Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Science, the Bible, and Presuppositions: a parable

A man once went into a room, in which he found a thin layer of dust and a jumble of furniture.

He moved all of the furniture exactly where he wanted it, then sat down and wrote a note. The note read:
I am the owner of this room. Over the space of one hour, I moved all of the furniture into the current arrangement.
He taped the note on the door into the room. Then he left.

Days later, a group of men came by and noticed the room. Glancing briefly at the note and shrugging, they walked into the room.

The men immediately gasped at the beautiful and complex arrangement of the furniture. They sat down and began making notes.

Another man walked by, paused at the door, read the note carefully, recognized the signature, and entered the room.

"What's going on?" he asked.

Eagerly the men responded, "We've been studying this room, and it's absolutely fascinating! Look at how intricately this furniture arranged itself! Look at the drag-lines! In a stationary room, we've calculated that movement of this sort had to have taken billions of years! Maybe kazillions!"

Puzzled, the man replied, "But the note on the door says the room's owner came in and arranged it. It only took him about an hour."

The men looked at the intruder with pity. "Owner?" they asked. "Do you see an 'owner' in here? Besides, if there were an owner, why would he deceive us all by this evidence, that clearly took billions of years to come into the current arrangement?"

"Huh?" the visitor returned. "How is it deception? Didn't you see the note? How is it deception when he tells you exactly what he did, and you just ignore it?"

Sadly, with an expression of infinite, condescending pity, the men say,

"Ah. You're not being scientific."



UPDATE: now, this is interesting. I've had this idea for some time, wrote it a bit back, and published it on the given date. Now today (2/13/09) I read for the first time this essay, dated January 30, 2009. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, does an excellent job of developing the same point along similar lines. Check it out.

65 comments:

Daryl said...

You forgot the part where the owner's adopted kids come in and say:

"Well yeah, the note APPEARS to say that he did it in an hour but I heard him say once that his hour had not yet come so maybe by 'hour' he meant 'indeterminate amount of time'. We think the scientists are right, this COULD have taken a gazillion years, and since 'hour' is SUCH a confusing term we really shouldn't be so close minded as to take Dad's note at face value...if he really meant and hour surely he would've said 60 minutes or 3600 seconds or something equally clear."

God can be SOOO confusing sometimes, right...right...?

Stan McCullars said...

Thanks for posting. Quite humorous.

NoLongerBlind said...

Great parable, Dan.

Reminds me, in a way, of the various stories - of questionable truthfulness - associated with the Orrery Theorem.

But for the grace of our Sovereign Lord, we'd all be likewise blind.

Michelle said...

I love the way John MacArthur says that there is no such thing as "creation science". He calls it the "theology of creation".

Creation was an extraordinary, miraculous event and no amount of studying it will tell you anything about how God did it, just like you could study the body and life of Lazarus after he was raised from the dead and it would tell you nothing about the miracle God wrought in his lifeless body.

I can understand unbelievers denying a creator, because a creator would mean a judge too. But I lament with you, Stan, those believers who deny the testimony of the Creator (the only eye-witness) regarding six literal days of creation to jive with the wisdom of men. Sorry to harp on, but John MacArthur says that we face a test in the first chapters of the Bible - are we going to believe that it means what it says (so simple that even a child can understand it)? If not, when do we "kick in"?

The sermon I reference is titled "Defending the Biblical Account of Creation".

Michelle said...

Oops, I lament with Daryl, not Stan.

RT said...

I am less concerned with people who say God didn't create the world in 6 days than I am with those who say he couldn't have. I do not, strictly for myself, see it as a litmus test for belief in general - although it may be for some people. Personally I am comfortable knowing that God could have created the world in six days or six minutes if He wanted to - and likewise He could have taken 6 billion years. The "note" He left behind (to use Dan's excellent and amusing parable) certainly indicates that He did it in 6 days and that is sufficient, if taken literally, but scarcely determinative of my faith one way or another. This is purely a personal reflection of course. I have certainly known people to put a lot of eggs in that particular basket and, while I understand the rationale, it just doesn't resonate with me.

~Mark said...

RE: this post...

Word.

Stefan said...

Um, hey, not only did the owner of said room arrange the furniture, he also made it.

Which would give the interlopers more temptation to doubt, because who could have made all this beautiful furniture, too? It must have evolved out a random collection of wood and lacquer molecules over billions of years.

My verification word is "subvie," which is almost a conceivable English word.

Michelle said...

RT, I agree that accepting a literal six day creation is not an issue tied to salvation faith and from that perspective it isn't a big deal.

My problem is that the "note" He left behind also indicates that Jesus is the only way to Him, but is that what He actually meant? As another example, it indicates that homosexuality is a perversion, but what if we're taking that too literally and it doesn't refer to a loving, monogamous homosexual relationship?

That's why, for me, accepting and believing what the Bible says in the first chapters of Genesis is consequential and in many cases (not all) will show a high view or a low view of Scripture.

RT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RT said...

Michelle -

I certainly respect your point of view but I am not convinced that a "high" vs "low" view of scripture is defined by whether or not one takes scripture literally per se. Rather it seems to me that a high view of scripture is one that takes it seriously, in context and as it was meant (in a given passage) to be taken. I don't think anyone would seriously contend that scripture was always, in every passage, intended to be taken literally and I don't think you are asserting this. People often suffer, however, from a pernicious tendency to insist that whatever they take literally must also be taken literally by everybody else. The fact is that there are issues (and passages) over which reasonable minds can differ. I have come to believe, for example, that the story of Esther is a novel and the story of Jonah essentially a protracted humorous anectdote. Whether there is any factual basis to either story appears to be neither here nor there to the truths contained in them. It is my high view of scripture that compels me to give it the scrutiny and analysis it deserves, using all historical and critical tools available, so that I can arrive at as full an understanding as possible of the truth God inspired His writers to convey in whatever literary form He inspired them to convey it. The story, or rather stories, of creation contained in Genesis are the inspired word of God. They may be myths, or they may be literally true. In either case (to return to the parable) since I was not there to witness the events, it is by faith I am persuaded that God both moved the furniture and wrote the note and I am content to wait until I see Him face to face to find out how He did the one and what He meant by the other.

Daniel said...

RT - so when Christ refers to Jonah, you believe he is not referencing him as an actual, historical person, but rather as a character in a protracted humorous anecdote? I am curious therefore, if when Christ spoke of the scriptures as that which "cannot be broken" - was He was suggesting that all protracted humorous anecdotes cannot be broken, or just those that are in scripture?

Just wondering out loud. ;)

Stefan said...

And for my part, I don't see why Esther should be regarded as a novel—especially given all its meticulous attention to details (dates, territories, etc.) and the overall plausibility (from a naturalistic, rationalistic point of view) of the story.

RT said...

Daniel -

I think Christ was referring to the character in the story, much as you or I might refer to King Lear or Bilbo Baggins. The point made by our Lord in His reference to Jonah was in no way dependent, it seems to me anyway, upon whether Jonah was an historical character or merely one in a story. Scripture, of course, cannot be broken whether it appears in the form of history or amusing anecdotes. Bear in mind that Christ himself used fiction to convey truth in His parables. I think we should hesitate before assuming that the sacred writers of the Old Testament were unfamiliar with that technique.

Daryl said...

I was wondering that too. If it's a novel is it historical fiction?

If so (to follow Daniel's train of thought) how is it that fiction cannot be broken?
Do you then see Esther as a parable of sorts? 'Cause there's certainly no clear "moral of the story" (except maybe "Don't kill the Jews")
It certainly reads like an historical account to me.

Daryl said...

So...in the original story, the adopted kids arrive and say:

"The scientists are right, clearly the note on the door is a parable of evolution"

Sorry RT, it doesn't work.

RT said...

It is by no means irrational to think that Esther is factual, but, by the same rationale (meticulous attention to detail, dates, places etc.) one might assume Patrick O'Brian's novels to be history. Well, they convey history and they convey moral and psychological truths (as does Esther), but that does not render them "history" in the accepted sense of the term.

RT said...

It is evidently possible to overwork Dan's excellent and illuminating parable, so I will merely point out that Esther illustrates God's intervention in human affairs through the use of human instruments who gird up their loins, take risks and confront dangerous situations. These are some of the lessons I derive from the book, and I can derive those lessons from it whether it is established historical fact, an historical novel or pure unadulterated fiction.

Daryl said...

The trouble is, unless it is plain that a story is only being made to make a point (a la Jesus' parables) we have no basis to assign the label "fiction" to any of Scripture.

As you saying that the feast of Purim was founded in an author's imagination and then, somehow, made it from the pages of fiction into a national holiday?

Thin ice, methinks.

Stefan said...

It also bears keeping in mind that the book of Esther would not reach its full significance until after the coming of Jesus Christ—well after the book would have been written, whether based on historical truth or not—since it was only by Esther's actions that the entire nation of Abraham was preserved, including the Davidic bloodline into which was born our Lord and Saviour, He bing the sole means of redemption for humankind. In other words, God used Esther to preserve his promises to Eve (Genesis 3), Abraham (Genesis 12), and David (2 Samuel 7), not to mention his promises through Isaiah, Jeremiah, et alia.

At the time Esther was written, none of this was more than a hope in a promise of God yet to be fulfilled. Someone writing it to tell a fictitious tale could not possibly have anticipated how important the story would later turn out to be. (Unless we get into the idea of the Holy Spirit inspiring someone to write a novel to teach a real principle in fictitious terms, which is a road that I don't think we really want to go down.)

Jay said...

I certainly accept that a literal six-day Creation was possible, and even likely, but it's not like there aren't legitimate questions to the idea and mysteries left to be discerned.

I mean, even looking outside of the fossil record, the fact that we see light from stars that are billions of light years away (and thus, the light has taken billions of years to reach us) kind of suggest that the universe either is billions of years old or that God did, indeed, set up parts of Creation that would "fool" our sense of logic.

And I've checked Answers In Genesis and their answers to that question, but they don't hold much weight among physicists (and physics isn't a speculative or politically-driven science like evolutionary biology, but one based in pretty objective mathematical fact).

Again, not saying that the six-day Creation isn't possible, or that I don't believe in it, because I do. But it's not like all the proof is there before our eyes and there's nothing to cause us to wonder. Maybe God meant for it to be that way.

DJP said...

You are both generally and specifically mistaken.

GENERALLY, there is literally no branch of ANYTHING that doesn't proceed on premises.

SPECIFICALLY, the assumption that any process has always gone on at the same length is - an assumption.

Rita Martinez said...

I just love how sure they are of the gazillion of years something takes to turn into whatever they say it turns into...or how sure they are how the planet or the solar system was a gazillion years ago as if they were there, and people actually believe that stuff.
What amazes me is how everything in this vast universe looks like it was intricately designed...but man's pride is so overwhelming that they'd rather deny the obvious evidence and invent their own theories.
I took a class called embryology in my first year of medschool, it studies step by step how a human being is formed inside the mother's womb, I wasn't a believer back then. After I read the whole process I was amazed by how obvious it is that we were designed by an amazing Designer, my reaction was "wow! There must be a God!", let me just say there is nothing random about how we are "knitted" inside our mother's womb.


"I certainly accept that a literal six-day Creation was possible, and even likely, but it's not like there aren't legitimate questions to the idea and mysteries left to be discerned."

Ok this is God we're talking about, He could've created this whole universe in a second but He chose to create it in 6 days and rest on the 7th. Is He not capable of creating the world in such a way that it would look old?
Why? who knows...when I stare at the night sky and think of those amazing stars that appear to be specks in the sky while in reality WE are the specks in this immense universe, the first thing that comes mind is WOW and God is omnipresent, He is bigger than this vast universe.

"Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name" Amos 5:8

AND
" But how can a man be in the right before God?
If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—
he who removes mountains, and they know it not, when he overturns them in his anger, who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble;
who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars; who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;
who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number.
Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back?
Who will say to him, 'What are you doing?' Job 9:2-12

Jay said...

Is He not capable of creating the world in such a way that it would look old?.

Well, that was kind of my point. The world does look old when humans observe it through their own logic. And there are mysteries that we can't always explain and that don't exactly have neat answers in the Bible.

For example, Answers In Genesis claims that, in accordance with the Bible, all animals (including extinct ones such as dinosaurs) lived together with man at the same time before the Fall. But fossils of contemporary animals are never found in the same kind of rock strata as dinosaurs. If they all lived together, one would assume that there wouldn't be this kind of separation, and that you would be able to find lions and rabbits and possibly even fossilized humans in the same rock formations as Tyrannosaurs and Triceratops.

But this isn't the case. Generally, more "primitive" creatures are found in deeper, older rock formations, while fossils of prehistoric man and contemporary animals are found close to the surface.

Now, I'm not saying that these kinds of phenomenon disprove a literal six-day Creation at all, but they are mysteries and it's not like there are easy answers to them. In other words, I'm criticizing the parable Dan used. Not the six-day Creation. :)

CR said...

I don't have a firm position on the length of the creation days. I use to be "Day-Age", but now, I'm not sure. I may be more "Analogical Day", not to be confused with "Framework."

I think the best treatment you're going to find on this subject is by Vern Poythress, a mathematician, a Reformed Calvinist philosopher, theologian and NT scholar. He wrote a book which I barely touched and I'm trying to find the time to read through, called "Redeming Science." The book is available free online.

CR said...

I forgot to mention that Poythress is also a presuppositionalist and prefers the analogical day interpretation.

Rita Martinez said...

"Now, I'm not saying that these kinds of phenomenon disprove a literal six-day Creation at all, but they are mysteries and it's not like there are easy answers to them."
Ok I see what you mean.
How 'bout those "living fossils" that have been appearing for years...animals thought to be extinct millions of years ago or that had evolved, but have popped up in different parts of the world exactly like their "million year old" fossils.

Stan McCullars said...

RT:
Would you be satisfied to derive lessons from the New Testament whether it is established historical fact, an historical novel or pure unadulterated fiction?

RT said...

Stan:

I derive lessons from the parables of Jesus, which of course are deliberate fiction. Aside from that and perhaps Jude's reference to the Book of Enoch, (and, of course Revelation) we are not exposed in the New Testament to fictional literary forms. The Gospel narratives and Acts are meant as history and must, it seems to me, be taken at face value. Likewise the correspondence of St. Paul and others, to the extent the letters contain narrative, are meant to be factual and should be accepted as such. I probably should add, lest I have created any misconception in this discussion, that I personally find a literal 6 day creation more plausible than the theory of evolution. Once you admit what appears to be the obvious reality that the creation is miraculous it is a very easy step to just accept the Genesis narrative at face value which, frankly, I do. My only point was that I don't pin my salvation to it and if it were proved beyond a legal certaintly (were that possible) that the Genesis story was a myth it would not shake my faith even slightly.

Jay said...

How 'bout those "living fossils" that have been appearing for years...animals thought to be extinct millions of years ago or that had evolved, but have popped up in different parts of the world exactly like their "million year old" fossils.

Again, one of those questions that I have no idea how to answer and, as an English major, probably never will. :)

Though if my 12-year-old nephew wants to become a paleontologist (and he does) and try answer those questions, and walk with the Lord at the same time (and he does), then I'll let him have at it. Take care!

threegirldad said...

And I've checked Answers In Genesis and their answers to that question, but they don't hold much weight among physicists...

Half a moment, please. Do you really mean to insinuate that physicists are some sort of monolithic horde regarding this question? That there are no credentialed physicists who accept the AiG answers? Please.

(and physics isn't a speculative or politically-driven science like evolutionary biology, but one based in pretty objective mathematical fact).

What?! "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

At what point did physicists stop being human? The history of Physics includes a number of philosophical/metaphysical tugs-of-war having nothing whatever to do with "objective mathematical fact." The notion of the dispassionate, detatched, "I only go where experimentation and observation lead me" scientist...is...a...myth. Period.

For example, Answers In Genesis claims that, in accordance with the Bible, all animals (including extinct ones such as dinosaurs) lived together with man at the same time before the Fall. But fossils of contemporary animals are never found in the same kind of rock strata as dinosaurs. If they all lived together, one would assume that there wouldn't be this kind of separation...

Given that fossils are, in fact, incredibly rare, I don't see why this is the least bit persuasive.

"It is important to address the rarity of fossils in the context that for any particular organism that once existed, the probability that it today is part of the fossil record is infinitesimally small. Such profound rarity is a consequence of three factors: 1) fossil formation is a rare event; 2) fossil survival is a rare event; and 3) an exceedingly tiny fraction of surviving fossils will ever be accessible to be found, though the crust of the earth is filled with them." (source)

Jay said...

There's no need to be sarcastic. I don't exactly find that helpful to good Christian discussion and it can be offensive sometimes. I'm only saying that there are unanswered questions and that observing the natural world and fitting it into a six-day Creation model doesn't have simple answers.

For example, 139 species of extinct animals have been found in the Morrison Formation in the western United States. It's well-known as being one of the few examples in which an entire ancient ecosystem seems to have been preserved, and it covers a very wide area.

I think it's fine to genuinely wonder why no contemporary animals have been found in the Morrison Formation, and I think that if someone wants to try to answer that question, they should be allowed to by pursuing a career in paleontology. I don't see why Christians can't be scientists. I think the desire to discover more about God's earth is a good thing. That's all I'm trying to say.

REM said...

Although Rita briefly approached it, both sides of the argument rarely acknowledge a potential difference between the age and the presence of the earth. Since man unmentionably wasn’t created as a baby along with trees not created as twigs and sunlight (which takes millions of light years to reach earth) appeared immediately at “Let there be light”, then why is it that the possibility of God building inherent age into the planet automatically deemed impossible? Must those two measurements be equal? Sorry to rehash old-school Grudem, but I rarely hear the question asked.

DJP said...

Yep. If you take the text seriously at all as how it is presented literarily and Canonically, then something is created with "apparent age."

The appearance is only deceptive if you brush aside the Creator's notes.

CR said...

I believe the "apparent age" interpretation has some problems. Poythress provides some guidiance on this.

Let's assume that the earth was created in a mature state like Adam was (in Adam's case 20-30 years -who knows, a man) and the earth in a mature state of 4.5 billion years.

So, if the rocks appear to be in the apparent age of millions of years then the fossils in these rocks are also appearing to be millions of years old.

Now, the Lord has the sovereignty to leave inconsistent signs of youth and age. But He also has the sovereignty to leave consistent signs of youth and age.

Those that adopt the Usher view of the earth being created 6,000 B.C. cannot adopt the view of "apparent age." The reason why is that these fossils stuck in these rocks which appear millions of years old would imply that death preceded the Fall. Because these fossils indicate that death occurred in the "projected past." This is another problem that apparent age young earth creationists have. You can't say the earth was created in a mature age of billions of years with rocks that are an apparent age of millions of years with these fossils stuck in the rocks with the same apparent age of millions of years because then you would be admitting there is an apparent death of animals which occurred millions of years old prior to the Fall.

Young earth creationists who want to affirm a young earth must reject any and all "apparent age" intrepretations and must say science is completely wrong in determining age (apparent or real).

Michelle said...

Millions, billions, trillions, phooey. Scientific dating methods are hardly an exact science.

We need to look at science through the lens of scripture, which is utterly true, trustworthy and authoritative, not vice versa.

Jesus turned water into fine wine and bypassed the process of fermentation. No amount of studying that wine in a lab would reveal anything about its age, because it was the product of a miracle. It was the prerogative of Jesus to do what He pleased, outside of our acceptable notions of science and logic.

CR said...

That's fine, Michelle, then you are consistent. You reject all scientific dating methods as false including ones that give an "apparent age" of the earth. Fine. That is your choice.

My post was to those young creationists who want to subscribe to some "apparent age" explanation of geology and astronomy. Some want to believe that the earth was created with a mature "apparent age."

It's actually, in a way, to say that Adam was created with an "apparent age." Prior to the Fall, Adam would have been unlike any man we've ever seen. No signs of age, internally or externally. His internal organs would have shown not an inkling of dying or aging. And he probably shined with the Shakina glory which might also explain after the Fall why he noticed he was naked.

Regardless, whether one is an old or young earth creationists, both believe that creation is a miracle. Because you can't take nothing and make something unless you have miracle.

DJP said...

And, as I mentioned, apparent age is a necessity if you take the narrative seriously. Or you have a microscopic fetus starving to death under a starless sky on a barren plain.

Got to read the note on the door.

Michelle said...

Of course God created the universe with all the signs of maturity and age, just like there was apparent age in the miraculous wine that just a moment before had been water (forgive me - I fancy the comparison).

CR, I just think the whole dating thing is futile silliness when you see creation as a miracle, and not a science. And you see it as a miracle too. Yay.

CR said...

Michelle - Yes, creation is a miracle - the Bible teaches that. All things were made by Christ and without Him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3). That means before the material world was made and before God created angels, God was, and created the heavens and the earth from nothing. Creation from nothing defies all laws of physics just like resurrection and a virgin birth and turning water into wine. But that doesn't mean the earth is young or created in 6/24 hour days.

Daryl said...

Perhaps not CR, but Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 does mean that.

threegirldad said...

Alright, Jay. I apologize for the sarcasm. I'll try to leave it aside.

Now, then...

I'm only saying that there are unanswered questions and that observing the natural world and fitting it into a six-day Creation model doesn't have simple answers.

But, Jay, that is not all you said. You pointed out two cases in particular where AiG gave answers that don't satisfy you. Well, ok. Say that. Don't say that the questions don't have answers at all.

Further, you insinuated that the AiG answer regarding light and the apparent age of the universe is rejected by all physicists. Not so, Jay. Not so.

Then you tried to characterize Physics as some sort of wholly objective discipline driven solely by "mathematical fact." No, Jay. That sort of characterization is a myth.

Dan's parable is an answer to your questions. It is simple and sufficient. Why do you not accept it?

Re: the Morrison formation. It's isn't anything new, right? So, obviously, there are people who don't see it as any sort of dilemma, even though they know the details of it as well as you do. I already explained why I don't find it persuasive: fossils are incredibly rare. Despite that, you're simply assuming that the fossil discoveries from that formation are exhaustive enough to make pronouncements about the past. You don't know that; you can't know that.

Paleontology itself rests on a single fundamental assumption, Jay. What is that assumption? And why do you (apparently) accept it?

I think it's fine to genuinely wonder why no contemporary animals have been found in the Morrison Formation...

So do I. I've done it myself. And my conclusion after engaging in that genuine wonder is that it isn't the least bit troubling. See above.

and I think that if someone wants to try to answer that question, they should be allowed to by pursuing a career in paleontology.

Has anyone in this discussion said otherwise?

I don't see why Christians can't be scientists.

I don't either. I was a BioChem major in college.

I think the desire to discover more about God's earth is a good thing.

Well, I do too. And I'm pretty sure that I've never said the opposite.

REM said...

Dan,
"apparent age is a necessity if you take the narrative seriously"

I reread the note & owe some thanks. It says what it states & apparent age only gets brighter as the text dims (it just ain't there). I do forgive Grudem quickly, because Lord knows I have had much worse explorations end twice as sour as this. I owe you some Polish arm wrestling (on me, of course:).

Jay said...

Well, I do too. And I'm pretty sure that I've never said the opposite.

And I never said you said the opposite. You have to realize that 99% of everything I write online is just me thinking out loud and not necessarily directed at anyone, and I never mean any offense. Hope you have a wonderful fantastic day, and God bless! :)

Aaron said...

I have to go with Michelle. Obviously, if you take the creation account literally, there's an assumption of apparent age. If I plant a tree and cut it down years later, we can all agree that I could reliably date the tree by counting its rings. But if God creates a fully grown tree then how can we possibly reliably date the age of the tree?

And as much as I appreciate the work of answers in genesis and the Institute for Creation Research, they still make some assumptions. We have no idea what the heck was going on outside of the Garden of Eden before the fall. We really have no idea how the world looked before vs. after the flood. We can make some conclusions based on a few verses in the Bible, but in the end we are still making educated guesses. Sometimes I think Christians are just as bad as the Darwin worshippers in making conclusions based on too little information. Sometimes we'd be better served by simply admitting that we don't know and the Bible doesn't tell us specifically.

Susan said...

Here are my two cents (albeit late):

In the creation account in Gen. 1, a certain phrase is repeated at the end of each creation act: "And there was evening and there was morning--the [nth] day." The fact that Scripture specifies evening and morning (two halves of a literal day) is not insignificant. I think it quite clearly points to a literal 6-day creation, which also means apparent age IS a necessity like Dan said.

(I am reminded of the words of RC Sproul, Sr., who was always bothered by the bumper sticker that said, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." He rephrased it and said:

"God said it. That settles it."

Amen.)

Rita Martinez said...

Susan that's quite right.
Not only that, in the rest of the OT and in the NT we are told of God's hand in creation. (Psalm 148:5(A psalm commanding creation to praise its Maker); Isaiah 40:26-28 (I love this whole chapter!), 42:5, 45:7,12,18; Mark 10:6, 13:19; Romans 1:20, 2 Pe 3:4)

Michelle said...

But Susan, "morning" and "evening" could be a poetic reference to the earlier and then later period of a veeeeery long epoch ... ;)

I'm kidding, but I'm interested to hear how a literal morning and evening are reasoned away.

Rita Martinez said...

Michelle unless your in Alaska or the north/south pole when the "evening" and "morning" are very longgg periods :P

DJP said...

Yeah, but not billions and billions of years!

I don't know how you get around Exodus 20:9-11 as a Divine commentary on the meaning of the days.

Rita Martinez said...

oh that's a good one!
Like I said God could've created everything in a second if He had chosen to, but He didn't, He chose to create the world in 6 days and rest on the 7th for a purpose, hence Exodus 20:9-11

Aaron said...

If God used evolution in creation or used very long days, you'd think he'd at least hint at this interpretation somewhere within Scripture. The people in Genesis lived hundreds of years...closer to a thousand year then to 100 years in many cases. Certainly, people then would be capable of understanding the concept of billions of years.

Susan said...

Michelle said: "But Susan, "morning" and "evening" could be a poetic reference to the earlier and then later period of a veeeeery long epoch ... ;) "

Yes, Michelle, and those who hold that belief usually points to 2 Peter 3:8.... :)

To All: I didn't always know what to think on the topic of the creation time frame. As an unbeliever, I found myself agreeing with my high school biology teacher (a Mormon) who said he would argue with some of his students who believed in a literal 6-day creation (he himself believed what Michelle was jokingly referring to above--one long epoch constituting as "one day"). It wasn't until when I came in contact with the things of the Lord that I realized that this couldn't be. I can't remember where I first heard the evening/morning explanation; perhaps it was in a Sunday School class or from RC Sr's "Themes On Genesis" messages. All I know is that it clicked. One would think that Moses knew the difference between mornings/evenings and long periods of time!

On a lighter note: We can all rejoice in the fact that we know the answer to that age old question, "Which came first--the chicken or the egg?"

DJP said...

Then there's that crucial hermeneutical principal I've yet to name (Law of Optimal Verbage?), that would ask, "Had Moses meant to indicate a 24-hour day, how could he have phrased it more clearly?"

Susan said...

Sorry, I meant to say "Themes FROM Genesis".

Michelle said...

Law of Perspicuous Enunciation? Maybe a little cumbersome.

Exodus 20:9-11
What a fine example of perspicuity and how very pertinent to this discussion.

DJP, with respect, it's verbiage, and that commonly means needless wordiness, making "optimal verbiage" somewhat oxymoronic!

Aaron said...

Then there's that crucial hermeneutical principal I've yet to name (Law of Optimal Verbage?), that would ask, "Had Moses meant to indicate a 24-hour day, how could he have phrased it more clearly?"

I look forward your law of optimum specificity. Then perhaps we can use it to debunk days=epochs; wine=grape juice; strong drink= some sort of special juice and a whole host of other convoluted explanations for seemingly clear passages.

Rita Martinez said...

Grape Juice!? seriously now...I had no idea grape juice made people "happy", or that a person could be called a drunkard for hanging out with people who drank "grape juice" or he himself drank "grape juice"..that's just pushing it.

Aaron said...

Rita:

I'm a little surprised you've never heard the ingenious exegesis that concludes (A) that the wine in the Bible, at least when it doesn't speak negatively about it, is simply fresh grape juice (B) strong drink was other juices but certainly not as strong as a beer today (3)even if wine in the Bible was alcoholic, it was so weak that people would have had to drink gallons of it to get drunk and (4) Jesus never, ever drank an alcoholic beverage. Baptists and some reformed camps (and note: I most strongly associate with reformed) are notarious for this nonsense.

But my point wasn't really an argument about alcohol. It is that people take clear passages and then make it mean whatever meets their presuppositions whether it be moral outrage of alcohol or belief in evolution. A literal day in creation is the most obvious understanding of what is a historical text.

Rita Martinez said...

I have, I just thought people finally grew up and got over that issue...
AND I go to a baptist church but our pastor, while he chose not to drink alcohol ever, has said clearly that it is wine not grape juice because of the clear bible verses, although they've also stated some of those other beliefs out there(just so we know they exist not approving of them necessarily), the one about the wine not having such a high concentration of alcohol.

Aaron said...

It was just in 2006 that the SBC passed on a resolution to “total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages.”

Rita Martinez said...

see I had no idea, on what basis? I mean I guess the advertising and all that is justifiable but the consumption? ah well, I personally don't drink at all but will definitely not "take clear passages and then make it mean whatever meets their presuppositions...".

Aaron said...

Rita,

Frank Turk dealt with this issue on his blog which Dan links on the front page. Turk also links to the thirsty theologian which offers the entire explanation. I'd just be plagarizing that blog so it'd be better if you went there and read it.

http://www.thirstytheologian.com/mt/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=alcohol

Rita Martinez said...

alright, thanks for the link!

DJP said...

Michelle — you're right. It's "verbiage," not "verbage."

However, I was using it in the second dictionary meaning: "manner or style of expressing something in words."