A Critique of “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People,” by Tim Keller

Guest post from Dr. Adrian Keister (Ph.D. in mathematical physics from Virginia Tech). The article from Tim Keller is found here.

What’s the Problem?

The first paragraph sets up the tone for the entire piece: the supposed antithesis between orthodox Christianity with a high view of the authority of the Bible, and evolution. Keller challenges that antithesis in the third paragraph. However, in that third paragraph, Keller evidently equates “evolution” with “science” when he writes, “However, there are many who question the premise that science and faith are irreconcilable.” So Keller has shifted the debate now, and this is a point I would not grant him. It is my firm belief that evolution is not science, any more than the theory of mature creation is science. They are both faiths, because the very method of science, being inductive and absolutely dependent on experiment, excludes questions of origin. Let us suppose, via Karl Popper, that scientific statements are statements that can, in theory, be falsifiable by observation. If that is the case, then questions about origins simply do not fall into that category, as there are no repeatable experiments available to settle such questions. The fact that evolution is considered science by mainstream scientists is neither here nor there. 10,000 Frenchmen can still be wrong. If the mainstream scientists have a vested interest in writing God out of their equations, as it says the natural man wants to do in Romans 1, then we should not be surprised when they come up with theories that exclude God! People do science, not machines, and people are always biased. People can always have a vested interest in achieving certain outcomes, even if they are scientists and the desired outcomes are supposed scientific statements.

Keller writes:


However, there are many who question the premise that science and faith are irreconcilable. Many believe that a high view of the Bible does not demand belief in just one account of origins. They argue that we do not have to choose between an anti-science religion or an anti-religious science.

I could certainly agree with the last sentence, but I would agree for different reasons than Keller appears to hold. I would agree because the very nature of science and the scientific method means that the questions science can attempt to answer have nothing to do with the supernatural. Here, I mean that the supernatural is God working through extraordinary means, and the natural is God working through ordinary means. Science excludes itself from questions about the supernatural, precisely because such events are not repeatable and thus there are no experiments. However, for scientists to make the additional leap of logic and claim that the supernatural does not exist, or that supernatural occurrences never happen, is a non sequitur of the first order. Just because the naked eye cannot see past a certain point does not mean there is nothing beyond that point. Keller, on the other hand, appears to hold to this non-antithesis because he believes evolution and orthodox Christianity are compatible. Again, he is placing evolution within science.

Keller’s fourth paragraph, including the van Inwagen quote, seems to me to be irrelevant to the main discussion. Keller’s claim at the end of the paragraph that “This is just one of many places where the supposed incompatibility of orthodox faith with evolution begins to fade away under more sustained reflection” seems to me a bit of a straw man. God is, of course, free to use any means He pleases that do not contradict His nature. However, the main topic of discussion here is whether macro-evolution is compatible with orthodox Christianity. Orthodox Christianity does not need evolution to explain its own existence; it depends for its existence on the Bible and God working to help men understand the Bible.

Keller’s fifth paragraph excludes the possibility that there really is an antithesis, and that those who claim there is an antithesis might be louder and more prominent because they are correct. Yet again, in the second sentence of this paragraph, Keller has equated evolution with science.

Pastors and the People

In this section, Keller lays out four difficulties that he sees laypeople having with evolution. The first is the literalness of Genesis 1, and biblical authority in general. The second is evolution as a Grand Theory of Everything, as per Richard Dawkins. The third is the historicity of Adam and Eve. The fourth is the problem of violence and evil. Keller proposes to “lay out” the first three of these difficulties. To Keller’s credit, he takes on himself and other pastors the hard work of interpreting the Bible, scientists, and philosophers in order to make things real to their parishioners.

Three Questions of Christian Laypeople


Question 1: If God used evolution to create, then we can’t take Genesis 1 literally, and if we can’t do that, why take any other part of the Bible literally?


Answer: The way to respect the authority of the Biblical writers is to take them as they want to be taken. Sometimes they want to be taken literally, sometimes they don’t. We must listen to them, not impose our thinking and agenda on them.

The above question and answer are quoted verbatim from Keller. At first blush, I would react by saying that while I think the answer is a true statement, I do not think it answers the question.

Keller then launches into an examination of whether Genesis 1 is prose or poetry or something else. Keller does not appear to want to take Genesis 1 literally. His first argument is that “…Genesis 1′s prose is extremely unusual. It has refrains, repeated statements that continually return as they do in a hymn or song.” (emphasis original) So far as I can see, this argument is inconclusive. No one, I think, would argue that Numbers 7 is narrative, and yet it definitely has a refrain. His second argument is that “the terms for the sun (‘greater light’) and moon (‘lesser light’) are highly unusual and poetic, never being used anywhere else in the Bible, and ‘beast of the field’ is a term for animal that is ordinarily confined to poetic discourse.” This could be true. However, even if we grant the term “exalted prose narrative” as being descriptive of Genesis 1 (which I do not necessarily grant), this does not imply automatically that “we must not impose a ‘literalistic’ hermeneutic on the text.” (Keller is quoting Francis Collins here.) How is exalted prose narrative supposed to be interpreted? What clear examples do we have of interpreting such narrative?

Keller then claims that Genesis 1 and 2 cannot both be taken literally because there would be incompatibilities. The examples Keller brings up seem quite weak to me. Keller’s first example is that there is light before any natural sources of light. My brother Lane thinks that this may be a polemic against the Egyptian sun god Ra. Of course there can be light without the sun, moon, or stars: see Revelation 22:5. Then Keller claims that vegetation before atmosphere or rain is impossible. I would divide that question into two. Vegetation before atmosphere might or might not be possible, but at the very least, Keller appears to claim that the atmosphere was created on Day 4, whereas in my reading, Day 1 seems a better candidate. As for vegetation before rain, Keller either does not know about canopy theory (Genesis 2:6 is relevant to that discussion), or dismisses it. However, canopy theory is quite plausible, although I would claim it is not science. As for Genesis 2:5, it by no means necessarily teaches that God followed a natural order, precisely because of Genesis 2:6. The entire creation was supernatural! God made the rules in creation, and He acted by following His own good pleasure. Finally, Keller claims that “evenings and mornings” are not natural, given that the sun is created on Day 4. However, this is a strange way to argue: that something is not natural means we can’t interpret a passage literally. Or even, giving Keller the benefit of the doubt, that if all the characteristics of one passage are not natural, and all the characteristics of another passage are natural, that we must then interpret them differently. Would he make the same claim about passages in Exodus, that alternate between supernatural and natural? I simply do not see any clash between Genesis 1 taken as literal history, and Genesis 2 taken as literal history.

Keller writes, in summary, that “Genesis 1 does not teach that God made the world in six twenty-four hour days.” In this paper, he appears to come to this conclusion because he thinks Genesis 1 is not meant to be taken literally. However, even if we grant that Genesis 1 is not to be taken literally (which I do not grant), that does not mean that a day is not a 24 hour day. Nonliteral passages can still have literal elements to them. Keller seems to point to non-literalness in every element of Genesis 1.


Question 2: If biological evolution is true – does that mean that we are just animals driven by our genes, and everything about us can be explained by natural selection?


Answer: No. Belief in evolution as a biological process is not the same as belief in evolution as a worldview.

Keller makes a distinction between evolution proper (the biological process) and “perennial naturalism”, which is Alvin Plantinga’s term. Perennial naturalism is clearly antithetical to orthodox Christianity, and I think Keller thinks that, too. However, it is not clear to me how this helps Keller’s overall case. Let us recall that Keller’s thesis is that biological evolution (not perennial naturalism) and orthodox Christianity are compatible. So, let EBP be the statement that macro-evolutionary biological processes occur. Let PN be perennial naturalism, and let OC be orthodox Christianity. Keller would agree that PN AND OC is false. Ah, but EBP does not imply PN, like the new atheists claim. Therefore EBP AND OC? The conclusion is not warranted. By that reasoning, we could say that anything that does not imply PN is compatible with OC, which is clearly false. Gnosticism does not imply PN, but it is antithetical to OC. As to whether EBP does or does not imply PN, I will defer to others, since I have not studied the matter.

Keller writes:


Many Christian laypeople resist all this and seek to hold on to some sense of human dignity by subscribing to ‘fiat-creationism.’ This is not a sophisticated theological and philosophical move; it is intuitive.

I am not sure whether Keller means to demean “fiat-creationists” by calling them unsophisticated (I would tend to think so, given the nature of Keller’s ministry, but I do not impute motives) or whether he is merely making an impersonal remark about the nature of “fiat-creationists”. Moreover, Keller does not define the term “fiat-creationist”. If by “fiat-creationist” he means simply someone who believes in a literal Genesis creation story, where God creates by divine fiat, then I would certainly place myself in that camp. I do not see either that such “fiat-creationism” is unsophisticated merely because it rejects all forms of macro-evolution, nor do I see that even if it is unsophisticated, that that is a bad thing. It is a rather puzzling comment, so I will refrain from further critique.


Question 3: If biological evolution is true and there was no historical Adam and Eve how can we know where sin and suffering came from?


Answer: Belief in evolution can be compatible with a belief in an historical fall and a literal Adam and Eve. There are many unanswered questions around this issue and so Christians who believe God used evolution must be open to one another’s views.

Since Keller takes a literal view of Genesis 2, and believes in a literal Adam and Eve, there is less in this section with which I would quibble. I probably would not have quoted N. T. Wright favorably, as his theology is highly problematic, although the statement in question seems unobjectionable. Keller certainly does argue for some of the more orthodox positions in this section.

However, in getting to the subsubsection entitled “A model”, Keller runs into some difficulties. It is not entirely clear to me whether Keller holds to Kidner’s views of a pre-Adamic race or not, but that is clearly what is in view here. And if there is a pre-Adamic race, then there was death before the Fall of Man. The difficulties of having death (really, of any animal, whether in the pre-Adamic race, or other animals) before the Fall of Man are several. One is that the wages of sin is death. That is, sin implies death. Can we say that not-sin implies not-death? That would be the converse. Equivalently, can we say that death implies sin? If we can, then death before the Fall flies in the face of God’s goodness. It is not that man inherently deserves life, and that God must, in justice, give it to him if he obeys. Instead, it is a matter of God’s Word. God said to Adam, “Do this and live, do that and die.” The antithesis seems to me to indicate that we can conclude the converse. Furthermore, in Isaiah 11:6-9, we see the picture of a restored earth. No animal seems to be hurting any other animal. If the restored earth is to be a return to the Garden of Eden, how can there be animal death before the Fall?

This “model” seems to give away much too much to the scientists. In fact, this is a general trend I noticed in Keller’s writing. As Gordon Clark once said, “Science is a collection of useful falsehoods.” Useful, but not “true”. That is, since science is based on the inductive method, which is technically a fallacy, science can really only ever make probabilistic statements. Science can never arrive at the truth, since its method is inherently flawed. That does not make science worthless, as it does have immense predictive value in its domain. But that’s precisely the point: questions about origins of the universe are not within the domain of science. You can hypothesize all day about origins, and scientists have, but the bottom line is there are no repeatable experiments to reproduce what actually happened. Therefore, science simply cannot contradict the Bible, at least in questions of origin. The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot. This is, in general, why I have not seen any tension between true science and Christianity. Science, while competent in its areas to say some things (subject to the limitations I mentioned before), cannot rise even to the level of addressing anything supernatural. And since what the Bible says about natural processes is perfectly accurate, and science corroborates it, there are no conflicts whatsoever.

Keller’s view is not technically one of the four accepted views that the PCA allows for TE’s. The Metro NY Presbytery has probably ruled that Keller’s views do not strike at the fundamentals of the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards. That is a question I have not studied, but I believe there is cause for concern, and it warrants investigation.

About these ads

367 Comments

  1. Joe Branca said,

    January 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I still don’t see how biological death before the Fall is an issue.

    “The wages of sin is death” seems to be the spiritual application of spiritual death as evidenced by biological death for those under the revealed Law — note the threatened curse in the Garden was “you will surely die” directed to Adam alone, not the entire created order. Then, the activation of the curse was firstly directed to the land itself, insofar as it would not readily yield to Adam’s authority, a brutish life of struggle defiance and suffering with no hope of a higher plane of existence. We can’t really know from the text whether returning to dust (biological death) was a pre-existing category appropriated for Adam’s own fall or something completely new in nature. Ultimately for Adam to “die” in that covenantal context is the antithesis to Jesus coming to bring “life”, and he came to bring life to those already biologically alive and breathing. This life and death is primarily of the spiritual and eschatological dimension.

    Also note that “the wages of sin is death” does *not apply* to believers in Christ, because biological death in our context has another spiritual application without reference to personal sins or Adam’s sin: to biologically die is gain. Thus we have a case of standing-before-God-without-reference-to-sin not implying not-biological-death, if I got the logic right.

    just some thoughts

  2. January 17, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    The wages of sin is death relates to the human family. Good men have held that death in the animal kingdom also begins with human sin, but where is the evidence? Animals didn’t sin, we did.

    The pictures in Isaiah chapters 11 & 65 of an idyllic state are means of describing the blessedness associated with the Messianic kingdom but cannot be taken absolutely literally, otherwise we would still have people dying admittedly at old ages. Further, they obliterate the distinction between wild and domesticated creatures in Genesis in the interest of the unimaginable glory of God’s ultimate purpose. (And if you’re pre-mill you have the problem that on the usual system animal sacrifices will be resumed in the millennium.)

    On the whole we are better taking Psalm 104 seriously. And if we say, But a good God couldn’t have made parasites or predatory creatures, we adopt the language of our crusading atheists. Who are we to say what is good? If it pleased God then it is good.

  3. pa said,

    January 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    There are strengths in this piece, particularly its highlighting the many assumptions Keller makes, but philosophically it is very unsophisticated. Dr. K. critiques Keller of conflating evolution with science–a good point–but shortly after Dr. K. conflates evolution with accounts of the origin of life, just as sloppy a gloss. Dr. K. adopts a conception of science (falsificationism) that has been dead by refutation and inconsistency many times over for decades. Dr K. claims science is “absolutely dependent on experimentation,” and, while indeed it is the life blood of science, there are many cases where this is clearly not so (e.g., any scientific study of past events cannot test for those events to occur–from history to meteorology to geology–but approximate the conditions via modelling. That puts questions of the origin of life squarely within science, insofar as one can investigate for the physical conditions, frame for physical laws, and run simulations, if only to rule out some explanations and make others ever slightly more probable). That’s the first paragraph… Dr. K’s odd adoption of some views of G. Clark is also strange, unless Dr K. is no further than one class into undergraduate studies in philosophy–the maximum that Clark’s repetitive, inconsistent, and lay-level works retain their usefulness (to put it mildly). If science cannot lead to knowledge then the study and reconstruction of the biblical texts from extant manuscripts would be in bad shape, and not bode well for biblical studies and translation (unless we do it all a priori, as Clark must have).

  4. Roy said,

    January 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Seconding Rowland and in harmony with his appeal to Ps 104, I’ve long believed it fairly evident that Adam understood at least in part what “in the day you eat you will surely die”. Ants, for example, were neither omnipotent nor omniscient. Nor were they human, with whatever providential protections God in Eden extended to Adam and Eve. The Pink Panther roamed with the critters in Eden (dead ant, dead ant). Adam saw critter death, and understood from that something of what the promise of Life/ curse of Death meant.

    I find both Collins’ and Poythress’ arguments never even discussing the obvious fact that a literal understanding of Gen 1 does *not* preclude any of the poetic, exalted prose, or analogical features. Appreciating any of these features does not of itself demand a choice of it OR a literal understanding. Why choose, when one can obviously have both?

    Dr. Keister correctly takes Keller to task for accepting rather than challenging the faith-based, non-testable (and hence not-scientific) assertions of the folks who reject the only eye witness account. That record tells us about a complete, entire, appropriate creation, with everything in it having exactly the characteristics appropriate to whatever it was. Reason from that starting point in formulating explanations.

  5. pilgrim said,

    January 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Just out of curiousity–what are the 4 accepted views of the PCA for TEs?

  6. Don said,

    January 18, 2012 at 2:05 am

    I would suggest that the author think carefully about what “science” means, since he’s being a little inconsistent. In the first paragraph he writes “If the mainstream scientists have a vested interest in writing God out of their equations…” which he should know is a cheap shot. Scientists should not be writing God, or Buddha, or St. Joseph, or anyone into their equations in the first place! That he knows better is clear, since he appropriately addresses the limitations of science in his next paragraph.

    It’s also a little strange that he claims scientists don’t know what science is. That may eventually boil down to a question over how narrowly one defines “observation.”

  7. paigebritton said,

    January 18, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Hi, Pilgrim,
    The report of the PCA creation study committee (2000) is available online here. It’s pretty long and involved — a good balance to Keller’s piece, if you have time, though! — so I’ll summarize an answer to your question, as I understand it (And as Adrian corrected me!).

    It seems that the “four views” affirmed in this report, and considered not incompatible with orthodox belief, are as follows:

    1. Young earth creationism (literal six days)
    2. Old earth creationism (divine fiat creation, but not literal six days — Day-Age view)
    3. Framework View
    4. Analogical Day

    Bottom line of what is acceptable, despite differences in details, is as follows:

    “All the Committee members join in these affirmations: The Scriptures, and hence Genesis 1-3, are the inerrant word of God. That Genesis 1-3 is a coherent account from the hand of Moses. That history, not myth, is the proper category for describing these chapters; and furthermore that their history is true. In these chapters we find the record of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth ex nihilo; of the special creation of Adam and Eve as actual human beings, the parents of all humanity (hence they are not the products of evolution from lower forms of life). We further find the account of an historical fall, that brought all humanity into an estate of sin and misery, and of God’s sure promise of a Redeemer. Because the Bible is the word of the Creator and Governor of all there is, it is right for us to find it speaking authoritatively to matters studied by historical and scientific research. We also believe that acceptance of, say, non-geocentric astronomy is consistent with full submission to Biblical authority. We recognize that a naturalistic worldview and true Christian faith are impossible to reconcile, and gladly take our stand with Biblical supernaturalism.” (sorry, no page numbers; emphasis added)

  8. paigebritton said,

    January 18, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Thanks for this post, Adrian! I had read the article, too, and had many questions & concerns. Main one is this: Keller jumps right into a reassurance that the view he espouses is NOT the same as philosophical naturalism (what you’ve noted as “perennial naturalism”). Yet he does not ever explain how the biological evolutionary theory he espouses as compatible with an orthodox Christian worldview is anything other than “change = time plus random chance.” Somehow I just can’t reconcile this familiar definition of (macro-)evolution with “change = providential guidance of biological processes”! It ain’t a philosophically neutral thing.

  9. paigebritton said,

    January 18, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Note to those who are new to commenting at Green Baggins:

    Your first comment will be screened, so don’t despair if it doesn’t appear right off when you click “post.” We’ll get to it soon.

    Lane asks that those commenting here identify themselves by name, at least to a moderator. I’ve overlooked this for “pa” and “pilgrim,” but ask that you’d sign (or sign in with) your real names if you comment again. If you want to do so privately for any reason, you may write me (it’s paige, then a dot, then britton, at gmail dot com.) Thanks!

    Paige B., moderator

  10. ljdibiase said,

    January 18, 2012 at 7:37 am

    #2: “where is the evidence?”

    Romans 8:19-21? Gen. 3:17-18?

  11. January 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Note to paigebritton:

    Thanks for your encouragement.

    Actually, theistic evolution is not one of the four accepted views in the PCA. The four accepted views are: mature creation (or calender day), analogical day, day age, and framework. I could be wrong, but I don’t think evolution is accepted in the PCA for an officer.

  12. January 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Joe, re #1,

    Death does involve loss for the believer, else what did Christ sacrifice on the cross if He only gained? Your statement, that Christ “came to bring life to those already biologically alive and breathing,” completely overlooks that all who are in Christ shall be made alive in the physical resurrection. All the aspects of death, spiritual and physical, that resulted from Adam’s disobedience will be undone by Christ’s obedience.

    Adam and Eve had a conditional physical immortality. They were immortal only because there was no principle of death operating in the world. Since human beings were the only nexus of the physical and spiritual creation, only the sin of a human being could bring the principle of death into the physical world, changing the very laws of nature so that everything in the universe grows old and decays. As long as they did not sin, Adam and Eve were not subject to physical death, and so they were conditionally immortal.

    Many places in Scripture indicate that the change brought by Adam’s sin effected all of the physical creation–even the laws of physical nature. See Rom. 5:12; Gen. 3:17-19; Ps. 102:25-26; Rom. 8:18-23; 2 Pet. 3:7-13).

    Ken Hamrick

  13. January 18, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Pa, re: #3,

    When “science” ventures to explain origins, it ventures out of the purview of science and into the purview of theology and philosophy. They cannot even approach origins without a philosophical basis, which they have found in materialistic naturalism, which holds that the origin and state of the world as it is can be explained according to natural laws and processes alone (which are seen as constant throughout time). This philosophy on which their whole scientific authority stands or falls, is unproven and unbiblical (as it allows for no significant role for any supernatural causes). Because their philosophical basis is flawed, they are left with no scientific authority whatsoever when speaking on origins theory–their theories are no more scientific and carry no more weight than any other philosophical or theological paradigms. I like what Turretinfan said regarding this: “Creationism should not be taught in the science class. It should be taught in the history class. And evolution should not be taught anywhere…”

    Ken Hamrick

  14. January 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Roy, re: #4,

    What makes you think that there were dead ants prior to Adam’s sin? Resilience was likely one of the properties lost when sin corrupted the universe. Adam understood many things, such as how to speak, by the knowledge that God gave him, and not necessarily by experience or example.

    Ken Hamrick

  15. January 18, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Don, re: #6,

    Let’s be real, here. What science should be and what it is are two different things, in most cases. The ultimate, most pervasive human bias is the bias against the truths of God and His Word. Invariably, all unbelievers labor under this bias, which skews all their thinking. Therefore, when an unbelieving scientist deals with an issue that does not particularly have to do with a divine truth (such as origins), then his science can be reliable and objective. But when the unbelieving scientist deals with an issue that does have to do with a divine truth like origins, then the aversion toward divine truth that comes from the core of his being clouds his judgment and skews his results from the start.

    Ken Hamrick

  16. paigebritton said,

    January 18, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Thanks, Adrian –
    You have correct the “four,” which are the four views of the length of creation days. I think I probably conflated “theistic evolution” and “progressive creationists,” but both are mentioned as sub-categories of OEC’s in the document, so that was a little confusing. I’m sorry not to be able to provide page numbers, but this is from the longer “Definitions” section:

    “Old-earth creationism allows that the natural sciences accurately conclude that the universe is ‘old’…Within this category there are two sub-categories. First are the theistic evolutionists (or “evolutionary creationists’), who believe that natural processes sustained by God’s ordinary providence (God’s providential second causes) are God’s means of bringing about life and humanity. (This employs a specialized definition of ‘evolution,’ which we will discuss under ‘evolution’ below.)

    The second sub-category of OEC’s are often called progressive creationists: these believe that second causes sustained by God’s providence are not the whole story, but that instead God has added supernatural, creative actions to the process.”

    The writers of the report do offer a strong critique of the “theistic evolution” view, and note that “it would not be helpful to refer to any form of ‘supernatural creation’ as a kind of ‘theistic evolution’ (at least not in the specialized sense) since the two views are so different in their understanding of the place of natural and supernatural events in the origin and development of life.”

    ( I corrected my list above accordingly! :)
    pb

  17. Josh Bentley said,

    January 18, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Overall, I found Dr. Keister’s review quite cogent and helpful. As someone who is pursuing a PhD in communication (admittedly one of the softer soft sciences), I have discovered that scientists are somewhat more honest with each other than they are with the general public. Textbooks and journal articles on research methods often admit that science cannot provide absolute certainty (also Gordon Clark’s point, I think). There are lots of intramural debates among scholars about the validity of different data collection methods and mathematical tests. However, when speaking to the general public, scientists like to emphasize all the things they “KNOW.”

    Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962) is a nice critique of the notion that scientists just pursue knowledge objectively. Kuhn argues that paradigms within scientific disciplines determine which questions are acceptable to ask and which methods are acceptable for finding answers. When it comes to origins, I would suggest that evolution is the dominant paradigm and alternative explanations don’t even get a fair hearing. Therefore, it’s no wonder so many scientist consider evolution to be the best theory for explaining life on earth. After all, anything else would not even be “science” under the present paradigm.

    My point is, there’s no need for the church to be intimidated by the scientific community. Today’s scientific consensus may turn out to be tomorrow’s theory of spontaneous generation. With apologies to Isaiah, the scientific consensus withers and the latest theories fade, but the word of our God will stand forever.

    By the way, I’m sure Dr. Keller just wants to remove any unnecessary barriers that might keep unbelievers from coming to Christ. However, when I read the first three chapters of I Corinthians I don’t get the impression that faith comes from carefully parsed arguments about the nature of origins. The Bible sounds pretty foolish to folks who don’t have God’s Spirit yet. Apparently God is okay with that.

  18. January 18, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Paige,

    I’m with you now. Thanks!

  19. michael said,

    January 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Realizing I am commenting with the Spirit of Faith working in and through me, I proffer this verse as an attempt to settle the matter of the origin of the nature of sin for “all” mankind. (2 Cor. 4:13)

    One not operating full of this Spirit of Faith might not accept fully that the origin of the nature of sin comes from just “one” man, Adam, as is indicative and implied in the verse, this one:

    Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    Not going beyond that I would simply acknowledge then that I adhere to these words at the beginning of the article:

    Keister: “…So Keller has shifted the debate now, and this is a point I would not grant him. It is my firm belief that evolution is not science, any more than the theory of mature creation is science. They are both faiths, because the very method of science, being inductive and absolutely dependent on experiment, excludes questions of origin. …”

    Some really really smart thinkin’ going on there! :)

  20. January 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    While the standard exposition of Romans 8:19ff suggests the bondage to decay to which the earth is subject comes through Adam’s sin, is this really so.The curse on the ground in Genesis certainly is indicative of the struggle for existence that is typical of human life and which ultimately brings death, but can it bear the weight of cosmic decay? I think not.
    First, Adam’s sin is not the first sin, but the first human sin. There is already disturbance of God’s good order, there is already sin before Adam’s sin.
    Second, The visible creation including man did not have the glory at the beginning which was God’s ultimate plan and which in Christ will be achieved. Adam’s body was ‘ of the earth’ even as it came from God’s hand. It was not like the heavenly body, that is imperishable, glorious through the Spirit of God.
    Meanwhile the creation is subject to frustration but in the setting of hope as it waits the fulfillment of God’s redemptive programme.

  21. January 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Re pa @ 3:

    I have no desire to appear philosophically sophisticated. I desire to communicate clearly, and articulate the truth.

    Can you show me where I’m conflating evolution with accounts of the origin of life? Obviously, there are many accounts of the origin of life, and I do not happen to believe that evolution is a good one. So at least in my mind, there can be no conflating of evolution with accounts of the origin of life.

    As for falsificationism, my argument does not particularly rest on it. I could recast it as follows:

    1. The scientific method includes experimentation as a necessary component. By “necessary”, I mean that no hypothesis touted as scientific can ever rise beyond mere hypothesis if there are no experiments possible to test it. Certainly no hypothesis can rise to the level of being called a scientific law if it has never undergone the rigors of testing.

    2. No one can perform any experiment that tests an hypothesis concerning origins.

    3. Therefore, hypotheses concerning origins can never rise above that status. They will forever be hypotheses.

    I, for one, would hesitate even to call such hypothesizing science. It’s much the same problem in string theory these days. It’s awfully hard to find a job in string theory, because the technology to test things at such a small scale (on the order of the Planck length) is nowhere near available.

    You write, “Dr. K’s odd adoption of some views of G. Clark is also strange, unless Dr. K. is no further than one class into undergraduate studies in philosophy…”

    It’s quite true that I am no further than one class into undergraduate studies in philosophy, unless you count logic courses. I quoted G. Clark’s very fine assessment of science. Could anyone really quibble with it? Science is based on induction, which is a logical fallacy. It can provide you with a good statistical probability that a certain statement is true, but it will not get you to truth. As for other statements that Clark makes, I’m not sure I see how a general indictment of Clark such as you have leveled at him necessarily makes the sentence I quoted incorrect, or not worth quoting.

    Re Don @ 6:

    I do think many scientists don’t know what science is. I also think many scientists do know. The best scientists know they are biased, and they come right out and say what that bias is. They are also more aware of the limitations of science, and are more careful in how they phrase things. Being more of a mathematician than a physicist myself, I can tell you one thing that really bugs me is when scientists say something like, “Science has proven…” No, it hasn’t. Or they say, “Scientists have proven…” There simply isn’t that degree of certainty available in science, which is one reason I’m so grateful for the Bible. There’s real certainty!

    Re biblicalrealist @ 13:

    Thank you for your defences. They are more cogent than I could have done, I think. However, I do think evolution is worth teaching (in philosophy class, maybe). The reason? It’s been an influential theory, and the Christian needs to know the enemy. Teaching creation in history class is a great idea, though it’d fit in theology and philosophy as well.

  22. Don said,

    January 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    To biblicalrealist #15,
    “What science should be and what it is are two different things, in most cases.”
    I’d agree with this, but possibly from the opposite direction. I don’t really know where the idea that “Science can’t investigate origins” came from. It’s pretty close to asserting that “Historians can’t investigate George Washington, since no one can observe the founding of the United States.” Not exactly the same, but there are some parallels.

    To Adrian Keister #21,
    Fair enough, but most scientists know they’re not working at mathematical-levels of proof, and most laypeople don’t understand the difference. To take the converse with a statement such as “Science has not _proven_ that HIV causes AIDS” is irresponsibly life-threatening. I want to make it clear that I’m not accusing anyone here of a statement of that magnitude, unless that one South African president is reading; and I’m not saying we should blindly accept anything or everything that Science says, since The Scientists are smarter than you and look at our spiffy white lab coats; but I would warn against automatically discrediting anything that seems to conflict with one’s preexisting worldview.

  23. January 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Re Don @ 22,

    “Fair enough, but most scientists know they’re not working at mathematical-levels of proof, and most laypeople don’t understand the difference.”

    I would say _many_ scientists know they are not working at that level of proof. Some scientists might be even that deluded. Certainly I would agree that most laymen don’t understand the difference, and so it seems to me that it’s a miscommunication of some kind. Either the scientists are intentionally deceiving people (hardly an earth-shattering concept for biased people, as all scientists are), or they need to know their audience better.

    “To take the converse with a statement such as ‘Science has not _proven_ that HIV causes AIDS’ is irresponsibly life-threatening.”

    I’m having a hard time parsing that one. What’s life-threatening are falsehoods and untruth. If it is not true that science has _proven_ that HIV causes AIDS, then scientists should not claim they have. Instead, they should make the more guarded statements that they _can_ make, such as, “Every single known case of HIV has developed AIDS.” (I don’t actually know if that is true or not, since I’m not up-to-date in that field – it’s just an example of a more guarded statement that could be true.)

  24. January 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Rowland, re: 20,

    Since the sins of angels could not put them under that physical death sentence, then neither did their sin bring that physical death into the world. Physical death was brought into the universe only by those who bear its sentence. Just as angels are not affected by the physical world, neither can they affect the physical world. Only man is at once spiritual and physical. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin…” (Rom. 5:12a, ESV). Not only did death come into man, it came into the world.

    Ken Hamrick

  25. Don said,

    January 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Re Adrian @23,
    Well, I think it’s the reverse, that AIDS has always developed from HIV. There are drugs that keep HIV from developing into AIDS, which I could be a little more certain about if wikipedia wasn’t blocked today. :)

    So sure, falsehoods are life-threatening. But so is AIDS. And for someone in the public-health science field to not clearly state, without any qualification whatsoever, that yes indeed HIV causes AIDS no matter what Mbeki claimed, is, to me, a violation of the Ninth, and eventually Sixth, Commandments.

    Obviously one’s opinion of evolution or the Big Bang is not as critical as what one should do to avoid HIV. But I think sometimes the root is the same–a point-blank rejection of (unpleasant or distasteful) scientific evidence without any attempt to understand the evidence.

  26. January 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Don, re: 22,

    The supernatural is not testable or observable. If we could take a scientist back in time to Eden to examine Adam, he could reasonably claim to be able to duplicate the level of physical maturity of Adam in another man, by observing a newborn throughout twenty years or so. Because he has observed such development in other people, he can reasonably apply this to Adam and theorize that Adam is approximately twenty years old (rough guess… he was mature enough to be given a wife). However, what the scientist cannot do, is to actually observe how Adam came into existence. He can theorize, assume, and even declare his assumptions as scientific fact, but his science is inadequate to the task, because Adam was supernaturally created, not naturally originated. The very practice of scientific inquiry into this matter is itself a presumption that nothing supernatural happened else scientific inquiry would be futile. Where God acts, science has reached the end of all possible inquiry.

    God created Adam and the earth complete and mature. He created the universe in such a way that the light trails of billions of light-years were already in place and functioning. Even if the earth is “scientifically proven” to be a billion years old, it would only be true according to the naturalistic presupposition that the earth was not supernaturally created more recently.

    Some object that it would be dishonest for God to create a world that looked older than it is. But this is not the case. Consider what is meant by the idea of looking old. For those who would say that it looks old, how are they determining what old is or how old the world is? Do they begin with the possibility that the historical account of creation in Genesis might be incorrect? Do they use a method of calculation that assumes that natural processes, as they are found today, are reliable as a constant by which to measure age back beyond what the straightforward, “common sense” reading of Genesis 1 would indicate as the point in time when God supernaturally created the world? If they do, then it is not God who is deceiving them, but they who are deceiving themselves. Rather then deceiving, God openly admitted to creating the world, and told us plainly when and how long He took.

    Ken Hamrick

  27. Chris Hansen said,

    January 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts Dr. Keister. This has always been the most critical point in the debate for me:

    “As Gordon Clark once said, “Science is a collection of useful falsehoods.” Useful, but not “true”. That is, since science is based on the inductive method, which is technically a fallacy, science can really only ever make probabilistic statements. Science can never arrive at the truth, since its method is inherently flawed. That does not make science worthless, as it does have immense predictive value in its domain. But that’s precisely the point: questions about origins of the universe are not within the domain of science. You can hypothesize all day about origins, and scientists have, but the bottom line is there are no repeatable experiments to reproduce what actually happened. Therefore, science simply cannot contradict the Bible, at least in questions of origin.”

    I’m not convinced (having a predilection for Kline’s framework theory) that literal, 6-day creationism can be absolutely proven from Genesis 1 by good and necessary consequence, but it certainly cannot be disproved either and it still is the most natural manner of taking the passage. Even if the passage symbolically teaches broader, theological truths that doesn’t imply in the least that the narrative upon which those truths are founded is not historical. See the Exodus, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the temple worship, etc. etc. as examples of God demonstrating symbolic truths using true, sovereignly superintended history. Since science, by its very nature, cannot tell us anything about origins, we must take the Bible’s teaching on the matter as our only guide.

    Even if we grant science’s ability to investigate the unobserved past (I don’t), the fall still presents a huge problem for investigating origins. The Bible clearly teaches that the fall had significant effects not only on man, but on all of Creation. This creates a huge discontinuity in history that makes extending any extrapolation of modern findings back to the point of origins, before the fall, utterly impossible. Even the possibility of such an event, the supernatural impinging on the natural order, renders such efforts highly questionable.

  28. Don said,

    January 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    @ biblicalrealist 26:

    I have a big problem with assertions such as “He [God] created the universe in such a way that the light trails of billions of light-years were already in place and functioning.”
    I assume you realize there is no scientific evidence for such a statement. I would argue there is no Scriptural evidence for it, either, if for no other reason that none of the Biblical authors (or their readers, for a couple millennia) knew that light traveled at all. But if there are arguments for this view that don’t just basically try to explain away scientific observations, then I’d be interested in hearing them.

    My own view is, as Calvin said, that Genesis 1 is not the place to learn astronomy.

  29. Josh Bentley said,

    January 19, 2012 at 12:48 am

    @ Don 28:

    I’ve heard it pointed out that God created light (day 1) before he created the sun, moon, and stars (day 4). Therefore, a literal reading of Genesis 1 suggests that the light was present on earth even before it was linked to objects in space.

  30. January 19, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Biblicalrealist #24
    So angels can’t affect the physical world. Not by my reading of Scripture. I might even have entertained angels without knowing it!

    Please note also that Paul refutes the idea that abstinence from certain foods by saying God created everything good and so nothing is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving. The death of plants and animals is not immoral if it serves the true interests of man.

    If one argues that man was to eat only green plants it proves too much. Further, man is to rule over the fish and the animals. If this doesn’t mean what it seems to mean ie that man could eat them, what does it mean. Can’t use skin, milk, eggs, catch fish for food.

  31. January 19, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Rowland, re: 30,

    While you might have entertained angels without knowing it, none of those angels changed the physical laws of the world, just as those physical laws do not apply to such strictly spiritual beings. You avoided the force of the argument. Since no physical death sentence or principle of physical degeneration and mortality can apply to an angel, then–obviously–it was not the sin of any angel that incurred that sentence or caused that principle of mortality to come into the physical world.

    Men rule over other men without eating them.The death of animals is not necessarily immoral, but neither is it “very good,” as God assessed His creation at the beginning. Sickness, injury, death, corruption were not part of God’s initial creation. Plants, on the other hand, were created for food. But eating plants or fruit in the pre-sin world was not the same as it is now, if there was no natural law of deterioration. Now, everything grows old, decays and runs down, but these are the effects of sin and not part of the creation that was called “very good.”

    Ken Hamrick

  32. January 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Don, re: #28,

    You said:

    I have a big problem with assertions such as “He [God] created the universe in such a way that the light trails of billions of light-years were already in place and functioning.”
    I assume you realize there is no scientific evidence for such a statement…

    Scientific evidence for supernatural creation? Are you serious? No, there are no traces of DPP’s (Divine Power Particles) or anything of that nature :) . Do you believe that Christ physically rose from the dead, Don? I assume you realize that there is no scientific evidence for that, either.

    You continued:

    …I would argue there is no Scriptural evidence for it, either, if for no other reason that none of the Biblical authors (or their readers, for a couple millennia) knew that light traveled at all. But if there are arguments for this view that don’t just basically try to explain away scientific observations, then I’d be interested in hearing them.

    My own view is, as Calvin said, that Genesis 1 is not the place to learn astronomy.

    Interesting. You balk at anything that you see as explaining away scientific observations, but you have no problem with extra-Scriptural assertions that seek to explain away “the straightforward and direct reading” of Scripture.

    Though it is objected that the Bible is not a science text book, it is a book of factual history (among other things). It tells us God created light, but doesn’t get into the quantum physics of the light He created. It simply states it as the simple fact it is. God created it, and He did so on the first day. It is an historical account of facts that actually happened. So when the Bible tells us that, in six days God created the heavens and the earth and all that are in them, then that would include the light between the stars and the earth, since that, too, was “in them.” In Isa. 40:22, 44:24 and 45:12, God said that He stretched out the heavens.

    Like many conservative believers, I agree with Al Mohler, who advocates a common sense, “straightforward” hermeneutic, “The pattern of evening and morning, the literary structure, the testimony of the rest of Scripture—all point to 24-hour days when studied in a common sense fashion,” and, “the straightforward and direct reading of Genesis 1:1–2:3 describes seven 24-hour days—six days of creative activity and a final day of divine rest.” [Why Does the Universe Look So Old?, Albert Mohler]

    The meaning of Scripture should be determined by the text itself. And while the Bible does contain a variety of literary genre, it is–if the whole is considered–largely a book of historical, factual accounts. That is why we go by the axiom, “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” In other words, we should not approach any passage assuming that the plain, direct, straightforward sense might not be the intended meaning–unless that plain sense itself does not make sense.

    It comes down to the question of whether the reader gives God’s Word the benefit of the doubt, by interpreting Scripture according to Scripture alone and letting the text speak for itself, or whether the reader allows the so-called evidences and arguments from outside of Scripture (formed by those who do not give God’s Word the benefit of the doubt) to carry more weight than the text itself. Those of the latter method must abandon the normal standards of exegesis (a straightforward, common sense hermeneutic) and adopt a method that seeks any plausible way to insert time-lapses, gaps, or ambiguities, in order to read into the text the presuppositions and evidences of secular science.

    Ken Hamrick

  33. Reed Here said,

    January 19, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Dr. Ward: with great respect, I’m wondering how your observations (in effect, limiting the scope of the Curse, vis-a-vis physical creation excluding Man), square with the notion of Adam’s vice-gerency?

    Is not the physical creation (Gn 3: the ground) cursed specifically because of it’s covenantal relation to Adam? As Adam, its federal head if you will, went, so goes the Creation.

    To be sure we must explore the parameters of the Curse. Yet clearly foundational to this must be some understanding of pre-fall/not-under-death-reign’s verses post-fall/under-death’s-reign. It can’t just be a kinder, gentler form of death before the fall. This does not fit the reality fracturing fact of the first (human) sin.

    Anything less appears to make Rom 8′s futility observation and the Isainic promise of Edenic restoration nothing more than poetic hyperbole. It sure sounds nice but it really has no significance at all in scheme where the Curse means nothing more than a more vivid experience of the same old thing.

  34. January 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Reed,

    I don’t profess to have all the answers but note that it is the Serpent and the ground that is specifically cursed. And even the curse on the ground is not as ultimate as that on the Serpent. Note that when Noah, the second Adam, steps forth on a new and cleansed earth, he plants a very productive vineyard – is that saying something about the nature of the Gen 3 curse of the ground? Similarly, Canaan as a land flowing with milk and honey is described in terms which suggests it is a prototype of the ultimate Paradise.

    Even before sin there was a task for man, to subdue the earth. The word subdue implies overcoming obstacles, bringing out potential etc. Tilling necessary for crops etc. Further Gen 2:5 indicates there was not a uniform climate (siah = desert plants dependent on annual rain; esebh = cultivated grains dependent on tilling the ground).

    I believe we have to exercise considerable care when defining ‘good’ and ‘very good’. It is not our ideas but God’s that are important. So if God wants ravenous beasts as in Ps 104, that’s good, very good. So far as the human family is concerned death physical is the result of sin – death passed on all men for all had sinned. But the context is nothing to do with the animals.

    The problem with Ken Hamricks approach (is that Rick advancing Ken Ham’s position?!) is that it makes the text address questions which are in the mind of 19th century AD man, but hardly in the mind of the Hebrew slaves who had come out of Egypt. And it misses the rich theology.

    Whether the earth is young or old doesn’t concern me; I don’t think Scripture addresses that questions in the terms most youngearthers suppose. My own view is pretty much the analogical days one with a recognition of some value in modest framework arguments.

  35. Don said,

    January 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    @biblicalrealist #32:

    “Interesting. You balk at anything that you see as explaining away scientific observations,”

    Basically yes. I would object to unsupported conjectures and hypotheses that goes far beyond anything Scripture says. It may be difficult to take both science and Scriptures seriously (and by “seriously” I don’t mean equally or equivalently), and it may leave some tension and unresolved questions, but I don’t see any thoughtful alternative.

    “…but you have no problem with extra-Scriptural assertions that seek to explain away “the straightforward and direct reading” of Scripture.”

    The earlier Calvin quote was from his commentary on Genesis 1:6-8. Would you claim he’s doing this too, when he tries to explain what “waters above the heavens” is supposed to mean?

  36. Cris D. said,

    January 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Hey Y’all. pcahistory.org doesn’t seem to be available. Bypassing the report-specific link above, the whole site appears to be off-the-grid for a couple days now. Anyone have a contact to check with? Wayne S… ?

    My apologies for not remembering his full name. Who’s tapped into PCA e-mail directory?

    -=Cris=-

  37. January 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Try Wayne Sparkman:
    wsparkman@pcanet.org

  38. Todd said,

    January 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    The author of the original post is fighting the right battles, but not with all the right weapons, as Rowland suggested. The coming battle is all about Adam and Eve as historical, real progenitors of the human race. The new science is all about genomic theory which supposedly disproves the above, and it has nothing to do with the age of the earth of length of the days. Calvin College is leading the way in this capitulation, and the church should be prepared to answer them. See:
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2010/PSCF9-10Complete.pdf

  39. January 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Don, re: #35,

    Basically yes. I would object to unsupported conjectures and hypotheses that goes far beyond anything Scripture says. It may be difficult to take both science and Scriptures seriously (and by “seriously” I don’t mean equally or equivalently), and it may leave some tension and unresolved questions, but I don’t see any thoughtful alternative.

    Why would you let the claims of secular science, which is undeniably biased against a supernatural creation, erode the seriousness with which you take Scripture? I have not offered any unsupported conjectures or hypotheses. Rather, I have offered only what is logically involved in a literal, supernatural, 6-day creation, which is the “plain, direct, straightforward sense” of the historical account in Genesis 1. By “thoughtful alternative,” you must mean an alternative that gives what you consider due weight to the “evidences” and claims of secular science.

    Consider for a moment what it would mean if God actually did create the world in six literal days, approximately 6000 years ago. Can you see that if this really is what happened, then any weight given to the evidences of secular science would be a compromise of the truth, and would only result in erroneous conclusions?

    Now, if you will, consider on what basis we decide whether or not the plain, direct, straightforward sense of the passage (which indicates a literal, 6-day, young-earth creation) is what we ought to accept? If the thing that weighs against our accepting of a plain, direct, straightforward reading is the very thing that—if the straightforward reading is indeed fact—only compromises the truth if accepted, then to admit such evidence and acknowledge any weight to it is to give up the argument from the start. To give any weight to the claims of secular science is to beg the question of whether or not the straightforward reading of Genesis 1 is correct.

    The earlier Calvin quote was from his commentary on Genesis 1:6-8. Would you claim he’s doing this too, when he tries to explain what “waters above the heavens” is supposed to mean?

    I disagree with Calvin. While it is true that Scripture is written in such a way that even the unlearned can benefit from its truths, it is also a fact that it is inspired by the One who created the heavens and the earth. It does not follow that perspicuity precludes more advanced truths from being communicated. As I said earlier, the Bible is not a book of science, but it is a book of historical fact. Denying the depth of the science does not in any way call into question the historical accuracy.

    Ken Hamrick

  40. January 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Todd, re:#38,

    It’s the same old battle. To the degree that Christians are willing to give weight to the claims of secular science, in contradiction to the plain, direct, straightforward reading of Scripture, they will compromise the truth. The biggest enemy to that truth is never those outside the Church, but rather, those within who embrace the error.

    Ken Hamrick

  41. January 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    The claim of the straightforward reading gets me suspicious. Afterall, “this is my body” is said to be the plain straightforward meaning by the Church of Rome.

    We all bring to the text various presuppositions: that includes you (and me). I’ve offered a few comments from the text of Scripture that suggests there’s more happening in the text you realise. Augustine had three goes at Genesis each time saying he’ll give the literal meaning and each time ending with something other than your version of literal.

    We need a bit of humility.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that the scientific method is one thing; goiung beyond this (under the guise of science) according to the principle of naturalism is quite another. The latter is a religion not science.

    Rowland
    Melbourne, Australia

  42. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 19, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    To Old-Earthers:

    * What hermeneutical principles lead to the conclusion that the word yom with the attendant “and it was morning and evening” were trying to communicate “a long period of time”?

    If Z is “Genesis 1 describes a process of 4.5 billion years”, then what are A and B?

    * What happens to Gen 11.1 – 9 if we apply those same principles? Gen 6? Exodus 7ff? Joshua 6?

    To Young-Earthers:

    * What do you make of Adam’s Very Busy 6th Day?

  43. January 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Old earthers don’t have to be day-age (or gap) theorists.

    young earthers on kenhamricks type require some pretty “evolution” after Adam’s fall to get to the vast variety of creatures we have today.

    Lookind at the overall question:

    I offer five propositions, add some explanatory notes and draw conclusions.

    1. The primary meaning of the Hebrew term yom (day) is in reference to a normal day of about 24 hours. Unless the context requires otherwise the primary meaning should be maintained.
    The Hebrew term yom has the same range of meanings as the English word day. It is natural to immediately think of ordinary days as we read the creation account for the first time, for we have a seven-day week as did Israel. Still, it is a week of divine activity. It’s clearly related to our weekly activity but the parallel is of necessity approximate – God does not work and rest in the same way that we do. More on this later.

    2. Each of the first six days is qualified by a reference to ‘evening and morning’, which requires the interchange of darkness and light. In a context with numbered days we must think of our week.
    Many seem to think that ‘evening and morning’ is just a standard way of describing a whole day, and so ordinary days are self-evidently in view. Others suppose it describes what follows the creative activity.
    The Hebrew terms for ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ have the same meaning as in English in the 23 Old Testament examples outside Genesis 1 containing the two words in either order in the same verse. Examples of usage include a period of time during the day, such as the morning or evening sacrifice, a long period marked off by successive evenings and mornings (Dan 8:36), or a period from evening until morning, as when the lamps were lit in the tabernacle (Lev 24:1-4 cf. Ex 30:7-8). A day contains an evening and a morning but it contains more (cf. ‘at morning and at evening and at noonday’ in Psalm 55:17). Evening + morning = one ordinary day is not true – unless the use in Genesis 1 is an exception. It is ‘day’ and ‘night’ that make up a normal day (Gen 1:5), just as in English.
    Leaving aside the complexities, and they are not a few, the expression “there was evening and morning” apparently implies that after the day’s work was done time passed into evening at dusk (so Keil/Delitzsch, Cassuto, Leupold). The first day began with the creation of light, passed through darkness and was completed as light dawned the next day.
    If there is an exceptional use, then we could say that as far as creation is concerned a day is defined by the end of darkness through the onset of light. This might suggest that each day’s activity could be viewed as a further manifestation of God’s glory, moving from what is not, to what is, by his command (cf. 2 Cor 4:6).

    3. Each day has a numerical adjective (one, two, three, etc) so that even the first few days before the creation of the sun, moon and stars are not to be distinguished from the rest as if unrelated to our week, especially as the heavenly bodies (day 4) were given to mark off the days. The numerical adjective throughout serves to bind the days into a harmonious unit of a week.
    It is frequently added that a numbered series of days always involves ordinary days. However, it should be noted that the first day is more correctly translated ‘day one’ (so Cassuto), although perhaps the syntax implies a definite article (so Waltke). The next four days lack the definite article (thus, ‘a second day’ etc), whereas days 6 and 7 have it (‘the sixth day’, etc). Such features are not found in a series of ordinary days such as Numbers 29:17ff., so they may point to something unusual about the creation days.

    4. If God wanted to say eras or ages he could have done so, but did not. Indeed, he qualified the days in ways such as the use of ‘evening and morning’, so that they are tied to our days. To introduce into the interpretation that the days represent long and overlapping periods of varying length, perhaps corresponding to geological time, is a quite foreign note that distracts from correct understanding. The narrative focuses on the creation week, not long eras.
    There are features which suggest an interest other than length of days. The existence of seemingly ordinary days (1-3) without the existence of the heavenly bodies to regulate them would be as strange to the experience of Moses and the Israelites as it is to us. We could resolve this by an appeal to God’s almighty power, but perhaps we could just as well suggest that it is not seen as a big issue – unless we are focusing on the when and how rather than the who and why. Also of interest is the way day 4 gives a further perspective on day 1, and anticipates the holy rest day of the God who made the heavenly bodies. Prominent too, is creation by command, hardly the kind of work we know.

    5. The week for humans is patterned on God’s creation week, the definitive week for us. We are to imitate God’s example. Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 specifically state God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested the seventh, and we are to do likewise. While there is no identity there is a real similarity between God’s week and ours. That similarity is sufficient to provide adequate foundation for our life.
    The seventh day is not closed by the formula ‘there was evening and morning’. Given the explanation of this phrase in #2, and keeping in mind the very careful crafting of the creation narrative, this omission cannot be without meaning: God’s rest did not end. Whereas we are to work six days and rest the seventh, God did not follow a pattern of recurring work and rest. He worked six days and then entered on an enduring rest into which he calls humanity, what is otherwise termed eternal life. The goal of eternal life after man has fulfilled his mandate can now be realised only through redemption. Rest is illustrated in the life of Noah (his name is derived from nuah, to rest; note also Gen 5:29), in the entry into Canaan (Josh 1:13; Ps 132:14), and in the implications of the psalmist’s words long after (Ps 95). It is infallibly interpreted by Hebrews 3:7-4:13 as the goal at the end of our pilgrimage. Then there shall be no night (Rev 22:5) but instead the everlasting brightness of God’s presence (Is 60:19-20; Rev 21:23) in an endless day (Zech 14:7) illumined by Jesus, the light of the world and the bright morning star (Rev 22:15), who ends the night of weeping and ushers in the morning of everlasting joy (Ps 30:5). This interpretation of God’s seventh day is supported in John 5:17-19, where Jesus states that whatever the Father does the Son does, and so parallels his work of restoration on the earthly Sabbath with his Father’s continual upholding and blessing of creation on his heavenly Sabbath.
    In short, God does not work or rest as we do. He works by his word, and his rest is not like ours, even though Exodus 31:17 is bold to say ‘he was refreshed’ [not ‘he rested’ as in NIV], when we know God does not grow faint or weary. God gives the creation account for our sakes! God speaks to ordinary people like you and I, that all may grasp what we need to know of God, ourselves, and of his purpose for us.

    Conclusions
    Views of Genesis 1:1-2:3 which allow the intrusion of ideas alien to it should be entirely avoided. The day-age theory was common for around 150 years, until ‘scientific literalism’ asserted itself. The day-age view is not objectionable because it allows for an old earth, for it is not wrong in principle to seek to remove perceived conflict between an interpretation of scripture and apparently correct scientific theory. The objection is that it seeks to remove that conflict through an interpretation that brings in ideas foreign to the text of Scripture. Genesis is not concerned with the age of the earth or geological eras. Rather, God tells us of his creation week in ways that we can understand, with the object of us imitating him as his image-bearers in our weeks. God was sovereign over the darkness, subdued the waters, and populated the earth with creatures. Humans are to rule, subdue and fill the earth too. Man has a task and a goal: his days reflect God’s days but they are not the same; his weekly Sabbath reflects God’s unending Sabbath, the destiny in view for him, but it is not the same.
    So I think the view propounded by scientific recent-creationists also imposes on the text, and frequently denigrates in a most unpleasant way those who disagree with its approach. It does not adequately recognise that the account is for us, that we may know God and serve him aright. In reaction to the modernist viewpoint, which reduced Genesis to myths and mocked any idea of creation in six days, scientific recent-creationism has an excessive need to prove itself over against the current claims of science. The ordinary believer, the average pastor too, is bombarded with technical jargon, and is prone to miss the very vital theological emphases in the text. There are few who pay heed to the significance of God’s rest on day 7 for ultimate destiny and for Lord’s Day observance now.
    The literary view, which suggests the days are a framework to stress the cohesion and order of creation, has much to offer that should be received, although it is sometimes over-elaborated. I believe it is best to regard God’s creation days as simply God’s creation days. They are related to our days but are not the same as ours in nature. On this analogical days view creation in six days is dogma, but the nature of those days in terms of time is not known to us (other than something of day 7). Any further definition of them is speculative.
    So how old is the earth? The Bible doesn’t say. The scientific recent-creationist/ordinary days view insists on a few thousand years. The day-age view holds that the rather wide investigations in many scientific disciplines, often carried out by Christians, suggest that by and large the earth is very old, although humans are recent. Still, even if the earth is old, Scripture must be allowed to speak in its own terms. The literary/framework view does not find difficulty with an old or a young earth per se, nor does the analogical days position. Within the principles of Scripture there should be freedom to investigate and hypothesise, as we continue our mandate to rule over the earth. Let us hold fast to the teaching of the creation week. God’s week is a pattern for our work and worship until we enter that rest that remains for the people of God (Heb 4:9), that everlasting morning that has no night.

  44. Don said,

    January 20, 2012 at 2:22 am

    @biblicalrealist #39:

    To start with an aside, you probably don’t need to keep saying “secular science.” Science is pretty much nonsectarian by definition.

    But on to “I have not offered any unsupported conjectures or hypotheses.” No, I disagree here. When you talk about interstellar light which was created to appear to come from far-away stars (that were created later), you are making a logical argument attempting to reconcile your interpretation of Genesis 1 with scientific observations, via extrapolation far past any scientific evidence or any Scripture text. Most of this reconciliation comes at the expense of science, which I suppose is not necessarily bad on its own. But the result of this line of reasoning is (A) a young universe that appears to be mature (whatever that means). And then is needed (B) an explanation of why this doesn’t mean the Creator of said universe is deceitful, if the young universe was purposefully made to appear old. Obviously God does not lie, but saying that does not answer why he would make the universe appear far older than it supposedly is.

    Anyway, I’ve never heard any satisfactory explanations for the last two steps. Maybe it’s because I’m not coming from a Seventh Day Adventist tradition, but I’ve never sensed the need that the quote-unquote literal interpretation is correct to the exclusion of any scientific evidence that might contradict this interpretation.

  45. January 20, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Jeff Cagle, re: #42,

    Adam created at the beginning of the day.
    Adam naming creatures all day long.
    Eve created at end of day.

    It works for me.
    Ken Hamrick

  46. January 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Re: Don, #44,

    On the contrary, there are Bible-believing, creationist scientists (such as Duane Gish). The term secular is useful for emphasizing the anti-God, anti-supernatural bias that is so often glossed over by a supposed objectivity inherent in scientific endeavors.

    You stated:

    But on to “I have not offered any unsupported conjectures or hypotheses.” No, I disagree here. When you talk about interstellar light which was created to appear to come from far-away stars (that were created later), you are making a logical argument attempting to reconcile your interpretation of Genesis 1 with scientific observations, via extrapolation far past any scientific evidence or any Scripture text….

    The idea that God created not only the stars but also the light between the stars and the earth (etc.) is simply taking Scripture at its word when it indicates literal, 6-day creation. Is it conjecture to suppose that, absent any Scriptural evidence to the contrary, the heavens and the earth that were created were already fully functioning? I think not. Is it mere unsupported hypothesis to assume that Scripture tells us, “He made the stars also,” that God did not intend for man to have to wait millennia to see but a few of them? As I said previously, what I have offered is what is logically involved in a 6-day, young-earth creation. Therefore, it is supported by Scripture, just as much as a 6-day, young-earth creation is supported by Scripture. There can be no scientific evidence for or against a supernatural act, so I don’t understand why you keep bringing up a supposed lack of scientific evidence.

    You stated:

    …Most of this reconciliation comes at the expense of science, which I suppose is not necessarily bad on its own. But the result of this line of reasoning is (A) a young universe that appears to be mature (whatever that means). And then is needed (B) an explanation of why this doesn’t mean the Creator of said universe is deceitful, if the young universe was purposefully made to appear old. Obviously God does not lie, but saying that does not answer why he would make the universe appear far older than it supposedly is.

    Anyway, I’ve never heard any satisfactory explanations for the last two steps…

    By “mature,” I mean only that it is fully functioning according to its God-given purposes. Fruit trees were created already with fruit on them, so Adam did not have to wait around for saplings to grow into trees bearing fruit. The earth’s crust was suitable for men and animals, and was not a molten mass of lava. The stars were created for man to see (among other reasons), and so–like the fruit already on the trees–the light from the stars was already visible from earth (functioning as intended).

    Such a universe only “appears” older than it is to those who presuppose that such a state requires a certain amount of time to achieve; however, such a presupposition when applied to origins is a skeptical presupposition, biased against a supernatural, young-earth creation.

    Would God have been deceptive to supernaturally create in one day an adult man, Adam? By all appearances, he would have looked much older than one day to any who might be open to the possibility that God didn’t really create him the day before as He said He did. When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, even telling them to feel his hands and arms and see that He has flesh and bone and is not a mere spirit, wasn’t that just as deceptive–after all, He appeared as if He had never died. The supernatural acts of God are always deceptive to those who refuse to believe them. When Jesus fed the five thousand, some might have been deceived into thinking He had brought enough food. When He turned the water into wine, the guests were deceived into thinking that the host had saved the best wine for last. The truth comes to those who are willing to believe; but those who prefer lies bring deception on themselves.

    You stated:

    …Maybe it’s because I’m not coming from a Seventh Day Adventist tradition, but I’ve never sensed the need that the quote-unquote literal interpretation is correct to the exclusion of any scientific evidence that might contradict this interpretation.

    I don’t know what SDA has to do with it. I’m a Baptist. It’s not about sensing. It’s about the fact that both (the plain, direct, straightforward sense of Gen. 1, and, the old-earth claims of secular science) require the benefit of the doubt (or, conversely, an affirmation of faith). The real question is which one will you give the benefit of the doubt to? Either the benefit of the doubt is given to the straightforward reading of Scripture (in which case the claims of secular science are deemed invalid), or, the benefit of the doubt is given to the claims of secular science (in which case the straightforward reading of Scripture is deemed invalid). Both are presuppositions and the choice must be made between them. Both require a certain degree of a priori faith in their validity, and they are mutually exclusive.

    Ken Hamrick

  47. January 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Re: Dr. Ward, #41,

    You stated:

    The claim of the straightforward reading gets me suspicious. Afterall, “this is my body” is said to be the plain straightforward meaning by the Church of Rome.

    We all bring to the text various presuppositions: that includes you (and me). I’ve offered a few comments from the text of Scripture that suggests there’s more happening in the text you realise. Augustine had three goes at Genesis each time saying he’ll give the literal meaning and each time ending with something other than your version of literal.

    We need a bit of humility…

    Humility is a good thing–but it need not be debilitating. That description of a straightforward reading came from an article by Dr. Albert Mohler (Why does the Universe Look So Old?, http://www.icr.org/article/5669/). If you read it, I think you’ll find that he is not so easily dismissed.

    You continued:

    …The other thing to keep in mind is that the scientific method is one thing; goiung beyond this (under the guise of science) according to the principle of naturalism is quite another. The latter is a religion not science.

    The "scientific method" cannot be applied to origins without crossing the line into religion. The question of origins is an inherently religious question, and any endeavor to answer it is a religious endeavor, whether acknowledged or not. Any time that such a scientific method is employed in a way that addresses origins but does not acknowledge at least the "possibility" of a supernatural, young-earth creation, then it has already answered one religious question in the negative. Further, it is operating on an assumption regarding factual possibilities for which it has no evidence–so much for "scientific method."

    I've enjoyed our discussion, and I hope you can see that I meant no disrespect. It is not my intention to drive this into the ground, so I'll leave off here.

    Ken Hamrick

  48. Don said,

    January 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

    @biblicalrealist #46:

    I brought up the Seventh Day Adventists they are more or less a main source of the whole “True Christians gotta believe in six-day creationism” thing from the past 50 or 100 years (details admittedly sketchy on the exact history of the movement).

    But my main issue at this point is that you’re bringing so many assumptions into your analysis, maybe you don’t realize it. For example, “The idea that God created not only the stars but also the light between the stars and the earth (etc.) is simply taking Scripture at its word when it indicates literal, 6-day creation.” I disagree-Scripture says nothing about how we see light from the stars. You are inferring.

    So while we maybe have to agree to disagree about Genesis 1, I am more troubled and would ask you to be careful when you say about the resurrected Jesus “…after all, He appeared as if He had never died.” This is, at least, oversimplifying the Scriptural record. He was often unrecognized. At one point the disciples thought they were seeing a spirit. He had holes in His body! I’d love to know more about what the resurrected Christ looked like, but we don’t know anything more than what Scripture has told us.

    Peace,
    Don

  49. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    BR, #45. How long would you estimate that it would take Adam to name every bird of the air and each beast of the field?

  50. Roy Kerns said,

    January 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Rowland’s points (#43) did a great job of putting all the scholarly footnotes out there to tell us what any reader of Gen 1 sees almost intuitively: in 6 days God made heaven and earth and all that they contain.
    First: Some object to day meaning day. Here are two of the major objections (much condensed, but recognizable to those following the discussions).
    1) Gen 1 clearly has all kinds of nifty features (aka poetry, exalted prose, connections to ANE literature, in-your-face apologetic confrontations with pagan religions, etc), so one may not understand day as being simply day. Well, nuts. What keeps folks from recognizing and accepting the obvious: 6 days that are days don’t in any way preclude those features. Why lock oneself into the opposite view, seizing upon the feature and assuming this means one must abandon the narrative, binding one to somehow explain away the days of creation.
    2) The seventh day clearly involves God’s eternal rest. This facet is especially appreciated by those of us (including me) who think of the 4th Commandment as a creation ordinance. So day can’t mean day. Well, nuts. Adam could understand the 7th day in the same manner as we should understand the day spoken of by Heb 4. Both days have dual characters, one temporal and limited, as experienced by Adam and by us, and another eternal and unlimited, enjoyed forever by God and open as a foreshadowing to even pre fall Adam and certainly an invitation (says Heb 4) to us.
    Second: Gen 1 has snippets which at first glance appear contradictory but which, upon reflection, confirm the narrative’s central assertion of God having created. There are days with light before there is sun. Or Gen 2’s mist before rain of which Kline made such a big deal. Yet how could it be otherwise? After all, unlike the pagans who have no way of declaring with any certainty that the universe did not spring into existence complete 4.7 microseconds ago, memories and all, Christians know the universe has an age. They also know creation did not happen all at once by a single creative word. God tells us that he created in a stepwise continuous process. That forbids our expecting to extrapolate our understandings of current connections, from sun and light to symbiotic relationships, into the creation week. Instead we have to understand that God directly supervised, intervened, supplied until the completion of creation.
    Third: What characteristics would a recently created universe have that might indicate to an observer that it had been recently created?
    1) Some argue that for something to not have some sort of history parallel to what appears to be its age would make God deceptive. But those folks don’t state much less wrestle with the suppositions which lead them to that conclusion. Given nothing more than natural revelation, one can always extrapolate further back. On what basis do they select a time zero, from which to state an age? What could God create that would not have an age? On the contrary to their reasoning, for something not to have the characteristics appropriate to it involve confusion and deception. Adam did not think of Eve as a baby, but a babe. She was, as one friend put it, old enough. Given only natural revelation, any one of Adam’s atoms would seem by the most sophisticated measurements to have billions of years of age.
    2) While pondering this, what about the wine Jesus created? Or the fish? Telling God that one’s age measuring methods limit what he may create or what it may look like runs into all sorts of obstacles. I think it far wiser to exercise humility and challenge one’s measuring paradigm than to hastily insist God must be a deceiver if he did not conform to that paradigm.
    3) The sun would appear to Adam as only a few thousands of years less old than it appears to the solar physicist of today: billions of years old. Similarly, notwithstanding the flood, many features of the earth itself would have the characteristics of today. From fruited trees rooted in soil and watered by rivers, each feature in Eden having all the features fitting it, the entire creation would have every feature, every evidence just right for what each item in that creation should have. By this I mean for one to ask themselves about all the assumptions involved in deciding something has an age of such and so. Except for there being only two humans, Adam and Eve, everything else would look nearly as it does today.
    4) In particular, only the presence of only two persons would indicate recency of creation. I can think of nothing else, tho I’m certainly open to reading other options.
    Fourth: regarding those resili ant ants (cf bib realist, #14 above): I find it enormously funny to picture a teeny ant supporting a passing mammal, rejoicing after the load moves on. But what happens when that ant multiplies? Do Edenic rabbits know how to subtract as well as multiply? It makes much more sense to me to understand Genesis’ curse of death as applictory specifically to Adam and Eve, to their descendents, to people. I can’t think of any exegetical reason not to reach this conclusion. Certainly Gen 3’s curses effect the rest of creation. But that effect does not happen because any part of creation is a moral agent. It happens because that effect effects people. For example: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all” (wait for it) critters, I mean, err, “men, for that all have sinned” including the rocks and critters? If you correctly answer “no”, then you are well on the way to agreeing with me.

  51. January 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Re: Don, #48,

    Henry Morris and John Whitcomb “launched the modern creationist movement” by publishing their book, The Genesis Flood, in 1961. I first read it in ’83 and have been a firm creationist ever since. Neither author was SDA. See ICR.ORG for more info.

    Scripture does not need to tell us how we see light from the stars. It tells us that God created the stars in the six days of creation. It is self-evident that we can see stars. Unless text was intended to be meaningless, it refers to things that the readers could see and therefore understand the meaning of (stars). It is the fact that Scripture places the creation of the stars within the contiguous chronological account of six literal days that is the basis for understanding that God created not only the stars but the light between the stars and the earth. That light obviously exists, so either God created it or it was uncreated. Scripture elsewhere (Ex. 20:11) tells us that in six days God created the heavens and the earth and all that are in them. “All that are in them” would mean everything, including light trails.

    As for the resurrected Christ, the objection is not germane to the argument. Maybe you are right that He did not look exactly like a normal man at that point, but it is undeniable that He did not look dead, since a corpse does not walk, talk, and eat. Since it is scientifically impossible that a man dead for three days should suddenly be reanimated, then His resurrection would deny His death in the eyes of scientists, thus deceiving them. If this is too much of a stumbling block, then drop this example and address the other examples. The point stands that supernatural miracles are deceptive to those who do not believe.

    Thanks for the discussion, Don. You can have the last word between us. Maybe some others will jump in.

    Blessings!
    Ken Hamrick

  52. Roy Kerns said,

    January 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Jeff #49: mankind collectively has not yet named all the birds much less the rest of the critters. How long do you suppose it took Adam to do the taxonomy which enabled him to learn that he was alone?

  53. January 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Re: Jeff Cagle, #45,

    In Gen. 1, God commanded the animals to multiply “after their kind.” Adam need only name the kinds, and not all the variations (if there were any). Today, we have many different kinds of eagles, for example; but at the beginning, there may only have been the one kind of eagle from which all the variations descended. I don’t know how long it would take. Scripture records what happened on that day, and I don’t take a skeptical approach to it.

    Ken Hamrick

  54. Roy Kerns said,

    January 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Why does the universe look old? (a question innate to a bunch of the posts above). A comment on this, then I quit for a while.

    Ponder this: between the first quarter of the 1800s and a mere century later, the universe aged by a factor of a million. Not an amount of a million, but a factor of a million. It went from our thinking of it as looking tens of thousands of years old to looking tens of billions of years old.

    Improved technology enabled people to see the universe as far vaster than any had ever thought before. That vastness, given the light speed limit, also meant a far greater age. And that for only what our instruments can detect. We can see about 14 billion light years in any direction. Since we have no reason from natural revelation (nor, I think, from special revelation) to think of the earth as at the center of everything, that means the universe must be even bigger than that 28 billion light year diameter sphere. And older.

    Of course it’s bigger and older. It has to look big and old. What else would give any kind of even faint hint of the Creator?

  55. January 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Re: Roy Kerns, #50,

    You stated:

    Fourth: regarding those resili ant ants (cf bib realist, #14 above): I find it enormously funny to picture a teeny ant supporting a passing mammal, rejoicing after the load moves on. But what happens when that ant multiplies? Do Edenic rabbits know how to subtract as well as multiply? It makes much more sense to me to understand Genesis’ curse of death as applictory specifically to Adam and Eve, to their descendents, to people. I can’t think of any exegetical reason not to reach this conclusion. Certainly Gen 3’s curses effect the rest of creation. But that effect does not happen because any part of creation is a moral agent. It happens because that effect effects people. For example: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all” (wait for it) critters, I mean, err, “men, for that all have sinned” including the rocks and critters? If you correctly answer “no”, then you are well on the way to agreeing with me.

    Funny as you may find it, it is plausible. In fact, every such objection can be given a reasonable, plausible answer. The objections remind me of the same skeptical approach to the resurrection of Christ. “Where’s the proof?” “Maybe the disciples went to the wrong tomb.” “Maybe Christ only swooned.” Many skeptics would find the idea of resurrection just as laughable as that of resilient ants. You can parade a continual stream of objections, but not one of them will prove it impossible or even unreasonable, given the Scripture behind it.

    “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered [only men? no, but] the world, and death by sin…” Death entered by means of sin, but it entered the world and not only men.

    Ken Hamrick

  56. January 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    This is a good discussion. I hope some creationists will take up the cause here. I will not comment any further.

    Blessings!
    Ken Hamrick

  57. David Gadbois said,

    January 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I think most people make a mistake in granting “science” so much credence, when in fact the successes and advances they perceive are more properly the products of technology and engineering, disciplines that appropriate only a small cross-section of what the physical sciences encompass. Those disciplines are what have given us the airplanes we fly on, the computers we use, cars, skyscrapers, and modern medicine. But these can only deal with highly repeatable, testable phenomena.

    The various scientific disciplines that are more reconstructive in nature (such as evolutionary biology and cosmology) simply can’t curry the level of epistemological certitude that, say, thermodynamics or organic chemistry do. So it is simply equivocation for those who proudly assert that old earth cosmology or evolution is a deliverance of “science”, as if these disciplines should be accorded the same authority as those that have yielded our modern technological conveniences and wonders.

    The truth is that science simply can’t say much with certitude about the past. Simply assuming that projecting equations into the past will give you anything other than a very, very tenuous model packed with assumptions is folly. Unless we can know every non-linearity, discontinuity, or complicating factor hiding in the past that would falsify our conclusions, scientists simply cannot make these reconstructions into intellectual dogma with which to club people over the head into intellectual submission. The fact is that creation ex nihilo is, by definition, a discontinuity in the laws of physics. Do we really have an epistemic right to assume that normal physical laws and equations are valid in this domain?

    As an aerospace engineer I am highly skeptical about such claims of “science”. I’m always stunned by the lack of epistemic humility from people who should know better, especially as I become more and more aware of the limitations of even my own discipline. I can only conclude that certainty about the distant past can only come from the propositional testimony of a trustworthy Witness.

  58. January 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    [...] A Critique of “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People,” by Tim Keller (greenbaggins.wordpress.com) [...]

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 21, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Ken (#53): To be clear, I am not taking a “skeptical approach” to Scripture, but rather seeking to get a clear picture of what the text entails.

  60. TurretinFan said,

    January 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    “Why does the universe look old?”

    There was an excellent reply to this question above. Let me tack on a very different (but not contradictory) answer.

    Because a “young-looking” universe would be totally inhospitable to life.

    -TturretinFan

  61. David Gadbois said,

    January 21, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Indeed, Tfan. I would add that if one were to observe nearly *any* conceivable universe 5 seconds after the creation event (one that is ex nihilo), it would always “appear” to be older than 5 seconds. There is something when a few seconds ago there was nothing, yet there is no indication to the observer that that *something* wasn’t there minutes or hours ago. If that observer were to merely extrapolate the laws of conservation of mass and energy, one could not account for the recent creation event.

  62. Roy Kerns said,

    January 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    TF, #60, makes a point hinging on a critical, usually casually overlooked, bit of reasoning. He reasons backwards from the reality of the creation (from taking Gen 1 as authoritative) to how one goes about interpreting the data rather than from the data to how one will *allow* Gen 1 to be understood.

    Of course the universe looks like it does. A millisecond old Eve, nothing but the union of two cells, would not work to be Adam’s wife in Eden. Nor would a million year old sun. Parallel to the manner in which one, even a child who is not a medical doctor, realizes Eve has to be a babe, not a baby, a solar physicist knows that a young sun won’t do. The sun has to have the “right” hydrogen composition (as compared to other elements) and the “right” mass in order to do its job (which is to make the earth a home for people). Those (and a bunch of related) factors mean the sun *has to have* some “maturity” (I don’t recall off the top of my head whether this is in the 10s of millions or even low billions of years) in order to be what it *is*. Otherwise it will not be hospitable to any life at all on earth, much less that *for which it exists*, human life.

  63. Don said,

    January 22, 2012 at 12:13 am

    @biblicalrealist #51:
    Thank you too for this discussion. I think we’ve explained ourselves pretty well, even if we disagree in some ways.
    I know the point about Christ’s post-resurrection appearance was not the main point of this discussion, but I suppose the resurrection is far more important than the “hows” (or “how-longs”) of creation.

    Technical note @Roy Kerns #54:
    Being able to look 14 billion light years in either direction, perhaps counterintuitively, does not actually mean the universe is 28 billion years old.

  64. January 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    [...] at Green Baggins blog, Dr. Adrian Keister, who has a PhD in mathematical physics, has written a critique of Dr. Keller’s article. Here is a short excerpt of his article: What’s the [...]

  65. January 23, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Concerning an old-looking universe newly created (so, in reply to the last several comments):

    There is a branch of mathematics known as semigroup theory that has a very interesting result. Let’s say you have a system that evolves in time from state A to B to C. As I understand it, semigroup theory says that if you’re actually in the system at state C, and you have no information outside the system, then you can’t tell whether the system started at A or at B. By “information outside the system”, I mean things like your own personal memory.

    Here’s an example. Suppose you’re on one side of a wall, and you don’t know anything that happens on the other side of the wall. All of a sudden, you see a ball coming over the wall towards you. It’s got a certain position and velocity at the moment it is directly above the wall. Now there are many possible explanations for this event, but I’ll restrict myself to two:

    1. Someone was on the ground on the other side of the wall and threw the ball over the wall, so that, at the right moment, the ball had the given position and velocity when directly over the wall.

    2. Someone was standing on a ladder positioned against the wall, and threw the ball over the wall such that it had the right position and momentum as given. Let’s further assume that if this is the correct explanation, then you couldn’t see his arm or anything like that.

    Semigroup theory tells you, in this circumstance, that you have no conceivable method, without seeing the other side of the wall, to tell the difference between 1 and 2. Now I recognize this example is slightly flawed, because the “B” states are not identical. However, I can overcome this flaw by excluding the other side of the wall from my “system”. The “system” is everything you can see.

    Let’s exclude special revelation for the moment, at least in terms of what it says about origins (not safe, I grant you, but see where this leads!). If we apply this result of semigroup theory to the faith of mature creation, we see that we can’t tell the difference, now, between the universe system created to look billions of years old, and a universe that actually is billions of years old and has evolved in time to its current state.

    Conclusion: the faith of mature creation cannot be shown to be false by science.

    This is obviously not a constructive argument in favor of mature creation. This is an argument repelling attacks on mature creation. Furthermore, I find special revelation to be perfectly adequate to convince me of mature creation; I need no other source. However, I do find it interesting when the expected happens: science and mathematics corroborate the biblical account. Oh, the accuracy of holy writ!

  66. Reed Here said,

    January 23, 2012 at 7:32 am

    From a merely exegetical consideration, one does have to apply quite a few “we’ll, not really,” and “no, not what it seems,” to such texts as Rom 8:19-22:

    “19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

    Just one consideration: a limiting of the scope of the effect of the Curse (e.g., did not include death, a condition pre-existent to the Fall) dramatically alters the scope of what Paul here is claiming.

    In effect, such a limiting resigns the transformation Creation is longing for to one of change within kind, rather than a radical transformation of a change to a new kind. If we were talking housing, it would be like saying Paul is only talking about a cosmetic remodeling (because the the basic structure of the house is sound) vs. a tearing down and building something new – out of materials not yet in existence nor could conceivably ever come into existence given the constraints of our existence.

    How radical a transformation are we to understand the promises of a New Heaven/New Earth? It seems to me that limits on the radical effects of the Curse results in a limiting what the Creation is longing for.

    Yet Scripture says Creations is longing for its own dissolution (1Pe 3:10-13; dissolution down to the atomic level?) – in order to be re-created (not re-fashioned out of the same old stuff).

    Further, limiting the Creation’s re-creation expectation must mean limiting our re-creation expectation, as Paul uses the Creation’s longing as proof that our longing is not in vain. What, am I promised to be restored to what an up-lifted Adam was, albeit with the only real significant change being a new nature that can no longer sin. Is that it? Does that do justice to the inheritance attached to our divine adoption.

    I’m grateful for the regular insights that come from men trained in the hard sciences such as Adrian provides here. He shows the limits of man’s reasoning in the context of general revelation. LIMITS, folks, LIMITS!

    I would urge those of us whose training is exegesis of Scripture to take another look at the weak reed we lean on when we add all sorts of general revelation caveats to special revelation.

    Does our God give us a faith fundamentally grounded on hyperbole? Does he make grandiose promises whose purpose is to do nothing more than to give us an emotional (drug) fix for for our flesh?

    Or does he actually mean what he promises?

  67. Roy said,

    January 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Reed @ 66: Note well that never did I state that Gen 3′s curse of death had no impact on that other than humans. On the contrary, tho I insist that the primary focus is upon Adam and Eve and their descendents, I’m equally insisting that the effect upon ants is derivative.

    On the one hand, creation gets cursed because of the fall. Gen 3 rather bluntly says, “Cursed is the ground”. But God does not stop there. He explains that the curse of the ground exists to affect Adam. That bit about painful toil, such that work, a pre-fall characteristic of man as imaging God and thus productive and creative and not at all inherently a curse but on the contrary a blessing, now bears scars that remind of the fall.

    One need not wait until Ro 8:20 for that understanding. Gen 3 already said it.

    That curse has all the cosmic implications you seek to defend. The whole system has suffered the defacing marks of sin.

    But none of that of itself proves that pre fall ants did not die when stepped on. Or that cows do not exist to serve people with their lives, both by providing milk and by providing steak.

    Reason back from recognizing that creation exists to serve man. Of course that statement has to have the context qualifications: man who obeys God in developing that creation in service to God. But considering people as those who manage creation have to include working thru the implications of Gen 1:22, 24. This creation is fruitful, productive. Rabbits multiply. All the checks and balances of nature, all the incredible stuff we see on TV’s “bug channels” about how every bit of energy gets used by some critter. All the symbiotic complexity that rebukes the pagan And all in service of man, despite the twisting of the fall.

  68. Reed Here said,

    January 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Ron: with respect, I think your description needs substantial adjustment. E.g., Creation does not exist to serve man, but to glorify God. You choice of words here may be unfortunate (you mean better). Yet as you qualify you appear to demonstrate the very kind of limiting I am cautioning against.

    Creation is NOT cursed because of the Fall. It is cursed because of it’s head’s (Adam)( sin. Again, you may mean better, but your explanation implies a limiting of what the Scriptures teach, a tweaking if you will that leads to unintended (hopefully) bad consequences.

    As to ants, the issue is whether or not pre-Fall what they experience can be adequately described as “death”. To be sure we’re talking about Scriptural usage of this term, rather than biological usage. Yet your approach has the unfortunate appearance of using the biological referent for death to define the Biblical referent. Again, this is exactly what I am trying to warn against.

    What ants experienced pre-Fall must be radically different than what they experienced post-Fall, or God’s description is nothing more than sanctified hyperbole. And if this is the case, then anything he uses Gen 1-3 to explain (e.g., the core of the Gospel, the Atonement) is suspect of being nothing more than hyperbole, and therefore worthless for faith.

    I agree we’re dealing with lots of unknowns. Whatever was ant experience of existence pre-fall we don not know for sure (and cannot unless God tell us). To conclude that God is telling us that there is death and then there is DEATH just makes God at most a great novelist. Whether or not he is also a God who really changes things is something we can’t know, at least not from a Bible based on hyperbole.

    I do not believe this IS the faith he professes to give his children. FWIW.

  69. Cris D. said,

    January 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Reed @ 66 – Thanks for the limiting concepts. Further:

    Does our God give us a faith fundamentally grounded on hyperbole? Does he make grandiose promises whose purpose is to do nothing more than to give us an emotional (drug) fix for for our flesh?

    Or does he actually mean what he promises?

    As the prophet/bard of our age notes:

    “God don’t make, promises that he don’t keep”

    Bob Dylan, When You Gonna Wake Up from the album Slow Train Coming

    While Mr Zimmerman may have back-pedaled from the stance he took in 1979, some of his lyrics still point at Scriptural truths.

    From the playlist: music by which to shovel snow. And folks wonder why I refuse to by a snow blower.

  70. January 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    [...] http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/a-critique-of-creation-evolution-and-christian-lay-peop… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  71. January 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    [...] http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/a-critique-of-creation-evolution-and-christian-lay-peop… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  72. Roy Kerns said,

    January 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Reed@68: By all means, bro, state the adjustments. Let’s hammer ‘em out. Let’s do what it takes to be precise. Don’t suggest tweaking; do it.

    It seemed to me you wished a greater clarity in defining death. I understand your concern that some naively equivocate with the word “death”. That is, btw, precisely my point. Especially with regard to even fairly scholarly theologians.

    But don’t think for a moment that precision in adjusting is easy. Certainly you understand (and I expect boldly preach) that “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” means that Adam did die. That day. And you don’t mean sometime in the next 23 hrs 59 minutes and a few odd seconds after he munched the persimmons. Even tho he lived for a buncha centuries after that, he still died that day. You don’t even waffle over the idea of “day” meaning something like those centuries.

    Since I’m convinced you agree with the Westminster Standards (and Murray, and etc), I’m pretty sure you and I would nearly completely if not completely agree right down the line as to what the curse of death meant regarding Adam and Eve and all their posterity descending from them by normal generation.

    Yet do you not pause a moment, now, and think a bit about whether that death is the same for the critters. Do all good dogs go to heaven? I know you don’t think so. But if not, what happens to them? How is their death different than mine or yours? What about our not being complete until resurrected with a body? How does that forge our definition of life, which has to include far more than biology? How does this better understanding of life and death shape what we think about Eden?

    As to the creation existing to serve man, sure, man’s chief end is to glorify God. Sure, in the final analysis all that exists does so that it might glorify God. Yet it remains *inescapably true* that the creation proximately exists as a home for man, a home given for him to *enjoy* as he subdues it in service of God. How else to understand Gen 1′s mandates? (Or any of a multitude of references where God *expects* his people to delight in the creation, *explicitly* telling them he gave such and so that they might do so?)

    God made this planet, this sun, this solar system, the entire universe not that it might exist apart from man, giving God glory by all of its incredible, intertwined complexity. He made it just right for man. Everything about it. That has implications. Vegetabletarianism is wicked. Those who treat people as if they were a disease infecting earth are evil. I suspect you agree. Now how does that agreement work out in thinking about Eden?

  73. Steve Drake said,

    January 26, 2012 at 8:01 am

    ‘But don’t think for a moment that precision in adjusting is easy. Certainly you understand (and I expect boldly preach) that “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” means that Adam did die. That day. And you don’t mean sometime in the next 23 hrs 59 minutes and a few odd seconds after he munched the persimmons. Even tho he lived for a buncha centuries after that, he still died that day. You don’t even waffle over the idea of “day” meaning something like those centuries.’

    Genesis 2:17 ‘in the day’ is Hebrew beyom, with preposition be. Same with Genesis 2:4 ‘in the day’, as beyom. The preposition is not used in Genesis 1 with any ‘day’, (yom).

    Should this be of significance?

    One wonders about the use of ‘yom’ in Exodus 20: 9&11 and Ex. 31:15&17 as well. Seems like a lot of hermeneutical gymnastics going on to say that those ‘yoms’ are millions and billions of years.

  74. todd said,

    January 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Steve,

    None of us old-earthers are suggesting that “yoms” mean millions of years. What we are saying is that it is possible that in Gen 1, the six days are used in a non-literal sense. That is certainly possible, considering “yom” is used in four different ways in the creation account:

    1:5a — 12 hour period of light
    1:5b — 24 hour day
    2:2 — eternal day of God’s rest
    2:4 — the whole week of creation

    Also, one would have to look to science to study the age of the earth. Even if one wants to take the six days as a literal 24 hour days, that still doesn’t solve the age of the earth question. Who knows how long the earth was formless and void? And there is no evidence in the text that formless means a gaseous mass, especially when one compares Gen 1:2 with “formless and void” (same Hebrew words) in Jeremiah 4:23.

  75. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Mr. Bordow,

    If I might interject, with respect, to your #74, that one of the driving points of Dr. Keister’s posting and subsequent comment is that science can’t study the age of the earth. He made the point very well that the only information we have about origins is the testimony of the Creator himself.

    I see you disagree with Dr. Keister, but a fuller refutation instead of a simple assertion, would be helpful here.

    As a follow up to your rhetorical question of “Who knows how long the earth was formless and void?” can I ask, how long was it from when God said, “Let there be light”, until God rested?

    FWIW, considering the progression from “In the beginning…formless and void… darkness … Let there be light” to “There was evening, there was morning, day one”, the text as written does support the idea that only a normal full day (dark/light aka ~24 hour day) passed. So to answer your question, of Who knows how long the earth was formless and void, well, I know it was less than a week, because the Bible tells me so. That is not some sort of quest for certainty, illegitimate or otherwise, it’s just taking God at his word especially, since there is no other available data on which questions might be based, because as Dr. Keister pointed out, real legitimate science has nothing to say on the matter.

  76. todd said,

    January 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Andrew,

    I wasn’t suggesting science can definitively answer the question of the age of the earth, I was suggesting that one cannot find the answer in the Bible to that question, so must study general revelation. As to how long from light to rest, first, how does that deal with the time of Gen 1:2?, and, second, since I am not a young earth, literal 24 hour guy, I wouldn’t have an answer to that question because I do not believe the Bible answers it. And there is a difference in saying that legitimate science cannot answer the question definitively, and that science has “nothing to say on the matter,” which I would never say – science has plenty to say on the matter, and it is worth listening to.

  77. Roy Kerns said,

    January 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Re 73 thru 76: Science simply has no means of declaring apart from a priori assertions when time zero is. However, science certainly can do all sorts of exercises leading to predictions that the creation, granted the assumption of uniformitarianism, appears such and so time old and includes what looks like natural processes a, b, and z. Adam could identify Eve as something other than a baby. Learned that in the “name the animals” exercise. He might not have been able to make a more accurate analysis of the Eve data until a few decades later, when he saw first hand how kids grew to be “old enough” to be what Eve was to be. But he could do that. And, if we were present, we could do it with Eve, too. And with the trees in Eden, the soil of the ground of Eden, the rivers in Eden.

  78. Steve Drake said,

    January 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Todd@74,

    ‘What we are saying is that it is possible that in Gen 1, the six days are used in a non-literal sense.’

    There is an interesting study by Dr. Steven W. Boyd on the use of Hebrew finite verbs in Gen. 1:1-2:3. What he shows statistically is the predominance of Hebrew preterite verbs for historical narrative sequences in the Old Testament as compared to Hebrew poetic passages and how they drastically differ. He says:

    ‘Of all finite verbs the distribution of preterites within the finite verbs should most clearly mark whether a passage is tracking events through time’

    He concludes his study of Genesis 1:1-2:3 at a 99.5% confidence level of being historical narrative saying:

    ‘The nature of statistics is that all results are stated in terms of probabilities. So strictly speaking, we can say that with the two choices for the genre of Genesis 1:1-2:3 (poetry or narrative), this text is narrative, not poetry, with a very high degree of probability. Or to put the results in scientific terms, the text is narrative with statistical certainty.’

    (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Vol II, Institute for Creation Research, 2005).

    How do you assess this scientific study and the conclusions he reaches concerning the text? In a related question, where do you put the historical Adam from an old-earth view on a timeline? Or are you of the Peter Enns persuasion that Adam was not ‘historical’, and neither was there an ‘historical Fall’ (The Evolution of Adam, Brazos Press, 2012)?

  79. todd said,

    January 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Steve,

    Just to be clear, it is not a question of the account being historical, it is historical. The question is whether there are non-literal literary elements to the account in Genesis 1. That is the open question. I might remind you of Machen’s words on this:

    “The meaning of “day” in Gen 1 has been debated in the church at least since the days of Augustine. The literary form of the passage in its relation to other scriptures is important for its interpretation. Responsible Reformed theologians have differed as to whether Gen 1 teaches a young earth or allows for an old earth. While one of these interpretations must be mistaken, we believe that either position can be held by faithful Reformed people.”
    (J. Gresham Machen “The Christian View of Man,” pg. 115)

    As to the Hebrew, I am convinced of Dr. Futato’s take found here: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/01-Genesis/Text/Articles-Books/Futato_RainGen2_WTJ.pdf

    As to the timeline, I don’t know.

    As to Enns, you may have missed above where I suggested the battle is over an historical Adam. No historical Adam, no covenant of works; no covenant of works, no gospel. The gospel doe not depend on the age of the earth though.

  80. Steve Drake said,

    January 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Todd,

    ‘The question is whether there are non-literal literary elements to the account in Genesis 1.’

    From my understanding of Boyd’s statistical study and its conclusions, that option is ruled out.

    ‘“The meaning of “day” in Gen 1 has been debated in the church at least since the days of Augustine.’

    Debated, with some church fathers offering up allegorical meaning, yes, but many other church fathers holding to the traditional six-day recent creation. This view was believed, promulgated, and almost universally understood by the orthodox Church for almost 18 centuries. Not until the advent of modern geology in the late 1700′s to 1800′s did church leaders feel the need to compromise with ‘deep time’ by promoting the Gap Theory, Day-Age Theory, and in more recent times the Framework Theory or Analogical Theory.

    ‘The literary form of the passage in its relation to other scriptures is important for its interpretation.’

    Yes, this is exactly what Boyd’s statistical study showed.

    ‘As to the timeline, I don’t know.(for Adam).

    But this is where the heart of the matter is. At least Enns is consistent with his old-earth evolutionary paradigm. The consistent end of this old-earth evolutionary paradigm is the denial of an historical Adam, the denial of an historical Fall, the denial of the biblical doctrine that woman came out of man (God took a rib from Adam and fashioned a woman), thus denying the ‘one flesh’ perspective, and the denial of a universal and global damning judgement of death on all the earth except Noah and those with him on the ark. The consistent end leads to a Christianity void of meaning. That you are unwilling to put Adam on a timeline shows me that you are being inconsistent in thought. If you demur, then answer the question and give me your best approximation. Don’t deflect the question, answer it in other words. We can then discuss whether Adam best fits with an young-earth or old-earth paradigm. If you deflect again, then I can only conclude you are obfuscating and do not wish to handle the subject seriously.

  81. todd said,

    January 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Steve,

    I’m reading from your comments that to you, old earth equals evolution. Is that correct? If so, that is an unnecessary assumption. I am not an evolutionist. More later

  82. todd said,

    January 27, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    BTW Steve, if you want a discussion I am willing. If you begin making accusations without even knowing me or my position, I’ll bow out. This doesn’t need to be nasty.

  83. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 28, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Mr Bordow,

    Re: 76,

    I greatly appreciate your candor.

    However, you said,

    I was suggesting that one cannot find the answer in the Bible to that question, so must study general revelation

    To which I would ask what does a study of general revelation look like? Isn’t that just a baptized way of saying science?

    Take a look at the second to last paragraph of Dr Keister’s article,

    Therefore, science simply cannot contradict the Bible, at least in questions of origin. The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot.

    If science, the study of nature (or general revelation), cannot say anything about origins it cannot by necessity say anything about the age of the creation because one must compare the date of origin to calculate age.

    You started with

    I wasn’t suggesting science can definitively answer the question of the age of the earth,

    The question is not whether or not science can definitively answer the question of the age of the earth, but rather, it has as Dr. Keister very well demonstrated in both his article and comment, science has nothing to say on the matter. Can the meaning of Dr Keister’s last sentence in what I quoted “The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot.” mean anything other? Notice also his choice of words, he did not say, does not, he said cannot.

    With all due respect, I think it is inappropriate for you to repeatedly assert the contrary, without any effort of proof, to what Dr. Keister so well demonstrated. You should first (at least) refute his application of semigroup theory (from his comment) before commenting further.

  84. todd said,

    January 28, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Andrew,

    “To which I would ask what does a study of general revelation look like? Isn’t that just a baptized way of saying science?”

    Yes, that is what I mean (apart from the baptism).

    Take a look at the second to last paragraph of Dr Keister’s article,

    “Therefore, science simply cannot contradict the Bible, at least in questions of origin. The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot.”

    Are you equating origins with age of the earth. While the Bible does not tell us the age of the earth, it certainly addresses origins. Must we know the age of the earth to truly know origins?

    “The question is not whether or not science can definitively answer the question of the age of the earth, but rather, it has as Dr. Keister very well demonstrated in both his article and comment, science has nothing to say on the matter. Can the meaning of Dr Keister’s last sentence in what I quoted “The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot.” mean anything other? Notice also his choice of words, he did not say, does not, he said cannot. With all due respect, I think it is inappropriate for you to repeatedly assert the contrary, without any effort of proof, to what Dr. Keister so well demonstrated. You should first (at least) refute his application of semigroup theory (from his comment) before commenting further.”

    In a blog discussion be careful not to assume too much. Often a comment is not about an original post but a response to a subsequent post. Can you be more specific what you are after? Exactly where do you believe the original post demonstrates that the Bible answers the age of the earth question, so we can narrow this down?

  85. Steve Drake said,

    January 28, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Todd@81,

    I’m reading from your comments that to you, old earth equals evolution. Is that correct? If so, that is an unnecessary assumption. I am not an evolutionist. More later

    No, that is not necessarily my assumption. You can say you are old earth and be a day-ager, progressive creationist like Hugh Ross. Is this your position?

    Whether your ‘flavor’ of creation is day-age, analogical, or framework hypothesis, or something else, you must be able to root the biodiversity of life and man and the elements of the universe on a timeline. The orthodox Christian position for almost 18 centuries of church history of a six-day recent creation does this.

    My question to you is what is your position, and since you believe in an historical Adam, where do you put him on a timeline? Can you answer this question?

  86. todd said,

    January 28, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Steve,

    If I had to guess, I would guess man was created somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, if that helps. And I hold to the Framework view. And I think it is a bit much to say young earth six day creation has been the orthodox position of the church. The old Princeton men, and many of the old Westminster men were all unorthodox? Why didn’t anyone discipline these men for their heterodoxy?

  87. Steve Drake said,

    January 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Todd@ 86,

    If I had to guess, I would guess man was created somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago,

    Was there a race of man-like hominids living and reproducing on earth before Adam at 10K-15K years ago? Was Adam one of these hominids? Was Eve also one of these hominids? In other words, in your opinion, how did Adam ‘come to be’ at 10K-15K years ago?

    And I think it is a bit much to say young earth six day creation has been the orthodox position of the church. The old Princeton men, and many of the old Westminster men were all unorthodox?

    This is not in question. Look at the history of the men who lived from the early chronologists like Josephus, Julius Africanus, Eusebius of Ceasarea, up through the middle ages with Bede the Venerable, Isidore of Seville, on through the Reformation with Luther, Calvin, and Wesley, and then understand the history of the rise of modern geology and ‘deep time’ with Hutton, Playfair, Lyell, and Darwin. These early geologists explicitly had to fight against the Church’s wide held belief in a young earth, global Flood of Noah, and six-day recent creation. Darwin needed the ‘deep time’ for evolution to work, Hutton and Lyell provided it for him.

  88. todd said,

    January 28, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Steve,

    Adam was the first man (I Cor 15:45).

    And what is not in question? You wrote “The orthodox Christian position for almost 18 centuries of church history of a six-day recent creation does this.” I then asked if men like Warfield, Young, etc… were unorthodox. Your answer?

    Again, you are overstating what the orthodox position has always been. From Westminster Theological Seminary:

    “Committed, as the Seminary is, to the inerrancy of Scripture and standing in the Augustinian and Reformed theological tradition, the precise chronological duration of the six days of creation has never been regarded by the Seminary’s Board or Faculty as a matter on which the Scriptures themselves speak with decisive clarity. The Seminary has always held that an exegetical judgement on this precise issue has never of itself been regarded as a test of Christian orthodoxy or confessional fidelity, until some have sought to make it such in the modern period. In effect, to hold such a position would be to disenfranchise from Augustinian and Reformed orthodoxy some who have, in fact, by God’s grace, served as its greatest defenders and pillars.

    Augustine, himself, as is well known, states in connection with the days of Genesis 1, “What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive.”(1)

    Anselm may be read to follow this lead in his supposition that “the ‘days’ of Moses’ account … are not to be equated with the days in which we live.”(2)

    The Reformers, it is true, seem to have generally interpreted the days as “ordinary” days of 24 hours in duration.(3) Yet this position, consciously distanced, as we will see, from Augustine’s and Anselm’s view of instantaneous creation, never seems to have been regarded as a test of orthodoxy in the reformed churches.

    A striking illustration of the way in which biblical scholars wrestled with this issue is found in the work of John Colet, who, at the end of the 15th century, held to a position approximating to a day-age or even framework interpretation of the days of Genesis. Interestingly, he held that Genesis 1 was written in “the manner of a popular poet” [more poetae alicuius popularis]. In the Augustinian tradition, Colet views the precise meaning of the days of Genesis 1 as so difficult to untangle that he writes (tongue in cheek): “nothing could be more like night than these Mosaic days.”(4) In addition, he argued that the function of Genesis 1 is precisely not scientific but intended to portray the mystery of creation to the children of Israel in the days of Moses.”

    Found at http://www.wts.edu/about/beliefs/statements/creation.html

  89. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Todd, I’m saying this not to criticize your view in general but to question just a single assumption. You ask,

    “And I think it is a bit much to say young earth six day creation has been the orthodox position of the church. The old Princeton men, and many of the old Westminster men were all unorthodox? Why didn’t anyone discipline these men for their heterodoxy?”

    I can’t speak to old Westminster — were there really any old-earthers among them? — but old Princeton was driven by the Hodge principle: God’s revelation comes in two books that are both inerrant and will both, in the end, be shown to be harmonious.

    Adrian’s article here is arguing against that principle. Specifically, he is arguing that IF God created the universe ex nihilo in formed condition, then the reconstruction of the universe’s history using physical evidence will give a spurious answer.

    Could it be that Hodge and friends were wrong? That Scripture is privileged in a way that natural revelation is not, on a matter of faith: That God created the world of nothing, in the space of six days?

    The point is that the general orthodoxy of Old Princeton does not preclude them from error.

  90. Steve Drake said,

    January 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Todd@88,

    And what is not in question? You wrote “The orthodox Christian position for almost 18 centuries of church history of a six-day recent creation does this.” I then asked if men like Warfield, Young, etc… were unorthodox. Your answer?

    B.B. Warfield lived from 1851 to 1921, correct? He was then in the milieu of theologians who compromised with the old earth theories of Hutton and Lyell who came before him. Young as well, So, my point, is that it wasn’t until the 1800′s and the anti-biblical philosophical assumptions of the early modern geologists that the Church began this compromise with an old earth. Prior to that time, the Church almost unanimously held to a young earth six-day creation, so my statement, contrary to your assertions is still true. For reference you can check out a couple of secular sources:

    (‘The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth’s Antiquity’, by Jack Repcheck, Perseus Publishing, 2003).

    (‘The Dating Game: One Man’s Search for the Age of the Earth’, by Cherry Lewis, Cambridge University Press, 2000).

    From Westminster Theological Seminary:

    “Committed, as the Seminary is, to the inerrancy of Scripture and standing in the Augustinian and Reformed theological tradition, the precise chronological duration of the six days of creation has never been regarded by the Seminary’s Board or Faculty as a matter on which the Scriptures themselves speak with decisive clarity.

    When was this penned? And what does it have to do with my statement? If you check the date, I think you’ll find it to be sometime after Hutton had already published his ‘Theory of the Earth’, and after Lyell published his ‘Principles of Geology’. Probably sometime in the mid-1800′s. The tide of compromise had already turned, in other words.

    Augustine, himself, as is well known, states in connection with the days of Genesis 1, “What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive.”(1)

    Augustine held to an ‘instanteous’ creation. Yet he did not know Hebrew, and only learned a little Greek later in life. However, like most of the early church fathers, they held to the sex/septa millenarian view that the earth was less than 6000 years old, and would not remain in its current state after the end of 6000 years. So even if Augustine treated the six days of Gen. 1 as allegory, ‘instantaneous’ in his case, he still held to the less than 6000 year schema of world history. Hardly support for a millions and billions old earth.

    I see that like many old earth advocates i speak with, you want to turn this into an orthodox vs. heterodox debate, In other words, you are turning the discussion away from my statement of what the Church believed for almost 18 centuries until the rise of modern geology, and reclassifying the discussion into orthodox vs. heterodox views in support of your underlying claim to be old earth and not heterodox. This doesn’t work with me. no one is claiming you are heterodox, so no need to go there.

    Btw, you haven’t answered my questions about Adam and Eve in #87 above. I really am interested in your views here. Hominids or no hominids prior, biodiversity of life as found in the fossil record with their associated millions of year ages, etc.

  91. todd said,

    January 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Jeff,

    Good to hear from you – (I’m out for the rest of the day so not ignoring anyone.) I am not arguing that Hodge and Warfield were correct in their earth age views, but that they were orthodox. The earth could be young, I don’t know. I am rejecting making it a test of orthodoxy. I am not qualified to challenge Adrian’s science credentials, though I did watch every episode of BSG, which should give me some science street cred, but I found his exegesis and assumptions from the Gen text lacking. If you want to get into specifics we can.

  92. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Steve (#90):

    So archaeologists have done a fairly thorough job of reconstructing Native American culture, back to about 40,000BC.

    I won’t comment on the accuracy of the conclusions, having only 3hr of archaeology credits (and it was a 9AM class over 20 years ago …) on my record.

    But the fact is that most archaeologists believe that they have a history that goes back, century by century, to about 40k years ago.

    Is that timeline a pure fiction? If so, then what does this imply about natural revelation?

    As you can see, this is like the “light from the stars” question, but with a much more complicated set of data.

  93. Steve Drake said,

    January 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Jeff@92,

    So archaeologists have done a fairly thorough job of reconstructing Native American culture, back to about 40,000BC.But the fact is that most archaeologists believe that they have a history that goes back, century by century, to about 40k years ago.Is that timeline a pure fiction? If so, then what does this imply about natural revelation?

    There are some unstated assumptions here, aren’t there though? You mention nothing about how they arrive at that date. Was it Carbon 14 dating of the artifacts? Radioisotope dating of the rock the artifacts were found in?

  94. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    So is your position that archaeologists have misinterpreted natural revelation, or that natural revelation is not capable of providing an answer to the question of origins?

  95. todd said,

    January 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Steve,

    You wrote, “I see that like many old earth advocates i speak with, you want to turn this into an orthodox vs. heterodox debate, In other words, you are turning the discussion away from my statement of what the Church believed for almost 18 centuries until the rise of modern geology, and reclassifying the discussion into orthodox vs. heterodox views in support of your underlying claim to be old earth and not heterodox. This doesn’t work with me. no one is claiming you are”

    So what does orthodox mean? You brought up the word, I didn’t. If one is not orthodox, what is he? If you simply said the majority or consensus opinion on the age of the earth is a young earth, literal 24 hour view, that is fine with me. But just because a majority of Christians throughout the ages have believed something about a certain topic does not make it orthodox. The creeds of the church define orthodoxy.

    “When was this penned? And what does it have to do with my statement? If you check the date, I think you’ll find it to be sometime after Hutton had already published his ‘Theory of the Earth’, and after Lyell published his ‘Principles of Geology’. Probably sometime in the mid-1800′s. The tide of compromise had already turned, in other words.”

    Again, you use fighting words and wonder at the reaction. “Compromise” is quite a judgment of hearts. You begin this discussion with an assumption – that those moderns who do not hold to a young earth are compromising, including Warfield, Young, Kline, etc…I’m not sure how we can have a discussion if you go into it with this assumption. It would be like me saying that all young-earthers are basically anti-intellectual fundamentalists simply over-reacting in fear. Somehow I do not think we would get very far. You just need to understand that many of us are unpersuaded of your views from our study of Scripture, not from any fear of acceptance from intellectuals, just as many young-earthers hold the position because they are trying to be faithful to Scripture.

    As to your last question, no hominids prior, at least I don’t see any room for such a thing in Scripture.

  96. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Mr Bordow,

    Re: #84,
    You asked me two questions:

    Are you equating origins with age of the earth. While the Bible does not tell us the age of the earth, it certainly addresses origins. Must we know the age of the earth to truly know origins?

    I am saying is that knowledge of the age of the creation is dependent on knowledge of the origin of the creation. Age is a derived fact. The way that age is a derived fact is that it really a caclulation. For anything, its current age is defined by the equation

    Age = Date.Current – Date.Origin. (Assuming negligible impact from Relativity).

    Since science cannot say anything about origins, it is hardly controversial to say that science cannot say anything about origins that includes the date. Since science cannot say anything about the date of the origin of creation, then it necessarily follows that science cannot say anything about the age of the earth or creation.

    While I think your questions were entirely non sequitur to what I had written, I will answer them. As to the first, obviously I am not equating origins with the age of the earth. As to the second, you have it quite backwards, as I pointed out above, you must know the date of the origin of something (and an “as of” date) to know the age of something. Scince is not a source of information on the age of creation.

    The point is that, the only facts we have in evidence with respect to the origin of creation and any derived facts like its age is the testimony of the Triune God as found in Scripture. Therefore there is no legitimate questioning (outside of arguments from Scripture itself) of the plain reading of Genesis with respect to the length of time God spent in creating the heavens and the earth.

    Since you argued in #74 that science must be consulted, it would be a hard sell for you to now argue that all of your questions with regard to Genesis one arise only from Scripture itself.

  97. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Dear Mr. Cagle,

    You wrote

    The point is that the general orthodoxy of Old Princeton does not preclude them from error

    That is a very important remark. Thank you for it.

  98. January 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Andrew,

    Your #96 makes the sweeping statement that science cannot say anything about the age of the earth or creation. I say sweeping, since the light of nature teaches us something and to say we cannot learn anything about the age of the earth from science is absurd. We may not learn an absolute age but unless we say God is the great deceiver we can certainly draw some conclusions without knowledge of the Bible.

    Nor can we escape this by a kind of radical pre-suppositionalism that comprehensively ignores the evidence of our senses. Yes, allow for the effects of sin on our thinking it remains that we are not shut up to a radical skepticism.

    I write this as someone not trained in the physical sciences, but as someone who knows from scientific investigation of the literary remains
    that I had an ancestor who lives in 1655.

  99. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Dr Ward,

    I think your complaint is more properly lodged against Dr. Keister. He said in the second to last paragraph of the original post:

    Therefore, science simply cannot contradict the Bible, at least in questions of origin. The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot.

    Please notice the last sentence I quoted “The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot.” It was Dr Keister’s statement. I am only agreeing with him.

    Science can say a lot about creation as it currently exists, if I was unclear in #96, I may have contracted “God’s work of creation” with just the word creation. Nevertheless Dr Keister’s point is well made.

    What I wrote about age being a derivation is hardly a sweeping statement. Since science cannot speak to the origin of creation aka God’s work of creation, it therefore cannot speak to the age of the creation.

    You wrote:

    We may not learn an absolute age but unless we say God is the great deceiver we can certainly draw some conclusions without knowledge of the Bible.

    To which I would recommend you read Mr Cagle’s #89. You’ve made an assertion, but offered no proof. God is not a deceiver. Rom 3:4. Can you draw conclusions about the work of creation (including the age of the creation) without knowledge of the Bible, sure. But those are your conclusions, not God’s revelation itself, natural or special. By your use of “unless we say God the the great deceiver…” is to equate your own conclusions about natural revelation with the authority of God. I understand that has not been a radical idea for a century and a half, but that doesn’t make it right.

    I am not, and neither was Dr. Keister engaging in any sort of radical presuppositionalism, that ignores the senses but rather Dr. Keister demonstrated scientifically and mathematically a very real limitation on what science can provide. That is hardly radical skepticism.

    Your last paragraph is really a non sequitur. I am rather unconvinced at what you described as a “scientific investigation” would meet the criteria any nominally rigorous definition of scientific, in the natural sciences which is the sciences that have heretofor been in view in this thread. If you had performed a forensic investigation on the physical remains of your ancestor, then you would have legitimately used the word science in semantically consistent manner. With all due respect, that leaves me in the unfortunate position of questioning why you would want to rhetorically expand the semantic range of the word science.

    Please re-read Dr. Keister’s posting and his comment. He is right. You would do well to believe him.

  100. Zrim said,

    January 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I can’t speak to old Westminster — were there really any old-earthers among them? — but old Princeton was driven by the Hodge principle: God’s revelation comes in two books that are both inerrant and will both, in the end, be shown to be harmonious…Could it be that Hodge and friends were wrong? That Scripture is privileged in a way that natural revelation is not…

    But, Jeff, if it is admitted that natural revelation is every bit as authored by God as special revelation then how can it be said the notion that natural revelation is inerrant, and thus finally harmonious with Scripture, be wrong? It’s true enough that the general orthodoxy of Old Princeton may not preclude them from error, but this line of reasoning always seems to imply that God authored special revelation but only co-authored natural. Which just never seems to ring orthodox.

  101. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Hi Todd,

    Good to hear from you, too. I would like to hear more detail about your objection to A. Keister’s argument, if you have time.

    Here’s my main concern as I think about old-earth models:

    We know (Heb 11.3) that God made all things from nothing. And our knowledge of this point is a matter of faith — hence, its inclusion in the WCoF.

    Based on that, it might seem that knowledge of origins is something that is sufficiently taught in Scripture. Would you agree?

    Assuming yes, then what in the text of Gen 1 – 2 would suggest anything other than 6×24?

    And more importantly: if Heb 11.3 does indeed make creation a matter of faith, then would importing general revelation into the question of origins amount to a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture?

    If you could tailor your remarks to that objection, I would be obliged.

    For the record, I have other reservations about 6×24 creation.

  102. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Zrim,

    It’s a good point. My main objection to 6×24 is that it seems to place certain types of natural revelation in a “not really” category. Starlight seems to show us the creation of nebulae, but not really. Radioisotopes seem to consistently indicate an old earth, but not really. This seems to lend a Gnostic flavor to young earth theories.

    BUT

    Adrian and TFan seem to have an effective rebuttal. If God were to create an earth fully formed, then of *course* it would have the appearance of age … including a virtual history of sorts.

    The main question for a 2ker would be, In which sphere does knowledge of origins belong? If it is a matter of faith (as above, Heb 11.3), then Scripture is the right place to look for it. If not, then natural revelation.

    In which case, the problem would be not so much inerrancy but insuitability. General revelation is the wrong place to look. To turn the phrase on its head, General revelation is not a textbook for faith.

    In short: the debate between young earthers and orthodox old earthers is really one of classification: Are origin questions matters of faith or not?

  103. January 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Origin per se is a matter of faith since scientific method cannot deal with it, but it can address in some measure elapsed time.

    6 x 24 advocates follow an interpretive method which requires them to date elapsed time to no more than say 10,000 years ago, and indeed a world-wide flood upsetting all habitats about 4,400 years ago, with the variety we see “evolving” pretty quickly from the relatively few “kinds” saved out of the ark. So forget the billions of years just focus on this small amount of time. Does it not produce problems?

  104. todd said,

    January 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    “Since you argued in #74 that science must be consulted, it would be a hard sell for you to now argue that all of your questions with regard to Genesis one arise only from Scripture itself.”

    Andrew,

    Rowland’s response was basically mine, so I won’t repeat it, but this second criticism above, where did I say that? The point is that we do not see in Genesis an answer to the age of the earth, thus we are free to consider science in our study of this without violating Scripture. When we look at the science we are more convinced by the old age arguments than the young, and we are very unconvinced the way the 6-24 advocates deal with Genesis and their so-called “plain reading.”

  105. todd said,

    January 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    “Based on that, it might seem that knowledge of origins is something that is sufficiently taught in Scripture. Would you agree?”

    Jeff,

    The Scriptures are much more concerned with man’s origins than with earth-age questions, so we are given sufficient knowledge in the Bible as to the origin of creation, especially man, but Gen 1 is not written to answer specific (and modern) questions about age and sequence. Are you after something else?

  106. Brad B said,

    January 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I thougt of this Green Baggins blog topic while reading this blog post that does a pretty good job of dispelling any kind of snythesis of theism and Darwinesque evolution. I’m not all the way through it yet, but will finish it and maybe follow some of the links there soon. The professor being critiqued [Edward Feser] is a RC who I’ve seen on the”What’s Wrong With the World” blog as a contributor, he writes a lot about Aquinas and natural theology as an authority on the topic. He seems to be aruging somewhat like Keller has and is being critiqued well also.

  107. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Todd (#105): I guess I’m after a more robust defense of the idea that Genesis was not written to answer questions of age and sequence. It does, after all, provide a sequence and times and genealogies with sequences and times.

    (Not saying you’re wrong; just trying to make headway on what bothers me about old-earth)

  108. Reed Here said,

    January 30, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Todd: “and their so-called “plain reading.”

    Wow, a bit pejorative brother. I know some YE communicate in offensive manners. Of, so do OE. That is a flesh problem we all share.

    Just a mild friendly reminder that your brush is flailing a bit.

  109. todd said,

    January 30, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Reed,

    Yea, my apologies, that was a bit rough

  110. todd said,

    January 30, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Jeff,

    Of course as a Framework guy I would not see Genesis answering earth-age or sequence questions. As for a robust defense, while I have done the work, I just don’t have the time or energy for such a thing here, which is why I link to papers such as Dr. Futato’s. I’m still a bit surprised that so many readers of this blog, which I assume are reformed, see young earth 6×24 as so critical. That seems to be a rather modern phenomenon. It seems there are enough necessary walls that we do not need to be building unnecessary ones between us. But since the topic necessitates more time than I can offer I’ll get off the boat, though I was looking forward to siding with local over universal flood, but I can only imagine that can of worms…

  111. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Jeff@#94,

    So is your position that archaeologists have misinterpreted natural revelation, or that natural revelation is not capable of providing an answer to the question of origins?

    Both. I’m asking for the supporting evidence used to make claims that Native Americans were around 40K years ago, or for that matter that Australian Aborigines were around 60K years ago?

  112. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Todd@#95,

    The creeds of the church define orthodoxy.

    You mean like the Westminster Standards and the Belgic Confession of Faith? Something about ‘in the space of six days‘ in both documents I think. What do you think they understood that to mean when writing that statement? And when were they written?

    Still looking for your answer to my question about when the below was penned:

    Again, you are overstating what the orthodox position has always been. From Westminster Theological Seminary:

    “Committed, as the Seminary is, to the inerrancy of Scripture and standing in the Augustinian and Reformed theological tradition, the precise chronological duration of the six days of creation has never been regarded by the Seminary’s Board or Faculty as a matter on which the Scriptures themselves speak with decisive clarity. The Seminary has always held that an exegetical judgement on this precise issue has never of itself been regarded as a test of Christian orthodoxy or confessional fidelity, until some have sought to make it such in the modern period.

    Compromise is not a fighting word, but is an actual portrayal from my standpoint looking back at the history of how ‘deep time’ came to be. Specifically, many theologians like Warfield and Hodge and Young who came after the rise of modern geology and it’s notions of millions and billions of years felt they had to accommodate these findings within the pages of Scripture. The ‘evidence’ seemed to demand it. We, living more than 200 years later, are still in that milieu. Would you rather I use the word ‘accommodationists’ then?

    As to your last question, no hominids prior, at least I don’t see any room for such a thing in Scripture.

    From your framework perspective, you put Adam at about 10K-15K years ago (roughly 8000-13000 B.C.). (He was created ex nihilo at that time, and there were no hominids prior to that). Jeff C. claims that archaeologists put Native Americans 40K years ago, I postulated the further claim by archaeologists that Australian Aborigines were around 60K years ago. If Adam was the first man, and Eve was the first woman, who were these other people?

  113. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Todd@#95,

    The creeds of the church define orthodoxy.

    I see my error in #112 above, my apologies. I think you were referring to the Apostle’s Creed or Nicene Creed, not the Confessions of Faith like the Westminster or Belgic.

    My question about both those Confessions of Faith are germane to our topic however. That both confessions on the topic of creation use the phrase ‘in the space of six days‘, the Belgic written in the 1560′s and the Westminster in 1646, what do you think they meant by that statement?

  114. todd said,

    January 30, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Reed,

    This is not to excuse my bad-mannered comment on plain reading, there is no excuse for that. But just so it is not misunderstood, for years, since my conversion, I was a young earth 6×24, being taught that was the only position one could hold while staying true to the Bible. Upon entering seminary, Dr Kline taught us his view, and while it opened my eyes to the possibility of alternate views, the strong aversion among many of the students to another view was striking, the usual objection being his rejection of a plain reading easy for all to understand. After finishing Hebrew, I decided to spend many hours studying Gen 1&2 for myself to decide what I believed. My study revealed as many questions as answers, such as:

    What does it mean that the earth was formless and void, and how long was it in that condition?

    Why are the waters said to be (1:2) already there opposed to being created?

    Why does Moses use “vault” and from who’s perspective is he writing?

    Why did God create a light source the first three days and then discard it the forth day? What was that original light source? I read a number of different theories from respected theologians and noted the difficulties each had trying to understand the passage.

    Why does Moses write that the sun and moon rule? That language is found nowhere else.

    Why do the second three days match the first three; as in realms and rulers of these realms? Could Dr. Kline’s theory be so easily dismissed?

    Why does Gen 2:3…bring in natural providence (rain, etc…) back into the creation week?

    What about Machen’s comment that the literary elements of Gen 1 make it difficult to answer earth age questions?

    Did did Adam name the animals, not find one suitable, be put to sleep, Eve was formed, all in one day, the 6th day? And maybe even the first 12 hours of the day so he could see? Is that necessary from the text?

    How do I understand the similarities between Moses’ account and creation accounts in the Enuma Elish and The Book of the Evolutions of Ra? The similarities were too obvious to ignore. Could God through Moses have had a more polemical reason for the manner the true creation account was written?

    What does it mean that God “rested?” And if the seventh day is really eternal, as Hebrews 4 seem to suggest, could the other six days be taken in a non-literal manner also?

    There were many more questions, some about the Hebrew, others about evidences for an older earth and mankind older that 6,000 yrs (though all my questioning never even led me to consider evolution, nothing in the text even allowed me to go there.)

    The point is, after my study I was amazed that so many believers could say you could just simply read the text and all these answers were clear; i.e., the plain reading. I was humbled that all my questions could not be definitively answered in this life. Certainly the Bible affirmed creation ex nihilo, but many of my science questions would remained unanswered.

    I ended up with Framework more as a default position than a sure one. I usually don’t give the whole issue much thought anymore until I read of reformed Christians using the plain reading argument as a reason to question the orthodoxy or Christian commitment of those who disagree with their young earth 24 view. Then I get a bit riled up.

  115. Cris D. said,

    January 30, 2012 at 10:27 am

    To Steve’s question, most recently posed at #112. The WTS statement at it’s very earliest can not have its origin prior to summer or autumn of 1929, when WTS sprang into existence, following the forced reorganization of Princeton at the 1929 General Assembly of the old Northern PC.

    But we can come to a much more accurate dating of this statement.
    wts.edu > About WTS > What We Believe > Special Statements > Creation. There we find…

    The Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) voted on March 1, 1999 to affirm that the Faculty understands the following to be an accurate description of the continuity between the seminary’s present position on the days of creation and historic Reformed teaching on this subject.

    As in the past, in recent years it has been claimed that, in expounding the biblical teaching on creation, to hold anything other than that God created the world in six days, each of 24 hours duration, is (a) to depart from theological orthodoxy and (b) to interpret Scripture in the light of secular science in general and evolutionistic philosophy in particular.

    With the founders of the institution, faculty members at Westminster Theological Seminary pledge:

    (1) I believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice; and (2) I do solemnly and ex animo adopt, receive, and subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms… as the confession of my faith, or as a summary and just exhibition of that system of doctrine and religious belief which is contained in Holy Scripture… and promise and engage not to inculcate, teach, or insinuate anything which shall appear to me to contradict or contravene, either directly or impliedly, any element in that system of doctrine . . ..

    Committed, as the Seminary is, to the inerrancy of Scripture and standing in the Augustinian and Reformed theological tradition, the precise chronological duration of the six days of creation has never been regarded by the Seminary’s Board or Faculty as a matter on which the Scriptures themselves speak with decisive clarity. The Seminary has always held that an exegetical judgement on this precise issue has never of itself been regarded as a test of Christian orthodoxy or confessional fidelity, until some have sought to make it such in the modern period. In effect, to hold such a position would be to disenfranchise from Augustinian and Reformed orthodoxy some who have, in fact, by God’s grace, served as its greatest defenders and pillars.

    -=Cris=-

    M.Div., WTS, ’82 (1982, not 1882)
    Master of Copy/Paste since WordPerfect 4.2

  116. todd said,

    January 30, 2012 at 10:34 am

    “You mean like the Westminster Standards and the Belgic Confession of Faith? Something about ‘in the space of six days‘ in both documents I think. What do you think they understood that to mean when writing that statement? And when were they written?”

    Steve,

    I’ll answer you but need to go. Feel free to have the last word.

    As for the Belgic, it says nothing about the six days. It says, “We believe that the Father created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, when it seemed good to him, by his Word” (Article 12).

    As for the WCF, the animus imponentis of the denomination I belong to does not require assent to a young 24 hour view to affirm the Confession. See the OPC report on creation:

    http://opc.org/GA/CreationReport.pdf

    “Compromise is not a fighting word, but is an actual portrayal from my standpoint looking back at the history of how ‘deep time’ came to be. Specifically, many theologians like Warfield and Hodge and Young who came after the rise of modern geology and it’s notions of millions and billions of years felt they had to accommodate these findings within the pages of Scripture. The ‘evidence’ seemed to demand it. We, living more than 200 years later, are still in that milieu. Would you rather I use the word ‘accommodationists’ then?”

    I understand you see it as compromise. My point is that if from the outset you have such a strong suspicion of the motives of those who disagree with you on this issue, I am not sure any dialogue on this is helpful.

    I don’t look at men like Hodge and Warfield, who are my theological heroes to be sure, as accommodationists. I’m not sure how anyone could read their writings and commitments and assume they were accommodating anything. I see them as humble enough to know their limits as theologians, and knowing Genesis did not provide easy answers to their scientific questions, accepted and respected the experts in the field in that day. Were they a bit too excepting of the science of their day? Yes, I think so, but I see no reason to assume they did so out of fear, embarrassment of Genesis, compromise, accommodation, etc…

    “From your framework perspective, you put Adam at about 10K-15K years ago (roughly 8000-13000 B.C.). (He was created ex nihilo at that time, and there were no hominids prior to that). Jeff C. claims that archaeologists put Native Americans 40K years ago, I postulated the further claim by archaeologists that Australian Aborigines were around 60K years ago. If Adam was the first man, and Eve was the first woman, who were these other people?”

    Well, I’m not Jeff, but the Bible is clear that Adam and Eve were the first two created. Whether Adam was created 6,000 years ago or 40,000 years ago does not change that. If scientists discover some “evidence” to the contrary, they are wrong. But I’m really not qualified to answer more detailed scientific questions.

  117. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Todd, your #114 answers my question, I think. Thanks.

  118. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Steve (#111): A qualified archaeologist could answer that, but I cannot. I am agnostic towards — ignorant of, really — the specific evidences and lines of reasoning that support or undermine their timeline. As a physics and math guy, I could only speak to evidences for old universe.

    But the specific evidences aren’t germane to the important distinction here. It’s clear that you hold that the earth is young. Do you believe that it also has evidence of being young? Or are you saying that the earth does indeed look old, because it was made that way?

    The former approach is the Ken Ham approach; the latter is Omphalanism.

  119. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Jeff@#118

    Do you believe that it also has evidence of being young?

    Yes.

    Or are you saying that the earth does indeed look old, because it was made that way?

    Depends on your definition of old and is relative to the subject being discussed. A 90-year old man today is ‘old’. A 90-year old man in the age of the patriarchs before and after Noah (Gen. 5 and 11) might be considered ‘young’. A 6000-year old earth is ‘young’ only because of the naturalistic scientific consensus that the earth is 4.55 billion years old. If you had phrased your question thusly: “Or are you saying that the earth does indeed look 4.55 billions of years old, because it was made that way?”, I would then ask you for supporting evidence of that 4.55 billion ‘age’. What is the supporting evidence for it? What are the inherent assumptions involved? How dd that idea and its history come about? In other words, what were the events in history leading up to and including that conclusion?

    The former approach is the Ken Ham approach; the latter is Omphalanism.

    This is a false dichotomy. The ‘Omphalos hypothesis’ was taken from Philip Henry Gosse’s book Omphalos, written in 1857. Note the date. It was at the same time and in the same cultural and scientific environment whereby modern uniformitarian geology beginning with Hutton, Playfair in the late 1700′s, Lyell and others in the early 1800′s had already published their books and were arguing for ‘deep time’ within their anti-biblical philosophical assumptions. Gosse was simply responding to these claims with the idea of ‘mature creation’. Radioisotope dating and its implementation to the age question not to be discovered until the early 1900′s. That there are still questions surrounding how we can see light from distant stars billions of light years away within a 6000-year framework in no way necessitates that we accept naturalistic scientific interpretations in clear contradistinction to Scripture. The Big Bang has its own light-travel problem (the Horizon Problem) with it’s own ad hoc ‘inflationary’ answer. That we are all ‘creationists’ as Christians (the biblical doctrine of creation is foundational and fundamental to our faith) speaks to some form of ‘mature’ creation if we are to accept the fact that Adam was created a man, not a baby, fully capable to understand his relationship to God and God’s commands for him.

  120. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Todd@116,
    I hear you brother, a lot of people have had the same questions and have found the answers to these questions consistent with the grammatico-historical hermeneutic of Scripture interpretation and in contradistinction to your doubts. You really owe to yourself to at least read Dr. Stephen W. Boyd’s statistical work that I referenced in a post above.

    That you once believed in a 6×24 young earth, but no longer believe this is countered by the countless others who once believed in evolution and old earth, but now believe in a 6×24 young earth. It goes both ways. I’m sorry you have to leave, but for others who may want to continue the discussion I will reply to your comments. Please don’t feel that you have to respond to them.

    As for the Belgic, it says nothing about the six days. It says, “We believe that the Father created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, when it seemed good to him, by his Word” (Article 12)

    Yes, thanks for that correction. I was thinking of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. Both it and the WCoF reference creation in six days.

    As for the WCF, the animus imponentis of the denomination I belong to does not require assent to a young 24 hour view to affirm the Confession. See the OPC report on creation:

    Yet, this does not really answer my question, does it: ‘What do you think they meant by the phrase ‘in the space of six days”? That you mention the OPC link and in discussion of PCA documents above, actually raises a more interesting question I think: Why is it that we have departed from their original intent concerning this phrase? What is it that has given rise to 4 or 5 acceptable different views today as opposed to the one view held by the divines, by Luther, by Calvin, by Wesley, by Ussher, by the writers of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith?

    Well, I’m not Jeff, but the Bible is clear that Adam and Eve were the first two created. Whether Adam was created 6,000 years ago or 40,000 years ago does not change that. If scientists discover some “evidence” to the contrary, they are wrong. But I’m really not qualified to answer more detailed scientific questions.

    So let’s say we push Adam and Eve out to 40K or 60K years ago. You tell me you’re not an evolutionist, but how do you then explain the fossils in the Cambrian explosion some 540mya, or the fossils in Permian rock some 250mya, or the dinosaurs that went extinct some 65mya? How do they fit? Did God step in at these intervals over millions of years to create these species ex nihilo that then lived and died leaving their remains in the rock at these specific millions of years ago intervals? And all before Adam at 40K or 60K years ago? What about the supposed hominids like Ardipithecus supposedly 5-6mya, or the Australopithecines, or the Homo habilus or Homo erectus fossils supposed 2-3mya? If you’re not saying that God used evolution as His means of creation like Keller and Enns, what are you saying?

  121. January 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I wonder if the plain grammatical import of the WCF is 6/24? It’s true of course that 6/24 was the general view at the time just before the various sciences (commonly founded by Christians) threw up problems with that. But I find the language of the WCF very careful. “in the space of six days” is saying what all can accept since it’s scriptural language. They don’t further define it to eg. six ‘ordinary’ days or such like. There were different views. Lightfoot argued in 1642 that the first day was 36 hours. Turretin claimed creation was in 8 nanoseconds but spread out over six days to help us understand. Everyone was aware of the views of writers like Augustine so I even wonder if they actually intended to exclude his view though of course it was really wedded to outmoded philosophy. From what we know of the WCF on other matters of difference, notoriously infra and supra lapsarianism, we know they framed the confession so each could have his own view. It’s a consensus document after all, and necessarily so.

    You might care to read my #43 again.

  122. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Rowland@121,
    Not sure if you are addressing me because you didn’t point your comment to anyone in particular, but your last statement ‘You might care to read my #43 again’, in following my comment #120, makes me think you had me in mind. Your #43 is certainly one opinion, yours I take it, and others who have posted here following after the Framework view held by Kline, Blocher, Irons, and others. My questions to Todd in #120 in the last paragraph would certainly apply to you if you would care to answer them.

    The literary view, which suggests the days are a framework to stress the cohesion and order of creation, has much to offer that should be received, although it is sometimes over-elaborated. I believe it is best to regard God’s creation days as simply God’s creation days. They are related to our days but are not the same as ours in nature. On this analogical days view creation in six days is dogma, but the nature of those days in terms of time is not known to us (other than something of day 7). Any further definition of them is speculative.

    My problem with the Framework view is that it says nothing about the chronology of creation rooted in history according to a timeline. Other than ‘God did it’, it provides no intellectual answer for the linearity of time: the people, events, creatures on earth and in the sea, planets, moons, astronomical objects, and the whole of the created order.

    That you ‘believe it is best…’ speaks to conviction, I like that, yet let’s not imply that I should read your post #43 again as if to say your opinion is the end all and be all of the matter. That speaks to hubris.

  123. January 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Don’t get too precious, Steve! My #43 does not actually endorse the framework but the analogical day view, but my point in referencing my piece was that I hope it shows moderation as well as illustrating that the so called plain reading is not quite so plain as one thinks about it, as well as pointing to the strengths and weaknesses of various positions.

    On your particular point of chronology, I’m not too fussed about it as I suspect we tend to be over occupied with that whereas for the ancient Hebrews this I think is not so. For instance consider the 10 plagues of Egypt, a very significant event. Would we later refer to only 7 plagues and in a different order? Probably not but the Hebrews did (Psalms 105 & 78). Of course even on the framework view you have a logical progression and chronology is not necessarily eliminated.

    I think we tend to make the account answer questions which were not really its concern.

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Steve (#119): Here are two reasons I know of that one might say that the universe looks old.

    (1) Go out at night and look out at the stars. Take a star map and identify several of those stars, and consider their distances from the earth (look them up, if necessary).

    Now consider that each light year in distance represents, as far as we know, one year back in time that the light was sent from a given star.

    This means that as you look out, you are also, as far as we know, looking backwards to prior events: one year per light year.

    Now, what if some of that light were already created en route to earth? That might well be.

    But the appearance is of a universe fully formed, with events in the “past” that stretch back to at least 2.5 x10^6 years (the Andromeda galaxy). And that’s without assuming any “Big Bang” expansion.

    So the first reason to say that the universe looks old is that we can see events which, if the speed of light is what it is, happened in the distant past.

    And we have no reason to suspect that the speed of light isn’t what it is.

    (2) If we take a wide sampling of radiometric dates for samples across the globe using a variety of testing methods (i.e., different isotope pairs), we consistently get about 3.6×10^9 years as the apparent age of the earth, +/- 0.1×10^9. The broad sampling greatly reduces the likelihood of random errors in any given procedure.

    This evidence indicates to me that, once again, the earth appears old.

    Now, as I’ve indicated above, if Scripture says 6×24 creation, then that settles it: the earth looks old, it is young. I have no problem with that. If origins are a matter of faith, then by faith we understand that God made all things from nothing.

    But I can’t agree that the earth looks young in every way. In the matters of starlight and decay series, it looks old.

  125. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Roland (#121): I’ve never been happy with the argument “the Westminster Divines had slight variations in their understanding of days, so we can have vast differences in ours.” It seems like driving a battleship under a 24′ bridge.

  126. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Rowland@123,

    I think we tend to make the account answer questions which were not really its concern.

    It is an indelible mark of our Scriptures that they are rooted in history. From Paul and the apostle’s epistles in the New Testament in the first century A.D, back through the Old Testament prophets, Solomon and David in 1000 to 900 BC, the exodus in the 1400′s BC,even back to Abraham circa 1900-2000 BC and Genesis 12. But whoops, Gen. 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 are not rooted in history? So now we have an interesting dialectic don’t we? Genesis 12 all the way through the Old Testament into the New Testament ending with John’s Revelation are all rooted in time and history with the people and events mentioned, yet when we get to Genesis 11 or 10, or 9, or 8, which is it for you Rowland, we are no longer in history? Where does history start for you then?

    …was that I hope it shows moderation as well as illustrating that the so called plain reading is not quite so plain as one thinks about it

    And I and others are saying that it shows nothing of the kind. What you’re telling me is that a view which has only come about in the last century and promulgated within the Church after the anti-biblical philosophical assumptions of the early modern geologists like Hutton, Playfair, Lyell, and Darwin, should have <i.a priori consideration over men like Luther, Wesley, Calvin, Ussher, Basil, Ambrose, Lactantius, Victorinus, Ephrem the Syrian, Methodius, etc, and the almost universal belief of the Church up through the late 1700′s and early 1800′s? I hope you can see where I might be skeptical.

  127. January 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Jeff (#125)
    The Westminster Divines had some quite big differences concerning the logical order of the divine decrees, aspects of imputation,
    and on eschatology where (strange to my way of thinking) somew significant men held a pre-mill type approach which reflecting an interpretive principle rather different from others.

    I grant in my #43 that day age theories are not really acceptable, but I certainly think the Divines would not have made the issue that some godly people today do.

    By the way and tongue in cheek) I don’t allow small or large variations in the spelling of my name!

    Steve #126
    You stagger me Steve. Where have I suggested that Genesis 1-11 is not rooted in history? Why must this great leap be made from difference over the interpretation of some aspects of the record of real events to rejection of the historical? Indeed my article only addressed the creation days. I’m sorry Steve but if this is the approach emotion must be driving the argument and/or a failure to distinguish evolutionism from a legitimate Biblical position. You need also to recognise the varying contexts in which men lived eg. Luther’s take on Genesis is far more literal than Calvin’s. Who is right and why?

  128. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I will endeavor to properly Rowlandize in the future. :)

  129. Steve Drake said,

    January 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Jeff@124,

    Now consider that each light year in distance represents, as far as we know, one year back in time that the light was sent from a given star.

    Yes, I know all about this argument brother. I don’t dispute the ‘history in the stars’, the speed of light, or the vast distances. What I will say is that if the Creator God of the Bible is who He says He is, then not only is He capable of accurately telling us about the early history of the universe, the earth, and man, but He is capable of having the details truthfully recorded, faithfully copied, and transmitted down through successive generations. This is my starting point. God says He created light on Day 1. He says nothing about stars until Day 4. He says there were alternating evenings and mornings for Days 1-3 which to me implies light on the earth for those three days; the same refrain used for days 4-6. Does God’s statement that He created light on Day 1 before the light bearers on Day 4 have any bearing to the question at hand? I don’t know, but somehow I think it might. I agree with you that the light -travel time as we currently understand physics, is a problem for a young universe young earth view and makes the universe ‘appear’ to be billions of years old. But there are always ‘assumptions’ behind our theoretical models. So I have to ask myself, what are the ‘assumptions’? Is it true that the redshift of light is to be understood as a Doppler effect? There are current scientists saying that it isn’t. Is it true that the fine-tuning constants of our universe have always been the same as they are today? Some work here as well that this may not be so.

    So bottom line, I must go to Scripture as the only reliable indicator of origins. Genesis reads as an eyewitness account, the text emphasis a number of times that ‘God saw what He had made’. I trust that God as eyewitness can reliably give me a accurate record of real history.

    I will address your comments as to radioisotope dating most likely tomorrow, as I must step out now for the remainder of the evening.

  130. Cris D. said,

    January 31, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Steve, Jeff, Rowland, et al, (indulge me in use of 1st name address):

    Re the Westminster Standards: “space of six days”. This is a quick set of observations, taken from R. Letham’s The Westminster Assembly: Reading its Theology in Historical Context. Dr. Letham is able to build off Chad Van Dixhoorn’s work on Assembly minutes and records, his own work, as well as the less complete work of others in the past.

    Creation as a topic was of no controversy and very little concern during the Assembly’s sessions. There is no debate recorded on creation. Letham recognizes that any of the Westminster divines who wrote on the Creation narrative held to the 6×24 view of the days. However, they were aware that 6×24 was not the unanimous and sole view of the creation days in history of the church. This is a direct contradiction to a twice repeated assertion earlier in this topic. The Westminster divines knew there were exegetical options that could be appealed to if they were inclined to delve into this topic.

    Letham relates that from Augustine to Anselm (at least), that Augustine’s view of instantaneous creation was the most common. Something instantaneous would not normally be spread over 144 hours. By the time of Aquinas, apparently 6X24 was the more common view. But apparently Aquinas and a Robert Grossteste (1235) did describe the 6 days as evincing a formation and adornment pattern, of first 3 and second 3 sets of days.

    Letham discusses the possibility that the Westminster Standards simply repeat the terminology of Scripture without any interest in the details or the options, precisely because the assembled divines had no fights into which they could put their dogs. Letham notes that the Copernican revolution had already begun, so it’s not that even “general revelation” had nothing to say at this point (using contemporary terminology).

    What’s interesting is Letham’s brief description of Westminster Divine George Walker’s The History of Creation, published in 1641. Walker saw Augustine’s instantaneous creation in Gen 1:1, then a mediate creation in the narrative of the six days. Walker recognized the parallel of the first 3 days with the second group of 3 days. So Walker, in 1641, describes God forming in the first 3 days “various spheres, and adornment describes the last three days in which God made various agents to populate these spheres.” Letham, 190-191. While the days were apparently 24-hour days, this is clearly a “framework” exegesis that is by definition and chronology untainted by the Enlightenment or publications from the 1800s.

    Someone needs to follow up and get the details on Aquinas and/or Robert Gossteste, who’s work was titled Hexaemeron. I’m going to hit the WTS library for the WTJ articles that Letham refers to in his notes.

    -=Cris=-

  131. Steve Drake said,

    January 31, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Jeff@124,

    (2) If we take a wide sampling of radiometric dates for samples across the globe using a variety of testing methods (i.e., different isotope pairs), we consistently get about 3.6×10^9 years as the apparent age of the earth, +/- 0.1×10^9. The broad sampling greatly reduces the likelihood of random errors in any given procedure.

    This evidence indicates to me that, once again, the earth appears old.

    I’m familiar with this argument as well. However, again, one must ask what ‘assumptions’ are involved with these dates. Has the rate of radioisotopic decay always been constant? Have the isotopic abundances in a specimen been altered by any process other than radioactive decay? Can we accurately determine the amount of daughter isotopes in the rock when it first formed (it is believed to be small or negligible)? ‘Isochron’ methods attempt to date rocks that contain significant daughter isotopes, but there are discordances here. The discordances are not usually published in the naturalistic scientific literature.

    You asked me earlier if I believed there was evidence the earth is young. I answered ‘yes’. If you are not attempting to dismiss out of hand the scientific analysis of creation scientists, you can find the excellent results of an 8-year scientific research initiative by the scientists of the RATE group at http://www.icr.org/rate. The published articles there as well as the published results of their research in the two-volume book Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth are worth your attention.

  132. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 31, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Steve,

    Thanks for your interactions. I have no objections in principle to scientists attempting to show that the earth shows evidence of young age. I would expect such work to be held to the same standards of evidence of any other scientific work, and I would echo Adrian’s comment that origins is properly history, not science. Perhaps “scientific history.”

    Beyond that, my one invariant is that the Scripture is correct.

    Grace,
    Jeff Cagle

  133. Steve Drake said,

    January 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Chris D. @130,

    Creation as a topic was of no controversy and very little concern during the Assembly’s sessions. There is no debate recorded on creation. Letham recognizes that any of the Westminster divines who wrote on the Creation narrative held to the 6×24 view of the days. However, they were aware that 6×24 was not the unanimous and sole view of the creation days in history of the church. This is a direct contradiction to a twice repeated assertion earlier in this topic.

    Could it be that creation as a topic was no controversy because there was no controversy over the meaning of ‘day’ at the time? Letham rightly recognizes that any of the divines who wrote on the topic held to the 6×24 view. However, it is somewhat tendencious to think that this is not what they had in mind when they wrote ‘in the space of six days’ and that this was not the almost universal opinion in the history of the Church through that time, especially in light of the dates. The year 1646 is said to be the year the Westminster divines completed the Standards. The Archbishop of Armaugh, James Ussher, published his Annals of the World in Latin in 1650. The English version came later in 1658. Much to the surprise of many today, Ussher was a very learned man, an expert in Semitic languages, excelling in history. His Annals of the World published just 4 years after the Westminster divines finished the Standards argued for a creation date of 4004 B.C. The ‘Annals’ would be the high-water mark for biblical chronologists and this date appeared as a marginal note in many Bibles up until the mid-20th century.

    Remember, the controversy over the ‘age’ of the earth did not begin in earnest until the late 1700′s with the rise of modern geology. Yes, there were some like Buffon and LaPlace who writing in the mid-to-late 1700′s argued for a solar system or earth 75000 years old, but this was ‘after’ the 1646 Westminster Standards. The Copernican Revolution said nothing substantial about ‘age’. It was in the milieu of the Scottish Englightenment in the mid-late 1700′s that the ideas for ‘deep time’ began to take off.

    Luther himself ‘Supputatio Annorum Mundi‘ writing in 1561 calculated the creation at 3961 B.C. In this he followed the basic style of the earlier chronologists Julius Africanus and Eusebius of Ceasarea who all held to an young earth and universe that had not yet been 6000 years. Isaac Newton (1642-1727) produced his own chronology as well as the astronomer before him Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) whose chronology built on Luther’s. Again, whether they had slight variations on the meaning of day like Augustine, they still held to the belief that not 6000 years had yet passed.

  134. Steve Drake said,

    January 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Jeff@132,
    Thanks to you as well for your dialog and interactions!

  135. January 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Steve #133 & Cris D #130
    George Walker’s book is interesting because although it lack footnotes and an index it does refer quite a bit to other views on matters discussed. Doesn’t discuss the 7th day (altho the intro indicates his commitment to the Lord’s Day we don’t have a discussion of the implication of day 7 being unclosed). Walker’s distinction between immediate and mediate creation, the initial creation and subsequent ordering – is not unique to him. Walker certainly believes in a recent creation – his date is slightly less than Ussher’s 4004, but Steve would find him a pretty congenial companion. Letham had written on the days before Chad had done his research. Letham is no fool and his book is valuable but at various points indicates his particular hobbyhorses. Still, I think my post #127 is on the right lines.

  136. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 31, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Dr Ward,

    In #121, you wrote

    I wonder if the plain grammatical import of the WCF is 6/24? It’s true of course that 6/24 was the general view at the time just before the various sciences (commonly founded by Christians) threw up problems with that.

    I don’t see how that engages the thesis and demonstration by Dr. Keister, since he has shown that science cannot say anything about it. One of Dr. Keister’s points was that it is really impossible for the various sciences to “throw up problems” with the presentation of the work of creation in Scripture. How does continually repeating the same unsubstantiated assertions advance the discussion?

    I know that what Dr. Keister has written here has considerable implications for those who have invested years and entire careers in redefinitions of Gen 1-11 (and Ex 20:11) and the WCF to accommodate the theories on origins of scientists, only to find out that is both scientifically and mathematically impossible for those “scientific theories” to say anything about the origin of creation. So, it is not without a great deal of sympathy, having been (formerly) an old-earth creationist myself, that I’ve engaged on this subject.

  137. January 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Forgive me if I’m missing something. Science cannot address ultimate origin (creation strictly so called is unrepeatable) but it can address in some measure the age of the earth. At least that’s my belief.

    Ex 20:11 is not to the point since God does not work and rest as we do so the relationship is not precise; indeed day 7 is unclosed – a continuing heavenly sabbath in which God upholds his creation and works for its good even as Jesus on his earthly sabbath did the same as his Father and was blameless (John 5:17).

    I fear you seem to think there was a neutral, unbiased approach to Genesis before modern science when in fact everyone brings assumptions to the text and needs to be aware of that.

  138. Roy Kerns said,

    January 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Don’t those commenting realize that the concern about apparent age (or whatever terminology you wish) has had a definitive *exegetical* resolution? Trivial observations: Eve, trees with fruit. Exegtically we know that the creation looked *appropriately* old.

    Put another way, think of how silly it would be to demand that our scientific measurement of minutes old Eve had to give us an answer of minutes. Those who demand that I understand (read “twist”) complex scientific data (radiometric dating, distant stars with light travel, rock formations) to get very small mere 4 digits of years answers have *refused* to recognize and submit to the obvious.

    At some place in the discussion repetitions of the assertion that the universe now looks only a few thousands of years old should be greeted with laughter. It looked older to Adam (had he known which data to examine and how to interpret it, eg, rocks and erosion, starlight where an unaided eye can see thousands of light years away stars) when he saw it mere days after it was created.

  139. January 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Apparent age has a certain logic and I guess at least some application. To say it applies to the totality of creation assumes that the creative acts of Gen 1 subsequent to the initial act infer instantaneous production in maturity of what is commanded, but is that necessarily so in every part of the narrative? Read with a western scientific mentality one might say Yes but read with a ANE mentality one might say otherwise.

    Do we really have a definitive exegetical resolution? We don’t, and that’s the issue.

    I do find it striking that two great Reformed thinkers had a different take on the creation of man: BBWarfield thought that it was at least possible to reconcile some form of evolution (should the scientific evidence eventually become compelling) with Genesis, while John Murray did not.

  140. Roy Kerns said,

    January 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Rowland, I’m open to thinking thru your explanation of your first paragraph in #139. Perhaps I’ve way too little imagination. But even as a thought problem, I can’t list a single created item that if it were that item would not have all the attributes of that item. Anything otherwise would mean a fake item, a mocking deception.

    The wine Jesus created in Jn 2 didn’t mimic wine in 43 of its 47 attributes: it was wine, and good wine at that. As attested by the taste witness master of ceremonies. And as certified by John via the inspiration of the Spirit calling it not gaxubfu, but wine.

    BTW, I, too, find it striking (read humbling) that some Reformed giants would ever think it possible to reconcile any form evolution with creation, that they would even entertain the idea that scientific evidence could compel such a conclusion.

  141. Steve Drake said,

    February 1, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Roy@140,
    Help me out here a bit. Isn’t this what an acceptance of an old earth leads to? We need to think this through. Keller is being consistent with his old earth beliefs. His old earth beliefs compel him to believe in some form of God-directed evolution. I don’t think there’s any way of getting around this problem. If one accepts the old earth paradigm, then one is left trying to explain the fossils in the rocks with its biodiversity of life and corresponding millions of years. All before Adam. One has to devise some sort of scenario where Adam is the first man, created ex nihilo, and the progenitor of the whole human race, Eve herself taken ‘out’ of man (Gen. 2:22-23) and not some hominid female that he met up with, (that these were our first two parents), and fit all the animals, birds, sea creatures, insects, plants and trees into the millions of years old rocks.

    One is left like Hugh Ross trying to say that God stepped in over these millions of years and ‘specially created’ all the biodiversity of life, that He ‘worked’ throughout the millions of years to ex nihilo bring life into existence at specific millions of years intervals (no evolution however), or like Keller that God used some form of evolution over millions of years to bring about the biodiversity of life, all culminating in Adam some 40K-60K years ago. Both views deny a global, universal damning judgment of death in the Flood of Noah, postulating instead a local flood, in order not to conflict with the fossils in the millions of years old rock. To accept the global, universal Flood of Noah, washes away the millions of years, there’s no need for them, because most of the fossil record is explained by this catastrophic and tectonic event. Most old earthers see this dilemma and argue vociferously for a local flood. They have to, To accept a global, universal judgment of the earth, its inhabitants, and people except Noah, his family, and the animals he took on the Ark, destroys the need for an earth billions of years old.

  142. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Steve, I think it depends on *why* one accepts an old-earth paradigm. There are three possibilities.

    (1) Scientific evidence is more reliable than Scripture ; ergo, old earth.

    I haven’t seen anyone actually argue that here.

    (2) The Scripture does not actually teach young-earth ; therefore, scientific evidence is admissible. This is Todd’s position above.

    (3) Scientific evidence and Scripture will, in the end, be seen to be harmonious. Current scientific evidence shows old-earth ; therefore, it is likely that Gen 1 means old-earth. This is the Warfield position.

    From where I sit, (2) and (3) do not lead down any slippery slopes.

  143. Steve Drake said,

    February 2, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Jeff @142
    There’s a disconnect here, brother. The ‘why’ is not the point of my #141 post. Forget your (1) above if you think no one argues this way. But your (2) and (3) end up in the same place. Whether scientific evidence is admissible or whether current scientific evidence ‘shows’ an old earth, the logical end of both positions in acceptance of an old earth paradigm impels you as a Christian who believes that God ‘created’ everything (Col. 1:16) to in some way some how deal with a timeline of events and an explanation for the things that exist and how they came into being. This is what Keller is attempting to do with his God-directed evolution. He is being consistent here. Hugh Ross does the same thing with his Progressive Creation (Day-Age) theory. Both positions adopt an acceptance of an old universe old earth paradigm as axiomatic and work backwards to try and explain how God (John 1:3) made it all happen within a temporal-historical timeline.

    The problems come when one tries to put the historical Adam on this timeline (Hugh Ross had to change his dates on Adam at least once), when one tries to put the fossils in the rock supposedly millions of years before Adam on this timeline, when one tries to explain a cogent Biblical theodicy within this timeline, when one attempts to explain the global and universal Flood of Noah on this timeline.

    It is inconsistent for one to say they accept the scientific evidence for an old earth and then not accept the same scientific evidence for hominids going back at least 5-6mya, or accept the scientific evidence for the diversity of life in the rocks going back to the Cambrian 540mya, or any of the other ‘scientific evidences’. Both Keller and those like him, and Ross and those like him, are at least consistent in attempting to do this.

  144. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Steve, I think you’re mistaken. Take Todd (#114). He’s not arguing from the scientific evidence to an old-earth position, but from the Scripture to a position of “6×24 is not taught in Scripture.”

    I’m neither endorsing nor criticizing his argument, but just observing the structure of it.

    Because he is arguing from Scripture, he therefore consistently accepts scientific (or “scientific-historical”) evidence for the age of the earth (which he views as not specified), and rejects the same evidence for the age of man (which he views as specified).

    This is no more inconsistent than your accepting scientific-historical evidence for the date of Jesus’ birth, but rejecting it for the date of the creation of the world.

  145. Cris D. said,

    February 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Rowland @ 135,

    So, you have seen/read Walker’s History of Creation!? Do you have access to a copy down under? We don’t have it at WTS.* It would be in the rare book room anyway, if we did have it, or microfilm, I suppose.

    Good to see you participating here.

    * We as in, I am an alumnus who lives a few miles away from the campus and its wonderful library. I probably have used as much in the last few years as I did in my MDiv days!

  146. Steve Drake said,

    February 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Jeff@143,
    It doesn’t matter whether you argue from Scripture for an old earth position or whether you argue from science for an old earth position. That you accept the old earth position is the thrust of my posts. It is the acceptance of the old earth paradigm that drives everything else. This is why I can say that Keller is consistent. It is why I can say that Ross is consistent. It is why I can say that Christian theologians and laypeople who have not thought this through are inconsistent. They have not thought deeply enough about the implications.

    This is no more inconsistent than your accepting scientific-historical evidence for the date of Jesus’ birth, but rejecting it for the date of the creation of the world.

    This makes no sense at all. You fail to see the inherent assumptions in either proposition. The lines of evidence are different for both.

  147. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Steve: It doesn’t matter whether you argue from Scripture for an old earth position or whether you argue from science for an old earth position.

    I would like to persuade you that is *the* one thing that actually does matter.

    If, in the end, the Scripture does not teach, directly or by good-and-necessary inference, 24×6 creation, then Christians are not required to believe it.

    The issue of paradigms is a red herring (not saying you are deliberately doing so), in that people generally do not adopt entire paradigms, and one may be consistent in many different ways. There is not a single, unique “old-earth” paradigm.

  148. February 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Cris D #145

    Yes I’ve a pdf file of it but it’s large 17MB
    Mail me off list if you’d like to discuss
    rowland.ward@gmail.com

  149. Andrew Duggan said,

    February 3, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Dr. Ward,

    Re: 137. Please re-read Dr. Keister’s comment #65. For a system in state C, unless you have information from outside the system (e.g. your own personal knowledge or the reliable testimony of an eye-witness) you cannot know whether it started at state A or B. Applying that to the age of the creation, which he did at the end of his comment, it confirms science cannot say anything about the age of the earth, because it necessarily excludes information from outside the system.

    You wrote:

    Science cannot address ultimate origin (creation strictly so called is unrepeatable) but it can address in some measure the age of the earth. At least that’s my belief.

    That may be your belief, but Dr. Keister has demonstrated that is a mathematical impossibility for it to be true.

    Your remark about Exodus 20:11 is not supported by the teaching of WLC and WSC on the reason annexed to the 4th commandment. Nothing in Gen 1 or Exodus 20:8-11 suggests that God ceased all work. Any eternal or eschatological aspects of the Sabbath don’t in anyway suggest that the six days of the 1st week were not of ordinary length. just as the eschatological aspects of the resurrection of Christ don’t suggest it was not a real bodily resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week after his sacrifice.

    So the question is why do you allow something demonstrated to be a mathematical impossibility affect your thinking on the age of creation and likely affect your reading of Genesis 1 and Exodus 20?

    Mr. Cagle,

    Re: 142,

    For (2) and (3) Dr. Keister demonstrated those to be not possible. It may be “Todd’s” position, but neither he nor has anyone else in the comments offered anything other than assertions rather than a refutation of Dr Adrien Keister.

  150. Andrew Duggan said,

    February 3, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Followup:

    Re: 142, with regard to my comment of (2) (and (3)), Dr. Keister’s point is not that the scientific evidence is not admissible, but rather there is no scientific evidence at all. with respect to origins (main article) or the age of creation (comment 65).

  151. Steve Drake said,

    February 3, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Jeff@147,

    If, in the end, the Scripture does not teach, directly or by good-and-necessary inference, 24×6 creation, then Christians are not required to believe it.

    Echoing Andrew’s comments in #149 above and parlaying the conclusions of his comments and Dr. Keister’s original post, the idea that a 6X24 creation does not naturally ‘come out of’ the text is hilarious if it weren’t so utterly sad. That millions and billions of years ‘come out of’ the text in Genesis 1, or the reading of the chronogenealogies in Gen. 5 & 11 or in any other passage of Scripture is the twisted nature of this debate. Seeking to find some kind of support for a millions and billions of years old earth and ‘deep time’, a ‘deep time’ that wasn’t even conceived until a little more than 200 years ago, old earth advocates make the spurious claim that if Scripture does not teach a young earth, then Christians are not required to believe it.

    That Scripture does indeed teach a young earth approximately 6000 years old has been the almost unanimous position of the Church until the anti-biblical philosophical assumptions associated with modern geology and uniformitarianism, and it’s ‘dating game’ to advance this ‘deep time’ and distance itself from God and His Holy Word.

  152. Steve Drake said,

    February 3, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Counterclaim to Jeff’s statement as quoted in my #151 above:

    “If, in the end, the Scripture does not teach, directly or by good-and-necessary inference that the earth is millions and billions of years old, then Christians are required to reject it.”

  153. Mason said,

    February 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I’m jumping in late, but just a couple of quick thoughts.

    First, Dr. Keister takes the quote about “science and faith are irreconcilable” out of context. It must be taken in light of the preceding paragraph, 3 sentences earlier, where Keller says “How then, can they reconcile what science seems to tell them about evolution with their traditional theological beliefs?” He’s not equating science and evolution – he is simply using “science” as short-hand for all scientific studies related to evolution. Along those same lines, claiming “evolution” isn’t a science is absurd. There is a wealth of valuable scientific data based on direct observation of evolutionary processes. I agree that those who extrapolate observable scientific data to explain the origins of life go too far and step outside the bounds of true science, but to label all evolutionary study as unscientific is utterly false.

    Second, in response to Steve Drake @151, the “almost uninamous” position of the church is often a weak one when it comes to life and science. We all know about the Medieval church’s insistence that the Earth is the center of the universe. But also consider the stance on birth control. Before the last 100-150 years or so, the prevailing belief was that man’s seed (what we now know as sperm) actually consistent of tiny babies that were impanted and grew in a woman’s womb. It was this false understanding that led them to oppose birth control because they believe it actually killed tiny babies rather than simple cells. I know many still oppose birth control today, but it is on that basis that Calvin and many others opposed birth control; their incorrect scientific knowledge led them to theological conclusions that they might not hold if they had correct scientific knowledge. So the fact that the Old Earth theories have only been around for the past few centuries does automatically disqualify them – scientific knolwedge can inform biblical understanding.

  154. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Andrew:

    Thanks. First, I agree with you and Adrian that history is not science.

    Second, I think that Todd has offered something of substance here in #114. I’m not agreeing with his argument, but rather noting that he has offered a genuine argument.

    Steve: If, in the end, the Scripture does not teach, directly or by good-and-necessary inference that the earth is millions and billions of years old, then Christians are required to reject it.

    Confessionally speaking, this is precisely backwards. Our consciences are only burdened to believe what Scripture says, NOT to reject what Scripture doesn’t say.

    Else, we would be in sin for using computers.

    The flaw in #152 is that it puts forward the wrong default position. Our default is always the position of Christian liberty *unless* bound by Scripture (WCoF 20.2).

    All: I am defending Todd’s freedom of conscience here, not the substance of his argument. His argument in #114 is that Gen 1 does not provide the basis for a timeline. That argument is based on exegesis of the Scripture and should be treated with the respect and care that we take for all arguments from Scripture. Those who oppose his position need to show, in some detail, why he is wrong to assert that Gen 1 does not provide the basis for a timeline.

    Generalizations about paradigms are not enough to compel Todd to believe 6×24 creation.

    Now, I’m not Todd, and it’s not proper for me to take up his case. He’s fully capable of that himself. :) So I’ll check out at this time.

    Grace,
    Jeff

  155. Steve Drake said,

    February 3, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Mason@ 153,
    If you have not read completely all my posts and the rest of the posts on this thread (start to finish), your conclusions will not garner the thrust of my arguments and you will be off by quite a consideration. That scientific knowledge ‘can not’ inform biblical understanding is the thrust of Dr. Keister’s original post.

  156. Steve Drake said,

    February 3, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Jeff@ 154,

    His argument in #114 is that Gen 1 does not provide the basis for a timeline. That argument is based on exegesis of the Scripture and should be treated with the respect and care that we take for all arguments from Scripture. Those who oppose his position need to show, in some detail, why he is wrong to assert that Gen 1 does not provide the basis for a timeline.

    That this has not been done in the numerous books in print and articles on line is the epitome of a non-sequitor.

  157. Andrew Duggan said,

    February 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Mr Cagle,

    I re-read Mr. Bordow’s 114, and I don’t see any refutation of Dr. Keister’s presentation in either the original posting or comment 65.

    In his 114, he seems to favor the Framework Hypothesis. I would recommend reading:

    E. J Young “The Days of Genesis, Part I” Westminster Theological Journal 25 (1962-63) 1-34
    and
    “The Days of Genesis, Part II” Westminster Theological Journal 25 (1962-63) 143-71.

    That is also available in other formats at Ted Hildebrandt’s OT eSources Genesis page.

    The 11th conclusion found in part 2, says:

    Genesis one is not poetry or saga or myth, but straight-forward, trustworthy history, and, inasmuch as it is a divine revelation, accurately records those matters of which it speaks.

    Perhaps Mr. Bordow might find those articles helpful in answering some of this questions raised in 114.

  158. Steve Drake said,

    February 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Andrew @#157,
    Perhaps also:
    Creation and Change‘, Douglas F. Kelly, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  159. February 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Andrew Duggan #149

    I’m afraid mere assertions are not enough. Remember James 3:1

    It is self evident that God does not work and rest as we do. There is an analogy but not precise equivalence. Considering I’m a strict subscriber to the WCF and belong to about the only denomination in this country which takes the sabbatic character of the Lord’s Day seriously, you are missing the mark.

    Steve #151
    so other than 6/24 is hilarious. Probably too strong a word. My #43 addresses that. But nor does it follow that the alternative is millions or billions of years as you seem to so readily assume. I don’t know the age of the earth/universe and in many ways I don’t care. I do not believe Scripture addresses the question in the manner YE supposes.
    Young or old doesn’t worry me.

    Do you not think science can help illumine the tedxt and correct wrong readings? Psalm 96:10 was taken by RCs and Protestants generally to teach the physical fixity of the earth well into the 1700s. (Notice this in a Brakel’s work The Christians Reasonable Service published 1700.) The telescope showed us our reading was wrong or did it? What think ye?

  160. Steve Drake said,

    February 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Rowland#159,

    I don’t know the age of the earth/universe and in many ways I don’t care.

    Good morning to you there Rowland Saturday morning in Australia! Hope you’ve had a bite to eat this morning!

    That the ‘analogical’ day view persuades you to ‘not care’ about the age of the earth/universe shows the deficiency of your beloved theory. See my post #143 above. Your theory is intellectually sloppy and lazy, not addressing the pressing questions that Keller attempts to address in his article that Keister comments on, or that Progressive Creationist Hugh Ross attempts to address in his theory. Let’s have no more of your prognostications until you can at least attempt to explain an historical timeline of events.

  161. Andrew Duggan said,

    February 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Dr Ward,

    Your #159 is self defeating as your are merely asserting that I am only asserting. Matt 7:4. But since you’ve triggered the a corollary to Godwin’s Law, further communication is pointless.

  162. February 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Had to google to find out what Godwin’s Law was. Not impressed with your application of it here, nor of Mat 7:4.

    Nor Steve to I see how your #143 addresses the point.

    Perhaps both of you are so wedded to a particular YE position that a guy like me who, like most of the Christian world, is not capable of understanding all the scientific arguments, and who is somewhere in the middle anyway, gets lumped with the evolutionists or at least the intellectually sloppy and lazy.

    Ah well. I guess we must agree to disagree.

    Blessed are those who on Scripture grounds don’t think they have all the answers.

  163. Steve Drake said,

    February 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Human wisdom:

    Blessed are those who on Scripture grounds don’t think they have all the answers.;

    God’s wisdom:

    The law of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (Ps. 19:7)

  164. Don said,

    February 4, 2012 at 2:39 am

    @Andrew Duggan #149:
    I’m sorry, but no. The main thing that Dr. Keister has shown in #65 is that the level of rigor needed for mathematical proof is simply irrelevant to the way that science is actually done.
    Take his ball-over-the-wall example. Maybe you can’t tell whether the ball was thrown by someone on the ground or on a ladder, but you ought to be able to figure out it wasn’t thrown by a caterpillar. If you have to use information “that isn’t in the system” to figure that out, then good for you.
    Similarly, the idea that science can’t “disprove” a young-but-mature creation might be technically true but I can’t see how that’s useful. By the same logic, science can’t “disprove” Last Tuesdayism either. To be clear, I am _not_ equating these two origin theories, but they are equally potentially valid according to Dr. Keister’s logic.

    And more generally, to say that science does not (or cannot) address origin issues is just silly. I hope I’m not coming across as rude, but really. Evolution addresses the origin of life (or perhaps more specifically, the origin of biodiversity). Big Bang theory address the origin of the universe. The Standard Model addresses the origin of all the subatomic particles. Germ theory addresses the origin of many diseases. String theory addresses the origin of the fundamental physical forces. These are all scientific theories developed by the scientific method. I am _not_ saying you must believe any and every claim of these scientific theories (I, personally, don’t necessarily believe all of them). If you think they address origin issues incorrectly, feel free to say so. But please don’t try to say these theories are somehow not science.

  165. Steve Drake said,

    February 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Don@164,
    From Keister’s original post:

    That does not make science worthless, as it does have immense predictive value in its domain. But that’s precisely the point: questions about origins of the universe are not within the domain of science. You can hypothesize all day about origins, and scientists have, but the bottom line is there are no repeatable experiments to reproduce what actually happened. Therefore, science simply cannot contradict the Bible, at least in questions of origin.

    From your post #164:

    And more generally, to say that science does not (or cannot) address origin issues is just silly.

    That science attempts to address origins questions is not how I read Keister’s argument. That they attempt to do so within a methodological naturalistic paradigm, excluding the supernatural a priori will inevitably lead to wrong conclusions; wrong conclusions that will not square up with Scripture and the only eyewitness to the events themselves: God.

  166. Don said,

    February 6, 2012 at 12:31 am

    @Steve Drake #165:
    I basically agree with what you say here, although I was more addressing the very next sentence after your Keister quotation (“The Bible says something about origins, and science cannot”). If you think that the scientific method is incorrectly applied in some situations, then OK, fine. But that’s very different than saying that, for example, the Big Bang isn’t science. I don’t know if that’s a misunderstanding of what science really is, or an active attempt to redefine the term, or what, but it isn’t useful and is only going to confuse things.

  167. Andrew Duggan said,

    February 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Don,

    Re: #164, any conclusion about being able to figure out the ball wasn’t thrown by a caterpillar, necessarily involves information from out side the system. The source of the force that puts the ball in motion can no more be known than any other circumstance without knowledge from outside the system (in the case of the example from the other side of the wall).

    The rest of your comment is doing the same thing by admitting information from outside the system. Your personal knowledge and recollection about last Tuesday is information from outside the system.

  168. February 6, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Don @ 164:

    You write, “If you have to use information ‘that isn’t in the system’ to figure that out, then good for you.”

    But since we are in the universe system, we don’t have information “outside the system”, unless you count the Bible in that category (haven’t thought that through yet; it certainly seems plausible that, since God is both immanent and transcendent, particularly since He is transcendent (and omniscient), He possesses any and all possible information outside the universe system. Moreover, He has revealed many things in His Word. Hence, it is possible for there to be “outside information” in the Bible.) We certainly do NOT have any other information “outside the system”.

    As for the usefulness of the concept that science can’t disprove mature creation, I would say its usefulness is that my argument eviscerates all “scientific” “arguments” against mature creation. I already stated that my argument was not constructive. That is, I don’t think my argument is for mature creation, so much as it is anti anti mature creation. That people don’t give this argument much credit is often due to several factors: 1. It’s very simple. How can such a simple argument cut through so many complicated arguments? (Apparently, they don’t have Occam’s razor in mind.) 2. A tendency to use a false reductio ad absurdam to Last Tuesdayism. (See below.)

    It’s quite true that science can’t disprove Last Tuesdayism, and it’s equally true that both mature creation and Last Tuesdayism are equally valid… according to the semigroup theory argument I have put forth. That I don’t believe in Last Tuesdayism shows that, at least in my mind, this semigroup theory argument is incomplete. That’s fine by me. I’m not claiming it’s a complete construction (never did). But just because my argument allows for Last Tuesdayism (which I don’t believe, and I doubt many believe), doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful tool against the attacks on mature creation. It still works there!

    You write, “Evolution addresses the origin of life (or perhaps more specifically, the origin of biodiversity).” Well, to that I would say that it certainly claims it does. But saying it’s so don’t make it so! There is zero, absolutely zero, evidence for macro-evolution. You write, “Big Bang theory address [sic] the origin of the universe.” Again, it’s a claim, but even there, the claim is not universal. The theorists do not claim to know what happened at the very beginning. All the Big Bang equations blow up at the origin’s singularity (not an insignificant fact, incidentally). You write, “The Standard Model addresses the origin of all the subatomic particles.” I’m not sure any physicist really believes that. In looking at the history of physics, all the so-called “fundamental particles” have been shown to be made up of still-smaller particles considered “more fundamental”. How can they ever know if they’ve reached rock-bottom, and found the truly “atomic” (indivisible) particle(s)? You write, “String theory addresses the origin of the fundamental physical forces.” Please read my comment # 21 a little more carefully.

    Which of these theories are not scientific? Well, for me, the verdict has come in on the following (which I do not regard as science): Evolution, Big Bang Theory. The jury’s still out on String Theory (it’s at least a highly problematic theory, since it’s not testable at all at the moment). The Standard Model has certainly been tested a great deal, and shown to have fairly good predictive value. So I’d be willing to say that the Standard Model is scientific. Now, let me see: of all these theories, the Standard Model and String Theory are the only two that didn’t attempt to concern themselves with origins. Interesting. Incidentally, if you want to see a well-respected physicist who doesn’t think much of string theory, look here (Nerd Warning):

    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/.

    Don @ 166:

    One thing I know really well: having a Ph.D. means that I don’t know squat. However, that doesn’t mean I literally know nothing whatsoever: I just know better that some people how big the fields of knowledge are in math and physics.

    One thing I do know: experimentation is the life-blood of science. If you have no experiments, then according to the scientific method (about which many people claim to know much, but don’t really) you can never go beyond a theory. Why is the Second Law of Thermodynamics called a Law instead of an Hypothesis or a Theory? Because it has been extensively tested in labs, and (this is actually rare for any theory) has NEVER been demonstrated false in labs. We know of literally no violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Compare this with Evolution, Big Bang Theory, and String Theory. There are no experiments possible with any of these three theories. The first two are impossible right out of the gate. The third is a technological problem (but a very large one).

    You have your choice: you can either take a broader definition of science where you include theories like Evolution and Big Bang Theory, but you accept the experimental limitations (quite severe). Or you take a narrower definition of science, where you restrict your theories to more testable theories. I highly prefer the latter.

    There’s a story about a very modern sky-scraper once built. It had everything. The only problem was, the traffic flow of people inside the building was terrible, because nobody wanted to walk close to the very open windows. So they called in an engineer. He took a look at the specifications on the windows. Then, in the presence of many witnesses, ran full tilt at the window. Despite the gasps of the witnesses, who expected disastor, the engineer merely got a bruised shoulder. The window didn’t budge. After that, the people were quite willing to walk near the windows.

    My point in bringing up this story is that the engineer was willing to trust his life in the hands of the people who designed the building according to rules of engineering (which is built on the research of scientists). I am willing to do that every day when I get onto a bus, or drive a car. That’s a lot of very testable science and engineering that goes into those vehicles. But what if a car was built up only on untested theories? I would not trust my life to such a theory!

    And that’s exactly what Evolution, Big Bang, etc., are. They are untested theories. I wouldn’t trust my life to them.

  169. February 6, 2012 at 9:23 am

    [EDIT]: I wrote “We certainly do NOT have any other information ‘outside the system’.” There is general revelation, which does say something about God, however limited.

  170. Roy Kerns said,

    February 6, 2012 at 10:35 am

    A couple (theological rather than scientific) comments on Dr Adrian’s excellent (because simple, clear as well as correct) points about mature creationism eviscerating “scientific” arguments against creationism.

    1. We should never forget that human reasoning cannot and hence does not proceed apart from *a priori* assumptions. Thus, in addition to rejecting mature creationism as something which can’t be true because it’s too simple an argument (Adrian’s point 1), there was actually a preceding point zero. The pagan begins by asserting that there is no God, thus there cannot be creation, thus mature creationism cannot be true.

    2. No one other than the Christian knows that “Last Tuesdayism” is false. We know that because the Bible tells us so.

  171. Don said,

    February 7, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Adrian #168, my main points:
    Regarding my caterpillar example (so this is also re. Andrew #167), is that limiting our certainty to things known “in the system” is not the way anything happens in real life. It may be important at the fundamental level–there is no inherent reason that the scientific method must be true. Any such proof must be “outside the system.” The scientific method is, of course, extremely useful at describing all sorts of things inside the system; and that, of course, doesn’t make it necessarily true. There is no inherent reason that nature will behave tomorrow just as it has for the past thousand years. But still no one worries about caterpillars throwing balls over walls or the laws of physics suddenly stopping. Science can’t disprove Last Tuesdayism, but since there is no evidence for it, science doesn’t care about Last Tuesdayism.

    Whether special revelation is from inside or outside the system is an interesting idea. The scientific method developed in the West because the “natural philosophers” thought that nature should follow orderly, comprehensible laws that reflected an orderly Creator. But that’s still a philosophical conclusion from inside the system.

    Anyway, I strongly disagree that your ‘argument eviscerates all “scientific” “arguments” against mature creation.’ You are making a mathematical analogy, not a scientific argument. You are not making a scientific argument, because there is no scientific evidence for it. (Again, hope I’m not being rude, but I think this is just by definition–if the universe were young and looked young, then the whole mature creation thing would not be anyone’s concern in the first place.) And I would caution you against using Occam’s Razor here. Which is a simpler explanation: The universe looks old because (A) it is old; (B) it is young? Obviously that’s a caricature of this discussion, but it’s not clear to me that the mature creation position is especially simple.

    Later on, you said, “Well, for me, the verdict has come in on the following (which I do not regard as science): Evolution, Big Bang Theory” and then “Or you take a narrower definition of science, where you restrict your theories to more testable theories. I highly prefer the latter.” That’s exactly my point in #166–you don’t get to redefine “science” on your own terms. You are completely wrong to claim are no experiments possible on the Big Bang, unless you use an artificially narrow definition of “experiment” to basically mean “repeat the original event.” No, scientists don’t always get to do the experiments they might want–I bet geologists would love to learn about the earth’s core without waiting for earthquakes to produce seismic waves. But there are numerous sets of independent observations (such as the microwave background) for which Big Bang theory (and no other, currently) provides a coherent explanation. That doesn’t prove Big Bang is either complete or even correct, but was developed by people following the scientific method. It is science. In contrast, String Theory doesn’t uniquely explain any observations, and doesn’t have any predictive power; it doesn’t seem to be science.

    “And that’s exactly what Evolution, Big Bang, etc., are. They are untested theories. I wouldn’t trust my life to them.”
    Have you fully thought through this claim? If you came down with, say, a viral or prion-based disease, would you reject a cure if you knew it were developed using evolution-based science?

  172. Don said,

    February 7, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Miscellanea and side points:

    Roy #170: I have to disagree with your point #2. How do you know the Bible wasn’t created last Tuesday as well? If you answer “because the Bible says so” then that’s just circular reasoning. And a believer in any other religion could say the same about their own scriptures. It comes down to faith, and it doesn’t take much faith to believe that last Monday existed. What makes the Christian unique is his/her greater faith in the one true God.

    Adrian #168: You said:
    “having a Ph.D. means that I don’t know squat.”
    I would have written it as “having a PhD doesn’t mean I don’t know squat.” But whatever works for you. :)

    More seriously, I am bothered by your blurring the difference between laws and theories. I hope you’re not subtly trying to confuse “theory” with “hypothesis.” A law is not a theory that gets promoted. A theory, in the sense of evolution or gravity, is a framework by which to organize observations and interpretations. A law is a specific rule that is generally applicable under certain conditions. That definition for law is probably more restrictive than necessary for the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or any of Newton’s three laws, but you have to consider Ohm’s law, which is valid only for ohmic materials. Running into circular reasoning a second time tells me this comment is long enough.

  173. Steve Drake said,

    February 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Don@171,

    …if you knew it were developed using evolution-based science?

    What is ‘evolution-based science’? Can you define this phrase please? Is it different than non-evolution-based science, or is all ‘science’ evolution-based science?

  174. Don said,

    February 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    @ Steve Drake #171,
    It’s my understanding that all of modern biology is evolution-based. But I was thinking of a specific way to fight a virus or prion (or a bacterium, say, MRSA) that assumed the organism’s genetic code behaved according to the general principles of evolution. And if it happened to be clearly stated that evolutionary theory was used to develop the therapy.
    (Actually I don’t know whether a prion should even be classified as an organism, or if it has a genetic code per se.)

  175. Steve Drake said,

    February 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Don @ #172,

    It’s my understanding that all of modern biology is evolution-based.

    Yes, but maybe better, ‘most modern secular biologists are evolutionists’. Or better yet, ‘most modern secular biologists interpret their discoveries through an evolutionary framework’. The two words ‘evolution’ and ‘science’ are not the same. One could rightly be charged with equivocation if one was to equate them.

    That biologists place an interpretive grid of evolution upon their findings, upon their discoveries, and upon the neutral facts, turns out to be just that: an interpretive grid that may or may not be valid and can rightly be challenged.

  176. Roy Kerns said,

    February 8, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Don #172. Precisely. You’ve understood. The discussions here are among those who do accept scripture as final. No reasoning is not circular; all reasoning depends upon *a priori* assumptions. (If you do not agree, then, if you wish, I’d be happy to pursue that discussion privately. It’s standard Van Til. Understood and accepted by many (most?) of those posting here. You might begin by locating and reading “Once upon an a priori”, an essay in “Jerusalem and Athens”, the festscrhrift for Van Til.)

    Rephrasing my #170, Second Point. Any statement about origins ultimately hinges on a faith based starting point. True for me. True for the pagan. That’s what the Bible says. That also is what science says. The pagan cannot *scientifically* prove, eg, the Big Bang since there exists no way to be there and witness it, no way to repeat the experiment (definition, btw, of the scientific method, and the central point of Dr Adrian’s essay heading these comments).

    Perhaps the universe looks 14.123456789 billion yrs old. But old from what, better phrased, old from *when*? Science doesn’t have a way to determine that when. For example, not until merely a couple or so centuries ago did science even entertain the idea that there might be some sort of beginning. (I Kid You Not.) For example, between the first quarter of the 19th C and the first quarter of the 20th C the scientifically asserted *apparent* age of the universe grew not by an amount of a million years but by a factor of a million times (from 10s of thousands of years to 10s of billions of years). Science does not know the universe is not cyclic. It might make a guess at what stage of the cycle the present is. But if .1233456789 of a cycle, why not 2.123456789? Why not .000000009? This is Adrian’s point about what honest scientists admit (and hotly debate, again IKYN) in their intermural discussions.

    But those who believe the Bible KNOW the universe: a) had a starting point; b) isn’t cyclical; c) didn’t start last Thursday (it is, btw, Last Thursdayism, with a cult offshoot being last Tuesdayism, cf Wikipedia ;^p ) .

    A friend once faced a situation of serious stress. I asked him (and now ask the reader) to do this. Drop a pencil on the floor. Now, read Genesis 1:1. Which of these do you believe (aka know) true?

    In all of the above I’m not arguing I’ve proved mature creationism. But (and this again was Adrian’s point), I’ve removed any force from any non-exegetical (eg, “scientific”) objection to it.

    One final observation: for those who have access to it, say WTS library, try Philip E Hughes “The Problem of Origins”, from about half a century ago. Blows Warfield’s “Antiquity of Man” out of the water.

  177. Steve Drake said,

    February 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Roy @ 176,

    For example, between the first quarter of the 19th C and the first quarter of the 20th C the scientifically asserted *apparent* age of the universe grew not by an amount of a million years but by a factor of a million times (from 10s of thousands of years to 10s of billions of years).

    First quarter of 19th century = years 1800 – 1825 A.D.
    First quarter of 20th century = years 1900 – 1925 A.D.

    Conclusion: the rise of modern geology and its anti-biblical philosophical assumptions and the discovery of radioisotopes.

    Beautiful, baby, beautiful.

  178. Don said,

    February 9, 2012 at 2:09 am

    @ Steve Drake #175:
    Your second rephrasing is probably best of the three. And no, “evolution” is not a synonym for “science.” But your second paragraph is right on, for how evolution is used to explain and organize data according to the scientific method. So I would understand “evolution is science,” if anyone says that, as shorthand in the same sense that “quantum mechanics is science.”

    @ Roy Kerns #176:
    I’m not sure why you keep referencing pagans, I don’t know whether I personally know any pagan scientists. Unless you count Hindus, in which case I think it’s an unnecessarily impolite term.

    But I’m afraid I don’t understand why you ask “old from what” or when. The what is the Big Bang, right? You sound as if you’re surprised that scientific knowledge has increased over the past few centuries. Lord Kelvin, for instance, calculated the sun’s age was tens of millions of years old. He was wrong because although he knew chemical processes weren’t sufficient to power the sun, he didn’t know about nuclear energy.

    I should point out that Lord Kelvin was a committed Christian, but using the best science available to him at the time, he came up with (and vigorously defended) an age far greater than six thousand years. There is no nefarious plot among scientists to prove (or “prove,” if you will) that the universe is old and therefore Christianity is false. Very few scientists are actively opposed to Christianity or religion in general.

    But overall, no, you have not removed any scientific objection to mature creationism. The scientific objection is that it is a nonscientific idea. There is no scientific evidence for it. It specifically objects to scientific evidence that the universe appears old, and claims that the universe is nevertheless young. I am not saying it’s therefore necessarily wrong, I’m just saying it’s a nonscientific, or rather contra-scientific, idea. If you have have theological objections to an old universe, then fine. Express your objections. But don’t confuse theological objections with scientific ones.

  179. Steve Drake said,

    February 9, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Don@ #178,

    Lord Kelvin, for instance, calculated the sun’s age was tens of millions of years old. He was wrong because although he knew chemical processes weren’t sufficient to power the sun, he didn’t know about nuclear energy.

    ‘In April of 1862, Kelvin, an expert on thermodynamics and widely regarded as the greatest physicist of his day, addressed a meeting of the Edinburgh Royal Society with a blistering attack on geologists and their methods: “For eighteen years it has pressed upon my mind, that essential principles of Thermo-dynamics have been overlooked by geologists.” He went to berate them for their insistence that the natural processes seen acting on the earth today were the same as those in the geological past, and that therefore the rates of those processes had never changed over geologic time. He condemned the geologist’s unscientific demands for unlimited time and considered that the earth had a very definite beginning and would also have a very conclusive end.’ (Cherry Lewis, The Dating Game, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p.34)

    That this was long after Hutton had published his ‘Theory of the Earth’ in 1795 and Lyell his ‘Principles of Geology’ in the early 1830′s, shows the paradigm shift to ‘deep time’ and the ‘dating game’, was well underway by the time Kelvin came on the scene.

    Kelvin initially bracketed his age of the earth between 20 million years and 400 million years, later revising those figures to a more definite 100 million years. John Joly, a Professor of Geology at Trinity College Dublin in 1897, arrived at a age of 89 million years. As the 19th century closed, Kelvin’s final written word on the subject was published, ‘The age of the Earth as an abode fitted for life’. In it he argued for between 40 and 20 million years, with his personal preference being the lower value.

    ‘There was an uproar from the geologists and biologists as even the most time-conscious of these could see that 20 million years was just not enough for geological processes to have shaped the world, or for life to have evolved to its current state of complexity’ (Cherry Lewis, The Dating Game, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p.39).

    I should point out that Lord Kelvin was a committed Christian, but using the best science available to him at the time, he came up with (and vigorously defended) an age far greater than six thousand years.

    Even ‘committed Christians’ can be in error.

    But overall, no, you have not removed any scientific objection to mature creationism. The scientific objection is that it is a nonscientific idea. There is no scientific evidence for it.

    That one ignores the scientific evidence for a young earth (see my post#131), shows (1) the bias of old earth advocates to hang on to naturalistic philosophical assumptions that gave rise to the ‘dating game’ in the first place, and (2) an hermeneutical bias in Scripture that twists and supports it.

  180. February 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Don @ 171:

    You write, “I strongly disagree that your ‘argument eviscerates all ‘scientific’ ‘arguments’ against mature creation. You are making a mathematical analogy, not a scientific argument.”

    Actually, I’m doing neither. I’m making a mathematical argument.

    You write, “You are completely wrong to claim [sic] are no experiments possible on the Big Bang, unless you use an artificially narrow definition of ‘experiment’ to basically mean ‘repeat the original event.’ ”

    If I wanted to test Newton’s Second Law in an everyday regime (not at a quantum or relativistic level), I would do a bunch of experiments where I could exert a known force on a known mass, and see if the acceleration comes out correctly. If I want to test a cause-and-effect hypothesis, I would do a bunch of experiments in which I have nothing but the supposed cause, and see if I always get the effect (Mill’s methods here). Reasoning by analogy, if I want to test the hypothesis that the Big Bang caused the universe around us to look the way it does, then I would have to have a whole bunch of universes that I could cause to undergo Big Bangs, watch them evolve in time to a comparable age such as ours (supposedly is), and see how they come out. If I want to test the hypothesis that man has evolved from lower forms of life, then I have to be able to watch a whole bunch of lower forms of life evolve into men. Those are the experiments I have to be able to perform if I’m even to come close to the level of “certainty” that science can ever get to (which is not always what scientists would like to claim it is). I haven’t even gotten to errors in measurement, the extreme difficulty of ruling out factors, etc.

    Take the Big Bang theory at a meta-level. The only thing scientists can say right now is that they think the Big Bang is a possible cause for the universe to appear as it is right now. That is, they want to say that event A (the Big Bang) caused event B (the current state of the universe). On what basis can scientists rule out that a different event F (this could be whatever you want) caused event B?

    I think you greatly over-estimate the ability of scientists to rule out alternative theories. It is extremely difficult to isolate causes in the real world. Just look at the world of medicine and the amount of non-science (or is it nonsense?) going on to see what I mean: the number of experiments performed without controls, or without the double-blind mechanism, or without taking hormesis into account.

    You write, “Have you fully thought through this claim? If you came down with, say, a viral or prion-based disease, would you reject a cure if you knew it were developed using evolution-based science?”

    I wouldn’t care how it was developed (assuming they didn’t destroy human life via evils like embryonic stem cell research); in order to test the validity of the cure, they would have to do regular science with which I’d be perfectly comfortable. I would also hazard a guess that, even if they do base a cure on evolution-based science, it would actually be micro-evolution-based science, not macro-evolution-based science. I have no problem, a priori, with the concept of micro-evolution.

    Regarding the definition of the word “science”: this gets to be a philosophical problem. Science, to my mind, is NOT “whatever scientists say it is” (scientists can be wrong – even a lot of them can be wrong), nor is it “what scientists do” (they do lots of things you couldn’t really call science, like applying for grants). There are probably other things I wouldn’t call it, either. I like this one:

    The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. – from an Oxford online dictionary.

    I would add to this, however, that the “systematic study” needs to be the “scientific method”, as outlined by Bacon and Mill and others. That includes a bit more than just “observation and experiment”.

    Conclusion: if you rip out experiments from a certain field of study, whatever that is, then I am inclined not to call it science.

    Don @ 172:

    You write, “I hope you’re not subtly trying to confuse ‘theory’ with ‘hypothesis’.”

    If you want to say that a theory is a framework, that’s fine by me. I don’t think it would affect any of my arguments. You’re correct in that the word “theory” can mean different things in different contexts, and my apologies if I’ve not been clear. I’ve usually meant “theory”, perhaps, to mean a collection of untested hypotheses, as in, “That’s only theoretical.”

    Don @ 178:

    You write, “But overall, no, you have not removed any scientific objection to mature creationism. The scientific objection is that it is a nonscientific idea.”

    This is precisely the sort of thinking I wrote against in my original post. My claim is that NONE of the following are scientific: mature creation, evolutionary theory, Big Bang theory. Your comments indicate you believe Big Bang and evolution are scientific, and that mature creation is not scientific. I counter with, “Mature creation is not science. Neither is Big Bang nor evolution.” They are all faiths. It’s not just the lack of evidence that’s the problem, it’s the lack of testability.

    I object to Big Bang theory and evolution on two grounds. 1. (Quite the stronger of the two reasons): they are, according to my interpretation of the Genesis account, incompatible with the biblical record. 2. They are not scientifically compelling.

  181. Don said,

    February 9, 2012 at 11:08 am

    @ Steve Drake #179:
    I think we haven’t been talking about young earth creationism. At least, I’ve been addressing mature-appearing creation. Mature creation specifically acknowledges the scientific evidence for the world appearing old, but claims, on theological grounds, that it is not in fact old.

  182. Roy said,

    February 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Don #178. I use “pagan” in this thread as shorthand for “one who does not submit to the authority of scripture”.

    A number of results flow from that rebellion. The pagan cannot prove “not God”. Indeed, the pagan denies the evidence which not only demands but (in contrast to Josh McDowell’s version) *declares* a verdict. Creation itself leaves the pagan “without excuse, because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful” says God in Ro 1:20-21. (How can one look at a differential equation or at deep space and not glorify God? Or eat a banana split and not be thankful?)

    Having scornfully defied evidence in order to maintain their (starting point) denial of God, the pagan faces intellectual dilemmas, the “but became vain in their own imaginations” of v21. In order to avoid despair, in order to continue in life, the pagan makes a bunch of interconnected assumptions. One could think of these as under the category “make god of themself”. The pagan assumes their senses provide reliable information, that the world tho not governed by God and hence utterly random, is nonetheless orderly and full of meaning. (BTW, this is how Van Til’s famous point about the pagan simultaneously asserting both chance and determinism works out in science.) The pagan assumes they can interpret the data of reality apart from God. (This illustrates in pagan science Van Til’s point about the pagan borrowing from God without acknowledging having done so.) The pagan further asserts that all evidence cannot prove God. No matter the contortion, no matter the distortion, the evidence must lead to the conclusion “not God”.

    I could expand and explain (and will, if any wish, in private correspondence). But in terms of this thread, here’s my point: any Christian entering the arena of debate not understanding the above has lost already. Put another way (as I did above), Adrian’s essay and the comment thread flowing from it are part of a debate among Christians who do submit to scripture. This debate will not provide a final proof to the pagan. Don’t look for that proof as a tool to determine the validity of the posts in the thread. (Tho one may certainly look for clarity, for demonstration of internal consistency.)

    Thus, regarding your: “But overall, no, you have not removed any scientific objection to mature creationism. The scientific objection is that it is a nonscientific idea. There is no scientific evidence for it.”

    I reply: you’ve already conceded defeat. Of course there is no evidence for mature creationism. Or against it, either. That mature creationism is untestable by the scientific method never was the issue. But allowing the scientific method to be one’s final authority, ah, that is the issue. And that the scientific method is itself utterly unable to determine origins is a connected issue. Bluntly put, for eg, the Big Bang hypothesis is also utterly untestable by the scientific method.

    However, note well, mature creationism as a paradigm is: 1) in harmony with scripture; b) also in harmony with what we see in nature. Hence, regarding 2), science has no scientifically valid objections to it (point of Adrian’s essay).

    Or, more pointedly (recalling that this is an intermural discussion among Christians), only 1) (harmony with scripture) will enable validating or modifying or falsifying mature creationism.

    RE “old from what or when”: Is this not exactly the point at issue? How can one determine that “when”? I’m assuming the readers have at least some awareness of the intensity of the pagan scientific debate, some minimal awareness of a few details. I tried presenting a condensed version with the comments about the universe being viewed as cyclical in nature, with big bang leading eventually to big crunch, rinse, repeat. The pagan, unlike the Christian, does not know it isn’t that way. If so, then how does one determine a start point? Since that would be an arbitrary choice, why 14 billion years ago? Why not at some point before the “bang”? Or why not any place in the cycle? Why not 4.7 nanoseconds ago? For the pagan, it’s “turtles all the way down”, no matter their denial (which you can read in, eg, Wikipedia re those turtles).

    You suggest, Don, that I’m surprised at the increase of scientific knowledge. Well, no. I’m not only graduate level scientist conversant with it, I’ve contributed to it (albeit in a very, very small way.) I made the comments about the magnitude of change in order to underscore the ridiculousness of pagan science having the final word. And to gently laugh at the exegetically false paradigm that says the creation, since recently created, must look young.

    On the other hand, meditate for a moment about what that huge size and age means to the Christian. Of course the universe looks big and old. I expect that as technology enables (and taxes fund SETI efforts, oh the ironies), we’ll learn it is even bigger and older than we think at present (tho there are internal debates among cosmologists about this, hinging on light speed limits vs space itself expanding, into what and other mind boggling stuff). Such a universe gives only a faint hint of the “size” and “age” of God. Since it would mean subtracting only a few thousands of years, which is essentially negligible against billions of years, note that it looked that old and that huge when Adam first saw it. On Day 6.

  183. Don said,

    February 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    @Roy #182:
    I’m sorry, but you seem to be confused. At one point you say that “there is no [scientific] evidence for mature creationism.” That is correct. So how can you say it is in harmony with what we see in nature? Mature creationism says the universe is much different than what we see in nature! Science may not have any valid objections to it, but there is no scientific validity to it in the first place. If you believe that there is theological validity which overrides the lack of empirical evidence, then as I’ve said before, fine. Argue on theological, but not scientific, grounds. I’m not really sure what sort of defeat you think I’ve conceded.

    I’m also surprised about your alternate-reality version of “pagan science” when in fact the scientific method was (more or less) developed by Christians. The scientific method did not develop in a culture that had no reason to expect an orderly universe. A few centuries ago, Western astronomers excelled at understanding the constellations and the orbits of the planets, while Chinese astronomers excelled at studying supernovae and comets and such. One group thought the sky reflected the orderly handiwork of one Creator, while the other–well I don’t exactly know if they thought it reflected their arbitrary and capricious gods, or if they were looking for signs from their distant, mercurial gods, but that’s what they focused on.

    My theological objection to mature creationism is: How are the heavens supposed to reflect the glory of God, if the heavens are completely different than what they appear to be?

    “But allowing the scientific method to be one’s final authority, ah, that is the issue.” Well, for scientific questions, yeah pretty much. Or do you think that the results of an experiment should depend on the given scientist’s religious beliefs?

    “Bluntly put, for eg, the Big Bang hypothesis [sic] is also utterly untestable by the scientific method.” This is plain not true. Please stop saying this. I’m not saying you have to like it or accept it on theological grounds, but please stop pretending it is not scientific.

  184. Don said,

    February 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    @Adrian Keister #180
    Your description of science starts off sounding nice enough with your “bunch of experiments” language. Ideally, that’s great. But then your idea of science goes off the rails when you claim to need multiple Big Bangs to figure out how the universe really originated. The very definition you provide betrays this: “observation and experiment.”

    No, we can’t make our own Big Bang. But we can make a lot of black bodies and measure their temperature and the radiation that comes from them. We don’t need to raise the temperature of the universe to know that the cosmic microwave background would shift in frequency.

    “I think you greatly over-estimate the ability of scientists to rule out alternative theories.” I think you over-estimate the amount of free time that scientists have to bother with alternative theories. If a given theory provides a pretty good framework to explain most of your observations, then why try to find a new theory? Occam’s razor, right?

    In reply to my #172: “I’ve usually meant “theory”, perhaps, to mean a collection of untested hypotheses, as in, “That’s only theoretical.”” OK, then you’re being sloppy with your definitions if you treat evolution or Big Bang like this. Do you think the theory of relativity is a “collection of untested hypotheses”? If so, then you might as well sell your GPS on ebay.

    In reply to my #178: “My claim is that NONE of the following are scientific: mature creation, evolutionary theory, Big Bang theory.” Your claim is wrong. Evolution and Big Bang theories make predictions that can be proved or disproved. Or “proved” or “disproved” if you prefer. They have changed over time, being adapted to the available empirical evidence. They explain a lot of the relevant data. I don’t think there’s any particular “faith” needed to believe in them beyond acceptance of the scientific method generally.

    “I object to Big Bang theory and evolution on two grounds. 1. (Quite the stronger of the two reasons): they are, according to my interpretation of the Genesis account, incompatible with the biblical record. 2. They are not scientifically compelling.” Number 1 is, as I’ve maintained all through this conversation, can be valid grounds for objection. And for number 2, what relevant experiments do you think contradict either of those theories?

  185. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Don, you’re conflating a couple of ideas that need teasing apart.

    I think you’d agree that the fact that “a theory explains most of your observations” counts for nothing in the world of verifying theories. What counts for evidence is the falsification of competing theories. This is basic to statistical hypothesis testing, and basic to the construction of experiments.

    So the notion of “X theory is consistent with current observations” needs to be separated from “X theory is well-tested.”

    Without that separation, you and Adrian will be talking past each other.

    In that spirit, I would ask, “How can scientific evidence meaningfully falsify mature creationism?”

    You seem to indicate that it can’t, and I would agree. So IF one of the prime competitors to Big-Bang or Inflationary Theory cannot be falsified, then …

  186. February 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Don @ 184:

    I’m not sure how productive our discussion is, but I can try one more round.

    You write, “Ideally, that’s great.”

    The ideal has nothing to do with it. What I described is at the heart of science.

    Statistics is absolutely central to the scientific method. Experiments must be repeatable, and they must be repeated. Moreover, the hypothesis that the Big Bang is the cause of the universe as we know it now, is an hypothesis that must be tested the way I have described. Ergo, my multiple Big Bangs, contrary to your assertion, are necessary in order to use the scientific method on the hypothesis in question. The CMBR is fine and dandy, but it ultimately “proves” nothing, not even by scientific standards. So what if it’s compatible with the Big Bang Theory? That doesn’t mean it isn’t compatible with other theories. Better theories that explain the data come up all the time, as Kuhn taught us.

    You write, “OK, then you’re being sloppy with your definitions if you treat evolution or Big Bang like this. Do you think the theory of relativity is a ‘collection of untested hypotheses’? If so, then you might as well sell your GPS on ebay.”

    To assert that I’m being sloppy with my definitions is to beg the question. That’s precisely the point of debate! I fail to see how the theory of relativity fits into our discussion at all. The theory of relativity makes no claims about the early universe – its claims are about the here and now. It has been tested extensively and shown to be in accordance with most observations (the possible super-luminal neutrinos might pose a problem for relativity if other people can, uh, repeat the experiments). While it is true that the cosmologists attempt to make their Big Bang equations compatible with relativity, that in no way means that relativity implies the Big Bang equations. To reason thus would be a non sequitur.

    You write, “Evolution and Big Bang theories make predictions that can be proved or disproved.”

    Of course. But that statement doesn’t change the fact that the central claims of both theories are utterly untestable. You have not given any reasons for the opposite claim other than assertions.

    You write, “They explain a lot of the relevant data.” I would definitely dispute that, particularly in the case of macro-evolution. Please provide even one example of one species evolving into another such as macro-evolution claims is ubiquitous.

    You write, “I don’t think there’s any particular ‘faith’ needed to believe in them beyond acceptance of the scientific method generally.”

    If there’s no way to test the central claim of a theory (as I have said is true for Big Bang and macro-evolution), then from a scientific perspective, there’s no compelling reason to buy into it, right? That’s why string theory has run into such hard times.

    You write, “And for number 2, what relevant experiments do you think contradict either of those theories?”

    For the Big Bang theory, it’s not the experiments that contradict the theory so much as the lack of experiments to begin with, as I’ve said before.

    For the Theory of Macro-Evolution, it’s the total lack of intermediate forms in the fossil record, as well as the total absence of any evidence that any species is evolving into another. Species give rise to the same species, after their kind. We’ve not observed anything to the contrary.

  187. Don said,

    February 10, 2012 at 1:25 am

    @ Jeff Cagle #185:
    “I think you’d agree that the fact that “a theory explains most of your observations” counts for nothing in the world of verifying theories. What counts for evidence is the falsification of competing theories.” No, in fact I don’t really agree with that. If a theory is sufficient on its own, then what’s the problem? Take, for example, superconductivity. It’s (without going into specifics) explained by quantum mechanics. This lends strong support for quantum mechanics. But what is the competing theory? I guess you could say classical mechanics, but that’s not much of a competitor.

    “So IF one of the prime competitors to Big-Bang or Inflationary Theory cannot be falsified, then …”
    I know you’re not talking about Last Tuesdayism here, but from this sentence alone you could be. So I guess I would conclude this sentence with “…it does not particularly deserve scientific consideration.”

  188. Don said,

    February 10, 2012 at 2:16 am

    @ Adrian Keister #186:
    “Experiments must be repeatable, and they must be repeated.” Sure, that’s true. But your own preferred definition of the scientific method includes observation. There are many repeatable observations that are explainable in terms of the Big Bang theory. Sometimes an “experiment” is basically just an observation of the way things are.

    “To assert that I’m being sloppy with my definitions is to beg the question. That’s precisely the point of debate! I fail to see how the theory of relativity fits into our discussion at all.”
    Because the theory of relativity is a theory. It’s not a collection of untested hypotheses. Quantum theory is a theory. It’s not nearly in danger of collapse from experiments that contradict it. If you use the popular definition of theory as equivalent to being a guess or a hypothesis, then you’re being sloppy and confusing the issue.

    “[I] write, “Evolution and Big Bang theories make predictions that can be proved or disproved.” Of course. But that statement doesn’t change the fact that the central claims of both theories are utterly untestable. You have not given any reasons for the opposite claim other than assertions.”
    If the predictions are proven false, then there’s no reason to believe the central claims. If the predictions are correct, that lends support to the theories.

    “Please provide even one example of one species evolving into another such as macro-evolution claims is ubiquitous.” Sorry, not a biologist. You can google “evidence for macroevolution” as well as I.

    “If there’s no way to test the central claim of a theory (as I have said is true for Big Bang and macro-evolution), then from a scientific perspective, there’s no compelling reason to buy into it, right?”
    You can also say this about quantum mechanics, or even classical mechanics. Is there a compelling reason to buy into either of those? (Answer: yes.)

    “For the Big Bang theory, it’s not the experiments that contradict the theory so much as the lack of experiments to begin with, as I’ve said before.”
    OK, I’ll help you out here. Look for: Blueshifted galaxies. Far-away galaxies with minimal redshifts. A universe consisting entirely of hydrogen and helium. Or one where all the light elements have been converted into carbon, nitrogen, and other heavy elements. Portions of the universe at a temperature of 10 K, and other parts of 0.5 K. Observations of anything like those would invalidate the Big Bang theory.

    I’ve enjoyed this interaction, Adrian, but I get the feeling that your theological beliefs have clouded your understanding of what science is and how science operates. Nowhere have I said that anyone should subjugate their theological beliefs to scientific theories, and hopefully I haven’t given that impression either. But I do disagree with anyone claiming that a given branch of science isn’t science, because they have theological objections. Go ahead and object, but understand you have a theological, rather than scientific, objection.

  189. February 10, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Don @ 188:

    I think I am rapidly reaching the limit of my explanatory powers here, but I’ll try one more.

    Definition: a framework is a collection of any number of hypotheses. These hypotheses can concern the past, present, or future, and can have varying amounts of evidence to support them, ranging from nothing to highly convincing.

    This is a catch-all term, that I intend to be fairly neutral in terms of credibility. To call a collection of hypotheses a framework, at least in this comment, is to make no direct claim about the testability of that collection of hypotheses, and it is to make no direct claim about how much testing that collection of hypotheses has already undergone. I intend to use this term consistently throughout this comment. If you think I’m shifting its meaning anywhere, please do alert me.

    Definition: the phrase particular history means real events that actually happened in the past. The Second Person of the Trinity became man, taking on that human nature, in history. He died on the cross and rose from the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, in particular history. This is to be distinguished from a concept such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that in any process, the total entropy of an isolated system always increases in time. You might argue that this claim is about history, since it’s talking about the passage of time. But this claim is not about particular history. Instead, I would say that this claim is about “undetermined history”. I don’t mind including the word “history” here, but I do object to thinking about the Second Law as if it implies certain events that you could name, such as the Resurrection, are particular history. Better yet, you might say that the Second Law is talking about the future: it’s a prediction. In any case, I want to use the phrase “particular history” in this comment, and I didn’t want you to be unclear as to what I meant.

    The frameworks of relativity, of quantum mechanics, even of string theory, make no claims about particular history. There is, therefore, a fundamental difference between those frameworks and the framework of the Big Bang and the framework of Macro-Evolution. I object, therefore, to lumping the Big Bang framework in with the framework of relativity, and then saying that since scientists aren’t questioning the latter (actually, they are), they are not questioning the former.

    Let me switch the comparison: let’s compare the framework of thermodynamics with that of the Big Bang. Again, thermodynamics makes no claims about particular history, whereas the Big Bang obviously does. The framework of thermodynamics is not in danger of being abandoned as a useful framework for explaining much phenomenon any time soon. To argue that, since the Big Bang is also a framework accepted by many scientists, that therefore it is not in danger of being abandoned is a non sequitur. Scientists abandon frameworks all the time without abandoning others.

    You write, “If the predictions are correct, that lends support to the theories.”

    That phrase “lends support” is rather vague. I would say that, for a framework that makes claims about particular history, such as the Big Bang framework and the framework of Evolution, the validation of predictions made by those frameworks can never constitute positive, constructive, scientific evidence for that framework. All you can say about validating predictions that a framework makes is that such-and-such a situation does not constitute counter-evidence for the framework. Anti-anti-evidence is not the same thing as evidence.

    Let me illustrate. Suppose we take my semigroup analogy of a ball coming over the wall. Suppose I want to say something about the cause of that ball coming over the wall. I could make a claim, an hypothesis (which I’ll now call a framework), that someone threw the ball over the wall while standing on the ground. (That is, this framework rejects the notion of the ladder and a myriad of other explanations.) Now I want to test that framework. What scientific experiments could I perform directly to test that framework? Well, (and here’s that fundamental limitation coming to the fore), there aren’t any! I could come up with numerous indirect means: going to the other side of the wall (if possible!) and throwing a ball over the wall and seeing where it lands and how it behaves. Naturally, I’d need to do that many times. That method still would not ever produce direct evidence for the framework.

    If I were to observe, for instance, that there’s a large horizontal plastic sheet connected to the wall at a height just over a man’s height, I might infer that throwing the ball from the ground wasn’t an option. But I don’t know that. What if a man threw the ball and then constructed the plastic sheet later to cover his tracks? You see the difficulties.

    In the end, I would say that with regard to events of particular history, science is so fundamentally limited as to be next to useless. Indeed, the whole thrust of science is inductive: we have observed that, in the past, such-and-such combination of causes always leads to this effect. Therefore, we predict (note the future here) that if those causes are present, that effect will always occur.

    You write, “You can google ‘evidence for macroevolution’ as well as I.”

    True. And as I am equally incompetent a biologist, if not more so, than you, it was probably an unfair challenge. I’d recommend taking a look at Answers in Genesis, though. There are competent biologists there who have answered all the so-called “evidence” of speciation put forth.

    I wrote, “If there’s no way to test the central claim of a theory (as I have said is true for Big Bang and macro-evolution), then from a scientific perspective, there’s no compelling reason to buy into it, right?”

    Then you wrote, “You can also say this about quantum mechanics, or even classical mechanics. Is there a compelling reason to buy into either of those? (Answer: yes.)”

    I want to call this the fallacy of incorrect lumping. Really, it would be more accurately labeled either the fallacy of accident, or the converse fallacy of accident. Let me go back to an earlier claim: the central claims of the frameworks of quantum mechanics and classical mechanics do not concern themselves withany of the events of particular history. The frameworks of Big Bang and Evolution do. That is a fundamental difference. Therefore, I object to lumping those frameworks together with frameworks that do not make claims about particular history, such as quantum or classical mechanics. The central claims of quantum mechanics and classical mechanics are quite testable today, precisely because those central claims are not about particular history.

    You write, ” I get the feeling that your theological beliefs have clouded your understanding of what science is and how science operates.”

    It’s quite true that my theological beliefs have informed my understanding of science. Indeed, I believe that modern science was birthed in a Christian worldview, and it would not have been birthed in any other. The assumptions science makes about the universe only have a good philosophical foundation in Christianity. As for whether my theological beliefs have “clouded” my understanding of science, we may have to simply agree to disagree. I would say, though, that if many scientists are mistaken as to their understanding of what science is (which is entirely possible), then it is not entirely clear to me that one person’s dissenting beliefs are necessarily clouded. They may be more accurate! (Naturally, I believe what I think is the truth. If someone uses correct reasoning from axioms in which I believe, and convinces me otherwise, I’ll change my beliefs.)

    You write, “But I do disagree with anyone claiming that a given branch of science isn’t science, because they have theological objections. Go ahead and object, but understand you have a theological, rather than scientific, objection.”

    Well, as I have said before, I have both theological and scientific reasons for rejecting the Big Bang and Evolution frameworks. The theological reasons are much the stronger, because they are based on the Word of God, which is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. It is the only ultimate rule for faith and practice. It therefore has certainty, which science, by its very nature, cannot ever achieve. The method of science is self-limiting. However, I also believe that even within that severely limited scientific method, the Big Bang and Evolution frameworks are found wanting. The scientist in me rejects those frameworks in a way that I don’t with frameworks such as quantum mechanics.

  190. February 10, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Errata:

    I wrote: “The Second Person of the Trinity became man, taking on that human nature, in history. He died on the cross and rose from the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, in particular history.”

    I did not mean to differentiate so strongly. I should have written

    “The Second Person of the Trinity became man, taking on that human nature, in particular history. He died on the cross and rose from the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, in particular history.”

  191. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Don @ #181,

    At least, I’ve been addressing mature-appearing creation. Mature creation specifically acknowledges the scientific evidence for the world appearing old, but claims, on theological grounds, that it is not in fact old.

    You’ve got to put some ages to your statement above. If you want to say that belief in a mature creation acknowledges the scientific evidence for a universe 14 billion years old and an earth 4.55 billion years old, then you have misstated. Mature creation acknowledges nothing of the sort. It in fact critiques the assumptions upon which these ages are based. It does this both scientifically and theologically.

    Your whole argument seems to be that you want to charge those of us who believe in a mature creation with duplicity. It’s not flying, brother, and if your only tool is a hammer, then, well, sometimes the nail ends up crooked.

  192. Don said,

    February 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

    @ Steve Drake #191,
    “If you want to say that belief in a mature creation acknowledges the scientific evidence for a universe 14 billion years old and an earth 4.55 billion years old, then you have misstated. Mature creation acknowledges nothing of the sort.”
    Then why is it called _mature_ creation? Does it not acknowledge that the universe _appears_ to be mature–appears to be old?
    Mature creationism acknowledges the observations that the universe appears to be old, but rejects the interpretation that it actually is old. This is distinct from YEC, which claims that the earth appears (and is) young. If not, then I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  193. Don said,

    February 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

    @ Adrian Keister #189:
    You are making a distinction between frameworks with your “particular history” which is fine enough, but I have a hard time with your application of them. Big Bang theory is concerned with one particular event, but its theory is built upon science which does not depend on particular history–quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, etc. etc. If you reject this and accept mature creationism or whatever, then are you placing QM etc. into a particular history, i.e., that they are invalid before a particular time?

    I do need to apologize for using the word “clouded.” Probably “colored” would have been better. More specifically, you are applying the level of “proof” that you learned in your mathematics training to science, which is unwarranted. (And this may be easy for you since it is compatible with your theological beliefs, that’s what I should have said in that regard.)

    It’s true that “mathematical proof” and “scientific proof” are not synonyms. When the computers had proven Fermat’s Last Theorem up to numbers of a billion or so, that had no ultimate bearing upon the actual mathematical proof of the theorem. After astronomers had studied maybe a few hundred galaxies and found, given measurement errors and uncertainties, that they all follow Hubble expansion, then that’s considered very compelling evidence (if you don’t care to call it proof) for one aspect of Big Bang theory. Science doesn’t require measurement of every galaxy in the universe. Science doesn’t wait for that to put together an explanation (a theory). Science also acknowledges that better data or a better theory can come along to invalidate preceding theories, but for things that are so well-verified as QM or Big Bang, such events are so rare that they don’t receive day-to-day consideration. But this happens to smaller, more specific aspects of these theories all the time. For example, BCS theory could not explain high temperature superconductors, but that did not invalidate QM. If anyone figures out what Dark Matter exactly is (or if it is), that could invalidate Big Bang theory, but more likely it would lead to (large?) adjustments to particular parts of it.

    “[The Word of God] therefore has certainty, which science, by its very nature, cannot ever achieve. The method of science is self-limiting.” We fully agree here. “God created the heavens and the earth” has less empirical evidence, but is far more true, than anything science can ever claim.

  194. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Don @ #192,

    Then why is it called _mature_ creation? Does it not acknowledge that the universe _appears_ to be mature–appears to be old?
    Mature creationism acknowledges the observations that the universe appears to be old, but rejects the interpretation that it actually is old. This is distinct from YEC, which claims that the earth appears (and is) young. If not, then I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Yes, I have been equating the two. But ‘old’ is a subjective standard, is it not? Our discussion should really focus on ‘age’. Does a ‘mature creation’ imply an ‘age’ of 14 billion years for the universe, and 4.55 billion years for the earth? That’s the real question. One in which I don’t think you have addressed, or maybe better, one in which you have not convincingly given ‘proof’.

  195. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:31 am

    @Don: No, in fact I don’t really agree with that. If a theory is sufficient on its own, then what’s the problem?

    In the context of the scientific method, “sufficient” means “is subject to falsification and has withstood all attempts to falsify.”

    This is why string theory is not (yet) a scientific theory. It can, on its own, provide an explanation for gravity. But it is not (yet) subject to actual testing. The element of falsifiability is essential to the scientific method.

    Think of it this way: If you give me a set of data points, I can create a polynomial to fit them. If our standard for scientific theories is “consistency with current evidence”, then I’ve just created a theory. Ta-da!

    But in reality, all I’ve done is to hindcast the trend. What is needed for testing is to use my polynomial to make predictions about future data, and then test. That’s the principle of falsifiability in action.

    @Steve: My aim in our discussion earlier was to encourage you to draw a bright line between mature creationism and YEC.

  196. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Steve, I should have been more clear … “My aim in our discussion in #92 was to encourage…”

  197. Roy Kerns said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Steve #191 What you excerpted from Don#181 correctly describes mature creationism (cf, eg, a classic definition by looking at Omphalos Hypothesis in Wikipedia). Mature creationism does NOT (necessarily) critique (all) the assumptions upon which the ages are based, not scientifically nor theologically. Imagine the silliness of someone standing next to Adam and insisting that he not regard Eve as a babe but as a baby because she was mere minutes old.

    As a mature creationist I have no problems with the universe appearing by all sorts of measurements huge and ancient (14 billions of light years minimum radius). I have no problem with all the various sorts of measurements giving internally consistent results. In fact, I expect this: God doesn’t make junk.

    However, any creationist challenges the unlimited application of , for example, uniformitarianism, the unrestrained extension of what we see in the present as the only way in the past (or future) creation operated. For the most part, that is the only way human understanding (science) can proceed. We cannot transport ourselves in time, so must make some assumptions. Because God made the creation internally consistent, creationists expect those assumptions generally to make accurate predictions. Build a bridge by assuming what we know about mechanics and materials, then it should stand tomorrow. Look at the info from our sun, then it must have worked such and so and be currently at this point of its lifespan.

    But this assumption of uniformitarinism has at least two qualifying restraints: 1) it cannot limit God (Jesus is born of a virgin, changes water to wine, rises from the dead, will appear again, ending the present creation); 2) it cannot say something is of some age, but only that it appears so.

    The naive might think 1) and 2) merely theological objections, where the Bible rather than anything else has the final say (which, of course, is sufficient). But both are also restraints in terms of the paradigm we call the scientific method. It is this paragraph which is the burden of the interaction with Don.

  198. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Jeff @195,

    @Steve: My aim in our discussion earlier was to encourage you to draw a bright line between mature creationism and YEC.

    Perhaps, brother, you care to draw that bright line yourself, so that I may respond or critique your distinction.

  199. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Sure.

    YEC is the view that the earth is young, and shows evidences of being young.

    Mature creationism is the view that the earth is young, but was created looking old in every way — that its age cannot be determined by physical examination.

  200. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Jeff and Roy,
    “Appears old” is a meaningless statement. Attach some ‘ages’, which is implied in the contrast you wish to make, and our discussion will have much better fruit.

  201. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Jeff @ 199,
    “Looking old” is another meaningless statement. See my #200.

  202. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Jeff,
    ‘Mature creation’ has been one of the pillars of the 6×24 day, young universe young earth view since the early church. And now you want to hijack that view and separate it from its foundations? Hmmm, there must be a motive here.

  203. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Steve, it’s hard to read your concerns out of #202. The thrust of #199 is not advocacy but clarity.

    Some who hold to a young earth believe that the earth shows certain scientific evidences of its youth. Kurt Wise is one of those; and if I’m understanding you correctly, so are you.

    Others who hold to a young earth believe that the earth shows no scientific evidences of its youth, having been formed mature in every way. If I’m understanding him correctly, Adrian is one of those.

    These two views are distinguishable.

    That’s all.

  204. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Jeff @ 203,

    Others who hold to a young earth believe that the earth shows no scientific evidences of its youth, having been formed mature in every way. If I’m understanding him correctly, Adrian is one of those.

    But even the statement above is incomplete. There are unstated assumptions in ‘youth’, ‘young’, and ‘mature’. Unless you are able to contrast and compare them with some standard, they mean nothing. That’s my point about ‘appears old’, ‘looking old’, etc.; the unstated assumption is implied and should be brought to fore as a stated assumption or there’s nothing substantive to even discuss.

    To say that ‘the earth shows no scientific evidences of its youth’ is sloppy, unless you define what you mean by ‘youth’. ‘Having been formed mature’ is in the same sense unless you define what you mean when you say ‘mature’, and can define what it should look like. What ‘age’ assumptions are implied in the word ‘mature’ would also need to be defined and discussed?

  205. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    We can easily put definition to it.

    YEC holds that there is scientific evidence that the world is less than 10^4 years old.

    Mature creationism holds that, although the world is less than 10^4 years old, there is no scientific evidence for this fact, and can be none in principle.

  206. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Jeff @ 205,
    And the counterargument then, ‘mature creationism holds that there is no scientific evidence for the universe being 14 billion years old, or the earth 4.55 billion years old, and there can be none in principle? Is this true as well?

  207. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Subscribe. Fascinating back-and-forth going on here. Thanks for the irenic dialogue guys between “mature creationism” and “YEC proper” of which I never knew existed.

    I always thought YEC embraced mature creationism.

  208. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I would put the question to Adrian or Roy, but I think the answer for the mature creationist has to be “yes.” Just as Adam’s adulthood does not provide actual evidence that he grew up from a boy, so also the universe’s maturity does not provide actual evidence that it began from time 0.

    In other words: If we set the initial conditions and start the clock at 14Gyears, no-one can tell the difference.

    This seems to be the thrust of Adrian’s argument, which places the *actual* moment of creation outside the realm of science.

  209. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Truth Unites and Divides @ 207,
    YEC ‘does’ embrace a mature creation. The question on the table for Jeff is why the modern need to separate the two? Is it simply the ‘label’?

    In other words, a mature creationist per Jeff’s definition will not accept either the scientific evidence for a universe 14 billion years old & earth 4.55 billion years old, neither will they accept any scientific evidence for an earth and universe 6000 years old. No scientific evidence allowed for any position on ‘age’ of either the universe or earth.

    So the skeptic can rightly ask per Jeff’s definition of mature creationism in #205, how do you assert that the world is less than 10^4 years old then? What supporting evidence do you proffer to back up that claim?

  210. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Jeff @ 208,

    Just as Adam’s adulthood does not provide actual evidence that he grew up from a boy, so also the universe’s maturity does not provide actual evidence that it began from time 0.

    We’re back to where we started. What does the ‘universe’s maturity’ mean? Can you define this please?

    In other words: If we set the initial conditions and start the clock at 14Gyears, no-one can tell the difference.

    So with that logic, we can just as arbitrarily set the initial conditions and start the clock at 6000 years ago, for no one can tell the difference, or for that matter like Don, set the clock to have started Last Tuesday, with imbedded memories of a life never lived. Why choose an arbitrary date of 14Ga years? What is the impetus for choosing that date?

  211. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Steve: #209 — So the skeptic can rightly ask per Jeff’s definition of mature creationism in #205, how do you assert that the world is less than 10^4 years old then? What supporting evidence do you proffer to back up that claim?

    Just one evidence only: the testimony of God Himself.

    #210 — Why choose an arbitrary date of 14Ga years? What is the impetus for choosing that date?

    There’s no need to choose that date, nor any other. The point is not to establish a particular date, but rather to explain why evidence pointing to an old age is untroubling. The astronomer says, “My evidence points to an age of 13.75+/-0.11 years.”

    The mature creationist replies, “Yes, that makes sense. That doesn’t mean that the universe is in fact that old, but it makes sense that evidence could support that age.”

  212. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Jeff @ 211,

    Just one evidence only: the testimony of God Himself.

    Can you be more specific? As a ruling elder in a Presbyterian church, I as a layperson under your possible guidance would be non-plussed by that response. You are obviously referring to Scripture, but which particular Scriptures are you referring to? Where do you draw the ‘less than 10^4 years old’, from in Scripture? Be specific please. Like our math teachers used to say, Jeff, when we were young-un’s: ‘show your work’.

    There’s no need to choose that date, nor any other. The point is not to establish a particular date, but rather to explain why evidence pointing to an old age is untroubling. The astronomer says, “My evidence points to an age of 13.75+/-0.11 years.”

    The mature creationist replies, “Yes, that makes sense. That doesn’t mean that the universe is in fact that old, but it makes sense that evidence could support that age.”

    But wait a minute, you’re not allowing any ‘scientific evidence’ whatsoever per your definition, so you can’t decide if it makes sense or doesn’t make sense based on the evidence he is proffering. Wouldn’t it be more proper for the mature creationist to say: ‘I don’t allow any scientific evidence to color my opinion on the age of the universe or earth, so your evidence pointing to a 13.75 +/-0.11 years is meaningless to me. I only allow Scripture to speak to that, and Scripture speaks of an age less than 10^4 years old’ ?

  213. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Jeff @ 211,
    I think, in fact, that the mature creationist response would rightly be: “No, your evidence doesn’t make sense, as I don’t allow any scientific evidence to color my opinion of the age of the cosmos, only Scripture speaks to that, and Scripture says it’s less than 10^4 years old.”

  214. Steve Drake said,

    February 10, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Jeff,
    Sorry for the hanging participle in my #212 above; I guess I didn’t learn one of my three R’s quite right. :)

  215. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Steve, in #212, we are saying the same thing using different words. It’s a question of domains. The mature creationist does not believe that the age of the earth is in the domain of science; YEC does.

  216. Don said,

    February 10, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    OK, Steve, can I take another shot at explaining this?
    YEC and mature creationists both say the universe is actually less than 10,000 years old. The evidence for this is based on their interpretation of Scripture.
    YEC also says that there is scientific evidence that the universe is less than 10k years old. The problem some see here is that the actual, overwhelming scientific evidence is for a 14b year old universe. There is very little if any empirical evidence that is better explained by a 6k year old universe than a 14b year old one. This is why AIG-type guys are not taken seriously by mainstream scientists. I’m not saying this is fair or correct, I’m just trying to explain why it’s like this. Are you with me so far?
    So therefore, IN CONTRAST TO YEC, mature creationists acknowledge that the scientific evidence does indeed imply a 14b year old universe. However, they do not therefore acknowledge that the universe is actually 14b years old. That is, again, because of their theological convictions.
    Do you see the difference? In #213 you seem to be projecting YEC views upon all creationists. But in fact Christians have all sorts of different views with regard to creation.

  217. Don said,

    February 11, 2012 at 12:51 am

    @ Jeff Cagle #195:
    “In the context of the scientific method, “sufficient” means “is subject to falsification and has withstood all attempts to falsify.””

    Well, yeah. I would have put it as “having predictive power.” But we’re talking about the same thing.

    “Think of it this way: If you give me a set of data points, I can create a polynomial to fit them. If our standard for scientific theories is “consistency with current evidence”, then I’ve just created a theory. Ta-da!”

    You’re not being as facetious as you think you are. You realize that Ohm and Hooke got laws named after them, and they didn’t even use polynomials! Sometimes I think how great it would be to be a scientist back when all you had to do was find some linear relation and get a law named after you. But then, they had the bubonic plague, so maybe now is not so bad.

  218. February 11, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Don @ 193:

    I’m beginning to sense a little common ground here, so I’ll keep going.

    You write, “Big Bang theory is concerned with one particular event, but its theory is built upon science which does not depend on particular history–quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, etc. etc. If you reject this and accept mature creationism or whatever, then are you placing QM etc. into a particular history, i.e., that they are invalid before a particular time?”

    Definitely not. That the Big Bang framework (still using this term as before) attempts to build on quantum mechanics and relativity (which some scientists have claimed are incompatible?!?), does not mean in the slightest that QM and relativity, considered by themselves, now say something about particular history. It works like this: QM and relativity you can think of as a bunch of if-thens. If you have this situation, then you should get this result. None of these are about particular history. But now along comes the Big Bang framework and introduces a whole new set of if’s. Now the Big Bang framework sets QM and relativity to work on this new situation, and QM and relativity say X should happen. Are QM and relativity saying something about particular history? Yes and no. Considered by themselves, without the additional if’s of the Big Bang framework, the answer is no. With the additional if’s of the Big Bang framework, the answer is yes. So overall, you could not say that QM and relativity say anything about particular history. You must introduce additional assumptions to make that happen. And those additional assumptions are open to critique the same as any others.

    Ergo, it is entirely possible for someone like me to reject the Big Bang framework without rejecting the frameworks of QM and relativity. An analogy: suppose you have two cars that both have the same engine and transmission. I’ll call them BB and MC. But just about everything else is different. Obviously, no one could call those two cars the same model, even if they share a couple of parts (there’s nothing special about choosing engine and transmission – you could choose steering wheel and stereo if you like. I just mean there are a couple of parts in common here.) Let’s assume that I like the MC for whatever reason, but not the BB. Doesn’t rejecting the BB mean I reject the engine and transmission? Not a bit of it: I like the application of those two parts in the MC! But those two parts do more when you build a whole bunch of other parts around them. In the same way, QM and relativity can tell you more when you introduce other assumptions, whether they are the Big Bang framework assumptions or a different set of assumptions.

    You write, “I do need to apologize for using the word ‘clouded’.” Apology accepted.

    You write, “More specifically, you are applying the level of ‘proof’ that you learned in your mathematics training to science, which is unwarranted.”

    That depends. Mathematics is the language of science, and insofar as mathematics has a far greater degree of certainty than science can ever have, whenever mathematics impinges on the scientific realm, it can lend that extra degree of certainty to certain results. This is where my background in mathematical physics comes into play. Warning: technical explanations ahead! There’s probably a better example of this, but I’m going to use my dissertation topic as the example. My dissertation was about solitons in fiber optics. Solitons are solitary waves that can travel down fiber optic cables, and they have some very nice properties for communication: they can self-preserve their shape over long distances. Solitons are the reason fiber is the backbone of the Internet. They also have some particle-like characteristics, because if two solitons collide, they don’t just superimpose, they might change phase or react in a non-wavelike manner. As it turns out, whether solitons can exist in fiber optic cables is dependent on whether the eigenvalues of a certain system of differential equations exist. The differential equations come from physics, ultimately, but there is a lot of pretty high-powered math you have to do to get them (the Inverse Scattering Transform method, for any of you nerds who are interested. No? Hey you! Come back here…) My dissertation had a lot to do with finding some of the circumstances in which these eigenvalues exist. As it turns out, the eigenvalues have to lie in a certain region in the complex plane. Also, you can’t change the frequency of the solitons too much (called “chirping”, believe it or not), or else you don’t get solitons. These are mathematical results.

    Summary: the physics gives you the original equations. You do some quite complicated mathematics on the original equations, and you get a mathematical result that you can turn around and impose back on the real-world physics. This kind of thing happens all the time. Math and physics, in particular, are so intertwined that it can be difficult, if not inadvisable, to separate them out again. Physics can impinge on mathematics as well. For example, you might be solving a quadratic equation in a physics problem. When you get the results, you decide to eliminate one of the solutions on physical grounds (maybe it gives you a negative mass, e.g.). At a higher level, whole fields of mathematics have been started because of physical problems (calculus!).

    I, for one, prefer not introducing air-tight boundaries between fields of inquiry the way Kant wants us to, and the way so many people these days seem to want. As a result of this over-specialization, we don’t have universities any more, we have multiversities! Theology was considered the linchpin that drew everything together. But I digress…

    You write, “Science doesn’t require measurement of every galaxy in the universe. Science doesn’t wait for that to put together an explanation (a theory).”

    Sure. But science should wait to promote a framework to the status of law (or fact or whatever. E.g., biologists talk about the fact of evolution all the time. It’s quite presumptuous, in my opinion.) until it’s been tested extensively. As I have said repeatedly, Big Bang and evolution are NOT examples of this. Thermodynamics and quantum electrodynamics are.

    You write, “Science also acknowledges that better data or a better theory can come along to invalidate preceding theories, but for things that are so well-verified as QM or Big Bang, such events are so rare that they don’t receive day-to-day consideration.”

    Aside from lumping QM and Big Bang together as equally well-verified frameworks, to which I object as before, I would also add that the dominant paradigms have enormous incumbency, if that’s a word. That is, science is not nearly as open to new frameworks as it likes to think it is. Non-evolutionary biologists have a hard time gettting and keeping jobs (watch the documentary Expelled for a number of examples of this, as well as non-Big-Bang cosmologists), string theorists have a hard time getting jobs these days, etc. This may or may not be a good thing. On the one hand, it’s a defence mechanism against “crank science”. On the other, it can prevent genuinely good ideas from spreading around.

    You write, ” ‘God created the heavens and the earth’ has less empirical evidence…”

    Less empirical evidence than what? What about Romans 1:20 and various Psalms to which one could point? There’s empirical evidence everywhere, but people like to suppress that evidence because they don’t want to be accountable to the One who made them. (I’m not saying you’re doing this, only that many do.)

  219. Don said,

    February 11, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Roy #197,
    “But this assumption of uniformitarinism has at least two qualifying restraints: 1) it cannot limit God (Jesus is born of a virgin, changes water to wine, rises from the dead, will appear again, ending the present creation); 2) it cannot say something is of some age, but only that it appears so.

    The naive might think 1) and 2) merely theological objections, where the Bible rather than anything else has the final say (which, of course, is sufficient). But both are also restraints in terms of the paradigm we call the scientific method.”

    Your point #1 is entirely a theological issue. It’s also true, but it’s not something science can investigate.

    I think I need to disagree with point #2, because at least as you’ve phrased it here, nobody could ever say anything definite about the past at all. Can I say the leftover hamburger I’m eating was cooked yesterday, or can I only say that’s how it appears? That’s pushing the point, but that’s how you wrote #2.

  220. Reed Here said,

    February 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Don: without having read all your comments, do you include God among those who cannot ever say anything definite about the past?

    Regardless of your exegesis of what the Bible, is it not claiming to: 1) be God speaking, and 2) be claiming to say something definite the past it discusses?

    I’m assuming you’ll agree with these qualifications. (By all means let me know otherwise.) If so, then doesn’t it come back to a simply question of authority?

  221. Steve Drake said,

    February 11, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Don @ #216,
    So, on the one hand, a mature creationist doesn’t allow scientific evidence to determine his opinion on the age of the cosmos, being convinced by Scripture that it is less than 10^4 years old, yet on the other hand agrees with the methodological naturalist’s interpretations of scientific data that implies it is 14 billion years old? Yeah, I think I got it now Don, I think I understand completely. Makes sense to me. I suspect that the mature creationist view will start to win over a ton of non-Christian scientists and earn much more respect in the scientific community than the YEC view.

  222. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Don (#219): I would actually say that I don’t hold as much confidence in forensics as we as a society do.

    Not to dismiss forensics utterly; but the modern tendency is to give great credence to the current state of the question without acknowledging that (1) science is provisional, and (2) we don’t know what we don’t know.

    Case in point: Google for the Cameron Todd Willingham case. Ignore for the moment the question of whether or not he was guilty (I suspect he probably was). Focus on the fact that the state-of-the-art arson techniques used to convict him are now universally considered wrong. That’s the kind of thing I mean.

    In other words, I am consistent in holding that science has less to say about the past than many believe it does.

  223. February 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Jeff @ 203:

    You write, “If I’m understanding him correctly, Adrian is one of those.”

    Your understanding is correct.

    Jeff @ 208:

    I would agree with this comment. One thing I’ve not thought through yet: let’s say we take two different “indicators” of the age of the universe. Does the consistency of God imply that these two indicators, properly understood, have to point to the same age? I’m inclined to say no, because if you think about two different kinds of fruit-bearing trees, they may come to maturity at different rates, and yet Adam would have been able to eat either fruit in Eden. God made the universe for His glory, and He did it all according to His perfect will. Or think of the animals: if they all appeared as grown-up, in the correct age for reproduction, then dogs and elephants would have appeared to be differing ages.

    Kind of a reply to Jeff and Steve’s discussion:

    I would say that the MC view doesn’t much care how old the universe appears to be. If you go on the assumption that there are not gobs of gaps in the begats, then the 10^4 number seems reasonable in terms of the actual age. That’s where that figure comes from, Steve.

    Incidentally, some of the geneologies definitely do NOT have gaps, for example in Genesis 5. The language there is much too explicit to allow for gaps. On the other hand, I can see how you might have a few in the Matthew and Luke geneologies.

  224. Steve Drake said,

    February 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Adrian @ 223,
    I think your critique of Keller’s theistic evolution is spot on. i appreciated it immensely. Where I differ, in the subsequent discussions that have followed, is the modern attempt at the separation of a 6000 year young-earth recent ‘mature’ creation, with the current MC view that agrees in principle with the implication that the methodological naturalist’s interpretation of scientific data indicates a universe of 14 billion years.

    If you go on the assumption that there are not gobs of gaps in the begats, then the 10^4 number seems reasonable in terms of the actual age. That’s where that figure comes from, Steve.

    Of course, and YEC has been saying this all along. Long before the modern MC view.

    Incidentally, some of the geneologies definitely do NOT have gaps, for example in Genesis 5. The language there is much too explicit to allow for gaps.

    Yes.

  225. Steve Drake said,

    February 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Incidentally, some of the geneologies definitely do NOT have gaps, for example in Genesis 5. The language there is much too explicit to allow for gaps.

    Further comment:

    Yes, but I would add that both Gen. 5 and 11 do not have gaps, the language being the same, and much too explicit to allow for gaps.

  226. Roy Kerns said,

    February 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Don #219,
    What Reed said in #220.

    Further, perhaps you did not recall that in my #197 I’m talking about how the creationist (ie, one who believes and submits to the Bible) would qualify his thinking. Use that in working thru what I wrote in #197:

    “But this assumption of uniformitarinism has at least two qualifying restraints: 1) it cannot limit God (Jesus is born of a virgin, changes water to wine, rises from the dead, will appear again, ending the present creation); 2) it cannot say something is of some age, but only that it appears so.

    The naive might think 1) and 2) merely theological objections, where the Bible rather than anything else has the final say (which, of course, is sufficient). But both are also restraints in terms of the paradigm we call the scientific method.”

    Don replied:
    Your point #1 is entirely a theological issue. It’s also true, but it’s not something science can investigate.

    Roy responds:
    Conceded as at least poorly phrased.

    I’m focusing on denying the claim that science is able to operate autonomously, without suppositions. I’m directly challenging that claim. I’m insisting that I will not grant any attempt to understand reality as having any truth apart from dependence on God, acknowledged or not. That includes challenging a definition of science that excludes God.

    The scientist cannot affirm that since the ‘scientific method’ will not enable one to falsify God, then God must be false. (What my net does not catch cannot be fish.) Instead, that method must openly admit to its limits; it must concede as part of its internal paradigm and definition that it cannot exclude God.

    Don continued:
    I think I need to disagree with point #2, because at least as you’ve phrased it here, nobody could ever say anything definite about the past at all. Can I say the leftover hamburger I’m eating was cooked yesterday, or can I only say that’s how it appears? That’s pushing the point, but that’s how you wrote #2.

    Roy responds:
    You’ve understood. The pagan *cannot* say anything definite about 4.7 nanoseconds ago without borrowing (uniformitarianism) from God. Forget the hamburger. The pagan cannot independent of God know that yesterday existed.

    Of course the pagan will deny this limitation. The pagan will insist that leftover hamburger means grilling yesterday, that evidence in creation means billions of years of yesterdays. The pagan will deny that he depends upon God. The pagan will shout that he can determine that whatever God says about creation cannot be so.

    Not so the Christian. He knows history is so. Because the Bible says so.

  227. PeaceByJesus said,

    February 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Having no real qualifications in science to really get into this, but i wonder what the instantaneous effects of sin and introduction of death could have had on measurement of age.

  228. Don said,

    February 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    @ Steve Drake #221,
    Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m trying to explain mature creationism, not necessarily defend it.

  229. Don said,

    February 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    @Reed Here #220,
    “Don: without having read all your comments, do you include God among those who cannot ever say anything definite about the past?”

    Well, no, I don’t think anything like that would have been my position. I believe that people can say definite things about the past. I may have been unclear when I was trying to figure out what Roy meant when he said “science cannot say something is of age.” His clarification in #226 would seem to add to that phrase “…without help from God, whether acknowledged or not.” I’d agree with that. … Actually, upon rereading I’m not quite sure if that represents what Roy is saying in #226. He might be saying that no one can say anything definite about the past unless they consciously depend on God. That might be, but I’m not so sure.

    More for Roy Kerns #226,
    “I’m focusing on denying the claim that science is able to operate autonomously, without suppositions. I’m directly challenging that claim.”

    Well, of course. Any such claim is silly, or at least sloppy.

    “I’m insisting that I will not grant any attempt to understand reality as having any truth apart from dependence on God, acknowledged or not.”

    Is this similar to saying that all truth is God’s truth?

    “That includes challenging a definition of science that excludes God.”

    OK, fine. Anyone who says science proves God does not exist has in fact left science and is bringing in a theological interpretation. But–and this is a perhaps subtle but important point–the definition of science, BY DEFINITION, is that God is not included. That’s different from being excluded. God is not included in Adrian’s definition of science back in #180 and that is OK. Just as Christians and nonchristians can both breathe air, whether or not they acknowledge that oxygen is a gift from God, they can do science, whether or not acknowledging that God gave us this world to investigate.

  230. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Adrian (#223): I’m inclined to agree that two different indicators, properly interpreted, could hypothetically point to a different age.

    We sometimes talk as if God’s construction of the universe was for the sole benefit of letting us figure out how old it is.

    Can’t God do art?

  231. Don said,

    February 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    @ Adrian Keister #218,
    “That the Big Bang framework (still using this term as before) attempts to build on quantum mechanics and relativity (which some scientists have claimed are incompatible?!?), does not mean in the slightest that QM and relativity, considered by themselves, now say something about particular history.”
    I brought up other, less-contentious, fields of physics to point out that Big Bang theory/framework did not originate in a vacuum (pun, if there is one, not intended) but developed the regular, sloppy way that science usually does: Established theories are used and combined and extended to explain puzzling observations, challenging some long-held assumptions along the way. As you probably know, the cosmic microwave background was discovered entirely by accident. There was no overarching nefarious plot to discredit religion, although who knows what the goals of any of the individual scientists were (well, I do: it was to get tenure. But that’s a separate issue…).

    “Ergo, it is entirely possible for someone like me to reject the Big Bang framework without rejecting the frameworks of QM and relativity.”
    If you have science-based concerns (along with your theological objections) that Big Bang ends up, in essence, extrapolating too far, then that’s fine. But my original point, if I still remember, is that if you don’t like the exact way that the science was done, it doesn’t allow you to call it unscientific.

    My point about mathematical proof was not to comment on how math and science relate; your dissertation work serves as an excellent example. But I was more referring to the differences in people who use math. Mathematicians and scientists approach math differently–one as an end in itself, and the other as a tool (or as their language as you say). Mathematicians (at least those who are teaching math classes that I’ve had) are much more concerned about proving things, e.g., that a given differential equation has a solution. Whereas physicists teaching math classes are more concerned about applying that differential equation to solve science problems.

    “I would also add that the dominant paradigms have enormous incumbency, if that’s a word. That is, science is not nearly as open to new frameworks as it likes to think it is.”
    Well this is true. It’s been said it usually takes the older generation to die off before completing a paradigm shift. But if a given framework is already very successful, it sets a very high bar for a replacement.

    “Non-evolutionary biologists have a hard time gettting and keeping jobs”
    So does everyone trying to get into academia these days.

    “You [meaning me] write, ” ‘God created the heavens and the earth’ has less empirical evidence…”
    [Then you said] Less empirical evidence than what? What about Romans 1:20 and various Psalms to which one could point?”
    Ooh, this is a good point. I’ll have to figure out how to rephrase what I meant, which is that there is no scientific experiment which can give evidence for or against God. I believe that He excluded Himself from (or above) the scientific method when he said to “not put the Lord your God to the test.”

  232. Steve Drake said,

    February 13, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Guys,
    Let’s not confuse ‘uniformitarianism’, and ‘uniformity of nature’. The two historically are not the same. The word ‘uniformitarianism’ was coined by the early modern geologists in the early 1800′s (Lyell I think) to indicate ‘the present is the key to the past’, and that all geological processes have been operating at the same rates and with the same intensity throughout all of earth history. It was the ruling paradigm in geology from that time up until fairly recently with the geological neo-catastrophists now saying it is not completely true, e.g., mass extinction events, asteroids wiping out the dinosaurs, supervolcanoes, etc.

    Both views deny the universal, global Flood of Noah as recorded in Scripture, and deny that this had anything to do with affecting the topography of the earth, or its geological history.

    That the created order is ‘uniform’ is not ‘uniformitarianism’.

  233. Reed Here said,

    February 13, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Don: sorry to push, but no. 231 appears to have the same hint of a deficiency in your argument that gives me pause.

    Are you, merely for the sake of argument, ignoring that authority claims of Scripture? Are you ignoring that Scripture claims it trumps Science in anything and everything where it (Scripture) speaks?

    If you are, and you acknowledge the Scripture’s claim, then what’s the point of your debates here? What limited “corrections” are you seeking to press upon others?

  234. Steve Drake said,

    February 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    PBJ @ 227,

    but i wonder what the instantaneous effects of sin and introduction of death could have had on measurement of age.

    In essence, you’re asking what the effects of the Curse had on age, no? Or rather, the ‘measurement’ of age? That Adam and Eve and the whole created order began to degenerate, (to age?) (Rom. 8) at a specific point in time following the Curse is an interesting question, but how does it relate to ‘measurement’? Perhaps you can explain.

  235. Don said,

    February 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Reed Here #233,
    My #231 consists of a variety of replies to Adrian Keister’s #218. Could you point out what specifically is bothering you? Thanks.

  236. Reed Here said,

    February 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Don: I am trying to understand the underlying thrust of your arguments. If all you’re doing is suggesting some tweaks to Adrian’s original argument, just an observation – and awful lot of verbage.

    Not wanting to think you’re just being long-winded, I’m wondering if there is something more. What exactly, is your one or two main challenges to what Adrian has argued?

    It might nothing more than your interlocutions have taken you and others responding to into the deep weeds. I’m just asking for a re-cap.

  237. Don said,

    February 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

    @Reed Here #236,
    The main point I have been getting at is basically related to addressing what is science. Science is subject to empirical verification, which, following Adrian’s preferred definition in #180, includes experiment and observation. Adrian feels that Big Bang theory/framework must be verified by repeatable experiments to go beyond a nonscientific hypothesis (I hope and believe this is a fair representation of his position). I maintain that sometimes, we don’t get to do the experiments we would ideally like, yet observations are able to validate theories/frameworks as well, and that the proof that Adrian seems to require is reasonable for a math theorem, but unrealistic in doing science.

    Thus, I maintain that Big Bang theory/framework is indeed scientific. I (hope I) never said it was complete or scientifically unchallengeable, but because of its strength, the bar to replace this framework is set pretty high. We’ve also had some discussion on the language of science, and I think we’ve settled on “framework” as a good word to describe Big Bang. I forget if I actually said, or was just thinking about it and agreeing with others who said something along these lines, that scientific “proof” is better said to be “extensive evidence for which this is by far the best explanation” rather than “100% certainty.”

    I have repeatedly stated that it is fine to have theological objections to Big Bang theory/framework, depending on one’s interpretation of Scripture. But those theological objections should be distinct from a scientific evaluation of that framework. That is, if you have theological objections, that does not simply allow you to reject it as “unscientific.”

    I’m probably missing numerous side points but that’s the main idea as best I remember it.

  238. Jed Paschall said,

    February 15, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I forget if I actually said, or was just thinking about it and agreeing with others who said something along these lines, that scientific “proof” is better said to be “extensive evidence for which this is by far the best explanation” rather than “100% certainty.”

    I wonder if we would be having the same discussion over the framework of the theory plate tectonics. Similar to the big bang, tectonics has not been irrefutably proven through observation, as experiments simply cannot replicate the dynamics of tectonics adequately (some tests have been done, but not many) due to the scale of the subject being studied. There is fundamentally no way that the big bang can ever be replicated, repeated, and observed, but the same is true for tectonics. I wonder if some of the YEC and mature creation advocates aren’t setting standards for what constitutes true science that they wouldn’t want to live with on issues that they might hold in kind with Science.

    I realize that we want to say that all scientific theories need to be observable and repeatable, and this isn’t entirely unreasonable. I also think some of this is the limitations of scientific terminology. Some theories indeed meet the classical criteria of the definition for theory. However, Science as a body of knowledge has not adequately come up with terminology for some of these second order “theories” that by their very nature and scope and massive scale are subject to what amounts to the best forensic explanation possible given where the data and evidence currently points. Like Don, I don’t think that just because the terminology isn’t as tight as it really should be, that we can simply say that something isn’t science based on the fact that it doesn’t meet this vaunted criteria. But on the other hand, I don’t think that we can apply the doctrine of certainty to what appears to be the best forensic explanation, as new evidence may modify these theories, or even scrap them altogether.

  239. Steve Drake said,

    February 15, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Reed Here @ 233 to Don:

    If you are, and you acknowledge the Scripture’s claim, then what’s the point of your debates here? What limited “corrections” are you seeking to press upon others?

    Don @ 237:

    Thus, I maintain that Big Bang theory/framework is indeed scientific. I (hope I) never said it was complete or scientifically unchallengeable, but because of its strength, the bar to replace this framework is set pretty high.

    I think the limited ‘corrections’, and correct me if I’m wrong Don, is that Don is arguing for the scientific validity of the Big Bang and thus must be accepted and believed by all, including Christians. That indeed, science has spoken very powerfully here, and for Christians to reject the Big Bang, even on theological grounds, is tantamount to rejecting the law of gravity that keeps our feet on the ground. In essence then, I think, Don is saying that we should be embracing this ‘framework’ wholeheartedly. That it is intellectually untenable not to do so.

    It is thus the ‘acceptance’ and irrefutable scientific validation of the Big Bang that should drive our understanding of Scripture, especially as it relates to origins, and not vice versa.

    With this ‘acceptance’ of the Big Bang as a backdrop, theistic evolution, and both an old cosmos and old earth fall into place, thus making Adrian’s critique of Keller’s theistic evolutionary view incorrect.

  240. Reed Here said,

    February 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Don: is Steven representing you fairly?

  241. February 15, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Don @ 231

    You write, “…that the Big Bang theory/framework did not originate in a vacuum (pun, if there is one, not intended) but developed the regular, sloppy way that science usually does”

    I would agree that science does normally develop in a sloppy fashion (so does mathematics, for that matter, despite the popular conception). However, there’s sloppy, and then there’s sloppy joe. That is, there’s sloppy, and then there’s willful distortion. The certainty of the Big Bang has been blown all out of proportion by scientists, not all of whom are well-meaning.

    You write, “There was no overarching nefarious plot to discredit religion…”

    Romans 1 says otherwise. There is always an overarching nefarious plot to discredit Christianity; it’s always at least cheered on by Satan, if not actively caused by him. Although, come to think of it, man’s sinful nature doesn’t even need Satan around in order to take part in the nefarious plot. Am I saying that every scientist involved in formulating the Big Bang framework had it in for Christianity? Well, perhaps not directly. Some of them might have never even heard of Jesus! However, they’ve all taken a look at creation, which speaks of a Creator. The Nefarious Plot is the default for unredeemed people. That’s where they’re going to want to go.

    You write, “…if you don’t like the exact way that the science was done, it doesn’t allow you to call it unscientific.”

    True. However, I’m claiming that the methods used to claim the certainty that scientists have claimed for the Big Bang are unscientific, for reasons I’ve mentioned before.

    Agree with your paragraph beginning “My point about mathematical proof…”

    Don @ 237

    You write, “…the proof that Adrian seems to require is reasonable for a math theorem, but unrealistic in doing science.”

    Actually, I would claim quite the reverse. The types of proofs I’m demanding for the Big Bang and evolutionary frameworks would be par for the course in experimental particle physics, but wouldn’t even begin to satisfy a mathematician. Plain induction (not talking about mathematical induction) is a logical fallacy, and would satisfy no serious mathematician. However, that is precisely what is required for a scientific demonstration (I’ll use that term in a non-mathematical sense.)

    You write, “I have repeatedly stated that it is fine to have theological objections to Big Bang theory/framework, depending on one’s interpretation of Scripture. But those theological objections should be distinct from a scientific evaluation of that framework. That is, if you have theological objections, that does not simply allow you to reject it as ‘unscientific.’ ”

    Suppose Scientist Mark has created a framework, and done extensive testing on it, and claims it’s a reliable framework. However, his result contradicts a clear principle in Scripture. The correct attitude is, “Well, too bad for the framework!” There could be all kinds of explanations: his testing was flawed in some systemic way (the folks who found evidence for super-luminal neutrinos checked this stuff repeatedly and didn’t find anything, which is why they’re asking for others to repeat their experiments), there’s another perfectly good framework that explains the data and that is not in contradiction with the Scriptures, etc. My point is, while I’m willing to grant that theological objections to a framework and scientific objections will not usually be the same objections, the theological objections have implications for the framework. I am no Kantian! And God is not a God of confusion, but of order. He never contradicts Himself.

  242. Steve Drake said,

    February 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Some of you guys already know how to use some html tags. I would only encourage you to you use the html tag: with the word’s ‘blockquote’ in brackets to differentiate your opponent’s response from your own response instead of the ‘i’ italics response.

  243. Steve Drake said,

    February 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    In other words:
    the bracket … “words to be quoted”…, then bracket , for italics.

    Bracket , …’words to be quoted’…, then bracket .

    For ‘bold’, the same formula to be repeated with letter ‘b’.

    Makes life so much simpler.

  244. Steve Drake said,

    February 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Can’t even explain it without being there. Makes it difficult. Look it up on the internet if you’re interested.

  245. Don said,

    February 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    @Steve Drake #239,
    With apologies for ignoring your html suggestions…
    “Don is arguing for the scientific validity of the Big Bang and thus must be accepted and believed by all, including Christians. That indeed, science has spoken very powerfully here, and for Christians to reject the Big Bang, even on theological grounds, is tantamount to rejecting the law of gravity that keeps our feet on the ground.”

    Steve,
    Please read the third paragraph I wrote in #237, and let me know how you came to that conclusion.

  246. Steve Drake said,

    February 16, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Don @ 237,

    I have repeatedly stated that it is fine to have theological objections to Big Bang theory/framework, depending on one’s interpretation of Scripture. But those theological objections should be distinct from a scientific evaluation of that framework. That is, if you have theological objections, that does not simply allow you to reject it as “unscientific.”

    (1) To say that something is ‘scientific’ gives it the imprimatur of truth, does it not? You are claiming that the Big Bang is scientific, therefore ‘true knowledge’. For Christians to reject ‘true knowledge’ (i.e, the Big Bang) is intellectual suicide. Therefore, Christians should not commit intellectual suicide and embrace ‘true knowledge’ (the Big Bang). By embracing ‘true knowledge’ (the Big Bang), the arguments for an old cosmos, old earth, and God-directed (theistic) evolution all fall into place.

    And/or (2), you are claiming that one’s theological objections do not give one the right to reject something as ‘unscientific’. One must answer ‘scientific’ claims with ‘scientific’ objections, theology stays out of it. But in this you are presenting a false dichotomy: (1) scientific knowledge, and (2) biblical or theological knowledge, and claiming that objections in the one has no bearing on the other. By claiming that there are two realms of knowledge, both equally valid, you are repeating the mistake of Galileo:

    ‘Nothing physical which sense experience sets before our eyes, or which necessary demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question (much less condemned) upon the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words…On the contrary, having arrived at any certainties in physics, we ought to utilize these as the most appropriate aids in the true exposition of the Bible.’ (Stillman Drake, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, (1957), reprinted in D.C. Goodman, ed. Science and Religious Belief 1600-1900: A Selection of Primary Sources, Open University Press, 1973).

    and Francis Bacon, who advanced the concept of the two books of God:

    ‘For to seek heaven and earth in the word of God, whereof it is said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass,” is to seek temporary things amongst eternal; and as to seek divinity in philosophy is to seek the living amongst the dead, so to seek philosophy in divinity is to seek the dead amongst the living…And again, the scope or purpose of the spirit of God is not to express matters of nature in the Scriptures, otherwise than in passage, and for application to man’s capacity and to matters moral and divine.’ (Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, p. 229, Book II, part XXV.(16))

    If I have misrepresented your position incorrectly Don, then I’m in the same position as Reed Here in trying to understand which position you come in under and what underlying concern you have with Adrian’s critique of Keller’s theistic evolutionary view. Are you a theistic evolutionist supporting Keller? Or, what position are you trying to advance and/or support in your discussions?

  247. February 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Steve @243 and 244
    I think you wanted to say the following

    <blockquote>

    Text to be quoted

    </blockquote>

    to make the less than and greater than signs you have to encode them as &lt; and &gt;

    Important to note the final tag needs that slash /

  248. Steve Drake said,

    February 16, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Andrew,
    Yes, thanks for your better explanation.
    For italics, the letter ‘i’

    Text to be quoted

    For bold, the letter ‘b’,

    Text to be quoted

  249. Steve Drake said,

    February 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Andrew,
    Sorry,
    Still can’t make it show up like you did. Oh well, your explanation is best, let’s stick with that.

  250. February 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    You fellows are well away from the exegetical issues that interest me.

    Still re #246, was Galileo all that wrong. The friendly Cardinal Boronius said truly enough, The Bible teaches us how to go to heaven not how the heavens go.

    Further, the true scientist recognises the scientific conclusions from his experimemtal work are provisional and not ultimate.

    I’ve always thought that only when you include the divine do you approach true truth. I may know the physical cause why sparrows die or my hair falls out, but it cannot happen without my heavenly father.

  251. Don said,

    February 17, 2012 at 2:04 am

    @ Steve Drake #246,
    Yes, you’ve got my positions almost completely incorrect.
    (1) Something is “scientific” if it was produced via a valid application of the scientific method. That is all. Not necessarily any imprimaturs.
    (2) You’re partly right here. Scientific criteria must be used to evaluate whether a claim is the product of the scientific method. But that is not the only method to evaluate the truth of a claim.

    Did I claim there are two realms of knowledge? Did I claim they had equal validity? I never used the phrases “true knowledge” or “intellectual suicide” or “theology stays out” and I reject your attempts to put those words into my mouth. I’m sure I claimed that science cannot investigate nor appeal to the supernatural since it is by definition concerned with only the natural. (Whether those are separate realms of knowledge, I’d rather not speculate.) That has been the position I have been trying to advance, since post #6. That, and that verification for science comes via both experiment and observation.

  252. Steve Drake said,

    February 17, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Don @ 251,

    I’m sure I claimed that science cannot investigate nor appeal to the supernatural since it is by definition concerned with only the natural. (Whether those are separate realms of knowledge, I’d rather not speculate.) That has been the position I have been trying to advance, since post #6. That, and that verification for science comes via both experiment and observation.

    So, what now? I think we all agree that science cannot investigate the supernatural, but we’re talking about truth claims, are we not? You claim the Big Bang is scientific. That it was produced via valid application of the scientific method. By implication, you are saying that it is true, are you not? Don’t be coy, brother, come out and say whether you believe the Big Bang to be true or not? Can something produced via valid application of the scientific method, in your estimation, be false? If so, then why should anyone believe it?

    I want to hear from your pen whether you believe the Big Bang is true or not, otherwise you’re just playing around, sniping at the edges with nothing better, nothing more permanent, to offer. There’s no substance, Don.

  253. Roy said,

    February 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Suppose one applies Steve’s question to Eve. How would one phrase the question? This sort of thought process I think Jed expressed in his #238 in which he asked about plate tectonics.

    Yes, I believe Eve is true. Scientifically I believe that she had all the attributes of a woman. No matter what measurement one took, from quick glance to hair length to body weight, she consistently was an appropriately adult female of the human race. All of the evidence (from nature) declared she had parents, grew in a womb, got born, nursed, crawled, walked, learned to speak, became a babe. Of course Adam, Cain, Abel, Seth knew (from special revelation) the rest of the story. As do we.

    Yes, (as a physicist conversant with 21st C cosmology) I think (at present, anyway) the Big Bang hypothesis (which has serious problems which will probably result in slight modifications) seems the best description of how present day understandings of nature would extrapolate billions of years into history. No matter what measurement (well, not quite, remember there are some problems), the universe consistently looks like, errr, it does. Of course Jed, Steve, Don, Adrian, Reed, Rowland, Roy, et al know (from special revelation) the rest of the story.

  254. Steve Drake said,

    February 17, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Roy @ 253,

    Scientifically I believe that she had all the attributes of a woman. No matter what measurement one took, from quick glance to hair length to body weight, she consistently was an appropriately adult female of the human race. All of the evidence (from nature) declared she had parents, grew in a womb, got born, nursed, crawled, walked, learned to speak, became a babe.

    This is a nonsensical statement. Science can say nothing about Eve. There is no ‘evidence’ for you to observe, measure, weigh, or test. The ‘evidence from nature’ didn’t declare anything about whether she had parents, grew in a womb, got born, etc. You ‘know’ this from Scripture. You ‘believe’ this because you believe that Scripture is speaking authoritatively with absolute truth concerning her existence. Whether you ‘believe’ that she was created from a rib taken from Adam’s side, and the ‘rest of the story’, as you put it, is something to which I’m not sure I’ve heard you comment on.

  255. Roy said,

    February 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Hmmm. Science can say nothing about Eve. But science can say a lot about “The Big Bang”, not millions of years but millions of times older than Eve? There’s “no evidence” about Eve, a mere few thousands of years ago, but there’s evidence of The Big Bang billions of years ago?

    Color me, uh, unpersuaded.

    Humor aside, the only measurable thing I’ve ever been able to come up with that might say anything about the recency creation is human population. That would give an age since Noah. Nature tends to balance populations in everything except humans. Fun (and trivial) math exercise to conclude on the order of 33 doublings to get from 2 to 6 billion. Suppose, just for grins, 1000 yrs for the human population to double (a number a couple or six times bigger than any evidence supports, eg, the estimated population based on excavations of ancient cities extrapolated to world population to establish a data point vs other means of estimations for later centuries, all of which enables approximations of upper and lower limit doubling times). 33 doublings at 100 yrs per doubling. That means more than 33K years ago, no people. Makes joke of pagans who argue for ZPG/Malthus on one hand while insisting people millions of years old on the other.

  256. Don said,

    February 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Adrian Keister #241,

    The certainty of the Big Bang has been blown all out of proportion by scientists, not all of whom are well-meaning.

    What? Are you alleging that scientists might exaggerate in press releases, and funding proposals, and the popular press? But the over-selling of a scientific claim doesn’t make the claim itself nonscientific.

    [I] write, “…if you don’t like the exact way that the science was done, it doesn’t allow you to call it unscientific.”
    True. However, I’m claiming that the methods used to claim the certainty that scientists have claimed for the Big Bang are unscientific, for reasons I’ve mentioned before.

    I’m not disagreeing, but isn’t that moving the goalposts? I think that’s why we’re calling it a framework.

    [I] write, “There was no overarching nefarious plot to discredit religion…”
    Romans 1 says otherwise.

    Ah, I wasn’t considering this. Probably should have said no such conscious plot. But I don’t think you would argue that Penzias and Wilson were satanically inspired to point their microwave antenna upwards, when they thought there would be no signal from that direction?

    [I] write, “…the proof that Adrian seems to require is reasonable for a math theorem, but unrealistic in doing science.”
    Actually, I would claim quite the reverse. The types of proofs I’m demanding for the Big Bang and evolutionary frameworks would be par for the course in experimental particle physics, but wouldn’t even begin to satisfy a mathematician.

    Yeah, I think I was confusing this with your ball-over-the-wall analogy. But I would not argue that all areas of science have, or should have, the same levels of requirement for their evidence. It’ll be interesting to see the level of statistics that have been acquired when the particle physicists feel they’re ready to announce they’ve discovered the Higgs boson (assuming that happens). Speaking of which, no there is no justification–and it’s certainly not scientific–to call it the God particle.

    My point is, while I’m willing to grant that theological objections to a framework and scientific objections will not usually be the same objections, the theological objections have implications for the framework.

    I think we can agree on this. If you think the level of scientific certainty claimed is unjustified, that’s fine. If you are certain of your theological objections, then feel free to call it bad science or incorrect science or science that somehow reaches a wrong conclusion. But it takes a misapplication or violation of the scientific method to call it unscientific.

  257. Don said,

    February 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Roy #255,

    Hmmm. Science can say nothing about Eve. But science can say a lot about “The Big Bang”, not millions of years but millions of times older than Eve? There’s “no evidence” about Eve, a mere few thousands of years ago, but there’s evidence of The Big Bang billions of years ago?

    Yes, this is right. There’s no scientific evidence for one woman who lived several thousand years ago in a place that no one knows where it was. That doesn’t mean she didn’t existed, it means no one has seen her skeleton.

  258. Don said,

    February 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    @Me #257,
    …although I guess there could be genetic information that could point to a single common ancestor at some time in the past. Obviously genetics couldn’t say much about who she specifically was. I haven’t closely followed, and certainly don’t understand, the current conclusions that humanity comes from a genetic population of a few thousand (or whatever, I’m probably not even stating this correctly). I wonder where those few thousand came from…

  259. Reed Here said,

    February 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Don: you said:

    Ah, I wasn’t considering this. Probably should have said no such conscious plot. But I don’t think you would argue that Penzias and Wilson were satanically inspired to point their microwave antenna upwards, when they thought there would be no signal from that direction?

    I think you’re not seeing the import of what Paul is saying in Rom 1:18-32. To be sure, the “plot” in view here is sinister in terms of its source. Yet, the issue of consciousness is immaterial in light of the fact that this “plot” is inherent in fallen man’s nature. He cannot help but investigate truth with the intention of twisting it away from it’s source. That is his spiritual bent, a proclivity that is absolute.

    So no, let’s not be silly and suggest that Penzias and Wilson are neophytes in the First Church of Satan. Let’s not either discount the significance of the defect which they performed their scientific investigations – a bent determinedly against God.

    We can quibble over words like “plot.” We daren’t discount the significance of the Fall for the defect in all man’s scientific efforts.

  260. Don said,

    February 19, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Reed Here #259,
    Oh no, I wasn’t disagreeing, I was saying I hadn’t been considering this although I should have.
    But at the same time, I wouldn’t say that nonchristians are incapable of being correct. I know you’re not saying this either, but

    Let’s not either discount the significance of the defect which they performed their scientific investigations – a bent determinedly against God.

    I have no idea about the spiritual condition of these two or of any scientist who has worked on the Big Bang (other than the general fact that scientists are less religious than the population as a whole). So I would hesitate against a blanket statement along these lines.

  261. Don said,

    February 19, 2012 at 1:27 am

    @ Steve Drake #252,
    I’m not sure why you’re so interested in whether I think, as you say, “the Big Bang is true or not” since that’s never been my point. One way to phrase my point may be to say that its true-ness is independent of whether I believe in it or not.

    Nevertheless, to beat an already dead horse, I’m not sure “Is the Big Bang true?” is a well-defined question. That’s like asking if gravity is true. A better question is to ask whether a rock dropped at the earth’s surface will accelerate downward at 32 ft/s^2 (answer: it depends slightly on the local density of the material under the earth’s surface). Does the Theory of Gravity explain everything about gravity? No, it fails at very short distances, and no one knows how it relates to the other fundamental forces. “Gravity is a well-established scientific theory” is probably more accurate than to simply say “gravity is true.”

    Similarly, the Big Bang theory or framework (whichever you prefer) has been extensively tested, has predictive power, and is an active area of research, which is a polite way of saying it’s very incomplete. Things are firming up–just a few years ago, it appeared that there were objects that were older than the universe, which was obviously a big problem! But I expect that Big Bang will continue to change as new information arises, e.g., if they figure out what Dark Matter (let alone Dark Energy) is–or even if there is such things.

    Furthermore, it frankly doesn’t matter to me whether anyone believes Big Bang or evolution is true. (Well, I guess it would matter if you’re actively doing research in either of those areas.) But does belief or disbelief in either of these really affect your day-to-day life or your eternal destiny? I’m pretty confident the answer for almost everybody is “no.”

    What does matter to me is that people have a basic understanding of science. It is important to understand that cell phones cannot cause cancer. It is important to know that childhood vaccinations do not cause autism, but the withholding of vaccinations does cause other real diseases. You could just memorize some driving rules to travel safely on icy roads, but it would likely help to know something about friction. If you think an understanding of science, an understanding of what we’ve been talking about this whole time, is unsubstantial (to reference the last sentence of #252), then we’ll just have to disagree.

  262. Reed here said,

    February 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Don, 260: it your hesitance to make a blanket statement that concerns me.

    your acknowledgement of my point is meaningless if you are unable/unwilling to apply it. It appears that you only give lip service to the supremacy of Scripture. You acknowledge it but iyou do not apply it.

    by definition (biblical), those not submissive to Christ will have this “plot” at the core of their efforts.

  263. Steve Drake said,

    February 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Thanks Don @ 261,
    No, I do not think an understanding of science is unsubstantial, it’s crucial, but we must distinguish between operation science (relativity, quantum mechanics) and historical science (Big Bang, Grand Theory of Evolution), the latter beyond direct empirical testing. Hasn’t this been Adrian’s point? I hear you saying that you disagree that both the Big Bang and the Grand Theory of Evolution are beyond direct empirical testing. I would say they are, however, and I think I’m in agreement with Adrian and others here on this point. Something beyond direct empirical testing should be questioned, held skeptically, especially if it contradicts the clear word of God and is completely contrary to the Biblical timeline.

    ‘But does belief or disbelief in either of these really affect your day-to-day life or your eternal destiny? I’m pretty confident the answer for almost everybody is “no.”’

    I think this is where you are mistaken. The implications of a Big Bang and the Grand Theory of Evolution for the authority of God’s Word for my day-to-day life has enormous implications. If I can’t trust that God can speak clearly in the opening chapters of his revelation to man, then what confidence do I have that He speaks clearly and authoritatively in the other portions concerned with my eternal destiny? What confidence do I have that His character is holy, good, just, merciful, righteous and loving, if the implications of acceptance of a Big Bang and Grand Theory of Evolution would indicate natural and moral evil in existence in the created order long before Adam came on the scene and sinned? The whole question of God’s character is undermined. A consistent Christian theodicy is undermined.

  264. Don said,

    February 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Reed Here #262,
    For your statement in #259 that I quoted in #260, I would agree if the “they” refers to nonchristians. But it seems from context that the “they” refers to scientists who research the Big Bang. And since I don’t know all of them, I don’t think I ought to make a blanket statement on their spiritual condition.

  265. Don said,

    February 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Steve Drake #263,

    I hear you saying that you disagree that both the Big Bang and the Grand Theory of Evolution are beyond direct empirical testing. I would say they are, however, and I think I’m in agreement with Adrian and others here on this point.

    Back in the middle of #188 I suggested some specific empirical tests for Big Bang. They didn’t seem to get any attention, but there was a lot of other things being discussed at the time, so I’ll repeat:

    Look for: Blueshifted galaxies. Far-away galaxies with minimal redshifts. A universe consisting entirely of hydrogen and helium. Or one where all the light elements have been converted into carbon, nitrogen, and other heavy elements. Portions of the universe at a temperature of 10 K, and other parts of 0.5 K. Observations of anything like those would invalidate the Big Bang theory.

    If I can’t trust that God can speak clearly in the opening chapters of his revelation to man, then what confidence do I have that He speaks clearly and authoritatively in the other portions concerned with my eternal destiny?

    Here you are, obviously, referring to special revelation, but what if the question was referring to general revelation? I suppose the answer, either way, is that one may need to adjust one’s interpretation of the revelation.

    if the implications of acceptance of a Big Bang and Grand Theory of Evolution would indicate natural and moral evil in existence in the created order long before Adam came on the scene and sinned?

    Perhaps the first thing to do is figure out if those are the actual implications of those theories. Or maybe take one step further back and figure out if a “natural evil” isn’t what’s being described by the waters in Genesis 1:2.

  266. Steve Drake said,

    February 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Don @ 265,

    Back in the middle of #188, I suggested some specific empirical tests for Big Bang. They didn’t seem to get any attention, but there was a lot of other things being discussed at the time, so I’ll repeat:

    Perhaps you have seen the ‘An Open Letter to the Scientific Community‘ at http://www.cosmologystatement.org? Note the statement:

    In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation.

    Note the signatories. These are not creation scientists.

    Here you are, obviously, referring to special revelation, but what if the question was referring to general revelation? I suppose the answer, either way, is that one may need to adjust one’s interpretation of the revelation.

    The same classic mistake. Our Reformed doctrines have never placed general revelation on a par with special revelation. Special revelation trumps general revelation in every case. Note the language of Psalm 19 for example. It’s a beautiful picture of both revelations. The first six verses speak to general revelation, the next five to special revelation, but note the particular language used for special revelation:
    1) the law of the Lord is ‘perfect’
    2) the testimony of the Lord is ‘sure’
    3) the precepts of the Lord are ‘right’
    4) the commandment of the Lord is ‘pure’
    5) the fear of the Lord is ‘clean’
    6) the judgments of the Lord are ‘true’, they are righteous ‘altogether’

    Perhaps the first thing to do is figure out if those are the actual implications of those theories.

    That you would imply they are not, is again the twisted nature of this debate. A whole lot of modification has to be done to Scripture for a Big Bang and Grand Theory of Evolution to fit the Biblical picture. That Keller and Enns and Collins, and others, attempt to do so, shows how far ‘some’ Christian leaders unfortunately will go to agree with the naturalistic epistemology that discounts and discredits the Word of God.

    Or maybe take one step further back and figure out if a “natural evil” isn’t what’s being described by the waters in Genesis 1:2.

    Are you an adherent of the ‘Gap Theory’? If you are, then please declare that openly, and we can discuss why this theory was discredited long ago. That you imply Gen. 1:2 hints at ‘natural evil’, is a spurious and tendencious claim as seen by God’s use of the word ‘good’ six times in Genesis 1 and His use of the words ‘very good’ at the end of this six day account, supported by the fact that the Church for 1800 years would never have thought that God placed ‘natural evil’ within his created order before the sin of Adam.

  267. Steve Drake said,

    February 20, 2012 at 9:57 am

    By the way, Don, I’ve been meaning to say this for my past few comments, but it’s nice to see you using the ‘blockquote’ html feature. I can see that you must be enjoying this nice little trick. Keep it up! :)

  268. February 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Steve #266

    In your ref to Psa 19 are you positing a contrast between general/natural revelation and special such that the former is not true? It looks like it. Romans reminds us that general revelation clearly reveals what it reveals so that we are without excuse. It’s true that the heavens do not declare the gospel but they do declare the glory of God and that with clarity. The fault is in ourselves if this is not recognised..

    Then again, good and very good in Gen 1 must be interpreted as ‘ free of moral evil and precisely what God intended’ and not defined by some idealistic view we impose on the text. Thus, the world as first made was not the best of all possible worlds. Indeed, for man there was potential to be brought out, obstacles to overcome.

    The above comments do not necessarily mean a young earth position is wrong, but perhaps they may remind you to think a bit more carefully.

  269. Steve Drake said,

    February 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Again, good morning to you Rowland @ 268,
    Yes, so now we come back into your realm of ‘supposed’ expertise, don’t we? You’ve been lurking, and now see a ‘perceived’ opening in your opponents position. The lion, hiding in the grass, begins his run to the attack. Give me a minute to recognize your sprint, and to plan an evasive maneuver.

  270. February 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Steve #269
    I do not know who you are or what your expertise. I can only go on what is written. As I am a theologian and historian not a student of the physical sciences I don’t buy in to debates about the latter.

    Methinks however that the tone of your response is beneath the standard we should try and maintain in Christian discourse.

    Anyway, I shall await your response to the Biblical point I raised. As Geerhardus Vos says somewhere, There is an eschatology before sin. Paradise to come is not simply the old Paradise but far better.

  271. Steve Drake said,

    February 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Rowland @ 270, 268,
    Yes, yes, it’s always ‘tone’, isn’t it? ‘Tone’, ‘tone’, tone’, my goodness, you think this is the only argument that folks like yourself have. Complaining about ‘tone’ is the soupe du jour of the theologian who has nothing better to argue.

    As I am a theologian and historian not a student of the physical sciences I don’t buy in to debates about the latter.

    Why not? What do you have against the physical sciences?

    In your ref to Psa 19 are you positing a contrast between general/natural revelation and special such that the former is not true? It looks like it.

    Incorrect and classic Big Bang, GTE, and old-earth mischaracterization.

  272. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Attention to tone is commanded in Scripture.

    “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. ” — Titus 3.1-2

    Not accusing you of being in sin; just saying that it is right and good to give consideration to tone and not to treat it lightly or dismissively.

  273. Steve Drake said,

    February 21, 2012 at 9:19 am

    My apologies to Rowland for my tone. My arguments and questions are still on the table. It is also at least implied in the Scripture you quoted in #272 above, not to make a caricature or knowingly misstate your opponents position.

  274. Don said,

    February 21, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Steve Drake #266,

    In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation.

    This is nonsense. Physicists make stuff up all the time. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t. Neutrinos, as a single example, were predicted decades before their discovery.

    That you imply Gen. 1:2 hints at ‘natural evil’, is a spurious and tendencious claim as seen by God’s use of the word ‘good’ six times in Genesis 1 and His use of the words ‘very good’ at the end of this six day account, supported by the fact that the Church for 1800 years would never have thought that God placed ‘natural evil’ within his created order before the sin of Adam.

    Disagree here. Water and seas were bad news to the Hebrews. I don’t know whether they would have read this as evil necessarily, but as a dangerous and scary situation. But I’m not a gap theorist as far as I can tell.

    By the way, Don, I’ve been meaning to say this for my past few comments, but it’s nice to see you using the ‘blockquote’ html feature. I can see that you must be enjoying this nice little trick.

    Nope, it terrifies me that I’ll get it wrong and the formatting will come out a big mess.

  275. Steve Drake said,

    February 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Don @ 274,

    Disagree here. Water and seas were bad news to the Hebrews. I don’t know whether they would have read this as evil necessarily, but as a dangerous and scary situation.

    What are you using as supporting information for this claim? I ask, because I’ve never heard this before, and want to know what it is you base your conclusion upon.

    http://www.comsomolgystatement.org: In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation.

    This is nonsense. Physicists make stuff up all the time. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Your reaction above tells me all I need to know about your commitment to the Big Bang. We need not continue our discussion on this topic. You’ve said your peace, Adrian has said his, others have said theirs, I’ve said mine.

  276. Don said,

    February 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Steve Drake #275,
    To close the conversation, regarding water–Psalm 107 and commentaries upon it, for one example.

    “This is nonsense. Physicists make stuff up all the time. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t.”

    Your reaction above tells me all I need to know about your commitment to the Big Bang.

    This statement isn’t supposed to be controversial, and I don’t see how it directly relates to the Big Bang. It’s just a paraphrase of how science works. What I said in #231 and what Adrian said in #241.

  277. Steve Drake said,

    February 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Don @ 276,
    I didn’t intend for our conversation to necessarily close, unless you desire to do so, but only intended to indicate that our discussion of the Big Bang should end since you are committed to the Big Bang framework and cosmic evolution as God’s opening act and nothing I or others could say would convince you otherwise. However, your attempt at the exegesis of Psalm 107 and paralleling it to Gen. 1:2 might just do it for me. I’ll comment below, and let you have the last word.

    You: Disagree here. Water and seas were bad news to the Hebrews. I don’t know whether they would have read this as evil necessarily, but as a dangerous and scary situation.

    Me: What are you using as supporting information for this claim? I ask, because I’ve never heard this before, and want to know what it is you base your conclusion upon.

    You: regarding water–Psalm 107 and commentaries upon it, for one example.

    To use Psalm 107 in defense of your statement that water and seas were bad news to the Hebrews, and then to infer from this Psalm that there is a parallel to water and seas in that ‘natural evil’ might be what is being described in Gen. 1:2 (your post #265), despite God’s descriptions of ‘good’ and ‘very good’ throughout the six-day account and at its completion, stretches credulity beyond the breaking point of any sound hermeneutical principle. It is these kinds of attempts by those who feel the need to justify the Big Bang and cosmic evolution and its corollary of billions and billions of years that has put us in the state of affairs we find ourselves in regarding this debate today.

  278. Hugh McCann said,

    February 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Please see also: http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=1137&var3=issuedisplay&var4=IssRead&var5=112

    And the many articles ably answering thereto.

    NOTHING should surprise us in the PCA. :(

  279. Steve Drake said,

    February 27, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Hugh @ 278,
    It will be interesting to see how the PCA Savannah River Presbytery overture to General Assembly this year in June, ‘rejecting all evolutionary views of Adam’s origin‘ plays out against the PCA geologist’s article you cited above. Does anyone see the connection between the age of the earth, and a rejection of ‘all evolutionary views of Adam’s origin?

  280. Hugh McCann said,

    February 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Anyone know of a solid, critical review of The Reason for God?

    I’ve seen Amazon, “First Things,” Challies, Gilley, & Robertson’s puff piece at Ref21.

    I tried teaching TRFG to young Christian adults, and found I had to spin nearly all of it for the well-versed Bible believers. It seems to be a bit of a disaster. It smells too much like Mere Christianity.

  281. Don said,

    February 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Steve Drake #277,
    OK, let me back up. I’m not trying to make any parallel to Genesis 1 and Psalm 107. I’m not certain where I first heard that the ancient Hebrews feared the sea, probably from some sermons or commentaries, but I’m traveling so I can’t even look up any study Bible. So Psalm 107 was just one example of that, Jonah probably would be too obvious an example. I don’t know if there’s anthropological evidence for this or if it’s just inferred from texts such as these. I think that’s been one proposed explanation for why there’s no more sea in Rev. 21:1, but I’m not sure how firm an explanation that is.

    But I don’t see anywhere that the situation as described in Genesis 1:2 is good?

  282. Steve Drake said,

    February 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Hugh @ 280,
    There are some critical of Keller’s ‘The Reason for God. I have tried to reference three times what that URL would be, but the moderator or blog administrative functions have rejected my comment three times here. If you’re interested you can email me privately, but you can check out the CMI website if you’re interested.

  283. Steve Drake said,

    February 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Don @ 281,

    OK, let me back up. I’m not trying to make any parallel to Genesis 1 and Psalm 107. I’m not certain where I first heard that the ancient Hebrews feared the sea, probably from some sermons or commentaries, but I’m traveling so I can’t even look up any study Bible. So Psalm 107 was just one example of that, Jonah probably would be too obvious an example. I don’t know if there’s anthropological evidence for this or if it’s just inferred from texts such as these. I think that’s been one proposed explanation for why there’s no more sea in Rev. 21:1, but I’m not sure how firm an explanation that is.

    I hear a lot of uncertainty in the above, Don. That you reference Psalm 107 and seek to justify by that a Hebrew fear of water and seas is simply untenable. The Jonah example is equally tenuous. The exaggerated reach to imply the Hebrew fear of water is nowhere supported in Scripture.

    But I don’t see anywhere that the situation as described in Genesis 1:2 is good?

    Perhaps you can exegete this verse, keeping it in context with the rest of the chapter?

  284. Steve Drake said,

    February 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Paige,
    Is reference to a URL prohibited under the guidelines of this blog?

  285. Steve Drake said,

    February 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Correction:
    Paige,
    Is reference to a ‘creation’ URL prohibited under the guidelines of this blog?

  286. Hugh McCann said,

    February 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Steve,

    Thanks for heads-up. I found the two CMI pieces. But am also unable to post them here.

    I note that TK also responded to CMI.

    Why is he so enamored of diabolical Biologos?

  287. Steve Drake said,

    February 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Hugh @ 286,
    Seems to be a bias here. Am still awaiting Paige’s answer to my question.

  288. Steve Drake said,

    February 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Hugh @ 286,
    Censorship. Otherwise, Lane or Paige, please explain why my three comments referencing a ‘creation’ URL did not post.

  289. Hugh McCann said,

    February 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Steve,

    You can reach me at hughmc5 AT hotmail DOT com, fwiw.

    I wonder if articles critical of Modern Ref. article (@278, above). Would make it…

  290. Hugh McCann said,

    February 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    From the pyromanaical Phil Johnson

    BioLogos’s ambivalence toward original sin is curious, because there’s no doctrine in all the Bible that comes replete with more empirical evidence. Not that I recomend the methodology, but if someone wanted to subject a Christian doctrine to scientific analysis, it would be hard to think of a better place to start. To quote Chesterton:

    Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R. J. Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street.

    Johnson rightly calls it Socinianism in lab coats. His teampyro blogspot has links to Biologos articles which denigrate the authority of Scripture, and carry “an attitude toward the doctrine of original sin that ranges from utter indifference to condescending dismissal.”

  291. Cris D. said,

    February 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Don & Steve, let’s try to shut the faucet on the water question.

    In the Ancient Near East water was a symbol for chaos, for the uncontrolled. When water is used in conjunction with primeval times and origins, it represents the chaotic stuff from which and over which some hero or deity gains control and brings about more ordered and organized “stuff”. So it can represent some kind of eternal matter or stuff, since only the Scriptures reveal a God eternally self-sufficient, asei, who brings into being all created things, visible and invisible.

    With respect to Gen 1:1-2, the fact that there is a description of the created earth as formless, void, and dark, and the Spirit hovers over the waters, there is a opportunity to see a parallel in Gen 1:1-2 to this ANE concept of water/chaos. I don’t see it strongly going that way, but I haven’t spent significant time on those verses in an academic/scholarly or even strenuously exegetical fashion.

    Since there is reference in Gen 1:1-2 to this first phase of God’s creation being void, formless, dark and watery, there is the exegetical option to find a gap between that initial creation, and then the forming & fashioning events of The Six Days. The ancients would have seen “water” as indicative that additional creative forming and fashioning could be done.

    Water then also becomes a symbol, or metaphor, or poetic description of troubles encountered. This is common in the Psalms (18:16, 69:1,2,14). Then we have the LORD showing sovereignty over “waters” (and floods), which is surely Scripture asserting the LORD is God over the baals, etc (Ps 29:1, etc.).

    It’s not that water was always “bad news” or scary, but it was sometimes representative of ideas and religions contrary to the LORD and his Scripture. The Red Sea was tactically a bit of bad news, or so it seemed to the Exodus masses. Turns out is was only bad news for the pursuing Egyptians. The classic case for all situations, showing the LORD is sovereign of all created things.

  292. Steve Drake said,

    February 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Chris D. @ 291,

    let’s try to shut the faucet on the water question.

    With respect to Gen 1:1-2, the fact that there is a description of the created earth as formless, void, and dark, and the Spirit hovers over the waters, there is a opportunity to see a parallel in Gen 1:1-2 to this ANE concept of water/chaos. I don’t see it strongly going that way, but I haven’t spent significant time on those verses in an academic/scholarly or even strenuously exegetical fashion.

    Chris,
    Do my posts above referencing the history of the origin of ‘deep time’ and the Church’s belief in a young universe, young earth for 1800 years until the advent of modern geology have any bearing here on whether ‘water’ was bad news to the Hebrews?

  293. paigebritton said,

    February 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Steve,
    Hey, have not tuned in lately to this thread, so I’m sorry I missed what you were asking about. I have no idea what happened to your attempts or what they contained — maybe Reed does? If you want to try them again, go ahead. Sometimes comments with links get hung up as “spam” and we might throw them out with the trash without looking too closely. Sorry — we’ll try to sort this out. (I’m east coast, so I’ll check in early tomorrow in case I miss any input from you tonight.)
    pax,
    Paige

  294. Reed Here said,

    February 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Steve: I’ve been tracking the pending/spam filters and haven’t seen anything from you getting hung up. Please re-post if you can. Feel free to email us if you ever think something has gotten hung up. One of us will be able to get back to relatively quickly (as we walk around wired to GB 24 hours/day ;). reed here at gmail dot com; paige dot britton at gmail dot com.

  295. Steve Drake said,

    February 29, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Reed, Paige,
    Thanks. It may have been off topic anyway, as it was in reply to Hugh’s post of #280 about anyone knowing of a critique of Keller’s ‘The Reason for God‘. He and I have communicated privately about those links, so we’re squared away. I understand now that some posts with URL’s are automatically spam filtered, and I apologize for accusations of deliberate deletion of my comments. I will be more circumspect in the future. Blessings to all of you at Green Baggins.

  296. Mark M. said,

    March 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    @Steve
    It seems to me that many are simply avoiding looking into this issue: how old the earth is and what we can find out in natural revelation. Yes, there was a long history of the church believing in YE…why would they not doubt this? It was common knowledge that the earth was the center of the universe, that it was relatively young (people of the bible only mainly believed this.) But, so what? Calvin and Luther thought Copernicus a fool, and a heretic. They were wrong. Copernicus was right. They, despite being faithful lights (the best in many ways) of theology, were wrong on this issue. Cannot they (earlier in time) be wrong on this issue of YE also? I say yes. They read into scripture more than was there. Just because modern geology is “modern,” does not make it bad. Just because Darwin used some models of geology as a basis for his theories does not make it (geology) bad. Lets stop here, and ask ourselves, what has been shown? What can we tell by looking at the rocks? Let us all honestly pursue truth, both in natural and special revelation, and let us all not be afraid of what we find, for all truth (rocks and scripture) is God’s.

  297. Steve Drake said,

    March 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

    @ Mark M. #296

    It seems to me that many are simply avoiding looking into this issue: how old the earth is and what we can find out in natural revelation.

    I’m not sure who are the ‘many’ who ‘are simply avoiding looking into this issue’, but I would disagree. Perhaps you can qualify this statement somewhat?

    Yes, there was a long history of the church believing in YE…why would they not doubt this?

    Because that’s what Scripture says and they believed Scripture. They believed that God can communicate to us clearly His intended purposes and actions and to do so accurately.

    It was common knowledge that the earth was the center of the universe, that it was relatively young (people of the bible only mainly believed this.) But, so what?

    From God’s perspective the earth is still the center of redemptive history. The frame of reference in Scripture is clearly geocentric. Events are measured with respect to their position to the earth, and in a deeper sense perhaps: the earth is said to be at rest with respect to the heavenly dwelling place of God (Isa. 66:1-2). Gen. 1 places the earth at the center, surrounded by the waters under the firmament, the firmament, and the waters above the firmament.

    Calvin and Luther thought Copernicus a fool, and a heretic. They were wrong. Copernicus was right. They, despite being faithful lights (the best in many ways) of theology, were wrong on this issue.

    Only relative motion is observable. Absolute motion is meaningless unless we define the standard with respect to which ‘absolute’ motion is to be measured. There is noting objectionable in considering earth, or heaven, as the absolute standard of rest. It may not be convenient from a purely scientific view, but it can hardly be considered false.

    Cannot they (earlier in time) be wrong on this issue of YE also? I say yes.

    Cannot they who seek to interpret natural revelation from a purely methodological naturalistic position apart from God’s special revelation come to wrong conclusions and be wrong. I say yes.

    What can we tell by looking at the rocks?

    Absolutely nothing about ‘absolute’ age. We can count the isotopes. The ‘age’ is inferred from uniformitarian assumptions. The methods of empirical science are evidentiarily inadequate to determine meaningful or accurate truth about our beginnings as Dr. Keister has roundly demonstrated in his original post and his comments that followed.

  298. Mark Malone said,

    March 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Steve,
    Of course the earth is the center of redemptive history, no one disagrees with this (if they do then I find that troublesome ) You are leaping to conclusions about my statements, Steve. Did I mention anything about beginnings? I understand your fear, I truly do. You want to protect Scripture and honor God, and as a Christian brother I find that noble. But you are missing some key distinctions here in your desire to do so. You are lumping things together. Of course scientific interpretations can be wrong, either outright or due to false presuppositions, no on disagrees with that. But, and here is one of those distinctions…it is also possible that your interpretation of certain sections of the Bible, as Calvin and Luther have demonstrated, are out of place. Theologically they are not wrong, including Calvin’s statement. But, then, all of a sudden, those who are apt to see these things literally start to look like advocates of the Framework view in certain sections ;).

  299. Steve Drake said,

    March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    @Mark #298,
    You’re coming back late to this thread which wound up at the end of February, but I find it amusing that you conclude that I’m leaping to conclusions, when the young universe, young earth view was orthodox belief for 1800 years until the advent of the ‘dating game’, and the modern compromise positions that have resulted since the early to mid-1800′s.

    Have you read all the 290 some posts above and followed my argument as the thread progressed?

    Here’s something to consider Mark: Is it possible that your interpretations of certain sections of the Bible and the effort to make them fit a 4.55 billion year old earth are out of place and not congruent with the facts ‘or’ Scripture?

  300. Mark M. said,

    March 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I am glad I can amuse you, and yes, I read the comments. Of course you are jumping to conclusions, I never mentioned origins (did you read what I posted?) I found your simplification of dating techniques and the philosophy behind it amusing. You know, you are right, I think I am going to turn my brain off and go study Genesis disconnected from nature more. I am sure it mentions all we need to know about the universe, and I am sure that church history is the best place to go for natural revelation.
    ;)

  301. Steve Drake said,

    March 23, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Mark,

    I think I am going to turn my brain off and go study Genesis disconnected from nature more.

    A classic OE comment that says nothing except the implication and disparaging caricature of all who hold a YE position.

  302. hughmc5 said,

    March 23, 2012 at 11:48 am

    We believe Copernicus* was wrong, but only b/c of holy Writ. We can no more prove geocentricity than his & Galileo’s gang can prove the heliocentric model.

    Science never proves anything, b/c it cannot yield truth.

    *

    People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear
    clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.

    ~ Martin Luther, Works, Vol. 22, c. 1543.

  303. Reed Here said,

    March 23, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Mark: I agree, your comment is quite condescending. Not a great way to go about having open dialogue. Plain and simple fact here: both sides believe they are sincerely defending the integrity of God’s word.

    > Those who find evidences from current scientific studies compelling take very seriously the need to accommodate our interpretation of Gn 1-2. It is our current interpretation that is flawed.
    > Those who find such interpretation accommodations flawed take very seriously the need to challenge the accuracy of the evidence of the scientific studies. It is our accommodated interpretation that is flawed.

    Both positions have commendable goals, and can therefore show respect toward one another. This cannot mitigate the fact however that the differences being discussed are night and day. I suggest we need to remember to express our strongest disagreements in the humblest of voices.

  304. Hugh McCann said,

    March 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Reed @303,

    It’s nice of you to attribute good motives to all sides, but I respectfully disagree that “both sides believe they are sincerely defending the integrity of God’s word.” Judging motives of the heart is dicey @ the start.

    But one side’s defense of “scientific evidence” is blatant as they allow it to trump the literal reading of Scripture.* Their accomodation to unbelieving scholarship is likewise readily apparent.

    But ’tis hard to find their defense of the Bible’s integrity! Just the opposite is the result of their interpretations, as Adrian’s above article implies.

    This is a seriously less-than-commendable goal, imnsho.

    *Some would see this as idolatrous. Please peruse “The Hoax of Scientific Creationism” & “A Lie in My Right Hand” by John Robbins, & “The Biblical View of Science” by Gary Crampton.

  305. Hugh McCann said,

    March 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    May I please post the link to the refutation of the PCA geologists (#278, above)?

  306. Reed Here said,

    March 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Hugh: thanks for the admiration. ;-) No, I do not believe I am reading motives. Instead I think I am offering a fair and accurate summary of the motives I’ve seen regularly expressed by folks commenting here on this subject. I.e., I’m merely summarized expressed motives, and taking them at their word.

    Your criticisms of the OE position aside (which I more or less agree with), that does not detract from the sincerity of the motive. Since both sides maintain the same goal (i.e., protect the integrity of God’s word), I do not believe your criticism is applicable at the goal level. Instead, I think your the criticism applies at the argument level.

    Recognizing the validity of their motive does provide us a starting point for interacting with a demeanor that may help mitigate the ad hominen aspect of such debates. This can only help make clearer, and hopefully more forcefully persuasive, our criticisms.

    And, as it may not be clear here (and some readers might not be familiar with my previous comments here), I am persuaded of an essential YE position, based expressly on exegetical grounds. Accordingly I believe the OE interpretative accommodations are wrong. Further, I believe some of them are so dangerously wrong as to strike at the vitals of our faith (e.g., the atonement).

    These convictions do not stop me from wrestling with my brother and trying to get him to cry uncle. It does mean I need to be careful that I’m not treating him like he is my enemy.

  307. ackbeet said,

    March 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I find it amusing that the following has occurred:

    1. The Theory of General Relativity (GR) says that there are no preferred reference frames whatsoever, not even “inertial” ones, effectively ending the supposed reductio ad absurdam arguments atheists make about geocentrists. Hint: these arguments are really more non sequitur‘s than anything else. That is, GR says it makes about as much sense to say the earth moves around the sun, as to say that the sun moves around the earth: not much. So who’s to say which viewpoint is correct? Incidentally, my father once questioned an atheist physicist, who was an expert in GR, about this very thing. The physicist came right out and said that GR shows the geocentrism/heliocentrism debate to be kind of pointless. It was just as wrong to conclude that the geocentrists were wrong, as to conclude that the heliocentrists were wrong.

    2. The possible faster-than-light neutrinos measured in Italy, if confirmed, would turn GR upside down, and send theorists into a frenzy of excitement. It could spell the end of GR.

    So much for basing all your philosophical hopes in science, and for considering it the be-all, end-all. This sort of shifting sand seems a seriously shoddy standard. It’s useful, to be sure, and can predict lotsa things with decent accuracy. But GR isn’t “true” any more than Newtonian physics was “true”.

  308. ackbeet said,

    March 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Sorry, ackbeet = Adrian Keister. For some reason, WordPress decided to display my posting name a little differently.

  309. Hugh McCann said,

    March 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Reed,

    Readily conceding that you’re more widely read (finding expressions of godly motives), just darn brighter (which is not saying much, I know), and more charitable than I (really not saying much!), I’ll pray you’re right.

    And I certainly agree the truth doesn’t need our bombast or pride. But we do contend earnestly when Scripture’s truth-monoply is negotiated.

    Thank you!

  310. Reed Here said,

    March 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Hugh: you turkey :-) You gotta stop using such admiring language. Someone might begin to believe its true and then I’m really sunk.

    Willingly contending earnestly with you.

  311. Hugh McCann said,

    March 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Adrian! (In best R. Balboa voice – sorry…)
    Glad you’re tuning in.
    Seen the three I refer to in post #304, above?
    THANK YOU for your article above.
    Keep making waves.

  312. Reed Here said,

    March 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Adrian: a friend told me two weeks ago that the faster than light neutrino was dis-proven. Something about a loose wire in some of the equipment? Have you heard anything, can you check it out?

    Aside, at the risk of being labeled, I am tracking with you GR insight.

  313. Hugh McCann said,

    March 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Reed, It’s a screw loose, & not in the wiring….

  314. Steve Drake said,

    March 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Reed, Adrian,
    I found this article that might shed light on your posts #313, and #308 above:
    Scientists Retest Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Claims, Find Otherwise

    Seems like another retesting is scheduled by May of this year.

  315. Mark M. said,

    March 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I guess sarcasm does not go over well here {#300.} One of my points is valid, though, and not meant in jest: church history is not the place to go for general revelation or as a justification for a view in it. There are things we can know, via Genesis, and there are things we cannot know, via Genesis. Problem is, we disagree on what those revealed things are. Those disagreements (only talking of YE/OE) are quickly thrown down the slippery-slope into a bowl of unorthodox, however, and this concerns me. When dealing with OE or other scientific matters, I fully understand the fear, it is a fear of losing one’s faith, one’ life, one’s religion…one’s system of understanding the Bible. If we were wrong on that, who knows what else we can be wrong on, maybe we were wrong on everything, and next thing you know, we’ll be studying feminist lit at Columbia University {jest.}

    There is no conflict between OE and Genesis. There is a conflict when you get into biologos territory, which deals with origins (a diverging issue.) I disagree with them. However, OE? No conflict. Only conflict is interpretive systems of scripture, not the scriptures themselves. One can have divergence within interpretive systems and still hold to the orthodox line. Anyone who disagrees with this -I question their understanding of history.

  316. Steve Drake said,

    March 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Mark @ #316,

    One of my points is valid, though, and not meant in jest: church history is not the place to go for general revelation or as a justification for a view in it.

    This is an invalid point. No one is saying that church history is the place to go to for general revelation or justification for a view in it. It does however provide the background for where ideas come from and how Christians of the time sought to answer them. Can one honestly say that the debates over Arianism, Arminianism, or any of the debates in Christendom of earlier age are not looked to today to define why we believe what we do and how the matter by use of Scripture was settled?

    When dealing with OE or other scientific matters, I fully understand the fear, it is a fear of losing one’s faith, one’ life, one’s religion…one’s system of understanding the Bible.

    When dealing with those who hold to OE, Big Bang, and other long age scientific conclusions, I fully understand the fear; fear of losing respect in the scientific community, fear of looking like a fool in the eyes of the world, fear of losing one’s job if it were found out that one holds to ID or YE (e.g.,David Coppedge at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory), fear of being ridiculed and mocked for non-scientific belief in a scientific age, fear of man rather than God.

    There is no conflict between OE and Genesis.

    This is the exact point of debate. Many of us see that there is conflict, and your continual assertions that there are not, only perpetuate your bias. To simply state your opinion that there is not, is just that, your opinion, but it does nothing to answer any and all of the objections that have been raised against the theological implications of an old earth, old universe. Merely asserting it over and over again, as if you can win an argument by shouting the loudest is the act of one who cannot defend their position with reasoned argument.

  317. Hugh McCann said,

    March 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    What is the purpose of assuming (or even trying to prove) that Genesis 1 allows for something other than a literal read?

    In other words, what agenda underlies all OEers? Whether gapper, frameworker, theistic evo’ist, et. al., they all want to marshall physical evidence to do more than it can, to bear more weight than it’s able.

    All creation teaches is
    (1) God’s existence and power (Rom. 1:20) – that’s it!
    (2) only discernable after one is born anew to see & hear the things of the kingdom, and
    (3) only damning to the unenlightened.

    And science {contra its proponents} teaches no truth at all.

  318. Mark M. said,

    March 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    (#317) You are comparing OE to Arianism? Yikes.

    I have changed my mind, I do not think OE and YE can be discussed in a blog. This needs to be an in-person discussion, as it seems the temperature is too high and it is too easy to assign wrong motivations to comments (both sides.)

    Thanks for your time folks…

  319. Reed Here said,

    March 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Mark: we’ll, if you want to be read as just sarcastic …

    This discussion does not rest on geology, but on Biblical interpretation. Feel free to back up your opinion, preferably without sarcasm masquerading as condescension.

  320. Reed Here said,

    March 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Mark: so you’re just a drive by?

  321. Mark M. said,

    March 24, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Mark hugs Reed. I love you too.

  322. Don said,

    March 24, 2012 at 3:28 am

    @ Steve Drake #317,

    Mark @ #316,

    One of my points is valid, though, and not meant in jest: church history is not the place to go for general revelation or as a justification for a view in it.

    This is an invalid point. No one is saying that church history is the place to go to for general revelation or justification for a view in it.

    Actually, this seems to be exactly what you are doing in #299. You assert that your position is the historically orthodox one, without serious consideration of what had changed to challenge that view (new information via general revelation, which you dismiss as a “game”).

  323. Steve Drake said,

    March 24, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Don@323
    The ‘game’ I was and always have referred specifically to as the ‘dating game’ is reference to the book by the same name by Dr. Cherry Lewis (The Dating Game, Cambridge University Press, 2000) and the history surrounding the dates that went back and forth (though always in an upward trend) in geology from the late 1700′s through the mid-1800′s finally settling on the 4.55 billion year number as determined by C.C. Patterson in 1956 through lead-lead dating of several meteorites. Jack Repcheck’s book ‘The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth’s Antiquity’, Perseus Publishing, 2003, is also of interest from an historical point of view as to the people and dates and how the dates for the age of the earth were developed and promulgated.

    What ‘changed’ was a complex movement of thought with philosophical, theological, social, political, and ecclesiastical dimensions, which pulsed through the educated minds of Europeans in general and of Britons in particular. Reason was being raised to the place of supreme authority in determining truth, and deists and atheists were openly or subtly challenging the Christian worldview. This had an effect not only on scientific assumptions and methodology, but also on biblical scholarship and faith in the Scriptures. Reinterpretations of Genesis were part of this movement.

  324. Hugh McCann said,

    March 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Dr Reed answering PCA geo-prophets (@278) ~

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v5/n1/summary-PCA-geologists

  325. Hugh McCann said,

    March 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    See ‘Long-age geology or Genesis?’

    @ Creati*n.c*m

  326. Don said,

    March 25, 2012 at 12:53 am

    @Steve Drake #324,
    I’m not referring to Enlightenment philosophy at all, nor especially to geology. To hopefully be as clear as I can, what I was actually referring to:
    Up until a couple hundred years ago, there was little if any empirical evidence/general revelation to contradict the Young Earth interpretation. At various times some people developed philosophical arguments promoting alternate ideas, but I guess they never took widespread hold. Anyway, more recently a variety of empirical evidence/general revelation has developed (from a number of fields of science), which is not necessarily reconcilable with the YE interpretation. But it is unremarkable to note that YE was the most accepted view in the time before this evidence was discovered. Nor does it follow that this evidence cannot be used beneficially in interpretation of Scripture.

  327. Hugh McCann said,

    March 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Don (& Mark, et. al.),

    Please see “The Hoax of Scientific Creationism” & “A Lie in My Right Hand” by John Robbins, & “The Biblical View of Science” by Gary Crampton.

    All at trinityfoundation.org.

    And reread Adrian’s piece!

  328. Don said,

    March 26, 2012 at 2:47 am

    @ Hugh McCann #328,
    I could only find the first (“Hoax”) of those three articles from the site’s search function. The point seemed to be that it’s inappropriate to claim that “scientific creationism” is scientific and not religious, in order to bypass First Amendment concerns and get it into the public school classroom. But I’m not sure how that’s relevant to this discussion?

  329. Steve Drake said,

    March 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Don@#327,
    Don,
    Question: How does one maintain (1) an historical Adam, and (2) that everyone living today has Adam and Eve as their ‘first parents,’ in a universe that begins with the Big Bang, proceeds through galaxy and planet formation, on to the development of the biodiversity of life on this planet, all occurring over billions and billions of years? You may state you don’t accept premise (1) or (2) above. If you do accept premises (1) and (2) please explain what significance, if any, that entails for a billions and billions of years old earth.

  330. Hugh McCann said,

    March 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Re: 329: Thanks, Don. ‘Hoax,’ etc. are meant merely as negative answers to the question of whether science yields truth.

    The Trinity Foundation search engine locates words within the texts of articles. You could scroll thru the archives, or you can find

    ‘A Lie in My Right Hand’ @ trinityfoundation.org/PDF/132a-ALieinMyRightHand.pdf

    And, ‘The Biblical View of Science’ @ trinityfoundation.org/PDF/143a-TheBiblicalViewofScience.pdf

    {I cut off the http://www to try to get these posted ASAP.}

  331. Hugh McCann said,

    March 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Sweet foretaste of ‘The Biblical View of Science’ ~

    Many non-Christians, and all too many Christians, are of the opinion that science, (i.e., the physical or natural sciences) is an ever-growing body of truth about the universe. The progress of science, its technological triumphs, so we are told, demonstrate its truth. Science is seemingly unassailable. After all, it works doesn’t it? And isn’t success the measure of truth?

    This being the case, so it goes, when the Bible and science appear to be at odds, we need to re-interpret the Bible. For example, since science tells us (and the pope agrees) that (some sort of) evolution is a fact, not just a theory, we need to take a fresh look at Genesis 1. No longer can we assert with the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q 9) that “the work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the Word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.” Six-day creationism needs to be re-examined. It is, we are assured, an obscurantist view of things.

    To speak against this sort of scientific thinking is almost blasphemous in some circles, because, for many, science is the god of this age. Yet, that is what this paper intends to do, that is, to blaspheme the god of science. Science, it will be seen, is not the main revealer of truth. In fact, science is not capable of revealing any truth at all…

  332. Don said,

    March 27, 2012 at 3:09 am

    @ Steve Drake #330,

    These are good questions! There’s no reason to expect science (of any sort) has anything to say about (1), because, why would one expect to find scientific evidence for the existence of one specific guy who lived however many thousands of years ago? On the other hand, if there was no Adam, then I don’t know how you would interpret Romans 5 (for example).

    Regarding (2), modern genetics seems to disagree with this, and Genesis 4:14 (for example) would make more sense if more people were around. But it’s not clear to me that the science in this case is mature enough to be particularly definitive: If all of humanity descended from a gene pool of a few thousand people, where did those original people come from?

    But what significance does that entail for the age of the earth? None that I can think of. The age of the earth is a scientific question; there are various lines of empirical evidence that point to it being 4B years old. If, unlike the existence of Adam, the age of the earth had much theological significance (other than the fact that it has _some_ age, e.g., Ps. 102:25), then probably the Bible would have discussed it directly.

  333. Steve Drake said,

    March 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Don @ #333,

    There’s no reason to expect science (of any sort) has anything to say about (1), because, why would one expect to find scientific evidence for the existence of one specific guy who lived however many thousands of years ago? On the other hand, if there was no Adam, then I don’t know how you would interpret Romans 5 (for example).

    Yes, you’re absolutely right. an historical Adam is a faith position we take from Scripture. We cannot prove it scientifically but we understand the implications as you mention from Romans 5, 1 Cor. 15, for not believing it. These implications are enormous theologically and would undermine the gospel and our redemptive history as to who and what, and why for the ‘last Adam’. The reason for the ‘last Adam’ is meaningless if the historical ‘first Adam’ is not just that, a real man in real history. As Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. has noted:

    “If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.”

    You may be interested in reading Gaffin’s full article at The Aquila Report, http://www.theaquilareport.com/index.php, or Wes White’s blog, http://www.weswhite.net, as Gaffin’s article explains why both (1) an historical Adam, and (2) ‘all’ descended from Adam and Eve as progenitors and ‘first parents’ of the human race, are crucial.

    But what significance does that entail for the age of the earth?

    If we accept premise (1) an historical Adam, and (2) ‘all’ descended from Adam and Eve as progenitors and ‘first parents’ of the human race, then where do we place the historical Adam on a timeline of history? Does it matter if it was some 6000 years ago, or 60,000 years ago? Where would you put him?

    And once you put Adam there, on this historical timeline, one must then explain all the rest of the biodiversity of life and place it on a timeline as well. Where did it come from, and how did it get there? Where would you place the marine life and fishes for example?

    What about the galaxies, stars, and planets out there in the vast universe. Where are they to be placed on this historical timeline?

    What about the trees, grasses, shrubs, flowers, and all manner of plant life? Where would you place them on this historical timeline?

    I could go on, but I think you see my point, and I truly am interested in your answers, so please don’t wiggle on me here.:)

    Bottom line, what are we left with to explain how these things fit in history, on this timeline I’m talking about? Are we left with man’s ideas or God’s? Are they compatible? In other words, from what God says about it, and from what man says about it, is there any conflict?

  334. Don said,

    March 28, 2012 at 3:48 am

    @Steve Drake #334, More good questions! Too bad I don’t have better answers!

    Does it matter if it was some 6000 years ago, or 60,000 years ago? Where would you put him[Adam]?

    Not to me, it doesn’t. Might have been 600,000 years ago, for all I know. I’m pretty sure that Adam didn’t look too much like either of us. Definitely shorter.

    What about the galaxies, stars, and planets out there in the vast universe. Where are they to be placed on this historical timeline?

    Well, this one is a lot easier than the others, since to look far away is to look back in time. But regarding plants and such, I am, again, not a biologist so I don’t have any particular insight here. I’m not trying to wiggle, I just don’t know, and it doesn’t especially bother me.

    Are we left with man’s ideas or God’s? Are they compatible? In other words, from what God says about it, and from what man says about it, is there any conflict?

    For an instant I was going to complain about the first of this set of questions, since it seems to set up a false dichotomy. The easiest thing to do is either (a) close your ears and disbelieve anything those Evil Atheist Scientists say, or (b) just dismiss Scripture as an old-fashioned myth. But to do the hard work of figuring out how they work together, to understand how science works, its actual limitations and what it can actually tell, as well as understanding what Scripture is trying to teach and to not force it to answer questions it’s not addressing, is the hard work. A small part of that was the point of my original comment about what science actually is. A full answer is obviously beyond the scope of a blog comment, and my ability to further write coherently at this time.

  335. March 28, 2012 at 4:39 am

    Well said, Don.

  336. Steve Drake said,

    March 28, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Don @ 335,

    Not to me, it doesn’t. Might have been 600,000 years ago, for all I know. I’m pretty sure that Adam didn’t look too much like either of us. Definitely shorter.

    Don,
    What I hear you saying. Help me understand your position here, but what I hear you saying is that Adam (yes historical), was one of many hominids that God perhaps infused a soul, declaring him then and there to be our federal and biological head. Or did God at that point, say, 600,000 years ago, create ex nihilo someone new, not the result of the union of sperm and egg, nor the result of any gestation process within a womb, that we know as Adam? Did he do the same thing with Eve?

    In other words, if we accept the billions of years of old earth timeline, with a biodiversity of life stretching over hundreds of millions of years, accepting the placement of hominds towards the end of this millions and millions of years process, did Got plump Adam and Eve down on earth by his creative processes alone ex nihilo at that time in the later development of the hominid family, or were they both from that hominid family originally in it’s later developments, the result of union of sperm and egg, and the normal gestation process within a womb, and God infused his imago Dei and called them Adam and Eve?

  337. hughmc5 said,

    March 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Steve funny: Wow – a “federal hominid“?

    Don very funny: “…there are various lines of empirical evidence that point to it being 4B years old.”

  338. March 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I didn’t read Don as putting Adam hundreds of thousands of years ago. I thought he was referring to other forms of life as possibly of this age.

    I suppose the point in the debate is the danger of using our logic to decide what God should do or should not do. Personally I don’t see a problem with carnivores and predatory creatures before humans, while our New Atheists and many (most/all) Young Earthers see their existence as inconsistent with a good Creator. But I like Psalm 104 with its wonderful pictures of the creatures God has made, including the ravenous ones.

  339. Don said,

    March 29, 2012 at 4:15 am

    @ hughmc5 #338,
    Normally I’d say 4G years ago, for “giga,” but I thought B (billion) would be clearer here.
    Let me point out that “Federal Hominid” would be a great name for a band. Or a slur referring to a congressman, either way.

    @ Steve Drake #337,
    No, I didn’t say that Adam was not the only hominid at his time. For the idea that other hominids were around, it seems like Scripture disagrees with this. But it would seem to explain a variety of things, such as who were the people to live in Cain’s, and it appears to be consistent with what we know from genetics and the fossil record. However, by “we” I don’t mean me personally. As I think we agree, general revelation is not set up to identify a single individual who lived so long ago, so I’m happy to live in ignorance of the details.

    @Rowland S. Ward #339,
    Actually I was referring to the possibility of Adam living hundreds of thousands of years ago. If it turns out that Adam is not what we would call a Homo sapiens, (although I guess we won’t find out until we meet him) then I have no problem with that. Species are just a human construct. It wouldn’t mean he’s “not human.” But neither am I saying that this is the way it had to be.

    Regarding Steve Drake’s other questions in #337, they are truly good questions and I’d love to know the answers, but I don’t know how to answer them other than by speculation, which is generally not very profitable. If it’s surprising that a scientist is willing to live with ambiguity and uncertainty, well then here you go, I guess you can be surprised.

  340. Don said,

    March 29, 2012 at 4:19 am

    @me #340,
    * live in Cain’s _city_

  341. hughmc5 said,

    March 29, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Don well describes science’s probability of certainty:
    [1] “speculation which is generally not very profitable” &
    [2] “ambiguity and uncertainty.”

    Hear, hear!

    …science is not capable of revealing any truth at all.

    What then is the Biblical view of science? Science enables us to fulfill the mandate of Genesis 1:28: “Then God blessed them [Adam and Eve], and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the Earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.’” Science gives us directions for doing things, or “operating,” in this world. It does not explain how the laws of nature work, nor does it accurately define or describe things. Science does not discover truth; it is a method for dominating and utilizing nature; it is merely a practical discipline that helps us live in God’s universe and subdue it.

    As strange as it might sound to the reader that science never gives us truth, it is precisely that belief that has been held by leading scientists and philosophers. Albert Einstein, for example, speaking of our knowledge of the universe, said: “We know nothing about it at all . …The real nature of things, that we shall never know, never.” The British philosopher Karl Popper wrote: “We know that our scientific theories always remain hypotheses… In science there is no knowledge, in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth.” Popper went on to say: “It can even be shown that all [scientific] theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero.”

    From Dr W. Gary Crampton’s “The Biblical View of Science.”

  342. Hugh McCann said,

    March 29, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Sorry. I am hughmc5, and not trying to hide my identity.

    Hugh

  343. Steve Drake said,

    March 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Hi Don, Rowland,
    Perhaps you also can see my response #105 over on the thread ‘Questions and Answers Session 2′, for problems that I see with any OE position, and interact there as well? Blessings to you both, brothers, and to you as well Hugh-thanks for your continued involvement and support.

  344. Hugh McCann said,

    March 29, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Steve,
    However I can help.
    Keep up the good work.

  345. Steve Drake said,

    March 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Hi Don, Rowland,
    I have copied and pasted my comments/questions from the other thread below so that we can stay on this thread if you like:

    Let me lay out just some of the questions I think some of us with YE persuasion have about either a straight OE or theistic evolutionary OE, or any OE for that matter I suppose:

    ‘The premise before us at the moment is the question of animals living hundreds of millions of years before Adam. (Addition: This is a necessary premise for any old earth position.

    1) I see a direct conflict with the Biblical statements that Adam’s sin brought death. (Rom 5:12, Rom. 6:23, 1 Cor.15). That death didn’t exist in all of God’s created order until, and only until Adam sinned. Thus animals dying, getting disease like cancer, eating one another carnivorously, the predation, the chase, the extinctions from space of hugh earth shattering asteroids, hugh dust storms that kill a mammoth in its tracks so that even its stomach contents are preserved, the fossil graveyards where animals were all destroyed together somehow, the pain and suffering involved in death, are all contrary to a good, and very good creation as described in Genesis 1 and thus destroying the sin-death causality so clearly described in Scripture.

    2) I see a direct conflict as well about what this says about God’s character. His characteristic’s of love, mercy, care, peace, righteousness, justice and how these things can truly be said of him if what is described in (1) above was happening for hundreds of millions of years before Adam sinned. Even many of our atheistic opponents have seen this connection and do not hesitate to mock this ‘supposedly loving God’.

    3) I see and ask myself a question. If Adam and those of us all who are descended from him is the focus of God’s redemptive plan, if man is the focus of redemptive history, then why did God wait hundreds of millions of years to place him on the scene? I ask myself what would be God’s purpose? Why would He need to wait? What would be the purpose of what is described in (1) to go on for hundreds of millions of years for God then to decide to bring man in at the very end of this process? Scripture seems to be replete with God’s full-on focus and reason of redemption, reconciliation, and sacrifice for man.

    Todd, these are just some of the things I see, there are others, and perhaps those others with YE persuasion can add here. Perhaps you can comment from a ‘straight OE’ position how none of these things should be my concern. Thanks and blessings.’

    In your case Don, I might substitute ‘theistic evolutionary OE’ in last paragraph above instead of ‘straight OE’, and this is not meant to be derogatory, but only as a description of your position? For you, Rowland, I’m not sure if you would describe yourself as ‘straight OE’, or ‘theistic evolutionary OE’, but for any OE position, except maybe the Gap Theory I suppose, questions 1-3 might apply to the Analogical Day position you hold? At any rate, I am encouraged by our dialog, and grateful for your interactions and responses. Blessings.

  346. Hugh McCann said,

    March 29, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Yeah, like that.

    ~ Just don’t hold your breath waiting for answers! :)

  347. Steve Drake said,

    March 29, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Hugh @ 347,

    Just don’t hold your breath waiting for answers! :)

    Therein lies one of the biggest problems I think. This is not meant to be a charge against my OE brothers, but I do see this tendency. These are genuine concerns that I think all YE’s have for the OE position and our OE brothers, and if my OE brothers don’t attempt to explain their answers to these types of questions, then we are sorta stuck, right?

  348. John said,

    March 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Steve, I’ve done my best to address your questions on the other thread: http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/question-and-answer-session-2/#comment-95867

    Looking forward to your thoughts.

  349. Don said,

    March 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    @ Steve Drake #346,
    I’ll give a shot at responding to these questions. Whether or not they are actual answers, we’ll find out if Hugh McCann turns blue or not. :) [But beyond that, Hugh (in #342), no; I'm declining to speculate on theological questions that the Scriptures do not and science cannot address.]

    1) It does depend on what “That death” means. Calvin’s commentary on Gen. 2:17 seems to think it is, what I’d call, spiritual death. If that’s what it really means–and I know of no proof of that–then that seems to remove the problem of animals, since they cannot of course die spiritually.

    2) I rather don’t care what atheists think, if they are trying to seize on any opportunity to point out incompatibilities between a, quote, “supposedly loving God” and an earth full of pain and suffering. Now, the question of how could God allow evil, is a good and important question if asked from honest motives–motives of trying to understand God better. But if Adam’s death “in the day [he ate] of it” was the first spiritual, rather than physical, death, then you can ask “How did God allow that cute widdle kiddy kat to be eaten by that wolf?” and I don’t think it would matter if you were asking before or after the Fall.

    3) If I could, I’d like to gently challenge the preface to this question: the focus of God’s redemptive plan is His own glory, and we are fortunate beneficiaries of it. It is a good question why God allowed so much animal death before Adam, if in fact he did so. But we could also ask why Seth wasn’t the messiah, why did God wait x thousand years (2 < x < 1000) after Adam's first sin to fully bring about redemption? All I can do is plead Galatians 4:4, that this was God's timing. We may be able to find clues from Scripture, or vague hints from general revelation, but I don't think we can know much of the answer with much certainty.

  350. Steve Drake said,

    March 30, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Don @ 350,

    Calvin’s commentary on Gen. 2:17 seems to think it is, what I’d call, spiritual death.

    Can you provide the specific quote in Calvin’s commentary on Genesis 2:17 where he says this and you imply it? In his Commentary on Isaiah, William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Erdmans, 1948, 1: p.383 he speaks to predation:

    Whence comes the cruelty of brutes, which prompts the stronger to seize and rend and devour with dreadful violence the weaker animals?

    If the stain of sin had not polluted the world, no animal would have been addicted to prey on blood, but the fruits of the earth would have sufficed for all, according to the method which God had appointed. p.216

    He speaks to the perversion of the Fall with this quote:
    all regions of the world…the most filthy plagues, blindness, impotence, impurity, vanity and injustice, p.246 of his Institutes and that Adam consigned his race to ruin by his rebellion when he perverted the whole order of nature in heaven and earth…There is no doubt that….{the creatures} are bearing part of the punishment deserved by man, for whose use they were created, p.246

    The implication here seems to me is that none of these things were happening, i.e,, cruelty, rending and devouring, preying on blood but fruits sufficing, dreadful violence of weaker animals, before the sin of Adam. And that Adam’s sin was what perverted the whole order of nature in heaven and earth, the creatures today bearing part of this punishment.

  351. hughmc5 said,

    March 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    get ‘em, Steve!
    :)

  352. John said,

    March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    What Calvin said is interesting and worth considering, but hardly binding. The Reformed have always allowed for a variety of views on the meaning of “death” (physical and spiritual, merely physical, human physical and spiritual, etc.).

  353. Don said,

    March 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    @Steve Drake #351,
    I don’t know whether Calvin avoided the term “spiritual death” on purpose, or coincidentally, or if the phrase as we use it is a later development. But from his Commentary on Genesis 2:17, from ccel.org:

    [U]nder the name of death is comprehended all those miseries in which Adam involved himself by his defection; for as soon as he revolted from God, the fountain of life, he was cast down from his former state, in order that he might perceive the life of man without God to be wretched and lost, and therefore differing nothing from death. Hence the condition of man after his sin is not improperly called both the privation of life, and death.

    And, in explaining why Adam did not immediately physically die,

    [H]ow it was that God threatened death to Adam on the day in which he should touch the fruit, when he long deferred the punishment? For then was Adam consigned to death, and death began its reign in him, until supervening grace should bring a remedy.

    The whole paragraph is a beautiful, tragic description of the life that was lost and the death that results.

  354. Steve Drake said,

    March 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Don @ 354,
    Thanks for the references. I see nothing there that would imply spiritual death only. The implication of the command in Gen. 2:17 that if he didn’t eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is that he wouldn’t die, but that if he ‘did’ eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil he ‘would’ die. If not, why the command?

  355. Reed Here said,

    March 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    John, no. 354, a bit of a cop out, don’t you think? What really matters is what Scripture says, no?

    Just because various options are posited by various portions of the church does not mean all roads lead to heaven, er to right understanding of God’s word. ;-P

  356. Don said,

    April 1, 2012 at 12:32 am

    @Steve Drake #355,
    I assume that Calvin was trying to explain why Adam didn’t physically die “in that day.” I can see several possible explanations for this. One is that it was a spiritual death–he lost his fellowship with God and began upon a road to physical death, as Calvin seems to argue. One could also argue that God extended grace in delaying the deserved punishment; I don’t know if there’s any specific exegetical evidence for this, but it seems consistent with His character in other places. One could also try to argue that since “a thousand years is but a day” to God, the fact that Adam died when he was 930 counts as it being the same day, but that is severely stretching credibility to me.

  357. Steve Drake said,

    April 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Don @ 357,
    The phrase ‘in the day’ used in both Gen. 2: 4 and Gen. 2:17 in Hebrew is the same construct. It carries the preposition be in front of the word yom so would thus be ‘beyom. It is the prepositional equivalent of ‘when’ and is distinct from just the word ‘yom’ used in the narrative account in Gen. 1. It is important to understand this grammatical distinction in the Hebrew.

    As beyom relates to Gen. 2:17 Adam did die that day, both spiritually and physically, the physical process had begun, and then ended when he was 930 years old (Gen.5:5).

    When one looks at the prepositional construct and the command of Gen. 2:17 itself; don’t eat and live or eat and die, and the record in Gen. 5 that he had other sons and daughters until he died at 930 years, then this inference naturally comes out. If you research the literature of the Church, this is not just a modern YE interpretation, but has been the common belief for millennium and has not been challenged and debated and used as a foil until the advent of ‘deep time’ with modern geology and the recent Church accommodations to long ages and justification for an old earth.

  358. John said,

    April 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Reed, fair point. I mainly want to highlight that the debate about the nature of death before/after the fall is one that occurs among orthodox believers, not between the orthodox and heterodox.

    In the past I have seen this issue raised to the level of a test of orthodoxy. Likewise YE. Likewise theistic evolution. Likewise progressive creationism. This raising of the stakes is hard for me to understand.

    Deny a historical Adam, and I don’t see how you can be Reformed. Deny a God who creates, and I don’t see how you can be a Christian. These other debates are important, but not at the same level.

  359. hughmc5 said,

    April 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Here’s the quote I’ve been searching for!

    Paul opens his letter to the Romans by establishing that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The chapters leading up to this conclusion are not an inductive argument in which Paul examines the life of every man who has ever lived. After all, one cannot establish universals by induction; that requires revelation, and revelation is what Paul uses. Verses 10 through 18 of chapter 3 are quotations from the Old Testament proving that “There is none righteous, no not one.” Universal propositions in the Bible are true because they are revealed. Without revelation, there could be no universals, such as, all who are justified are justified by faith alone. Biblical universals are true. Empirical universals are false.

    … Paul does not add any source of truth to Scripture. A careful reading of Romans 1:18-21 indicates that it has nothing to do with the so-called Thomistic proofs for the existence of God. Let us examine it line by line.

    ”For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven. . . .” Taking off one’s Aristotelian glasses, one might be surprised to note that Paul says the wrath, not the existence, of God is revealed from Heaven. Apparently our evidentialist friends have misread the verse. (Likewise, the Psalmist says the heavens declare the glory, not the existence, of God. Funny how the empiricism of Aristotle can make people hallucinate.) I have yet to come across an evidentialist argument proving the wrath of God on empirical grounds. This is a curious inconsistency. Evidentialists like to argue from experience and observation to the goodness, benevolence, or intelligence of some sort of god, but they are strangely silent about the rest of experience, which seems to imply, on their assumptions, the irrationality or wickedness of a god. If they are going to appeal to experience as proof of God, they must appeal to all experience, including the experience of Nazism, Communism, and Romanism.

    Verse 19 says, “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” This, of course, is obviously a denial of empiricism, and an assertion of direct revelation in their minds. It is manifest in them. Calvin said that men are born with a sense of God. They do not learn about God’s existence through observation; when they are conceived they possess knowledge of God and his wrath. It is this immediately revealed knowledge that renders all men inexcusable. If our guilt depended on our knowledge (as it does), and our knowledge in turn depended on our senses, or on our ability to follow an intricate cosmological argument, then virtually all the human race would be innocent. Those whose senses are impaired are obviously excused, and those who cannot follow an argument, especially one that stretches for a thousand steps, are excused as well. Helen Keller and Forrest Gump get free passes to Heaven. Given the assumptions of evidentialist apologetics, their lack of senses or intelligence gives them a Get Out of Hell Free card. Paul, of course, was not endorsing the cosmological or teleological arguments. He taught that the rudimentary knowledge which renders men inexcusable is manifest in them because God has shown it to them; it is not something they gain by observation or discursive reasoning.

    Verse 20 says, “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen. . . .” Obviously, invisible attributes cannot be seen with the eyes, so Paul was not teaching some form of empiricism.

    Paul continues: “being understood”: “see” it seems, was a metaphor for “understand,” as it usually is in Scripture. “By the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” In this portion of the verse, Paul is simply repeating his statement: The things that are made include men. He is not teaching a novelty-that seeing trees (if one could, in fact, see trees) logically compels one to infer wrath, eternal power, and judgment in the Godhead. Thomas himself denied that creation could be inferred from observation. It was a truth he said, that must be obtained by revelation. Paul is no more an evidentialist than Christ. Instead, he defends revelation, both here and in other letters, such as 1 Corinthians and Colossians, as the only source of knowledge.

    From “The Apologetics of Jesus and Paul,” 1996. Emphases added.

    Bonus quote: “Scripture is not merely the best argument, it is the only foundation of truth. Christ appeals to it exclusively, not as one among several sources. Christ is not an evidentialist, but a Scripturalist.”

  360. Reed Here said,

    April 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    John: still wondering why you merely dismissed me on the other thread, i.e., my exegesis on Gn 2:5 ff. What is your purpose, to discuss, even debate, or merely argue that your position is not heretical?

  361. Reed Here said,

    April 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    John, you said:

    “In the past I have seen this issue raised to the level of a test of orthodoxy. Likewise YE. Likewise theistic evolution. Likewise progressive creationism. This raising of the stakes is hard for me to understand.”

    Ah, but there is the rub, and the reason for respectful interaction, isn’t it. Just because I may be persuaded that a given position rises to the level of the seriousness of orthodoxy vs. heresy does not mean I am right.

    AND …

    Just because you may be persuaded exactly the opposite does NOT mean you are right.

    That is why we need to discuss these things. I for one do believe that theistic evolution is a test of orthodoxy. Can one be saved and believe in theistic evolution? Well, God is merciful with our inconsistencies. That, however, is no excuse for not identifying error and calling it what it is. That is our duty of love to the Lord.

    Depending on the particulars of the arguments involving the others, some may or may not rise to this level of seriousness. Again, it is why we discuss them.

  362. Steve Drake said,

    April 4, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Hugh @ 360,
    I like the extended quote. Who’s the author?

  363. Hugh said,

    April 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Hey Steve,
    It’s John Robbins (of course!).
    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/135a-TheApologeticsofJesusandPaul.pdf

  364. Chris said,

    May 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I tried to see if this point was discussed, but I did not find it above. What did Dr. K mean when he wrote:

    “I am not sure whether Keller means to demean “fiat-creationists” by calling them unsophisticated (I would tend to think so, given the nature of Keller’s ministry, but I do not impute motives)”

    Is Dr. K saying that, given the nature of Keller’s ministry, Keller would call fiat-creationist unsophisticated and demean them? Am I understanding that correctly? This only drew my attention because, to my (limited) knowledge, Keller’s ministry is fairly irenic in nature and does not demean other sides, but rather, he usually seeks to understand, evaluate, and critique them if necessary.

    Or, to what is Dr. K referring when he says “Keller’s ministry”?

    Furthermore, if Keller’s ministry is in the habit of demeaning others with differing viewpoints, then he should be gently confronted on that error.

    Any thoughts on this?

  365. May 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Chris @ 365:

    By “Keller’s ministry”, I meant merely that he ministers to sophisticated urbanites in NYC. In that setting, I imagine being “sophisticated” is considered a virtue, and being “unsophisticated” is not considered a virtue – it might even be considered a bad thing.

    I am not aware of a general pattern of Keller demeaning other viewpoints, except possibly in the example under discussion here.

    Thanks for asking the question: I’m (I hope) always happy to clarify things, define my terms, etc.

  366. Chris said,

    May 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Dr. K, Thanks for the clarification, that clears it up :)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 326 other followers

%d bloggers like this: