Saturday, October 15, 2011

Genesis Debate, part 2

ME: So, when Scripture is read, should we wait for the lab results before saying the 'Amen'? Dave's point stands - if theology is subject to scientific consensus then what else is up for grabs? What stops us IN PRINCIPLE? Isn't it THE slippery slope that marks the point of departure, historically, from orthodoxy into liberalism?

A - love you, brother, but 'proven'? When scientists claim to have "proven" fossil aging in the billions of years in the same way that - say - they did the polio vaccine, a certain cynicism is in order. On the contrary, God's Word is sure. Its clear points are to be clearly and plainly believed.
@ Galileo - I asked for chapters - because that's what we have for creation. And their CLEAR point is 6-day creation, while the metaphorical "sun rising / setting" is incidental. There is no honest comparison.

A - hope to get together again soon, maybe in DC?

Pastor B, as 1 Peter commands, preach as the oracle of God, not the oracle of God**.
Let God be true and every man a liar [white lab coat notwithstanding].

HIM: B- you can still say the "Amen" whether the days are meant to be literal or figurative, because the message of Scripture is that GOD created the universe! The same way that 400 years ago, the congregation could say the "Amen" to the "...geocentric" verses before "the observatory results" were in, because the message is NOT geocentrism OR heliocentrism.

There is much evidence that the 7 days structure was a common literary device used in the ANE literature, and is not meant to be taken literally (see Young, "Bible, Rocks and Time"). Just as in so many other places, God accommodates to the language conventions of the day in which He reveals His truth.

As far as the slippery slope...sometimes it's valid, but sometimes it's not. I mean, that was the same thing they warned about 400 years, and yet re-interpreting those "geocentric" verses hasn't led to a rejection of miracles, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, has it?? I know it certainly hasn't led ME down that slope, nor any of the people I know of who accept an old earth. The "slippery slope" argument, I'm afraid, is over-rated.

B, love you too! : D And yes, "proven". Whence the cynicism? When the methods have been proven in oil exploration (as I mentioned several times in this chain, and have received no response from anyone),and when the entire community of geologists and geophysicists are convinced about the methods, wouldn't it be a bit uber-skeptical of me (and you) to say "Nope, can't be true, because my traditional interpretation of Genesis 1 says it can't be true!" Perhaps the cynicism would be better the traditional interpreation of Genesis 1 (you know, the kind you aimed your cynicism at when you changed you traiditional interpretation of the baptism passages?? : D ).

And I agree that God's Word is sure...your interpretation of it, however...that's another thing! ; )And yeah, to do lunch in DC. Are you working down there now?

OUTSIDE contributor: "N" - I mean why do we argue over something that in the long run doesn't matter. Scripture doesn't tell us how old the earth is so why should debate about the whole thing?

HIM: Because, N, some people think that it DOES tell us how old the earth is (6-10K years old), and then when confronted with the scientific evidence that it is much, much older than that, they have a crisis of faith, and Satan causes them doubt the Bible.

I agree with you in this sense though...Scripture really doesn't tell us how old the earth is. Now if only some of the other people listed above in this discussion would realize that! : D

ME: square pegs; round holes; free woodchips.  But A, maybe I misunderstand your position. When you affirm the statement "In 6 days the Lord made heaven and earth", what do you understand that to mean?

N - Something to notice when working your way through Genesis is that genealogies were as important to its author [Moses] as microscopes are to A ;?) . This is where the timeframe of 6-10k years comes from. ... the Bible. You're right in one respect though, it is not exact about age. But you don't need to know my weight down to the ounce to tell me apart from my baby daughter ... even from a distance ... through a glass darkly.

HIM: B, I'm not completely sure I have a firm understanding (just being honest), except for the obvious fact that God created EVERYTHING. As you know, there are many ways that even conservative OT scholars undersatnd (and have understood) the... language/genre of those opening verses. Meredith Kline's framework view, which I assume you're familiar with, is one; others have pointed out that much Ancient Near East literature utilized a 7-day literary device quite commonly, in ways that it was clear the days were not 24 days. It wouldn't be crazy to think that Genesis could have utilized the common literary conventions of the ANE.

So however exactly we're supposed to understand the 7 days, we CAN'T understand it to require thinking that the universe is only 10K years old. God's creation is a witness that can't be ignored, and it witnesses to billions of years.

B, you're thinking of this as the "glass half empty"; but maybe you should think of it as the glass half full! There may be many potential ways of understanding these verses, but God's creation gives us some information that helps us to eliminate some of those possibilities. So that means that the study of God's creation is actually helping us to get closer to the correct understanding of God's Word! : D

Also, B have you read any books that detail all the various methods that scientists use for dating the earth and the universe? I just wonder if you have appreciated the weight of the mountain of evidence that you're rejecting. My guess is that you would say that it doesn't matter, because the Bible clearly contradicts the empirical evidence, and you're going to go with the Bible.  I appreciate that you want to stand for the Bible, "let every man be a liar". I can't see it in the same categories, however. In this case, it's not really "man" that's speaking, and therefore, it can't be "man" that's lying. In reality, it's GOD'S CREATION that is speaking, and scientists are in a sense the messengers (don't shoot the messengers!). GOD'S CREATION doesn't lie, any more than God's Word can lie.

So here's the bottom line with me: In this case, God's creation screams so loudly and consistently that it does NOT ALLOW for various interpretations, but God's Word DOES in this case allow for more than one interpretation. Some of those interpretations can be reconciled with what God's creation tells us, and some of them can't. Ergo, since any interpretation of Genesis which requires that we believe the earth to be 10K years old can NOT be reconciled with what God tells us in His creation, the any such interpretation must be wrong. It's that simple for me. Whether I necessarily know EXACTLY how to interpret Genesis 1 doesn't bother me. My faith in the Bible is just as strong (actually stronger) as it was when I was a YEC, because I know that God's Word is true, even I can't quite understand every portion of that Word.

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