills to changing the time of the contemporary estimates of the age of the cosmos.

    As for Barbour, I don’t think I understand him well enough to get his point. Quantum or not, we can easily picture a 4-dimensional static universe — we do it whenever we visualize the way that views his pre-ordained creative work from his perspective outside of space and time. Nonetheless, we experience time, God reveals himself to us in time, and in that revelation communicates to us with expressions of passing time. So even if time is just change, there is still a debate about how much change occurred between “let there be light” and “very good.”

  84. Rube,

    I’m surprised you didn’t call him out for saying that you’re teaching your children that the Bible isn’t true. I’m surprised you didn’t say that you’re teaching your children that Doug’s interpretation of the Bible may not be true, but that God’s Word, whatever it says, IS true. For you aren’t teaching your children that the Bible isn’t true, you’re not questioning the veracity of Scripture. You’re asking what Scripture actually SAYS, a question that Doug supposes that he has mastered.

    Let no one miss the point. Doug supposes that he has mastered the most esoteric, most sublime, most majestic and hardest to understand passage in all of Scripture. He has mastered it, and nothing more needs to be said about it. And I bet he doesn’t even read Hebrew.

    Anyone else think such confidence to be unwarranted?

    E

  85. Well, the issue is really that doug asserts that Gen 1 is neither esoteric nor hard to understand.

  86. Thanks for responding to my Abraham example, Echo. I must be dense because your comment has the confidence of one that refutes it, but I’m not seeing that refutation. Here are the sticking points I’m seeing:

    Echo: Abraham did not have a crisis of pitting general revelation with special revelation, which he solved by saying that God could raise the dead (as if he made up this idea on his own).

    Where else did Abraham get the idea? He’d never heard of a person resurrected after death — none of the Bible’s resurrections had occurred by his time. The life of every person that had ever lived had ended at death (with the sole exception of Enoch, who was taken to be with God without dying (Genesis chapter 5)). Observation of the laws of nature indicated, without qualification or exception, that dead was as dead as dead.

    “As if he made up this idea on his own”? This wording denigrates what Hebrews chapter 11 tells us explicitly: “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.” Had Abraham received this idea through special revelation (voice of God, angel, dream), Scripture might have told us. Instead Scripture states the opposite: Abraham reasoned out the concept of resurrection. So yes, if you insist on making it sound silly, Abraham did in fact make up the idea on his own.

    I don’t understand your rationale for objecting to the notion of Abraham facing a crisis pitting general revelation against special revelation. God’s promise (father of many nations) = special revelation. God’s command (sacrifice Isaac) = special revelation. What made these two mutually incompatible was the uniformity of nature (dead is dead), a conclusion from natural observation (general revelation). Abraham reconciled the two cases of special revelation (command and promise) by denying the uniformity of nature — concluding that God could abrogate what every human being had ever observed about the finality of death.

    Echo: No, rather, he concluded that Isaac’s death wouldn’t keep him from keeping his promise, because God is greater than death.

    “God is greater than death” = “God can perform miracles” = “God can act in exception to the uniformity of nature.” So to rephrase your statement: Abraham concluded that Isaac’s death wouldn’t keep God from keeping his promise, because God was not bound to act in accordance with everything natural observation had taught the human race about death. Hence Abraham shelved his understanding of general revelation.

    Echo: So he obeyed, not knowing what would happen …

    But Hebrews chapter 11 tells us explicitly that Abraham expected God would raise Isaac from the dead! (You can’t pretend that whole resurrection notion was hypothetical — he was preparing to plunge a knife into the heart of his only son.)

    Echo: … since it was the same God who promised the one and commanded the other. He was able to obey the command only because he was trusting in the promise. His refusal to obey the command because carrying out the command would seemingly nullify the promise would not be true trust in the promise.

    This accurately fills in Abraham’s motivation in making his choice between the four options:

    Question natural observation
    Opt.A: Death must not be the end of life.
    Opt.B: Isaac must have fathered a child secretly.

    Question special revelation
    Opt.C: God meant that Abraham would be a metaphorical father to many nations.
    Opt.D: God meant that Abraham should sacrifice Isaac metaphorically.

    Opt.C and Opt.D should sound like the serpent’s temptation in the Garden: “Did God really say …?” Had Abraham chosen either he would have doubted God, and so not been a model of faith, and so (I’m guessing) been rejected as the father of Israel. You’re right that Abraham did trust God; he did trust special revelation (the promise).

    However, this assertion is mistaken (emphasis added): “He was able to obey the command only because he was trusting in the promise.” Yes, the possibility existed for the case to play out that way; the possibility existed for Abraham to raise the knife utterly baffled, having no idea how God would fulfill special revelation (the promise), only trusting that He would. Would this example serve us as a model of faith? Sure.

    But that is not what the Holy Spirit teaches us in Hebrews chapter 11. Instead we discover how the case actually did play out: Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead. He raised the knife expecting God to suspend natural law, to suspend what general revelation had shown him about death by raising Isaac from the dead. And for that intellectual act, Abraham is listed in Hebrews chapter 11 as a model of faith.

    I understand, Echo, why you might not like my referencing this passage of Scripture in our current debate. For quite some time we’ve maintained that general revelation and special revelation cannot disagree, that one should not trump the other — and suddenly I come along presenting Biblical evidence of the Father of Israel (no less!) doing exactly that … with the Bible lauding him for it!

    My suggestion for you: rather than contradict what Scripture teaches in Hebrews chapter 11, attempt to refute that Abraham’s example applies to the creation/evolution issue.

    I agree with you that we should allow general revelation to indicate cases in which special revelation speaks figuratively, such as your “four corners of the earth” example. Just because Abraham allowed special revelation to trump general revelation regarding the sacrificing of Isaac doesn’t necessarily mean a literal interpretation of Genesis trumps scientific estimates of the age of the universe. Whether such a trumping should occur depends on whether a literal Genesis is theologically necessary. (I think that it is, and hope to make this case later.)

    Here theology should drive our thinking, as you aptly put in your excellent post earlier:

    Echo: And here’s something very important for us to understand. We cannot allow our interpretation of scientific data (note well that there’s no talk of uninterpreted objective fact here, but interpreted data) to TRUMP the Bible. Again, I have an analogical view of Gen 1, but I struggle to assure myself that I’m not giving greater weight to scientific theory than to Scripture. I keep asking myself again and again if it is truly the passage itself that is pushing me to have an analogical view. I think it is, but nonetheless, I ask myself this question frequently.

  87. forester: My suggestion for you: rather than contradict what Scripture teaches in Hebrews chapter 11, attempt to refute that Abraham’s example applies to the creation/evolution issue. … Whether such a trumping should occur depends on whether a literal Genesis is theologically necessary.

    Ha — while I was busy writing this challenge, you were busy writing its fulfillment!

    Fair enough. You’ve presented similar arguments before, and I remember that I owe a response. As you indicate, these are big questions, not the kind that are neatly wrapped up in a few terse threads, so I appreciate your patience with me. (More than likely it’ll take months, if not longer.)

  88. To lighten things up a bit … you’ve probably seen this, but in case you haven’t, it’s a no-miss:

    Beware the Believers

    Let us never forget scientists are smarter than us; they’ve got science degrees! (Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed hits theaters Fri 18 Apr.)

  89. Echo,

    We could go ’round and ’round, so I’ll just offer this one post in answer to your questions:

    However, if there were a Reformed scientist, who was an expert in such matters as geology or something like that, were to say that he has been convinced in his study of nature to take a second look at his interpretation of Gen 1, I don’t think he’s wrong in the slightest. Of course, in that case, he would need to turn to the experts in Scripture, the experts of Hebrew exegesis, and consider their arguments very carefully, and he must try to do so without prejudging those arguments according to his knowledge of nature.

    In other words, the book of nature can be an occasion to send us back to the Scriptures, but it cannot be an interpretive lens through which to read Scripture. We cannot try to make Scripture fit our nature-borne presuppositions. Or at least we shouldn’t.

    I’ll agree.

    What remains convincing to me is Gen 2:4, where it says that heaven and earth were created in just one day, not 6.

    But yom here is not qualified by evening and morning nor is it prefixed by an ordinal. So your comments here don’t do much to affect the argument of the 6-day theologian. Our argument is not that every instance of the word “day” must mean literal 24 hours, but that when it is qualified and prefixed

    When you add our qualifiers and prefixes, then are argument is supported by (but is not contained by) premises like this:

    [1] Outside of Genesis 1 the words “evening” and “morning” occur together in thirty-seven verses. In each instance it speaks of a normal day.

    And this,

    [2] In the 119 cases in Moses’ writings where the Hebrew word yom stands in conjunction with a numerical adjective (first, second, third, etc.), it never means anything other than a literal day. The same is true of the 357 instances outside the Pentateuch, where numerical adjectives occur.

    And so Gen. 2:4 misses the boat as a response to our argument.

    Continuing…

    And I’m just asking honestly. The seventh day has no morning-evening refrain. Should that day be taken literally? It seems that even if we take the 6 days literally, the 7th day entails the Lord’s eternal Sabbath rest, thus making the week as a whole figurative/analogical.

    i) Yes, I take it as literal.

    ii) I do not think it entails God’s eternal rest. It says he restED. If I told you that I rested on Friday, and am still resting into the new week since I’m on vacation, that wouldn’t entail that Friday and all the other days were one day.

    iii) God also *blessed* the 7th day. If we are in the 7th day right now, then God is blessing a sin-soaked, cursed creation.

    iv) An ordinal is associated with it (cf. Gen. 2:2-3).

    v) I take the Sabbath argument Moses makes in Exodus to be compelling. I agree with Dabney et al, “In Gen. ii:2, 3; Ex. xx:11, God’s creating the world and its creatures in six days, and resting the seventh, is given as the ground of His sanctifying the Sabbath day. The latter is the natural day; why not the former? The evasions from this seem peculiarly weak.” Thus I’d add another one of those premises:

    [3] In Exodus 20:11 God’s creation week is spoken of as involving “six days” (yammim), plural. In the 608 instances of the plural “days” in the Old Testament, we never find any other meaning than normal days. Ages are never expressed as yammim.

    vi) God rested from creating. He is sustaining now, not creating.

    vii) The word is in the perfect form usually indicating a *finished* action in the past.

    viii) Experts in Hebrew agree. James Barr who used to be professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, wrote:

    ‘ … probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that … creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience … .’

    And Barr didn’t believe the creation account to be true history, so I’m not appealing to friendly commenters here.

    Moving on…

    Further, Jesus said, “My Father has been working until now…” and the context is the Sabbath. It seems his claim is that God has not yet entered his Sabbath rest. I honestly don’t know what to make of this; I’d be interested in your take, because the two passages must be reconciled somehow.

    We do not mean to imply that God does no more work whatsoever, but that God does not engage in continuous creation in the Genesis 1 sense. If that were so, how did Jesus fulfill the covenant of works for us?!

    And so I agree with John Murray here: “The contrast is between the work of creation and what is not the work of creation.”

    Also, it seems to me that the words of the Lord to Job in Job 38ff indicate that we actually don’t know how God created all things, because we weren’t there. This leads me to believe that perhaps Gen 1 doesn’t teach what you think it does, though of course I could be wrong.

    I don’t think I know how God created all things.

    Say someone makes me a computer in one day. I don’t know how he did it even though I know how long it took him. So, I’m not convinced by your argument here.

    And it seems to me that Gen 1 speaks in language that signifies a flat earth. This is based on the waters being separated, etc. The narrative makes a lot more sense when viewed from a flat earth perspective, and thus I see the language having a condescending posture, and thus analogical, talking to us in baby talk if you will.

    Again, I don’t by this argument. You cannot show that the exegetical intent is that God is saying that the earth is actually flat. I have tried to show that God, through Moses, did indicate that he created in 6 literal days.

    If a favored argument from the OEC guys, like Ruben, viz, God’s natural revelation is “dishonest” can be used by them, how much more can I make that very same argument, but from Special Revelation instead!?!?

    Thus I can add another one of the premises:

    [4] Had Moses intended to express the notion that the creation covered eras, he could have employed the term olam.

    So, Echo, though I know you probably won’t be convinced, and I’ll let you have the last word since I can’t get dragged down in a long debate on this, I have tried to offer answers to your questions to show how a 6-dayer tries to deal with those passages and why positive arguments he tries to employ for his position. If anything, I hope to present you with some of my reasons for why I am 6-day.

    As far as the scientific arguments, I feel those are fairly easy to deal with and any OEC who is not a theistic-evolutionist has some explaining to do for how he can play the “all the smartest scientists say P” card when it comes to Old Earth but not evolution. At best it is prima facie arbitrary.

  90. Rube, you may be right about Berlinski.

    As far as if Barbour turns out to be accepted, you couldn’t say that science showes/agrees that light *really* took x amount of time to get here, thus making earth x amount of *years* old. There is no such thing as years. All I’m saying is that science could turn out to be your enemy on this, as is frequently the case with science.

    I’m also reading a book by an atheist, scientist, etc., on dating methods. To be sure, he dates the age of everything as old, but his admissions on how he *gets there* are schocking. I’ll post quotes after I’ve ravaged it.

  91. Forester,

    You’re quite right, my earlier argument against your example of Abraham was not well written. Let me try again, with the help of your objections.

    First, in order for general and special to be pitted against one another in this case, general revelation must teach Abraham that God cannot raise the dead, and special revelation must teach Abraham that he can. This is not the case. General revelation teaches no such contrary-to-special-revelation thing.

    Next, a necessary premise for your argument would be that general revelation teaches us that the resurrection of the dead is impossible, that all men die, and that’s it. But Paul tells us in Rom 1 that general revelation teaches of a coming judgment. There are many who teach that the Hebrews didn’t have any notion of a soul that lived on after death of the body, but that’s just not true. Right there in Genesis 50:25, Joseph demands an oath that his bones be carried to the promised land. Why, if they did not know of a resurrection of the dead? Where is the prior revelation of such a thing?

    The fact is, any hope that anyone had for redemption is meaningless if there is no resurrection of the dead, and Paul makes this very explicit in 1 Cor 15.

    Furthermore, Jesus himself interprets special revelation in the OT:

    Mark 12:26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

    Jesus is not ADDING to special revelation here, but exegeting it. The people were confused at the time of Jesus about these things because of the Sadducees who said there was no resurrection, but Jesus corrected that error. But shall we assume that no one throughout all of redemptive history up until the time of Abraham got the point?

    In fact, let’s go all the way back to the Garden. There, when Adam and Eve sinned, God did not put them to death as he had promised, but instead put an animal to death and covered them with it, making them wear a reminder that their life comes at a price. What life though? The dead animal wasn’t just a reminder of the just penalty of the law, but also the hope of escaping it. It was the gospel being preached to them visibly.

    And we do believe that the promise made to Adam, the covenant, had as its ultimate blessing eternal, eschatological life for obedience, and eternal condemnation for disobedience. It wasn’t just about temporal life and death.

    Otherwise, what was the hope of Melchizadek? Why was he a priest to God most high? What was his hope? Was it for this life only? You’re right, all men die, but if that’s the end of the story, why would Melchizadek be religious at all? The hope of the people of God has always been the same thing from the very beginning: the resurrection of the dead.

    So when we come to the example of Abraham, and we see that he is of the covenant people of God, having paid tithes to Melchizadek, priest to God most high in Jerusalem, we know that he already has some understanding, some hope in the resurrection of the dead, some hope beyond the grave.

    No, Paul makes very clear in 1 Cor 15 that there is no such thing as the hoping people of God apart from the hope in the resurrection of the dead, and there have always been people of God, immediately on the heels of the fall, beginning with Adam and Eve, to whom the promises of the hope of the bruising of the serpent’s head were given, as well as the instructions about sacrifices.

    Special revelation does not begin with Abraham. Otherwise, what is the meaning of Melchizadek, or the others mentioned before Abraham?

    And at any rate, they must have known about Enoch, otherwise how did Moses know about him? And if the grave is the end of the story, where did Enoch go? What did it mean? It had to mean something, and it had to mean something on the other side of death.

    And in fact, general revelation itself teaches us that death of the body isn’t the end of the story.

    And if you will hear it, they say that Job takes place prior to the formation of Israel. No one knows when it was written for sure, but it’s about a guy who lived, they say, before Israel. And surely he had a robust doctrine of the resurrection, saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him,” (13:15) and “in my flesh I will see God” (19:26).

    Anyway, the point is, if there was a people of God prior to Abraham, there was also a hope in life beyond the grave, a hope in the resurrection.

    But that brings us to Hebrews 11:19. What does it mean when it says that Abraham “reasoned out” (as you say) that God could raise the dead? Well, your claim is that it has to mean that he sort of did the math, and that was the only idea he could come up with that would reconcile everything. So according to how you’re interpreting this verse, Abraham was the first one to figure out that God could raise the dead, and he wasn’t told this all important glorious truth, but rather, he had to figure it out for himself after working out a very difficult puzzle of special revelation that contradicted general revelation.

    Well, I think you ask me to concede too much in such a claim. I think you’re insisting on too narrow an understanding of the Greek word that you say must mean “reason out”. It might surprise you to know that the definition of the word can be as simple as “think”. So it might simply mean that he “thought” God was able to raise the dead. It can mean what you are saying that it must mean, but it doesn’t have to. It can refer to logically deriving something. And after all, this is where we get our word “logic” from (this Greek word).

    But here, I think the simplest explanation, given all that I have said above, is simply that his reasoning for being able to obey was his conviction that God was able to raise the dead. This was his reasoning: God can raise the dead. Thus he was not afraid to trust him to be faithful to his promise, even beyond the veil of death. So the whole thing becomes an illustration about stretching our hope in God beyond the veil of death. But this isn’t entirely new with Abraham. Rather, this characterizes all the people of God. Abraham is simply exceptional in the Scriptures because he is the founder of the Jews, and the book is a Jewish book about the history of their people. So of course Abraham has some serious prominence, and rightly so! But he wasn’t the first to hope in the resurrection of the dead. He cannot be.

    So for Abraham, was general revelation pitted against special revelation? Not at all. There is nothing in general revelation that had to be trumped. Nothing in general revelation that had to be denied. Notice that what Abraham “reasoned” was not about Isaac, but about God. He wasn’t convicted about a fact about Isaac, whether he could or could not survive after death, but about God, whether he could raise the dead or not. And since Abraham’s belief is that God can raise the dead, and since general revelation by no means contradicts that, but in fact supports that, I just don’t see how Abraham was forced to make a choice here.

    But let me reaffirm that if we must choose between our fallible interpretation of one over the other, we should side with special.

  92. Paul,

    You misunderstand. What I put forward was not a case for a non-literal view, but very briefly summarized reasons for why I hold a non-literal view. I was inviting you to answer them, that I might give you a fair hearing. I was not, by any stretch of the imagination, trying to convince you of anything. The tone of your response seems to indicate that I didn’t make that clear.

    As for your discussion about “yom” having to refer to a literal day when prefixed and suffixed and counted and what not, well, I find the argument unconvincing as you’ve stated it. Even the most die hard 6-24 guys will admit that the passage in question is completely unique in Scripture, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that there may be some unique uses of language here. And once again, let me just say that even if the 6 days are presented as if they were 24 hour days, the week as a whole, in my opinion, should be taken analogically, because the 7th day says nothing about morning and evening. And also, somebody at seminary said to me just yesterday that morning and evening are insufficient qualifiers, because morning NOON and evening is required for us to be forced to take the day literally, and there’s no mention of noon. I haven’t investigated his claim, or really thought about it, but again, if you’ve a response, I’ll hear it.

    Next, you said:

    ii) I do not think it entails God’s eternal rest. It says he restED. If I told you that I rested on Friday, and am still resting into the new week since I’m on vacation, that wouldn’t entail that Friday and all the other days were one day.

    Surely you don’t think God got tired and took a break, right? If it means “rest” in the same way that our rest from labor on the Sabbath means “rest”, then it means God got tired. Isn’t this clearly anthropomorphic language?

    And anyway, some have even suggested that his resting on the 7th day doesn’t even entail anthropormorphic language, but his taking his throne and ruling over the creation, sitting in judgment, authority, that sort of thing. And the Hebrew possibly supports this. Of course, if that’s the case, and I don’t know that it can be proven, then his reign would remain ongoing obviously.

    You said:

    [3] In Exodus 20:11 God’s creation week is spoken of as involving “six days” (yammim), plural. In the 608 instances of the plural “days” in the Old Testament, we never find any other meaning than normal days. Ages are never expressed as yammim.

    God’s Sabbath and our Sabbath are clearly not the same thing, but there is a type-shadow relation between the two. God did not take a temporal break. God transcends time. God doesn’t get tired. To place a one to one correspondence between these is to say that God was tired and needed a break to refresh himself.

    As for no meaning other than ordinary days for “yammim”, Judges 21:25 occurs to me just off the top of my head. And anyway, again, the uniqueness of the Gen narrative means it can bend or break some of the rules you’re insisting on. And frankly, the Hebrew language is not fond of rules at ALL. I dread trying to read poetry, where I’m told that literally, all bets are pretty much off.

    You said:

    vii) The word is in the perfect form usually indicating a *finished* action in the past.

    I don’t know who told you that the Hebrew perfect was like the Greek aorist, but they were wrong. It may mean that, but it doesn’t have to. And frankly, if the 7th day remains ongoing, then that he rested would be a time transcendent statement in a sense. Viz, he began to rest.

    You said:

    James Barr who used to be professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, wrote…

    He’s simply wrong. Not sure when he wrote it, but simply wrong. His unbelief in Scripture makes me wonder if he was very well read in what Hebrew professors had to say. There is a long tradition of Hebrew scholars believing in a non-literal creation, going back to the Jews themselves.

    You said:

    Say someone makes me a computer in one day. I don’t know how he did it even though I know how long it took him. So, I’m not convinced by your argument here.

    You’re stretching my intended meaning of “how”. My point was that God seems to ascribe more mystery to his acts of creation in Job 38ff than you seem to in your interpretation of Gen 1. In short, I think Job 38ff teaches me that you are gleaning more from the text than is warranted.

    And anyway, Gen 1 tells us HOW in the sense you’re talking about: by his Word.

    You said:

    Again, I don’t by this argument. You cannot show that the exegetical intent is that God is saying that the earth is actually flat.

    Well, first of all, I wasn’t trying to convince you of that. I was trying to get you to convince me otherwise. Surely there’s a big difference.

    I see the text that way; convince me otherwise. That’s the big favor I’m asking of you here, so as to help me give 6-24 the fairest reading possible. I am convinced that Gen 1 describes a flat earth. I’m sure you’re aware of the reasons why. So help me see the text differently. You can start by explaining what the separated waters are.

    You said:

    [4] Had Moses intended to express the notion that the creation covered eras, he could have employed the term olam.

    Not my claim.

    Alright, well, that ends my response. Again, you’re helping me here, not the other way around. If my textual objections can be answered to my satisfaction, I’ll feel forced to adopt the 6-24 view. Until and unless they can be answered to my satisfaction, I won’t feel forced to take a literal view, and thus I’ll retain my non-literal view.

    This is not a debate. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. Please carry on in your beliefs. I’m asking you to convince me. And this is not reverse psychology or anything like that. I have never really given the view the fairest possible hearing, so you’re helping me out.

    E

  93. Final Comment: (Sorry I was away, but we had a Ken Ham film fesitval at our church last night)

    Paul: You had my kind pegged before I typed a word.

    Rube: You asked: (Is) the Christian is at all responsible to correct the scientific errors of the ungodly scientist?

    My answer: No. The Christian’s responsibility to all the ungodly is to preach Christ and Him crucified, and to call for repentance. The issue is not Science vs. The Bible, but rather two opposite belief systems and thus two opposite world views.

    And the responsibility of a father is to teach their children that God’s Word is the sole and final authority in everything, including science. We start with the Scriptures and arm our children with the discernment and knowledge to combat the false religions in the various forms that they will face in the world.

    The issue surrounding Gen 1 really boils down to the question: “Hath God said?” If He can not be trusted, then you are right, there is not point in yammering on about anything.

    And sinful man is still asking the same question, which in reality is nothing more than man elevating himself above the Creator God, sitting in judgement over God and His Word, and pronouncing God as somehow unworthy.

    One who injects millions or billions of years into Scripture can not claim to be a monergist, but is a synergist, no different than those who try to blend Christianity and one of the other “isms”. The end result is the same; a rejection of the revealed God and an acceptance of a god of one’s own making.

    I wish it were not so, but there it is. Solo-scriptura seems to carry the day here.

    I leave you in peace.

  94. Sorry I was away, but we had a Ken Ham film fesitval at our church last night

    I can’t quite tell if you’re serious; if you are making a joke, it’s pretty funny. If not, you should get your buddies together and have a letter-writing campaign to tell Ken Ham he needs to quit trying to “reconcile so-called natural and special revelation.”

    The Christian’s responsibility to all the ungodly is to preach Christ and Him crucified, and to call for repentance.

    But if 6×24 is required to be a Christian, shouldn’t you also be putting that out there right up front? “preach Christ and Him crucified, and Him creator, and to call for repentance”?

  95. As far as if Barbour turns out to be accepted, you couldn’t say that science showes/agrees that light *really* took x amount of time to get here, thus making earth x amount of *years* old. There is no such thing as years. All I’m saying is that science could turn out to be your enemy on this, as is frequently the case with science.

    This potential “science” would not just be my enemy but also yours, since there would be no such thing as *days*. And everybody’s enemy, since Christ did not rise after three *days*, and would not be coming again to judge the living and the dead at the end of time.

  96. Forester, one small comment only to add to Echo’s & your go-round about your Abraham argument: Heb 11:19 is not simply an inspired fact — new revelation of Abraham’s mindset over and above the Old Testament, but it is inspired exegesis of Abraham’s previously revealed response, which includes Gen 22:8: ‘”Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”‘ I think that needs to be factored in somehow.

  97. Paul,

    You misunderstand. What I put forward was not a case for a non-literal view, but very briefly summarized reasons for why I hold a non-literal view. I was inviting you to answer them, that I might give you a fair hearing. I was not, by any stretch of the imagination, trying to convince you of anything. The tone of your response seems to indicate that I didn’t make that clear.

    I didn’t think you put forward a “case.”

    I know you were asking questions. I tried to answer them.

    You put forward some arguments (conclusions supported by premises). You even called them “reasons.” I simply indicated that I wass not convinced by those reasons.

    How did you come to find a “tone” in my reply, especially since I had not “tone?”

    As to the rest of your post. As I said, I knew you wouldn’t be convinced, so you responded as I said you would. And, you can be sure, from my end, that I don’t dind your responses convincing, at all. But if those kind of arguments give you cognitive rest, and you find them sufficient to overcome the kind of points I made, well then your concious is clear. As I said I won’t respond since I’m not going to gop back-and-forth with you, as I’m sure by some of your earlier comments you have your mind made up (you even indicated before that 6-dayers were fundy laymen who had to hold to a literal flat earth if they held to 6-day, so I highly doubt you’d want to join our toothless, banjo pickin’ ranks!), so we can leave it at that.

    I have noticed you have a tendency to read other people’s post in a bad light, and tend to get emotionally involved, so do not take my above comments in a way other than they were intended: objective statements, reporting observation, and a sarcastic remark shoved in their for fun.

    Blessings!

    PM

  98. I meant you “conscience” is clear! lol.

    And, Echo, I realize you said you were serious about changing if the text demanded it, so I’m not trying to blow you off. I just don’t have time for a drawn out discussion, and that’s why I made that caveat from the start. But, there are plenty of resources out there, from better men than I, and when you decide to give the 6-day view a “fair hearing” then those sources will be at your disposal.

  99. BTW, when you disagreed with Barr, you forgot he said “world-class.” Now, I respect and appreciate WSCAL, for instance. But, let’s face it, WSCAL is not “world-class” in the scholars sense.

    I have to stop myself! I have good answers to all your comebacks, but…I…must…control…myself!
    :-D

  100. Notice please that I asked a question. I only made a point if the answer to that question is “Yes, it is a new theory.” What you say points out that it isn’t, so I’ve made no point. :)

    Kazoo, as much as it pains me to admit it, I don’t think you should cave that easily. One of the biggest battles in the three views book was between the 6×24 and day-age teams over whether 6×24 gets to claim all of historical theology for their side, or whether day-age gets to claim some. I don’t think the answers are quite as cut-and-dried as Steve makes out. Maybe we can have a quote-off another time, but my guess is that if you were to read that whole book, you would be mostly convinced by the 6×24 case for historical theology. But if the question is, did absolutely no theologian pre-Darwin ever consider a greater-than 24-hour day interpretation of Gen 1, the answer is yes, the idea does show up.

  101. What a wonderful word, that word: “if.” Because it is in there, you can see that I didn’t actually “cave.” I was just being a good participant showing that I am not closed-minded or pig-headed.

    :)

    (Well, you should perceive that about me anyway) LOL

    kazoo

  102. I was looking at “What you say points out that it isn’t, so I’ve made no point,” which makes it look as if you’ve resolved that if as a Yes.

  103. Much quieter today — I have a half-drafted post at home that I hope to publish tonight that should give the hornet’s nest another swift kick…

  104. Okay, sorry, I can’t get on with my day if I don’t offer a response! Echo said I would be “helping” him, and who I am to turn a brother down?! I have no self-control… I also promised Rube a while back that I’d start presenting positive reasons for 6-day (6D hereafter).

    As for your discussion about “yom” having to refer to a literal day when prefixed and suffixed and counted and what not, well, I find the argument unconvincing as you’ve stated it. Even the most die hard 6-24 guys will admit that the passage in question is completely unique in Scripture, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that there may be some unique uses of language here.

    i) Argument from silence.

    ii) Christ’s resurrection was a unique event too, those days were literal. Of course the passage was unique! It’s talking about a one time event. But thousands of passages in the Bible are “unique.”

    iii) Exodus 20:11 is not poetry, or whatever. Why assume the language here is unique?

    And once again, let me just say that even if the 6 days are presented as if they were 24 hour days, the week as a whole, in my opinion, should be taken analogically, because the 7th day says nothing about morning and evening.

    i) The phrase in Gen2:4 is actually beyom, an idiomatic expression meaning “when”. But, even if Genesis 2had used “day” in a different sense, Genesis 1 carefully qualifies its creative days (see points 2-5 above).

    ii) The 7th day says nothing about morning and evening, yes. But if it *had* included “morning” then we would get into an *8th* day. So there was a *reason* for not including that phrase here. But, as I said, it has an *ordinal* attached, and *every other time* Moses uses yom prefixed by an ordinal, it means nothing else than a literal, 24 hr. day. So, the burden of proof is *clearly* on you here.

    iii) As stated in Exodus 20:9-11 and 31:17, the purpose is not for analogy but for *imitation.* And, to what are the creation days analogous? God is timeless and not under temporal constraint. Lee Irons has stated that “God has not chosen to reveal that information” (Irons, “The Framework Interpretation Explained and Defended,” [1998], 66). But how is analogy useful here?

    iv) You are inverting the validity God has told us the Sabbath week has. God’s creation week was not patterned after *man’s* (!), but man’s after *God’s*. Our week derives significance from God’s week.

    And also, somebody at seminary said to me just yesterday that morning and evening are insufficient qualifiers, because morning NOON and evening is required for us to be forced to take the day literally, and there’s no mention of noon. I haven’t investigated his claim, or really thought about it, but again, if you’ve a response, I’ll hear it.

    i) The ole argumentum ad somebody at seminary told me um.

    ii) As I said earlier, outside of Genesis 1 the words “evening” and “morning” appear in statements thirty-two times in the OT, presenting the two parts defining a normal day.

    iii) Let’s look at some verses, shall we?

    Ex. 16:13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.

    Ex. 18:13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.

    Ex. 27:21 In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.

    Lev 6:20 This is the offering Aaron and his sons are to bring to the LORD on the day he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening.

    Numb. 9:21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out.

    Deut. 16:4 Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.

    iv) How many times is the phrase “morning, noon, and evening” used in one verse? I think in the Psalms, once. Psalm 55:17. And most commentators don’t take that to be a literal, 24 hour day.

    v) Your approach is inconsistent. If you’re going to argue that we are met with a unique event in Genesis, and so the words can be used differently, you can’t very well turn around and say “We would need to see morning, noon, and evening in order to be forced to take the day as literal.”!! QED.

    Surely you don’t think God got tired and took a break, right? If it means “rest” in the same way that our rest from labor on the Sabbath means “rest”, then it means God got tired. Isn’t this clearly anthropomorphic language?

    Surely it doesn’t mean he got tired. I never intimated it did. It means he stopped his work, like we do. We aren’t to “rest” like lazy bums, either. God stopped creating. I was making the argument that he stopped and refrained from his creative activities. He’s not creating new things. What’s left next is to make all things new. So, he won’t make new things, he’ll make things new. And, applying anthropomorphism to “rest” does not entail you can apply it to “day,’ especially considering the force of my other arguments.

    And anyway, some have even suggested that his resting on the 7th day doesn’t even entail anthropormorphic language, but his taking his throne and ruling over the creation, sitting in judgment, authority, that sort of thing. And the Hebrew possibly supports this. Of course, if that’s the case, and I don’t know that it can be proven, then his reign would remain ongoing obviously.

    I don’t see how you remotely think this shows the day is not literal. If you think the 7th day is continuing even now, then God is blessing this sin-cursed creation. I guess I just don’t see how you think these kinds of responses work. But, arguments and persuasion is person relative. So, there must be something there that persuades you. Seems to me, though, that your position rests on: “But I’m not forced to…”, “I could switch this and that around…”, “But, maybe this…”. Seems conjectural. So, I’ll grant you my position is not *absolutely certain* in a Cartesian sort of way, but i don’t have to resort to “could’ve” and “maybe” and “perhaps” in my argument.

    I had said: [3] In Exodus 20:11 God’s creation week is spoken of as involving “six days” (yammim), plural. In the 608 instances of the plural “days” in the Old Testament, we never find any other meaning than normal days. Ages are never expressed as yammim.

    You responded:

    God’s Sabbath and our Sabbath are clearly not the same thing, but there is a type-shadow relation between the two. God did not take a temporal break. God transcends time. God doesn’t get tired. To place a one to one correspondence between these is to say that God was tired and needed a break to refresh himself.

    Again, you’re confusing subjects. We’re not talking about God, we’re talking about days.

    As for no meaning other than ordinary days for “yammim”, Judges 21:25 occurs to me just off the top of my head. And anyway, again, the uniqueness of the Gen narrative means it can bend or break some of the rules you’re insisting on. And frankly, the Hebrew language is not fond of rules at ALL. I dread trying to read poetry, where I’m told that literally, all bets are pretty much off.

    i) Um, I thought “yowm” was used in Judges 21:25. See Strong’s Number: 03117

    ii) Even if you find one or two other uses, the majority of evidence is on my side.

    iii) And, what a perfect position! Genesis was unique, so we can’t assume anything had a literal meaning.

    iv) How about a literal Adam? A literal fall? Why are those literal? How is this not arbitrary?

    iv) I’m not even invoking rules. I am invoking how the AUTHOR used those words IN EVERY OTHER PLACE. That is a valid exegetical procedure (cf. Stewart. OT Exegesis).

    v) Poetry and history are not necessarily opposed either. Patterns and figures do not ipso facto rule out history. In John 20:15 Mary Magdalene sees Jesus, the Second Adam, in a garden (Jn 19:41) and assumes he is the gardener. Is this an encounter with the new Adam in a new garden under the New Covenant? This theological imagery may very well be true here. But she really did see the resurrected Jesus. That was literal.

    The chronological succession leaves too deep an impression upon the narrative to be mere window dressing.

    vi) So, I’m trying to show you the *exegetical basis* for my view and your using lawyer tactics to deny them. There’s a difference between doubt and reasonable doubt.

    I don’t know who told you that the Hebrew perfect was like the Greek aorist, but they were wrong. It may mean that, but it doesn’t have to. And frankly, if the 7th day remains ongoing, then that he rested would be a time transcendent statement in a sense. Viz, he began to rest.

    i) You brought up Hebrews, which was written in Greek.

    ii) I gave reasons for the 7th day being literal. You’re not responding to that. I don’t think God is continually blessing this creation. That is the logical outcome of your view. I just differ here. I guess I just don’t have those intuitions. I don’t think God blesses the cursed days. He only blessed his good creation.

    You’re stretching my intended meaning of “how”. My point was that God seems to ascribe more mystery to his acts of creation in Job 38ff than you seem to in your interpretation of Gen 1. In short, I think Job 38ff teaches me that you are gleaning more from the text than is warranted.

    This isn’t an argument. His creation was mysterious. I don’t know how he did it. I’m saying I know the *time frame* it took. Show me, with argument, how Job 38ff leads to the conclusion: “You can’t know the time frame it took.” Indeed, you think it is *over* and so you *must* by force of logic, think you know *something* about the time it took too viz. however long, it didn’t take longer than thousands of years ago. Anyway, I’d like to see your developed argument from Job. I know Howell Jones doesn’t draw those conclusions in his commentary, and he’s a sharp guy, right? If anyone is stretching here, it’s not me.

    And anyway, Gen 1 tells us HOW in the sense you’re talking about: by his Word.

    That’s not very interesting. I mean, I knew my friend who fixed the computer did it “by his hands.” I still don’t know *how.*

    I said: “Again, I don’t buy this argument. You cannot show that the exegetical intent is that God is saying that the earth is actually flat.”

    You said:

    Well, first of all, I wasn’t trying to convince you of that. I was trying to get you to convince me otherwise. Surely there’s a big difference.

    I see the text that way; convince me otherwise. That’s the big favor I’m asking of you here, so as to help me give 6-24 the fairest reading possible. I am convinced that Gen 1 describes a flat earth. I’m sure you’re aware of the reasons why. So help me see the text differently. You can start by explaining what the separated waters are.

    Well, here’s how I’ll convince you:

    [1] If you do think that the exegetical intent of Gen. 1 is that Moses is trying to teach a literal flat earth, then by your admissions above, you must hold the belief that the earth is literally flat.

    And,

    [2] If you do not think the exegetical intent of Gen. 1 is that Moses is trying to teach a literal flat earth, then you don’t need me to convince you that Moses is not trying to teach a literal flat earth.

    But,

    [3] Either you think the exegetical intent of Gen. 1 is that Moses is trying to teach a literal flat earth, or you do not.

    So,

    [4] Either you hold the belief that the earth is literally flat, or you don’t need convincing that Moses is not trying to teach a literal flat earth.

    But,

    [5] You do not hold the belief that the earth is literally flat.

    Therefore,

    [6] You don’t need convincing that Moses is not trying to teach a literal flat earth.

    Formally:

    P –> Q.
    R –> S.
    P v R.
    Therefore, Q v S.
    ~Q
    :.S

    Ahhhh, syllogistic prose.

    Now, I gave a whole *list* of arguments for why I take the days literally. You would need *at least* as much argumentative force for your *claim* that we should take Moses as trying to teach a literal, historical flat earth. If you don’t believe that, then you’re simply begging the question.

    I said: You said: “Had Moses intended to express the notion that the creation covered eras, he could have employed the term olam.”

    You said:

    Not my claim.

    Yes, but then we must ask why he didn’t. Why does the evidence indicate a literal reading of day in Gen. 1?

    As the OEC guys are fond of arguing: Was God (or Moses) trying to deceive us? Now that’s a Greco-Roman wrestling reversal on that argument if I’ve ever seen one! :-)

    Again, I hope you understand my comments to be objective. I am not intending to upset you or attack you in any way. These are the answers I have found satisfying in my studies. I find your responses underwhelming.

  105. “From the work of the holy martyr and bishop Methodius”:

    He [Methodius?] says that Origen, after having fabled many hings concerning the eternity of the universe, adds this: Nor yet from Adam, as some say, did man, previously not existing, first take his existence and come into the world. Nor again did the world begin to be made six days before the creation of Adam. But if any one should prefer to differ in these points, let him first say, whether a period of time be not easily reckoned from the creation of the world, according to the Book of Moses, to those who so receive it, the voice of prophecy here proclaiming: “Thou art God from everlasting, and world without end.…For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night.” For when a thousand years are reckoned as one day in the sight of God, and from the creation of the world to His rest is six days, so also to our time, six days are defined, as those say who are clever arithmeticians. Therefore, they say that an age of six thousand years extends from Adam to our time. For they say that the judgment will come on the seventh day, that is in the seventh thousand years. Therefore, all the days from our time to that which was in the beginning, in which God created the heaven and the earth, are computed to be thirteen days; before which God, because he had as yet created nothing according to their folly, is stripped of His name of Father and Almighty. But if there are thirteen days in the sight of God from the creation of the world, how can Wisdom say, in the Book of the Son of Sirach: “Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity?” This is what Origen says seriously, and mark how he trifles.

    In short, Methodius is mocking Origen for writing that all of time will consist of 13,000 years; 6 thousand-year “days” of creation, followed by 7 thousand-year “days” until the judgment.

    So the answer to Kazooless is, Yes, there exists greater-than-24-hour-day theology before Darwin.

  106. I just have to point out that there are sorts of Christians who have to believe the exact opposite of what the Bible says, from beginning to end. They exhibit an overall gnostic approach to the scriptures in various degrees. This affects pretty much everything because it affects their overall approach to the scriptures.

    Where the Bible says that heaven and earth were created in 6 days, they assert that heaven and earth were actually desolate for millions of years until creation was complete.

    Where the Bible says that heaven and earth will be recreated over a long period of time, they assert that the earth will remain mostly desolate until the instantaneous recreation at the end of time.

    Both misunderstandings exhibit a general gnostic approach to the scriptures in that they affirm “ideas”, rather than “historical facts” to be the aim of the scriptural accounts. This eventually trickles down to their concept of the Gospel itself as an “idea” to be believed rather than an historical recreation to participate in.

    I used to think that old earth creation was rather benign, but as I read the other works of folks who purport this viewpoint, I am not so sure anymore.

  107. Well said, Ron. Of course, I don’t agree with the content of your words (“that heaven and earth will be recreated over a long period of time”, or that I conceive “of the Gospel itself as an ‘idea’ to be believed rather than an historical recreation to participate in”), but you said them well.

    At 100+ comments (and counting) on this post already, I don’t advise pursuing it any further here though. Maybe you should copy & paste on your blog, and see if anybody bites.

  108. So the answer to Kazooless is, Yes, there exists greater-than-24-hour-day theology before Darwin.

    But Rube, this was purely philosophical in nature and it was not the position of the Church. By and large, the Church has understood Genesis 1 in a way that modern theologians act as if it “obviously” cannot be understood.

    But their approach is not like Origen’s because Origen did not have Darwin. The modern approach is in response to modern science and therefore eisegetical. The Bible is supposed to tell us how to view the world, not vice versa. As noted above, this same mistake is made wrt the Gospel (aka Postmillennialism).

  109. Have you guys read Numbers chapter 7? The use of “day” is very similar to the way it is presented in Genesis 1. Why should we then also not take Numbers 7 as “framework” or “analogy” or “day-age”, etc.?

    For me, Numbers 7 is one of the things that sealed the whole debate on “yohm.”

  110. Although I’m not a fan of Andrew Sandlin, I think he writes a good preface to Creation According to the Scriptures: A Presuppositional Defense of Literal, 24-Hour Day Creation. In his preface, he writes that, for those who don’t think it matters, he submits as evidence that it indeed does matter *every major denomination in the last century.*

    Yes, it matters.

  111. Is the OPC not a major denomination?

  112. And anyway, some have even suggested that his resting on the 7th day doesn’t even entail anthropormorphic language, but his taking his throne and ruling over the creation, sitting in judgment, authority, that sort of thing.

    Actually, God was already enthroned over all creation from Day 1 as signified by the Spirit being the light source from Day 1 until Day 4. Then the duty of governing days was transferred to the luminaries on Day 4. This signifies all heavenly and earthly dominion being granted by God (Matt 28;Rom 13). And in the end, the duty of light bearing will be transferred back from the luminaries to God (Revelation 22:5).

    Check it out. A historical reading of Genesis 1 grants sweeter symbolic meat than a symbolic reading. Take that. :)

  113. Paul,

    I’ll have to read more carefully later. But with regard to “tone”, all I meant was that you kept saying that what I said was unconvincing. That was the “tone” I was referring to. I hadn’t set out to convince you, just to give you something to argue against, so you could possible convince me.

    I’ll read the rest of your comments later.

    E

  114. Echo,

    Okay. The reason I said that is because you presented those comments as reasons why you were unconvinced of my reading. I was just letting you know that I wasn’t convinced by your reasoning. Also, since you presented them as *reasons*, and I assume that you mean them to be *objective*, then they should have some sort of pull on all men. I was just letting you know that they weren’t convincing to me. I did not mean to intimate that you were on a conversion mission. I usually mean by words in a strict, logical sense.

  115. Rube,

    Although the GA of the OPC allows for differing views in the OPC, many candidates for licensure have problems getting ordained if they don’t hold to the 24-hr view. Now of course there are some ministers in the OPC who hold other views, such as the one I currently attend; but depending on where, it may even be safe to say that the majority of the OPC is literal 24-hr day.

    Also, I think Sandlin’s point was that the trend starts a digression.

  116. If I may gently pose a challenge to any who do not embrace the literal 24-hour day view: read Numbers 7:11-88, and compare to Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

    The way Moses speaks is strikingly similar to Genesis 1 and 2.

    After you do this, please interact with me and tell me whether you take Numbers 7:11-88 as literal or not, noting the parallels with Genesis 1 and 2.

    Let the challenge begin!

  117. Josh,

    If you read the posts above, you’ll note that Echo says that gen.1 is *unique,* and so with this maneuver he can escape any arguments that try to compare Gen.1 to anywhere else in the Bible.

    Pretty nifty.

    One wonders, then, on this view, *how could* Moses have taught a literal 6-day view *if* he had wanted to???

    This shows the presuppositional bias of his position with bullet point accuracy.

  118. I would really recommend this post by Steve Hays for Echo_Och. I think this post undercuts many of his claims about the cosmology and cosmography of the OT and its ANE context.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/paul-seely.html

  119. Whew! It took a lot of Googling, but I finally found the answer to all these questions. Debate over.

  120. Nice! I guess I don’t have to finish my promised draft then…

  121. […] past week I’ve seen a lot of posts dealing with what I call “interior points of theology,” that is, […]

  122. Paul,

    You said: “But, let’s face it, WSCAL is not “world-class” in the scholars sense.”

    Echo: and precisely how do you reckon that you’re qualified to make such a judgment?

  123. Paul,

    You said:

    iii) As stated in Exodus 20:9-11 and 31:17, the purpose is not for analogy but for *imitation.* And, to what are the creation days analogous? God is timeless and not under temporal constraint. Lee Irons has stated that “God has not chosen to reveal that information” (Irons, “The Framework Interpretation Explained and Defended,” [1998], 66). But how is analogy useful here?

    Echo: You seem to assume that “analogy” is an end in itself. It’s not. But that it is an analogy doesn’t preclude imitation.

    For example, Christ loves the church. A whole lot. We are called to imitate him by loving our brother. Is there some difference between Christ’s love for the church and our love for our brother? Yes. In fact, it would be impossible for us to duplicate Christ’s love for the church, even apart from sin, because God is infinite and we are finite. Our love for our brother isn’t just to be distinguished from God’s love with respect to quantity, but also to quality. Thus the relationship between Christian love and God’s love is best understood as analogy, viz, our love is analogously related to God’s love.

    And so we should understand the Scriptures when it says that man is made in the image of God. Do we look like God? How can that be, since God doesn’t have a body? We are walking, talking analogies of God. That means we’re like God in some ways, but not like him in others. It’s not a one to one correspondence, because we are not God. But we are somehow like him, so the statement isn’t meaningless either.

    Thus, when we see that our Sabbath rest should look like God’s Sabbath rest, we know it doesn’t mean the same thing. God doesn’t kick back on his porch and sip a margarita and smoke a cigar, but that’s what my Sabbath rest looks like. Nonetheless, somehow, there is a similarity between the two. God’s rest and our rest is not the same thing, there are differences, driven by the Creator-creature distinction. But they aren’t entirely different either. They’re similar. One is like the other. One is patterned after the other.

    Another example is the tabernacle in the wilderness and the tabernacle in heaven. Again, there are similarities, but they aren’t precisely the same thing.

    Whenever we compare us and God, analogy is involved, because we can’t ever be just like God, only similar to God. Even when we’re glorified we still won’t be the eternal Creator. We will not have infinite Being, but will remain finite. We’ll be like him, but not exactly like him.

    You said:

    “I don’t see how you remotely think this shows the day is not literal. If you think the 7th day is continuing even now, then God is blessing this sin-cursed creation.”

    If his Sabbath rest on day 7 entails his taking the throne over creation, and he still sits on that proverbial throne, then the 7th day has not ended. Many 6-24 believe that the 7th day is unending, that it points to his eternal Sabbath rest, which we will partake in only upon glorification at the end of the ages. Now if that’s not you, that’s fine, but just because you take a literal view doesn’t mean that you have to see the 7th day as a 24 hour day.

    For his Sabbath day rest to be continuing now doesn’t entail that the blessing is continually being given. The blessing can be once and for all, even if the day is unending, because the inauguration of the day is when he blessed the creation.

    However, the rain falls on the just and the unjust, so if you think he doesn’t give blessings to all mankind, then you really are, in my opinion, denying common grace. Common grace is common blessing.

    I don’t understand your beef with taking the 7th day to be eternal or unending. That’s why many take the position that the 6 days are presented as literal days, but the week as a whole is presented as figurative.

    You said: “i) Um, I thought “yowm” was used in Judges 21:25. See Strong’s Number: 03117”

    Echo: I don’t really care what Strong says, the Masoretic text, which I actually looked at to double check before I threw it up in my post, says “yammim”. Maybe Strong’s Hebrew text was jacked up.

    Here, look at this resource for yourself.

    http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0721.htm

    The first word of that verse in Hebrew (the word on the right) is yammin, with the preposition “b” on the front. “Bayammim”: in the days. The second word is “hahem”, which means those. So “in those days”.

    בַּיָּמִים

    These letters are probably hard to see, but there it is. From right to left, the first letter is a “b”, and the little line underneath it is a vowel, an “a” class vowel. That vowel means that it is “in THE days” not “in days”. The next letter, the little apostrophe looking thing to the left of the “b” is a yod. It’s the letter “y”. The little tiny “t” underneath it is another vowel. The next letter which looks like a little hill with a tail is a mem, the letter “m”. The little dot underneath it, plus the “y” to the left of it, and the final letter that looks like a square, all simply signify the plural. The little dot plus the “y” makes an “ee” sound, but is really an “i” and the last letter that looks like a box is another mem (they look different when at the end of a word). So there ya have it. That spells “yamim”.

    You said: “ii) Even if you find one or two other uses, the majority of evidence is on my side.”

    Echo: this claim is linguistically fallacious. You don’t say, “what does this word most often mean?” and then insist that it always has that meaning. It’s always a matter of, “what does it mean here?” And here, “yamim” clearly refers to an age, an epoch, a period of time. Not literal. And it doesn’t mean “when”.

    And speaking of that, just because “in the day” is an idiomatic phrase meaning “when” doesn’t mean that’s how the Hebrews took it. They took it as “in the day” just as they said it. Just like when an old man says, “In MY day, we didn’t have computers.” He uses the same word, but we know he means it differently. So when you say that Moses’ use of “yom” in Gen 2:4 doesn’t mean day, you’re oversimplifying things. Idiomatic meaning doesn’t mean that it’s a different word.

    You said: “iv) How about a literal Adam? A literal fall? Why are those literal? How is this not arbitrary?”

    Echo: I’ve given reasons for why it’s not arbitrary. You may not agree with those reasons, but that doesn’t make them stop being reasons. These reasons make it not arbitrary.

    Do you take apocalyptic literature literally? What exactly about those texts makes you take it non-literally? How is that not arbitrary?

    The passage strikes me as non-literal, similar to apocalyptic literature, because of its subject matter, because of the metaphoric ways in which it speaks of the creation, such as unsourced light which is then formed into the sun, moon and stars, as if those bodies consist of light – which they don’t, because of the language of separated waters, which no one knows exactly what they refer to, which were never said to have been created out of nothing – have you ever thought of that? The waters aren’t said to be created out of nothing, but are spoken of already as existing in Gen 1:2.

    Furthermore, God doesn’t have a mouth with which to speak. God is a Spirit. He doesn’t have a body. So when he “speaks”, the word he utters is what, exactly? Surely not mere sound waves. Otherwise, how could this Word become flesh? How could this Word be said to be one and the same with God? The narrative is chalk full of obvious analogies of various kinds.

    Doesn’t God create darkness? Isn’t that what Isaiah says (45:7)? And yet, there is no day mentioned on which darkness was created. it was already present to be separated from the light. But wasn’t darkness also created ex nihilo? And the waters? The deep? There must have been some creative activity prior to day one, if God created all things ex nihilo. Have you ever thought of that? Your view cannot account for that. You at least need to revise the creation to 7 days, plus one of rest, to account for the first day on which God created darkness and the deep, the waters.

    If God’s Sabbath is a simple, one day rest from his creative activity, then how does the author to the Hebrews say that there remains a Sabbath for the people of God? What is this Sabbath that we will enter into? Has God entered it yet? Have we?

    No, there are analogies all over the place in the Gen narrative.

    And how can it be that man is created in the image of God, both male and female? Is God our Father or our Mother? How can a man be the image of God, and also a woman, and yet men and women are so very different? How can both be in the image of God if there is no analogous relationship going on here?

    In what way does the sun rule over the day and the moon rule over the night? Do they sit on thrones and govern? Do they make decisions, and if so, who are their servants to carry them out? Aren’t there a few things about the narrative that shouldn’t be taken literally?

    What does it mean to separate light from darkness? How were they first mingled? Can there be such a thing as darkness and light mingling, and what does it mean to separate them? Isn’t this an analogy, and if so, to what does it refer?

    Why does John, in the first 5 verses of his Gospel, refer to light as the life which is in Christ, and why does he say that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it, and why is he deliberately drawing parallels to creation when he says it? Is John taking Gen 1 literally or figuratively?

    When the author to the Hebrews speaks of a “day” that is called “Today”, to what is he referring? Where exactly in Scripture does he get the idea that days refer to something greater than 24 hours if not Gen 1? Does he get the idea from the “Day” of the Lord? Will the judgment to come take a long period of time to take place, and is that the only way the author to the Hebrews could have come to take “day” figuratively? Won’t the “Day” of the Lord be literally one day on which the Lord returns? How is he saying that this age is called Today without any previous revelation which helps that make sense, if the days of Gen 1 are to be taken literally? Was he exegeting Scripture, of was the Holy Spirit simply inspiring him to speak in a very obscure way, unprecedented in Scripture? Weren’t the Jews his audience? Didn’t they have the Old Testament? Wouldn’t they have already been comfortable with the concept of Day referring to something greater than 24 hours, since the idea is one already familiar to them, so that they might understand just what the heck he’s talking about?

    Are there a few things about this passage that shouldn’t be taken literally?

    You said: iv) I’m not even invoking rules. I am invoking how the AUTHOR used those words IN EVERY OTHER PLACE. That is a valid exegetical procedure (cf. Stewart. OT Exegesis).

    Echo: Yes, it’s a valid procedure, but it just isn’t the end of the story. What governs what the words mean in THIS passage is not what the same words mean in other passages, but how they are being used HERE.

    You said: “The chronological succession leaves too deep an impression upon the narrative to be mere window dressing.”

    Echo: Agreed.

    You said: “ii) I gave reasons for the 7th day being literal. You’re not responding to that. I don’t think God is continually blessing this creation. That is the logical outcome of your view. I just differ here. I guess I just don’t have those intuitions. I don’t think God blesses the cursed days. He only blessed his good creation.”

    Echo: I think I have responded to it. Your reasons for taking the other days as literal entails the “morning and evening” refrain. But there is no such refrain here. At least tell me why it is absent. Isn’t its absence conspicuous to you? And I have already showed that God continually blessing the creation with the same blessing with which he blessed it is not a logical conclusion of my claim. The grammar simply doesn’t bear that out.

    You said: “That’s not very interesting. I mean, I knew my friend who fixed the computer did it “by his hands.” I still don’t know *how.*”

    Echo: Ok, that’s satisfying.

    You said: “Now, I gave a whole *list* of arguments for why I take the days literally. You would need *at least* as much argumentative force for your *claim* that we should take Moses as trying to teach a literal, historical flat earth. If you don’t believe that, then you’re simply begging the question.”

    Echo:

    1. I don’t think the narrative is trying to teach a flat earth.

    2. I also don’t think the point of the narrative is to teach a timeframe of the creation.

    3. If the narrative is trying to teach a timeframe, as you say, and the days are to be taken literal, then the creation actually does consist of what the narrative says it does, and the activities conducted on those days are actually what God did on those days.

    4. So that means that on day 1, there was light that God created. On day 2 God created an expanse, on day 3, he created the dry land, etc.

    5. The narrative describes things that took place on the various days AS IF the earth were flat. (That’s the best explanation I can come up with to explain the strange separated waters for instance.)

    6. IF, and ONLY IF, the days are to be taken literally, then the point of the narrative would be to describe God’s creative activity on the 6 days of creation, just as they actually took place.

    7. IF and ONLY IF, the days are to be taken literally, then the text also teaches a flat earth.

    8. I am free to believe that the earth is not flat, and that that is not the point of the narrative BECAUSE and ONLY BECAUSE I don’t take the days literally, but take the entire account as an analogy, having some similarity to what happened, but not exactly what happened.

    9. Pretend the narrative describes a flat earth, just for fun. Then how could it be that the days are to be taken literally, and the activities of those days are not to be taken literally?

    E

  124. Josh,

    Well done! Well done indeed!

    Well, that certainly is a good argument, and I appreciate you putting it forth. I’m speaking of Num 7.

    Linguistically, you have a very powerful argument to make there.

    However, I think I can still recognize the linguistic parallels, without saying that the days of creation must be taken literally.

    The ground for such a claim comes from recognizing that Gen 1 is about God and what he does. God is always revealed in analogy, anthropomorphically, if you will.

    I gotta tell you though, you make a very strong argument. It’s such a good argument, that I don’t even want to argue against it. I just want to let it stand.

    As for your claim about the majority of ministers in the OPC having a literal view, my sense is that you are incorrect. It’s maybe 50-50 in my estimation (half literal, half non-literal). That’s the sense I get. And of those that take the narrative literally, only a very small percentage of them want to make it hard for guys to get licensed/ordained if they hold a non-literal view. In most presbyteries, it’s not a problem. But we should speak about these matters in person rather than here.

    Let me just say again, big, big kudos for pointing out Num 7. Well done, as I said, well done.

    Specifically, it defeats my point about Gen 2:4, and I appreciate being corrected.

    E

  125. Hi Echo,

    Okay, I presented my case, Echo has presented his, at this point there should be enough on the table for one to judge what case he thinks is *exegetically* stronger. I don’t think I’m going to convince Echo, and I don’t think he will convince me. Though we are both open to correction. So, the below is to respond to him, but alos for those reading and trying to determine which case is exegetically stronger. I think I have presented far more positive arguments, and they havemainly been met by “maybes” and “what ifs.”

    To respond to his brief comments in response to just a few of my arguments and claims (he left the majority unanswered, but this is understandable given the time we have):

    I did tell you why morning and evening were not included on day seven. If you re-read my post you will see the answer I gave. So your question as to why morning and evening is not included has been answered. I also *did not* say that morning and evening *had to* be there for me to read it as a 24 hr day. I rather claims that *if it was there* that was evidence for me to read it that way. You’re fallaciously importing the *converse* of my claim. I might say: persons are propositions. This does not mean I think that propositions are persons. Furthermore, I made the argument from *ordinal.* The 7th day is prefixed by an *ordinal.* In the 119 cases in Moses’ writings where the Hebrew word yom stands in conjunction with a numerical adjective (first, second, third, etc.), it never means anything other than a literal day. The same is true of the 357 instances outside the Pentateuch, where numerical adjectives occur. You may not think this makes for a good argument, I do. Especially as it functions in my *cumulative case* argument.

    I don’t need to interact with your long treatise on analogy since that doesn’t affect my argument and your comments rather misses my point. You’re making me say things I never implied.

    As far as you saying God is not blessing today. I don’t get it. He blessed the 7th day. Today is the 7th day. He blessed today. Which premise is false. Seems to follow by strict logic. I don’t think you’ve over come my objection. I also have told you why I take it as a 24 hr. day. At this point we’re just intuition bashing. That’s fine. You’re not convinced by my argument. I have provided a rational reason for how I can answer your question. You’re not convinced, but my argument is rational and does not contradict Scripture. Also, it adds to the cumulative force of my overall case.

    As to my linguistic fallacy, I did not argue as you say I did. Indeed, I even claimed I was putting forward an *abductive* argument. That is, my theory best explains all the data. I never once said that my view is *entailed* or *necessitated* by my linguistic point. I just think it adds to the pile of evidence I have offered.
    I’ll look into the “b’yammin” the *same* as “yammin”? I never argued for yammin with a preposition in front of it. Does the Ex. 20 passage say “byammin”?

    As far as the flat earth thing, I gave you a deductive argument where the premises are true, thus I don’t have any burden here. You tell *me* why I should take the text as teaching a flat earth. I don’t see why i should prove that it isn’t. One reason, for me, is that the arguments aren’t there for it! I can produce *nothing* like I produced in support of literal days. That’s why.

    Now, you’ve also made much of how Genesis borrows from ANE literature and thought.

    I would like to present some claims from scholars and what they think about the whole borrowing from ANE culture and creation account:

    “As we have seen above, there is no piece of literature extant from Mesopotamia that presents itself as an account of creation. Therefore, there is nothing comparable to the creation account of Genesis in terms of literary genre. The similarities between the Enuma Elish are too few to think that the author of Genesis was in any way addressing the piece of literature we know as Enuma Elish.”

    —John Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context: A Survey of Parallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Zondervan 1990), 34.

    “We are terribly ill-informed regarding the history of either Mesopotamian or biblical creation accounts. This makes the argument based on chronological sequence null and void. We cannot say for certain that the traditions preserved by the Israelites are any less ancient than the traditions preserved by the Babylonians,” ibid. 36.

    “The only evidence that can be produced to support the case for Israelite borrowing is the similarities we have already identified. These are hardly convincing, in that most of the similarities occur in situations where cosmological choices are limited. For example, the belief in a primeval watery mass is perfectly logical and one of only a few possibilities. The fact that the Babylonians and Israelites use similar names, Tiamat and tehom, is no surprise, since their respective languages are cognates of one another,” ibid. 37.

    “We must question, however, whether the position that the Bible demythologizes Mesopotamian legends takes into account all the critical data bearing on the issue. First of all, the common assumption that the Hebrew stories are simplified and purified accounts of Mesopotamian legends is fallacious, for in ancient Near Eastern literature simple accounts give rise to elaborate accounts, and not vice versa,” J. Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament” (Baker 2001), 29.

    Second, there are no examples from the ancient Near East in which myth later develops into history. Epic simply never transfigures into historical narrative. And, clearly, the creation and flood accounts in Genesis are presented as direct history with no evidence of myth,” ibid. 29.

    “Third, the contrasts between the Mesopotamian and biblical accounts are so striking that they cannot be explained by a simple Hebrew cleansing,” ibid. 29.

    “But despite the reiterated claims of an older generation of biblical scholars, Enuma Elish and Gen 1-2 in fact share no direct relationship. Thus the word tehom/thm is common to both Hebrew and Ugaritic (north Syria) and means nothing more than ‘deep, abyss.’ It is not a deity, like Ti’amat, a goddess in Enuma Elish. In terms of theme, creation is the massively central concern of Gen 1-2, but is a mere tailpiece in Enuma Elish, which is dedicated to portraying the supremacy of the god Marduk of Babylon. The only clear comparisons between the two are the inevitable banalities: creation of earth and sky before the plants are put on the earth, and of plants before animals (that need to eat them) and humans; it could hardly have ben otherwise!” K. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Eerdmans 2003), 424.

    “The story of creation in the Bible forms the first part of Genesis, and the best known Mesopotamian account is that found in the composition known to the Assyrians as enuma elis (‘when above’) from its first two words…This account is typical of others and shows that, apart from individual details, the Mesopotamian creation stories have little in common with the early chapters of Genesis,” T. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museum (Paulist Press 2004), 79.

    “This sort of maximalist position would see the biblical authors as working directly from Mesopotamian exemplars as they carried out theological transformations. Though this sort of conclusion is common, the summary of comparative literary studies of Genesis 1-11 offered by R. S. Hess in the introduction to ‘I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood’ demonstrates that [the maximalist’s] conclusions are far from universally held. D. Tsumura’s introduction in the same volume details the rejection of dependence on the Babylonian materials by such well-known Assyriologists as W. G. Lambert and A. Sjoberg….Nevertheless, given the complexity of the transmission of tradition and culture in the ancient world literary dependence is extremely difficult to prove. Walton, Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch, T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (eds). IVP:2003.”

    “The similarities between Genesis and Enuma Elish are too few to think that the author of Genesis was in any way addressing the piece of literature we know as Enuma Elish.” Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature in its Cultural Context, John H. Walton, Zondervan: 1989, p.34

    “Reconstruction of a process whereby Babylonian myths were borrowed by the Hebrews, having been transmitted by the Canaanites, and ‘purged’ of pagan elements remains imaginary. It has yet to be shown that any Canaanite material was absorbed into Hebrew sacred literature on such a scale or in such a way…However, it has yet to be shown that there was borrowing, even indirectly. Differences between the Babylonian and the Hebrew traditions can be found in factual details of the Flood narrative (form of the Ark; duration of the Flood, the identity of the birds and their dispatch) and are most obvious in the ethical and religious concepts of the whole of each composition. All who suspect or suggest borrowing by the Hebrews are compelled to admit large-scale revision, alteration, and reinterpretation in a fashion that cannot be substantiated for any other composition from the ancient Near East or in any other Hebrew writing. If there was borrowing then it can have extended only as far as the “historical” framework, and not included intention or interpretation. The fact that the closest similarities lie in the Flood stories is instructive. For both Babylonians and Hebrews the Flood marked the end of an age. Mankind could trace itself back to that time; what happened before it was largely unknown. The Hebrews explicitly traced their origins back to Noah, and, we may suppose, assumed that the account of the Flood and all that went before derived from him. Late Babylonian sages supposed that tablets containing information about the ante-diluvian world were buried at Sippar before the Flood and disinterred afterwards. The two accounts undoubtedly describe the same Flood, the two schemes relate the same sequence of events. If judgment is to be passed as to the priority of one tradition over the other, Genesis inevitably wins for its probability in terms of meteorology, geophysics, and timing alone. In creation its account is admired for its simplicity and grandeur, its concept of man accords well with observable facts. In that the patriarch Abraham lived in Babylonia, it could be said that the stories were borrowed from there, but not that they were borrowed from any text now known to us. Granted that the Flood took place, knowledge of it must have survived to form the available accounts; while the Babylonians could only conceive of the event in their own polytheistic language, the Hebrews, or their ancestors, understood the action of God in it. Who can say it was not so?” Millard, “A New Babylonian ‘Genesis’ Story”, in “I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood”: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11, Richard Hess and David Tsumura (eds.), Eisenbrauns: 1994. p.126.

    “In the study of material on Genesis 1-3, consideration should be given to G. F. Hasel’s essays on the methodology and problems of applying the comparative approach to the first chapter of Genesis. In few other passages of the Bible have so many facile comparisons been made with ancient Near Eastern myths and so many far-reaching conclusions posited. Hasel provides observations on fundamental distinctions in the creation accounts, with a strong focus on an antimythological apologetic for Genesis.” Hess, “One Hundred Fifty Years of Comparative Studies on Genesis 1-11″, in “I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood”: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11, Richard Hess and David Tsumura (eds.), Eisenbrauns: 1994. p.19

    “So, Genesis 1 and ‘Enuma Elish,’ which was composed primarily to exalt Marduk in the pantheon of Babylon, have no direct relation to each other…It is not correct to say that ‘Enuma Elish’ was adopted and adapted by the Israelites to produce the Genesis stories. As Lambert holds, there is ‘no evidence of Hebrew borrowing from Babylon’. Sjoberg accepts Lambert’s opinion that ‘there was hardly any influence from the Babylonian text on the Old Testament creation accounts.’ …Along the same line, Sjoberg as an Assyriologist warns Old Testament scholars that ‘it is no longer scientifically sound to assume that all ideas originated in Mesopotamia and moved westward.’ …It is difficult to assume that an earlier Canaanite dragon myth existed in the background of Gen. 1:2…Shea suggests that ‘it is possible to view these two separate sources [Adapa and Genesis 2-3] as independent witnesses to a common event’…Niels-Erik Andreasen also thinks that ‘parallels do indeed exist between Adam and Adapa, but they are seriously blunted by the entirely different contexts in which they occur.’…” Tsumura, “Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood, “I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood”: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11, Richard Hess and David Tsumura (eds.), Eisenbrauns: 1994. p.31.

    “Nevertheless, the differences between the biblical and the Mesopotamian accounts are much more striking that their similarities; each of them embodies the world outlook of their respective civilizations. In Genesis there is a total rejection of all mythology…[Differences include:]…Cosmogony is not linked to theogony. The pre-existence of god is assumed–it is not linked to the genesis of the universe. there is no suggestion of any primordial battle or internecine ware which eventually led to the creation of the universe…The primeval water, earth, sky, and luminaries are not pictured as deities or as parts of disembodied deities, but are all parts of the manifold work of the Creator…The story in Genesis, moreover, is nonpolitical: unlike Enuma Elish, which is a monument to Marduk and to Babylon and its temple, Genesis makes no allusion to Israel, Jerusalem, or the temple.” S.M. Paul Ency. Judacia, s.v. “Creation”, 5:1062

  126. […] Young (Earth) Creationist […]

  127. Paul,

    Thanks for the review of the discussion. All of this ANE stuff you cite, while helpful, is not addressing my position. My position is not that Moses read some Babylonian text, now extant, and simply corrected it. That’s not my position, so the position these citations argue against is not mine, thus the citations, while generally helpful, are not helpful in this discussion.

    E

  128. Echo: First, in order for general and special to be pitted against one another in this case, general revelation must teach Abraham that God cannot raise the dead, and special revelation must teach Abraham that he can. This is not the case. General revelation teaches no such contrary-to-special-revelation thing.

    I’d put it more simply: dead things stay dead. Every natural observation, every single witness account up to Abraham’s time confirmed this uniformity; on the basis of special revelation, Abraham reasoned against it. “Dead things stay dead — except for my son, whom God will raise back to life.”

    Your suggestion of less discongruity between natural expectation and Abraham’s expectation undervalues the intellectual act for which Hebrews chapter 11 extols him. Suppose God made you a promise about one of your children, then commanded you to sacrifice that child before the promise’s fulfillment. Your obedience would be remarkable; expecting your child to be raised back to life even more remarkable. Unlike Abraham, however, you enjoy a cloud of witnesses who have testified to you of God’s prior suspensions of the uniformity of nature by raising others back to life. Abraham, privy to none of this testimony, reasoned beyond the uniformity of nature on his own.

    Echo: Next, a necessary premise for your argument would be that general revelation teaches us that the resurrection of the dead is impossible, that all men die, and that’s it.

    The statement “resurrection of the dead is impossible” isn’t the same as the statement “all men die, and that’s it.” The first makes a claim about God’s sovereignty over nature; the second makes a claim about nature’s consistency with itself.

    To be more specific: “resurrection” is an exception to the uniformity of nature; “impossible” is the same as “not consistent with the uniformity of nature.” So the first statement (“resurrection of the dead is impossible”) boils down to “an exception to the uniformity of nature is not consistent with the uniformity of nature.” It doesn’t say anything — unless by it you mean “resurrection of the dead is impossible for God,” which no one here believes. Indeed, Bible believers subscribe to many exceptions to the uniformity of nature (miracles), and this allows for the possibility of a literal reading of Genesis 1.

    I need to take exception to the wording of the second statement as well, as both you and I have pointed out that not all men die — Enoch was taken to be with God without dying. Let’s word the natural observation as “dead things stay dead.” This is the (so-called) uniformity of nature (that God has in a few cases suspended).

    Echo: But Paul tells us in Rom 1 that general revelation teaches of a coming judgment.

    The fact is, any hope that anyone had for redemption is meaningless if there is no resurrection of the dead, and Paul makes this very explicit in 1 Cor 15.

    The coming judgment in Romans chapter 1 occurs during life, not after. Causes: godlessness, wickedness, suppression of truth, failure to glorify or thank God. Effect: multiple forms of sexual, moral, relational and personal degradation … all of which are already evident, as the wrath of God is “being revealed.”

    Echo: There are many who teach that the Hebrews didn’t have any notion of a soul that lived on after death of the body, but that’s just not true. Right there in Genesis 50:25, Joseph demands an oath that his bones be carried to the promised land. Why, if they did not know of a resurrection of the dead? Where is the prior revelation of such a thing?

    I wrote a story about the Holocaust during my senior year in high school. My English teacher, who was Jewish, pulled me aside and said, “Jews don’t believe in the afterlife,” then pointed out two cases of dialogue I’d written in which Jewish characters used the hope of eternity to comfort themselves over their present travails. His statement stunned me. What good was a religion without an afterlife? Why honor such a God? Why even be moral? I didn’t know, and I didn’t ask (for fear of sounding critical). I bring up this little anecdote to point out that the concept of an afterlife may be a component of faith for many Jews, but not all.

    As for Joseph, you’re interpreting his motive. You could be right. But his motive might also have been yearning to be honored, desire for resolution, homesickness, developing character in his sons. Either way, there’s a difference between believing in an eventual (and almost unverifiable) bodily resurrection of those among all generations at the end of time, and the all-too-fast-approaching bodily resurrection of your son after you slay him (the verification or falsification of which would be exquisitely concrete).

    Echo: Furthermore, Jesus himself interprets special revelation in the OT:
    Mark 12:26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
    Jesus is not ADDING to special revelation here, but exegeting it. The people were confused at the time of Jesus about these things because of the Sadducees who said there was no resurrection, but Jesus corrected that error. But shall we assume that no one throughout all of redemptive history up until the time of Abraham got the point?

    Excellent passage! I’m with you — I make no such assumption; some must have understood God as God of the living Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But where were these gents? The soul’s survival isn’t the same as bodily resurrection. Abraham’s belief that Isaac’s soul would survive death didn’t resolve the issue of Isaac needing to father children to fulfill God’s promise. For that Abraham reasoned his way to a bodily resurrection that would occur for one person immediately, not multiple generations at the end of time.

    Echo: In fact, let’s go all the way back to the Garden. There, when Adam and Eve sinned, God did not put them to death as he had promised, but instead put an animal to death and covered them with it, making them wear a reminder that their life comes at a price. What life though? The dead animal wasn’t just a reminder of the just penalty of the law, but also the hope of escaping it. It was the gospel being preached to them visibly.

    Agreed — and what a great gospel. With Abraham, however, we’re discussing the uniformity of nature. That uniformity was maintained in Adam and Eve, who both died; in Abel, who died before them; in Cain and Seth and all other generations who died, sans resurrection, leading up to Abraham’s test. Abraham shared in the hope of redemption God graciously provided Adam and Eve, but he knew full well that part of the redemptive deal was (except in the case of Enoch) experiencing bodily death — a bodily death that persisted until some indefinite point in the future. And again, his trust in God’s special revelation (promises) enabled him to reason his way to a distrust in the uniformity of nature he saw in general revelation (dead things stay dead).

    Echo: And we do believe that the promise made to Adam, the covenant, had as its ultimate blessing eternal, eschatological life for obedience, and eternal condemnation for disobedience. It wasn’t just about temporal life and death.
    Otherwise, what was the hope of Melchizadek? Why was he a priest to God most high? What was his hope? Was it for this life only? You’re right, all men die, but if that’s the end of the story, why would Melchizadek be religious at all? The hope of the people of God has always been the same thing from the very beginning: the resurrection of the dead.
    So when we come to the example of Abraham, and we see that he is of the covenant people of God, having paid tithes to Melchizadek, priest to God most high in Jerusalem, we know that he already has some understanding, some hope in the resurrection of the dead, some hope beyond the grave.

    As I’m reading through and responding to these points I’m realizing my argument wasn’t clear. I agree with you that Abraham must have known the hope of bodily resurrection through the special revelation that had proceeded his time, and that he himself received. Here’s how I should have clarified:

    Reformulation: Abraham used special revelation to reason against the uniformity of nature evident, without exception, throughout history until his lifetime: the persistence of death until an unspecified later date.

    (As for your points regarding Melchizedek, again, I agree with you — I don’t understand why anyone who doubts life after death would be religious. I can only point to my senior year English teacher. And of course you’ve already pointed to the Sadducees.)

    Echo: No, Paul makes very clear in 1 Cor 15 that there is no such thing as the hoping people of God apart from the hope in the resurrection of the dead, and there have always been people of God, immediately on the heels of the fall, beginning with Adam and Eve, to whom the promises of the hope of the bruising of the serpent’s head were given, as well as the instructions about sacrifices.
    Special revelation does not begin with Abraham. Otherwise, what is the meaning of Melchizadek, or the others mentioned before Abraham?
    And at any rate, they must have known about Enoch, otherwise how did Moses know about him? And if the grave is the end of the story, where did Enoch go? What did it mean? It had to mean something, and it had to mean something on the other side of death.
    And in fact, general revelation itself teaches us that death of the body isn’t the end of the story.
    And if you will hear it, they say that Job takes place prior to the formation of Israel. No one knows when it was written for sure, but it’s about a guy who lived, they say, before Israel. And surely he had a robust doctrine of the resurrection, saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him,” (13:15) and “in my flesh I will see God” (19:26).
    Anyway, the point is, if there was a people of God prior to Abraham, there was also a hope in life beyond the grave, a hope in the resurrection.

    Quite right; see my reformulation above.

    (To be fair, I pointed out Enoch before you did.)

    Echo: But that brings us to Hebrews 11:19. What does it mean when it says that Abraham “reasoned out” (as you say) that God could raise the dead? Well, your claim is that it has to mean that he sort of did the math, and that was the only idea he could come up with that would reconcile everything. So according to how you’re interpreting this verse, Abraham was the first one to figure out that God could raise the dead, and he wasn’t told this all important glorious truth, but rather, he had to figure it out for himself after working out a very difficult puzzle of special revelation that contradicted general revelation.
    Well, I think you ask me to concede too much in such a claim. I think you’re insisting on too narrow an understanding of the Greek word that you say must mean “reason out”. It might surprise you to know that the definition of the word can be as simple as “think”. So it might simply mean that he “thought” God was able to raise the dead. It can mean what you are saying that it must mean, but it doesn’t have to. It can refer to logically deriving something. And after all, this is where we get our word “logic” from (this Greek word).

    See my reformulation. As for the meaning of the Greek verb, we need to guard against downgrading it too far, because it is the precise intellectual act for which Abraham was honored in Hebrews chapter 11.

    This sentence makes Abraham’s thought seem hypothetical: “So it might simply mean that he ‘thought’ God was able to raise the dead.” Hebrews chapter 11 gives the clear context of sacrificing Isaac. No way would Abraham simply speculate on a hypothetical theological point without seeing its direct application to the case at hand. By “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead” we are to understand more than the end-of-time bodily resurrection of numerous believers from among all generations — we are to understand that Abraham trusted that God could, and would, resurrect Isaac after Abraham slew him.

    Echo: But here, I think the simplest explanation, given all that I have said above, is simply that his reasoning for being able to obey was his conviction that God was able to raise the dead. This was his reasoning: God can raise the dead. Thus he was not afraid to trust him to be faithful to his promise, even beyond the veil of death. So the whole thing becomes an illustration about stretching our hope in God beyond the veil of death. But this isn’t entirely new with Abraham. Rather, this characterizes all the people of God. Abraham is simply exceptional in the Scriptures because he is the founder of the Jews, and the book is a Jewish book about the history of their people. So of course Abraham has some serious prominence, and rightly so! But he wasn’t the first to hope in the resurrection of the dead. He cannot be.

    This argument would make sense if God had not promised that Abraham would be a father to many nations through Isaac. Suppose Abraham were any old parent asked to sacrifice his son — if that parent obeyed s/he would, as you have described, cling to the hope of eventual resurrection. Abraham’s case is different. God’s promise would not be fulfilled by Isaac’s resurrection at the end of time. The resurrection had to happen contemporaneously, in the wash of time. And again, the problem was that thus far, the wash of time had proven that God didn’t suspend the uniformity of nature concerning death’s persistence, nor would He do so until later. That uniformity was, until then, uniform.

    Echo: So for Abraham, was general revelation pitted against special revelation? Not at all. There is nothing in general revelation that had to be trumped. Nothing in general revelation that had to be denied. Notice that what Abraham “reasoned” was not about Isaac, but about God. He wasn’t convicted about a fact about Isaac, whether he could or could not survive after death, but about God, whether he could raise the dead or not. And since Abraham’s belief is that God can raise the dead, and since general revelation by no means contradicts that, but in fact supports that, I just don’t see how Abraham was forced to make a choice here.

    See my reformulation. The key is that special revelation drove Abraham to reason out an exception to the uniformity of nature, and Scripture praised him for it.

    Echo: But let me reaffirm that if we must choose between our fallible interpretation of one over the other, we should side with special.

    I applaud this principle (even as I suspect your commitment to it reinforces your resistance to Abraham’s example).

    On to RubeRad’s contribution:

    RubeRad: Heb 11:19 is not simply an inspired fact — new revelation of Abraham’s mindset over and above the Old Testament, but it is inspired exegesis of Abraham’s previously revealed response, which includes Gen 22:8: ‘”Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”‘ I think that needs to be factored in somehow.

    Sure, let’s factor it in. Genesis chapter 22 is history. As such, not everything said or done by characters in history is held forth as right. While Abraham was correct — God did provide the lamb — he could not have known that God would do so, as that would have meant God issuing a recall on His command to sacrifice Isaac. Theologians, philosophers, scholars and poets have examined Abraham’s mindset leading up to the moment of sacrifice. My own theory is that Abraham, caught off guard by Isaac’s question, used doublespeak to avoid lying while also avoiding frightening him: God certainly would provide the lamb (Isaac)!

    But I could be wrong. However we are to take that line, it’s not the motivation for which Abraham was credited in Hebrews chapter 11. That the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to the Hebrews to hold Abraham forth as a model of faith for one utterance, while disregarding the other utterance already recorded in Scripture, should indicate which is the more trustworthy.

    To summarize:

    1. Hebrews chapter 11 honors Abraham for reasoning against the uniformity of nature on the basis of special revelation.
    2. This does not necessitate that a 6×24 reading of Genesis should trump scientific observation of the origin of the universe, but it does allow for the possibility.
    3. What remains to be seen is whether a compelling enough theological case can be made.

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