Should Christians Believe in an Old Earth?

Recently, I’ve found myself defending the Bible against fellow Christians who don’t take Genesis naturally.  The general reason for doing this is to show that the Bible and science are compatible.  Right away, I would like to ask the question; should we be attempting to reconcile the Bible to science?  Or should we be reconciling science to the Bible?  As Christians, we believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God.  If this is the case, then every single subject the Bible touches on, it is the absolute authority on that subject. 

Although the Bible is not a scientific textbook (textbooks change every year), that doesn’t mean it doesn’t talk about anything regarding the natural world.  Especially when it comes to natural evidence of the unobservable past, are we going to trust human scientists who weren’t in the past and, compared to God, know very little?  Or will we trust God who is the only One who was in the past and who knows all things?

To explain this point better, I’d like to make a distinction between two types of science. 

Procedural Science vs. Historical Science

Very briefly, procedural science is that which we can observe and test in the natural world.  Historical science is that which attempt to describe the unobservable past through current natural evidence (DNA, geologic column, fossils, tree rings, cosmological phenomena etc.).  Although much more can and should be said on the topic, it will suffice to say here that making scientific conclusions of a historical nature require certain assumptions that procedural science does not.  The two main assumptions of the evolutionary worldview is naturalism and uniformitarianism.

As Christians, is it logical to take the historical science stories which require assumptions of naturalism and uniformitarianism over the infallible Word of God?

With this in mind, the question then becomes about what Scripture says about the natural world, and in particular, about how God created the Earth.

A Natural Interpretation of Scripture

Since our starting point is that Scripture is the infallible Word of God, and nothing else is, the only way to interpret Scripture is naturally.  What this means is to take historical accounts as historical accounts, poetry as poetry, and parable as parable.  How we decide if a particular passage is which, is by looking at the context;  Scripture interprets Scripture.  Let’s give this treatment to the Genesis account:

As the first chapter is entirely relevant to this discussion, and entirely too long for me to repeat it, I will just link it (Genesis 1), and then refer to specific verses within it.

Yom:  It Means a Literal Day in Genesis

It is true that the Hebrew word for day, yom, does not always refer to a literal twenty-four hour period (it can also mean from sun up to sun down and an indefinite period of time).  But when it doesn’t, the context always makes it clear. 

1:  The context of Genesis uses a literal meaning of yom

In Genesis 1:4-5, yom is defined in it’s two literal senses, the light portion of the day and the whole day.  On the first day, yom is defined for the entire creation account as either the light period or the whole day.  It’s impossible, therefore, to take yom away from the definition laid down at the beginning of the creation account in later verses without ignoring Genesis 1:4-5.

Yom is also used here with “morning” and “evening”.  Everywhere these two words are used in the Old Testament, with yom or without it, the text is referring to a literal evening or morning of a literal day. 

Yom is also used in conjunction with a number; one, two, three etc.  Every other time yom is used with a number, it is in description of literal days.

2:  Exodus 20:9-11 spoils all attempts to interpret millions of years into Genesis 1

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11, quote in NKJV and link in NIV)

Read the above passage again, no really I mean it.  God’s entire reason for the Sabbath, and for the literal Jewish work week, was because of a literal creation week.  If God wanted to say that the Jews should work six literal days, and rest a seventh, because He worked in an indefinite period of time, He could have used any of the other three Hebrew words for “a period of time”, but instead He chose what the Jews would interpret as literal days, the word yom

3.  Jesus is a Young-Earth Creationist

This subject was gone to more detail in here, but Jesus clearly affirms his belief in a literal creation week in Mark 10:6.  Jesus is saying that God created humans “from the beginning of creation”, which would be false if humans came billions of years later as theistic evolution suggests.  So, if Jesus was a young-earth creationist, then how can His faithful followers have any other view?

4.  A belief in millions of years is opposition to the Biblical doctrine of death and the character of God

In Genesis 1, God calls creation “good” six times and when he finished on day six, He called everything “very good”.  Once Adam and Even sinned, God judged all of creation.  Instantly, Adam and Eve died spiritually and began to die physically (which they weren’t doing before).  The serpent and the Earth were changed physically and the ground itself was cursed (Gen 3:14-19).  Now, all of creation groans under bondage to corruption, awaiting the day when God restores His people (Romans 8:19-25). 

How can God call His creation “very good” if there was billions of years of suffering and death in the animal kingdom before humans were created?

This notion also makes God into a bumbling, lying, cruel creator who lacks the power to prevent disease, natural disasters, and extinctions to mar His creative work, without any moral cause, but still calls it all “very good.”

5.  Paul basis his theology of salvation on a literal six day creation

If death and suffering already existed before the first man had a chance to sin, why do we need a savior?  The most important doctrine of Christianity, humanities need for a savior and Jesus’ ability to fill that roll, is based, according to Paul, on Adam’s first sin (Romans 5:16-18). 

Theistic Evolutionist Objections

These are just some of the objections I’ve heard so far from theistic evolutionists that I haven’t mentioned.

1.  In Mark 10:6, Jesus is talking about the beginning of marriage or the beginning of humanity, not the literal beginning of creation.

You can say that all you want, but what Jesus says is, “From the beginning of creation.”  It’s pretty simple.  What is more “in the beginning”, the sixth day of creation or billions of years after creation?

2.  On day three, God creates plants after their kinds, and those plants had descendants which grow.  No plant can have offspring which grow in only one day. 

To make this argument, you first completely ignore the clear evidence I gave above.  Then, you must ignore your own uniformitarian assumption in your interpretation.  You are attempting to argue that God is capable of creating nature, but once created, God is then bound by current rates of growth and reproduction.  The ridiculousness of this argument speaks for itself.

3.  On day six, Adam names all the animals, which must have been thousands of creatures, if not more, so that can’t possibly happen in one day either.

You must assume that he had thousands of names to give, instead of only a few.  Considering that, on day six, Adam is naming kinds, you’re going to have a hard time arguing this.  How long would it take to name a cat, a dog, a cow, a bird, a fish, a deer, etc.  There are not that many kinds.

Conclusion

If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, if we read history as history and poetry as poetry etc, it is obvious what the Bible itself teaches about the beginning of the Earth.  To force uniformitarian and naturalistic assumptions upon the text of the Bible, is to literally take the authority of science over the authority of God’s Word.  What is at stake here is the authority of Scripture, the character of God, the doctrine of death, and the foundation of the Gospel message.

I have a question for all the theistic evolutionists reading this; why only Genesis?  That is, since the reason to interpret Genesis figuratively is because modern science has clearly shown that the Earth was not created in six days, why not interpret the rest of Scripture in the light of modern science?  Modern science tells us that men don’t walk on water, men can’t heal the sick, men don’t rise from dead and men don’t ascend from hilltops.  Why only subject Genesis to the conclusions of modern science, why not give Jesus the same treatment and then be forced to treat the acts of Jesus, including His death on the cross, as figurative?  Why only Genesis?

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25 Comments on “Should Christians Believe in an Old Earth?”

  1. Thomas Says:

    Thanks for writing the post, Eric. I look forward to a civil conversation with you about various points of disagreement and differing perspectives. That will have to be at a later time, however, since I don’t have the time or the energy right now.

    I do want to start with one point/question, though. Perhaps you answered this with your distinction between historical science and procedural science, but let me ask it again. Is it ever right to re-examine one’s interpretation of scripture based on science? We have done this before in the history of the church with the Galileo fiasco. Also, it seems like scripture refers to the cosmology in clearly unscientific language (windows of the firmament, waters above the firmament, a solid firmament, foundations of the earth, etc.). Clearly, we use our knowledge of science to not take these things literally, right?

  2. Eric Kemp Says:

    Thomas

    Feel free to take your time. I also look forward to discussing these things with you.

    “Is it ever right to re-examine one’s interpretation of scripture based on science?”

    As your blog name suggests, we know only in part and only God knows all things. I think it is a logical fallacy to say that modern science tells us that there was no such thing as a firmament therefore the firmament must have been metaphorical. This DOES tie into historical science as far as science saying that something “could not have happened” in the unobservable past while God, the only person there, tells us it did happen.

    If you wante to make the argument that since modern science says there was no firmament, therefore that must be a metaphorical portion of Scripture, I’d ask you the same question I asked at the end of my article. Why just the firmament? Modern science says that people can’t rise from the dead. Was Jesus’ death and resurrection metaphorical too?

    Galileo fiasco: Are you talking about the Earth being “immovable” in Psalms?

  3. Thomas Says:

    “I think it is a logical fallacy to say that modern science tells us that there was no such thing as a firmament therefore the firmament must have been metaphorical.”

    I am not sure I understand your stance on the firmament or the waters above. I am not saying that science says there “was” no solid firmament; I am saying science (and clear observation) say there IS no solid firmament. This is a big reason why I see Genesis 1 in a non-literal way these days.

    I think many Christians have not taken a very close look at the firmament in Genesis 1. Notice a couple of things: 1.) it separates waters above from waters below, 2.) the stars, sun, and moon are placed in the firmament (and therefore under the waters above), and 3.) scripture speaks of the firmament and waters above as still in existence (Psalm 148:4). There is also a passage in Job 37:18 that indicates that Elihu at least understood the firmament as a solid structure.

    Now, I am not trying to get off topic by having a debate on the nature of the firmament. I am trying to show that Genesis 1 seems to be looking through the lens of an ancient cosmology. I think this does damage to a literal interpretation.

    In fact, there is a lot that scripture says in terms of an ancient cosmology. (May I refer you to this article at http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/febible.htm.) That is what I was referring to when I was talking about Galileo.

  4. Eric Kemp Says:

    Thomas

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I understand that you don’t want to get off topic, however from what I’ve seen on our blog and comments of yours other places, the firmament seems like the only thing you’ve got.
    1. As you know, the firmament has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand
    2. Whatever evidence or argument you have regarding the firmament doesn’t change, not one ounce, the evidences and arguments I’ve put before you.
    So what say you?

    Also, regardless of the firmament, you have ignored my ending question. Why just interpret Genesis figuratively? As you say in regards to the firmament, modern science tells us that people just don’t rise from the dead, so why isn’t Jesus’ resurrection (and every other miracle He performed) treated figuratively for the same reason?

    Eric Kemp

  5. krissmith777 Says:

    If we interprete Genesis only figurtively, then there is nothing to stop us from doing the same with the rest of the Bible.

    After Genesis would follow the very sacrifice of Jesus on the cross because what happens in the first three chapters of the Bible is the reason why Jesus came to die on the cross.

    If we decide to say that Jesus’ death for our sins was just allagory, then we have no hope to be aved from our sins. A consistent view therefore would lead us to either reject evolution, or Christianity.

    If God created us through a process of Darwinian Evolution, then we must have a very cruel God.

    Evolution includes death, suffering and the survival of the fiitest. — If death and suffering existed before the first humans (Adam and Eve) then that means death existed before sin entered the world.

    But wait! — Death is the result of sin. If evolution was indeed the process in which God created us, then Christianity is a lie. Jesus would therefore be a liar because he quoted the first chapters of Genesis as if they really happened. — He never cited them as if they were illustrations. Jesus always made the context of parables when he spoke in illustrations, something he never did with Genesis. Therefore the impression is that he believed it all happened.

    And Jesus ought to know if it hapened — He is the creator God. If we cannot trust the creator in this area, then we cannot trust him in any other regard.

  6. krissmith777 Says:

    Also, a major reason why Darwin founded the theory of evolution was to do away with God.

    So that’s another reason why the two are inconsistent.

  7. Eric Kemp Says:

    Kris

    Your argument is exactly that which would lead to any rational scientist to reject the Christian creation story. If evolution is true, then Christianity can’t be. What I don’t get is that if atheistic scientists got this right, why can’t Christians?

    Thanks for the input.

    Eric Kemp

  8. Thomas Says:

    Eric,

    When I bring up the firmament, I am not trying to get you off-topic. I do recognize that there are a lot of other points in your post, and I would like to interact with them, but I want to take them one at a time. I am not trying to avoid questions. I am trying to address an assumption at the outset of your post, namely, it is wrong for science to inform your interpretation. I am saying that science can and has helped our interpretations.

    So back to the issue of the firmament and even to your question about how to know when to iterpret figuratively. As always, you know by using discernment when reading the text. I think that Genesis 1 is not MEANT to be read as straightforward history. People who interpret it figuratively do not randomly decide to do so. A closer look at the text shows that it is a highly structured, poetic piece of literature, and it is misread if interpreted in a strict literal sense.

    The nature of the firmament is pivotal in how I understand this passage, and it should be pivotal in your understanding, too. If the firmament and the waters above reflect the old cosmology of the ancients, then this passage should not be interpreted in a strictly literal way. I have already mentioned my view of it. How do you see it?

  9. Eric Kemp Says:

    Thomas

    I understand your position on the firmament. What I’m concerned about is your position on what the text SAYS. Let me put it to you bluntly:

    Your preconcieved ideas about what the “firmament” means (regardless of how much research you’ve done on the topic) are necessarily informing you on how you read Gen 1.

    Your logic goes something like this “Since ancient people understood the firmament to be a solid dome, therefore Gen 1 must be read figuratively”. This isn’t a strawman, that is literally your argument. Shouldn’t you be MORE concerned about what the text actually says?

    My article shows clearly that Genesis SAYS the Earth was created in six literal days. My logic goes something like this, “Since the Word of God says the Earth was created in six days, therefore how the firmament was thought of by ancient peoples has no bearing on a literal six day creation.” Which is employing a better interpretation of Scripture: That which explores what Scripture says, or that which forces an ancient interpretation of the firmament upon the rest of Scripture?

    Your position on how Gen 1 is MEANT to be read is directly contradictory to the evidences from Scripture that I gave in my article. These evidences and arguments stand as a huge elephant in the room of your argument.

    I also look forward to your answer to my previous, and all important, question.

  10. Fried Says:

    “Should Christians Believe in an Old Earth?”

    Yes.

    Perhaps St Augustine can help you.

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

  11. Eric Kemp Says:

    Troll

    Ah, a quote from St. Augustine (I agree with him btw) that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Very well done.

    My favorite part, though, is where you have previously accused me of dodging rational discussion and, when I counter this by pointing out that you’ve offered me nothing to have a rational discussion ABOUT, you ignore the response and then continue your diatribes elsewhere. Again, well done.

  12. Thomas Says:

    You sum up my argument like this:

    “Since ancient people understood the firmament to be a solid dome, therefore Gen 1 must be read figuratively.”

    That is not my argument. My argument is actually:

    “Since the TEXT of the Bible says that there is a solid firmament in the skies, above which is a body of water, then it must not be speaking literally in Genesis 1.” The research is based on scriptural texts.

    You are not answering my question: What is your understanding of the firmament, and how does that fit into your literal interpretation of Genesis 1?

    I have already answered your big question in my previous comment, but I will do it again. You determine whether a text is to be read literally or figuratively by using discernment. Some passages take more discernment than others. Revelation is obviously figurative; Luke is obviously historical. What is not obvious to everyone is Genesis 1. Yes, there is a tremendous discord between science and Genesis 1-2, and that raises questions. But there is also good reason from the style of the text to interpret it figuratively. The firmament is one of the reasons that I find compelling.

  13. krissmith777 Says:

    Eric Kemp says

    “Ah, a quote from St. Augustine (I agree with him btw) that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Very well done. ”

    And they accuse us creationists of quote mining, lol. 🙂

  14. Eric Kemp Says:

    Thomas

    Could you please quote the verse where the Bible says the firmament is solid?

    Eric

  15. Thomas Says:

    Sure. In Job 37:18, Elihu asks Job,

    “can you join him in spreading out the skies,
    hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” (NIV)

    Also, as I said earlier, Genesis 1 states that the sun, moon, and stars were placed in the firmament, which is under the waters.

  16. Eric Kemp Says:

    Thomas

    I really want to take your argument seriously, but I have hard time doing so because it just seems like you have nothing. Previously, I said you argument was merely, “Since ancient people understood the firmament to be a solid dome, therefore Gen 1 must be read figuratively.”

    You disagreed and responded with, “Since the TEXT of the Bible says that there is a solid firmament in the skies, above which is a body of water, then it must not be speaking literally in Genesis 1.”

    I then asked to see the Scriptural evidence for how the firmament is solid. You came back with . . . “can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” (Job 37:18).

    So, as I previously said, and you denied, you argument, in large part, consists of “Well, Elihu compares the sky to a hard mirror therefore all of Gen 1, must be taken figuratively.” Really? How am I supposed to take that seriously?

    And then you seemingly contradict yourself with, “Genesis 1 states that the sun, moon, and stars were placed in the firmament, which is under the waters.”

    Actually, what Gen 1:6-8 says is,

    “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
    God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven . . .”

    1. Waters are not as solid as bronze. So Elihu obviously had a misunderstanding of what the sky was made of.

    2. Let’s say I’m attempting to describe the sky to someone who has ZERO knowledge of science. If I call the sky, “Made of waters” am I lying to that person? Am I wrong or figurative? No, I’m not. That trivial unscientific explanation of the sky will suffice for what that person has to know about the sky. Clouds are made of water after all. So when God tells Moses that He put “waters above and waters below”, is He wrong or figurative? Nope.

    3. In Gen 1:20, Moses seems to understand quite clearly that the sky is not solid, “Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” ”

    How do birds fly through bronze or water?

    But here is my main point. As I read through the Genesis account, I can’t say the sky is solid, I can’t say it’s not. I can’t say it’s made out of only water and or only partially water. The text just doesn’t say. The text just says that God made the sky and called it “expanse” or “heavens” and it doesn’t say what He made it OF except “waters” (which isn’t wrong or figurative).

    The text doesn’t support your position or mine. So you are left with text that doesn’t support your position and HUGE elephant in your room that you are continually pretending isn’t there.

  17. Thomas Says:

    Eric, the argument is more serious than you think. Take a closer look at what the Biblical texts say.

    When Elihu says that the skies are hard as a mirror of bronze, he is giving us a clue to how the ancients, including the Jews, saw the skies. I think if you look at the ancient Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians, you will find similar ideas about the cosmos. You may disagree with Elihu, but I do not think the children of Israel who were reading Genesis did.

    But the more important part by far is the Genesis 1 text. You are reading it incorrectly. The firmament does not equal the waters above, as you said in your last comment; it SEPARATES the waters above from the waters below. Remember that originally there was one body of water until God separated the waters below from the waters above. It is no contradiction to say that the sun, moon, and stars are placed in a solid firmament. They are “placed” as in “fixed” or “attached.” Also, you will notice that other translations have the birds flying “across” rather than “in” the expanse. You could also describe birds flying across the (inside) roof of a barn. No problem at all.

    You imagine yourself describing the sky as waters to a man who knows nothing about the sky, but again, the sky and the “waters” in Genesis 1 are not the same thing. Besides, we have words for clouds and mist. The Hebrew word for firmament has to do with stretching out by hammering, beating, or stretching out; it frequently has to do with working with metals. The Latin word firmamentum (from which we get “firm”) means “a means of support, a prop.”

    This poses a problem for strict literalists. They cannot account for what the waters above are and what the firmament is. They try, but they end up being inconsistent. To an ancient looking up at the sky, it would make sense to believe that there is an ocean up there (the sky is blue, after all). It would also make sense that something would have to prop it up.

    Again, I am not ignoring your arguments. I just like to take things one point at a time.

  18. B Says:

    The idea of firmament sounds similar to how people can see dinosaurs in the Bible as well. We (present day) call these lizards from fossils dinosaurs, the Bible called them dragons. Using this logic, we would say they are wrong and the Bible is wrong for not stating it is as such… But that doesn’t make sense to me. So dowe call what they saw as a figurative thing?

    Also, the firmament is traditionally used as a word for expansion and was later explained by humans (not God) as solid. Remember, other things were expressed in other words prior to science giving them labels, does that mean that other things are figurative because they do not make sense in present day science language?

    Also, Thomas, were you going to answer Eric’s questions? Will you stay on topic? When does your version of Genesis end with figurative explanation? Do certain verses give some sort hint of when we should use figurative explanations? Please let us ignorant Christians know so that we may understand!

  19. Thomas Says:

    B, I’m not sure I know what you are referencing when you talk about dragons in the Bible. There’s a dragon in Revelation, I think, but that’s symbolic. In any case, it’s one thing for the Bible to talk about dragons and be referring to dinosaurs. It’s another thing for it to be talking about a solid structure and an ocean above it, which do not exist. The first example is simply using two different names for the same thing.

    “the firmament is traditionally used as a word for expansion”

    Actually, I think that the firmament has traditionally (among the Jewish people and among early Christians) been seen as a solid structure. A lot of English translations do render the word expanse, but it has been translated as a dome, also. See the comment above for what the Hebrew word denotes. I’m sure there’s plenty of information out there to either confirm or deny this.

    “Were you going to answer Eric’s questions? Will you stay on topic? When does your version of Genesis end with figurative explanation?”

    B, I thought I had answered Eric’s main question, and I have already said why I think this is on topic. As far as when my “version” of Genesis ends with a figurative explanation, I have only been talking about the first creation account. The second creation account doesn’t seem strictly literal either, but I am still figuring out the issue. As far as hints, etc. about when to read figuratively, you can see what I think about Genesis 1 at http://www.knowinginpart.wordpress.com.

    “Please let us ignorant Christians know so that we may understand!”

    It’s not really fair to imply that I look down on you or other people who interpret Genesis literally. I have tried to be courteous.

  20. B Says:

    A search for the word “dragon” in the King James Version of the Bible produces 34 separate matches across 10 different books written between approximately 2000 BC and 90 AD. The word “dragon” (Hebrew: tannin) is used throughout the Old Testament, and most directly translates as “sea or land monsters.” In the Book of Job, the author describes the great creatures, Behemoth (Job 40) and Leviathan (Job 41). Although the latest Bible translations use the words elephant, hippo or crocodile instead of Behemoth and Leviathan, the original Hebrew and the context of the descriptions do not allow for these interpretations.

  21. Thomas Says:

    Thanks for the info on the use of “dragon” in the KJV. My point in the previous comment still stands, though: there’s a difference in referring to one thing by different names and referring to something that does not exist.

  22. Eric Kemp Says:

    Well Thomas

    You’ve succeeded in temporarily ignoring my entire article. I will now be dedicating a new article to your most latest argument. I have several points and I think the only way to make them clearly is to spend some time and space on them. I will begin to work on it tonight but probably won’t be done until Friday.

    Thanks for your patience.

    Eric

  23. Thomas Says:

    Eric, I’m glad you (and Sirius) are going to engage the firmament argument. Take your time. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

    Now that we are setting aside this particular point, I will be happy to address other things you wrote in your post. I have already told you I would get to them, one at a time. I find that discussing lots of different arguments at once is often confusing.

    Here is where I am right now in working out my beliefs on theistic evolution: I think that Genesis 1 is not meant to be read figuratively; that the universe is 14 billion years old; and that evolution probably happened. That’s as far as I’ve come so far. I am still in flux, and I have not finished working out the ramifications of theistic evolution on other scriptures which you have pointed out so well in your post above. Your arguments are good ones, and I won’t pretend that I have all the answers, but I will try to address your points.

    First, on the use of yom. I agree that the days in Genesis 1 are probably “real” 24 hour days within the context of the story itself, but I do not agree that the creation account is meant to be taken literally. The passage is so poetic and finely-crafted that it is clearly not meant to be a mere “just the facts please” account. It seems more liturgical than scientific or historical. I think people call this idea the framework theory.

    Genesis 1’s purpose is not to lay out the sequence of creation. It is to systematically refute the religions of the surrounding cultures. A literal interpretation brings up the problem of how there could be evenings and mornings without a sun. Let’s not forget our favorite argument–the firmament and the waters above.

    This is not a sarcastic or accusatory question; it is purely informational: have you ever read a commentary on Genesis 1 by someone who saw it in the way I do?

  24. Eric Kemp Says:

    Thomas

    Thank you for addressing some of the points in my article.

    “Here is where I am right now in working out my beliefs on theistic evolution: I think that Genesis 1 is not meant to be read figuratively; that the universe is 14 billion years old; and that evolution probably happened.”

    I believe that this is where your main problem lies Thomas. You are starting to “work out” your beliefs with a preconcieved notion, a presupposition if you will, of an old earth and a figurative Genesis account. If you start out with these presuppositions, then you will find the evidence that you need to believe them.

    However, if you would begin to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, you would arrive at the answer that God wants you to have. I will show you what I mean.

    “First, on the use of yom. I agree that the days in Genesis 1 are probably “real” 24 hour days within the context of the story itself, but I do not agree that the creation account is meant to be taken literally.”

    For instance, this is your presupposition in action. You are admitting that “yom” is meant to be a 24 hour period, but still the Earth wasn’t created in six days. What you are literally saying is, “The Bible reads like a historical account, but I just don’t believe it is”. You must force your preconcieved idea on Genesis, because what Genesis says is a literal six day creation.

    Let’s put “Scripture interpreting Scripture” into action. You say that Genesis reads like a literal account, but you don’t believe it is MEANT to be. Exodus 20 (The Ten Commandments, the entire basis for the Jewish work week and the Sabbath commandment), the words of Jesus Christ, and the theology of Paul all interpret Genesis literally (as I showed in my article). This is the inerrant Word of God interpreting the inerrant Word of God. There is no counter-argument you can make to this without deviating from Scripture.

    Honestly Thomas, if Genesis was the only place that a six day Creation was spoken of in Scripture, it would be enough. But even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the man whom everything was created “for” and “through” taught us a literal Creation week.

    “The passage is so poetic and finely-crafted that it is clearly not meant to be a mere “just the facts please” account.”

    You can say all you want that it’s poetry, but the account obviously reads like history. Whenever the Bible uses poetry, the context is clear. And as I showed clearly, the context of Genesis is a historical account. Your argument here is literally, “because it’s written so well it can’t be telling us just facts”. Really?

    “Genesis 1’s purpose is not to lay out the sequence of creation. It is to systematically refute the religions of the surrounding cultures.”

    I would be careful of telling the Word of God what it’s purpose is. Perhaps a Christian should read the Word to discover what it’s purpose is. Do you have any Scriptural basis for this claim? No you do not. It comes from your aforementioned presuppositions.

    “A literal interpretation brings up the problem of how there could be evenings and mornings without a sun.”

    Actually, Gen 1:3 says there is light before ever using the word “yom”. Are you saying that God is incapable of creating light without creating the sun first?

    “This is not a sarcastic or accusatory question; it is purely informational: have you ever read a commentary on Genesis 1 by someone who saw it in the way I do?”

    Again, this is your presupposition in action. Instead of reading the Word of God for what it says, and checking everything against that, you are reading those who agree with your already established position, and checking everything else against them.

    I have not even read a commentary on Genesis written by someone who agrees with me. I hold to my position because it is what the Word of God says, and because it’s the only position I can hold without making a mockery of the rest of Biblical theology (again, as I’ve shown in my article).

  25. Michael Says:

    Should Christians believe in an old earth?

    Answer: No

    The Scriptures are quite clear, and science observations back up the Earth being young rather than old. Even such things in outer space like magnetic fields prove the universe is young.

    Scientists in the past were not able to measure very distant magnetic fields. This year in fact, they measured a magnetic field 6.5 billion years away.

    Now what they were looking for was the “dynamo effect” that suggests the magnetic fields are born through rotation of galaxies and the longer they rotations last over a vast amount of time say billions of years, the stronger these fields should be.

    Well the distant magnetic field was showing to be weak rather than strong, suggesting that it was young. Confirms the Bible.


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