Category Archives: bible

Is Genesis History? Well, nope

 

Image result for is genesis history

Is Genesis History? is a DVD to show that early Genesis is “history” and that the earth is a few thousand years old, God talked the universe into being in 144 hrs, the flood was worldwide and most of the strata were laid down at that time. Evolution is a big no-no.

It has the support of most creationist groups and many of their “experts” have contributed to this beautifully flawed production.

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More can be found on their website. https://isgenesishistory.com/ 

The introductory page makes it clear.

“Will strengthen confidence in Scripture, clarify understanding of the relationships of revelation, science, history, and faith, and enhance understanding of difficult questions all while being both beautiful and entertaining.” – E. Calvin Beisner, PhD

Is Genesis History? features over a dozen scientists and scholars explaining how the world intersects with the history recorded in Genesis.  From rock layers to fossils, from lions to stars, from the Bible to artifacts, this fascinating film will change the way you see the world.

The film’s goal is to provide a reasonable case for Creation in six normal days, a real Adam and Eve, an actual fall, a global flood, and a tower of Babel. Dr. Del Tackett, creator of The Truth Project, serves as your guide—hiking through canyons, climbing up mountains, and diving below the sea—in an exploration of two competing views … one compelling truth.

This says it all, but who are the experts?

Experts Interviewed

Many people don’t realize just how many scientists and scholars see Genesis as the key to understanding the world around us. Each of these experts has spent decades working in his respective field to better understand how it relates to the history recorded in the Bible.

 

Those who fllow Young Earth Creationism will recognise most of these names. It’s true that they have Ph.D.s and have worked for years in their chosen fields, but…..

I’ve met five of them, but none have more than a few academic papers to their name – which, in the case of geology, do nothing to refute “old earth ” geology. At times their treatment of standard science is duplicitous.

And so another page deals with their answers to “questions”.

https://isgenesishistory.com/category/questions/

I’ll focus on one – the theologian Douglas Kelly

 https://isgenesishistory.com/when-did-the-church-stop-reading-genesis-as-history/

Dr. Douglas Kelly explains the history of the church’s relationship with Evolution and the Bible.

DEL: Where do you see all of the sudden the thought beginning to work its way in, that there is something less than historical record found in Genesis?

DOUG: Dr. Nigel Cameron, who did a book a number of years ago which unfortunately it’s out of print, Evolution and the Authority of the Bible, in which he shows convincingly to me after serious study on his part that the whole church as far as commentators and creeds on into Protestant confessions held straight six day creation, until the European enlightenment. And particularly two things happen, well many things happened in the European enlightenment but two things particular reference to creation. One is there was the introduction of the thought of vast geological ages being evidenced by geological structures. That was happening largely in the 18th Century, late 18th Century. And then in the 19th Century of course we have Charles Darwin. It was not that theories of evolution were totally novel. They weren’t, because if you go back to certain pre-socratic philosophers, Democritus, Lucretius and others, they held some kind of evolution, but that Christianity had purged that out and said it’s ridiculous and it goes way underground.

DOUG: It’s able to come back to the surface by the European enlightenment. Geology first and then with particularly Darwin and his grandfather was teaching Erasmus Darwin but Charles Darwin’s major work came out in 1859 and sold out in about two days because people were so desperate to find an intellectual alternative to divine creation. Well Cameron shows that when about five years, five or six years after Darwin’s book became popular i.e. by the late 1860s there was scarcely a protestant commentator, a protestant commentator that didn’t accept some form of evolution or at least say this is a matter best left to the scientists. Let’s deal with the spiritual.

DEL: It happened that fast.

DOUG: It happened that fast within six or seven years. Now there were exceptions. Good Bishop Wilbur Force resisted it, but that’s how quickly it happened.

I facepalmed at the last sentence “Bishop Wilbur Force”. It clearly they meant Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, son of William Wilberforce.

1869_Wilberforce_A504_001

Wilberfoce was competent in science and attended geological lectures by William Buckland for three years while at Oxford. His 1860 review of the Origin of Species was competent though rejecting evolution.

Kelly studied for his Ph D in Edinburgh under T F Torrance, the leading 20th century Scottish theologian, who had a sound view of science and theology!

In 1999 he published a YEC book supporting a six day creation , full of poor theology and worse science.

The quotes by Kelly here are weak. He is wrong to say theologians held to a six day creation until the Enlightenment. See my chapter here; Genesis 1 & geological time from 1600-1850 Until there was geological evidence for an ancient earth theologians took varied opinions but after 1780 few opted for a young earth. What Kelly does not say is that after 1800 very few theologians, Protestant or Catholic accepted a 6-day creation. That includes conservative protestants and evangelicals on both sides of the pond. By 1870 most accepted some kind of evolution.  This is just for Britain, the situation in the USA was similar  – at least til the Scopes trial. Evolution and religion in Britain from 1859

So lets get on with this blog  on

6 Reasons Christians Should Embrace 6 Day Creation

Watch the film

https://isgenesishistory.com/6-reasons-christians-embrace-6-day-creation/

The blog  has a clear purpose – to give 6 reasons why Christians must accept a 6-day creation.

When Is Genesis History? opened in theaters last year, we had no idea it would be the top grossing Christian documentary for 2017. We were even more surprised when our distributor said they were bringing it back to theaters on Feb 22, 2018 for an Anniversary Event.

Why did this film resonate so much with audiences?

Perhaps it demonstrated that it’s intellectually reasonable for Christians to embrace 6-day creation.

By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world.

I recognize that among some Christians this is not a popular view of history. Instead, some have adopted the framework hypothesis, analogical days, or the cosmic-temple model to interpret Genesis 1.

They then accept the conventional chronology of universal history. This includes the slow formation of everything over billions of years starting with a Big Bang, the corruption and death of trillions of creatures before the arrival of Adam and Eve, a Fall that introduced death only to mankind, and a local flood during the days of Noah.

It is the events included in 6-day creation that are essential for Christian theology.

I realize that intelligent and godly Christians hold to this model of Earth history. Nevertheless, many seem unaware of the actual events they must inevitably adopt when affirming a 13.8 billion-year-old universe.

After all, one cannot extend history for billions of years without attaching new events to it. Those events have theological consequences.

This is why thinkers like Geerhardus Vos, Louis Berkhof, and D. Martin Lloyd-Jones embraced 6-day creation. They understood it is the events included in 6-day creation that are essential for Christian theology.

Note that included is not only a 6-day creation, but also a Fall which brought death into the world. This latter is a plank for YEC as the death of Christ is often presented as reversing the effects of the Fall, thus giving more plausibility to YEC. Note how the expression “corruption and death” is put forward in contrast to a “good2 and “very good” original creation.

Then Six theological reasons for YEC are considered.

Here are six theological reasons worth considering:

N.B. Here I give the blog in “quotes” , the rest are my comments

1. God’s Goodness Must Be Reflected in the Original Creation

Ligon Duncan observed in an interview for ‘The Gospel Coalition’ that affirming the goodness of the original creation is non-negotiable. As the Westminster Confession states, the goodness of the original creation is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)

 

If the expression “original creation” was not used, most , if not all Christians subscribe to this. Creation,( however it came about, however old it is), “is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)”. However the use of “original Creation” is used to imply that creation took place in a matter of 144 Hours. That most Christians disagree with.

they then ask;

What does that goodness look like? It is full of life-giving power and bounty.

I find this photo an odd one to show the earth without corruption 🙂 In fact it shows beauty and tranquillity and so much of our scenery and wildlife shows the beauty and wonder of Creation. Here are two taken from near home I quickly found at random . It is difficult to see it as “not good”. I try hard to see the corruption here.

DSCF5863DSCF8789 (1)

 

This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Gen 1:30) and without corruption and death (Rom 8:21).

Yet this picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world only fits within the chronology of 6-day creation.

 

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I’d be very surprised if any reader does not see this as a “picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world”. Just look at the colours and delicacy of the plant’s structure and the exquisite tiny flowers coming into bloom. Many will recognise it as sundew (drosera rotundiflora) which is common in boggy areas. I found this ten miles from my home in a gorgeous boggy lake full of drosera and surrounded by Bog asphodel.

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Beautiful though it is, the sundew is  – er  – um -” a product of the Fall and Curse” as it is a  carnivorous plant and gains some sustainence from catching insects with those tentacles in the leaves. as well as that the boggy area is a morass of dead plants and animals in varying stages of decomposition. So if the sundew and bog asphodel are beautiful they are the result of the Fall and Curse!! This rather contradicts the claim that “this picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world only fits within the chronology of 6-day creation”.

Further they are right to say “This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty …..” We see this good and very good all around us, and especially if we are tuned to see the wonder of creation in both large and small things.

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But then they say “It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Gen 1:30) and without corruption and death (Rom 8:21).” Well, we see a world of plenty and beauty WITH corruption and animal death. We must ask how the Fall and Curse changed creation. The photos I chose all show a world of plenty and beauty with carnivory present! Gen 1 vs 30 has to be squeezed very hard to make it affirm carnivory. I’ll deal with Romans 8 later.

If one adopts the conventional chronology, one must accept that the Earth was absent from the universe for its first 9 billion years. After a galactic cooling event, the Earth slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments. God eventually created the first complex marine life, then progressively created or evolved different types of organisms. These experienced death and massive extinction events that led to the destruction of trillions of living creatures.

All this happened long before the appearance of Adam and Eve.

I realize that some Christians may not be interested in these sorts of details. Yet anyone who chooses to accept an old universe implicitly accepts the historical events that go with it. It is a history filled with lifelessness and death, not the goodness of God.

This flight of fancy begs some questions. Yes, we have a long evolution over 13.4 billion years and during most of that there was no life – but why is that bad? To correct an error of emotive appeal, the earth was not “slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments”. Yes, earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago, but life was almost certainly there by 4 billion. There has been life ever since.  But even “lifeless creation” has beauty and wonder.

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Now this is the “lifeless” view from the present summit of Mt St Helens taken in October 2009. The foreground is “lifeless” lava and glacier! Behind the area was wiped clean of most life in May 1980, but is now regenerating.

2. Adam’s Sin Resulted in Universal Corruption and Death

According to the conventional chronology, corruption has always been a part of the universe. This can be seen in the fossil record which supposedly represents 540 million years of animal suffering and death. It provides snapshots of a world often full of thorns and thistles.

It’s a funny use of corruption, when it is used to denigrate the endless cycle if the universe changing over time. The universe has a history of stars being born and dying, but why is that corruption? The next sentence is rather inaccurate. The fossil record goes back 4 billion years, not 540 million!!

In this view, Adam’s sin could not have been the ultimate cause of universal corruption. As an historical event, his disobedience occurred long after “corruption” was present. Of course , their assertion is that the earth is young and geological and cosmological ages are wrong. But no evidence for that is given. Neither do they point out that arguments for these vast ages go back 300 years or so, so cannot be laid at the door of Darwin.

By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world.

Where does it say the Fall brought “corruption”  to the universe. It is simply not in any version of Genesis 3. Yes, Genesis 3 speaks of thorns and thistles (vs18) but not animal death, earthquakes or anything else. They really need to show that DAY must mean 24 hours. For 2000 years Christians have varied on this and though until about 1680 most reckoned the earth to be young, a significant number did not on theological grounds as they had no scienitific evidence to guide them.

Further the popularity of their view of corruption stems from Milton’s poem Paradise Lost, rather than a theological consensus.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/why-the-apple-didnt-kill-adam-and-eve/

However animal pain and death is a problem to all who beleive in a benifient God. As Darwin asked about the Ichneumon fly and a cat playing with a mouse

ichneumon

 

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/parasitic-wasps-and-the-death-of-jesus-with-hat-tip-to-darwin/

Ultimately there is no resolution and either the Curse or “billions of years of suffering and death ” does not get God off the hook!! It is a hard thing to accept that God created a world with death and suffering, but equally hard if God introduced death and suffering because a pair of nudists went scrumping.  It is irresolvable.

Or even more starkly 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1158800625775206400

This is what Paul affirms in Romans 8:21. It is what Christian theology has always affirmed: Adam was given dominion over the entire creation at the beginning; when he sinned, the entire creation was subjected to corruption as a consequence of its unique relationship to him.

Here we have the usual appeal to Rom 8 vs21. It is the standard interpretation but not unanimous. This turns on the translation of several Greek words. The word translated creation is ktisis, which can mean humanity in both parts of the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers. Few accept that today, but it was the view of the 18th century commentator John Gill and the 17th century John Lightfoot, who dated creation to 3926BC, making him more young earth than Ussher.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/mis-reading-romans-chapter-8/

Too many “orthodox” (i.e old earth) theologians seem to go for a Fall in creation as did the commentators Sanday and Headlem and also NT Wright  in Evil and the Justice of God p 117 and p109.

There is a lack of clear thinking in this area, but it must be said that if the earth is even a few million years old, then death is of the order of creation and not due to a Fall. Creationists cash in on this lack of clarity. Perhaps I spent too long in scorching temperatures in the Namib Desert sorting out the geology !!

3. The Pattern of Creation-Fall-Redemption Culminates in the New Creation

If the universe contained death and corruption that wasn’t the result of Adam’s sin, what does that mean for Jesus’s redemption of both man and creation?

This is a superficially appealing argument, BUT it shifts the emphasis of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross from the atonement of human sin to sorting out the mess of the Fall and Curse.

Consider His miracles: He was re-forming the world according to the goodness of the original creation. Whether Jesus was healing the sick, raising the dead, or feeding the hungry, He was showing that redemption results in tangible bounty to actual people. It is a goodness that culminates with the new creation. Passages in the Prophets and Revelation suggest a return to the space-time goodness of the original creation.

Yet it is only the chronology of 6-day creation that provides the historical framework for this pattern to have meaning.

If the original creation was not good, or if the Fall did not transform that creation into something evil, then what is the real nature of our redemption? And what is the real potential of the new creation?

For the bookends of creation to match, they must be mirrors of each other. This is only possible with 6-day creation.

This is a bit rambling.

4. Scripture Must be Used to Interpret Scripture

In the Odyssey, when Penelope wants to prove her husband’s identity, she requests he shoot an arrow through 12 axe handles placed in a row. She knows he is the only one who can do it. In the same way, although different interpretations claim to be accurate, only those which pass intact through the entirety of the Bible are true.

This is what we see with the events associated with 6-day creation: they are affirmed throughout the entire Bible.

Whether it is Moses connecting creation week with a normal week in the fourth commandment; or Isaiah affirming God created man at the same time He created the heavens and the earth; or Jesus explaining the global destruction of the Flood in light of His second coming; or Luke tracing the history of the world through a single genealogy; or Paul relating the work of Adam to the work of Christ; or Peter showing the relationship between the creation, global flood, and judgment to come, there is only one historical sequence that consistently fits: 6-day creation.

This is not what it says as it is an appeal claiming that THEIR interpretation is correct and the others wrong. To interpret Scripture one must use other parts of Scripture, but alway consider the context and genre and use extra-biblical information, especially on the cultural context.

5. Essential Doctrines are Embedded in History

Last year, I had lunch with a friend who takes a more liberal view of the Bible. As he heard what was in the film, he said, “if there really was a global flood, that changes everything.” This is similar to the line of thinking we see in Acts: if a man really rose from the dead, that changes everything.

Paul establishes the necessary connection between the events of history and Christian doctrine in 1 Corinthians 15. Peter does the same in 2 Peter 3 with creation, the flood, and the final judgment.

Yet it is only within the historical framework of 6-day creation that all these events cohere to the fabric of time.

For instance, if the thick fossil-bearing rock layers are the result of a global flood, they are a physical reminder of God’s global judgment on the earth in the past—as well as in the future.

If, however, one adopts the conventional chronology, those huge layers are merely a testimony to millions of years. God’s judgment is erased from the earth—and perhaps overlooked in the future.

This is based on an obvious assumption  and that is that the history of the New Testament is the same as early Genesis. It is hard to say they are. This overlooks so many differences. I note that they look to God’s judgement in the Flood as if this were a proof of a young earth.

6. Presuppositional Thinking Helps Us Understand the Discipline of Science

Finally, what about science itself?

When I started researching our documentary, I came across a book entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Although there is much that could be said about Kuhn, his method is easy for philosophically-minded Christians to grasp: he applies presuppositional thinking to the discipline of science.

Anyone who has read Christian philosopher Cornelius Van Til can see the similarities between them:

Both point out that data is not “value-neutral,” but that people bring a ‘set of glasses’ toward the interpretation of the world around them. Both recognize the intense commitment people have toward certain views to the exclusion of all others. Both note that groups consistently interpret what they observe in light of their base presuppositions.

Night Sky

Now what makes Kuhn interesting is that he explores the history of science in light of this thinking. The result is that he effectively questions the absolute epistemological authority of modern science.

This is a total misreading of Kuhn. He argued that accumulated evidence changes the “paradigm” of scientists  eg geocentricity to heliocentricity. It was not a case of changing “presuppositions”. It can also be done on geological time and evolution (though Kuhn did this v badly), plate tectonics etc. People did not change their views on geological time due to changing presuppositions, but accumulated evidence gleaned from a methodologically naturalistic perspective. Thus scientists gradually changed their views on the age of the earth, from a few thousand in 1660 to millions in 1800 to billions by 1910. It is often overlooked that many of these geologists were Christians.

Having read both Van Til and Kuhn I cannot see the similarities, though I have to admit I’m a fan of neither!

 

In Closing

I regret the abbreviated nature of these thoughts. They are only a few of the many I arrived at during my three year process researching this film. I have explored them at greater depth in the Is Genesis History? Bible Study that accompanies the film.

In closing, it is my strongest conviction as a Christian that 6-day creation is the only longterm viable option for Christian theology. As D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “I have no gospel unless Genesis is history.”

They have not made their case!! To claim Genesis is history as we know it today is to make the Gospel incredible and thus no gospel.

Michael’s Conclusion; is Genesis History?

In the normal sense NO and it does not claim to be. To ask this question and to put it in a way that you must answer YES is to misunderstand early Genesis and the rest of the Bible.

It stems from the view that the bible is written in the same way from Genesis to Revelation and all is equally “history”. The Bible is variable on history. When we study the Gospels and Acts we find that is akin to our historcal understanding today and that of its time. It can stand alongside Caesar’s Gallic Wars as a narrative account. This, in itself, does not mean it is accurate history and Caesar was prone to massaging the facts for his own purposes. Opinions vary on the historical reliability of the New Testament, but I am persuaded that it is reliable history, and to some I take a hopelessly conservative position.

Once we consider the Old Testament things change. and its historicity and reliability  becomes less the earlier the events are. From Saul onwards i.e. after c1000BC the account fits with other contemporary accounts. But this is far less so for the Exodus and conquest, though some link it to contemporary events. For the Patriarchs – Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, the sitz-im-leben is the early Second Millenium, but there is no supporting evidence. Hence some say the Patriarchs are non- historical figures. I disagree there.

And so we come to Genesis 1 to 11, the substance of these films and blog. It is fair to say they were seen as history until the 18th century, but discoveries of an ancient earth – both geological and anthropological challenged that.

Most important is to see the historicity of Jesus Christ and not a pair of anti-diluvian nudists.

I reckon G M Hopkins gives us a better way to consider Genesis

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/gods-grandeur-gerard-manley-hopkins/

Is Genesis really poetry?

One of the many creationist groups is Biblical Creation & Apologetics Ministries, which has a facebook group which mostly reprints articles from Creation ministries and answers in Genesis. Unlike many they do allow heretics like me to post on their page !!

You can read them here

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BiblicalCreation/about/?ref=page_internal

One of their latest (27/7/19)  is on whether Genesis is poetry. This question polarises conclusions to either being poetry and thus not true , or not poetry and true. This is slick and unconvincing to many, but good for the faithful.

https://www.facebook.com/BiblicalCreation/photos/a.207326895983895/2250443738338857/?type=3&theater

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Biblical Authority: Is Genesis Poetry?

The idea that ‘Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created’ is one of those vague half-truths that fails to address the specifics of either the passage or the issue that the statement is trying to comment on. To be precise, we want to know whether Genesis contradicts the prevailing ‘billions of years’ framework for the history of nature. For that, we need to know: what does Genesis 1 tell us about the history of nature, if it tells us anything? There are good reasons to think Genesis 1 does indeed refer to the past (see Genesis as ancient historical narrative [http://bit.ly/2ydR7KM]). And there are several crucial historical questions Genesis 1 does answer.

1. Who created? God.

2. What did God create? The heavens and earth in their vast array.

3. By what means did God create? He spoke, and things came to be.

4. How long did God take to create? Six days (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11).

5. When did God create? At the beginning (with no prior beginning for any class of creature explicitly mentioned in Genesis 1, which includes the earth, the sky, all forms of animals and plants, and all stars).

https://creation.com/genesis-not-poetic

And here in slow motion dealing with each point

 

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Biblical Authority: Is Genesis Poetry?

The idea that ‘Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created’ is one of those vague half-truths that fails to address the specifics of either the passage or the issue that the statement is trying to comment on. To be precise, we want to know whether Genesis contradicts the prevailing ‘billions of years’ framework for the history of nature. For that, we need to know: what does Genesis 1 tell us about the history of nature, if it tells us anything? There are good reasons to think Genesis 1 does indeed refer to the past (see Genesis as ancient historical narrative [http://bit.ly/2ydR7KM]). And there are several crucial historical questions Genesis 1 does answer.

1. Who created? God. My answer

Absolutely. This is fundamental to any theist. We may be baffled at who God is – and I am – but God is creator of all

I go further and insist on creatio ex nihilo – creation from nothing

Perhaps it is best summed up in William Temple’s equations

God- world = God

World – god = 0

You can follow this up in most Christian writers of creation

2. What did God create? The heavens and earth in their vast array. My answer

Yup, the whole lot.

But now we diverge.

3. By what means did God create? He spoke, and things came to be. My answer

Genesis and the rest of the Bible affirms that God is creator but doesn’t say how. Whichever passage you turn too in the old or New Testament, there is AFFIRMATION of god as creator, often in poeticised form, but never  a description of how God created.

To say “He spoke, and things came to be.” is a paraphrase of the refrain in genesis One and says nothing about how god did it. At worst it is parroting meaninglessness.

Calvin

calvin

in his commentary on Genesis in the 1550s realised this ( as did and do all intelligent Christian writers) when he wrote

He who would understand astronomy and other recondite arts let him go elsewhere.

For 2000 years theologians have grappled with this question and their conclusions are usually reflect the science of their day.  To my knowledge none say how God did it.

Perhaps they should have considered aspects like the nature of the firmament and the problem of Day 4

storehouse-300x165

 

He spoke, and things came to be. is simply a cheap rhetorical advice designed to convince/browbeat those of little understanding

4. How long did God take to create? Six days (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11). My answer

That is a simple answer to a complex question. We can approach it in three ways;

  1. we can look at genesis in a simple way without reference to anything else and say “ah, it is 144 Hours.”
  2. We can start from modern science with a 13 billion year old universe and the rest and say “science says this and thus Genesis is wrong and has no value.”
  3. Or we can consider how Christian theologians have considered the time factor of Creation over the last 2000 years AND consider the developing scientific understanding over the last 3000 years.

5. When did God create? At the beginning (with no prior beginning for any class of creature explicitly mentioned in Genesis 1, which includes the earth, the sky, all forms of animals and plants, and all stars). My answer

Of course god created at the beginning!!! The question which has baffled theologians and scientists for 2000 years is WHEN.

Until the 17th century there was no scientific evidence on the age of the earth or universe. Even so Christian scholars varied on the when of Creation. Many from Barnabas and Theophilus until Ussher went for a few thousand years ago, with Ussher an his immortal 4004BC.

They saw Genesis one in a variety of ways, some took each day as 24 hours, others say God created chaos first and then later ordered the chaos (e.g. Prudentius in the 4th century.)

Things began to change in the 1680s and credit goes to Edward Lhwyd for his observations of “fallen” blocks below Snowdon in Nant Peris. As only one had fallen in living memory and there were hundreds, he concluded that the earth might be a lot older.soon others found more evidence.By 1800 few educated people and fewer “scientists” thought the earth wasn’t ancient, though opinions were divided whether it was millions or a few hundred thousand!

Geology exploded after 1800 and Anglican clergy, like Buckland,

bucklandWilliam Smith's A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland (1815)

Conybeare and Sedgwick made major contributions. When Darwin went to Wales with Sedgwick in 1831 few accepted Ussher’s date.

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However the actual dates were impossible and various rough guesses were made from 20 million to several billion. That gordion knot was untied with the advent of radiometric age dating in 1907 and since 1946 the age of the earth has been known to be 4.6 billion.

 

These published papers of mine deal with aspects of this

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/does-geology-destroy-god-genesis-and-geologyseven-papers/

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Astronomers were slower! By 1800 they knew the earth had to be millions beca=use of the distance of some stars being 2  million light years away. More came with Fr le Maitre’s ideas of the 1920s which led to the concept of a Big Bang, which superceded steady state understandings after controversies fuelled by Fred Hoyle.

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Even so the date of the formation of the universe was in question with dates between 8 and 20 billion years but by 2000 this had settled to 13.4 billion. If you wish for more on this yopu will need to follow it up elsewhere.

Yet all this science is rejected by creationists. Surely ALL geologists and cosmologists can’t be wrong!!!!

SH16DARWIN2

Is Genesis poetry? my answer

An answer-begging question with the implication that Genesis will loses its value if it is poetic. It would be correct to say that early Genesis is NOT poetic, but contains aspects of poetry in chap 1 and various imagery and old Ancient Near Eastern ideas to convey what the author intended. Psalm 8 and the end of Job are clearly poetic in the way they deal with creation. That does not make them untrue.

One of the best evocations of God as creator is the poem God’s Grandeur  by G M Hopkins. Through his poetry he brings out the Christian understanding of Creation

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/gods-grandeur-gerard-manley-hopkins/

Yes, Genesis has a narrative style, but that does not mean it is historical. Scholars have discussed this for centuries. Few, if any, scholars of repute reckon it gives a historical account and see it more as a statement of faith in a creator written from the culture of the writer, rather than giving historical and scientific evidence. It is a ringing affirmation that God is the Creator. Again so much has been written on this by Christians from the perspective of catholic, Evangelical or more liberal. visting the sites of the american Science Affiliation, Biologos, Faraday Institute or Christians in Science give many good articles.

 

But with a refrain at the end of each day, genesis one has a poetical slant

 So God made the ….. And it was so.
 God called the ……………… And there was evening and there was morning, the  nth day. 

 

 

 

Does Science confirm the Bible?

I don’t know which annoys me more; those fundamentalists who claim that Science has confirmed the Bible or the village atheist who says science has disproved the Bible.

Both are based on misunderstandings of science and the Bible.  The various 66 books of the Bible ( and more if you add the Apocrypha, and even more if you go for he Ethiopian canon) were written over a period of a good one thousand years and reflect the thought forms of the writer’s day. Hence you will not find any modern science in them, though they may reflect the science of the day and that would included a flat earth for the Old Testament, and maybe a spherical earth in the New. Classification of animals was hardly rigorous with bats seen as birds, which is a good folk description.

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Far too many , and especially ultra-conservative Christians, still use the old Authorised Version of 1611  aka King James Version, which suffers from questionable translations. Also the splitting up of the text into individual verses makes one read verses in an atomised way and not consider what style of writing that passage is. We read different writings according to their genre whether poetry, parable, letters, hymns and poetry, moral teaching and narrative. We also need to be aware of imagery. Further Biblical writers do not write history as historians write today and have a different appraoch to exact accuracy . Further like Herodotus they may write speeches as they thought they would have been given.

Above all, we cannot project today’s understanding of science back on to works of 2000 or 3000 years old, neither should we for Shakespeare.

To sum it up, both these memes depend on a misunderstanding of the Bible and a lack of awareness that scientific questions were irrelvant to those writers, who simply reflected understandings of their day.

That is why these memes, which may have appeal for some, are totally worthless in gaining understanding

Augsutine

So much for St Augustine but;

Caution Creationists3

Here you are ;

No photo description available.

  1. Dear old Isaiah’s spherical earth!! Actually the word chug in the Hebrew means a disc not a sphere, but some insist on mis-translating it.

Before 500BC most thought the earth was flat and the Greeks found it that the earth is a sphere.

As I dealt with this before then read this!!

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/the-bible-and-a-flat-earth/

2. What about innumerable stars?  Well, astronomers/astrologers of 2000 -3000 years ago had no telescopes so used the naked eye and thus “missed” many stars.

As for the quote from Jeremiah it is a rhetorical or poetic statement, not an astronomical one. This shows a poor grasp of the nature of the Bible and this quotation and no awareness of the history of science.

3. So mother earth had mounted a large animal 🙂  That is a parody on one, and only one, ANE view that the earth  was on the back of a giant turtle. It’s easy to mock ideas from 3000 years ago, but Young earth Creationism , conspiracy theories today are more daft and less forgivable.

As for Job 26  vs 7 “and hangs the earth upon nothing” is NOT a scienti8fic description but simply a poetic way of evoking wonder.

4. Here we have the Atomic Theory in the Letter to the Hebrews. (ch11 vs1) This is simply a gross misreading as the writer (Priscilla?)  is introducing a long list of Old Testament heroes of faith. One would need to have a perverse and weird mind to even suggest  she might be writing about science

5. This is just silly. 2000 years ago astronomer was in its infancy and it was slowly changing. Even so despite “wrong” ideas they were remarkably accurate in measurements and predictions. As for Paul in I Cor 15 he was reflecting the views of his day . Previously in verse 37 he was wrong to say a seed dies, before it can come to life. We know how we can KILL seeds so they can’t germinate!

6. Light moves? Where is the evidence that some say light stayed in one place, which is reasonable from common sense observation. As for Job 38 vs 19-20, this is written in poetic style not as a scientific treatise!

7. Actually Job 28 vs 25 says wind has weight. When you are buffetted by wind it definitely feels heavy, especially if you are blown over.

8. How anyone can get cyclones out of Eccles 1 vs 6 is daft. Some people need to get a poetic imagination and not force their presuppositions onto all they read

9. blood is the source of life and health ? This is not what Lev 17 vs11 actually says.  “For the life of the flesh is blood” What about animals who do not have blood. Agian modern science does not say this.

10. Again this is blind to poetry. Facepalm

11. Ocean springs in Job! Again fails to see poetry. Also until people could test undersea no springs etc could be visible.

12. Washing hands in running water? NRSV says fresh not running water – whatever fresh water is! When you read the whole of Leviticus 13 there is far more to say.

The mind boggles at the mindset suggesting this one.

Now we may think of bullshit

Fourth Law

But atheists can produce as much.

And now for the Village Atheists

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  1. back to Is 40 and the disc vs sphere. See my comment and blog cited earlier.
  2. Even Calvin wanted to interpret firmament as sky, but it was a solid dome

Ancient-Hebrew-view-of-universe

When Genesis was written – say 1000BC most in ANE held to a flat earth and solid firmament.

3. Balaam’s ass raises issue for the more conservative and not directly related to geology astronomy etc. The question is whether this “miracle” was literal or else perceived as a chatty ass!

4. Probably moving mountains was a figure of speech even to Jesus. To make out what is done here is more desperate than any creationist argument.

5. A long life of 900 years. Except for the more conservative, early Genesis is seen as not very historical except in its core.

6. Cattle breeding by patriarchs is again the style of writning and not a scientific description

7. Keeping women quiet. I Tim 2 Yes a lynch-pin for keeping women out of ministry and this does not tie in with naughty Priscilla in Acts 18 vs 26 when she and Aquila taught others who are unspecified. It’s nothing to do with science!

8. Slavery was common everywhere until recently and the Old Testament reflects this. As much as Exod 21 is ghastly on slavery it does show a more compassionate view than surrounding cultures. But then Christians look to the New Testament for ethics and not the details of the old Testament. Again nothing to with science

9. stoning bad children to death was a common pactice in the Old Testament and long since rejected  ; i.e. before Jesus , though it remains in some religions. Again nothing to do with science

Well this village atheist was so short of examples that only 6 out of 9 refer to science!!

Oh dear, which is worse?

Where is the Next Generation of Creation Scientists?

Poor creationists. They don’t seem very good at reproducing themselves

Naturalis Historia

Where is the next generation of creation scientists?   I don’t mean the next generation of believers in creation science but the next generation of young-earth experts who will continue the legacy of Morris, Austin, Humphreys, Woodmorappe, Wood, Bergman, Oard, Baumgardner, etc… I have to believe that this has to be a question that many of the first-generation creation scientists have pondered over the past two decades.

You might wonder, how is a new creation scientist generated?  By their own admission admission, the best route to producing a creation scientist is to capture them early, very early.   By using young-earth curricula in school and church, taking kids to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter it is believed that training up a child in the way they will go go will yield adults that have the “correct” worldview.

That might create another Ken Ham and there are dozens of Ken Ham wannabes…

View original post 1,757 more words

Evangelicals and the creation accounts; 3 diverse views

One of the infuriating things about the social media is being trolled. One especially silly and rude troll, knowing I am a minister with a geology degree, keeps asking me how old I think the earth is. He hasn’t got the sense to realise that I accept geological findings of 4.6  billion years.

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Part of the problem is the high profile nature of Creationists like Ken Ham

Image result for ken ham image

of Answers in Genesis. This is seen in a rather bigotted comment from AIG, saying Francis Collins “professes to be a Christian” implying he may not be.

250px-Francis_Collins_official_portrait

“Francis Collins is a well-known scientist WHO PROFESSES TO BE A CHRISTIAN. He also believes in molecules-to-man evolution, the big bang, millions of years, and common ancestry, and he rejects young earth creation, Noah’s Flood, and has been critical of intelligent design. He fully embraces evolution and argues that the evidence for molecules-to-man evolution is compelling—even though we cannot observe or repeat evolution!

Ken Ham IS A BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIAN who believes God created all things by the power of his word in six days. He rejects molecules-to-man evolution, the big bang, millions of years, and common ancestry. He believes in young earth creation, Noah’s Flood, and Adam and Eve. He rejects evolution in favor of a biblical creation view.”

Here I discuss three evangelical theologians from the 1990s and 2000s on Genesis and science. Kelly is just plain wrong and Blocher and Lucas have much to offer.

 

THREE REPRESENTATIVE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGIANS;
KELLY, BLOCHER, AND LUCAS
I have chosen these three as their work is at a serious lay level. The three
are well-regarded theologians in America, France, and Britain. They also
indicate the range of scientific understanding by evangelicals; Kelly is a
convinced YEC and also argues that YEC is correct and reflects a changing
paradigm of science. Lucas, a scientist-theologian, accepts evolution,
though he flirted with YEC over thirty years ago. Blocher firmly rejects
YEC but is hesitant about evolution.
Ernest Lucas graduated in chemistry from Oxford and obtained first a
Ph.D. in chemistry fromthe University of North Carolina and then a Ph.D.
in biblical studies. Henri Blocher, a French protestant, was appointed to
the Gunther H. Knoedler Chair of Theology at Wheaton College in 2003.
Since 1965 he had been Professor of Systematic Theology at the Facult´e
Libre de Theologie Evangelique in Vaux-sur-Seine. He was educated at
the Sorbonne, London Bible College, Gordon Divinity School, and Facult´e
Libre de Theologie Protestante of Paris and has written many theological
books, including In the Beginning, Evil and the Cross and Original Sin. Douglas
Kelly originally studied in the States and earned a Ph.D. in systematic
theology in Edinburgh under T. F. Torrance.
The subtitle of Kelly’s book Genesis 1.1–2.4 in the light of changing scientific
paradigms (Kelly, 1997) makes his thesis clear. Kelly adopts Kuhn’s
paradigm shifts in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and argues
that as a paradigm shift, that is the success of YEC, has occurred in science,
there needs to be a related paradigm shift in theology away from
previously-held old earth interpretations of scripture. After putting forward his
arguments for accepting YEC and a literal hermeneutic of Genesis,
he concluded, “There is only one way for massive intellectual, moral and
cultural healing to occur, and it entails a revolutionary ‘paradigm shift’
from mythological evolution to a Scripturally revealed and scientifically
realistic paradigm of special, divine creation” (Kelly, 1997, p. 245). His
arguments on science reflect conventional YEC understandings of science,
but his theological arguments need considering.
Douglas Kelly
Kelly begins with a chapter entitled Creation: Why it Matters, which is
strongly based on the Scottish theologian Tom Torrance and standard
writers on the history of science and Christianity—Hooykaas, Jaki, etc.
though none doubts the “evolutionary paradigm.” However he doesmove
on to the challenge to evolution posed by Johnson and Behe and concludes
the chapter by saying “God provides us with such information in the first
three chapters of Genesis . . . from the One was the eye-witness . . . ” (Kelly,
1997, p. 30). It is difficult not to conclude that Kelly, like many YECs, draws
his science from the Bible. I find it amazing that T F Torrance was Kelly’s Ph D supervisor, as Blocher, Lucas and I take a similar line to Torrance.
The center part of the book are discussions of the various days of creation.
Kelly argues against those who reject a 24-hour day for yom (Heb
day), and questions all alternative interpretative schemes whether “Gap
Theory,” Day-age or Framework. His weakest argument is to claim that
there are fifty-seven references to Genesis 1–11 in the New Testament and
that “[I]n none of these references . . . is there the slightest indication of
anything other than the literal, chronological understanding of the six
days of creation . . . ” (Kelly, 1997, p. 134).However, most of these references
have no bearing on a literal Genesis. At the end of the book Kelly
argues for no death before the fall (Kelly, 1997, p. 228f) from Genesis 1 vs
31, “And God saw that it was very good,” stating that “very good” means
no suffering or death and that this is in accord with Genesis 3, Romans 5
vs 12, Romans 6, and I Corinthians 15 vs 21.
On scientific questions Kelly accepts the consensus of YEC arguments.

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These include the moon dust argument, the circular reasoning of the Geological
Column, catastrophic deposition at Mt. St. Helens and others.

124

All have been shown to be fundamentally wrong. Whether or not one finds
Kelly’s arguments convincing, it is probably the best theological argument
for a YEC “paradigm.”

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Ernest Lucas
Lucas argues that standard science, whether cosmology, geology, or
evolutionary biology, are conformable to evangelical belief. He writes for
the well-informed layman and presents his case eirenically. The title Can
We Believe Genesis Today? (Lucas, 2001) is rhetorical. The first third of the
book deals with Biblical interpretation and stresses the variety of literary
forms before moving onto Genesis itself, as well as considering scientific
matters. Various young earth arguments like the decay of the magnetic
field are found wanting. Despite Lucas’ scientific credentials, he deals far
more with theological questions, and moves easily between science and
theology. Unlike Kelly, Lucas uses science to inform his interpretation
of scripture, and draws a parallel with the use of archaeology. He also
stresses how archaeological evidence has assisted in the understanding of
the Greek of the New Testament.4 In the New Testament there are several
Greek words, which were not found in classical texts and thus their meaning was
obscure, until some Greek documents were found in the nineteenth
century in Egypt, using these words, revealing the meaning. Lucas (2001,
pp. 61–62) argued that the principle behind this is the same as using science
to illuminate the meaning of scripture as it is using the best available
knowledge. His next two chapters apply this approach to Genesis.
Lucas is the antithesis of Kelly and comes to a diametrically opposed
conclusion. These two books are highlight the theological division within
Evangelicalism and are instructive as both are accessible to both the nonscientist
and nontheologian.

Henri Blocher
Blocher’s books represent evangelical theology at its best. In the Beginning
is an extended study on the first three chapters of Genesis. His aim is
theological but makes reference to science and refers to scholars from both
sides of the Atlantic, Protestant and Roman Catholic. His approach is thematic
and provides a useful appendix on Scientific hypotheses and the beginning
of Genesis.On the creation week he outlines the various interpretations
and favors the Framework hypothesis. In his discussion of evil in Genesis
3 he is reluctant to posit that the Fall had any physical effects. Blocher was
familiar with YEC, but rejects it (Blocher, 1984, p. 214), preferring to accept
standard science with reservations about evolution. Philosophical extensions
of science have no appeal for him. Blocher’s book has been widely
used by evangelicals but has come in for much criticismby YECs, like Douglas
Kelly (Kelly, 1997, pp. 115–120), who likens Blocher to a Mediaeval
Nominalist. The fact that Blocher was appointed to a chair atWheaton College
in 2003 demonstrates his acceptability to American Evangelicalism.

EVANGELICAL BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION FROM 1950
The postwar revival of Evangelicalism resulted in a renaissance of theological
scholarship. Many students went to mainstream universities in
the United States and Europe for a doctorate. A proportion broadened out
theologically and often were regarded to have gone liberal. Marsden has
made a good case study on this in his study of Fuller Theological Seminary
Reforming Fundamentalism (Marsden, 1987). In 1949 the Evangelical
Theological Society was founded in the United States, which insisted on
inerrancy for membership and at about the same time the Theological Students
Fellowship and the Tyndale Fellowship were founded in Britain, which
significantly did not.
Whereas in 1950 there were few notable evangelical biblical scholars,
there are now considerable numbers as well as innumerable Ph.Ds in theology.
As a result an immense volume of evangelical theology of varying
quality is published. Some theologians drifted away from Evangelicalism
and at times made a name in the scholarly world, as have James Barr
and Maurice Wiles in Britain and Bart D. Ehrman in the United States.
Of the many who remained in the evangelical fold, their theological perspectives
vary greatly. The more liberal, who adopt a conservative critical
approach, are often indistinguishable from conservative non-evangelical
scholars. An example is Bishop Tom Wright the New Testament scholar.
At the other extreme some have scarcely moved from a fundamentalist
perspective with an insistence on fanciful typology, an Ussher chronology
and a literal Genesis. Hence today there is a great diversity of Old Testament
interpretation, with an immense diversity on how Genesis should be
understood.

CONTEMPORARY EVANGELICAL BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP
Over the last fifty years there has been a growing number of competent
evangelical biblical scholars. New Testament scholars have been far more
numerous than Old Testament scholars and include F. F. Bruce, I. H.
Marshall, R. Bauckham, R. P. Martin. J. D. G. Dunn and N. T. Wright (now
Bishop of Durham) from Britain and G. E. Ladd, Ward Gasque, Joel Green,
G. Fee, and T Schreiner from across the Atlantic. Fewer Old Testament
scholars have gained distinction in Old Testament studies. This is because
the text and the history of the Old Testament are not as straightforward
as the New Testament. The Old Testament text itself is often unclear and
any translator or exegete has to cope with that, along with questions of
historicity and authorship. This means that it is harder to regard the text
as authoritative and inerrant. Consequently Old Testament scholars often
find that they cannot subscribe to an evangelical basis of faith about the
Bible. Even so there are numbers of evangelical Old Testament scholars
publishing competent work. These contribute to the commentary series
such as the Tyndale and Word Old Testament commentary series and the
multivolume IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament.
There is no one evangelical perspective of the Old Testament. The most
conservative insist on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, that the
OT history is precise and retain Ussher’s 1656 chronology of the Old Testament
with the Flood occurring in 2473 BC, the unity of Isaiah, etc. At the
other extreme the more liberal evangelical accept that the Pentateuch was
compiled centuries after Moses, the OT is only generally historical, the
Flood was local if it occurred. Needless to say that there is an inerrancy
divide here. Apart from implications on how archaeology impinges on the
Old Testament, there are very different understandings on how science
relates to early Genesis and thus I consider a selection of writers on this.
I have put these writers into three cohorts based entirely on their acceptance
or not of geological time. Because of the evangelical understanding
of scripture, evangelicals do not take the position of many liberal scholars,
for whom Genesis is not historical. Barr, for example, argues that though
the original authors of Genesis thought that the days of Genesis One were
solar days, the Bible is clearly wrong on this point, but it still has theological
value. This is anathema to the conservative evangelical. This is John
Whitcomb’s argument in The Genesis Flood (Morris and Whitcomb, 1961,
chap. 6) where he posits “a scriptural framework for historical geology.”
At the popular level many expositions of Genesis argue for six solar
days as the “true” interpretation. More serious studies are rare. One of
the most influential is Douglas Kelly’s Creation and Change (Kelly, 1997).
In 2003 John Currid, Carl McMurray Professor of Old Testament at the
Jackson campus of the Reformed Theological Seminary, published a two
volume commentary on Genesis for the Evangelical Press Study Commentary
Series. This is an academic commentary making much use of the
Hebrew text. Currid argues for six solar days and a global Flood as the best
interpretation, but unusually for a conservative maintains that the firmament
of Genesis 1 vs 6–8 was a solid dome, and that is what the author
of Genesis (Moses) thought along with a belief in a flat earth, which was
typical of ancient Egyptian cosmology. In this he followed the work of
Seely discussed below. No Old Testament theologian has done more to
encourage evangelicals to accept a literal Genesis than the coauthor of The
Genesis Flood, John Whitcomb.
At the other end of the evangelical spectrum, some reject both literalism
and concordist interpretations. Instead they adopt a “framework”
interpretation, which understands the six days as thematic rather than
chronological. Arie Noordzij of the University of Utrecht first used it as an
interpretive tool for Genesis 1 in 1924, and Meredith Kline of Westminster
Theological Seminary developed it in “Because it had not rained”(Kline,
1958). Kline wrote as an exegete rather than an apologist, that a chronological
six-day creation does not fit with Genesis 2 vs 5 (because it had not
rained). As he was loath to admit to contradiction between “two creation
accounts” or that early Genesis was legendary or mythical, he recognized
“the figurative NATURE of the several chronological terms of Genesis 1”
and argued that the author “used the imagery of a chronological week to
provide a figurative framework” for the creation acts. Kline later developed
this in Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony (Kline, 1996). Kline’s
thesis has been widely accepted by many evangelicals, especially those
convinced of geological time, but has been criticized bymore conservative
theologians like Wayne Grudem (Grudem, 1994, pp. 302–305), where he
summarizes the framework hypothesis and its alleged problems. Grudem
is also critical of evolutionary theory and inclines to YEC. Ken Hamis also
critical in his AIG booklet Six Days or Millions of Years? However Kline did
not intend to open the floodgates for evolution and many orthodox Presbyterians
(especially members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and
the Presbyterian Church of America) hold to the framework hypothesis
but deny evolution.
Despite many criticisms, a form of framework hypothesis is followed
by several leading evangelical scholars in their commentaries on Genesis;
Gordon Wenham (Word Commentary), Bruce Waltke (Genesis: A Commentary,
Zondervan), John Walton (NIV Application Commentary, Zondervan),
and Conrad Hyers in various writings. One of the most accessible
expositions is by Henri Blocher in his work In the Beginning (Blocher, 1984,
chap. 2). For an evangelical who is inclined to accept evolution, the Framework
theory is attractive as there is no need to devise any chronological
concordance with six days.
Declining numbers still hold to either the “Gap Theory” or a “Day Age
Theory,” but they are between a rock and a hard place as they claim to be
literalist. Both appear to have been largely eclipsed after the rise of YEC.
The main scholar who holds to the Day age is Gleason Archer. Two nontheologians
who argue for this are Glenn Morton, whose apostasy from
YEC is discussed in Chapter 7, and Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe, who
has expounded the day-age theory at length in his recent book A Matter of
Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy (Ross, 2004) and has received virulent
criticism from Answers in Genesis. Davis Young held to a Concordist
Day Age view in the 1970s (Creation and the Flood (Young, 1977, pp. 81–
134), but now has adopted the framework theory. The physicist turned
theologian Robert Newman and Herman Eckelmann Jr. also argue for this
(Newman and Eckelmann, 1977) in as does John Wiester (Wiester, 1983).
Older writers include Peter Stoner and Edwin Gedney in Chapters 2 and 3
of Modern Science and Christian Faith by members of theAmerican Scientific
Affiliation (Everest, 1950, pp. 9–57). Few today argue for the Gap Theory
and the last significant evangelical to do so was Arthur Cunstance. The
Gap Theory is strongly criticized by YEs, most notably by Weston Fields.
It is significant that the Day Age theory today is held by evangelicals, who
are OEC rather than YEC or TE.
These three views still cause considerable debate among American evangelicals
and a useful discussion is to be found in the book The Genesis Debate:
Three Views on the Days of Creation (Duncan et al., 2000). Three pairs of authors
put forward their case and respond to the others. J. Ligon Duncan
III and David Hall for solar days, Gleason Archer and Hugh Ross for the
Day Age, and Lee Irons and Meredith Kline for the Framework Theory.
In the blurb, Geisler stated “The Genesis Debate is a worthwhile volume
that will help you better understand the biblical doctrine of creation.”
Even so, it is wrong to assume that adherence to a literal Genesis blinds
the scholar to critical study of the Bible. David Fouts of the YEC Bryan
College argues that the large numbers in the Old Testament are polemical
hyperbole and thus are not to be taken literally (Fouts, 1997). However he
still maintains that Creation occurred in 144 hours.
As a rider these three views they also tend to reflect “three views”
on science. Those who accept evolution tend to accept the Framework
Hypothesis as do many in the ASA or Christians in Science, Day Age
appeals to Old Earth creationists who reject evolution, and the Solar Day,
not surprisingly, appeals to YECs. The Gap Theory is in eclipse.

 

From my book Evangelicals and Science 2008

Weird Worldview Warriors take on 350 years of geology.

In August 2018 I was asked to write of blog entitled

10 questions to ask a young earth creationist

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/10-questions-to-ask-a-young-earth-creationist-premier-christianity/

It was fairly basic focussing on creationist flaws and then to my amusement an Amercian Steven Risner devoted several blogs on it in worldviewwarriors.blogspot.com. I presume he meant keyboard warriors. I just luv werldvew warriers!! It’s so pretentious!  He came about with the usual young earth stufff,

Jacobus_ussher

but more recently focussed on who geologists have got their geology wrong for 350 years. I suppose most geologists are plain thick to do this. According to Risner there have a succession of thicko geologists teaching at all the universities of the world, from Oxford to the University of Lower Piddle in Dorset and are blissfully unaware that all their teaching is based on false assumptions. How thick can the Goulds, Lord Oxburghs, Arthur Holmes , Tuzo Wilsons and the rest be? They should have more perception.

So let’s consider Steven Risner’s gems of critical thinking.

http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.com/2019/04/why-are-all-geologists-wrong.html

He posted this on 11th April and he may wonder why I spent so long in replying. My first delay was due to Holy Week and the business for a priest in that week and I’m sure he’d approve of that. (Maybe I am an imposter!) And then a bit of time off!!

Why do you claim that so many geologists in the last 350 years got their geology wrong?

As is my custom, I try to answer short and sweet if possible. This has more than one answer that’s fairly obvious, at least to me.The first one is that the last 350 years of geological study disagrees with the Bible’s clear teaching on earth’s history. It doesn’t get any more obvious. However, the second answer is a little more detailed.

Over the last 350 years, geologists frequently have started their observations of the evidence with the wrong assumptions. These assumptions force geologists to interpret the evidence a particular way. Those assumptions are that of deep time and that there was no global Flood as described by the Bible. If we reject the clear teachings of the Word of God, how can we even suggest we are following the God of the Bible? Sure, many of these old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists will say they accept Christ’s teachings and the apostles’ teachings, but why? If we reject some of it, what standard do we use to know if we should accept what the Bible says in one place and reject other parts? I’m seriously asking. If the answer is “science,” then we’re lost already.

The bottom line is this: if your worldview places the authority of science (or in this case what you mistakenly believe is science) over that of Scripture and you use that so-called science to determine how the Bible is to be interpreted, you’ve placed something before the authority God has over you. This is especially true if those portions of Scripture you’re choosing to reinterpret based on your view of nature are major foundational points of the Christian faith.

Now there is a lot here but our warrior makes three points

  1. He assumes the Bible has a clear view of earth history
  2. Geologists start with wrong assumptions that there is Deep time and no global Flood
  3. Geologists place the authority over that of scripture

If he is right then the whole of geology must be rejected as intellectual codswollop. If even one is partly true then all geology is nullified

Now to consider his main points in turn

  1. He assumes the Bible has a clear view of earth history

The first one is that the last 350 years of geological study disagrees with the Bible’s clear teaching on earth’s history.

This is a standard appeal from Young Earthers that the Bible is absolutely clear on the earth’s history. Yet apart from the claims that  Genesis 1 and a few psalms (poetry) speak of earth history, the Bible says nothing that could even considered as earth history, and even that is questionable, as all have either a poetic or stylistic form There is simply nothing of the earth’s history in the Bible, and those who claim there is do not read the Bible for what it is. It is like going to Genesis to find the Periodic Table. On early Genesis there is no consensus down the two millennia on what it means beyond God as creator, with some taking Genesis one as something other than a historical account. Augustine simply regarded the whole of Creation as instantaneous and not spread over six days. Further there was no consideration over the time of earth history until proto-geologists started to consider the order of strata. A little thinking would show that there couldn’t have been.

It was only in the 1680s that questions were raised about time. Before that there was much vagueness but a tendency to a shortish chronology. Even Calvin who assumes a young earth gives us no earth history. Seventy years later the Roman Catholic Fr Mersenne is his literally mammoth commentary gives no earth history either. It was memorable reading Mersenne in Latin as the volume was so large – about 24 in x 15 ins x 5ins.

So none of these learned clerics give us earth history, and the the Theories of the Earth at the end of the 17th century give no coherent account because they are so variable.

Oh for a clear view of Biblical Earth History!!

2.Geologists start with wrong assumptions that there is Deep time and no global Flood

Over the last 350 years, geologists frequently have started their observations of the evidence with the wrong assumptions. These assumptions force geologists to interpret the evidence a particular way. Those assumptions are that of deep time and that there was no global Flood as described by the Bible.

 

Now that is a bold statement! As these putative assumptions have gone back 350 years we should be able to identify who put them forward. And so someone or a group of savants decided sometime after 1660 to argue  WITHOUT EVIDENCE, as it was an assumption, for Deep Time and the absence of a Global Flood. If it were so pervasive, then historians could identify the culprits. I claim to have read a vast number of writers from 1660 onwards on geology (and its relationship to Christianity), yet I have failed to find one possible suspect. Better historians of geology, like Rudwick and Ellenberger have been equally unsuccessful.  If Risner’s claim were true, then all of us would have found several examples where a writer made a garatuitous assumption of Deep Time. At best this is arguing from lack of evidence, or is it simply codswollop?

The period 1660 to 1710 is pivotal in the study of earth history from Nils Steno through John Ray to the Theories of the Earth and the known and unknown William Hobbs. Before 1660 virtually none had any inkling of Deep Time. Here James Ussher was reflecting the views of most with an age for the earth of about 6000 years. Yes, he argued for 4004BC and others went for some date within a thousand years of so of his date – including Sir Walter Raleigh, who wrote a history of the world while waiting execution. There was not much geological research in the 1610s!!

Having read many works from this period, I found no example of an assumption of Deep time , but rather the opposite. In fact, all savants in the late 17th century made the tentative assumption that the earth was young and Ussher’s figure of 4004BC was in the right order and that the global Flood had laid down the strata. They went into the field with that in mind and initially interpreted the strata according to their assumptions and gradually many found that the evidence went against their assumption of a young earth, so corrected them!

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The earliest example of question the young earth and global assumption I have found is the Oxford scholar Edward Lhwyd, who was a good friend of Rev John Ray.

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See this for detail where referring to Lhwyd’s letter to Ray

The Royal Society of London, founded in 1660, epitomised the flowering of science both in Britain and the continent. The work of Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton and others in physics and chemistry needs no introduction. Less well-known is the natural history of John Ray (1627-1705), Edward Lhwyd (1660-1709) and others. The period also saw the beginnings of a scientific study of the earth and their findings were published in turgid volumes known as “Theories of the Earth”. On a first reading these seem to be a literal reading of Genesis stories with a few semi-scientific glosses. A closer read shows them to be more profound as they meld together the Bible, the classics, almost mediaeval “book” learning with the citing of endless authorities and scientific insight in a Chaos-Restitution interpretation of Genesis One. Here they shared the outlook of most theologians (except Ussher!) and literary writers such as Thomas Traherne and Alexander Pope. Instead of taking the Creation story to teach creation in six short days, writers, following an interpretation going back to the early Church Fathers, claimed from Genesis (Chapter one verse one) that God first created Chaos (without form and void) and after an interval recreated it in six days. The duration of Chaos was undefined. With Ussher it was twelve hours, but for most it was a long and unspecified duration.  Some, notably Thomas Burnet (1635?-1715), Edmond Halley (1656-1742) and William Whiston (1667-1752), reckoned the days to be more than twenty-four hours. Halley attempted a calculation of the age of the earth from the sea’s salinity, but came to no firm conclusions other than it was tens of thousands of years old. Likewise theological writers of the day; Bishop Simon Patrick (1626-1707) reckoned that God first created Chaos and then later re-ordered it in Six Days. He said of the duration of Chaos, ‘It might be … a great while;…’ Few accepted Ussher’s date of 4004 BC for the initial Creation, though most accepted that humanity first appeared in about the year 4000 BC, hence the general acceptance of the rest of Ussher’s chronology. The extension of time by the “Theorists” and contemporary theologians was minute compared to the billions of years of geological time, but was, as Stephen Gould wrote of Whiston’s argument that the day of Genesis one was a year long was, “a big step in the right direction.” In Britain the way was open for a longer time-scale.

Fossils and Geology

Not until the late 17th Century were “formed stones” or fossils recognised as imprints of dead creatures rather than formed as “sports of nature” in place. Only then could “fossils” be used to demonstrate former life and it took a century before the succession of fossils was used to put strata into historical order. Possibly the first person who used the succession of fossils to demonstrate evolution was Charles Darwin in a notebook in 1838, shortly before he “discovered” Natural Selection. In the 1690s there were insufficient grounds to suggest “Deep Time” or the continual reworking of the earth’s crust as understandings of erosion were rudimentary. Ray, Whiston and others cannot be expected to have done otherwise.

Most of the writers had some “scientific” understanding and often spent as much time refuting each other as suggesting new ideas. Some were mostly speculative, as was Thomas Burnet’s The Theory of the Earth. Despite his devotion to the Deluge, he sought to explain phenomena naturalistically and somewhat extended the duration of Genesis One. John Ray’s Miscellaneous Discourses concerning the dissolution of the worldshows the beginning of careful observation on earth processes and questions over geological time. After reading the first edition of Ray’s Miscellaneous Discourses, Lhwyd wrote to Ray on 30 February 1691, ‘Upon the reading on your discourse of the rains continually washing away and carrying down earth from the mountains, it puts me in mind…which I observed’, and then described what he had observed in Snowdonia. He described innumerable boulders which had “fallen” into the Llanberis valleys. (Most of these are glacial erratics.) As ‘but two or three that have fallen in the memory of any man…, in the ordinary course of nature we shall be compelled to allow the rest many thousands of years more than the age of the world.’ Ray commented on Lhwyd’s findings and seemed deliberately to avoid facing the logic of Lhwyd’s comments. He nailed his colours firmly to the fence, and did not explicitly reject an Ussher chronology. However from his discussion of Chaos and other comments, it is fair to conclude that he accepted that the earth was considerably more than five-and-a-half thousand years old, but left the reader to decide.

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An erratic block in Nant Peris, Snowdonia, near where Lhwyd had his ideas. They are scattered both along the floor and sides of the valley. Occasionally a higher one may roll dwon, but I can think of no example recently.

And so some thought time might be less shallow. They had no assumption of deep or shallow time, but carried out geological investigations, starting with a tentative young earth.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century a large number of theories of the Earth were  published, mostly in Britain by writers such as Burnet, Whiston, Woodward, Ray and Hobbes (Roberts 2002, pp. 144–150). These were an attempt to rationalize the early history of the earth into six days to uphold the text of Genesis. The authors allowed an indefinite time for chaos and combined Genesis, classical writings, scientific observation and speculation into a fascinating melange of ideas. Burnet wrote of the indefinite
chaos, ‘so it is understood by the general consent of commentators’ (Burnet 1681, chap IV, p. 30) and the commentator Bishop Patrick wrote of the duration of chaos that ‘(I)t might be a great while’ (Patrick 1854, Vol. 1, pp. 1–3). Exactly how long chaos lasted was never made explicit. Most accepted that the ‘days’ of Genesis 1 were of  twenty-four hours duration, but Burnett and Whiston argued that each day of creation could have been a year in duration and the obscure William Hobbs suggested an even longer time basing his ideas on 2 Peter 3:8; ‘one day is as a thousand years’ and ‘I say, why may not one such day, be equall to many years’ (Hobbs 1979, p. 110). Writing about Whiston (Whiston 1696), who extended each day to a year, Stephen Gould said that this ‘was a big step in the right direction’ (Gould 1991, p. 372).

These remarks lifted from two of my published chapters show there was no dogmatic assumption of either Deep Time or a young earth in the late 17th century, but rather savants trying to make sense of the rocks they saw and beginning to stumble towards Deep Time as a result of their research. They started with an initial assumption of a young earth, as that was the culture they lived in. Slowly they changed their minds . They were gradually wading out to deeper water from the shallows.

What we have is that early geologists/savants took their working assumptions form the prevalent culture, hence they initially started with a young earth and found that what they observed in rocks did not fit. Lhwyd is an example – even though the many boulders in Nant Peris had not rolled down the hillsides but were transported by glaciers. He gives an excellent example on how geologists were thinking things through

Because of this I never mock Ussher or anyone else from that period who tended to accept a young earth. They were excellent scholars for their day and slowly worked out details of geological time.

As we move into the 18th century more and more “geologists” became convinced of a deeper time, though there was still considerable variance of conclusions. Thus Hutton, of unconformity fame

Angular Unconformity at Siccar Point, Scotland. Siccar Point, Scotland (Photo: Wikipedia “Hutton’s Unconformity”)

accepted a vast amount of time of many millions, whereas J. A. de Luc seemed to accept only hundreds of thousands. A minority like Kirwan still held to thousands. Among the geologically literate few held to a young earth by 1800 and those who did were changing their minds. One was William Smith who worked out how to relatively date rocks by fossils in the 1790s, he produced a succession of strata in historical order and the fist geological map ever of a country (England and Wales) in 1815, which was remarkably accurate by todays’ standards..

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Yet in the 1790s he was young earth not for dogmatic reasons. In ten years he realised the earth was old – probably due to his mentors the Revs Samuel Richardson and Joshua Townsend, who as Christian clergy accepted an old earth! Then James Parkinson d1824 – the first to diagnose Parkinson’s disease – wrote the first volume of Organic remains of a former world in 1804. There he described the earth as some 6000 years old. But four years later in volume ii , he explicitly avowed an ancient earth.

Did they change their assumptions or were they following the evidence? I’d say they modified their working assumptions as they went along, and had the nouse to do so.

Smith and Parkinson show the gradual shift over geological time, and  with only one or two exceptions all competent in geology accepted Deep Time well before 1820. It is instructive to see how Christian writers changed their views over time. Thus Dean Close of Carlisle was young earth in the 1820s and fully accepted Deep Time by 1850. Thre are many other examples.

This shows a slow gathering awareness of Deep Time from 1680. By 1800 Shallow Time was a thing of the past.

As usual Answers in Genesis in the incarnation of Mortenson argue that the church compromised.

https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/old-earth/deep-time-and-churchs-compromise-historical-background/

As for a Global Flood, most savants in the 17th century simply assumed a Global Flood, as did most theologians. However William Poole in his Commentary argued for a local flood and our unknown William Hobbs refused to grant geological efficacy to the Deluge. This continued right into the 19th century.

Willaim Smith accepted a global flood which laid down the most recent strata as did many others until the 1830s. Most interesting is William Buckland who wrote Reliquiae Diluvianae in 1823. There he limited flood deposits to the uppermost strata, which today are seen as pleistocene. The volume was dedicated to his mentor Bishop Shute Barrington of Durham, who was then a crusty and conservative reactionary octagenarian bishop! (I think he holds the record for the time he was a bishop.) On theology he looked to evangelical scholars like John Bird Sumner. Buckland held on to diluvialism right up to the 1840s and at Oxford are some of his almost illegible musings of the flood in relation to glaciation written in the 1840s.

To sum up, Risner fails to identify who made these assumptions of Deep Time, which would guide all geological thinking. He produces no evidence for his claims.

WHO MADE UP THE ASSUMPTION OF DEEP TIME?

I could say more but you could read Davis Young’s The Biblical Flood. or the Bible, Rocks and Time

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3. Geologists place the authority over that of scripture

The bottom line is this: if your worldview places the authority of science (or in this case what you mistakenly believe is science) over that of Scripture and you use that so-called science to determine how the Bible is to be interpreted, you’ve placed something before the authority God has over you. This is especially true if those portions of Scripture you’re choosing to reinterpret based on your view of nature are major foundational points of the Christian faith

This needs to be reworded;

The bottom line is this; if your worldview places the authority of science…………. under your inconsistent interpretation of Scripture……

This many Creationists cannot see. They force their literal view of scripture onto Scripture. This was challenged 500 years ago by Calvin and his view of accommodation.

The period of the Reformation resulted in a more rigorous biblical interpretation with an emphasis on the literal, or plain, rather than allegorical, meaning of scripture. This  inclined most theologians and savants to understand the ‘day’ of Genesis Chapter 1 as of twenty-four hours and thus the earth to have been created in about 4000 BC, be they Luther, Calvin, Mercator, Raleigh or Columbus. Despite the emphasis of both Roman Catholic and Protestant exegetes on the ‘literal’ meaning of Scripture, this ‘literalism’ never went to the extreme of insisting on a flat earth, which is demanded by a literal reading of Genesis 1:6–8, and Exodus 20:4. In fact, very few Christian theologians had ever considered the earth to be flat, a myth demolished by Russell (Russell 1991).  Literalism was tempered by ‘accommodation’. This refusal to adopt a slavish literalism can be seen clearly in Calvin’s understanding of the accommodation of Scripture. In 1554, eleven years after Copernicus published De revolutionibus, Calvin published his commentary on Genesis in Latin. Calvin

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made no reference here, nor probably anywhere else, to the Copernican theory, but he stressed that Genesis was not written to teach astronomy. As he dealt with the Mosaic description of the firmament of Genesis 1 he wrote, ‘He, who  would learn astronomy and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere’ (Calvin 1847, p. 79). He considered the firmament of Genesis 1:6–8, not to be the solid crystalline dome, which is implied by Egyptian astronomy, but a representation of rain clouds, because ‘nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world’ (Calvin 1847, pp. 69–88). Calvin was wrong at this point as most ancients considered the firmament to be a solid dome. But he considered that Moses accommodated himself to the limitations of human thought and as Calvin commented on Genesis 1:15, ‘For as it became a theologian, he had respect to us rather than the stars’. Calvin approached his task with Ptolemean assumptions of a spherical rather than a flat earth. He also did not question a 6000- year-old earth nor a universal flood. Calvin’s  accommodating interpretation eased the path for many Calvinists to accept  Copernicanism, with  the result that some Roman Catholics referred to the ‘Calvino–Copernican’ theory. In the following centuries Calvin’s doctrine of  accommodation allowed devout Protestants to accept the findings of science, whether astronomy or geology, without the rejection of the authority or the teaching of scripture (Hooykaas 1972, pp. 114–130).

Calvin’s idea of ACCOMMODATION shows there is no theological objection to an ancient earth as the Bible is not written to give that information, but rather is ACCOMMODATED to the thought forms of the time it was written.

The most apt quote is that of Calvin

He, who  would learn astronomy and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere’

We go elsewhere on most things. Trivially I do not go to the bible to find out how to fix my bicycle, nor when I should plant certain seeds or prune plants. Calvin was clear, the bible is not a source for astronomy – and we can add, any other science.

Behind Calvin’s comment is that we need to know where biblical authority lies and what for. There are so many things which the bible does not mention and thus we do not go to it to see whether we should use oak or balsawood for the framework of a house. !! Nor will it tell us whether coal or gas is a better fuel. It goes on.

To most Christians the Bible is the ultimate authority, but for moral and theological principles and not details on science, mechanics or gardening. However on ethical issues we are not given blanket rules but ideas to give as Middle Axioms as William Temple called them. This is clear in his Christianity and Social Order. Thus a National Health Service as in Britain is not prescribed by biblical authority, but the principles of love of neighbour and even some OT teaching we can see it as an outworking of biblical teaching and authority. Hey I’m going to be called an extreme socialist for this!!

By claiming this Risner actually destroys the authority of scripture as it then is seen to be risibile.

I look to the authority of the Bible on what is revealed about Jesus Christ and why I should love my neighbour, not tell lies or steal etc, but not whether Lyell, Buckland or Steno gives me the better basis for geology, or which month I should plant my runner bean seeds.

For all normal Christians the Bible is the authority for doctrine and ethics, but not whether fish preceeded dinosaurs on this planet.

Risner has a perfect way of undermining the authority of the Bible

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