I enjoyed your blog post. Sailhamer makes a very similar (but slightly different) argument about the difference between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Fascinating!]]>
“As a college pastor for four years, and a pastor of a ‘young’ church–I’ve seen students walk away from their faith over these issues. Christian college students are forced to bifurcate the Bible and science as if that were the only way to follow Christ. That’s the real issue that upsets me–they don’t have to do that.”
We’re on the same wavelength! Thanks for sharing, brother.]]>
I’m not as well read at the books you quote, So I’m not qualified to argue the subject from the Biblical perspective.
However, I have always been frustrated with churches that force its parishioners into having to divorce their exploration of the scientific world from their walk with Christ. I have always been of the mind that knowledge of the natural world enhances our wonder at Christ, not diminishes.
When I went to Christian Assembly at Eagle Rock, I presented in a series they put together called “Science and Faith”, in which people inside the church talked about research they were a part of.
It was gratifying to inform other people, as well as eye opening to hear people talking about their faith in light of deep scientific work. The talk one gentleman gave on stem cells radically changed my viewpoint on the subject.]]>
Thanks for chiming in!]]>
If I can put in my $.02 ($.022 Canadian):
I’ve always believed that on the large things of Christianity, we must have agreement, and on the small things, grace. In my mind, this definitely falls under the latter.
However, its affects are not small, particularly as people get access to more technical knowledge, and are given the freedom in society to question precepts. The church after the renaissance has never really accepted anything of a scientific bend as anything more than an annoyance; something to be avoided or explained away. In my mind, this diminishes the idea of a God that built a whole universe and people because it delighted him.
About 15, I had a real crisis of faith, due to my knowledge that I was called to technical endeavors. (I was definitely not called to the ministry.) And just as you described, I had to reconcile my science knowledge with my Biblical upbringing, and the two seemed very much at odds.
Fortunately for me, God brought the right person into my life that would help me walk through this situation. She was, quite literally, a rocket scientist at Rocketdyne (Now Aerojet) in Canoga Park. (FYI, she was working on fuel pumps for the Space shuttle. They could empty a swimming pool in 10 seconds.)
After talking with her, and a few books, I became aware of a few things:
1) The story of creation lines up with the scientific view of the creation of the universe. Recently, I found myself watching “Cosmos” hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson. One of the things I found most interesting is that immediately after the big bang, there was no light. The gasses that were formed needed a few million years to coalesce and for fusion to ignite as stars. The idea of evolution follows that laid out in Genesis: (Darkness, then light, plants, fish, birds, creatures, etc.)
2) Jesus demonstrated that God’s methods are His and His alone. He does it His way because those are the methods He chooses to use. For us to say “no, God, you did it this way because of MY interpretation of the Bible” is supreme arrogance on the part of Man. It means that we bring God down to our level of understanding. To put it another way, Jesus didn’t take a scalpel to the eyes of the blind. He used mud. And saliva. Because that’s what he wanted to do.
3) We as Christians have been wrong a lot when it comes to things of a technical nature. Remember that for years, because of the interpretation regarding mankind as the crown of all creation, the church concluded that the rest of the universe MUST revolve around the Earth. I don’t think anyone would credibly take that viewpoint anymore. During the plague, Christians were killing cats because they were “familiars of witches”, which was what was OBVIOUSLY causing the plague. Ironically, those cats would have been killing the rats causing the plague. Details, details.
Conjecture about the beginning of time has the advantage that it isn’t anything that can be concluded by a simple photograph of the earth from the moon. However, if the mechanics regarding time estimation were not in place, the medium that we are arguing over would not be possible, as the internet relies on quantum mechanics in order to work. If the theory of quantum mechanics hold (and if you don’t think it does, you wouldn’t be capable of responding), the universe is ~13.8 billion years old.
4) God created the natural world because he LIKED it. Assuming for a second that the scientific viewpoint of the creation of the world and science are in harmony, the Big Bang happened inside of God’s will, before sin entered the world. If the entirety of time were compressed down to a year, the fall of man happened inside of the last minute of the last day.
5) God never instructs his people to be ignorant. The Word does say that God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He does NOT say that he will support the ignorant over the obvious. When you take the argument that only your interpretation of the Bible is correct, you are claiming ultimate wisdom while spewing ignorance, and confounding no one.
6) In regards to simian/human transition and Adam, my personal point of view is that evolution could have happened, but there is no way that the step from Simian to Sapian could have been made without guidance. In order for an evolutionary jump to be made, it relies on genetics from one strain being inferior to another, thus propagating genes. As Simians and Sapians can co-habitate without issue, competitive genetics don’t seem to be in place. I believe that the competitive lines of the other scientific “Homo” lines (I.E. Homo erectus, Homo antecessor, Homo gautengensis) were paths to our line (Homo Sapian). I believe God put us on that line in order to bring us to enough intelligence to be able to relate to us. Just as parents watch their kids gain in knowledge, and relate to them better as they get older.
I believe that Adam was a demark point; it was at this point that we as a species gained enough intelligence for God to set things up in the garden, as we had amassed enough intelligence to be put in the same area as the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. To do less would be cruel, as that means that God placed the fate of mankind in the hands of a being incapable of understanding the full extent of what was going on (of course, some would claim that is exactly what He did with Adam and Eve, as they were incapable of grasping what was going on).
Again, my views on evolution is just my opinion. I will not defend them.
But to say “Nope, we were created 144 hours after the start of the universe, and there is no other interpretation” leaves out the age of dinosaurs, Neanderthals, etc. Like it or not, these things are fact. Dinosaurs did roam the earth at one point. Genetics have proven the existence of skulls as those of Neanderthals, a line of species that were similar, but competitive to Homo Sapians.
You do realize that if the age of the dinosaurs were shrunk down to the 8000 year old earth model, that means that the Good Samaritan had to worry about robbers and Velociraptors in equal measure, right?
All this to say, we can cover our eyes and say “because my interpretation of the Bible doesn’t agree with the universe, I choose to believe the universe is invalid.” Or, we can take the viewpoint of “In light of this new discovery, what light does this shine on The Word?”
We are objects of His whimsy. I’m sure Chris delights as Abby discovers the outside world. Evidently the zoo plays a large part in that… In much the same way, I believe our Father delights in our discoveries of the world He created for us.
I don’t think that Job 26:7 was unintentional. I think it was a wink from our creator acknowledging that He knows what we would discover, and that he is waiting for us to discover more.]]>
How do you think the original hearers would have understood Genesis 1?
I think there are a number of ways to answer this; both Sailhamer’s and Walton’s book on Genesis do a thorough job with that. They also believe that Genesis is literal and historical, but that modern interpretations get injected into the authors intent.
What is it that brings you to an Old Earth position? Also, if don’t mind elaborating further, what is the connection (concern, perhaps) with young adults and creation.
I think I can answer both of these questions at once. The reason I began looking at the OE position is (I think) connected to the problem many young adults have with Young Earth Creationism: It sometimes feels like it is imposing a pre-held scientific viewpoint onto its interpretation of the text. In that way, it almost feels a little dishonest to me (not for all YEC’s, of course). I know, I know…imposing a scientific view on the Scriptures is the very thing OEC gets called on! But personally, I feel like I am open to having my scientific views corrected by Scripture, and it seems like OEC authors encourage that. So to answer your question, what brought me to an OEC position is that I felt like the Scriptures were being honored the most by it.
It’s remarkable to read Wayne’s explanation in his Systematic Theology of Young Earth and then to basically conclude, “science tells us otherwise, so we better go with that”.
I agree…we should not let scientific ‘discoveries’ usurp or dictate our interpretation of Scripture. I think both sides are constantly in danger of this. But I also don’t think that we should completely disregard scientific discovery, which is also given to us by God to know truth (though it is not authoritative like Scripture). Don’t you think so? So as I mentioned in my post, if there is overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary of a popular, but peripheral, Christian belief, it should at least cause us to consider the possibility that our interpretation of the Scriptures is wrong in that case. That’s basically the case Walton and Sailhamer make.
“Mainly, the act of creation was primarily (although not solely) function and purpose and not material or form.”
Yeah! This is Walton’s thesis in his most popular book, The Lost World of Genesis One. I think it’s interesting that scholars like Walton are accused of “not taking the Bible literally” when, by uncovering the ancient context in Genesis, they seem to be taking it the most literally.
“Personally, one thing I have trouble reconciling is “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, death spread to all men, because all sinned” Rom 5:12. I believe that to be true but I don’t know where it would fit in OEC.”
You should check out Sailhamer’s Genesis Unbound. His position (historical creationism) allows for an old Earth while still maintaining that all humanity generated from an historical Adam and Eve.
In other words, we need to look to the future through ancient eyes as well…. but that’s something that I’m sure you’ll post at another time.
Why don’t you post it! I’ll read it :-)
Green eggs it is.]]>