more articles on the foundation of the universe and the interpretation of Genesis 1

First, Joel took exception to the idea that it is inconsistent to ignore whether Genesis 1 is history while embracing the historicity of the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ. He agrees that the text is historical. I think Joel’s contention is that the text is not purely historic, but has a theological purpose which should not be ignored. He’s also apparently been acosted by people who think that if anyone does not interpret the Bible as they do, then those people are not saved. This is certainly not the case for me – interpret the way you think best. :) I just happen to think the best way is using a historical, contextual, grammatical hermeneutic, where the plain language should be assumed to be what is meant unless there is a biblical reason to think otherwise. The intent is to not miss what was originally wirtten and intended. This does not mean we are to ignore the genre, ie., prophecy, poetry, etc. In fact, part of the idea behind using the grammar is to recognize the genre and the language used in the text so as to not miss what is there, which helps us us ascertain whether something is poetic, theological,  practical, factual, etc. And just because a particular passage is one of those things does not mean it can not be more of them them – or even all of them. It depends on the text.

Second, I HAVE to give props to this post: Young and Old Earth creation beliefs and origins. In particular, I found the comments as useful or even more useful than the actual post itself.

In the post itself, Rory wrote,

Long ages are a relatively recent phenomenon to justify evolutionary philosophy. I used to believe the day-age and/or gap models were credible, until I realized they had a number of linguistic and logical problems, and that my view was not based on the Bible’s language or historical views thereof, but simply to accommodate long age concepts. These models were constructed in the nineteenth century in an attempt to harmonize evolutionary dogma with the Biblical text. Long ages were touted as ‘proven’ by science, and therefore it seemed necessary to force the Bible’s language to conform to this supposed scientific fact even if this created linguistic, logical and historical inconsistencies.

Then he gave a listing of “Church Fathers Who Believed that This World Would Last 6,000 years”. He followed this by a listing of “Church Fathers Who Stated Belief in 24 hour Creation Days.” And he finished up his lists with one of “those who rejected literal 24-hour days still believed in a young earth” showing the age of the earth that various Church Fathers had calculated.

But he finished his post with an interesting and telling statement, when one is looking for information as to how Genesis 1 was interpreted historically:

I am unable to find any credible reference to a theologian prior to the 19th century who specifically suggested that the Genesis day was longer than 24 hours, or that the creation week was longer than seven days. It wasn’t until Darwinism started to take hold that this phenomenon occurred.

But perhaps even more interesting was something Rory wrote in one of his comments (emphasis mine):

The initial statement in Genesis 1:1 that “In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth” can also be perfectly translated “At the very beginning of time, God created space and matter” and what better simple way to describe a `black hole’ than the next verse “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep …” from which the Creator used to make the rest of the universe, ‘stretching out the heavens’ as He said many times? In my opinion, this almost surely reflects what is intended. The resulting cosmology is amazingly consistent with the Biblical record of Creation, and this black/white hole cosmology also provides a uniquely viable explanation for red shifts. If there was an intelligent Creator, He was certainly well aware of the physical laws He put in place and how to most effectively utilize their processes.

The basics of this cosmology have now been endorsed and refined by a prestigious scientific journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (see Smoller, J. and Temple, B, Shock-wave cosmology inside a black hole , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100(20):11216-11218, 30 September 2003).

There is no logical basis for dismissing this cosmology as a possibility even for unbelievers, since the only difference from conventional Big-Bang cosmology is a single assumption of boundedness, which is already present as a variable in existing equations. If anyone is truly interested in examining all scientific possibilities (i.e. in the true spirit of science), read Starlight and Time by Dr. Russell Humpheys, Ph.D. The author has worked for Sandia National Laboratories in nuclear physics, geophysics, pulsed power research, theoretical atomic and nuclear physics, and the Particle Beam Fusion Project, is extensively published in mainstream journals, and he examines the Bible text in uncompromising detail. After almost ten years of spurious attacks from evolutionists, there have been no errors found yet in his science, although of course evolutionists object to his theology.

I went and found the article in question online. Its pretty scientific, but you can go check it out for yourself (the abstract is free):

Shock-wave cosmology inside a black hole.

I also went looking for information on the book Rory mentioned, Starlight and Time by Dr. Russell Humpheys, and on Dr. Humphreys himself. I found these:

Physicist Dr. D. Russell Humphreys

Starlight Wars: Starlight and Time Withstands Attacks

The Unraveling of Starlight and Time

Apparently this physicist believes he has formulated an understanding of the origin of the universe that withstands attacks from disbelievers. This makes four different physcists of whom I know who are young earthers – and I know two of them personally. But there is apparently discagreement within the Christian community, between Old Earth Creationists and Young Earth Creationists.

And then in another comment, Rory wrote this:

Regardless of scientific discipline, projections about the age of the universe and Earth are founded on speculative assumptions that may or may not be true, since origins occurred before recorded history (except for the testimony of the Creator Himself in Genesis that is), and are not subject to the scientific method. Generally these include uniformitarianism, which assumes that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now, have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. Its methodology is frequently summarized as “the present is the key to the past,” because it holds that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the world, and the Bible seems to refute this directly in II Peter 3:3-6. If the Bible says today’s popular but completely unproveable assumption of uniformitarianism is wrong, projected timelines based on this assumption are also almost certainly wrong. Evolutionary geology is the foundation for much of this thinking, and another unproven and unproveable assumption is the initial compostition of the rocks – without knowing this there is no way of determining their age, in addition to the problem of the uniformitarian conjecture. Personally, I find the infallible eyewitness testimony of God infinitely more credible than fallible assumptions of men who weren’t there, such as Hutton or Lyell.

But I think this sums up very well everything concerning whether we can trust the Bible:

If there appears to be a contradiction between Scripture and science, then we are either misunderstanding Scripture or drawing false conclusions from scientific interpretations of data, or both. Many errors have historically been made in interpreting Scripture, and many errors have historically been made in interpreting science. However, the Scripture itself is perfectly accurate, and the perfection of its truth is not limited to man’s lack of understanding of it or of science. God created the Scriptures, as well as the very foundation and working of genuine science, so it is impossible for there to be even the minutest discrepancy from His (the real) perspective.

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7 Responses

  1. I would disagree with the ‘heaven and earth’ to ‘space and matter’ wording, because that is not what the bible actually says nor how they would have understood it.

    But the final paragraph is the perfect summation. It is not Scriptures that are faulty, but our understanding of them.

  2. W,
    This has gone a bit afield from the place of Creation. Since the reality of creation is synonymous with reality or nature, and too of the moment of creation (origination). If such a moment can be defined. As in Christianity, “talk” of creation speaks that God is the sole source of reality. And it stands in contrast to the poltheistic views of other creation myths. It is opposes especially the idea that the world is due to both a good and evil principle (dualism). As even the Platonic tradition, where there is the idea of demiurge, etc. And later gnosticism. In this sense we must have creation in God’s freedom, out of nothing…creatio ex nihilo. But God always transcends or surpasses the world, as the creator He is always prior to the world. So there are important creation ideas and reality in the Judeo-Christian Creation.

    I for one like the ideas of seeing God’s creation as thru the cosmological, or with beauty and intricacy. St. Paul argrued this at Mars Hill, (Acts 17:22-28). But again he argued for the doctrine of God, and the resurrection, (17:29-32).

    So Creation is really always more “theological” in the NT. Karl Barth wrote in his Church Dogmatics that the doctrine of creation has nothing to do with the natural sciences. Rather creation is to be understood in terms of the covenant between God and Israel. Science cannot add or detract from faith, nor can faith add to or detract from science. But at every moment my existence is dependent on God. And this is again rather is ontological in kind. But we can also go the other spectrum and find God in or thru the natural sciences. But Barth would perhaps be more biblical alone. But now ‘science’ and ‘theology’ are seen together, which is also fine, but perhaps and no doubt late on the scene. Anyway, again it is not either/or, but both.

    • Brother, the discussion concerning creation has never been whether it happend or even its deeper meaning. My discussion points have never been whether its theological, nor whether God is outside His creation (transcendent) or even whether God interacts with His creation (immanent). You and I agree on those issues.

      Paul and Jesus both took historical truth, found the theological truths inherent in the history, and applied them practically. I think we should do the same.

      My issue is whether the text can be or should be considered accurate (not necessarily detailed) and reliable (written by a reliable source and not deceitful).

      The second article I linked to showed an example of someone assuming the historicity and accuracy of the text and showing how others have done so and still do so – even into the scientific realm. I found that interesting.

  3. W,
    I know and agree, I was just placing emphasis again on the “theological”. Here I would agree and follow Barth somewhat. But again, as “Catholic” I also love the cosmological.

    I am just not as concerned with the apologetic, as perhaps you are. The Creation debates can be pounded, and we can still lose the central of the Incarnational and the Christological. Here really with the Resurrection is the most important! Note it was after Mars Hill, that St. Paul wrote 1 Cor.2: 1- 5.

  4. W,
    I know perhaps books by theologians are not your bag, but there is one that is right in the centre of this subject: The Last Word, Scripture And The Authority Of God – Getting Beyond The Bible Wars, by N.T. Wright. It was published in the UK as Scripture and the Authority of God. I came across the American version today (used). It is Harper 2006. It is very good! Tom Wright is very good on some subjects. This I think is one.

  5. W,
    Thinking more about Creation, which I fully believe is “historical”, but also bound in God. It cannot be immanentism alone, for in reality this is the pagan way. We can say that pagan naturalism assimilates man’s (history) to nature’s time, and feels the uniqueness of the self. But on the opposite the Greek-Oriental eternalism devaluates history as pure temporality and finds no place for the self. It is in biblical faith that self and history come into their own, for in biblical faith it is man’s “essential dignity” that he is a self and can have a history. Indeed, the two are really one: in biblical faith, human history is intrinsically personal, and the self is a historical structure. And can we not say that “biblical” man, seeing human existance as essentially historical strives to redeem history, though realizing that it is not in his time or by his hand that the work is completed.

    I am speaking somewhat philosopically, but I hope within the very idea of creation and history. Thus ‘faith is enacted as history.’ These are some of my old creation notes and the biblical notion of ‘Heilsgeschichte’ (redemptive history, “sacred history”). But he who understands the reality of human being in biblical terms will find no difficulty in understanding that the ultimate truth about human life and destiny, about man’s plight and man’s hope alike, is truly and expugnably historical, and can be expressed in no other way. And the structure of faith is a historical structure, because being, living, and acting are, in the biblical conviction, radically historical in character.

  6. Hi, you may also find my recent article interesting:

    The Fossil Record — Evolution Evidence or Creation Science?
    http://www.miraclesormagic.com/the-fossil-record-evolution-evidence-creation-science.html

    Best, Rory

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