Some Questions for Old-Earthers and Theistic Evolutionists

by Dave Miller on December 14, 2012 · 147 comments

William Thornton’s recent article has certainly been a discussion starter, hasn’t it? This is an article I wrote long ago (in blog years anyway) raising some questions about old-earth and theistic evolutionary viewpoints. I am reposting it here for a very simple reason: I don’t have anything else to post and I don’t have time to write something!  I made a few edits. 

I am assuming here that this is a discussion between those who have the highest view of scripture, who believe that the Bible is God’s Word to us without mixture of error and is our absolute guide and rule for all things.  Obviously, those who hold a lower view of scripture will not be inclined to think these kind of questions as worthy of discussion.

Here it is.  I have a hard time seeing how we can read the text of Genesis 1 and escape the conclusion that the intent of the author was to present a six-day special creation.  This idea seems to be assumed throughout the rest of scripture as well, but OT authors, by Jesus and by the Apostles.  I have some questions about the hermeneutics and exegesis of those who hold a high view of scripture but also advocate an old earth.

So, here are some comments and questions I would like to address to you good folks.

1)  Don’t sound hermeneutics lead us toward creationism and away from old-earth theories?

I remember my very liberal OT/Hebrew professor being asked a question about Genesis 1 – what did the author intend to teach?  He said there was little doubt that the author of Genesis 1 was intending to convey  the idea that the earth was created by divine fiat in six normal days relatively recently.  Because he had a low view of the scriptures, he was not bound by its meaning and intent.  But he said that it is clear that this is what the author meant.

“When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.”

That is a popular retelling of a key hermeneutical principle. We are to take scripture in its plainest, most natural sense. Isn’t the plain sense of Genesis 1 a special-creation model unaided by evolutionary processes and ages of time?  Isn’t the simplest, most natural interpretation of this passage the creationist interpretation?

What exegetical reasons do we have to abandon the plain-sense meaning and insert an old-earth model?

2)  Aren’t old-earth theories rooted in scientific theory instead of biblical exegesis?

Would anyone ever come up with day-age or theistic evolutionary theories simply from reading the text?  Don’t you arrive at those conclusions from other sources (ie. the pronouncements of Darwinian science which declares the young-earth creation impossible) and then go back and read them into the text?  Would exegesis alone lead you to those conclusions?

I understand that this is a quandary – fitting the biblical text into a scientific framework.  But it seems to me that the plain meaning of the Biblical text is in contradistinction to the dictates of science here.  You simply do not get day-age, old-earth or theistic evolution from the text.  Significantly, did anyone ever advance these old-earth theories before Darwin and the spread of evolutionary theory?  Science advanced a new understanding of human beginnings and people looked to find a way to fit that theory into the scriptures.  Isn’t that pretty much what happened?

The history of the church is replete with examples that demonstrate the dangers of forcing the scriptures to align with current thought.

3)  What textual clues do you find in Genesis 1 that indicate the passage of great eons of time?

I know many have appealed to the figurative use of the Hebrew word “day.”  Yes, it could refer to an epoch, in certain contexts.  But whenever the word appears matched to a number (such as “the third day”) it always refers to a normal day. In context, the word in Genesis 1 gives little support to the idea of the passage of time.

So, is there any exegetical or textual indication that Genesis 1 is referring to great epochs of time and not regular days?

4)  Don’t old-earth theories create some significant theological problems?

My biggest problem with the old-earth or theistic evolution positions is theological.  Old-earth scenarios by definition include death long before Adam and Eve.  But the Bible seems to present a different scenario.  God created a paradise in which death did not reign.  Then, sin entered God’s world and brought death as a consequence.  In Genesis 2:17, death is presented as a penalty for sin.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.  Romans 5:12

How do you account for Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12 (and other verses in Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15 and elsewhere) if death was an ever-present reality even before the entrance of sin?  Why do scriptures present the entrance of death into the world as a result of sin if death was already present for millions and billions of years prior to death and the curse?

5)  Isn’t the effort to combine these views in vain?

I remember something I heard a long time ago.

“God does not need evolution and evolution doesn’t need God.”

Seems to make sense to me.  Evolution is based on natural processes that work without divine intervention.  The God of Heaven could create a universe in an instant and has no need of millions of years of gradual change.  He doesn’t need evolution’s help.  It just seems to me that theism renders evolution unnecessary and evolution does the same to theism.  Theistic evolution and to a lesser extent other old-earth theories seem like a fruitless and pointless attempt to keep God involved an essentially naturalistic process.

Either God made the world or it is a process of evolution.

#6 (Additional Question) Doesn’t Old-Earth Theory Render the Curse in Genesis 3 Somewhat Empty?

After Adam and Eve fell into sin, God appeared to them in the Garden and pronounced the curse on sin, as well as the Protoevangelion. In Genesis 3:17-19, God speaks to Adam and places a curse on the ground – one that apparently was not there before.

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

What was the curse? If the world had existed for millions and billions of years with thorns and thistles and all the natural forces that we consider the fruit of sin, what curse did God give? Doesn’t Old Earth theory render this curse meaningless and empty?

I’m not trying to insult anyone.  But I think the special creation is an important issue – crucial even to our gospel.

Talk amongst yourselves. Be excellent to each other.

1 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Those things that prevent me from offering a new post today also prevent me from joining the discussion much today.

I will look in later and throw my (considerable) weight around as I have opportunity!

2 Bill Mac December 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

No disrespect intended. I am always happy to discuss this stuff.

But didn’t we address all these questions in the 400+ comment stream of the last OEC/YEC post?

I’m not sure there is enough common ground to discuss this. YECers have rejected all science that points to an earth older than 6000 years, and I might point out that that is a lot of science, in many different fields.

OECers have rejected being locked into a particular hermeneutic that inevitably leads to YEC-ism.

Some on both sides see the other viewpoint as eroding the foundations of Christianity by destroying faith in the scriptures.

Right now there is room for both sides in the SBC, although some have hinted that that might not always be the case.

3 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm

My questions are specific. Do you have an exegetical reason for your views?

Shouldn’t our viewpoints be rooted in biblical exegesis?

4 Don Arndt December 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Bill,

Just to this out there. My undergraduate degree is in physics and chemistry. I bring that up to add some gravitas to my opinion.

I am a committed YEC, firstly for the exegetical reasons Dave has given above. “YECers have rejected all science that points to an earth older than 6000 years” This statement underscores Dave’s point that OEC start outside of the Bible for their dogma here. I do not reject all science that points to an earth older than several thousand years. However, I do evaluate it for biases and presuppositions. There are numerous assumptions which are undertaken by scientists who study these things, I contend that although their scientific method is probably good, the place they start from is faulty and inherently biased.

There are self-evident problems with most of the dating methods that are employed. Science done well, but that starts from a faulty starting point should be questioned and not taken at face value.

There is no rejection of science. But a rejection of bad science.

There is no shortage of scientific evidence that points to a relatively young earth. The science is good and starts from a more defensible point of reference, namely that “God created.”

5 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Don,

Very good post. A couple things.

“”I contend that although their scientific method is probably good, the place they start from is faulty and inherently biased. “”

The starting point is critical.

Also, as a YEC with an advanced degree related to cosmology, I do not set a “6000″ year limit on the earth. I don’t pick any particular number but 10,000 seems a reasonable outside limit.

6 R. Richard Tribble, Jr. December 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Dave, excellent post.

When I spoke at UI back in the ’80s I was asked by a biology grad student how I could believe the account of creation since science could date things much older than the Bible allowed. My response boiled down to God’s ability to create things with the history and appearance of age; i.e. when God created a red wood tree standing several hundred feet tall it had the internal rings required for its appropriate age, likewise when God created Adam He made him as an adult with all his body parts at the appropriate age for his needs.
He thought this was silly, so I asked him if he thought a god who would create all that is would have the power to do this or if he could only start the process?

As an aged individual I have witnessed the changes in science’s hypothesises – I’ll stick to God’s Word regardless of what society claims as truth.

Blessings my brother

7 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Thank you.

8 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Is this the same approach that we are to take with Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation? Can the words of the text be descriptive and yet not definitive? I think I have a rather high view of the Bible, but maybe not……

9 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

And to add a little perspective–While we debate this children are dying in Conneticut because of the senseless sinful acts perpetrated by a deranged lunatic. May God have mercy and pour out His grace and comfort on these families. It makes me sick.

10 Christiane December 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Please pray. Stay in prayer throughout the day as you are able.

11 Doug Hibbard December 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Yes.

However we address it, the presence of evil is obvious at the moment.

12 Jim Pemberton December 16, 2012 at 3:09 am

It depends on the literary type. The Pentateuch is a mixture of different literary types and it’s valid to ask if Genesis 1 is intended as narrative. If it’s not narrative, then what is it? I’ve heard it argued that it’s poetry. It seems to have a regular form, but every other bit of poetry in the Bible, including the rest of the Pentateuch, is in proper Hebrew form and given explicit context for being poetry. Not so with Genesis 1. Actually, it seems to have a flow more ancient than the accounts that follow and was probably handed down faithfully in that form over the few generations between Adam and Moses. Since Moses spoke directly with the LORD, there would have been plenty of opportunity to correct any inaccuracies if such existed.

Those are my observations on it in a nutshell.

13 Chris Roberts December 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm

One quick note: it’s not about creationism vs old earthers; we’re talking about creationists who believe in a young earth vs creationists who believe in an old earth.

14 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

If God spoke the world into being, did it take millions of years to happen?

I think Old-earth, etc assumes an evolutionary process directed by God, does it not?

Creationism implies a direct act of God more than just a natural process guided by God.

15 Chris Roberts December 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Every particle and every natural process is the product of God’s design and creation. Whether he spoke it in an instant or in 100 billion years is irrelevant. I believe fully and firmly in God as creator and will not allow young earthers to claim sole providence over the term “creationism”.

16 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

“””Whether he spoke it in an instant or in 100 billion years is irrelevant.”””

It would only be irrelevant if we did not have a clear, plain description by God Himself.

An old-age, evolutionary compatible world-view will always crash into this wall at some point. Simply stating what God “could” do does not deal with what God says He “did” do.

Not only is there science that refutes evolution, there are philosophical, and most importantly, biblical evidence that refutes it. Evolution is a house of cards, and even Darwin recognized it if you read his Origins carefully.

Evolution requires an old earth and naturalistic scientists, especially those who are committed atheists, have tried to stack the cards as high as possible.

Evolution and its old age requirement is simply incompatible with the clear, plain speech of the Word. It would be easier, perhaps, to try to incorporate modern “science” into a Christian world-view, but I don’t think it honors God’s Word.

Naturalistic sciences (empiricism, scientism) draws a line in the sand. I cannot in faith cross that line.

17 Doug Hibbard December 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I think the hinge point for me comes back on #1:

When Moses wrote, as under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did he expect it as 6 literal days or symbolic? How was it understood at the time? Had the ninth tribe of Israel been the Bickering Baptists, what would we have thought it meant? 6 sets of 24 hours or an indeterminate period of time?

I think that we, as Bible-people, are supposed to start with the text and work forward from there in understanding the text. Now, where that puts us on Genesis 1-2 is a question I am not fully prepared to stake a claim on. I default to 6 literal days, though I think you’ve got some representative genealogies happening that push a Creation date back further than the Ussher Chronology, but I’m working through some of John Walton’s writings on the issue in my spare time.

Since I’m only a couple of chapters in, I’m not jumping to his view yet, but the intro material makes sense to me.

Either way, though, a view that eliminates the historical foundation of sin entering through man’s choice seems to theologically wreck the rest of Scripture. I don’t see anything else working after Genesis 3 if there’s not an Adam and Eve in a sinless world, snacking on fruit and hiding in the bushes. I don’t know that allowing for an extended time frame prior to those two people and that one event is completely untenable, but that event makes the Cross necessary in my reading.

But that’s just me.

18 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm

“Either way, though, a view that eliminates the historical foundation of sin entering through man’s choice seems to theologically wreck the rest of Scripture. I don’t see anything else working after Genesis 3 if there’s not an Adam and Eve in a sinless world, snacking on fruit and hiding in the bushes.”

That is the question to which I’ve not yet seen even an attempt at an answer.

19 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Maybe because none of us OEC’s disagree with or dispute it. The age of the earth and how God formed doesn’t negate sin’s entrance into this world, thus resulting in man’s fallen state.
And, no, OEC doesn’t default to an evolutionary model at all. What God has done, He did. In His own way and time. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what it looked like when He did it. The fact is that the fossil record shows something very different from our present world. If He just laid down a bunch of fossils of animals that never really existed then He’s got some ‘splaining to do.

20 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Dale, if death was a result of Adam’s sin, how could it have existed for millions of years before?

That is the question I’d love to see answered.

21 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Human death was the result of Adam’s sin. Where does the Bible say that animals lived forever before Adam’s fall?

22 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm

“some splaining to do.”

A common assumption is fossils are related to millions of years of uniformitarian processes.

That is an automatic default to an evolutionary point of view. It necessitates death before sin sense the common assumption is that some fossils represent pre-human life.

Your position is an evolutionary position by default. I don’t see how you can get around “death before man” and hold to a belief that Genesis is the Word of Almighty God.

Perhaps you can outline how you get around Genesis 3.

23 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I don’t get around it. I walk right through it. How would Adam know what death is if he’d never seen anything die? We’re the animals also eating from the tree of life? The Bible doesn’t say that. Exegetically, you can’t make the text say something it doesn’t.

24 Les Prouty December 14, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Dale, Genesis 1 seems to indicate that all breathing things did not initially eat meat:

“And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
(Genesis 1:30-31 ESV)

Thanks brother,

Les

25 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm

So the fact that they ate vegetation, in your viewpoint, led to animals not dying? Since we’re seeking biblical answers, where does the Bible say that?

26 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm

By the way, Frank, it is a stretch for anyone to question my understanding of the Bible as the “Word of Almighty God” based on this topic. Could I request that we not make such statements about our positions or is it just impossible to keep from walking down that path?

27 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Dale,

Before you pick up an offense, make sure one exists.

Instead of taking offense that I have my opinion, simply defend yours.

Show me (vegetation aside) how death enters “before” Adam and exegetically how this is possible in light of Paul’s interpretation of Genesis 3.

I made no pronouncement about what you feel about the Word of God. I expressed my opinion. If it differs from yours on this matter, show me how we can both be correct and we both base it upon the Word of God.

If you want me to make a pronouncement upon your faith and what you believe about the Word of God, I would need more information and even then I’d be reluctant.

These posts are “my opinions” and how I see the Word of God should impinge upon the matter. I’m not in charge of salvation so that does not enter my posts in this regard.

28 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm

DAle,

Also, I don’t see how one can talk about an OEC and YEC and ignore the issues relating to one’s point of view on the Word of God.

I don’t know everything, so show me in the Biblical record, not the fossil record, where anything died before Genesis 3 (excluding plants, stars, etc) as per above.

As I read Genesis One, it mentions 6 days. Show me where I am missing the point and it actually was millions of years.

I readily admit and have stated when asked that I believe an old age for the earth is incompatible with a plain sense reading of Genesis (and the commentary on Genesis by both Jesus and Paul).

If you do not hold that same belief, then you and I do not hold the same belief about the Word of Almighty God. That is not a judgment but a statement of the facts as I see them.

I’m open to enlightenment. I’ve said above that this issue is a difficult one for me because of my background in chemistry.

29 Les Prouty December 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Dale, I’m running out the door for family stuff. Be back later tonight.

Les

30 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Okay, Frank. I really wasn’t offended, just hoping we could get through the discussion without such statements.
I’ll be back later. Stuff to do.

31 Dale Pugh December 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm

While I’d love to jump back into this, I’m just not feeling it right now. Maybe later, Frank. Watching the news and saddened by the news of such evil and sinful acts.

32 Les Prouty December 15, 2012 at 2:21 am

Dale, I said I’d be back later. Took two of my sons out to look for boots at the largest boot store in the world (Chuck’s Boots in Fenton, MO), a guy dinner at Hardee’s and then The Hobbit.

Got back home a little before midnight, saw some updates on the shooting and, well, I just have lost interest right now on this discussion. No offense to you or anyone. Just a heavy heart about those children killed today and after that and sending time with some of my own children, this discussion among brothers, while good and interesting, just doesn’t interest me right now. Maybe later.

God bless,

Les

33 Dale Pugh December 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

Les, it looks like you and I had the same response to that horrible news. Obvious evidence of the reality of Genesis 3, isn’t it.
To continue on……
The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It also says that Jesus was a part of that process (John 1 and other places). I believe that with all my heart. I believe it to be foundational to every other doctrinal position I hold. I believe that everything in the Bible follows as a result of “in the beginning God created.” I am accountable to Him as a result of His creating everything.
What follows in Genesis 1 is, in my opinion, theological, not scientific. My interpretive framework is to view Genesis 1 and 2 as descriptive, not definitive. I believe there had to be a real Adam and Eve. I also believe that animals died before death became a problem for Adam and Eve. The Bible does not say that animals lived forever. Even Adam and Eve had to have the tree of life, and they were created with a living soul in the image of God. So they were not naturally immortal. Their immortality came as a result of God’s gracious gift of life through the fruit of that tree.
I don’t know that any of the “how” things happened in the first 11 chapters of Genesis is literal. I don’t know that it isn’t either. I wasn’t there. We have it as a biblical account. I recognize that settles it for many of you. I preach it and teach it. But I don’t claim to know all the realities behind it.
I admit that I take my evidence for an OEC from science, not the Bible. I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive. I think that God has given us an ability to work out our understanding of this world in a scientific fashion. The fact that some come to naturalistic and atheistic conclusions doesn’t force me to come to those same conclusions. As Paul says, they will be turned over to their own depravity (Romans 1). I don’t have to go with them. You may think I have to default to that position because it is the foundation of modern science, but science is also an interpretation at times. And people get it wrong some of the time.
I am no scientist. In the opinion of some here, I’m probably not a very good student of the Bible either. I’m doing my best to make sense of it all, but I know that my own ability to do so is sometimes weak and full of holes. That’s because it is a man’s interpretive framework.
I’m not building fences around this issue and telling any of you that this is a matter of fellowship or a test of truth. It isn’t. It also isn’t a test for whether one believes the Bible to be God’s inspired, inerrant Word. I do believe that the Bible is God revealing Himself and His will to each of us and for His people. Not everything in the Bible can be taken literally, and, in my opinion, this is one of those places. It is my opinion. That and $2 will get you a grande coffee at Starbucks. Have one on me.

34 Les Prouty December 15, 2012 at 10:43 am

Dale,

Thank you for your perspective. You said, “I’m not building fences around this issue and telling any of you that this is a matter of fellowship or a test of truth. It isn’t. It also isn’t a test for whether one believes the Bible to be God’s inspired, inerrant Word. I do believe that the Bible is God revealing Himself and His will to each of us and for His people.”

I agree that this is not a test of fellowship and a test on inerrancy. In my view, as long as one affirms man as uniquely created by God and not having evolved, we are on the main same page.

I love to read AW Pink. He is no theological slouch. He said,

What is found in the remainder of Genesis 1 refers not to the primitive creation but to the restoration of
that which had fallen into ruins. Genesis 1:1 speaks of the original creation; Genesis 1:2 describes the
then condition of the earth six days before Adam was called into existence. To what remote point in time
Genesis 1:1 conducts us, or as to how long an interval passed before the earth “became” a ruin, we have
no means of knowing; but if the surmises of geologists could be conclusively established there would be
no conflict at all between the findings of science and the teaching of Scripture. The unknown interval
between the first two verses of Genesis 1, is wide enough to embrace all the prehistoric ages which may
have elapsed; but all that took place from Genesis 1:3 onwards transpired less than six thousand years
ago.

I disagree with Pink, but I don’t disparage his faith of belief in the authority of the scriptures.

I live in the St. Louis area, where Covenant Theological Seminary is located. I attended CTS and got my MDiv there. For several years I was neighbors with Dr. Jack Collins and actually had a couple of courses under Jack. He is one of the godliest and most brilliant scholars I have ever known. He is a good friend. He wrote (check it out),

http://www.amazon.com/Science-Faith-C-John-Collins/dp/1581344309

All that to say that brothers should be patient with one another on these issues because we are all doing the best we can is fallen (we all agree on that!) creatures.

Have a blessed day in Jesus!

Les

35 Les Prouty December 15, 2012 at 10:45 am

Dale,

“is fallen” should be “as fallen.”

36 Dale Pugh December 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

By the way–I’m pretty sure that the fruit growing on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was actually a bacon double cheeseburger with grilled onions, a side of fries with fry sauce, and a large vanilla milk shake.

37 William Thornton December 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Good questions, allow me to be a sniveling wimp and not answer all of them:

1. The title: “Some Questions for Old-Earthers and Theistic Evolutionists”
conveys bit of tendentiousness from the start by my Yankee loving Iowa colleague. There are OEers who are believers and non-evolutionists andnon-theistic evolutionists. Just because YEers don’t see how it can be done doesn’t eliminate the category. I don’t recall anyone here admitting to being a TE.
2. “Don’t sound hermeneutics lead us toward creationism and away from old-earth theories?” Here again is the false contrast between “creationism” and “old earth theories.” If you did not mean to equate OE with non-creationism, you could have phrased this differently. Seems to this hacker and plodder that there is a presumption by many, perhaps not our exalted 2VP that if one is old earth, one is not a creationist or a Bible believer. Phillip E. Johnston addressed this almost a generation ago.
3. “What great clues…” Not necessarily any but then anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Scripture can point to not a few places where the text as written had an unexpected meaning.
4. OE theories do indeed cause some theological problems, especially for those who are YEers. As to death before Adam, a preadamic world has a fairly long interpretive history, I think. YEthers have some difficulty here explaining that grazing animals in Eden killed no plants but gently nipped the tops, etc. Guess they stepped on no ants or microbes and smushed them either.
5. “Isn’t the effort to combine these views in vain?” Ah, major irony here. There is no modern educational effort more energetic than YEthers explaining away all the lines of evidence for an OE.

So, how crucial is a YE to the Gospel? Not crucial at all, IMO. If it is then by all means the BFM should be amended post haste, our missionary force should be sanitized of all OEerd.

This is an interpretive matter. Good, solid believers disagree. Tertiary…quaternary…

We do not make eschatology a test of fellowship or cooperation. Neither should we make this issue…but it is interesting. I’m afraid I gave up talking about the evidences or the interpretive matters long ago. It was not worth the effort or the usually unproductive result.

38 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm

William, it seems that people are focusing on the way I worded things and not answering the questions.

Is there exegetical support for Old Earth ideas in Genesis 1 and 2?
Are there answers for the theological issues brought about by the presence of the curse (on the ground and especially death) before the fall?

I’d rather not quarrel over words and hear some meaty answers!

39 Christiane December 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Sacred Scripture witnesses to us the need for ‘wisdom’ and certainly for ‘humility before the Lord’ when we think we know all the answers
. . . even sacred Scripture tells us that we do not.

from JOB 38, this:
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee,
and answer thou Me.

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
declare, if thou hast understanding.

5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?
or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?
or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

40 Bill Mac December 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I believe we should exegete both special and general revelation, as the two cannot be in conflict. It is a messy and error prone endeavor (just like only biblical exegesis is).

The death that came into the world with Adam was spiritual death. All living things (including Adam and Eve, as Christ pointed out) were not immortal. Eating causes death, as William pointed out. Some organisms live only for hours. How many vegetarian fish are there? Animals have teeth and claws designed to kill and rip flesh. Did Tyrannosaurus Rex eat beans? Do snakes eat cabbage (which, by the way, kills the cabbage). Even if the earth is only 6000 years old, no-physical-death-of-any-living-thing before the Fall is simply not tenable.

41 Don Arndt December 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I would direct you to do a word study of “nephesh”

“How many vegetarian fish are there? ”

Quite a few actually!

“Animals have teeth and claws designed to kill and rip flesh. Did Tyrannosaurus Rex eat beans?”

Don’t know what T Rex ate, but I bet he could eat leaves and other green things! Doesn’t make a difference in this discussion either way

Do snakes eat cabbage (which, by the way, kills the cabbage).
see “nephesh”

Even if the earth is only 6000 years old, no-physical-death-of-any-living-thing before the Fall is simply not tenable.”

Again, “nephesh” This statement seems not fully thought out. If the Bible is taken as Dave has expressed here, then it seems clear that the fall occurred relatively quickly after the creation event. There would be no reason for “living things” to have died before the fall.

42 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm

“”The death that came into the world with Adam was spiritual death””

That simply is not a tenable position in my understanding of the plain speech of Genesis. This suggests that Adam was going to die “before” sin entered into the world. I see nothing in the text that suggests this but much that refutes it.

Second, plant life is depicted in a very different way than animal life in the creation account. There is a very clear hierarchy of life (and creation in general) clearly outlined in Genesis.

While it seems like a clever argument to say “plants” die, or “stars” die, neither plants or stars are in the same hierarchy of life as in the animal world — especially sentient animals.

Again, I will admit that this is a clever argument but not one that sways the meaning of “death” as it applies to the animal kingdom.

I’d also say, though not directed at Bill particularly, the word, “spiritual” used as an adjective describing biblical essences is a means by which many cults get around clear doctrines of scripture.

I refer to such “spiritualizing” as Christian Science or Jehovah Witnesses use. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, readily accept a “spiritual” resurrection.

I do not accept the “death is just spiritual” argument.

43 William Thornton December 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm

So, “death” is limited to meaning humans?

44 Doug Hibbard December 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

In that vein, do we not claim that the “death” that entered the world on Adam and Eve’s sin was more spiritual than immediate physical?

That “death” which came “in the day which you eat of it” (Gen 2:17) was obviously not physical death, as the two did not die on that day.

45 Bill Mac December 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Doug: Thank you.

46 Les Prouty December 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I think Genesis teaches us that he very idea or concept of death began (from our side, not that it was new to God) with the fall. Do we not all believe that had Adam and Eve NOT sinned that in their innocence they would have continued to physically live?

47 William Thornton December 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm

So, nothing died in Eded prior to the Fall?

48 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I do not believe there was such a thing as death (of living things) before the fall.

49 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I also suspect (a hunch) that Adam and Eve’s time in the garden was short. Creation to fall was probably pretty quick.

50 Les Prouty December 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Well, let’s speculate together since we weren’t there. My speculation, from the reasoning based on the biblical concept of death initiated in Genesis, is…no.

And again, not having been there, I’ve had to rely on hypotheses from scientists who starting from a home base of the biblical record and then looking at geology, etc. have put forth some compelling info which seeks to explain how what we see now is scientifically consistent with what we might expect from a world wide flood and the extreme catastrophic events occurring at that time.

I’ve also read what others have said who are on the other side of that and found them less than compelling given what Genesis says.

Thanks brother for the interaction. These can help sharpen each of us.

51 Bill Mac December 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Frank. Stars are not living things.

And dead is dead. Do you deny that there is such a thing as spiritual death? I’ve never heard a Christian who did.

If Adam and Eve were immortal, why was there a tree of life?

52 Frank L. December 15, 2012 at 12:47 am

Bill. Scientist talk about stars dying all the time you missed the point.

You win. As a philosopher I am aware you can always have one more question than I have an answer.

Now you are simply making up things I believe.

It appears this discussion has died.

Blessings upon you

53 Bill Mac December 15, 2012 at 8:27 am

Frank: I have a tendency to sarcasm and I apologize. I was only pointing out that stars dying and plants dying are different. I don’t think anyone here used the death of stars as an example. I did use plants. I don’t think saying plants and animals dying is different, is a fair YEC argument however. There are lots of other living creatures in the world. Did they die or no?

I honestly don’t see, even among YECers, why they don’t see Adam’s “death” as spiritual, since he didn’t die. I would make this argument even if I was a YECer. This is one place where I really think YECers are explaining away an inconvenient passage, and they don’t even have to!

Anyway, I let incivility creep in and I’m sorry for that.

54 Robert Vaughn December 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Dave, you ask, “Don’t sound hermeneutics lead us toward creationism and away from old-earth theories?” In my opinion, yes, it does. It seems clear to me that the author intends to posit a creation in six normal days as the reader knows and understands them. This same author and the God who created the world and gave the law seems to reckon the creation days as the same kind we live: Exodus 20:9-11 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

“Aren’t old-earth theories rooted in scientific theory instead of biblical exegesis?” Science seems to be the driving force behind the need for an old earth. If it wasn’t for the theories of science, would any of us really care? I came up under a different kind of “old earth” theory. My mentors believed in the gap theory. This held to an old earth before the fall of Satan and still believed in six literal days of “re”creation. I think I began to look askance at this when one of my professors taught that there were “men” who died on this pre-Adamic earth and I couldn’t reconcile that with Adam being the first man and the bringer in of sin and death. The gap theory makes a nice dumping ground for any science we can’t explain, though!

I have known a few people who arrived at an old earth without the input of science, though I am not sure we could say exegetically. They are folks who tend to interpret/spiritualize much of the Bible as symbolic.

Though some of the respondents here seem to have no trouble reconciling sin and death before Adam, I have not found a way that I could comfortably do so.

55 John Fariss December 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm

It is all a matter of presuppositions. If you assume (1) that the Old Testament passages were meant to be take literally, (2) that God was inspiring the text to give an absolute explanation of the “hows” of the creation of the universe, (3) that the Old Testament prophets/writers exactly understood what God was communicating to them and were able to express that exactly in human language as it was available to them thousands of years ago, and (4) that the words of the Old Testament passages can be used as propositional truth such that they can be plugged into “logic equations” or sylogilisms and from those, draw equally factual propositional truths, then, yes, you arrive at a young-earth, special-creation model of creation exactly as you state.

HOWEVER, this is a ladder model also: it is necessary to step on each “rung” of the ladder in order to reach the top, which in this case is the young-earth, special-creation conclusion. Miss just one rung, and you will not get there; and I will point out that “inerrancy” is not necessarily one of those rungs, or if it is, it is in adddition to the four I mentioned.

If on the other hand, you recognize that there was a common Middle Eastern belief that the earth died each winter, ws in danger of slipping back into primordial chaos, and “the gods” had to prevent that and bring order back out of creation each spring, usually by various fertility rites and sacrifices, you may arrive at a different set of conclusions. This perspective believes that the Genesis account of creation was meant to establish that Yehweh God is the only God, that He had to bring order out of chaos only once, and was so powerful that creation remained ordered for all time after that. Furthermore, it denies the use of each Scripture text or pericope (much less each word) as fodder for logical syllogilisms. Now I do not consider myself an “innerantist” although some of you have said I am quite close; maybe I am, I certainly consider myself to have a high view of Scripture, but this issue I am discussing is not so much about whether or noit the text is inerrant, and is more about how it is to be used, applied, and handled, which, it seems to me, is a seperate issue from inerrancy.

John

56 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

As I said, this is a discussion among those who believe that the Bible is inspired and true in all it affirms. Obviously, if one does not accept the final authority of Scripture, the outcome on this will be very different.

57 John Fariss December 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Dave, I accept Scripture as the final authority (without quibbling about God the Father/God the Son as the final judge of the quick and the dead). The (apparent) fact that I may not accept it with the same presuppositions you have does not change that fact. Now if you want to say this discussion is only open to those who accept your presuppositions about how Scripture can be handled and understood, well, after all it is your blog, and so be it. But as I understand English words, I accept Scripture as the final authority, and take some offense that you seem to be suggesting otherwise.

John

58 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I wasn’t intending to say that you did not.

59 John Fariss December 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Thanks then, I misread or misunderstood what you meant.

John

60 Dave Miller December 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm

After I posted it, I realized how it would come across, but I was on to other things.

61 Steve December 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Many Christians believed that the Bible taught that the earth was the center of the physical universe for centuries until Galileo and others called that into question. Indeed, there are texts which could easily be read that way. Today, not many read the text as demanding that interpretation. And for good reason, the earth is actually not the center of the phyical universe. The scientific case for a very old earth is not as obvious, but it is complelling. Davis Young’s book “The Bible, Rocks, and Time” (IVP, 2008) is a good place to start to consider some of the scientific evidence. The Genesis account is fully true but exactly how to interpret it and to what degree it is to be considered literal requires careful and humble interpretation and investigation of God’s creation. To argue that YEC is the only viable interpretation is a huge hurdle apologetically and especially if the YEC advocate is not well-versed in the science.

62 Adam G. in NC December 14, 2012 at 6:52 pm

If something is stated plainly, is it always meant to be understood plainly?

63 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Adam,

That is a good word and the path I’ve chosen to follow in this matter.

There is no final scientific authority that demands Genesis be read any other way than six literal days.

The fact that evolution is the “default” position in science is both modern and unfortunate, and with increasing studies less tenable.

64 Adam G. in NC December 15, 2012 at 1:04 am

It was a question. As stated plainly (ha).

Did Jesus really mean to tell me to gouge out my eye and cut off my arm? If not, then why did he say it so plainly?

65 Frank L. December 15, 2012 at 3:52 am

Sorry Adam. I misunderstood your point of view.

66 Adam G. in NC December 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Not establishing a concrete point of view…just asking a question.

67 Frank L. December 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Jesus often used the figure of speech we commonly call hyperbole.

This was (and is) an important feature of oriental literature (as opposed to Western literature).

There is no indication that Genesis is employing hyperbole. That would not fit the context from a form-critical point of view it seems to me.

If we are asking, “Is it POSSIBLE” that Genesis One is meant to be allegory, myth, legend, type or whatever, I think one would have to say, “yes, it is possible.”

But, should we look for the “possiblility” simply to improve the probability of evolution? That seems to be the question that comes to my mind.

Without an extremely “old” age for the earth, evolution melts like a snowflake in an oven. It just cannot reach the numbers to make it probably true.

Evolution increasingly looks more and more, with greater scientific investigation, to be a theory in search of a solution. Science determined the size of the shoe, and now is trying to make the foot fit the shoe, instead of the other way around.

I know many on this blog disagree, so I’m offering this as my opinion. I know I don’t have all the answers.

68 Christiane December 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I appreciate your comment, FRANK L.

In the great matters of Creation, not having all the answers is a better place to begin to learn from sacred Scripture and from the geological-physical study of the Earth and the study of biological life.

Sometimes I hear people who think they have to choose the truth of sacred Scripture RATHER than the truth of scientific findings;
but I don’t think people have to do that . . . both Scripture and God’s Creation give us the truth, but they do this in different ways.

It is said in my Church, this:
” . . . the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.
The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the Hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”

“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth”.

I think in realizing that there is much we do not know, we have finally arrived at a greater wisdom about the Creator and a greater humility before Him.

It takes a long time sometimes to realize how little we understand about what we know :) .

69 Adam G. in NC December 16, 2012 at 2:52 am

“If we are asking, “Is it POSSIBLE” that Genesis One is meant to be allegory, myth, legend, type or whatever, I think one would have to say, “yes, it is possible.””

Thanks. At least we admit possibility. As for evolution, I’d have to agree with you…but adaption, is another thing. I dont see why the Bible couldnt permit LARGE variations to adapt to their environment.

70 William Thornton December 16, 2012 at 8:31 am

Frank said, “If we are asking, “Is it POSSIBLE” that Genesis One is meant to be allegory, myth, legend, type or whatever, I think one would have to say, “yes, it is possible.””

…thus, even committed YEers allow that there are interpretive issues involved in this. That is good enough for me and is likely why the more strident position that disallows any alternative interpretations of the texts involved has not been made to be a test of orthodoxy.

71 Adam G. in NC December 15, 2012 at 1:11 am

I guess I’m just saying I dont know how to understand this fully. Some things are written mysteriously in the Bible and some arent. Some say a day is a thousand years and some say a day is a day. I say I dont know and I doubt anyone in here does either…regardless of how they box themselves in.

The Bible is inerrant. Thats it. My mind (and yours) is not. This is a mystery that I’m not going to try to draw a line around and exclude believers over. I hope no one else does either.

72 Jess Alford December 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Frank L.

I have been reading some of the things you have written on this thread.
You bring up some mighty good points that I absolutely agree with.
I would want you on my side in any debate. Hang in there.

73 Frank L. December 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Thanks, Jess. You’re the real deal.

74 Bill Mac December 14, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I find it ironic that YECers demand that we take Genesis literally but then play games with the word die.

One: No one can refute that there are two kinds of death presented in scripture: physical and spiritual. Anyone?

Two: God told Adam and Eve they would die the day they ate the fruit. Did they die physically? No. Sorry but the whole “they began to die” is just playing games. They were not immortal before eating the fruit. They did not eat of the tree of life. Therefore their “death” must have been spiritual.

Three: The idea that Adam and Eve fell quickly is speculation and not grounded in anything in scripture.

Four: The idea that plants are not living things, or they they are a different order of living things is just a smokescreen. They are alive by any scientific definition of life. The bible does not make that distinction. If nothing died before the fall, then plants did not die.

Five: Creatures are clearly designed to kill and eat each other. Fish eat other fish. Frogs eat insects. Owls eat mice. Robins eat worms. Are we saying that every single carnivorous species on earth used their talons, beaks, claws, and razor sharp teeth to eat vegetables? Many animals have highly specialized organs and digestive systems for the express purpose of digesting animals that are eaten. Did Adam and Eve make a beeline for the forbidden fruit and chow down before any microorganisms could die? If Adam and Eve had not fallen, would every living thing from all over the planet journeyed to the tree of life and had a bite and become immortal?

C’mon folks. At some point Occams razor has to kick in. Two kinds of death. God said they would die. They didn’t die. Must have been the other kind of death.

75 Bart Barber December 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Your fourth point is inaccurate. The Hebrew text speaks differently of those things which have a “nephesh.” Someone above asked people to check into this, but I can’t tell that anyone paid attention to him. That’s the sole reason why I’m entering the thread.

It may or not fit the way that you or I wish to divide up the things on this planet, but the creation account clearly makes a difference between things that have a “nephesh” and things that do not.

76 Chris Roberts December 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm

That’s a good point. The breath of life versus simple cellular, organic life. But it doesn’t change the overall thrust, and points to something I’ve pondered many times: do we speculate that the fall brought dramatic physiological changes to birds, beasts, and fish so that creatures which were once omnivores are suddenly carnivores? Did God create animals with the physical characteristics of carnivores knowing they would one day need those sharp teeth and claws?

But we cannot cast aside the idea of lions as vegetarians since this is one thing Scripture points to in the coming age: Isaiah 11:7, 65:25 – the lion will eat straw like the ox. There could be at least the (very strong) implication that this is how things used to be: in the coming paradise “nature red in tooth and claw” will be no more, and the coming paradise is a greater expression of the original paradise, giving some justification for thinking that these animals were plant eaters, despite their physical features.

But that still does not answer all the questions. That animals will one day be vegetarians does not mean they always were. The point of Isaiah is these animals will not harm people or property (the cow of Isaiah 11:7, the lamb of 65:25). People were used to losing livestock to predators, but in the coming paradise no livestock will be lost to predators. Which raises its own question: will there be livestock? Will we raise cows and lambs in the new heavens and earth? If so, why? For wool? But weren’t Adam and Eve naked? For food? But wouldn’t that bring death? Perhaps for milk and nothing more?

And the biggest remaining question: in what sense were animals all over the earth immortal when immortality was granted through the fruit of the tree of life?

77 Frank L. December 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm

“”But that still does not answer all the questions.””

Very good insight.

78 Jess Alford December 14, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Bill Mac,

When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit they did die, because when they ate the fruit death entered into the world. Adam and Eve could have lived forever in Eden. The Bible didn’t say anything about immediate death.

79 Bill Mac December 15, 2012 at 9:36 am

Jess: Are you dead?

80 Jess Alford December 15, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Bill Mac,

Is Adam and Eve alive physically today? If not, death entered into the world because of the fall.

81 Bill Mac December 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Jess: Are you dead?

82 Jess Alford December 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Bill Mac,

I don’t think I’m dead yet, but one day I will be, thanks to my old friend Adam. Unless I get caught up in the rapture first,
death is appointed unto me.

83 Bill Mac December 16, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Jess: Well done. Because the word dead means something and if your heart is still beating you aren’t dead. So Adam and Eve did not die (physically) on the day that they ate the fruit. But God said they would die on the day they ate the fruit. So I submit that God could not have meant physical death. Honestly, I thought even most YECers held to that. How can it be otherwise?

84 Jim Cole December 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Jess,

How should we interpret Gen 2:17, which states that they would die in the day they ate from it? Seems like a fairly specific statement about timeframe. They certainly did die spiritually on that day, but not physically.

85 Jess Alford December 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Ben Cole

That day death did enter into the world, of course it is not an immediate death, but physical death did enter into the world that day.

86 Chris Roberts December 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm

On the day you eat of it, you shall surely die. Either we must take that literal and concede that the Bible has an error since they did not surely die that day, or take it as symbolic of something else and open the door to other symbolism in the early chapters of Genesis.

87 Frank L. December 15, 2012 at 10:45 pm

“”or take it as symbolic of something else and open the door to other symbolism in the early chapters of Genesis.””

That is exactly what most people do with the Bible. In the end, it becomes nothing more than an elaborate myth. Spiritualizing the Bible, in my opinion, is as dangerous as ignoring it altogether.

88 Frank L. December 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm

PS — all this so that we can have an “old age” for earth and dinosaurs that lived millions of years before mankind.

That seems like a classic accomodation to science to me.

89 Frank L. December 15, 2012 at 10:48 pm

“”They certainly did die spiritually””

I’m curious, exactly what about the text (absent the need to have death previous to this) states God meant “spiritual” death?

90 Jim Cole December 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Well, I would say the text doesn’t specify which type of death God meant, so we have to infer that from context. In the context He states “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die”, not “start to die”, then the simplest conclusion is that He referred to spiritual death.

91 Frank L. December 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Jim,

OK. That would seem straightforward. Now, what verse in Genesis One supports the death of dinosaurs (or other life) prior to Genesis Three.

The “death was just spiritual” proposition is a definition without a difference as philosophers say. It does not contribute anything to the discussion, unless one can show a pattern of death over millions of years before Adam was created.

92 Jim Cole December 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Actually Frank, I think I would turn that around. If the meaning of God’s statement in Gen 2:17 is that Adam’s sin brought about spiritual death, then perhaps the question becomes what Scriptural basis is there for the lack of death before the fall? Since we see death as an integral part of creation now, don’t we have to justify its absence (if there was no sudden start to physical death at the fall)? How does Scripture indicate that there was no physical death prior to the fall?

93 Frank L. December 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

“”How does Scripture indicate that there was no physical death prior to the fall?””

That’s an argument from silence and presents one with the challenge of proving a negative. Neither are strong means to get at the truth.

Also, this does not deal with the very clear pronouncement that everything was “good” before the Fall. This would mean that the violence and death of the animal kingdom would be “good,” and it would seem that the idea of a future “peaceable kingdom” with no death would not be an improvement in that regard.

Of course, one can always simply use a “turn-around” and address another’s proposition with further questions. That simply gets the discussion back to where it started.

I am still waiting for a textual support for a “day” to mean millions of years. I’m also waiting for textual support that shows clearly that life was robust upon the earth for millions of years before man.

This is, of course, assuming that the current naturalistic explanations about how fossils develop and the uniformitarian world-view of said world-view is correct.

There has always been “spiritualizing” of the Bible going back to the Church Fathers. But, for me, a plain sense reading of the text does not justify an Old Earth and the evolutionary world-view the idea of an Old Age was developed to support.

If we can simply “spiritualize” the Bible to the point there can be no objective understanding, then we have become thoroughly post-modern and pretty much “anything goes.”

But most of all, and assurance of salvation based upon God’s revealed plan “goes first.”

94 Jess Alford December 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Jim Cole,

If I started mechanic school, I could call myself a mechanic, but it wouldn’t be offical until I was handed my dipolma and started to work in a garage.

The day you eat thereof, ye shall surely die, even though Adam and Eve hadn’t died yet they were going to.

I cannot help but believe that the death was spiritual, and physical.

95 Les Prouty December 17, 2012 at 12:01 am

This idea of a dual mesaning to death is not new. Gill commented on v. 17:

for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; or “in dying, die” {z}; which denotes the certainty of it, as our version expresses it; and may have regard to more deaths than one; not only a corporeal one, which in some sense immediately took place, man became at once a mortal creature, who otherwise continuing in a state of innocence, and by eating of the tree of life, he was allowed to do, would have lived an immortal life; of the eating of which tree, by sinning he was debarred, his natural life not now to be continued long, at least not for ever; he was immediately arraigned, tried, and condemned to death, was found guilty of it, and became obnoxious to it, and death at once began to work in him; sin sowed the seeds of it in his body, and a train of miseries, afflictions, and diseases, began to appear, which at length issued in death. Moreover, a spiritual or moral death immediately ensued; he lost his original righteousness, in which he was created; the image of God in him was deformed; the powers and faculties of his soul were corrupted, and he became dead in sins and trespasses; the consequence of which, had it not been for the interposition of a surety and Saviour, who engaged to make satisfaction to law and justice, must have been eternal death, or an everlasting separation from God, to him and all his posterity; for the wages of sin is death, even death eternal, Ro 6:23. So the Jews {a} interpret this of death, both in this world and in the world to come.

96 Jim Cole December 17, 2012 at 2:04 am

We certainly have to avoid over-spiritualizing Scripture. That has led to many great problems. But a question: How does Scripture itself teach about that? I can think of several passages which warn against under-spiritualizing.

For example, the natural mind struggles with figurative interpretation even when that’s correct (Eze. 20:49, John 16:25, 29), gives examples of such mistakes (Matt 15:10-16, Matt 16:5-12, John 3:1-4, John 6:51-66, etc), and teaches that the natural mind struggles to apprehend spiritual truths (1 Cor. 1-4). Of course, those are not necessarily dealing directly with interpretation of Scripture. Just looking for Biblical perspectives on this topic.

Given that the Genesis 1 passage is revelation, why should it be looked at more literally than other revelations in Scripture?

97 Jim Cole December 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Dave, Here are responses to just a couple of your questions.

1) Perhaps in order to understand what the author intended, one has to understand his viewpoint. People writing and reading creation accounts in the bronze age had a much different perspective than later (even first-century) readers. There are several perspectives that treat the account as a theological establishment of a temple, for example, that fit the literary genre of the time, and establish Yahweh as the one true God. Very appropriate for Moses to write as initial passage. Such a perspective (and there are several that start with an ancient worldview instead of modern) address both 2) and 3).

4) I’ve never understood where the idea of a perfect (as opposed to very good) creation came from. There are quite a number of things in Genesis 1 and 2 that point to creation being imperfect, even though God’s actions after the initial creation were all very good.

Since Adam did not physically die “in that day”, I tend to take that to refer to spiritual death. Romans 5:12 explicitly specifies human death anyway, not animal or plant death. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15 is speaking of human death, otherwise wouldn’t it be implying animal resurrection?

98 Ide Trotter December 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Forgive me for being late to the discussion. But the issues being addressed here have been of great interest to me for some time. I post below my ruminations on a Biblical understanding of the state of nature before the fall.

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION REGARDING THE FALL

Many accept an understanding that from the earliest Jewish writers down to the present all evil and imperfection in the known universe is attributable to the fall. This may have originated from a problematic assumption that a loving and all-powerful Creator would certainly produce a creation devoid of evil and all its ramifications. He certainly could have. Let’s call that the “Heaven First” creation assumption. It is evident that the creation in its present state lacks heavenly perfection. This confronts orthodox Christian believers with at least four questions.

1) The usual and most basic question is Theodicy: Given the Christian concept of a pure, perfect and loving God, why is His creation such a mess?
2) A second and less discussed but equally important question is: If God is not responsible how could frail humans muster the power to overwhelm all of the Creator’s accomplishments in His original perfect and evil free creation, the “Heaven First” creation, and make it the mess it seems to be?
3) Related to this, does the text really make it an unqualified certainty that the pre fall creation was absolutely perfect, free of any death or decay? Does it even make that case the most plausible inference?
4) Finally, if in fact the Creator is ultimately responsible for the present state of His creation: Why would His inerrant Word have been interpreted to miss the correct understanding that God is ultimately responsible?

There are differences in interpretation of the Genesis account as to the effects of the fall. This brief note deals with the question, “Has misinterpretation of the intended teaching of the text as to the effect of the fall been preserved and promoted?”

In its simplest form the argument for man’s responsibility for evil is that Scripture “literally” interpreted teaches human responsibility. I find it helpful to address whether the human responsibility interpretation can be developed by approaching Scripture “literally” or not. In my view a thoughtful look at Scripture related to two central questions in the human responsibility interpretation indicates that interpretation is neither literal nor correct. These questions are:

1) What was the state of creation before the fall? Does Scripture require absolute pre fall perfection?
2) Was there “death” before the fall? If so, was that death physical, spiritual or both?

Here I outline my reasoning based on my understanding of how the Scripture should be read literally and inductively. The human responsibility view is that in a “perfect” pre-fall creation there could have been no physical death. No plant death. No animal death. All physical death was the result of the fall. Even, in the view of some, no second law of thermodynamics. There seem to be an abundance of “literal” interpretive problems with this view. My take on eight of these problems follows.

1) The original Hebrew I am told, not being a Hebrew scholar, is properly translated with the creation progressing from “good” to “very good” but never described as “perfect.” There are acceptable and more descriptive Hebrew words that could have been chosen but were not. So I am always dismayed to hear exposition of the Genesis 1 passage to correctly read day six as “very good” but then describe the creation as absolutely “perfect.” I find nothing “literal” in doing that.

2) In Gen. 1: 28 Adam was assigned to “cultivate” or “subdue” (RSV,NIV) the earth. One immediately asks what would there be to subdue about a perfect creation? Before the fall, man is, in some translations, to “cultivate the ground”; after the fall, his task is still to “cultivate the ground,” 3:24. I’m told the same Hebrew word, abad, is used in both cases.

3) In Gen 2: 8 “The LORD God planted a garden” (NIV) within the existing creation. If the creation were already perfect why wasn’t it already as pristine as any garden could possible be? Evidently God felt the creation outside His new garden needed some work. Hence, it could not have been “perfect.”

4) God expected Adam to know what death was when he was told, “for in the day you eat from it, you will surely die.” Gen. 2: 17 (NIV) Hence, he must have already had some knowledge of death before the fall. It was clearly a concrete possibility not an abstraction and not something to be desired. However, in the day following the eating Adam and Eve were both physically alive. Similarly, Rom 5:12 clearly states that from Adam death spread to all men as a result of sin. Not only does the text in Romans makes no mention of a change in the prospect of death for plants or animals nor is there any hermeneutic basis for thinking the reference is to physical rather than spiritual death. Furthermore, sin is not an act attributable to animals or plants. Since the death in Rom 5:12 stems from sin it is clearly related to the death of humans only. While it can’t be denied that God could have explained death to Adam that is merely an inference and not found in the text.

5) When temptation did come to Eve in the form and by the action of the serpent it was clearly before she had taken the personal initiative to sin/fall. The source of the temptation can’t conceivably be argued to have been good or perfect before Eve’s action. Hence, evil clearly preceded her action and the fall can’t have been the source of all evil.

6) God knew that His enunciation of the curse would have meaning for Eve. Therefore when He told her that she would have increased pain in childbearing He expected her to have known before she ate of the fruit what child bearing was and that it involved pain. Few would consider pain part of a perfect world so the pre fall world must have been less than perfect in God’s understanding. Again, it can’t be denied that God could have explained childbirth and pain to Eve but that is merely an inference and not found in the text.

7) As a result of the fall God proclaimed, “Cursed is the ground because of you.” Gen. 3: 17 (NIV) Other translations use earth rather than ground. In any case the context is clear. The text had previously referred to heavens, firmament, stars, sun and moon as separate and distinct from the earth or ground. Hence this verse understood in its immediate context offers no basis for arguing that the curse was universal in scope and applicable to all creation. It was merely the earth that was cursed. Whatever that curse might entail, the text clearly limits it to the earth.

8) The attempt to use Rom. 8: 20-21 to prop up a universal interpretation of Gen. 3:17 is simply unsupportable. The text invoked states, “For the creation was subjected to futility” and “the whole creation groans.” There is no basis for equating the whole creation here with the clearly limited earth or ground in Gen. 3. Furthermore, Rom. 8: 20 states, “ for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it.” It appears quite clear that God put something deleterious into creation from the beginning that will not continue into eternity and there will be no place for the second law in heaven.

It should also be quite clear that Rom. 8: 20 is in no way referring to an unintended consequence of an act of the woman, Eve. She was not a “subjector” of the universe but rather a “succumber” to temptations with all that implies about her human limitations.

So I return to my most fundamental question. Was the interpretive consensus attributing all evil in the known universe to the fall correct? If it is not, why and how did it arise? I have my own notions on these subjects but would appreciate the views of others first to help me consider the need to reshape my own. Also, it would be interesting to know if any scholarly research has been done to explicate the history of interpretation regarding the condition of the creation before the fall.

Please note that these questions have not dealt with and should not involve any of the obvious scientific issues with a “perfect, “ Heaven First, creation. This is to eliminate any possibility that the interpretation might be attributed to an assumption of superiority for scientific understanding when there may appear to be conflicts with “literal” Biblical interpretation.

Ide Trotter

99 Jim Cole December 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Hi Ide,

The issue of theodicy is complex and challenging, of course, but a couple comments.

First, there are some who believe an element of imperfection from a human standpoint might well have been part of God’s plan to bring about the sanctification of the saints, in His eternal wisdom. This is especially interesting in view of passages such as Isaiah 45:7.

Second, what about Satan’s fall? That presumably happened before Adam’s fall, since it was Satan who acted to deceive Eve. What would this mean regarding creation given the description of his influence in Job, which covers conflict, natural disaster, and illness? Also interesting given the way he is referred to in the New Testament as the “ruler of the world” (John 12:31, 14:30), the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and passages such ad 1 John 5:19. (Of course, always under God’s sovereignty.)

Also, I appreciated your observations of how the Genesis text contraindicates a perfect/flawless creation. Here are a couple others:

It’s interesting that God called light good in Gen 1:4, but not darkness. How do we assume that darkness refers something in a perfect creation given the way it is used in passages such as John 1:1-14 and Isaiah 45:7?

Note that God stated that it was “not good” for Adam to not have a companion. It doesn’t make sense to state this, if the idea is to use “good” to mean “perfect” elsewhere.

When God speaks to Eve in Genesis 3:16, He says that He will multiply her pain. The word used indicates growth of something from an initial state, not the beginning of something new. This doesn’t match the idea that there was no pain before.

In general, it seems that at some point creation became corrupt, and what we see in the account is God’s actions to redeem it by bringing order, life, etc. So “good” refers to God’s actions in an otherwise corrupt situation, which is how the word is also used in Genesis 50:20. This becomes a great picture of God’s divine nature.

100 Ide Trotter December 15, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Hello Jim,

Yes, theodicy is a conundrum. But it does seem to me that Plantinga and others have pretty well taken care of moral evil. Am I mistaken to think you are primarily addressing natural evil? That lies at the root of the limited issue I tried to address. That is, “What was the state of nature before the fall?”
I especially appreciate your observation, “God stated that it was “not good” for Adam to not have a companion. It doesn’t make sense to state this, if the idea is to use “good” to mean “perfect” elsewhere.”
As to your last observation, I struggle get a clear understanding of what is meant by a “corrupt” creation. Likewise exactly what does creations “groaning” or being “subjected to futility” imply in terms of physical reality? Similarly, what might be the difference between post fall “cursed” ground and the pre fall ground that was not yet “cursed?” None of those appellations sound positive. Still, it remains my view that these terms simply describe the stage the Creator felt necessary on which humanity’s drama of life and faith was to play out.

It remains my view that nothing in Scripture requires any change in the grand stage of nature across the fall. So I agree with, as you put it “some who believe an element of imperfection from a human standpoint might well have been part of God’s plan to bring about the sanctification of the saints, in His eternal wisdom.”

Ide

101 Jim Cole December 15, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Hi Ide,

Yes, I was referring to natural evil. Sorry for being unclear. Thinking about reasons behind nature being broken before the fall.

Regarding my last statement, I used “corrupt” to refer to the imperfect state of creation, specifically before man’s original sin. Specifically, the present of pain, death, and a generally “second law”-driven nature. I agree with your general description of “the stage the Creator felt necessary on which humanity’s drama of life and faith was to play out”, and so there’s no need for any grand cosmic change to have occurred at the fall.

Is it necessarily true that the ground changed state at all because of the fall, or was the result of human sin that we were no longer able to redeem a creation that had been previously cursed, and so the real result was that it was now staying cursed?

102 Ide Trotter December 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Lots of food for thought in these helpful discussions. As to the state of nature before the fall and whether or not there was death I think my eight points designed to be purely exegetical and unrelated to applicable scientific inferences (on Dec. 15 at 3:44) are still holding up as I see it.

Now may I shift to my take on exegesis related to age?

Jim, on Dec 16 at 1:20 you raised an interesting point regarding the prophetic future vs. the “prophetic” past. As I see it the difference is that we are unable to see into the future while we are able to see into the past through a number of scientific techniques with a range of reliability.

Cosmology, on which I like to focus, gives a very reliable picture of what nature reveals about its self and everyone agrees that the universe looks very old. 13.75 billion years is the current best estimate. Interestingly enough, even ICR has switched its position on radioactive decay. If you are acquainted with ICR’s RATE II study you will see that they concede the accuracy of the geological record of isotopic decay. So they now posit, without either exegetical or scientific basis, that there were periods of extremely rapid decay occurring either at the fall or during the flood. The authors further concede that the heat released by that amount of decay in so short a time would not have just boiled off the oceans but also have melted the surface rock. So they now are looking for some quantum-cooling phenomenon to take care of that problem.

Related to this issue Frank L. (Dec16 at 1:24) expresses concern that there is no exegetical position directly supporting long age. In a sense that is true but the Scripture makes it quite clear that time to God is different from time to man. Furthermore it has never seemed to me that the case for 24-hour days is watertight. First, it’s not clear at what spot on earth the purported days were being recorded. What looks like a 24-hour night following day solar day at one place would like day following night on the opposite side of the earth and, depending on the rotational axis of the earth even perpetual day at one pole and perpetual night at the other. Second, if 24-hour days were to be rigidly required the proper delimiting would have to be evening-to-evening or morning-to-morning. Evening and morning would appear to bound a period of work and indeed the Scripture tells us that God was then actively at work on His creation.

In support of Dale P’s position I would suggest he may have conceded too much in saying “Could God have created everything as the YEC states? Yes. He is God and He can do it how He wants to do it. Did He do it that way?’ That in essence is the doctrine of appearance. It is certainly true that God could have made His creation look any way He wanted. However, it seems to me that if God deliberately made His creative process look different from the way He described His creation in Scripture he would either be lying about what He actually did or having some higher purpose for introducing this problem in systematic understanding that I am unable to imagine.

It seems to me that the view with the highest view of Scripture and God’s integrity is that there is sufficient latitude in the interpretation of “literal” scripture to allow it to fit what we see. I know many have long held a contrary position but it seems to me an OEC interpretation is the most supportable inference.

Ide

103 Jim Cole December 17, 2012 at 1:23 am

Ide, good point that we do have some ability to know the past. However, this was considerably less true when Genesis was written. At that point, cosmological origins would have been as unknowable as the future. The point is that when God gave that picture of creation, no one at that time had any ability to know those things without divine revelation. Therefore we should take the passage as revelation.

104 Dale Pugh December 17, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thanks for your words, Ide. To clarify, my concession is to the fact that creation in itself was a miraculous event. It falls outside the categories of probability or expectation. Thus, it is an event belonging to God alone. All of His miracles defy explanation and are ultimately designed to glorify Him.

105 Ide Trotter December 16, 2012 at 12:11 am

Well Jim, to my way of thinking there is no Scriptural basis for a physical change to the ground nor to the farthest flung part of the cosmos. As to the redemption of creation, it seems to me that the teaching of Scripture is that this earth is to be done away with and there will be a new heaven and new earth. Some folks seem think the new will somehow be much like the old. Maybe, but I don’t think that is any more likely an interpretation than streets of literal gold.

Ide

106 Jim Cole December 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Ide, I agree that there’s no Scriptural basis for grand physical changes. And I agree that the final redemption will occur with the new heaven and new earth, of which we’ve been told very little of its nature. I was pointing out that the picture of God bringing good things out of an imperfect creation is a picture of His redemptive nature. Similar to the way He uses evil in the world to purify/sanctify us now, even though that process won’t be complete until we each take on our personal new natures.

107 Jess Alford December 18, 2012 at 12:03 am

Ide,

I don’t think the Bible says anything about streets of gold in the New Jerusalem.

108 Dale Pugh December 18, 2012 at 12:13 am

Revelation 21:21. Gates of pearl and streets of gold, transparent as glass.

109 Jess Alford December 18, 2012 at 12:14 am

Ide,

I guess I had better say the Bible says, the street of it, main street there is no side streets. Just one big street. There is not an S in the picture.

110 Dale Pugh December 18, 2012 at 12:24 am

That is true. I stand corrected.

111 Adam G. in NC December 16, 2012 at 2:57 am

A personal question for you guys. Hopefully some honest answers.

If you (personally) lived 600 years ago, do you think you would have considered the earth flat and at the center of the universe and that the sun revolved around it?

112 Jim Pemberton December 16, 2012 at 3:44 am

No. Some folks may have, but ancient astronomers and seafarers seem to have had a fair enough grasp of the curvature of the earth and the courses of the stars to design architecture aligned with it, and navigate and chart the seas and coastlines.

I think the widespread “flat earth” belief is more of a convenient myth for some (while others observe some pretty fantastic things among ancient ruins and think that only aliens could have such knowledge – it’s interesting to note how many people hold to both views). it’s noteworthy that archaeological digs of the place where Abraham came from have turned up schools and libraries from his time that contained information on such things as linguistics, mathematics, geography and astronomy.

And while we say that the earth orbits the sun, it’s only for mathematical simplicity and intuitive understanding. General relativity tells us that we can generate calculations that explain where everything is and moves based on centering the universe about any object, including the earth – or some stray comet for that matter.

113 Adam G. in NC December 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

What about YOU. Do you think that YOU would have joined the round-earth camp given you still had the same general beliefs you currently have?

114 Jim Pemberton December 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

All things not being equal, that’s an incoherent question. Who are my parents? Did I grow up affluently? What is my religious exposure at the time? Franky, it’s an irrelevant and fruitless thought experiment in this discussion.

115 Adam G. in NC December 18, 2012 at 1:51 am

Frankly, it was just a personal question, and was identified as such. One you were entitled to answer or just keep scrolling down.

116 Jess Alford December 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Adam G, in NC

I have been on mountains and hills where I could take a good look
at the horizon all the way around me, I could see a roundness.
I am sure in the East during Bible times when there was less pollution
the roundness would be more obvious.

117 Adam G. in NC December 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm

If it was so obvious then why did they continue in their error?

I’m just asking this about YOU. If it was you who lived back then, which camp would you see yourself aligning with?

118 John Wylie December 16, 2012 at 9:36 am

I’ve got to admit that I don’t trust most modern scientists because many are outspoken about their bias against Christianity. “Facts” as we all know can be misused and misrepresented and misinterpreted and I have no doubt that many scientists have engaged in this. Also, one glaring weakness of secular science is that it discounts and dismesses the supernatural and spiritual. To a secular scientist, only the things that can be examined through the 5 senses are believable. The things of the spirit cannot be naturally examined.

119 Walt Carpenter December 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm

A popular doctrine is that animals did not die before the fall of man. This doctrine may be termed original animal immortality. It is presently held among many evangelicals, particularly the group termed young-earth creationists. Its adherents include venerable interpreters from the past. It is presented by adherents as a Biblical doctrine, based on an interpretive scheme built on Genesis, Isaiah, Romans and other books of Scripture.

Not all Bible believers have agreed that this doctrine is true and Biblically supported. The dissenters also include present and past interpreters….

http://www.reasons.org/articles/creature-mortality-from-creation-or-the-fall

120 Ide Trotter December 17, 2012 at 12:58 am

I thought I had gotten this submitted two hours ago. So I’m ltrying again.
*************************
Lots of food for thought in these helpful discussions. As to the state of nature before the fall and whether or not there was death I think my eight points designed to be purely exegetical and unrelated to applicable scientific inferences (on Dec. 15 at 3:44) are still holding up as I see it.

Now may I shift to my take on exegesis related to age?

Jim, on Dec 16 at 1:20 you raised an interesting point regarding the prophetic future vs. the “prophetic” past. As I see it the difference is that we are unable to see into the future while we are able to see into the past through a number of scientific techniques with a range of reliability.

Cosmology, on which I like to focus, gives a very reliable picture of what nature reveals about its self and everyone agrees that the universe looks very old. 13.75 billion years is the current best estimate. Interestingly enough, even ICR has switched its position on radioactive decay. If you are acquainted with ICR’s RATE II study you will see that they concede the accuracy of the geological record of isotopic decay. So they now posit, without either exegetical or scientific basis, that there were periods of extremely rapid decay occurring either at the fall or during the flood. The authors further concede that the heat released by that amount of decay in so short a time would not have just boiled off the oceans but also have melted the surface rock. So they now are looking for some quantum-cooling phenomenon to take care of that problem.

Related to this issue Frank L. (Dec16 at 1:24) expresses concern that there is no exegetical position directly supporting long age. In a sense that is true but the Scripture makes it quite clear that time to God is different from time to man. Furthermore it has never seemed to me that the case for 24-hour days is watertight. First, it’s not clear at what spot on earth the purported days were being recorded. What looks like a 24-hour night following day solar day at one place would like day following night on the opposite side of the earth and, depending on the rotational axis of the earth even perpetual day at one pole and perpetual night at the other. Second, if 24-hour days were to be rigidly required the proper delimiting would have to be evening-to-evening or morning-to-morning. Evening and morning would appear to bound a period of work and indeed the Scripture tells us that God was then actively at work on His creation.

In support of Dale P’s position I would suggest he may have conceded too much in saying “Could God have created everything as the YEC states? Yes. He is God and He can do it how He wants to do it. Did He do it that way?’ That in essence is the doctrine of appearance. It is certainly true that God could have made His creation look any way He wanted. However, it seems to me that if God deliberately made His creative process look different from the way He described His creation in Scripture he would either be lying about what He actually did or having some higher purpose for introducing this problem in systematic understanding that I am unable to imagine.

It seems to me that the view with the highest view of Scripture and God’s integrity is that there is sufficient latitude in the interpretation of “literal” scripture to allow it to fit what we see. I know many have long held a contrary position but it seems to me an OEC interpretation is the most supportable inference.

Ide

121 Ken Hamrick December 17, 2012 at 10:38 am
122 Walt Carpenter December 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

The Hebrew “yom” can mean anything from a 12 hour day to an eon. The better translation of the KJV “day” would be “period.”

http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis.html

123 Frank L. December 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Not when preceded by an ordinal.

124 Walt Carpenter December 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Some believe that the ordinals “first,” “second,” “third,” etc., in describing the days of creation, are sure indicators that they were days of 24 hours in length. However, there is no rule, pertaining to Hebrew usage or grammar, which dictates that yôm, when preceded by an ordinal, must refer to a 24-hour day.

Here is an example in the Old Testament where an ordinal is used before the word “day” (yôm), and the usage of “day” in this case clearly does not indicate a period of 24 hours:

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence (Hosea 6:2).

In this prophecy, “day” most likely represents a period of time approximating 1,000 years (read more in my description of Hosea 6:1-3).

In the New International version of the Bible, the translation, in English, of a description applied to the first creation day reads as follows:

And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day (Genesis 1:2b).

This translation, however, is incorrect. Here is the actual word-for-word translation of this, from Hebrew into English:

And was evening and was morning day one (Genesis 1:2b).

Thus, in the original Hebrew, the text reads “day one” and does not have the ordinal “first” associated with that “day.” There is nothing in the text that designates the length of the initial “day” of Creation; that “day” just as well could be a long period of time as it could be 24 hours. In my opinion, the distinction between “day one” and the references to the other “days” (“second day,” “third day,” “fourth day,” etc.) indicates that the length of “day” one of Creation differed from the length of the other “days.” In fact, I believe that “day” #1, most likely, was of much greater length than the other “days” of the Creation.

http://www.tedmontgomery.com/bblovrvw/Creation/index.html

125 Frank L. December 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Chris. That is true but creation iOS an issue directly addressed in the text. I am not willing to say the text does not inform my deduction.

For me it is all about the text. Science must find its place within the text or it cannot be true.

126 Frank L. December 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm

terribly unsatisfying to sentient adults””

I guess no “sentient adult” could possibly look at the evidence among many ancient, and not so ancient, writings describing contemporaneous encounters with dinosaurs.

Or, that evolutionary paleontologists described an ancient giant worm from a fossil — until someone was reading a modern native American account of a well-known beaver critter.

I guess using words like “obscure” and “silly” pretty much end the discussion before it gets started.

Also, it is interesting that “no references to an ancient earth in the Bible” is somehow compatible with being a “sentient” adult, but a few clear descriptions of dinosaurs in that same Bible is the fantasy of silly “grade school children.”

And all this from someone decrying an “uncivil” behavior in such discussions.

127 William Thornton December 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Please give links and examples of all these encounter with dinosaurs (crocs and coelacanths don’t count). T-rex and velociraptors would be nice.

There has been considerable silliness in YE apologetics, I make no apology for that. I withdraw the sentient part of adults.

128 Frank L. December 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm

William,

I guess an ad hominem argument exists because it is so effective.

No use giving you any of my “silly” grade school evidence.

I’m going to bow out of the conversation.

129 Chris Roberts December 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Frank,

Claiming the high road while taking the low road. You made an unsubstantiated claim then decline to substantiate while feigning offense. I think the evidence does not exist.

130 Frank L. December 17, 2012 at 10:15 pm

“”I think the evidence does not exist””

Chris, I didn’t take the highroad, I took the exit. I think words like “silly” are just . . . well, silly. I think comparing me to a grade school child is a bit offensive. No feigning on my part.

I don’t doubt you think the evidence does not exist. I’m fairly certain that no matter how much someone protests that the Emperor is naked, many will compliment him on his fine robes.

I mentioned the now extinct beaver-like animal well known to the Native Americans that modern science considered a fossil having been extinct for thousands of years.

That’s just one example. There is also the etchings on caves and the recently discovered drawings in Iraq.

It’s also interesting that crocodiles (commonly referred to by evolutionary scientists as a living dinosaur) and coelocanths are summarily set off limits. You have already dismissed the evidence I’ve given and any evidence I might give. There remains no point to this conversation in my opinion and the discussion has decayed into name calling.

Chris, as I’ve said my graduate work was in cosmology (the physics side not biology in particular). I spent three years researching and writing my thesis and reading scientists of all persuasions. I have thousands of pages of documents and more than a few shelves of books on the subject.

I remain absolutely convinced I remain unconvinced that evolution and an old age earth developed to support its improbability and the many, many problems with the theory should sway me to abandon a meaningful, straightforward reading of Genesis.

As I said, I’m not taking the high road, I’m taking the exit. Before I go I just want to say, I hold my views with some trepidation. The science is not settled and many questions seem to lie beyond man’s ability to grasp a definitive answer.

It takes a lof of faith for me to hold my current view.

My holiday wishes to you and your family.

131 Chris Roberts December 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Frank,

Thanks for the info, but perhaps I should have asked for something more specific: links, journals, etc, showing the evidence, not just that which you can recall by memory.

132 William Thornton December 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm

…but, please, those Dino links first…

133 William Thornton December 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I was hoping for the big boys…not the puny modern dinos like crocs.

The illustrated man/dinosaur YE texts that have the two romping about together is impressive to grade school kids. I made no personal application of that.

I think the better YE route is the one that says,”I believe the text demands it but we do not have the evidence to prove it.” That was Harvard educated Paleontologist PhD Kurt Wise’ stance. I assume it still

I’m outta this one…blessings all.

134 Chris Roberts December 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm

What clear descriptions? Name a single clear description that does not require imposing assumptions on the text?

135 Jim Cole December 16, 2012 at 1:20 am

We don’t even have to take it as symbolic to say the Lord referred to spiritual death. Simply that He didn’t specify either, and the context (since they did not die spiritually on that day) provides the answer.

With regard to symbolism though, shouldn’t we consider the initial creation account to be prophetic revelation since no human was there? (Job 38:4) As such, why would it be considered so different than other prophetic revelations of cosmic events in Scripture? (and Num 12:6) What is the basis for treating it differently?

136 Frank L. December 16, 2012 at 1:54 am

So then, physical death is not part of the curse?

Setting aside the “Gap Theory” (Scofield, et. al.), where is the death of dinasaurs millions of years before the fall actually written?

Also, is death “good?” If it (physical death; red in tooth and claw) existed before the fall as part of the creation it has to be good?

I’m still not convinced this is an “exegetical” position. So far, nobody has offered an exegetical, textual position supporting a cosmos millions (billions) of years old.

There is no argument from me that naturalistic science has offered an abundance of evidence supposedly supporting an old age.

But, who leads the charge of truth: God, or science?

137 Dale Pugh December 16, 2012 at 9:59 am

Frank–What follows in response is intended as interaction, not an attempt to convince you that you’re wrong. I appreciate your thoughts, your very clear statements, your scientific background (which, quite honestly, is probably far superior to my own), and your logical approach.
As I understand it:
Physical death is a part of the curse. So is the concept of spiritual death, thus we can say that mankind is “dead in his trespasses and sins” (spiritual death–Eph. 2), that the “wages of sin is death” (both spiritual and physical death–Rom.6), and that “through the one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men” (again, both spiritual and physical death–Rom. 5). It is both/and, not either/or, in my opinion.
The death of dinosaurs isn’t written down anywhere. Dinosaurs themselves are not referenced in the Bible or anywhere else in ancient literature. No one knew about them until fossil discoveries. One can’t say that they didn’t exist or die simply because they aren’t written about in the Bible. Such an argument is a non sequitir. The evidence for their existence and death is right in front of us. The Bible never mentions them. One doesn’t mutually exclude the other.
Is death good? Death as a part of the Fall and subsequent Curse isn’t good. But the animals, plants, stars, etc., the way the universe works, the way that the laws of nature as God created and established them–all of these things fall into a separate category, and the way God created that to work is indeed good. If that includes the death of all these things, then yes, it is good. The Hebrew word “good” doesn’t mean “perfect.” I realize that doesn’t fit a traditional understanding of Creation (perfect creation), but I would say that the traditional understanding is flawed in this aspect.
In my opinion, Paul’s references to death in Romans are misinterpreted when applied to anything other than human beings created in the image of God with a living soul. I say this because he positions Christ’s atonement in contrast to Adam’s curse of sin. Christ died for those possessing a living soul. God created this world to function the way it does. He provided Adam and Eve with the Tree of Life. He told Adam not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and that the result of doing so would be death. The idiomatic construction of the Hebrew “dying you shall die” basically emphasizes the fact that death becomes a certainty for mankind that can never be escaped. Adam became a “dead man walking.” From that point forward, no one would have the possibility of anything other than life as a terminal experience. The Tree of Life is removed and Adam is barred from the Garden. No one will ever have the possibility of such an existence again.
As I’ve said before, exegesis doesn’t just recognize what is said in the text. It also recognizes what is not said. To extrapolate from the text that death didn’t exist at all simply because the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that animals died isn’t good exegesis either.
Can I offer an exegetical proof of the universe as millions of years old? No. I admit that. Could God have created everything as the YEC states? Yes. He is God and He can do it how He wants to do it. Did He do it that way? I don’t know. My interpretive framework is different than yours, and it involves some uncertainties. From an exegetical standpoint, I concede the point. I do have questions about it, and I don’t think that I and others are wrong for trying to make further sense of the issue.
Do I as an OEC submit to science rather than the Bible? Again, I would say it is a both/and, not an either/or approach. As to who leads the charge of truth, God does. But all truth is God’s truth, even scientific truth. Can we misinterpret or misapply it? Absolutely. It happens all the time.

138 Jim Cole December 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Regarding exegesis of this passage, that should include consideration of the context. In this case, since no human was present, we have to include the fact that this passage is as much revelation as passages that foretell the future. That doesn’t mean it must be taken figuratively, but that such interpretation has to be considered. With figurative interpretation, the text does not necessarily say anything about the age of the universe, so that information must come from elsewhere.

Why should we consider this prophetic revelation to be different than others in Scripture?

139 Walt Carpenter December 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm

During this season of thankfulness, I’m grateful for how God revealed himself to humankind in two ways.

In Christian theology, revelation refers to God’s personal self-disclosure to his creatures. He took the initiative and revealed himself in both general revelation (God’s world) and special revelation (God’s Word).

Through General Revelation ?The created order makes God’s existence and characteristics known to all people, at all times, in all places. This includes nature (Psalm 19:1–4; Romans 1:18–21), history (Daniel 2:21; Acts 17:26), and the inner human conscience (Genesis 1:26–27; Romans 2:11–16).

This disclosure takes external and internal forms. The external consists of nature and God’s providential ordering of the universe, including history. The internal consists of both the moral law of conscience and an innate consciousness of God.

Through Special Revelation?God’s more specific self-disclosure comes through his great redemptive acts, events, and words (John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:15–17; Hebrews 1:1–4) at special times and places. God first manifested himself through the Israelites, his covenant people (as recorded in the Old Testament).

Special revelation culminated decisively in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ—the God-man whose life, death, and resurrection are recorded in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the divine Logos is the agent of all revelation—the eternal Word and Son who “gives light to every man” (John 1:9). For this, we can all be thankful.”

http://www.reasons.org/articles/thankful-for-gods-dual-revelation

140 Walt Carpenter December 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm

“…Some scholars hold that any view of the creation days as other than six consecutive twenty-four hour periods must be labeled heretical, not explicitly, but implicitly. They argue that reading the days of Genesis as anything other than twenty-four hour periods undermines orthodoxy because it allows for the possibility that Earth is billions of years old. This idea, in turn, allows for the possibility of animal and plant death (not human death) before the Fall. Such an idea, they assert, compromises one or more of the non-negotiable doctrines of the faith. However, many well-respected evangelical scholars see no real logical or theological support for such an assertion. Some of these same scholars have raised doubts as to whether the Calendar-Day view itself can be squared with biblical inerrancy….”

http://www.reasons.org/articles/creedal-controversy-the-orthodoxy-of-days

141 Frank L. December 17, 2012 at 1:42 am

Dale. If silence becomes an equal part of hermeneutics then we are back to a fuzzy post modern gospel.

If billions of years lie between the lines of Genesis One there’s an awful lot silence is given credit for.

I appreciate your analysis

142 Ken Hamrick December 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

The Bible does indeed mention dinosaurs. But it calls them by a different name. Can you tell me what kind of animal is called the “chief” of God’s creatures, and has a great tail “like a cedar tree”? See Job 40:15-44. And don’t give us that hippo nonsense—have you seen a hippo’s tail?

143 Frank L. December 17, 2012 at 2:25 am

If a day is not a day how does that logically jump to six days equals 15 billion years or so.

How would anyone deduce that from the text

144 Dale Pugh December 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

I agree that care must be taken. Again, thanks for your clarity in this issue. I appreciate your position and how you arrive at it.

145 Chris Roberts December 17, 2012 at 10:37 am

Ken,

But that is at best highly speculative. We cannot take a general poetic description then insist it must be a dinosaur without imposing an awful lot of assumptions. The passage proves nothing about dinosaurs.

146 William Thornton December 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

The problem with incorporating all of the dinosaurs into recorded human history and gleaning Scripture for evidence of such is that the results strain belief and severely diminish credibility. A few obscure terms in Job along with some figurative language makes it interesting for grade school children but terribly unsatisfying to sentient adults…unless one is forced by the age of the earth issue to cram the dinos into a few years alongside humans.

If these were indeed contemporaneous with humans there would certainly be abundant ancient references to them, including both written and graphic evidence, and we would find their bones mixed everywhere with human bones.

Instead, we get the usual young earth approach of nipping about the edges with isolated, obscure exceptions and what is to me silly explanations.

All of which I am ambivalent about, unless the YE crowd insists on some ecclesiastical purity to be considered a conservative, Bible believing Christian. Some, unfortunately, do so insist.

147 Chris Roberts December 17, 2012 at 10:37 am

There is no reason to deduce it from the text. We believe a million things that are nowhere found in the Bible.

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