On Dr. Bruce Waltke’s Resignation From RTS Orlando

Read a thorough report about it on the Aquila Report.

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157 Comments

  1. Deb W said,

    April 12, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Hmm.
    What do you make of Knox hiring him? If Knox’s board of directors is CRPC, then is Knox considered as affiliated with the PCA? Thanks.

  2. TE Stephen Welch said,

    April 12, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Wow, what a surprise. I am currently preaching through Genesis and use his commentary in my sermon preparation. I have not found anything in it that raised any “red” flags. I am glad that he does hold to the historicity of Genesis or at least he did a few years ago. The biggest surprise is to learn that he is being interviewed by the New Knox Seminary. This should be an interesting drama to follow.

  3. pduggie said,

    April 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I think a new position will emerge. People who “hold to the historicity of Genesis” and also affirm theistic evolution.

    They’re just in tension, man.

    What, me worry?

  4. April 12, 2010 at 11:09 am

    What I find interesting is that, from a scientific perspective, there is no need to cow-tow to whatever the evolutionists bring forward. There is no evidence whatsoever for evolution: we do not see macro-evolution happening at all anywhere on the planet, and the fossil record is completely devoid of intermediate forms. Ergo, according to Karl Popper’s definition of a scientific statement, the claim that life on this earth evolved is unscientific.

    Moreover, the theory of apparent age, or mature creation, which Waltke appears to dismiss with the following perfunctory comment, “God could have created the Garden of Eden with apparent age or miraculously, even as Christ instantly turned water into wine, but the statement that God ’caused the trees to grow’ argues against these notions.”, is not only not falsifiable from science, but is not falsifiable from the text, contrary to Waltke’s claims. From science, you have the theory of semigroups, which, among other things, shows that a system that evolves from A to B to C is indistinguishable, from any point of view within the system, from the same system that only evolves from B to C. This shows that science cannot disprove the theory of mature creation. In order to do that, you’d have to have someone outside the universe, with a whopping big memory, give you the history of the universe. Wait a second… that sounds familiar.

    From the text, Waltke’s claim overlooks the fact that just as God could create things to have apparent age, He could just as easily accelerate growth like Aslan does in The Magician’s Nephew.

  5. pduggie said,

    April 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Adrian, good point about maturity of creation.

    The maturity of creation is mixed in with issues of Noah’s flood too.

    One might say that the mountain is created “mature” at the height it would be after a billion years of the future history of earth.

    But that mountain has dead dinos and crustaceans in it too. What of them?

    A tree gets hit by lightning at 100 years old, and then keeps growing for 500 years with a buried scar. Can we expect a mature creation to have buried lightning scars 400 years deep?

  6. Vern Crisler said,

    April 12, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Hi pduggie,

    You say maturity of creation is mixed with issues of Noah’s flood. You reference stratified and fossiliferous mountains as evidence.

    Flood theorists believe the strata of these mountains were laid down during the Flood year, and that these strata were uplifted as part of tectonic and orogenic events during the Flood. How then could they be considered “mature” in the way you are using the term?

  7. pduggie said,

    April 12, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Well, stratification is also seen more generally as an ongoing process. In 1 million years there will be more of it.

    Say we find strata on Mars too. Was there a flood on mars? at the same time as Noah’s? Why?

    The general case comes up elsewhere: such as with starlight. Sure, starlight can be a mature appearance, where God creates light that seems to come from 1 billion years ago. But then also, events seem to be happening in those billions of years past: stellar death, novas etc.

  8. Steven Carr said,

    April 12, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    My prediction is that this post is going to turn into a discussion about Young Earth Creationism vs. Evolution. Oh wait, it already has. Adrian has brought out the one problem that the Evolutionists will never be able to get beyond, vis., that their position is ultimately one that cannot be proved “scientifically.” They cannot prove evolution. It is a theory based upon presuppositions. Creationism is also a theory based upon presuppositions. The question is for Christians, I think is, what makes more sense from the Scriptures? No matter how you slice it, young earth, six day Creation is the best reading of Scripture. Young earth/ six day creationism might present some problems from a “scientific” point of view, but then most theories from a “scientific” point of view present problems for Scripture.

  9. Peter Green said,

    April 13, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Pduggie,

    You raise serious issues that definitely need to be thought through. I personally hold to a young earth, literal 24 hour, 6 day creation, for a number of reasons, although I acknowledge that there are difficulties with that position. That said, let me offer my own thoughts on some of the problems you raise:

    How does creation with apparent age relate to our belief in God as truthful? Well first of all, he told us in the Genesis account that he created everything in 6 days (my interpretation). Therefore, it is not deceitful for things to be created with the appearance of age. For example, if I built a new house, laid down sod, and have trees transplanted into my yard, you might think that I had spent a lot of time growing the trees from seeds and cultivating the yard. However if I told you that the yard was sod and the trees transplanted, then I am not being deceitful.

    Apparent age is necessary regardless of what view of creation you take. As humans confined to time, we have no way of conceiving apart from time. Even as we think of God we think of him in terms of time. It is unavoidable. As long as you affirm creation ex nihilo, you affirm apparent age. Granted, the earth could have been created to look *younger* than it does, but it could not have been created without the appearance of age, because our minds do not have a category for creation apart from time (this is similar to Adrian’s comment). This brings us to the next point, though.

    As you note, there is a “history” embedded in the natural world via starlight, earth strata, paleontology, radiometric dating, etc. Some of them *might* be explainable due to a global flood, but not all of them. So then, if God created the universe ~6,000 years ago, what are we observing when we look at starlight which is from stars millions of light years away? Well, as I noted above, apparent age is not deceptive because God told us he created the stars 6,000 years ago. Furthermore, for us to observe the stars at all, would require that we observe them with apparent age. Otherwise, of all the stars in God’s creation, we would only be seeing those stars that are within 6,000 light years away. This leads me to my main suggestion which is that God created the earth with the appearance of age so that we can understand processes that have reoccurring patters much greater than 6,000 years. For instance, every 50,000 years the magnetic poles reverse. The only way we know that is because there is an embedded history covering millions of years on earth. How do we understand plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes? Because we have millions of years of “history” from which to extrapolate patterns and understand how the world works. God embedded in creation the knowledge and tools that we need in order to fulfill his call to fill the earth *and subdue it*. I believe that, in time, we will be able to control earthquakes and volcanoes, hurricanes and tornadoes. Of course, everything is subject to God’s sovereignty, and we will never reach a point at which we have divine control over the natural processes. It may sound crazy, but a few hundred years ago air conditioning and snow making would have been crazy. And if the Lord tarries for several tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, we will be using star light to learn the processes that go in to planet formation, such that we can extend our rule and subduing throughout the whole universe. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about planet-creation. Of course, I’m speculating here, but it seems to be a biblically consistent, if not even implied, trajectory. God created ex nihilo, but he has given us the knowledge to reflect his image via the act of creation, albeit in our human way (i.e. not ex nihilo).

    In summary, 1) apparent age is not deceptive, 2) creation without apparent age is impossible, and 3) the embedded history has an actual purpose instead of being arbitrary, and that purpose fits with our creation mandate.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts/criticisms. This is theory that I’ve been playing with since college and I’d love to get some feedback.

    Peace in Christ,
    Peter

  10. steve hays said,

    April 13, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I’d add that conventional dates for the age of the universe employ the converse of apparent age. That star we see through the telescope is actually older than it looks due to the amount of time it took to reach the earth.

    So why is it not “deceptive” for God to make stars appear one age to the stargazer when that’s not their “true” age.

  11. Andy said,

    April 13, 2010 at 10:40 am

    According to Noll, some esteemed theologians of Old Princeton held to a form of theistic evolution. I believe Warfield was a vocal supporter. Perhaps I’m mistaken but if I’m correct, Waltke is not alone on a list of otherwise widely-respected reformed theologians who offered support of this view. Doesn’t justify it but reminds us that this isn’t new.

  12. Phil Derksen said,

    April 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    PG #9

    Am I correct in surmising that you’re a Post-millennialist – and an extremely optimistic one at that? ;-)

  13. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about planet-creation.

    The energies involved are probably prohibitive.

  14. Al Pontier said,

    April 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    As I recall Waltke adopts the Framework Hypothesis view in his Genesis commentary. Not that everyone who holds to the Framework view is going to be an evolutionist, but it clearly opens a door down that hallway. Even Meredith Kline admitted as such.

  15. Phil Derksen said,

    April 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Jeff #13,

    Remove the word “probably,” and I would definitely agree. Somehow, learning how to make snow by throwing abundant, preexisting water particles into a preexistant sub-freezing atmosphere doesn’t seem even remotely comparable to learning how to recreate the un-earthly forces necessary for planet creation!

  16. Peter Green said,

    April 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Phil Derksen,
    @12

    You are correct, how could you tell? :)

    As far as energy goes, planets are currently in formation so the energy is already there. It only needs to be directed, facilitated, harnessed. I know it sounds crazy, and it is, but so many things that we take for granted now, were once thought to be impossible. I would suggest that unless something can be demonstrated to be *theologically* impossible, we have to believe that it is theoretically possible.

    However, that was the most speculative, most tentative, least important part of my post! I should have expected that though, knowing how radical that thought was.

    Peace in Christ,
    Peter

  17. Phil Derksen said,

    April 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    PG#15

    I appreciate the ancillary status of your comment. Still, I would suggest that the following theological arguments could indeed be raised to strongly discourage the idea that men will ever create planets:

    God created the heavenly bodies for at least two specific purposes.
    1. To display HIS glory: Psalm 19:1 “The heavans declare the glory of GOD, and the sky above proclaims HIS handiwork.” (emphasis added)
    2. To be “for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” — i.e as part of HIS good created order.

    Nor does God seem to allow created beings too much latitude when they become too ambitious in becoming “like” him. (Genesis 3, 11, Isaiah 14, et al)

    Coming from a more earthly perspective, according to the dreams and even expectations of recent generations, by now we should be advancing rapidly in technologies that would allow us to do such things as travel at the speed of light. Obviously in reality that “dream” still isn’t close to being true. In fact, as science makes further “advances,” it has come to increasingly realize that such things are almost certainly beyond (according to certain laws of physics as they are now better understood) the realm of realization for material beings like us humans.

    In other words, scientific discovery often serves to reel in human dreams and expectations, as well as to advance them.

    Just some thoughts.

    Getting back to the original topic of this post, Dr. Waltke has recently put out this letter explaining his perspective of the situation:

    http://theaquilareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1860:professor-bruce-waltke-posts-an-open-letter-on-facebook&catid=49:people&Itemid=132

  18. TE Stephen Welch said,

    April 13, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Phil, in reference to your response in # 16 I am grieved over Waltke’s change in his position from what he believed 10 years ago, but I must say I appreciated his honesty and humility. He made his position clear and took responsibility for it and did not point the finger at RTS. I respect a man like that even if I do not agree with his position.

  19. Steve D said,

    April 13, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    steve hays #10

    Was it “deceptive” of Christ to change the water into the best wine with the appearance of age when it wasn’t the wine’s “true” age? Or was it a demonstration of his power over creation?

  20. Uri Brito said,

    April 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    A good time to read or re-read James Jordan’s: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis 1.

  21. Reed Here said,

    April 14, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Uri: hmm…, let me re-phrase in a gentler manner (I hope). I know you’ll disagree, but given Jordan’s committments, I can find much more biblically trustworthy resources to review this view.

  22. David Weiner said,

    April 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve waited to post here until the discussion had seemed to have run its course. I have nothing substantive to add except a URL. I found this article to be quite interesting. If it is correct, all this debate about young earth, old earth, science vs. Scripture, etc. just goes by the wayside. The article (there is also a book with more detail) is at http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/genesis1357910.shtml

  23. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    April 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Since a resignation occurred, can we all at least agree that the Doctrine of Origins is not adiaphora?

  24. Uri Brito said,

    April 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Reed, I only mention Jordan because it was his book that brought me back to the traditional reformed view after years of Hugh Ross’ indoctrination. Blessings on this Easter Season.
    Uri

  25. Roy said,

    April 16, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Steven #8, Peter #9, Adrian #4, Pudgie #5
    Important to note that the Creationism does not reduce to YoungEarthCreationism (per, eg, Creation Research Society), where the earth at its creation looked young. Instead, as several posts have observed (eg, Peter in 9), an alternate (far more defensible both from an exegetical as well as scientific persepective) view exists: mature, complete, entire, appropriate creationism.

    Peter, you will find googling something like “omphalos” rewarding. I’d been for decades thinking more and more along the lines your #9 suggested, with a mature creationism view crystalizing when, about 10 yrs ago, I discovered, much to my delight, others had already reached the same conclusion.

    Adrian (in #4) has it exactly correct: science has zero way to reject “Last Thursdayism” except by faith. Adrian’s citation of Popper is dead on.

    Putting that a little differently for Pudgie #5: yes to your last sentence. God don’t make junk. Every t crossed, every i dotted such that the entire creation had internal consistency in terms of its built in physics/chemistry/biology. So that Adam in Eden could see the nearest star (4 light years away) as well as pick fruit from days old trees, drink water from rivers which had not had time to evaporate from oceans, blow in wind, condense on moutains, drain to Eden. Adam even walked on soil. Lots of details we cannot definitively nail down, lots of room for speculation. But *anything other than* complete, entire, mature creation would make for confusion. Stuff all looked (whether by visual inspection or by significantly more aware, more sophisticated test) exactly as it should have.

    The steward of the feast evaluated the wine Jesus had just created, and declared it had, well, a history. Adam could have found not only starlight (visible by unaided eye to 10s of thousands of light years), but meteor craters, oil, coal, dino bones.

  26. April 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Enns gets back at conservatives, makes ABC News on the issue

    http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/evangelical-scholar-believes-evolution-10399229

  27. Reed Here said,

    April 18, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Of course the report skews things. Is Knox still to be considered a “conservative” seminary?

    I see yet more efforts to marginalize the Church. Those in our ranks who are o.k. with evolution should not expect that this will get them a “seat at the table.” Requiring a denial of fiat creation is just one step along the path to requiring a denial of Christ.

    The only Christians “accepted” by the Lords of Society are those whose beliefs are so watered down as to be meaningless. Beware of following the trajectory of liberalism. Inerrancy redefined is inerrancy denied.

  28. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    April 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Reed Here: “…beliefs are so watered down as to be meaningless. Beware of following the trajectory of liberalism. Inerrancy redefined is inerrancy denied.”

    I fully agree with Reed Here.

    As Reed notes: Evolution, theistic evolution, is liberalizing the Christian faith.

    On a secondary, but still important note, theistic evolutionists are redefining inerrancy and this redefinition is actually a denial of inerrancy. The liberal accommodationism of theistic evolution waters down the Doctrine of Inerrancy.

    Lastly, I just read this comment elsewhere which I think is applicable in an analogue to what Reed is saying:

    A leading Catholic cleric in his appointment as an Archbishop (he is now a Cardinal) was asked what his greatest fear for the Catholic Church was: His reply: “Indifference by society, because then it will be obvious that we are no longer preaching the gospel of Christ to that society but we have become one with that society and its values”. To illustrate what he meant he pointed to the quasi collapse of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands where the liberal Christianity espoused by the Church in that country over a number of decades made Her irrelevant to that society as the challenge of Christ’s Gospel was no longer there. The great Cathedrals of that country are now nothing but Museums.

    Christianity collapses not because it continues to hold to the eternal Truths of the Gospel in the face of the challenges of Modernism (of whatever Era) but when it surrenders to them.

    So what this reporter has identified are the symptoms of that Indifference (to the ordination of another active homosexual bishop in the Episcopal “Church”) which is another way of saying the “Death Throes”.

    Are we already seeing symptoms of indifference when Waltke, Enns, et al are accepting and promoting theistic evolution as a valid position and within the pale of orthodoxy for Christians?

  29. Reed Here said,

    April 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I fear we may.

  30. Chris Donato said,

    April 20, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Steve Hays (#10) puts his finger on it, and Steve D. (#19) only compares oranges to apples.

    In the upcoming May/June Modern Reformation, an Ad Extra article titled “PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth” (pp. 6–9) discusses this very point.

    “In this article,” the eight Reformed geologists write, “we wish to provide our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ with a few general observations, some clarificaton of a common misconception about our science, and two specific examples that speak convincingly that God’s earthly creation has been around for a very long time” (about 4.6 billion years, p. 6).

    In short, for a young earth to appear old, it would require the Creator to have designed the earth “intentionally to mislead all those who are unwilling to ignore the obvious history his natural creation reflects” (p. 8, after explaining that the independent processes of dating—tree rings, varve, radioactive decay rates, and ocean spreading rates—would’ve needed to be deliberately manipulated [i.e., diminished] to get the earth to only appear old).

    Anyway, for what it’s worth.

  31. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 20, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I would submit that the reason why the earth appears as it does to unbelievers is the same reason Christ gives in Matt 13:11ff for speaking in parables.

    Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

    Get over it already.

  32. Chris Donato said,

    April 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I would submit that that’s up there with one of the stupidest applications of that pericope that I’ve ever heard. Ever.

  33. Ron Henzel said,

    April 20, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Andrew,

    Regarding comment 31: but how do you explain the situation that exists when the earth appears billions of years old to believers?

    Chris,

    Regarding comment 32: I adhere to the old Earth school of thinking, but I think it’s important that we respond to comments like Andrew’s with actual arguments rather than mere epithets.

  34. Chris Donato said,

    April 20, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Ron, please. Some things don’t deserve counter arguments. Not least wild extrapolations from sacred Writ. I mean, unless I’m reading him wrongly, the implication was that the world looks old because the creator wants to deliberately keep unbelievers from believing in him. Geological data isn’t parabolic. Whatever Matt. 13:11ff. means in its context, to strain out that meaning is beyond the pale of counter argumentation.

    And don’t look over his final “Get over it already.”

  35. Roy said,

    April 20, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Chris #31
    The postion the geology guys take continues to astonish me. Did Jesus deceive with created wine? How about loaves and fishes? Did God *intentionally mislead* Adam by putting him in a garden with fruit? How about by presenting him with a mature woman (tho only a few minutes “old”) as a suitable helper?

    Of course all the independent processes of dating agree. God don’t make junk. Those geologists can go about their scientific efforts. They can investigate and reach all kinds of conlusions about how God has the creation function. But their science cannot make any definitive statements about time zero, only that it appears to have some age from some arbitrarly selected starting point. (Christians ought regularly and loudly point out the silliness of insisting on gazillions of years when science does not even know gazillions of years from *when*. From a supposed ‘big bang’? What before that? And before that?)

    The supposed contradiction comes from the absurd (and exegetically unsupportable, wrong, stupid) paradigm that says because the creation happened relatively recently, the earth must look young.

    Folks reason the wrong direction. Instead of conluding great age (from when, btw), they ought deduce conclusions about the nature of the creation. When Adam later saw infant girls grow to adult women, he did not decide God lied with Eve. Instead, even before the first girl grew to adulthood, he knew what she would be like. He did not conclude creation had to be at least the number of years old represented by an adult, mature Eve. He reasoned the other direction from creation.

    Put still another way: if some created thing did not have built into it all the appropriate characteristics of that thing, whether it be rings in trees, water in rivers, mud in deltas, a few days earlier created billions of year old sun (demanded by the physics) shining on Adam , then there would be deliberate (deceptive) manipulation.

  36. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 20, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    @CD
    Perhaps, but it is rather worse for those to suppose that God is somehow being tricky or dishonest if the earth has any appearance of age. Those who think the earth is old, start out with a desire for it to be. They give credence to the evidence that supports their desired outcome and they ignore the evidence that doesn’t

    The earth is very different now, than before the global deluge For one thing prior to that people lived to an age of more than 9 centuries, now only a few live as long as one century. So we have infallible testimony that uniformitarianism is wrong. God runs the world differently now then He did then.

    Do you accept the Gen account of the global flood and the extinguishing of all land life except for that which was in the ark?

    @RH

    Well, the same way I explain that some believers think that 4th commandment has no continuing application in the church era.

    Bottom line is that the Scriptures don’t say how old the earth is. However, the scriptures are completely reliable in all that they say, not limited to matters of faith. Scripture is the only historical account of the world prior to the flood, and the period immediately following. It seems to me that one is forced into a position of either God is being dishonest in general revelation because a young earth is said to appear old, or dishonest in special revelation in that Genesis is less than plain history and the earth is much older than can be reasonably accepted based on the account of Genesis.

    Now you will object and say there is no implied dishonesty in claiming that Genesis is less than plain history, but well, that’s the really the sticky point isn’t it. It seems to me you must demonstrate using only scripture and clear reasoning that a plain historical reading of Genesis is impossible. There is only one account of creation and early earth history (which happens to be the account of the Creator himself).

    Bottom line, I believe Jesus, he was there, he said what he did, I take him at his word. The resurrection is far more incredible than the Genesis account of creation taken in the plain historical sense. Why do you stumble? It seems to me you yourself want to determine what is true, by searching not the scriptures, but the claims of science so called.

    Geology becomes invalid when it strays from describing the rocks as they are, and concerns itself, with how they got that way. That is all conjecture anyway for except for observed volcanism and the rocks that have been observed as they are formed, it is quite beyond the ability of science to employ empiricism on the subject of the age and creation of the earth. Its all dependant on uniformitarianism, which is demonstrably false, unless you reject the longevity of the antedeluvians.

    Why is it so hard to imagine that the concentration of 14C may have been different in the antedeluvian world just as the longevity of the people was so different from now.

  37. GLW Johnson said,

    April 21, 2010 at 7:23 am

    I am with AD on this one fellows.

  38. Chris Donato said,

    April 21, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Gary, but not with his modern-day application of the Matt. 13:11ff, right? I mean, it strains credulity!

    AD,

    I can indeed imagine the scenario you lay out, and it admittedly comports with how the creation narrative has been read for centuries. But centuries does not a doctrine based on Scripture make. We would’ve had no Reformation otherwise.

    The real problem for me is when we read the Scriptures in this manner (that Gen 1–2 describe the recent material creation of the cosmos) and, in the face of contradicting modern science, attempt to construct an alternative science to make sense of it all. This is basically the whole project of YEC. Take away that hermeneutic (which J.V. Fesko essentially deems dispensationalist [in the introduction]) and the cards collapse.

    I’d rather start from the premise that I’ve learned from at least St. Paul—that general revelation reveals truth. If a truth is uncovered via our observation of nature, and it “contradicts” Scripture, that contradiction is only apparent, for the real contradiction is with our interpretation, which we always admit is fallible. Thus the real question in all of this is, not least with respect to the age of the earth, is it true?

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 21, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Chris (#34):

    FWIW, some of this has come about because we have mistakenly thought of Scripture and Creation as two parallel books of revelation.

    Both are clearly revelatory, and both are infallible; but both are not books. The first speaks to us in words, the second is what it is, and we create words about it.

    If you doubt this, then ask: Which scientific truths are infallible? Which words about creation can we point to and say, “This is bedrock, unshakable truth”?

    The point is that the universe is what it is, and to think of God “deliberately misleading us by creating the universe with apparent age” really over-elevates our interpretations of things. God created the universe for His own purposes and to His own glory; if we then go after him and try to figure out its age, then we alone are accountable for our conclusions.

    Put this another way: couldn’t we just as well say that God is “deliberately misleading” us to have an old universe and a local flood, but also to have Genesis 1 – 11?

    (I’m not staking out a YEC or OEC position here — just observing that the “misleading” argument is overly anthropocentric).

  40. GLW Johnson said,

    April 21, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Chris
    Warfield also dismissed as relevent to the discussion the question of the age of the earth and Andrew’s is correct in his observation ‘Geology becomes invalid when it strays from describing the rocks as they are, and concerns itself with how they got that way.’ The same could be said about the piece co-authored by Peter Enns over at Bioslogos that ponders the question that since evolution is ‘vel caeco appareat’ and mankind evolved from primates-at what point in this process did God decided to bestow on one of these craetures His image? This heady brew is toxic and will lead as it does in the case of Enns to dismissing out of hand any and all Biblical statements that go contrary to the ‘assured results of science’ -this is a given presuppostion and not subject to debate ,thus Enns will gladly admit that the apostle Paul was wrong about Adam being the first man and a historical one at that.

  41. Ron Henzel said,

    April 21, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Andrew,

    For much of my Christian life I was a Young Earth Creationist. I now lean in the direction of Old Earth Creationism, although I firmly deny Darwinism, I believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and I believe that human history began relatively recently.

    My problem with what I should perhaps call “Young Universe Creationism” is not based on the geological record, but on the size of the universe, the speed of light, and the fact that astronomers have witnessed cosmic events—viz., supernovae—millions of light years from Earth. To me, this seems to go beyond the “appearance of age” issue, and is not adequately explained by saying that God created the beams of light between the stars and the Earth when he created the stars. The appearance of a very, very old event is not the same thing as the appearance of very, very old age.

    I have always had an interest in astronomy and cosmology, and I’ve tried to keep up with Young Earth Creationists’ proposals that the speed of light is not a constant, but in my reading those proposals have failed to withstand close scrutiny. Some of these proposals have stated that at creation the speed of light was “nearly infinite” (a meaningless concept, unfortunately), that it has only slowed down to its present speed recently, and that’s why we can witness events millions and even billions of light years away. Each time I’ve checked into these possibilities, however, I’ve had reason to be disappointed with them.

    The problem with tinkering with the speed of light is that we would be simultaneously tinkering with a number of other established principles of physics that are directly connected to and based on the speed of light. I suppose it’s possible that the actual laws of nature are different now from what they were just one or two thousand years ago (the speed of light would have had to remain much faster than 186,282.42 miles per second for quite a while after creation in order to bring the light from supernovae in distant galaxies to us within a 6,000 year timeframe), but how likely is that? Consider the magnitude of the change we’re talking about. Scientists believe they recently detected the most distant observed supernova at 11 billion light years from Earth. I suppose the light from that nova could have reached us within 6,000 years—if the speed of light had remained about 2.2 million times faster than it is now for 5,000 of those years, and then slowed down to its current speed in time for the Scientific Revolution and human observation.

    It seems to me that the combination of scientific and biblical evidence points an old universe, but a young human race—and possibly a young Earth. I am especially intrigued by John Sailhamer’s proposal in his book Genesis Unbound.

    Yes, I do concede that we may be living on a very young Earth. I don’t think the geological evidence for an extremely old Earth (in the range of billions of years) is as strong as the evidence for an extremely old cosmos. This is because with the cosmos we’re dealing with principles of physics that have been repeatedly tested, whereas with geology we’re dealing with inferences based on processes that we don’t know nearly as much about.

  42. Reed Here said,

    April 21, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Chris: your arguments seem to strongly ignore the noetic effects of the Fall. I’m not real comfortable with saying that general revelation speaks infallibly. I get the technical sense of this from Rom 1:18-20.

    Yet from the same passage I also get that this “infallible” speaking of general revelation is fallibly heard. To be sure the fallibility resides in us.

    Yet even Creation suffers the effects of the Fall. It shares in the fracturing of the image of God. Creation is no longer perfect. It is being interpreted by inperfect beings.

    For the life of me I cannot begin to fathom for one second how any Christian can in any degree give general revelation a role in any manner equal to the role of special revelation.

    If I’m correct then this dramatically alters how general revelation informs the interpretation of Scripture. Your arguments seem to rest on the equalilty, an equal mutuality between these two revelations.

    This is not what Scripture teaches.

  43. Vern Crisler said,

    April 21, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Hmm, it’s as if YE geologists have not written anything at all about dating systems. If those “PCA geologists” are correct that the earth is 4 billion years old, I suppose they must also believe the Bible is false in its teachings on creation. So why are they still Christians? Maybe the resurrection narratives are false too.

  44. Reed Here said,

    April 21, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Ron: so you are distinguishing between cosmic (astronomical) “evolution”, and earthly “evolution”? (The phrases “micro” and “macro” as they are traditionally used don’t seem to match up with your distinction, so I’m not using them).

    I’m assuming your talking about:

    1. The earth as a mud ball without form and void, and
    2. The prior creation and subsequent evolution of the rest of the universe (all before any Gen 1 work on the earth mudball), and
    3. The subsequent curse of material creation (at least the earth) post-historical fall of Adam and Eve.

    Some questions:

    > What about biological death, was that initiated before or after the actual historical events? I.e., was all biological death post Adam and Eve fall, not just on Earth, but throughout the cosmos?
    > What about the corollary of “geological” death? I recognize that the Flood is the first explicit mention of such. Yet Rom 8 does seem to draw broader lines, inferring that all the earth systems, including geological, suffered the effects of the curse of the fall.
    > If on this last issue one bifurcates between geological “death” on earth post-fall and the rest of the universe (occuring pre-fall), what are the inferrences for the comparable process of geological death in the rest of the universe?
    > What about the ordering in Gen 1, in which the mudball earth pre-exists any astronomical bodies?
    > If that one component is denied to be historical, on what basis can the rest of the account support any historical conclusions?
    > What about the purposing expression attached to the creational account of the astronomical bodies (light, time measurement)? If the ordering is not historical, then how does this impact the purpose for their creation? Doesn’t this also eliminate that revelance?

    As I’m working through these questions, I can’t help but observe that this ends up turning the creation account into nothing more than a literary device, a good story that is only intended to express motivational ideas. It does not express the actual work of a God who tells us what He has done in order to support his promises of what He will do. Rather than support His promises, it’s only use is to give us warm, fuzzy feelngs.

    I.O.W., Campbell’s power of the myth is right. Sorry to end up there, but I can’t see how one can support the historicity of anything in the first 9 chapters of Genesis (10-11, the whole book?) if one affirms that even one element in the very first chapter is not to be read historically. The controlling hermenuetic on any such comprimise is not historical text, but Campbell’s myth category.

  45. Chris Donato said,

    April 21, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Reed wrote (#42): “Your arguments seem to rest on the equalilty, an equal mutuality between these two revelations.”

    Really this is the crux, so let’s speak plainly about what it is we think Scripture teaches. Along with the great Reformed confessions (and you, no doubt), I think it teaches all that is necessary for salvation, which is primarily couched in redemptive-historical terms. This does not include modern scientific theories. There is, however, history and there is the story of God’s redemption throughout it. The history with which it deals is that of Israel (and, of course, the new Israel). It is debatable (as Sailhamer suggests) as to whether Gen 1–2 deal with anything else (i.e., material creation). I lean in the direction that it does not say much of anything about how the cosmos were created.

    I do not think the Scriptures teach anything directly with respect to science, as is currently understood. I do not think that Scripture ought to be twisted to comport with modern science, as Morton does on one end of the spectrum and Morris (to a greater degree) does on the other.

    The same limitations we face with respect to our interpretations of general revelation are the very same limitations we face with respect to Scripture, such are the noetic effects of the fall (the much-touted and tired example of geocentrism comes to mind). I daresay I don’t underestimate the noetic effects of fall as much as (certain) presuppositionalists overestimate them. Truth is truth, no matter where it may be found. And a truth (but not redemptive truth) can be known, quite apart from Scripture (by virtue of the imago Dei). Special revelation speaks of the truth of God’s redemption wrought in Christ Jesus; general revelation can be observed and thus can reveal the truth regarding the mechanisms God used to bring about the current state affairs. To deny this principle, it seems to me, is to go down the road of biblicism.

    “For the life of me I cannot begin to fathom for one second how any Christian can in any degree” pit truth against truth. Are not Scripture and science complementary, speaking of the same things only differently?

  46. David Gray said,

    April 21, 2010 at 11:08 am

    There are two points with theological import which cannot be compromised (unlike whether creation occurred in six 24 hour days).

    Death entered the world through sin.

    There was a time Adam (man) existed when Eve (woman) did not.

    Neither of those can be made to cohere with evolutionary theory of any sort.

  47. Vern Crisler said,

    April 21, 2010 at 11:15 am

    #46
    Well, David, those teachings are part of the same Scripture that teaches a young creation. If the latter is false, why shouldn’t we believe the former is false, too?

  48. David Gray said,

    April 21, 2010 at 11:20 am

    >Well, David, those teachings are part of the same Scripture that teaches a young creation. If the latter is false, why shouldn’t we believe the former is false, too?

    I’ve no objection to a young creation, I tend to favor it. But I’m not dogmatic about it as the Bible also uses metaphor and I don’t see the theological consequences of understanding it as metaphor. The items I listed are different in that regard.

  49. Dean B said,

    April 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Ron

    “The fact that astronomers have witnessed cosmic events—viz., supernovae—millions of light years from Earth. To me, this seems to go beyond the “appearance of age” issue, and is not adequately explained by saying that God created the beams of light between the stars and the Earth when he created the stars. The appearance of a very, very old event is not the same thing as the appearance of very, very old age.”

    I am not a scientist nor do I play one on tv. My question is one of ignorance.

    Is this similar to saying diamonds could not have been present 6000 years ago because the creation of a diamond is an event rather than simply the appearance of an old earth?

  50. Roy said,

    April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Ron #41
    How old was the star (sun) that shined on Adam in Eden?

    Of course the universe looks old. And huge. Both give, albeit limited, hints about God. He is more ancient, vaster, and sovereign beyond our comprehension. Why should it surprise us that what we learn continues to imply greater age, greater size for that creation? (Think of how the estimates of the size of the ‘known universe’ grew not by a million miles but by a million times larger between the last quarter of the 1800’s and the first quarter of the 1900’s.)

    The psalmist marvels at the heavens (Ps 19), with an in-your-face apologetic to the pagans who worshipped the stars as somehow controlling the seasons (and hence their lives). Those stars declare “God”. The psalmist does not quit with that, but goes on to note that sun worship makes no sense either. God determined its course, too. He made everything just right so that the psalmist (and his audience) could live.

    What more would that psalmist say knowing the stuff we know today? More to the point, what ought we say who do know that stuff?

    Our increasing understanding of creation continues to declare to us the absolutely staggering uniqueness of our being able to exist.

  51. Vern Crisler said,

    April 21, 2010 at 11:58 am

    #48, David said: “But I’m not dogmatic about it as the Bible also uses metaphor and I don’t see the theological consequences of understanding it as metaphor. The items I listed are different in that regard.”

    Of course, deniers of the historicity of Adam or the Fall could make the same argument: “Look, I’m not dogmatic about those things because the Bible uses metaphor, and nothing of theological importance is sacrificed in regarding these things as metaphor.”

    Vern

  52. Reed Here said,

    April 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Chris, no. 45: appreciate the focusing you provide. I believe I am tracking with you. Two observations:

    You said: “The same limitations we face with respect to our interpretations of general revelation are the very same limitations we face with respect to Scripture, …”

    Absolutely not true. You may have forgotten the illumination ministry of the Spirit.

    Now, you may respond that this ministry is only limited to things pertaining to salvation. I’ll go along with that and observe that the things pertaining to salvation included, exclusively so, every single word in the sacred text.

    This is the crux of the problem, reading Gen 1-2:4 as not historical, but as some other genre. If it is not historical, if it is some “orthodox” category of myth (not Campbell, but rather Enns), then this hermeneutic dominates the reading of every other “historical” text of Scripture. This is because of both its position (i.e., in the beginning, whatever that means) and it centrality to the essential threads of redemption (e.g., Creator-creature, Fall, Curse, Atonement).

    Quite simply, all the evangelical arguments I’ve seen so far (e.g., Sailhammer, Enns, etc.) result in Gen 1-2:4 being relegated to merely a literary category that mimics the ANE literature in both form and content.

    As such, it has no more authoritaive import than those other ANE flawed texts. This diminishing of authority applies across the board; any historical assertion is suspect to being nothing more than another example of contemporary literary devices, not the inerrant, infallible, inspired word of God.

    I appreciate your effort to adjust the relationship of general to special revelation. I think your solution(s) does nothing more than diminsh the character and authority of special revelation.

  53. David Gray said,

    April 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    >Of course, deniers of the historicity of Adam or the Fall could make the same argument: “Look, I’m not dogmatic about those things because the Bible uses metaphor, and nothing of theological importance is sacrificed in regarding these things as metaphor.”

    But they would be in error. Arguing about the length of time spent in creation and arguing as to whether the Fall occurred or not are of radically different theological import. As is true for the creation order of the sexes.

  54. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    @42, Ron,

    Thanks for the interaction. I too am interested in astronomy and physics. Do not misunderstand me, although I am a YEC, I don’t necessarily buy all the “science” put out by YEC scientists. I am rather sceptical of the what is put forth as the variable speed of light, based on the time in history.

    However, my chief problem with current scientific measurements for the size of the universe, is rather based on the the general problem with measuring devices. Heisenberg is especially important in this regard, but there is the more simple problem of calibration and range.

    For example a thermometer that is good at taking your body temperature is rather unsuited for taking the temperature of lava flowing from an active volcano. Your bathroom scale is not very good if you weigh in excess of 300 lbs.

    The accuracy of measuring devices degrades very quickly, once you leave the 1st standard deviation of the devices calibrated range. Contemporary astronomical measuring devices all use the speed of light as measured over very short (relatively speaking) distances, e.g., intra solar system, which is far too of a narrow range to then turn around and use to measure something that is even said to be light-years away. They assume their calibrations are valid, but there is a lot of past scientific blunders, to demonstrate that they might not be as good as they think.

    Contemporary science postulates that photons (i.e. light) are affected by gravitational fields, and the path and speed of the light is impacted when travelling past significant gravitational sinks. Now it is assumed that the mass of the sun is not significant enough to affect the measured speed of light, but then we still lack the technology to measure the speed of light from a frame of reference that really is free from the gravitational affect of the sun. So even a small error in the speed of light as measured intra solar system, becomes a fatally large error when using that over distances which are alleged to be millions of times larger. The error is going to be at least geometric the further away from you you suppose the object’s distance you’re attempting to measure.

    So while the measured value of C is useful from within our frame of reference it is utterly useless beyond it.

    So until you can get a measured value for C taken from at least 1 light year away from any star, I think I have more than enough reason to doubt the trustworthiness of the value of “C” as measured within the solar system for use in measuring distances so vast. Even a tiny error in the measured speed of light on the slow side will greatly shrink the size and therefore the age of the universe as supposed by contemporary scientists.

  55. April 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I guess one thing that I’ve thought about in regard to making the Creation account more palatable for scientific understanding is the basic materialist presupposition of the scientific community. No matter how amenable we make the biblical account of creation to scientific understanding there will always be the matter of the dead being brought back to life. The great hurdle for the materialist understanding will be the resurrection. I can think of no hermeneutical device to sidestep that one. As long as we believe in the supra-material our faith will be gibberish to the materialist. The stone of stumbling is not the creation account but the author of that account died and risen again.

  56. Vern Crisler said,

    April 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    #53, But of course, David, both 6-day creation and the fall of Adam come from the same Bible. If one is false, or metaphor, why not the other? I think what we really need in these discussions is a regulative principle of hermeneutics.

  57. jeffhutchinson said,

    April 21, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Good word, Nathaniel! Very nicely put.

  58. Vaughn Hathaway said,

    April 21, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    RE: #9 & the appearance of age.

    I like to ask when this subject comes up, Did Adam have a belly-button? I know. That may seem to be a non sequitur. Whether Adam had a belly-button or not does not amend the fact that he was created. It does, however, implicate the question of age. Unless God assigned two wolves to care for him until he could sustain and support himself, Adam surely has some degree of maturity, especially if he were to be responsible for subduing creation. Hence, he had an appearance of age. Is it unreasonable then to argue from the lessor to the greater? If the light from the stars and planets of the universe reached the earth at the moment of their creation, there was a built in factor of age.

  59. David Gray said,

    April 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    >If one is false, or metaphor, why not the other?

    Yes. But so is the passage where we are told to hate our parents. Do you interpret that in the same way as six day creation? The point isn’t whether creation occured in 144 hours or 800 hours or 973.6 hours, it simply is not the most meaningful place to have the fight. If someone wishes to reject the creation order of the sexes or the Fall then they are clearly heterodox at best.

  60. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 5:32 am

    Reed,

    You wrote:

    Ron: so you are distinguishing between cosmic (astronomical) “evolution”, and earthly “evolution”? (The phrases “micro” and “macro” as they are traditionally used don’t seem to match up with your distinction, so I’m not using them).

    I’m assuming your talking about:

    1. The earth as a mud ball without form and void, and

    2. The prior creation and subsequent evolution of the rest of the universe (all before any Gen 1 work on the earth mudball), and

    3. The subsequent curse of material creation (at least the earth) post-historical fall of Adam and Eve.

    I don’t have any room in my thinking for biological macroevolution (i.e., the evolution of one species into another). So to whatever extent I make room for the more general concept of “evolution” (e.g., “cosmic evolution”) it would only be in order to offer a potential description of something that may have happened during God’s creation of the universe.

    You wrote:

    Some questions:

    > What about biological death, was that initiated before or after the actual historical events? I.e., was all biological death post Adam and Eve fall, not just on Earth, but throughout the cosmos?

    I believe that when Adam and Eve ate from the other trees in the garden prior to the fall, biological death occurred in their digestive tracts. Cellular structures broke down and died as they were bathed in our original parents’ salivary enzymes and stomach acids. Therefore I do not believe that when Scripture says that death came into the world through Adam it means that death came into the biological world, but rather into the anthropological world. Satan and his demons were apparently already spiritually dead. Thus I think it is taking Paul’s statements too far to conclude that there was absolutely no death in any form prior to the Fall.

    You wrote:

    > What about the corollary of “geological” death? I recognize that the Flood is the first explicit mention of such. Yet Rom 8 does seem to draw broader lines, inferring that all the earth systems, including geological, suffered the effects of the curse of the fall.

    I’ll have to ask you to explain what you mean by “geological death” and how you think it applie here. I am not familiar with the term.

    You wrote:

    > If on this last issue one bifurcates between geological “death” on earth post-fall and the rest of the universe (occuring pre-fall), what are the inferrences for the comparable process of geological death in the rest of the universe?

    Again, it’s hard for me to figure out what you’re getting at as I’m lacking a definition for your key term. But if you’re wondering whether somewhere in the concept of “geological death” there might be a way to demonstrate how the size of our universe can be explained in the context of it existing for only, say, 6,000 years, that sounds like a worthy discussion.

    You wrote:

    > What about the ordering in Gen 1, in which the mudball earth pre-exists any astronomical bodies?

    This is where Sailhamer’s thesis (or parts of it) becomes intriguing to me. He points out that “the heavens and the earth” could be translated “the sky and the land” in Gen. 1:1. (The New Century Version also uses the translation of “sky,” but sticks with “earth” for ha’aretz.) I think such a rendering is not only more in accord with the way an ancient Hebrew would have read the text, but it splashes a bit of cold water in the face of the modern assumption I think many of us probably almost unconsciously share that the narrator (Moses) expected us to imagine the beginning of the creation scene from high Earth orbit. It seems to me that the perspective intended throughout Genesis 1 was from the point of view of someone standing on the earth’s surface (which, until day two, was apparently covered with water), and thus the description of what was going on in the heavens during the six days of creation was also from that point of view.

    Sailhamer’s view goes even further here. He relies on a medieval Jewish interpretation that saw ha’aretz as both the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10-14) and the Promised Land (Gen. 15:18). This view allows for the notion that the rest of the Earth had already been in existence for an unspecified amount of time by the time you get to Gen. 1:2. So when the water is separated from the land on Day Two, it is for the specific purpose of preparing the Garden, and not necessarily there was land for the first time on Earth.

    One of the downsides of this view, in my opinion, is that—despite Sailhamer’s disclaimers—it sounds a lot like the Gap Theory, which served the primary purpose of allowing readers to dump as many eons as they wanted between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2. Sailhamer simply dumps all those eons directly into Gen. 1:1, as he argues that reshit (“beginning”) often refers to a length of time and not a moment in time.

    But to get back to the question about the creation of the Sun, Moon and stars: if everything is viewed from the point of view of someone on the ground, this meant that someone standing there on Day 1 would have found himself in the midst a of thick fog, since the waters above (clouds) and below (ground water) were not separated until Day 2. Thus they would have been able to see the light that had been created, but not the Sun or Moon—which Sailhamer says would have already been there, since they were “created” (bara) in Gen. 1:1, while the other things we read about in Gen. 1 (with the exceptions of the animals in 1:21 and man in 1:27) were “made” (asah). Once the clouds were formed we can imagine an overcast sky on Day 3, until it finally cleared up on Day 4 to reveal the Sun, Moon, and stars. This may not sound like a very satisfying way to solve the age-old problem of how created light could have existed without a source for Days 1-3, but it is one attempt.

    You wrote:

    > If that one component is denied to be historical, on what basis can the rest of the account support any historical conclusions?

    Sailhamer’s approach, while it has its own set of problems, is actually a painstakingly historical approach. He, in fact, calls it “Historical Creationism” to distinguish it from “Scientific Creationism,” “Progressive Creationism,” and so on.

    You wrote:

    > What about the purposing expression attached to the creational account of the astronomical bodies (light, time measurement)? If the ordering is not historical, then how does this impact the purpose for their creation? Doesn’t this also eliminate that revelance?

    I’m not sure why the heavenly bodies would have had to have been created (i.e., created out of nothing in the same manner as the living things, including man) specifically on Day 4 in order to have been originally designed for that stated purpose.

    You wrote:

    As I’m working through these questions, I can’t help but observe that this ends up turning the creation account into nothing more than a literary device, a good story that is only intended to express motivational ideas. It does not express the actual work of a God who tells us what He has done in order to support his promises of what He will do. Rather than support His promises, it’s only use is to give us warm, fuzzy feelngs.

    I.O.W., Campbell’s power of the myth is right. Sorry to end up there, but I can’t see how one can support the historicity of anything in the first 9 chapters of Genesis (10-11, the whole book?) if one affirms that even one element in the very first chapter is not to be read historically. The controlling hermenuetic on any such comprimise is not historical text, but Campbell’s myth category.

    Well, I sure don’t approach the creation account that way. I think its historicity is of paramount importance. If at any point I become convinced that my “old universe” view is detrimental to the historicity of Gen. 1-2, I will gladly jettison it.

    Two things I appreciate about Sailhamer’s approach are that (1) it is technically not a novelty, since he discovered the essentials of his interpretation in medieval Judaism, and (2) it is nevertheless a totally outside-the-box approach, especially for those of us living in the aftermath of the Scientific Revolution. I’m surprised it hasn’t received more attention, although that is probably explained by the complexity of his argument, despite the fact that he’s gone out of his way to write at the lay level.

  61. Paige Britton said,

    April 22, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Reed-
    I would add, from the brief but concentrated exposure I’ve had to Sailhamer (halfway thru his new Big Tome), that he very much differs from Enns in the way he focuses on the text of the OT. For Enns, the OT is reducible to just another example of ANE lit, and we have to wade through other ANE lit to understand it. For Sailhamer, the OT is both inspired (i.e., very different from ANE lit) and written (IOW, involving an author with a purpose). I don’t get a reductionist feel from Sailhamer’s approach at all, but rather a deep reverence for the text as God’s text, and a desire to pay careful attention to what the author(s) meant to communicate.

  62. David Weiner said,

    April 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Ron, re #59:

    It seems that the idea that the Hebrew bara means create in a physical sense is taken for granted. Yet, the text never explicitly says that material is being created. In the ancient world and in the Bible, there is evidence to suggest that something existed not when it had physical properties, but when it had been separated from other things, given a name and a role within an ordered system. Our acceptance of a physical ontology leads to all the various conflicting views being expressed here. What if the creation narrative has to do with a functional ontology? That is, something exists when it has been assigned a function not when it gains material form.

  63. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 22, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I think many of us probably almost unconsciously share that the narrator (Moses) expected us to imagine the beginning of the creation scene from high Earth orbit. It seems to me that the perspective intended throughout Genesis 1 was from the point of view of someone standing on the earth’s surface (which, until day two, was apparently covered with water), and thus the description of what was going on in the heavens during the six days of creation was also from that point of view.

    That has the problem in that the text of Gen 1:2 b

    And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. KJV
    and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters NIV
    And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. ESV

    draws the reader to the being above the surface, not on the surface, or is it your contention those translations are improperly colored to change the readers’ POV with respect to being above or standing on the surface of the earth?

    Then consider the repeated phrase “and God saw…”. Based on that, It seems that Gen 1 is recounted from God’s point of view, and the repeating of the phrase continually draws the reader back to God’s external point of view. Trying to make the point of view as being that of someone standing on the earth looking around and/or looking up, seems to ignore those rather clear indications from the text.

  64. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Andrew,

    You wrote:

    Thanks for the interaction. I too am interested in astronomy and physics. Do not misunderstand me, although I am a YEC, I don’t necessarily buy all the “science” put out by YEC scientists. I am rather sceptical of the what is put forth as the variable speed of light, based on the time in history.

    I agree. I’m skeptical of any variable speed of light explanation.

    You wrote:

    However, my chief problem with current scientific measurements for the size of the universe, is rather based on the the general problem with measuring devices. Heisenberg is especially important in this regard, but there is the more simple problem of calibration and range.

    I’m not sure how Heisenberg, with his uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, comes into play here. He simply stated that it is impossible to measure both the speed and location of a subatomic particle at the same time.

    You wrote:

    For example a thermometer that is good at taking your body temperature is rather unsuited for taking the temperature of lava flowing from an active volcano. Your bathroom scale is not very good if you weigh in excess of 300 lbs.

    And that’s why astronomers do not use the same methods for measuring nearby planets and stars (i.e., within about 1,000 parsecs, or 3,260 light years) as they do for measuring very distant stars and galaxies.

    You wrote:

    The accuracy of measuring devices degrades very quickly, once you leave the 1st standard deviation of the devices calibrated range. Contemporary astronomical measuring devices all use the speed of light as measured over very short (relatively speaking) distances, e.g., intra solar system, which is far too of a narrow range to then turn around and use to measure something that is even said to be light-years away. They assume their calibrations are valid, but there is a lot of past scientific blunders, to demonstrate that they might not be as good as they think.

    As I understand it, astronomers are required to change measuring methods for objects depending on their distance. As objects become too distant to rely on parallax, most of remaining methods rely on the “standard candle” principle of seeking out particular objects that we know to have fixed luminosities. Thus Edwin Hubble used a cephid variable star to determine that Andromeda was actually a galaxy outside our own, and astronomers today use Type Ia supernovae to determine the distances of galaxies greater than 1,000 megaparsecs from us.

    There are always untested (and perhaps untestable) assumptions that underlie the use of standard candles, and I’m not saying that the method is infallible. But even if one refuses to concede that the universe is tens of billions of light-years wide, we still have the problem of our own galaxy being 100,000 light-years in diameter—unless, of course, one is prepared to toss out all forms of astronomical measurements beyond parallax and shrink the entire universe down to about 6,000 or so light-years in diameter. But this would make the recent Hubble Ultra Deep Field observations of thousands upon thousands of galaxies in a region that is obviously quite far from us very difficult to explain.

    You wrote:

    Contemporary science postulates that photons (i.e. light) are affected by gravitational fields, and the path and speed of the light is impacted when travelling past significant gravitational sinks. Now it is assumed that the mass of the sun is not significant enough to affect the measured speed of light, but then we still lack the technology to measure the speed of light from a frame of reference that really is free from the gravitational affect of the sun. So even a small error in the speed of light as measured intra solar system, becomes a fatally large error when using that over distances which are alleged to be millions of times larger. The error is going to be at least geometric the further away from you you suppose the object’s distance you’re attempting to measure.

    According to Relativity, it’s not so much that gravitational fields bend light, but that they curve space-time, and light simply follows the curve in much the same way that an automobile driving in a “straight line” on Earth is actually taking a curved path along the Earth’s surface. Current views on the relationship between space-time, gravity, and light, are all nestled in Einstein’s equations, and the equations of those who followed him. As far as I know, Relativity posits that gravity is always a constant in a vacuum (hence the “c” in Einstein’s most famous equation), and to change that would mean a significant rewrite of the entire theory.

    If gravity had any effect on light-speed, I think that our current technology has probably given us more than ample opportunities for observing it. For example, when our Martian probes communicate with us from a position close to opposite us from the Sun, meaning that their signals would have to pass very close to the Sun to reach us, a simple comparison of message timestamps from the onboard clocks on those probes with the time we actually receive the messages, based on our current knowledge of how long those signals should have taken to arrive here, would provide sufficient evidence of a change in speed of the signals. We also have two probes that are now about three times as far from the Sun as Pluto (about 15 light-hours away), and thus their signals are freer from the effects of Solar gravity than signals near Earth. I would expect that this would also have turned up a discrepancy by now if gravity affects light-speed.

    You wrote:

    So while the measured value of C is useful from within our frame of reference it is utterly useless beyond it.

    I don’t think I can go along with this.

    You wrote:

    So until you can get a measured value for C taken from at least 1 light year away from any star, I think I have more than enough reason to doubt the trustworthiness of the value of “C” as measured within the solar system for use in measuring distances so vast. Even a tiny error in the measured speed of light on the slow side will greatly shrink the size and therefore the age of the universe as supposed by contemporary scientists.

    You seem to be assuming that the calculation of cosmic distances involves an equation that includes the speed of light, and thus if we change the speed of light we’ll come out with a different result for the distance between Earth and, say, Andromeda Galaxy. But using the degree of luminosity in distant objects (the “standard candle” principle) to calculate distance is not the same as using the speed by which that luminosity reaches us as part of the calculation. I don’t see how the speed of light itself directly affects the calculation of an object’s distance. Even if light traveled at 1 billion miles per second, Edwin Hubble still would have concluded that Andromeda Galaxy is 6 quintillion miles away based on calculations involving the cepheid variable star he found in it.

  65. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    David,

    Regarding comment 62: I think it’s easy to confuse a way of speaking (or writing) with a way of thinking. We saw a lot of this confusion beginning in the 19th century when many scholars concluded that various features of the Hebrew language somehow demonstrated that ancient Israelites had little use (or even capacity) for abstract thought. This is view no longer enjoys the popularity among scholars that it once had. I think the Hebrew mind was not only fully capable of understanding the concept of the ex nihilo creation of matter, but that members of their nation deliberately and explicitly enshrined it for us, under divine inspiration, in sacred Scripture.

  66. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Andrew,

    Regarding comment 63: I think you may be reading a modern concept of altitude into the hovering of the Holy Spirit in Gen. 1:2 that is not present in the text. How high would the Spirit have had to have been to have been “hovering over” or “moving upon” the waters? Why could He not have been directly over the waters? And how does the fact that the text specifies His location automatically translate into it specifying the point in space from which His activity should be viewed? How does that limit the perspective of the reader to viewing the scene from above rather than from the ground? I do not find the “rather clear indications from the text” for answers to these questions that you do, and I don’t think that we can expect that a typical 2nd millennium BC reader would have imagined the events described in Gen. 1:1-5 from the vantage point of outer space, with a spherical Earth and all the rest.

    I know that Job wrote that God “hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7), and I agree that this certainly seems to indicate that ancient peoples—or at least ancient people like Job—probably knew more than we give them credit for. But then again, I think we need to resist the temptation to credit them with more knowledge than either Scripture or history warrants, and also realize that the ancient Israelites for whom Moses wrote had been oppressed in pagan Egypt for a few centuries, and thus imparting a scientifically-correct cosmology to them was not at the top of his agenda in writing Gen. 1-2, assuming Moses himself had one to impart. Meanwhile, I think that what is revealed in Gen. 1-2 will ultimately prove not only consistent with what they understood but also with what true science either has or will tell us.

  67. Reed Here said,

    April 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Ron, no. 60, and Paige, no. 61: o.k., you’ve given me enough to not knee jerk react to Sailhammer. What book Paige? I’ll add it to the never shrinking list ;-)

    Ron, geological death: my reference to the flood and Rom. 8 were too obtuse. Sorry. By geological death I am referring to the cycle of cataclysmic activities, e.g., eathquakes, volcanoes, etc. I might add catclysmic weather activity, e.g., tornados, hurricanes/typhoons, blizzards. floods, etc. Let’s use a composite term, say geo-meteorological death.

    Admittedly the first evidence of such activity is referenced during the flood. As well, I think the earth’s “groanings” in Rom 8 at least include these. That these are evidences of God’s judgment of death because of the curse is an essential presupposition in the arguments in both Gen 6 and Rom 8.

    My point in asking this, as with biological death, is that the curse in Gen 3 presents “death” as a comprehensive curse that all of creation suffers under. This includes biological, geological, meteorological, and any other -ological systems I’m missing. All are presented as having suffered devasting, life ending changes from their otherwise “good” original state. A condition not previously present, death, is introduced as a consequence of the fall.

    Positing long pre-fall ages during which these ordinary post-fall -ological systems occured in the same manner as as their post-fall manner rbigns into serious question God’s curse, and therefore the whole scheme of redemption.

    If these processes were not radically altered by the fall, if a “death” principle was not introduced opst-fall, if the creation did not actually suffer as a result of the fall, then where does that leave God’s claim otherwise? Was God just trying to impress upon Adam how bad a boy he was, and blaming him for things that already were going on before the fall?

    Even if we argue that the pre-fall death characteristics were radically altered post-fall, this still leaves us with a dilemma. The Bible does not present a pciture where death existed before the fall, but now after the fall it is much worse. It presents a picture where death did not exist before the fall. Death is the consequence of the curse, and all creation suffers under it.

    All the -ological observations we make are post-fall. We only see these systems under the curse of death. Our ruminations about what they were like pre-fall needs to do justice to the pre-fall-no-death, post-fall-death presentation of Scripture. Allowing for long ages in which any of the ordinary death-attributable charaterstics of creation pre-date the fall, it seems to me, deny God’s curse of the fall.

    At best, He is making a rhetorical argument, not a historical one. In that He presents it as history, well then, why should we trust anything he says?

  68. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Reed,

    You wrote:

    Ron, geological death: my reference to the flood and Rom. 8 were too obtuse. Sorry. By geological death I am referring to the cycle of cataclysmic activities, e.g., eathquakes, volcanoes, etc. I might add catclysmic weather activity, e.g., tornados, hurricanes/typhoons, blizzards. floods, etc. Let’s use a composite term, say geo-meteorological death.

    Thanks, that clears things up a bit.

    You wrote:

    Admittedly the first evidence of such activity is referenced during the flood. As well, I think the earth’s “groanings” in Rom 8 at least include these. That these are evidences of God’s judgment of death because of the curse is an essential presupposition in the arguments in both Gen 6 and Rom 8.

    I don’t think we have to wait until the Flood before we read about the fulfillment of God’s cursing of the ground. We read:

    When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”

    [Gen. 5:28-29, ESV]

    Since Genesis 3-5 cover a long period of time they are obviously a highly compressed account, and thus we can’t assume that a lot of other evidences of the Fall that we’re familiar with did not also occur.

    You wrote:

    My point in asking this, as with biological death, is that the curse in Gen 3 presents “death” as a comprehensive curse that all of creation suffers under. This includes biological, geological, meteorological, and any other -ological systems I’m missing. All are presented as having suffered devasting, life ending changes from their otherwise “good” original state. A condition not previously present, death, is introduced as a consequence of the fall.

    I’m somewhat uncomfortable with categorizing all the curses under the heading of “death.” The pain of women in childbirth does not fit easily under that label. The curse on the serpent is perhaps better characterized as defeat and destruction. I think if you were to recast “death” as “alienation” you’d be on firmer footing in trying to locate a theme common to the remaining curses against man and the ground. Even the curse on the ground is actually a curse on man, who is now alienated from what was originally designed to provide for him sustenance in abundance. The one sure-fire theme that unites all the curses, of course, is the very word “curse.”

    You wrote:

    Positing long pre-fall ages during which these ordinary post-fall -ological systems occured in the same manner as as their post-fall manner rbigns into serious question God’s curse, and therefore the whole scheme of redemption.

    Well, I think one could argue (as I believe Bavinck and others actually have), that Adam in himself did not possess immortality even prior to the Fall, and thus was in need of the Tree of Life (cf. Gen 2:9; 3:22). I am not arguing here that life-and-death cycles actually occurred for eons prior to Adam’s and Eve’s creation as Sailhamer does, but I really don’t see Scripture directly teaching that nothing would have died if Adam and Eve had not fallen into sin. I don’t know how many times Adam and Eve would have needed to have eaten from the Tree of Life to become immortal—whether a single time would have sufficed or whether continuous feeding on it would have been necessary—but its existence seems to imply to me at least that immortality was a special gift from God to humankind, and was not necessarily extended to animal or vegetable life.

    You wrote:

    If these processes were not radically altered by the fall, if a “death” principle was not introduced opst-fall, if the creation did not actually suffer as a result of the fall, then where does that leave God’s claim otherwise? Was God just trying to impress upon Adam how bad a boy he was, and blaming him for things that already were going on before the fall?

    I think creation did actually suffer things it would never have faced had the Fall not occurred. I believe that creation was made especially for mankind to have loving dominion over it, but now it is alienated from its intended primary care provider. Paul argues anthropomorphically in Rom. 8:19-22 that creation “consciously” suffers because mankind is prevented from fulfilling its original role in relation to it, and eagerly awaits our restoration to that role. It’s interesting that Paul blended two separate curses together when he wrote:

    For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

    [Rom. 8:22, ESV]

    He already referred to the curse of the ground when he wrote that the “creation was subjected to futility” (ματαιότητι ἡ κτίσις ὑπετάγη, v. 20) and in “bondage to decay” (δουλείας τῆς φθορᾶς), but the creation is not in a state of actual “death” because it’s also experiencing labor pains. Paul uses the curse placed on the woman as a metaphor to fill out the complete picture of creation after the Fall: the “groans” of creation themselves are not due to futility, but to hope—the hope of the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    So I don’t think that “death” is really descriptive of what changed for the rest of creation after the Fall. God said, “…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” (Gen. 3:18-19, ESV), indicating not that the land would now bring forth death, but just not the kind of plant life that man needs to keep his labors free from constant, toilsome frustration.

    You wrote:

    Even if we argue that the pre-fall death characteristics were radically altered post-fall, this still leaves us with a dilemma. The Bible does not present a pciture where death existed before the fall, but now after the fall it is much worse. It presents a picture where death did not exist before the fall. Death is the consequence of the curse, and all creation suffers under it.

    I simply don’t see it in those cut-and-dried terms. Is it that there was no food chain before the Fall, but once the Fall occurred the food chain came in as a kind of “Plan B”? Then it’s an amazingly well-designed means of sustaining the life of every single creature on Earth (utilizing as it does the remains of dead creatures) for something that was never supposed to have any kind of physical death in it in the first place. I’m not trying to reduce the opposing idea to the level of the absurd, because I don’t necessarily think that what you’re saying is absurd. It is quite possible that you are correct. I just don’t think Scripture necessarily backs me into the same corner in which you are standing; I don’t agree that the view that no plants or animals at all would have died if the Fall had not occurred is required by Scripture. I think the death of humanity is the consequence of the Fall and I personally think that that’s as much as we can say with certainty about death’s relationship to the Fall from Scripture.

    You wrote:

    All the -ological observations we make are post-fall. We only see these systems under the curse of death. Our ruminations about what they were like pre-fall needs to do justice to the pre-fall-no-death, post-fall-death presentation of Scripture. Allowing for long ages in which any of the ordinary death-attributable charaterstics of creation pre-date the fall, it seems to me, deny God’s curse of the fall.

    Notwithstanding all I’ve written thus far, I am not enamored with the idea that there were necessarily hundreds of millions of years during which plants and animals lived and died prior to the creation of Adam and Eve. Sailhamer attributes the existence of these species to special acts of creation by God rather than evolution, but I don’t see the necessity of maintaining this as he does. And I also concede the possibility that the Earth itself may be of very recent creation.

    You wrote:

    At best, He is making a rhetorical argument, not a historical one. In that He presents it as history, well then, why should we trust anything he says?

    Yes, but I really don’t see Scripture presenting the situation as “Pre-Fall = No Death Whatsoever/Post-Fall = Death Everywhere.” I think it is rather “Pre-Fall = No Death for Mankind / Post-Fall = Death for Mankind.”

    Now, I’ve already changed my mind once about this, though very cautiously because I believe special revelation takes precedence over general revelation, and over any interpretation of the latter we might have that seems to conflict with special revelation. I suppose I could change my mind again and revert back to Young Earth Creationism. What I really feel passionate about is the inerrancy and hence complete historicity of Scripture, and right at the top of my list of concerns for the latter is the absolute historicity of Adam and Eve.

  69. Reed Here said,

    April 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Ron: appreicate the response, while I do think you’re quibbling.

    A lot of my argument did not correlate for you because you’ve denied my basic premise concerning death = curse. Consequently, a lot of what you write in response does not actually mitigate my argument. At least we’re able to pin it down and see where the difference lies. ;-)

    As to death being the sum of the curse, first let me say, alientation, no duh :P Further I think you are using death in a narrow sense, whereas I am using it a broader sense. To be sure if all we were talking about is the narrow sense of death as in the cessation of biological life, your criticism that I’m overloading is on target.

    Yet from the beginning the Bible presents “death” in much more fundamental terms. “In the day you eat of the Tree, you shall surely die,” was given in a setting where at least the cessation of life had not been experienced. If Adam and Eve knew of this, it was only “book learning.”

    Yet as the text demonstrates, God meant not merely the immiment cessation of life when He warned His children. The whole curse is a pronouncement of this “death” that was threatened. It included the promise of eventual biological death (dust to dust), and the daily experience of the increase of death (sweat, labor pains), in an environment now hostile to life, i.e., threatening death (thorns, thistles).

    Finally their departure from the garden marked the ultimate significance of death – alienation from the presence of God. (From the NT for sure we know that this alienation was not merely physical, but spiritual also, in that this event ushered in the state of spiritual death into which all Adam’s descendants are born.)

    In other words, death can be used in your narrower sense. Yet in the first three chapters of Genesis is it used in a broader sense. It is used, as it were, to described the fundamental principle fact of the curse. The Curse introduced a principle of death that so far transcends the narrow usage as to be described as the reign of death (cf., Rom 5:17, 21). This death principle, as it were, is the sine qua non of existence after the fall.

    To be sure, if all God threatened was imminent biological death, or if in the curse He imposed a number of features, one of them being biological death, then your concerns have merit. Yet this is not the presentation we see. God promises death for disobedience, and that principle spreads throughout all creation at the Fall. This is representatively presented in the details of the Curse, touching biological death, spiritual death, relational death (man vs. man), nature death (now opposed to man), and as you point out, includes evidences of the death principle in the rest of the -ological systems.

    Consider my concerns again from this perspective. If death is not merely one aspect of the curse, but the foundational principle of the curse, of which all the details are expressions, then how do we deal with any expression death prior to the fall?

  70. todd said,

    April 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Reed,

    Are you suggesting that God did not create carnivores, but after the fall he gave animals new constitutions to be carnivores; new appetites, new instincts, etc…? Don’t we almost have a second creation in this scenario?

  71. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    @RH,

    I’ll stipulate I said it poorly, but it’s not that C is different intra vs inter solar system, its our measured value that is effected. The error of C measured vs C actual is where the problem lies. My bottom line thesis was this value is quite useful in intra solar system applications, which is why the radio stuff works for the space probes we’ve launched from earth, but that as the basis determining vast distances and time frames, not so much.

    As you know, a parsec is dependant on astronomical unit AU, which is the distance from the earth to the sun, which is in turn dependant on the measured value of C. The standard candle is dependant on the parsec, which is dependant on AU which is dependant on C.

    I’ll just leave you this quote from (yeah I know it’s only Wikipedia, but hey it works for me in this case)

    Because the more distant steps of the cosmic distance ladder depend upon the nearer ones, the more distant steps include the effects of errors in the nearer steps, both systematic and statistical ones. The result of these propagating errors means that distances in astronomy are rarely known to the same level of precision as measurements in the other sciences, and that the precision necessarily is poorer for more distant types of object.

    Wikipedia Cosmic Distance Ladder: Overlap and scaling Emphasis mine.

    So while you might not buy it, the dufus that wrote the section for Wikipedia does, and no, it wasn’t me.

    The bottom line there is that even the scientists admit there are significant propagating errors, that alone should give more than pause to base your cosmology on the admitted errors of science. Rather, base it on the infallible testimony of the living and true God, who created the the cosmos.

    Now with respect to Gen 1 and the point of view in question, I think you missed the point. My point is that the text more with the repeating of “and God saw…” makes any idea of the point of view of a third party on the surface of the earth impossible. The bit about the clouds covering the Sun until day 4 is impossible, because although God is speaking condescendingly to us, the point of view conveyed in Gen 1 is external to the creation. You also quoted

    Once the clouds were formed we can imagine an overcast sky on Day 3, until it finally cleared up on Day 4 to reveal the Sun, Moon, and stars

    Sorry that just doesn’t jive with the idea that God saw the light, that it was good. Then we also have Psalm 14:2 and 80:15, which talk bout God looking down from heaven. Taking into consideration the ascension of Christ, it seems that it throughout scripture we have the point of view of God as external to the creation. Why would Gen 1 be so different?

  72. Roy said,

    April 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Ron, Reed, Andrew, David, Paige and others:

    Death existed before the fall OR we must reject any kind of straightforward reading of Gen 1,2. “Say, what?”, I hear folks responding.

    Well, think. If nothing died, what would result from: animals multiplying? plants multiplying? Insects multiplying? (We enter a realm of impossible to answer in detail questions, eg, bugs are part of the symbiotic relationships of innumerable cycles of life (bees and flowers), but which bugs changed and how as a result of the fall? What about those bugs we people have in our gut and upon which we rely to live? Adam did not know that. Neither did Moses. But we do. Notwithstanding our quibbles over details, Gen 1:29ff squashes any attempt to make these populations fixed. )

    If nothing died, how about Adam’s hair growing? His fingernails? His skin?

    How about iron. Did it rust prefall?

    What about the psalmist telling us how God takes pleasure in the lion seeking its prey? Ponder for a while the glory of a lion: eating grass? Or eating what it clearly was designed to eat? (I don’t share Blake’s problem in that classic poem, “Tiger, tiger burning bright…. ” What hand or eye? God’s. All of creation reminds us that we are finite, dependent, not self existent. Even pre fall.)

    And how about steak? Not merely in contrast to but in opposition to the vegans, I take the PETA position (people eating tasty animals). God made the creation *specifically* that people might exist. Not merely (although very importantly) a matter of dominion (prefall, btw), but existence and purpose at stake (let the pun indicate a desire for amiable discussion). My uttmost is to serve and give glory to God. A cow’s uttmost is to serve me. Including steak.

    Rather than continue multiplying egs from natural revelation, turn to special revelation. As Ron noted, whatever we might say about the curse of Gen 3, it has an anthroprocentric focus. Undoubtedly, undebatedly that focus does not remove but instead implies outworkings in the rest of creation. But those outworkings do not represent the critical, crucial elements of the curse. To understand them, we have to ponder how they effect people. As, eg, Ron did in observing how Lamech in Gen 5 understood the curse.

    Regarding Sailhammer: his exegesis has at least the problems that bother Reed. But furthermore, his approach is *unnecessary*. The Bible’s text tells us that the creation came about piecewise (6 days rather than single creative act, hence the necessity of God’s direct intervention maintaining creation prior to the completion, hence hinaus with Kline and Futato). The Bible’s text tells us that Eden’s few days old trees had fruit, its rivers water, its occupants maturity. (Not only Adam and later Eve, but did Adam classify animals that could not reproduce? How would that teach him about his own lack?)

    Still hoping, btw, Ron, for a response to #50.

  73. Reed Here said,

    April 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Roy: your questions are premised on the fact of long ages before the Fall. If there were not, then your objections are meaningless.

  74. Paige Britton said,

    April 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Hi, Reed —
    Re. the newest Sailhamer tome, it’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch, and it’s way long and full of fun side trails about German theologians. You don’t probably have time to read it: sometime I’ll do a review/summary of it, but not for several more months (1 month per chapter for me!). There is an ongoing chapter-by-chapter review and summary happening at: http://meaningofpentateuch.blogspot.com/
    …Andy Witt’s the host, and he asks that people don’t participate in the dialogue unless they’ve read the chapter (which means only two people participate!), but the summaries are a good way to get the Cliff Notes version.

  75. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Reed,

    Regarding comment 69, in which you wrote:

    Ron: appreicate the response, while I do think you’re quibbling.

    What? Me, quibble? How can I take such charges seriously from a person who puts the “i” before the “c” in the word “appreciate”?

    ;-)

    You wrote:

    A lot of my argument did not correlate for you because you’ve denied my basic premise concerning death = curse.

    Actually (and seriously, I don’t mean to quibble here), what I thought I was denying was “curse = death”—i.e., that each one of the curses can be characterized as a kind of “death.” I think it’s clear to everyone the death was one of the curses, but does that mean that all the curses are in some sense death? But it seems likely you already understood my point here; I just want to make sure I’m clear.

    You wrote:

    Consequently, a lot of what you write in response does not actually mitigate my argument. At least we’re able to pin it down and see where the difference lies. ;-)

    But can you see how if I believe your premise doesn’t hold, neither would I believe the conclusion based on it holds—and that if you don’t think I invalidated your premise you also wouldn’t think I mitigated your argument?

    You wrote:

    As to death being the sum of the curse, first let me say, alientation, no duh :P

    I assume that by “sum of the curse” you mean that all the curses can be seen as various forms of death. But what does “no duh :P” mean? (I guess I should brush up on my Netspeak.)

    You wrote:

    Further I think you are using death in a narrow sense, whereas I am using it a broader sense.

    But if I allow for alienation as a kind of death, am I not actually broadening the concept of death?

    To be sure if all we were talking about is the narrow sense of death as in the cessation of biological life, your criticism that I’m overloading is on target.

    I’m trying to be flexible, but I think there are some aspects of the curses (e.g., pain in childbirth) that even a broader concept of death is not elastic enough to fit.

    You wrote:

    Yet from the beginning the Bible presents “death” in much more fundamental terms. “In the day you eat of the Tree, you shall surely die,” was given in a setting where at least the cessation of life had not been experienced. If Adam and Eve knew of this, it was only “book learning.”

    Well, that’s an assumption. I’m not saying it’s a bad assumption, but I think we must allow for the possibility that they may have had at least some experience with plant death, since they were, after all, eating from them.

    You wrote:

    Yet as the text demonstrates, God meant not merely the immiment cessation of life when He warned His children. The whole curse is a pronouncement of this “death” that was threatened. It included the promise of eventual biological death (dust to dust), and the daily experience of the increase of death (sweat, labor pains), in an environment now hostile to life, i.e., threatening death (thorns, thistles).

    I think there’s a problem with seeing only death in the curses—even if we broaden the concept of death to include more than physical death. Immediately after the final curse we read:

    The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

    [Gen. 3:20, ESV; emphasis mine.]

    I think there’s a reason why this is stated immediately after the curses: implicit in the curse on the serpent was the promise of offspring for the woman:

    I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
    he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

    [Gen. 3:15, ESV]

    And a promise of offspring was a promise of life. I think it may have been in part an expression of Adam’s surprise that they were, after all, going to continue living physically.

    This is a strong way of asserting that life will surely come from Eve. Death is cheated of its prey, for God has intervened.

    [Edward J. Young, Genesis 3: A Devotional and Expository Study, (Edinburgh, UK, and Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1966), 142.]

    But I think there’s more than that here, because I further think that Adam’s naming of Eve was an expression of his faith in the protoevangelium (cf. Young, ibid., 144). Within the curses there was a promise of spiritual life.

    You wrote:

    Finally their departure from the garden marked the ultimate significance of death – alienation from the presence of God. (From the NT for sure we know that this alienation was not merely physical, but spiritual also, in that this event ushered in the state of spiritual death into which all Adam’s descendants are born.)

    I think we need to keep open the possibility that Adam’s statement of faith in Gen. 3:20 was evidence of actual saving faith, which would mean that even in this dark hour in human history it wasn’t all death and alienation.

    You wrote:

    In other words, death can be used in your narrower sense. Yet in the first three chapters of Genesis is it used in a broader sense. It is used, as it were, to described the fundamental principle fact of the curse. The Curse introduced a principle of death that so far transcends the narrow usage as to be described as the reign of death (cf., Rom 5:17, 21). This death principle, as it were, is the sine qua non of existence after the fall.

    I didn’t mean to deny that the concept of death is broader than physical death; I simply took exception to the notion of broadening to include the pains of childbirth.

    You wrote:

    To be sure, if all God threatened was imminent biological death, or if in the curse He imposed a number of features, one of them being biological death, then your concerns have merit. Yet this is not the presentation we see. God promises death for disobedience, and that principle spreads throughout all creation at the Fall.

    I think it’s clear that God threatened death for disobedience, and it also seems clear that Adam interpreted the threat as one that would be executed in its fullness—i.e., as including physical death—on the same day he disobeyed God. I think it’s also true that the grace of God intervened and gave Adam and Eve a stay of execution (cf. Bavinck 2:160) and a promise of salvation so that in a very significant way the “death principle” was not all-pervasive. Life went on, and I don’t think it was merely physical.

    True, there was also spiritual death, which would be passed on to their offspring. And it’s also true that Adam’s fall had an extremely negative impact on all creation. But does it necessarily follow that death would be inflicted on plant and animal life for the first time as a result of the Fall? Is that anywhere explicitly stated? I tend to agree with Francis Schaeffer:

    …it is clear that at creation, creation was at peace with itself. This does not necessarily mean that trees or even fish or animals might not have died of old age, but rather that there would have been no fear of non-being (such as man has) and no fear of violence.

    [Genesis in Space and Time, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1972), 62. Italicization is Schaeffer's.]

    You wrote:

    This is representatively presented in the details of the Curse, touching biological death, spiritual death, relational death (man vs. man), nature death (now opposed to man), and as you point out, includes evidences of the death principle in the rest of the -ological systems.

    I think I understand your point.

    You wrote:

    Consider my concerns again from this perspective. If death is not merely one aspect of the curse, but the foundational principle of the curse, of which all the details are expressions, then how do we deal with any expression death prior to the fall?

    I think we deal with it as part of the natural processes by which God had ordained for the governance of Earth. Any plant or fruit or vegetable that was consumed by man or animals would obviously die. Leaves would fall off trees and die, helping to create compost along with the remains of insects and such, giving life to new plants. I don’t see a “reign of tooth and claw” prior to the Fall, nor do I think allowing for the physical death of plants and animals requires that.

  76. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Andrew,

    While modern calculations of the AU are dependent on the speed of light (using space probes with radar telemetry), Solar parallax techniques have been yielding very reasonable estimates since the days of Christiaan Huygens in the mid-17th century. By the early 20th century they were amazingly close without any help from light or radio waves, which only confirmed the accuracy of and added precision to the previous measurements. So we pretty much knew how to calculate a parsec with sufficient accuracy by then.

    Meanwhile, the Wikipedia article you quoted does not actually say that current methods for calculating distances to extremely remote objects have “significant propagating errors” as you have put it. It merely says that “the precision necessarily is poorer for more distant types of object” without stating how much poorer. But let’s say that they are, indeed, significant to the point where current methods are actually doubling the distance to the most remote visible object. We are still talking about billions of light-years. This doesn’t make the problem go away. Nor does “the infallible testimony of the living and true God, who created the the cosmos.” I simply do not see any place in Scripture where He said He created a smaller cosmos than the one that cosmologists believe exists.

    As for your argument based on the expression “and God saw…”: perhaps I’m just not understanding you correctly, but I fail to see how this requires us to view creation as if through God’s eyes. It seems to me that if we imposed such a hermeneutical requirement on this text, we would have to impose it everywhere, and that would lead to some rather strange results. Perhaps I can illustrate what I’m getting at with the following passage:

    So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed.

    [John 20:3-8, ESV]

    Now every single time I’ve read this passage before now, I’ve started out imagining the scene as if I were a third party standing nearby. I see John stooping to look in from the perspective of someone standing outside the tomb. He’s seeing what’s inside the tomb, but I am seeing him. Only when I am told what he’s seeing do I visualize that as well, but it is not precisely from his perspective, but “over his shoulder” as it were. Then, when I read the part about first Peter and then John entering the tomb, for some reason my perspective changes. Now I feel as though I am inside the tomb watching them enter. I may be “seeing” a lot of what they see, but I am seeing it from my own perspective—one that seems to be naturally suggested to me by the narrative. I am not seeing it literally through their eyes, or else I would not see them, only what is around them.

    I would submit that this is a normal way to read a text like this. I would also submit that with other texts that are not typical narratives (such as Gen 1), a 20th or 21st century person may not always find himself experiencing the same perspective as people from other times in history, or even other cultures. The difference is that we all have fairly common frames of reference for the kind of story we encounter in John 20, but this is not true for the kind of narrative that people from various times and cultures have encountered in Gen. 1. We have a frame of reference that includes seeing the weather reported nightly with images from geostationary satellites. That kind of regular exposure automatically causes a particular image to pop into our heads when we hear of “the Earth.” For ancient people, on the other hand, “the Earth” was the landscape around them—what they could view from the doors of their tents or houses.

    If I applied the same rule to John 20 as you want me to apply to Gen. 1, then I think I would find myself trying to view the whole tomb scene there from a kind of almost postmodern “point-of-view camera” perspective that jostles along as I first find myself in the body of John, running to the tomb and viewing the whole scene through his eyes. Then I would suddenly become Peter, viewing it through his eyes. I don’t think narratives have ever been intended to impose that kind of expectation on their readers. I find your view impossible in light of the way literature has been written and read for millennia.

  77. Paige Britton said,

    April 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Oh, Reed, think of this: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). That’s a seed-bearing plant, understood (by Jesus!) as linked with death as a natural part of its existence. Cf. then Gen. 1:12 — “The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed…”

    So perhaps we could say that there’s already death as a process, built into nature; but then there’s another kind of death, both moral and physical, that comes as a punishment.

  78. Reed Here said,

    April 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Paige: post-fall example from Jesus. We do know that the fall radically fractured all of creation. We have no particular textual evidence that death was included in the seed yielding process pre-fall. This is an inference; I would argue one that is not necessary ;-)

  79. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Roy,

    In comment 50 you asked:

    How old was the star (sun) that shined on Adam in Eden?

    I don’t claim to have a definitive answer to this question. But since I believe it’s possible to maintain an old universe but a young Earth, it would seem to follow that I should also be able to maintain a young Sun.

    The standard theory of stellar evolution holds that stars like our Sun were formed in stellar nurseries where swirling clouds of dust and gases eventually coalesce into both a star and orbiting planetary bodies, with the star usually “igniting” as the planets are still being formed. This theory has the advantage of explaining much of what we observe in our Solar system, but the fact remains that we have never actually observed a star being born, let alone observed such a birth with the ability to see whether any planets around it were still being formed or were already in some sense mature.

    If we assume that the above theory is basically sound, I don’t see any reason why God couldn’t have modified this kind of process so our Sun did not “ignite” until the middle of the first day of creation. In that case, the Sun qua star would actually be slightly younger than the Earth.

  80. Reed Here said,

    April 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Ron: no duh is a cute way of saying, yeah, that’s obvious. The colon with the p “:p” is the emoticon for sticking one’s tongue out in jest.

    As to your responses, let me simply summarize that all your counter arguments to death prior to fall are based on assuming your premise. I would counter that you’ve not quite dealt with my point about death as a foundational principle underlying the whole curse.

    As to evidences of grace within the curse, again, no duh :-) In addition to the promise of life to Eve, the act of driving them out of the garden was both an aspect of the curse and an aspect of grace. Driving them out protected them from eating from the tree of life and entering into a perpetual non posse non pecarre state.

    This, however, does not mitigate the death principle underlying the curse. It merely adds a grace principle. The idea of the curse as the introduction of the reign of death still stands.

    I note that you are reading into a silence of Scripture in order to provide room for an inference from general revelation. I’m arguing that it is not actually silence. E.g., since we’re dealing with a God who creates from nothing in the first place, and the Bible presents the fall as radically fracturing all of creation, why not just as easily suppose that all the natural systems were radically altered?

    E.g., why not presume that digestion occured without death? I admit that this stretches my fallen noetic sensibilities. But so does eternity without the presence of any sin in the New Heavens/New Earth.

  81. David Gray said,

    April 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    >since we’re dealing with a God who creates from nothing in the first place, and the Bible presents the fall as radically fracturing all of creation, why not just as easily suppose that all the natural systems were radically altered?

    “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

  82. Ron Henzel said,

    April 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Reed,

    For me, what it simply boils down to is this: I can’t think of anywhere in Scripture where the death of plants and animals is specifically presented to us as one of the results of the Fall, and I believe this is a highly significant omission on the part of Scripture. Nor do I see death as a foundational principle underlying the whole curse, because first of all I see more than one curse, and secondly I see death as one of them rather than the underlying principle for all of them. Furthermore, while I agree that there may be significant discontinuities between the natural world as it existed prior to the Fall and the natural world as it existed after the Fall, I cannot see the processes involved in the digestion of living (or formerly living) food can be one of those discontinuities.

    I think we’re simply at an impasse.

  83. Roy said,

    April 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Reed #73

    What leads you to conclude that any of the observations I made depended on long ages pre fall? (Especially interesting to me when I’m advocating a picture that tells of a recent 6×24 creation that has all the marks of age appropriate to any item in that creation, whether it be animals, trees with fruit, Adam, Eve, or sunlight.)

  84. Roy said,

    April 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Ron #79
    Yep. A billions of years old sun in existence since creation only a few days earlier. Just the right mass, the right hydrogen/helium ratio, at the right stage in its life cycle to put out the right amount of energy at the right distance from earth so that people could live on the planet.

    Why ‘billions of years old’? Why would we think of Eve as something other than a zygote? We cannot make any definitive statement beyond she must have had all the age appropriate right equipment to be a help suitable to Adam. But we’d know that meant at least puberty, probably a bit older. Adam, too, must have had the maturity to classify the animals and learn from that exercise, the maturity to recognize Eve as just right. We do not know the exact age. But it wasn’t 2 yrs 5 mo. In a parallel manner, we might debate whether that days old sun with its particular specifications is, as far as an observer could tell, mere millions of years or (per present physics understanding) billions of years. But it weren’t several days.

    And that planet Adam walked on? How old did it appear? Or, more accurately focusing on the actual question I’m aiming at, what problems do we have with agreeing with the interpretations of natural revelation that say it now looks to be billions of years old? Of course all the data agrees, whether it be plate tectonics, or iron nickel (from meteors) and saline (from rivers) content of oceans, or whatever. God don’t make junk. Everything concurs.

  85. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Roy: maybe I read you wrong.

  86. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Ron:

    On the curse, yep, I got it. You see a number of components, all maybe related, but no underlying principle.

    You still have not picked up and dealt with my argument for death as the underlying principle. Again: the threat of death, the common denominator to all the components of the curse are that they are experiences which are telated to death, and Paul’s teaching that the world (Rom 8) shares in the reign of death (Rom 5:17) introduced by Adam.

    Seriously friend, I admit there are no explicit references. Yet there is a textual based inferential case. If one were not burdened by other considerations, I think the normal reading of Scrpture would lead one to presume that death, comprehensively, was God’s curse on Adam, and that all under Adam’s federal headship suffered it’s consquences.

  87. Ron Henzel said,

    April 23, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Reed,

    I agree that you’ve made a good textually-based inferential case for your position. I’m not sure what you do not think I have picked up and dealt with. As I read Romans, the world shares in the futility to which creation was subject as a result of the Fall, but I believe that the “reign of death” to which Paul referred in Rom. 5:14 (“Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses…”) is an intentional reference to the vast list of human obituaries that begins in Gen. 5. I have to wonder whether you actually intend to extend the federal headship of Adam to plants and animals, given the implications of that kind of idea for all of Covenant Theology.

  88. Paige Britton said,

    April 23, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Reed,
    Well, though I totally agree with you that the “groaning of creation” is connected intimately with the Fall of man, it still puzzles me in an agricultural way how seed-yielding (in smaller plants) isn’t necessarily connected with the death of the parent plant. If it wasn’t so at the start of things, then there were only perennials, not annuals, till the Fall. Seems like it could get pretty crowded pretty fast. Haveta think about that one.

    Here’s an ethical question that this discussion raises for me. General rev does not equal Special rev, I get that. But both, coming from God, are going to be intelligible, right? Something we can study. And I get the part about the noetic effects of the Fall: but then there’s Common Grace, right? And so the universe is open to study, and we call this science. And we’re not infallible with our empirical study of nature, but we’re not mired in complete incomprehensibility either. And at our best, we work towards a better understanding and appreciation of God’s workmanship.

    So here’s the ethical question. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that things like radiocarbon dating and calculating astronomical distances are vastly unreliable tests, and/or that scientists typically skew results away from YEC conclusions, and that this is why folks persist in thinking the universe & earth are old. If this were the case (and I have no idea, personally, whether it is or not), would a believing scientist be somehow betraying the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture to work to improve these tests and measurements? In other words, are there areas of inquiry & invention in geology and astronomy (as there are, more obviously, in medicine and biology) that ought to be considered off-limits to a believer?

    Thanks for your thoughts — I’m appreciating your theological approach to this discussion.

  89. David DeJong said,

    April 23, 2010 at 8:53 am

    So Adam couldn’t have stepped on an ant in Paradise?

  90. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Ron: What I meant with “haven’t dealt with” was simply some interaction in writing. I can tell you’ve read the comments. Its just that your follow ups, in that they don’t actually interact with them, seem to have dismissed them for some unspecificed reason. I’m open for understanding why they don’t resonate with you. Just asking for some particular responses; as you begin to provide in this last comment:

    You said: “I have to wonder whether you actually intend to extend the federal headship of Adam to plants and animals, given the implications of that kind of idea for all of Covenant Theology.”

    You are indeed picking up on what I did not make explicit, but is nevertheless there. What does it mean that Adam was given dominion over the whole creation but that he was God’s vicegerent over it? What does it mean that creation was subjected to futility because of Adam’s choice but that it suffered as a consequence of it’s head’s action? Is this not federal headship.

    Adam was not merely king under God over Man. He was also king under God over creation. This is standard covenantal thinking. (As I’m reflecting I think about those verses, cf. Eph 2:1-2, that speak of Satan’s usurped headship over creation. Albeit it is a limited rule, not absolute, but the notion is there that he rules via the effects of the Fall over all creation. He got this right of rule from Adam).

    Following from this then, Rom 5:17 is not limited to the reign of physical death over men. It includes the reign of death in all its aspects over all creation. To limit this reign to physical death, or even death in all aspects experienced by men divorces Rom 8 from the reason why it is subjected to futility.

    For further support of this reign of death expanded to all creation, cf., the host of OT prophetic writings that reflect on the rejoicing of creational components upon the redemption of God’s people. Further, look to the promise of the New Heavens/New Earth. The promise is not that this world will be modified, but be removed and replaced.

    This is not an argument for no congruenty between this world and the next; both consist of material and immaterial components. Yet the difference between the two is not merely a renewal of the existing, but a replacement of the existing with the perfect.

    I recognize we’re not arguing about the scope of the transformation, we both agree it encompasses all creation. Instead we’re arguing about the degree, the extent of the transformation. You are positing some sort of death that is not a result of the fall, and therefore will have an eternal existence. I am arguing that all death follows the fall, and will have no existence in eternity.

  91. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Paige: some responses.

    Your observation about seed-death-germination, i.e., the cycle we see now assumes that this cycle is in effect the same as that which was before the fall (and will be the same after the New Heavens/ New Earth). I’m observing that this is an assumption for which you need special revelation support, not merely general revelation inferences.

    I’m taking a different direction. That is, I’m assuming that the various life-death cycles observed in creation post-fall are not the same as those cycles in creation pre-fall. Specifically, a principle of death was introduced into all at the fall. E.g., the seed-death-germination cycle pre-fall occurred in a manner that can be described as seed-germination, with death no present. I admit I cannot do the science, but no one can as the fall effectively fractured this.

    As to the problem with overflowing fruitfulness if no plant death pre-fall, again, you are reading back into the pre-fall situation a condition only observable post-fall. How do you know that the fruitfulness factor is not simply a response to the fall, God’s common grace in effect to maintain creation subject to death? How do you know that it was present pre-fall?

    As to the intelligibility of general revelation, nothing I’ve said impinges on that truth. Still, I think you may need to consider that the noetic fall effects are more significant than you seem to be applying here. In particular, intelligibility does not equal exhaustiveness. In other words, while we can know truly, we can never know fully (Dt 29:29). Just because I can understand general revelation intelligibly does not mean I can understand it exhaustively.

    All my argument does is read into the “silence” a textual based argument. This argument does conflict with what I now see in general revelation. Yet because I am told that what I now see in general revelation is not equal detail for detail with what was seen pre-fall by Adam in general revelation, I am not surprised or bothered by textual inferences that tell me general revelation is radically different pre and post.

    I think we actually agree on this in principle. Instead we’re arguing over the specifics: of that which we see today in general revelation, what was also present pre-fall? I’m offering a textual argument that death is the principle underlying the fall and it has radically infested and deformed all creation, not things here and there.

    As to the unreliability of the scientific test mentioned, I actually think the situation is a little different. If we’re talking about their application post-fall, of course they work (I.e., they are “reliable”). Yet since we’re talking about a radically different set of circumstances pre-fall, then they don’t apply. It’s like using a tape measure to measure the speed of sound; wrong tool for the situation.

    The point, at the end, is an application of what an older congregant told me this week. Her husband is dying of cancer. As the three of sat and talked she expressed the joy she and her husband have been experiencing thinking about the promises of Jesus for their eternal existence with him.

    One exclamation really gripped me. Thinking about the joy of the promise and the pain the current circumstances, she exclaimed, “I keep telling myself that what I see is not really what is.” She was not denying the reality of her circumstances. Instead she was denying that they were the interpreter of her future circumstances.

    I apply the same to this subject, in light of the promises of God in Christ, to restore not merely what Adam lost, but to usher in what Adam did not, a perfect New Heavens/New Earth, what is see not is not really what is. I need God’s revelation in His word to tell me where what I see in general revelation is inconsistent with what really is real.

    I admit such considerations radically conflict with general revelation. But so does most of the redemptive scheme found in Scripture. If what God says conflicts with what general revelation says; God is right.

  92. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 9:38 am

    David deJong: simplistic to silly. I regularly step on ants, who then turn around and bite me. In that these are fire ants, I regularly get the worst of the encounter.

    Let me try and help your argument: could Adam, while rough housing with a kitten actually kill it?

    Well, it depends on whether you believe death came before or after the fall, doesn’t it? I think you know what I believe at this point.

  93. David DeJong said,

    April 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

    OK…I don’t think Scripture precludes the possibility that Adam could have stepped on – and killed – ants in Paradise. But that will be the extent of my simplistic and silly contribution to this conversation.

  94. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 10:09 am

    The question is, on what basis do you conclude this David?

  95. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 23, 2010 at 10:17 am

    @RH,

    In addition to the progressive error problem, the various steps of the cosmic distance ladder are also so full of assumptions, that pretty much means that the assumptions drive the outcome, or more correctly, the desired outcome drives the assumptions necessary for those outcomes to be realized. It’s a house of cards built on sand.

    Well, Ron, you can put your trust in the robustness of the cosmic distance ladder if you want to. That’s your choice. Working in systems as long as I have, I’ve seen too many examples, where progressing/accumulating errors have overwhelmed in magnitude of actual results. I’ve also seen countless examples where bad assumptions (most software development projects are based on a collection of assumptions) have been fatal to a project. I’ve experienced several occasions where the software developers where nearly hysterical in their denial that there was anything wrong with their code, until it was changed for them, but even then although they shut up, they mostly still think the problem was elsewhere, and the “fix” was only a compensation for some otherwise unidentifiable issue elsewhere.

    Many climatologists still cling to idea of AGW even though their data, math and methods have all been well debunked. If you think those kinds of shenanigans are limited to climatologists, I think your view of human nature is rather flawed.

    You say the cosmos is so old because you say it has to be so old to be so vast, and for the light of the stars to reach the earth. Do the scriptures say how old the universe is or how big it is? No, that’s not the point of the scriptures. However, if you think that the scientists are unbiased honest inquisitors on the nature of the age of the universe, it is time to take off your rose colored glasses.

    I’m sorry for the harshness of what follows, but no, you aren’t taking God’s word for it with respect to creation, you playing a dangerous game of redefining the meaning of words and phrases in order so you can at least in your own mind compare as reasonably smart with respect to the scientific community. That is not something I recommend for Christians to value. Really why do you think we can know anything more about the work of creation other than what God himself says, when he slams Job so hard for justifying himself, and asks Job,

    Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment. And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken. Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all. Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof? Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?

    Job 38:2-21

    Consider specifically verse 5

    Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

    and verses 19 & 20

    Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

    You have answers for those questions. I understand that, I just find it quite a shame that you don’t rather listen to Job’s response and follow it too. If you don’t get that the size of the cosmos is one of the secret things of God, well, then what can be done.

  96. Roy said,

    April 23, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Paige #88, Reed #91, David #93
    There simply does not exist any *exegetical* reason to argue with data that says, “Really, really old”. After all, it looked old when Adam saw it the 6th day. ‘Old’ meaning it appeared exactly as it should have by every means of examination applicable to the sort of thing being examined. Same as wine at the wedding feast, with every attribute of good wine vs, eg, mere new wine. Ie, age, grape fragments, yeast particles, the works, tho not having gotten that way via the ‘normal’ process of vines, growth, grapes, harvest, squashing, fermentation, aging, but by creation.

    Saying that paragraph a little differently: no reason, Paige, to suspect as *necessarily* unreliable human measurements of what appears to be the marks of age. Sure, we can (must) insist on checking and double checking, on openly acknowledging the limits of our measurements. But recognize the pagans do just that, and for a whole variety of reasons. Our difference from the pagans is not that we reject their values for apparent age, but that we insist upon the existence of the ‘when’ from which their age clocks. We’d say Adam, a few milliseconds after his creation, was not a few milliseconds old, but millions of times older than that. The pagan’s problem is not the clock, but the fact of creation.

    So far, Reed, you have simply skipped past the exegetical support, namely, the Genesis 1 and 2 account. Eden had trees. With fruit. Eden had animals. Eden had a *man*, not only not an ape, but not a baby. God gave that man a taxonomy task by which he learned what God already knew: the man was alone. Thus the man’s examination of the animals revealed characteristics declaring that aloneness, eg, gender, reproduction, gender-specific specialization. The burden rests upon you to show how such things could be true *without* that which you have so far not admitted: appropriate, inherent characteristics, eg, maturity.

    Further, consider the fruit God gave Adam to eat. Did it have some sort of property that made it different from, say, fruit? Such that it did not grow, was not fertile, could not reproduce, did not multiply? How would the cycle we see now *not* provide a pattern for fruit? (Imagine the task of explaining your position to Moses’ initial audience, all of whom had first hand agriculture experience.) Yes, you may object that I do not argue from explicit statements, but from inference. You may (correctly) observe that there’s a whole bunch of stuff we don’t know about Eden or about the New Heavens and New Earth, so that we ought hestitate about a direct one to one correlation between our present experience and those situations. But on what exegetical basis can you insist that there’s no correlation?

    Putting this last another way: David’s dead ant point is not, as a matter of fact, silly nor simplistic.

    On the contrary, no dead ants, no steak. And that, friends, makes me think about lunch. As some of you might think, not steak, but a baloney sandwich.

    A further explanatory post script: Observe that the view I describe rejects *on exegetical grounds* the common understanding of what it means to think of the creation as relatively recent. Folks, eg, the Creation Research Society, ought cease looking for evidence that says merely a few thousand years ago everything came into existence. With the possible exception of human population, any examined thing will have all the appropriate marks of that thing. We must do our reasoning from the idea of appropriate marks even in Eden rather than from the idea that “Wow, look at this nifty clock I found by looking at core samples of antartic ice which enables me to say tens of thousands of years ago such and so occurred”. The very idea of creation ex (and, btw, eis) nihilo means any created thing has an innately appropriate age, whether it be electrons or Eve.

  97. Roy said,

    April 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Andrew #95
    I’ve already indirectly commented in #96. But I want to comment more directly to you #95.

    I completely endorse your concern that folks don’t merely admit the problems of extrapolations made in scientific investigations. Who, btw, doesn’t? Well, the Anthroprogenic Global Warming people don’t. But their exception proves my point. As does the fact that the AGW crowd are getting more and more flack from others noting the AGW errors. AFter all, don’t these critics argue that the AGW proponents have done ‘bad science’, some even hurling the ‘not even wrong’ epithet at AGW?

    So people should examine and use caution in evaluating claims of Hubble seeing billions of light years deep into space. In fact, they are. Not just Christians who distrust pagans doing science, but the pagans themselves checking on one another. The very existence of something like Hubble is just that: a check upon other means of deep space examination. And, no surprise since God don’t make junk, it turns out that the more people examine things, the more convinced they become of consistency of measurements which indicate old and huge and complex.

    But of course. How else would it look if it were to give some analogy describing the Creator? Imho as technology gives us ability, the bigger and older creation will appear. (There are some interesting, albeit technical problems about limits in that increase. But I’d digress in talking about the various omegas and lamdas that I suspect you know about, and just leave it here as noting natural revelation says, “Humble yourselves. You’re not God.”)

    As to Job: Providentially as part of our regular family devotions after supper I just finished Job. God’s challenge to Job is fresh in my mind. If you take the position that challenge meant all the questions God asked Job are innately unanswerable, I think you’ve bit off more than you can chew.

    Some of the questions are answerable (eg, capturing and even training crocidiles or hippos or elephants or whales or whatever) or knowing about the patterns of weather, while remaining not merely metaphorically God’s point that he, not Job rules (sure, I can describe weather, but I can’t control it and actually fear the problems we’d get into if we had some ability to manage weather).

    Having descriptive ability does not make other questions answerable. Eg, even if we can describe a universe (literally) septillions of times bigger than Job thought it was, we still can’t (except by faith) handle the fact, the reality of creation. We still cannot (indeed, could not) claim we have the ability to measure it, much less build it.

    If that last is your point, then we agree. But you don’t have to claim “science is junk” in order to make that point.

  98. David DeJong said,

    April 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    #94: I already told you the basis: Scripture doesn’t preclude it.

  99. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Roy: now I don’t know why you think you’re arguing with me.

    I’ve not said anything about the exegetical support for apparent age for one simple reason: I’ve not been addressing that issue. You’re wrong to draw any conclusions from my lack of addressing it other than this, I’ve not addressed it.

    As to your point about David’s ant, is not your emphasis what I pinted out to him – no death before the fall.

    Again, not sure why you think you’re arguing with me. I don’t think I am with you.

  100. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    David, no 98: I’ve offered a Scriptural argument that demonstratess that the Bible does preclude it.

    Please be a little more precise: it is not that the Bible does not preclude it. Instead it is that you believe the Bible does not preclude it. You offer unnecessary offense to those of us who disagree with you, based on a Scripturally based argument.

  101. Paige Britton said,

    April 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Hello, Reed,
    Thanks for taking the time to interact with me. Here are more thoughts for you, but know that they’re offered ’cause I respect you, not to pick a fight.

    I track with you, that the Fall fractured the good creation — Lewis would call it “bent.” I think we disagree at present on how much continuity there is in the created order from pre- to post-fall. I am willing to see patterns and cycles that involve what we see as “death,” like the seeds, preceding the Fall. (Another example would be the “seasons” that the heavenly bodies are to mark — with Roy, I wonder how this could have been understood by Moses’ audience any other way than the way we post-lapsarians are used to?) But I understand your theological point that the “bent” nature of nature is all about death in all of its manifestations. I would not want to lose this emphasis on a grave change, but I am not convinced that it must include all of the processes of nature that involve dormancy, decay, and even death. I’d have to think a few more months to go exegetical on this idea, but this is where I am in my thinking at present.

    You indicated that I may be underestimating the noetic effects of the Fall. I’m not sure where I did this — did I speak too optimistically about the scientific task? I agree with you that we’re never going to be infallible scientists, nor know things exhaustively. But it would seem that we could expect, with effort and attention, to know some things about the world around us sufficiently and well. I would think the noetic effects of the Fall on scientists would be seen more with regard to their applications of their conclusions, by robbing God of honor, than with whether humans can observe and process data carefully (though selfish motives can wreak havoc with the data processing, too).

    I am puzzling over your statements about what is really real. I love your emphasis on the hope of the New Heavens & New Earth, which I think is neglected in most preaching and teaching. I differ from you here, too, a bit, regarding continuity, but we don’t need to go there. But I am truly curious to know, what value do you assign to earthly scientific pursuits? Do you think there is any point at all in studying those rocks and stars, if they are destined for destruction? Is there a limited sphere of science that is appropriate for a scientifically-inclined Christian to pursue?

    Thanks, brother!

  102. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Paige: appreciate your motive and expression. No need to worry there. (Although I still think you give me too much credit).

    You said: “But it would seem that we could expect, with effort and attention, to know some things about the world around us sufficiently and well.”

    It is probably that I’ve not been clear enough here. My point is this, aside from any Dt 29:29 post-fall applications, there is a hard line between pre and post-fall. Quite simply, we would not know there was any fall unless it were revealed to us. While we have a continuity of the creation from pre-, to post-fall, we would not know anything about the nature of the difference between these two states apart from special revelation.

    Applied to conversations such as these, this means that general revelation assumes an absolutely submissive role to special revelation. E.g., general revelation assumes a (relative) authority on all that which the Scriptures do not speak. On some of what Scripture speaks general revelation assumes an informative role that fluctuates, as it were, in terms of it’s authoritative position (not a fully explicated premise, so don’t get hung up on it). Yet on anything which we cannot know apart from special revelation, general revelation is always and absolutely submissive.

    As to what is “real”, my point is an application of this principle. Any insights general revelation offers into the reality (the “real”-ness) of the pre-fall world and the post-consummation world are absolutely submissive to special revelation. My firends observation is simply that what she expects in eternity is flattly contradicted by what she sees around her. I.O.W., general revelation denies special revelation in this instance. Therefore, since general revelation in this category must absolutely submissive to special revelation, general revelation is wrong about what is “real.”

    To sum up, only special revelation can really tell us what is real about the pre-fall and post-consummation worlds.

    Admittedly special revelation does not answer all the questions. And in this subject were are exploring the edges of what special revelation says and does not say. Yet it is because of this principle, that only special revelation can authoritatively speak to the pre-fall conditions, that I am always hesitant to go with any general revelation insight that contradicts what apepars to me to be inferences of Scripture.

    In this case I also admit quite a few times stepping back and re-examining. Yet I keep coming up with this one conflict. I believe Scripture consigns all the curse as an application of a principle of death over all creation.

    To suggest otherwise requires positing two different types of death: one that is creational-good/not fallen, and one that is curse-evil/fallen. I do not see this construct upholding the full weight of God’s condemnation of Adam’s sin. There is no inference of any kind that this first type of death (creational-good/not fallen) to be found in the text of Scripture. This inference is exclusively general revelation sourced.

    I believe there are Scriptural inferences that contradict this general revelation inference, and thus trump it. All creation is subject to the futility of Adam’s fall, all creation suffereds the curse, all creation evidences it is under the rule of a death principle. Instead of two types of death, I see the weight of Scripture on only one.

    A two-death scheme leads, in my view, to a God who uses hyperbole, not merely rhetorically, but in His judgment of mankind’s sin. That does not comport with God’s perfection of justice.

  103. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Paige: as to the usefulness of the scientific enterprise, this is one of those questions that by now I’m used to you bringing up. ;-) On the one hand my first response is, “huh, what does that have to do with anything?” But based on experience from reading you my second response is that often such oblique questions have a way of piercing things. So …

    I think there are two usefulnesses for the scientific enterprise, one under the covenant of works (Kingdom of Man) and one under the covenant of grace (Kingdom of God). The former is temporary and yet useful in that God rules the fallen world under the provisions of the covenant of works. The goal of such endeavor is to benefit man. A scientist who discovers a cure through scientific endeavor earns a blessing for those in need of the cure. As this is only a temporary blessing, under the covenant of works, it has no merit for eternity.

    Under the covenant of grace however, the scientific enterprise has an eternal usage. This is because of it’s goal, not the benefit of man but the glory of God. In that the new age has broken into this present evil age, such scientific endeavor also can provide a temporal benefit to man. Yet this is tertiary, and evidence of God’s graciousness in Christ. And so, no, there is no limit to what man should investigate (although some are fraught with temptations to immorality, but that is tangent).

    Not sure if this is where you were going. At the very least, I’m not arguing against the application of general revelation insights to the pre-fall conditions (no matter how intellectually arrived at, science isn’t the only way). Mine is rather an argument against allowing general revelation insights to have any degree of authority over anything in which the Scripture speaks (explicitly or good/necessarily inferentially).

  104. Ron Henzel said,

    April 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Reed,

    You wrote:

    Ron: What I meant with “haven’t dealt with” was simply some interaction in writing. I can tell you’ve read the comments. Its just that your follow ups, in that they don’t actually interact with them, seem to have dismissed them for some unspecificed reason. I’m open for understanding why they don’t resonate with you. Just asking for some particular responses; as you begin to provide in this last comment:

    You said: “I have to wonder whether you actually intend to extend the federal headship of Adam to plants and animals, given the implications of that kind of idea for all of Covenant Theology.”

    I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you that I’m not trying to be dismissive, but that I’ve actually tried to be as thorough as I can be in my responses. If there’s something I overlooked or dealt with insufficiently I apologize. I must be a little dense in my reading and I request your patience as I try to figure out what it is.

    The central thing we seem to keep coming back to is the concept of death as the underlying principle for all the curses that followed the Fall. You gave me all your arguments for that, and I’ve conceded that you’ve made a good coherent case, but I simply didn’t think they overturned my arguments—which you, in turn, do not find persuasive. Hence the impasse of which I spoke.

    You wrote:

    You are indeed picking up on what I did not make explicit, but is nevertheless there. What does it mean that Adam was given dominion over the whole creation but that he was God’s vicegerent over it? What does it mean that creation was subjected to futility because of Adam’s choice but that it suffered as a consequence of it’s head’s action? Is this not federal headship.

    I don’t think so. I don’t think Adam was the federal representative for the plant and animal kingdoms, charged with keeping the Covenant of Works on their behalf. I think that is what we’d have to conclude if we said that Adam was the federal head of the plants and animals—especially in light of the way you’re seeking to apply the death principle to them—and I think this is an undue stretching of the federal headship concept.

    You wrote:

    Adam was not merely king under God over Man. He was also king under God over creation. This is standard covenantal thinking. (As I’m reflecting I think about those verses, cf. Eph 2:1-2, that speak of Satan’s usurped headship over creation. Albeit it is a limited rule, not absolute, but the notion is there that he rules via the effects of the Fall over all creation. He got this right of rule from Adam).

    It’s one thing to say that Adam had a covenantal relationship with creation, and that that relationship consisted of dominion over creation, but dominion does not automatically equate with federal headship. Christ has ultimate dominion over the angels and demons, but He is not their federal head.

    You wrote:

    Following from this then, Rom 5:17 is not limited to the reign of physical death over men. It includes the reign of death in all its aspects over all creation. To limit this reign to physical death, or even death in all aspects experienced by men divorces Rom 8 from the reason why it is subjected to futility.

    I personally believe that creation was subject to futility to remind man of his fallen state, to demonstrate to him the insufficiency of his own resources, and to cause him to bring back to memory the original promise of salvation to Adam, which is how we see the truth of the cursed creation being applied by Lamech, father of Noah.

    You wrote:

    For further support of this reign of death expanded to all creation, cf., the host of OT prophetic writings that reflect on the rejoicing of creational components upon the redemption of God’s people. Further, look to the promise of the New Heavens/New Earth. The promise is not that this world will be modified, but be removed and replaced.

    Again, I don’t mean to be dismissive, but I don’t believe that the New Heaven and New Earth are going to simply be Paradise Restored. I think they will be leaps and bounds above it. Salvation in Christ doesn’t take us back to the Garden, but to a place far better.

    You wrote:

    This is not an argument for no congruenty between this world and the next; both consist of material and immaterial components. Yet the difference between the two is not merely a renewal of the existing, but a replacement of the existing with the perfect.

    Perhaps I’m still missing something. My point, however, is that the advent of the New Heaven and New Earth will bring in a significant discontinuity and mark a significant break with nature as we know it. For example, as I understand it, there will be no more marriage.

    You wrote:

    I recognize we’re not arguing about the scope of the transformation, we both agree it encompasses all creation. Instead we’re arguing about the degree, the extent of the transformation. You are positing some sort of death that is not a result of the fall, and therefore will have an eternal existence. I am arguing that all death follows the fall, and will have no existence in eternity.

    I suppose you could put it that way—i.e., that we are arguing about degree, although I do not think the possibility of plant and animal death prior to the Fall affects the magnititude of the transformation as much as you seem to think, and perhaps not in the same way, either. I go back to the point I made earlier about immortality belonging only to God alone, and the the instrumental means of communicating immortality to man seems to have been bound up somehow with the Tree of Life in the Garden (which tree also reappears in the New Heaven and New Earth). It seems to me that that tree was for mankind, and not for animals, and certainly not for plants. Meanwhile, however, I think that the magnitude of the transformation to glorification is even greater if it means transforming the world from one in which plant and animal death was a built-in pre-Fall possibility to one in which it is not.

  105. Ron Henzel said,

    April 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Andrew,

    I guess I don’t share your assessment of the Cosmic Distance Ladder that cosmologists use to measure astronomical distances. Perhaps it’s because I just don’t have the requisite scientific background to see all its faults. It is not, after all, my academic specialty. So it’s possible that you’re absolutely correct in everything you say. And it’s also possible that one day I’ll be persuaded of that.

    Like you, I am a global warming skeptic. I was also a Y2K skeptic. So, no, I don’t think “those kinds of shenanigans” are limited to climatologists. My view of total depravity is far more “robust” (as you put it) than my view of the accuracy of astronomical measurements, even though we disagree substantially about how to evaluate those measurements. I am not aware of wearing any “rose colored glasses,” although I suppose I could be in error about that, too.

    As for your harsh language and warnings of danger and belief that I am merely trying to gain acceptance with the scientific community, all I can conclude from that is that if you got to know me better and understand my position more thoroughly you’d see that you’re misunderstanding me. Do you really think my Old Universe/Young Earth/Anti-Evolution view is really going to impress your average scientist these day? Do you really think that I believe it will?

    All I can say is that I am very willing to change my view if I feel that I am compelled to do so by Scripture. I have given full weight to the the citations you’ve presented from Job, as well as others. I don’t think that Job is teaching that the size of the universe is included in the secret counsels of God and thus permanently beyond man’s capacity of investigation. On the contrary,

    It is the glory of God to conceal things,
    but the glory of kings is to search things out.

    [Proverbs 25:2, ESV]

  106. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Ron: no, I think the kinds of responses I was hoping for are in these last two posts. No frustration, just observing.

    You said: “I don’t think Adam was the federal representative for the plant and animal kingdoms, charged with keeping the Covenant of Works on their behalf.”

    I think you are unnecessarily limiting the meaning of federal headship. Of course the created order did not need to keep the covenant of works. But was not the created order condemned to the curse because Adam did not? Is this not an application of the federal headship principle, the choice of one affects the consequences of all?

    As to the NH/NE being paradise restored, it may have been in a response to Paige, but I’ve noted that I think that what is promised is not the Garden pre-fall, but the Garden as intended a-fall (i.e., what would have been if Adam had not fallen, and entered into the consummate state). So here, you’re reading in an inference that I’m not making.

    Further, this is yet another support of the radical-ness of the difference between NH/NE and this present fallen world. Consider that there are three worlds in view (ages, states of existence): pre-fall world, post-fall world, post-consummation world (NH/NE). All three have some things in common. Yet the first and third have something radically different than the second one: both have the absence of death.

    If we do not take up the question of what death encompasses here (your two categories, my single category), I think we both agree with this. The only question then, is what is the nature of the death that was absent in the pre-fall world, and will be absent in the post-consummation world?

    In this regard, what do you make of the descriptions of this absence in the NH/NE,

    Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

    Isaiah 11:6-9 6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

    Ezekiel 34:25 I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.

    Hosea 2:18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.

    Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

  107. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    @ Roy,

    Well for me, see the game is up with “extrapolations”. They admit the problem, but then ignore them. What is the reason for the Cosmic Distance Ladder anyway? Is it not because the distance of some stars just has to be greater than what is determined by an existing measuring method? For example, parralax is no good because the universe comes out too small, and therefore too young, and since the geologists say the earth is old, the stars have to be older, and so therefore further away. So they design a new method so that this or that particular class of stars is as far away and therefore as old as they want them to be. No, I don’t think it is conspiratorial, just group-think.

    Thinking that the cosmos is old is cool, and smart. But choice is not between agreeing with the conclusions of astronomers, and God having made junk. Its funny how others are arguing just that point, that there was decay and death before the fall, while Reed is arguing against it. So, I guess I’m glad that you agree with God’s own assessment that what He made was good, but why is not that just as suspect language as “there was evening, there was morning day #”?

    See to me your argument boils down to repeated peer review of the science is further proof of its correctness, and so we have to adjust our reading of Gen 1 to suite. I on the other hand, say the science which admits its own problems, then ignores them except when they find a “solution” to a particular problem that reinforces the desired outcome, is wrong as long as it comes into conflict with what Scripture says. When I see all the great math and work done in the field, and it’s dependant on extrapolation, I’m sorry but that’s just nothing more than a mathematical / philosophical ponzi scheme. Lots of people get sucked Ponzi schemes, this kind is just harder to detect. The AGW ponzi scheme has collapsed or is collapsing, but just because yours hasn’t yet, doesn’t mean it’s not a ponzi scheme. With AGW, there are ways of validating the data, which is inherent to the discipline of climate science. With Astronomy and Cosmology, there isn’t. You’re all just guppies in a fish bowl on a windowsill trying to figure out if that is a flash light in the yard or a street lamp down the block.

    Science says it is impossible for a man to rise from the dead, but I don’t believe them on that — do you? I’m sure you don’t but then why must I believe them on the size and age of the cosmos? They are untrustworthy on those matters.

    With respect to Job, well, I personally think it unwise to talk back to God. I try not to. It’s funny you mention the “capturing and even training crocidiles or hippos or elephants or whales or whatever”, in defence of those questions being answerable. Ask Dawn Brancheau, about that. Oh, you can’t, she, a whale trainer, was killed by one. Then what about Roy Horn yeah he’s the master of tigers. So, not as answerable as you think.

  108. Paige Britton said,

    April 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Hi, Reed,
    So I ask odd questions, do I? I am an odd fish. I guess you figured that out by now. The science questions popped into my mind in part because of your emphasis on NH/NE, and in part because some time back in this conversation I think someone said that geologists should not try to conjecture what happened to make the rocks look old, since according to Scripture everything is much younger than the rocks seem to say (and there’s no way to prove how they got that way anyhow). It got me wondering, because if “it’s all gonna burn,” and if there are “shoulds & oughts” for scientists in geology & possibly astrophysics, then maybe there are limitations on such fields of study for Christians, a possibility I’ve never thought of before. (I work with a campus apologist, so I sometimes rub shoulders with fledgling scientists!) I appreciate your answer about scientific endeavor being for the glory of God, as well as for the practical assistance of people.

    I also really appreciate your emphasis on general rev being under special rev, and certain information being only in the domain of special rev.

    Thanks for all your thoughts. I’ll keep pondering and reading in this area, and maybe I will know more about my own position next time this conversation rolls around. :)

  109. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Paige. I’ll keep pondering too.

  110. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Is it not a fact that we cannot, this side of the fall, construct a scientific experiment to measure in anyway, pre-fall conditions,

    Without some authoritative statement of the differences between the pre- and post-fall conditions?

    General revelation, under such a premise, is always going to be insufficient, at best offering approximations. To be sure, it’s hypotheses about things are inherently unverifiable.

    Accordingly, does not the text of Scripture stand above any general revelation scrutiny in such matters?

    Conclude on the basis of the text, no matter what you see.

  111. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    @Reed,

    At the risk of destroying your credibility, by agreeing with you, let me say you ROCK!
    What you wrote in 110 especially is 24K Gold and in 6 sentences.

    Andrew

  112. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 23, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    @Ron,

    I don’t think that Job is teaching that the size of the universe is included in the secret counsels of God and thus permanently beyond man’s capacity of investigation.

    Do you really think that man will be able to detect the edge of creation. To know the size you must first find the boundaries, the edges so to speak. Really the very boundary of creation itself? What do you expect the edge of creation to be like? To find the boundary, you would at least need to make a guess as to what you are looking for and how to detect it. I wish you well on that endeavor. There are lots of really cool goodies God has hidden within creation for us, this very conversation would have been impossible without discovering a lot of those goodies, and I’m confident there are lots more.

    For me to claim by quoting Job, that the size of the universe is beyond our capacity has creatures, and is a secret thing of God, does not imply that all things currently unknown by man are. If I apply reciprocal logic, I could accuse of quoting proverbs in order to overthrow Deut 29:29, but I won’t.

    Finally, I can respect that you’ll only change your position based on scripture. However, I’m forced to wonder, why did you argue the science if your view is based on scriptural exegeses alone?

  113. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks Andrew. I do fear, however, it is your credibility that will suffer, aligning with mine.

  114. Ron Henzel said,

    April 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Reed,

    Regarding comment 106: you’ve really opened up an interesting discussion here. I can’t think of any place in any Reformed writer where the federal headship of Adam was applied beyond the human sphere. It seems to me that you would be forced to conclude that plants and animals, like humans, are thus born (or procreated) “in Adam,” “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22, ESV). Furthermore, according to Paul’s doctrine of federal headship, death spread to those “in Adam” because they sinned in Adam (Rom. 5:12). The imputed guilt of Adam’s death is the basis for the penalty of death under federal headship, and thus it would seem to me that you would forced to argue that the guilt of Adam’s sin has also been imputed to plants and animals. They, too, “sinned in Adam.” Another problem would be that, unless there are somehow elect plants and animals, there will be none in the NH/NE—unless, of course, a New Earth free of any life other than human poses no problem, which I suppose it may not.

    Can you think of any other Reformed writer, confession, or catechism that teaches that plants and animals are under the federal headship of Adam?

    I don’t think my view is unique, novel, or dangerous in the scope of historic Reformed theology. Bavinck wrote:

    And finally, Calvin and most Reformed theologians were of the opinion that eating meat was permitted to humans even before the flood and the fall.

    [Reformed Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Academic, 2004), 2:575.]

    I suppose it’s obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: if the eating of meat was permitted before the Fall, that means that animals would have had to die before the Fall. If Bavinck is right, then my view has actually been that of most Reformed theologians.

  115. Vern Crisler said,

    April 23, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    On the question of seeds dying, I think this is a case where Jesus is actually using a metaphor? In fact, the seed is not really dying is it? It’s giving birth to a new plant. But the analogy was apt for the point Jesus was making.

    The fact that one cannot explain away Genesis 1 & 2 as metaphor, doesn’t mean the Bible doesn’t metaphor elsewhere.

    Speed of light — Seems to me rather obvious that if God created the universe in 6 days, the speed of light had to have reached incomprehensible speeds during that week. IOW, it was a miracle.

    Vern

  116. Paige Britton said,

    April 23, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Actually, Vern, there is a real (not metaphorical) death involved — the parent plant dies in order to ‘yield its seed.’ (And if it doesn’t, as Jesus says in John 12:24, “it remains one” — i.e., one plant, with a useless seed.) (In this case he is talking specifically about a grain plant like wheat or corn.)

    But whether there was such prelapsarian plant death, we don’t know for sure — and whether there could have been has become for us a topic for theological debate.

  117. Ron Henzel said,

    April 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Andrew,

    You wrote:

    Do you really think that man will be able to detect the edge of creation. To know the size you must first find the boundaries, the edges so to speak. Really the very boundary of creation itself?

    When did I ever even imply anything like that? Could it be that perhaps at least part of the differences between us are the result of you imputing ideas to me that I never expressed?

    As I’ve been understanding the central issue you and I have been discussing, it has not been a question of whether man will be able to detect the “edge of creation” (which, according to present cosmology is technically undetectable), but whether the farthest objects we have thus far detected are as far away as cosmologists think they are and, if so, how the light from those objects could have possibly reached the Earth within the 6,000-or-so years of total universal existence proposed by the YEC model.

    You wrote:

    What do you expect the edge of creation to be like? To find the boundary, you would at least need to make a guess as to what you are looking for and how to detect it. I wish you well on that endeavor.

    Again, as I understand modern cosmology, the universe technically has neither a center nor an edge. This model, as I understand it, is based on various deductions from Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.I don’t claim to understand how this can be true, but if it is true it is obviously futile to look for something that does not exist.

    You wrote:

    There are lots of really cool goodies God has hidden within creation for us, this very conversation would have been impossible without discovering a lot of those goodies, and I’m confident there are lots more.

    Hence my point.

    You wrote:

    For me to claim by quoting Job, that the size of the universe is beyond our capacity has creatures, and is a secret thing of God, does not imply that all things currently unknown by man are. If I apply reciprocal logic, I could accuse of quoting proverbs in order to overthrow Deut 29:29, but I won’t.

    I certainly agree with you that there are secret things of God that have not been revealed by either general or special revelation. I’m just somewhat skeptical of the notion that you own the definitive list.

    You wrote:

    Finally, I can respect that you’ll only change your position based on scripture. However, I’m forced to wonder, why did you argue the science if your view is based on scriptural exegeses alone?

    Do you believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth or that the Earth revolves around the Sun? And did you arrive at your conclusion on this matter based on Scriptural exegesis alone?

    Neither did I.

  118. Reed Here said,

    April 23, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Ron: thought I’d clarified the sense in which Adam’s headship applies to created order earlier. It is the sense of vicegerency: Adam was appointed head of creation under God, i.e., the dominion mandate. Thus, when Adam fell, his choice of sin impacted the whole of creation.

    I don’t think this is novel at all, but rather common.

    As to the inferences regarding plant “sin”, etc., that is quite stretching the point to absurdity, and far beyond the limited Scriptural bounds I’m observing. I think you’re stuck on a technical point, to wit federal headship ala Adam and man. This is not specifically what I have in view. No need for all that at all. Simply observe that Adam’s choice to sin brought the curse on the created order (Rom 8). There is the limited headship connection.

  119. Ron Henzel said,

    April 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Reed,

    Now that you’re renaming it a “limited headship connection” I no longer have a problem with it.

  120. Vern Crisler said,

    April 24, 2010 at 12:48 am

    #116
    No Paige, it’s the seed, not the plant that “dies.” As the NIV translates John 12:24, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

    The kernel is put into the ground, much like the way a dead man is buried in the ground. It thus serves as an apt analogy for death. But you cannot press the analogy too far. The seed doesn’t literally die, anymore than an egg dies when a chick hatches from it. But the seed makes for a better analogy because of its burial in the soil.

    We should also remember that the creation account in Genesis is being described from a post-creation, post-fall perspective. Its descriptions will therefore only make sense in that context. No ancient near eastern man or woman would have understood it otherwise.

    Vern

  121. Paige Britton said,

    April 24, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Thanks, Vern. I see the analogy of the statement more clearly now. In our experience, there is still a death (of the parent plant), and there is the possibility that this botanical process was somehow different pre-Fall. But anyway this isn’t what Jesus was speaking about in John.

    pb

  122. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 24, 2010 at 8:29 am

    @Ron, Re 117


    Do you really think that man will be able to detect the edge of creation. To know the size you must first find the boundaries, the edges so to speak. Really the very boundary of creation itself?

    When did I ever even imply anything like that? Could it be that perhaps at least part of the differences between us are the result of you imputing ideas to me that I never expressed?

    Consider in 105 you wrote

    I don’t think that Job is teaching that the size of the universe is included in the secret counsels of God and thus permanently beyond man’s capacity of investigation.

    There you state that the size of the universe is not beyond man’s capacity for investigation. Using the reasonable definition for the phrase “size of the universe”, how does one determine the size of anything unless first he be able determine the what I called the edge/border. So you more than implied. No the difference between us is not that I’m inferring things you are not saying. You should rather take the implications of your own statements into consideration.

    You’re the one that said “size of the universe” as something discoverable perhaps you would like to withdraw that?

    Again, as I understand modern cosmology, the universe technically has neither a center nor an edge.

    I seems to me that language does not sufficiently protect the doctrine of the finiteness of the universe/creation. Scripture does speak to that. Consequently, now you say there is no edge, so really, how does one determine size without edges or boundaries?

    There are lots of really cool goodies God has hidden within creation for us, this very conversation would have been impossible without discovering a lot of those goodies, and I’m confident there are lots more.

    Hence my point.

    So that makes your point that there is nothing about the creation that is beyond man’s capacity to discover. But we’ll just have to agree disagree on that. Why do you think this is an all or nothing kind of proposition?

    I’m just somewhat skeptical of the notion that you own the definitive list.

    No, I never claimed to have a definitive list of what the secret things are that God has reserved to himself, that’s His business, not mine. Citing one thing on that list as revealed in scripture does not even imply I have a list. However, if God reveals something to be on that list as being strictly His business, I’m going to take His word for it. I understand you don’t.

    Do you believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth or that the Earth revolves around the Sun? And did you arrive at your conclusion on this matter based on Scriptural exegesis alone?

    Neither did I.

    Nice try with the geocentrism bit, though, but then the Bible doesn’t say anything about that either. I can hold to a heliocentric solar system, (after day 4) without even consulting scripture, because the order of creation does not imply correlation with arrangement in space. Please let remind you of what you wrote in (also) in 105

    All I can say is that I am very willing to change my view if I feel that I am compelled to do so by Scripture.

    So now you say you didn’t arrive at your position based on scripture alone, OK, but in 105 you said you’d only change it if “compelled to do so by Scripture”. I’m sure that makes sense to you.
    .

  123. Ron Henzel said,

    April 24, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Andrew,

    Thank you for showing me where you think I implied that man will one day be able to detect the edge of the universe. Of course, since I have already clarified what I previously said by indicating that modern cosmologists are not even looking for the edge of the universe because they do not believe it’s there to find, the point is moot. What I was actually talking about was not the edge of the universe but its size, and I hope you now understand why one can talk about one without necessarily implying the other.

    I hope you understand why I do not think it is necessary to withdraw my point about the size of the universe. Since I did not realize that you would seek a weakness to exploit in that point, I did not think it was necessary to add the explanation about the universe’s lack of a center or edge when I was making it (although I have mentioned that explanation since your latest response). Frankly, I thought you perhaps knew more about current cosmological theory and thus were already aware of these things.

    But now you’re trying to press what I said about the universe not having a detectable “edge” into some kind of denial of the finiteness of the universe. Modern cosmology does not posit an infinite universe, despite the fact that it believes that it has neither a detectable center nor edge. If modern cosmology held to an infinite universe it could not simultaneously hold to an expanding universe, which it emphatically does. Again, I don’t claim to fully understand how this works, but this is the current thinking. I think it’s a good question to ask a cosmologist—i.e., how do cosmologists determine the size of something that has no edge—and perhaps I’m not stating the issue as precisely as a professional cosmologist would. My limited understanding is that the current models of the universe are based on the curvature of space-time as presented in the General Theory of Relativity.

    Contrary to your assertion, I have never claimed “that there is nothing about the creation that is beyond man’s capacity to discover.” I don’t know why you are so persistent in putting words into my mouth. I never made any kind of “all or nothing proposition” here.

    As for your disclaimer that you do not possess the definitive list of which cosmological facts are hidden in the secret counsels of God: by declaring the size of the universe to be one of those facts, you are now clearly and confidently claiming at least a partial list, even if it only contains one item. Since your list is extra-biblical in nature (your references from Job do not even remotely address the question), your assertion, if read uncharitably (which I am not doing), could be taken for a claim to a kind of extra-biblical revelation. You of all people know for a fact that the size of the universe is something that mankind will never be able to ascertain? Assuming you are not claiming extra-biblical revelation, how did you arrive at this “fact?”

    Meanwhile, you seem to have totally missed my point about your choice of a heliocentric versus geocentric system. You also seem to be unaware of the early debates within both Catholicism and Protestantism over the Copernican theory. Luther and others specifically opposed it because of the support they thought they found in Scripture for the geocentric model. They were particularly impressed by Joshua’s account of the Sun standing still in the sky, and reasoned that it is therefore the Sun that moves and not the Earth.

    The point here is that if you base a cosmology totally and completely on the text of Scripture, you will find various evidence to support a geocentric theory, but no evidence to support a heliocentric view. Luther and other Protestants tried to build their cosmology on Scripture, looked harder at the text than you apparently have, and found evidence for their view. You, on the other hand, have told me that you feel free to draw a conclusion on this matter without even consulting Scripture! And yet you take me to task for not arriving at my position on heliocentrism based on Scripture alone? And on top of that you try to twist my previous statement in comment 105 into some kind of pledge to base all my cosmological conclusions on Scripture alone? When I said that I would only change my Old Universe view if compelled to do so by Scripture, I was not saying that I would base all my understanding of cosmology on Scripture alone (just as you now openly declare that you do not base all your understanding of cosmology on Scripture alone). I was simply saying the authority of Scripture takes priority over the conclusions of contemporary scientists. If you can’t make sense of the distinction between accepting the views of modern science where Scripture does not compel me to reject them, and rejecting them when Scripture does so compel, I’m not sure I can help you see it.

    I’m also not convinced of the value of trying to have an irenic dialogue with someone who seems hostile enough toward me to persistently misread my points and impute concepts I’ve never expressed. I also think there are areas of theological discussion more important than this one in which my time, effort, and passion will be better spent.

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 24, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    The sun does go round the Earth, BTW … once a year.

    (It’s fun to take planet simulation software and click the “Use Earth as reference frame” option. :) )

  125. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    @RH,

    Well, since you seem to want to really go down the geocentric path, I’m going claim the cosmology corollary to Godwin’s law, and bow out.

  126. April 25, 2010 at 8:03 am

    I heard Dr. Waltke speak on Psalm 8 last year at RTS during the Wyciffe Hall Lectures and Pastor’s Day at the RTS chapel. Dr. Waltke appeared to deny the total sovereignty of God in the working of providence in that message. It seems to me that accepting theistic evolution leads to neo-orthodoxy and implies that God is not really sovereign after all. The implications of accepting theistic evolution leads to modernism. We can see this in the history of seminaries like Princeton and in denominations like the PCUSA.

    Really, it is an either/or situation. If the Bible is not inerrant and if theistic evolution and higher critical views of the Pentateuch are true, then Christianity is really just another world religion invented from below and not a supernaturally revealed religion from above.

    My own views on this have changed as well. I graduated from an Arminian seminary: Asbury Theological Seminary. There the neo-orthodox documentary theories of Von Rad dominated the OT department. But one can observe a steady slide in Asbury’s commitment to biblical inerrancy and a subsequent slide in commitment to the essential doctrines of Evangelical Christianity.

    I am thankful that God used these issues to push me toward Calvinism, although I’m learning that the Reformed seminaries and denominaries are affected by the noetic effects of sin on individual professors. It seems to me that Dr. Waltke has take a turn for the worse. I hope Knox Seminary will reconsider hiring him until he can clarify exactly where he stands on these issues: inerrancy, providence, sovereignty.

  127. Roy said,

    April 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Above I continued comments to the point of repetition (and will add a few just below) because I am convinced Charlie #126 is correct. Eventually push becomes shove and ‘either or’ develops. Then somebody caves. When they don’t need to, since the shove isn’t, but the church collective has never nailed down how it isn’t.

    I join (I hope) a multitude of others who humbly recognize the incredible contributions Waltke has made not only to the church, but to their own understanding. Same for some other giants, such as Warfield and Kline.

    But I think these 3 illustrate something too common even among among Bible-believing scholars. No matter their stature, no matter their awareness, they simply do not realize how much pagan science, specifically that regarding origins, stands on *scientifically* shaky grounds. Instead, for fear of losing credibility, they argue that Christians ought simply ignore as irrelevant, perhaps even agree with, an idea such as theistic evolution, or even macro evolution along Darwinian lines.

    Think I’m overstating the matter? Consider the faculty you know at the various reformed and presbyterian seminaries. I don’t personally know any (this includes many at WTS campuses, Cov’t, RTS campuses ) that I think any less than godly, solid defenders of reformed orthodoxy as expressed by, eg, the WCF. Perhaps there are some I don’t know about whom we could debate. But the guys I do know, and many I only know about, all on fire for the Lord, are not only far more eductated than I am, they are far smarter. Yet I cannot list a single one (except, perhaps, those at Whitefield (?) seminary, which has an explicit creationist view, but I don’t know these men) that I know for sure: 1) agrees with the WCF 6×24 view; 2) utterly rejects as worthless anything else. (Well, maybe Poythress. I haven’t read, but only am partially aquainted with his views.)

    This is imho not a matter of blind spots in even the greatest, something which reminds me of my continuing need for humility regarding my own inability. Instead I think it a matter of serious need for sweat work by the scholars of the church.

  128. Roy said,

    April 25, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Reed #99, you wrote:
    “As to your point about David’s ant, is not your emphasis what I pointed out to him – no death before the fall.”

    Nope. On the contrary. I insist that a bit of pondering of the biblical narrative leads to our understanding that history only if we acknowledge non-human death prefall. Otherwise we have all sorts of absurdities, from superstrong, pink panther proof ants (no dead ant, dead ant) to stuff that God tells to multiply (Gen 1:23) which can’t even add.

    This harmonizes with my agreement with Ron that Gen 3’s curse specifically and pointedly aims at people. (BTW, what would ‘death’ have meant to Adam and Eve if there were no pre fall analogies? Remember here that we agree that physical death itself is not the whole story warned of in Gen 2:17 andpronounced in Gen 3, that *even it* only pictures the real awfulness of spiritual death while physically alive and even eternal death when one lives forever dealing with a holy, wrathful God. Remember here that the day they ate, our First Parents did die, even tho they lived and had children.)

    Death certainly does effect the entire creation, obviously (ie, I agree) in ways
    that make connections between prefall, present, and NH NE less than straightforward. (I once heard OPC pastor Tom Tyson tell me that just once he’d like to grow a tomato untainted by sin. He did not mean the tomato, but himself. Just one simple act. That, plus discussion about our character as creative, since in the image of God, had led to pondering what might happen in the NH NE.) So we should proceed with some caution. But the effects on creation results from its outworking as an impact upon people. Thus, as Ron noted, the ground is cursed *not for its own sake*, but in order to effect people.

    It is just this sort of reasoning I would apply when pondering how the Curse defines death. It imposed human death. This is an absolutely undebatable, necessary understanding. God (graciously) responded to that result by excluding Adam and Eve from the Tree of Life. But critter death does not have that same necessity. Without such a requirement, there exists no tension with what the Gen account suggests regarding pre fall critters: just as now, they were neither omniscient nor omnipotent. Creation’s population balance features, applicable to all but humans, kept them in check.

    BTW, one can reject your objection “Oh, you rely on there being long ages before the Fall.” One msy reply, “What would have happened had there been no Fall? Would the pre Fall creation every so often had to suffer some sort of revision in order to accomplish things such as checks on multiplying critter populations?” Nope. God made a creation without need for updates other than that resulting from the Fall. And that which will result at Christ’s appearing.

  129. Roy said,

    April 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Andrew #107 (and #122)

    Extrapolations? fooey, Andrew. Make these 99.9% wrong. One still gets values thousands of times too large to harmonize with a few thousand year old creation.

    Forget the extrapolation, peer reviewed methods vicious circle debate. I think present cosmology methods (some of which I did grad physics work in) good enough, and am convinced the known universe is at least 10 billion light years in radius (nB, not diameter) and will look even bigger the better improving technology lets us look into deep space. Nothing in this, btw, about boundries, except that, whatever these may be, they’re futher out there than we have (even can) look. Forget all this, though.

    Accept instead the limits of parallax. You still have numbers orders of magnitude bigger than a few thousand years if you want Adam to have starry nights. I read the “was so” of Gen 1:15 as declaring *when* (= at the instant) God created the stars, to the extent the instrument (unaided eye, telescope, whatever) could detect them, they were there. Adam could see relatively nearer stars. Had I been there with Hubble, I could have “seen” stars billions of light years away.

    You got some ‘splainin’ to do. What part of the Book says I should accept your limitation on God’s work of creating?

  130. Roy said,

    April 25, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Reed #110
    Yeppers. Phillip E Hughes (WTS, Phila) said it well a few decades ago in his monograph, “The Problem of Origins”.

    I said early on (#25) that Peter’s #4 was correct, that science has no way to tell when to start the clock, to ‘scientifically’ set time zero. We’ve got only one eyewitness account.

  131. Reed Here said,

    April 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Roy: no. 128: I admit to not understanding quite a bit of what you are saying. I’m still not quite sure where my prior comments intersect with your criticisms. E.g., I’ve never once issued an objection to long ages.

    My objection has been unifocused, and you have seemed to pick up on that with your reference to critter death. Rather than re-hash what I’ve already written, I’d ask you to look at my string of comments here (written to Ron H. and Paige B.). I’ve sought to make a textual based argument that all death is a consequence of the fall.

    If you’d like to critique the particulars of the case I’ve made, i.e., from the text of Scripture, I’ll be glad to interact.

  132. Chris Donato said,

    April 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Forgive me Reed for not slogging through all the comments. Do you rest your entire opinion that all the creation became subject to death on Rom 5?

    Clearly in the creation narrative, humans were not subject to death because the tree of life gave them life—an antidote to their natural mortality. The punishment for disobedience was to be “doomed to death” (Gen 2:17, i.e., being kept from the tree of life). Without access to the tree, God’s image bearers would be subject to the mortality of their bodies—from dust we were made and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19). And so it was that “death came through sin” (Rom 5:12).

    Why else would it be this very tree that God intended to protect when he placed the cherubim at the entrance of the garden (Gen 3:22–24)?

    It appears this tracks better with Scripture’s overarching narrative, not what you’ve written above.

    By the way, Rom 8 is hardly a proof text to serve your case. The creation groans for its liberation that will come about through the glorification of the children of God (Rom 8:21). It will be set free from its “bondage to decay,” its “subjection to futility,” not to its own glory, but it will have freedom because the people of God will once again, as promised, exact wise dominion over the whole earth, the original purpose or function for which they were created.

    This is informed by the fact that the creation suffers, not as a result of a deliberate rebellion (like man, Rom 8:20), but because God, the creator, wished to have it point to the new heaven and earth that will be ushered in by Christ and his church. That’s why creation “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.”

    No doubt God subjected his creation to bondage for this purpose; but supposing death qua mortality was part of that equation is your deduction—it’s not readily apparent from the text itself.

  133. TE Stephen Welch said,

    April 26, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Charlie, in response to your comments in # 126 I am surprised to hear this about Asbury. It was always the bastion of orthodoxy in the Methodist tradition. It was the place where the conservative ministers in the United Methodist Church were trained. If a UMC had an Asbury graduate you knew it would be an orthodox congregation, even if it was Arminian.

    As far as Knox Seminary, Waltke has already been hired to begin teaching next Spring. As a graduate from this seminary this grieves my heart, but everything Knox has done since the death of Dr. Jim Kennedy has grieved my heart. This seminary has departed from its vision and I can no longer recommend it as a seminary. I am glad Dr. Kennedy did not live to see a professor teaching at Knox who holds to evolution and not creation.

  134. April 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Stephen, Asbury has been on that trajectory for a long time now. I graduated in 1995 and I’m sure it has gotten worse since then. Compared to the other “official” Methodist seminaries, Asbury is still conservative. However, the focus on higher criticism is stronger than the focus on rebutting neo-orthodoxy or liberal theology.

    Regarding Dr. Waltke, I heard him speak on Psalm 8 last year. I cannot remember his exact words but he implied that God is not absolutely sovereign over circumstances and that we have to do what we can to change things, etc. The idea of theistic evolution undermines everything else.

    From what I’ve seen here and there on the blogs Knox seminary is already starting to compromise its reason for being in other areas as well. This is the problem with orthodoxy. It is only good for one generation and then who knows what will happen? Read 1 and 2 Kings or 1 and 2 Chronicles and you’ll see the same situation from one dynasty to another.

    The peace of God be with you,

    Charlie

  135. Reed Here said,

    April 26, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Chris: no, my argument does not rest exclusive on Rom 5 or even a combination of Rom5 and 8.

    As to Rom 8, I agree with what you’ve written about the glory to be revealed. I think you are ignoring the subjection to futility. What is the futility? The curse? What comprises the curse?

    My argument is that death is the characteristic of the curse. No disrespect, but I do not have time to review and re-post the comments at this point. Respectfully, your criticisms do fall short. If youi’ve not got time to go over what I’ve already posted, I’ll understand.

  136. Chris Donato said,

    April 27, 2010 at 9:07 am

    But I wonder, Reed, why that particular tree (of life) was the one guarded when the image bearers were kicked out of the garden? Can you show us that the tree was given to every living thing, and not just humans? You’ve only implied that you think the tree hadn’t been eaten from, and that eating from the tree was the reward for Adam and Eve’s obedience (as an entrance into an eternal, blissful state). But why couldn’t continual eating of the tree of life be in view? As Ron mentions above, it’s no mistake that that particular tree pops up again in prophecies revolving around the new heaven and earth. Presumably, at that time, all those in Christ will be sustained by this tree (i.e., not a one-shot deal).

    Regardless, the creation’s “subjection to futility” cannot be forced to mean death, especially since what we have mentioned explicitly in Scripture are the thorns and thistles—not mortality. If Saint Paul meant “death,” in the same manner that he meant it in Rom 5 (not merely mortality but spiritual [separated-from-the-creator] death too), why couldn’t he just have said it? Do critters experience spiritual death?

  137. Paige Britton said,

    April 27, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Regardless, the creation’s “subjection to futility” cannot be forced to mean death, especially since what we have mentioned explicitly in Scripture are the thorns and thistles—not mortality.

    Reed has a point, though, in saying that there would be a stark contrast between “no-death” (anywhere, ever) and, at the Fall, the introduction of “death” (in all its forms of decay, corruption and destruction).

    For those of us who do not presently see the theological necessity of no-death-anywhere before the Fall, do we still maintain a stark before/after contrast?

    I am thinking along the lines of Lewis’ observation that the devil can’t create, he can only corrupt what is.

    So that death-as-a-natural-process could have been present before the Fall, as God’s gracious provision and gift for his children: death (of plants and critters) on behalf of man.

    Then when all that is good gets “bent” at the Fall, what was originally gracious, proportional death-as-a-natural-process becomes warped along with everything else: now it is death because of man.

    On the surface, the difference isn’t as drastic as what Reed describes: but the insidious nature of the change is typical of all of the changes that came about because of the first sin — surface similarities, but corruption at the heart.

    Reed, I’m not trying to be hasty here — just articulating something that is rattling around in my brain. I do want to read more of what others have said over the ages about this. Ron mentioned that your view might not have been shared by Calvin. Do you have any recommended reading for me?

  138. Chris Donato said,

    April 27, 2010 at 10:37 am

    …do we still maintain a stark before/after contrast?

    In the way that you describe it, Paige, yes, I think we do (…death-as-a-natural-process becomes warped along with everything else…”).

  139. rfwhite said,

    April 27, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Reed/Chris: In your exchange, it seems we have need of carefully defining life as well as death. What was the nature of the life given to Adam at creation? Can you agree that, chronologically speaking, the provisions of a garden home, of the mandate of Gen 2.15 and the commandment of Gen 2.16-17, and of a bride must all have preceded the commission and provisions of Gen 1.28-29, since Gen 1.28-29 presumes man male and female? Can you agree that the life given to Adam at creation was life in fellowship with his Creator God? If so, was the life sustained by the provision of food in Gen 1.29 not already life with God conditioned on obedience to divine commandment? In short, was the nature of the life contemplated in Gen 1.29 life subject to death or life no longer subject to death?

  140. Roy said,

    April 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Thank you, Paige. You’ve articulated one path of thinking thru how that which existed pre Fall gets warped by the Fall, warping to the point it looks discontinuous. I’m convinced your direction of exploration makes far better use of biblical data than does any which insist on total discontinuity between pre and post Fall.

    Do we think, for another example, that Gen 3:16A’s ‘pains in childbearing’ promised to Eve means only or primarily “physical pain”? (This view, recall, some pervert to suggest we ought not use medical means to alleviate such pain, something along the lines of “women deserve it”. Evil.) Maybe some physical pain is involved. And as part of the war against sin, part of the cultural mandate expressed in the new context of a fallen world, we ought fight it along with every other deformity caused by sin, whether these be human actions or malaria. But I think a far better understanding of Gen 3:16 includes connections to Gen 1:28. Not merely a command to multiply, but inherently also a promise of tools, fellow workers, to enable obedience to the command to subdue, to manage creation in submission to God. In 3:16 God does not tell Eve the world has no continuity with Eden. He tells her something of how sin has warped that continuity. Children, once only a blessing, now bring, apart from grace, a ‘mixed’ blessing. Eve will get Cain as well as Abel. She will see her children contend with one another. She will see some of her children display the rule of sin. Go ask a few moms which hurts more: the brief, albeit unpleasant, experience of labor, or the continuous weeping over a child growing to adult defiance of God.

    We should see Gen 3’s curse of death doing the same sort of predicting, warning, explaining. That which existed prefall now has gotten modified, with variations which, even tho slight, actually bring astonishingly huge changes. I see that as a better understanding of critter death. Not something never before existent, but something, while similar to before, now in some ways tainted with hurt, ugliness, most specifically in its connections to people.

    In fact, what about human death? Ponder the astonishingly large ages recorded in the “fatal to Andy” chapter of Gen 5. Not only do we see the outworkings of the curse of death, where even after living and having children in spite of the Fall, we get confronted with “and he died”. We also see incredible hints about pre Fall life, with a bunch of men (and presumably their wives) living nearly a millenium. How did Adam (and Eve) deal with the many years before children (either before Cain and Abel or between them and Seth and subsequent children) implied by Gen 5:3? How long was it before Cain got a wife and had children? (Yes. He did marry a sister. Abraham married a cousin. Not until Moses’ time does the Bible forbid marriage of close kin.) How did these people live hundreds of years in situations where they were essentially (compared to later history) essentially alone, without other people around?

    I don’t think these long-lifed people were omnipotent. Nor were they so omniscient they made no mistakes, in particular fatal mistakes. There is a bit of mystery about the providence that sustained them. One could, as I do, muse on the implications of this regarding a non-Fallen, Edenic world. But I simultaneously insist that non-fallen Adam could have stubbed his toe, that his creaturely limitations included finiteness with risk of fatality from something other than sin’s ravages such as age and disease.

    Putting all these musings another way: I think Reed’s picture, tho common, too simplistic. Thus I comment that of course one learns that at least some reformed giants such as Calvin and Bavink taught that Eden did not preclude critter death but incorporated it in service to people.

  141. Phil Derksen said,

    April 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Roy #14

    Could you please direct me to where Calvin taght that “Eden did not preclude critter death but incorporated it in service to people,” of course realizing that you’re paraphrasing here.

    Thanks.

  142. rfwhite said,

    April 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Reed/Chris: would you agree with Roy in insisting that non-fallen Adam’s “creaturely limitations included finiteness with risk of fatality from something other than sin’s ravages such as age and disease”?

  143. Chris Donato said,

    April 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Dr. White (#139):

    I think I can agree with all those points, and can still say that “the nature of the life contemplated in Gen 1.29 [is] life subject to death.” I would think Reed could too, since these points of agreement don’t seem to bear upon the other subject—whether or not death was an experience for everything but the image bearers in the garden.

    Regarding your question in #142, all I can say is I suppose it’s possible. I wouldn’t want to rule out of hand what Roy wrote above. Human mortality (if it were to happen) could have very well been a natural—and peaceful—occurrence (decay, much like the leaves of autumn) before the fall. But remove fellowship with God from the equation and it becomes a darker force, opposed to the order of creation itself, threatening to drag the world back into chaos itself. Such is the effect of all idolatry.

    Another way to put this is to ask: Where does death get its sting? And so maybe it had no sting prior to the introduction of sin?

  144. Roy said,

    April 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Phil #141
    See Calvin’s Commentaries re Gen 9:3 and Ps8:6-9.

  145. rfwhite said,

    April 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    143 Chris: Who is the man qualified to fulfill Gen 1.28? Is he mortal or immortal?

  146. Reformed Sinner said,

    April 28, 2010 at 5:55 am

    What happened to Reformed OT scholarship? Do people really believe in what Vos said anymore or is he just a novelty nowadays?

    First Enns openly denied historicity of Adam/Eve after he left. Claiming he’s only going as evidences (outside of the Bible), takes him.

    Then Longman III claims Adam/Eve is only historical when we do “hyper-literal” reading on Genesis.

    Finally now Walke (while believing in Adam and Eve), thinks Evolution must be accepted or Christianity risk becoming a cult.

    Do people even pay attention to Paul anymore? Since when do the Church worry about the scorns of the wisdom of the world over against the wisdom of God clearly revealed in the Bible?

    Finally, why are scientists’ work assumed to be neutral and unbiased when Kuhn already wrote his excellent book to show otherwise, and do these Biblical scholars as gracious with the few Christian Scientists bold voices that point out the questionable natures of Evolution and modern science, or do they just dismiss then like quackheads the same way they dismiss literal-Bible believers?

  147. April 28, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Excellent points, Reformed Sinner….

  148. Chris Donato said,

    April 28, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Sinner (#146): I’d like to point out that that’s not exactly what Waltke said. See Bullet-Point 1 in this post for further details.

    Dr. White (145): I’m not following why that delineation has ramifications. Whether mortal or immortal, the dominion mandate can be fulfilled. No? I suppose, ideally, the man qualified to fulfill it would be the man who is sustained perpetually by the tree of life—at least that’s what it appears the Creator desired. But still, felix culpa?

  149. Reformed Sinner said,

    April 28, 2010 at 8:15 am

    #147,

    Thanks for your blog, very informative. However, I would like to add that while all truths are God’s truth, but all lies are not God’s truth. As servants of God we need to distinguish the “truths” of the world, from empirical studies like you said, and the “lies” of the world, and unfortunately from the same empirical studies. Hence is the point of my original statement, too many Biblical scholars assumes sciences are “seeking truth”, but like all sinful nature (theological studies included), many times lies have been formulated in the name of “seeking truth.”

    Mr. Walke tried to do that in his clarifications, when he emphasized that the church should recognize Evolution as a process, and not Evolutionism as a philosophy. This is not unique to him, in my opinion B. B. Warfield have similar view (though little writings to make a firm conclusion what Warfield’s take on Evolution is, besides snit bits here and there.)

    Finally, the problem is what Walke says himself, he’s not a scientist, and therefore he’s not engaged in the scientific debate within Evolution itself, and there are different voices that questions even the most basic assumptions of scientific evolution as a process, much less as a philosophy. The trivial assumption that life grows from single-cells to multi-cells to complex organisms is under challenge itself, and yes more and more “scientific proof” is bought up and validated for an alternative take on how the universe (and life) appears: as complex group from the beginning. Anyway, I am blessed by a friend who’s a trained scientist and a trained Ph.D. in theology that works hard at this stuff, and I talk to him enough to realize the science on Evolution, even as a process, is less than certain as mainstream scientific community (and the media and educational institutions) is trying to sell us.

    In short, I’m not arguing with Walke’s Biblical wisdom nor am I qualify. However, even he admits he’s relying on science to give him the scientific conclusions, and his task is simply evaluating the scientific conclusions given to him, and it’s relationship with the Biblical text. My concern, then, is that is it valid and fair to demand all Churchmen to follow the scientific wind of the world (blowing left and blowing right), and then adjust our theology everything there’s a new theory? I’m sure Church History have ample examples why that is not exactly the wisest thing to do.

    Walke’s emphasis on science is a concern for he did say is direct quote that he believes we are now in a time when “everything comes together” in science, and he’s sold to the fact that we have enough advances that we can be pretty darn sure that 99% of what we know in science is 99% accurate. While I’m not authority in this matter, however, I do know that every generation of humanity believes in the same thing. The Ancients believe they have “everything come together”, the Greeks thought they have the world figured out, scientists in the Medieval Times were pretty sure about a flat earth and sun rounds the earth, before Einstein crashes the party we were pretty sure Newtonian Physics is the end all in Physics. By the 1970s most Physicists were again pretty sure they have the universe figured out (evidence by the pronouncement that what’s left to do is to figure out the decimals places), until darn it more advances that show them the universe is more wackier than their imaginations. So when Dr. Walke says we are at a time when “everything comes together” and the Church should think hard about how to harmonize Biblical text and science (again, Dr. Walke’s assumption that it’s probably the way the universe is), that makes me greatly concern.

  150. Paige Britton said,

    April 28, 2010 at 9:41 am

    #145 Dr. White asked: Who is the man qualified to fulfill Gen 1.28? Is he mortal or immortal?

    It would seem that neither mortality nor immortality were the deciding qualifier, but sinlessness.

  151. Reformed Sinner said,

    April 28, 2010 at 9:51 am

    #149,

    Mortality is definitely a deciding factor, which is why the Word becomes Flesh. I’m pretty sure that’s important alongside with sinlessness.

  152. rfwhite said,

    April 28, 2010 at 10:07 am

    147 Chris: sorry to be so cryptic. The linkage I’m exploring is this: Unless I’m misunderstanding some of the argumentation above, it has been presupposed by some that man male and female could have continued in a perpetual state of mortality. As far as I can tell, there is sound biblical basis to deny this presupposition, not the least of which is Gen 2.16-17 with its probationary implications.

  153. Paige Britton said,

    April 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I would add also, to my comment #149, image-bearing. (Since sinless animals, plants, and angels were not given dominion.)

    Is the most important thing about the Word becoming flesh mortality, or image-bearing? Because we can say he retained (and retains) the image, though he became immortal flesh in his victory. (Though now I am getting kind of dizzy, thinking about God, the image of God, as the image of God…)

  154. rfwhite said,

    April 28, 2010 at 10:15 am

    149 Paige: to be sure, sin and death go hand in hand, but the qualifier is not merely sinlessness, as I understand it; it is impeccability with is the consequent, immortality.

  155. Paige Britton said,

    April 28, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Dr. White,

    I see — you had in your sights the perpetual mortality scheme. I guess I was just thinking that at the moment of God’s address in 1.28, the probationary period had not ended yet, so he was at the time addressing mortals who were to take dominion. So I figured mortality was not a (dis)qualifier for dominion.

    pb

  156. rfwhite said,

    April 28, 2010 at 11:47 am

    154 Paige: to refine that point a bit more, I’d point out that a perpetual mortality scheme is also a perpetual probationary scheme. Besides, “perpetual” and “probationary” are at odds.

  157. Paige Britton said,

    April 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    And that would be worse even than perpetual adolescence.


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