First Plenary Session: The Bible’s First Word (Derek Thomas)

The text is Genesis 1:1-2. The centrality of God in the very beginning teaches us that our hermeneutical human-centeredness (“what does this passage say to me?”) is fundamentally wrong-headed. We need to ask, “What does this passage teach about God?” Leibniz says that a great question to ask is, “Why is there something, and not nothing?” For the Big Bang theory to happen, there has to be something before that. But the Bible states that the Triune God created by His powerful Word.

The creation account exalts God. Our culture seems to exult in the weightlessness of God (a la David Wells). The vastness of space ought to give us an inkling of how great God is. He notes the apologetic slant to Genesis 1 (vis-a-vis the Egyptian cosmologies, which worshiped the created sun and moon). The creation is Trinitarianly created. All the external operations of the Godhead are indivisibly the work of all three persons of the Trinity.

If someone says that the creation happened through a singularity, then we ask, “What was there before the singularity?” Nothing at all. Out of nothing everything came. (Why then can’t they believe in the resurrection?) This is irrational. Some people say that gases existed before the singularity. Some claim that electro-magnetism existed. This also is absurd. Science can be trusted when it comes to airplanes, cars, and surgery, but when science attempts to invade theology and philosophy, it becomes absurd. Before creation, there was God. Why is there something and not nothing? Because God is.

The creation account emphasizes the Creator-creature distinction. One of the best things that we can learn is that there is a God, and then we are not Him, or the fourth person of the Trinity, contrary to human tendencies. The biggest problem with the Egyptians gods is that they don’t exist (!).

The biblical doctrine of creation teaches the essential goodness of creation and matter. The constant refrains of God’s approval “God saw that it was good” militates against a Platonic rejection of matter as inherently evil, or of the body as the prison-house of the soul. This world will be restored, not obliterated. There are some things more beautiful (“good” versus “very good” in Genesis 1). God is the judge of what is truly beautiful. Grace is always restorative.

The biblical doctrine of creation is the basis for morality and ethics. What God has separated (genes, for instance) let not man join together. When we forget we are creatures, then we make our own morality.

The biblical doctrine of creation is the basis, ground, and motivation for worship. We were made to worship God.

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18 Comments

  1. paigebritton said,

    April 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Yay! I was hoping you were blogging about it. See you tomorrow!!! :)

  2. CD-Host said,

    April 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    For the Big Bang theory to happen, there has to be something before that. … If someone says that the creation happened through a singularity, then we ask, “What was there before the singularity?”

    In reading this I have a feeling you don’t understand what time is, and you don’t understand what a singularity is. In modern physics objects travel along “space-time” paths. If A and B are observers with two different frames of motion they will perceive events to happening at different times, and both of them will be right! Both of them will experience a consistent physical universe in their frame. You cannot talk about absolute time anymore than absolute “north” or absolute “right”.

    You can’t be “left” you are “left of the door and right of the lamp”. In the same way you cannot be “before” you are “standing up before the door closed but after the light turned off”. As you approach the point of space-time of the big bang all energy collapses in towards the center. That is all light cones towards that center, all of space-time collapses towards that point. There is no “before” that’s what it means to say it is a singularity.

    Now before ( :) ) you argue that fine, you’ll just change the above and say you don’t believe in singularities. We can detect singularities now. We can see X-ray emissions from black holes which are smaller singularities. The center of a black hole is a point where all of time from the creation of the black hole its destruction is collapsed into a single instant. Singularities are an observable phenomenon, and with the next generation of super colliders possibly a repeatably createable one.

  3. Steve Drake said,

    April 20, 2013 at 8:32 am

    We can detect singularities now. …Singularities are an observable phenomenon,…

    It would be nice to see the sources for this CD-Host.

  4. Steve Drake said,

    April 20, 2013 at 10:20 am

    CD-Host,
    I understand that singularities are seen as an inescapable part of general relativity. Eddington in the 30’s thought the idea of a singularity was ‘absurd’ and hoped future discoveries would explain it away. The cosmological principle was one attempt to do this; to avoid the primordial singularity at the beginning of the Big Bang.

    What I want to clarify, and this goes back to our discussion on the existence of God (your denial self-stated), is the assumption and reception ala Hawking, that everything we see now came out of an infinitesimally small primordial singularity. This primordial singularity is not a black hole with an event horizon around it. It was a ‘naked singularity’. It is simply arbitrary assumption that space was expanding right from the beginning and the substance of the universe ‘went along for the ride’ and was thereby carried out of the singular state. Quantum gravity as an explanation is ad hoc and simply speculation at this point.

  5. Tim Harris said,

    April 20, 2013 at 10:44 am

    If it was timeless, how could it change, i.e. go “bang”?
    It it was spaceless, what did it expand into?

  6. CD-Host said,

    April 21, 2013 at 7:31 am

    @Tim —

    It it was spaceless, what did it expand into?

    You are picturing in your head a flat universe. That is not what the big bang postulates. There isn’t space that the stuff of the universe expands into. Rather space is expanding carrying the stuff along with it. The stuff of the universe is pulled away from one another by the expansion of the space in between it. We can still observe going on today with galaxies.

    That’s what is meant by “an expanding universe”. They mean this literally. They don’t mean the stuff of the universe is expanding inside the empty universe they mean the actual space of the universe is expanding.

    If it was timeless, how could it change, i.e. go “bang”?

    Same problem but even more complex. You are picturing time as flat.

    Right now if you go to the ocean time passes slightly faster for you than your friend on a mountain top. If you had very very accurate equipment you could detect that difference you could experience the world as if his clocks were accelerated. Because you are exposed to higher gravity you are relative to space time undergoing accelerated motion. The reason you fall towards the earth is space time is distorted so that paths heading towards the center of the earth are shorter than those heading away. Your friend on the mountain top has just slightly less distortion.

    If you were to be in a much higher gravitational situation what is now a difference in ratios that is vanishingly small would become genuinely noticeable. Your mountaintop friend might be moving billions of times faster than you. His entirely life from start to finish would wiz by in a second, you could watch the sun age and eat the earth. The singularity is a place where the warpage of the curvature of those paths is becoming infinite. Their entire time collapses along those paths into an instantly small interval of time, nothingness.

    ________

    If you are interested in this the singularity makes things harder to picture. Start with special relativity and get the idea of curved space rather than flat space to seem intuitive. Mild changes in curvature are easier to comprehend than infinite changes in curvature.

  7. CD-Host said,

    April 21, 2013 at 7:51 am

    @Steve #5

    This primordial singularity is not a black hole with an event horizon around it.

    It might have been. Something is wrong with our theory of gravity at the very large and the very small. At around the weight of the galaxy the science isn’t working correctly. As the number of galaxies increases it falls apart. One of the effects we seem to be observing is that at around 30t solar masses black holes explode.

    That being said… the point about black holes is that we know many observable singularities. And in super colliders we are working towards being able to create mini-short lived singularities. So disbelief in singularities is becoming impossible. Disbelief in exploding singularities is still possible.

    So I agree with you we don’t have a good explanation of what causes mass & spacetime to leave the state of being in a singularity. We can see the expansion that would have resulted from that “explosion”. We can detect enough background energy to heat the entire universe 3 degrees coming from such an explosion. We can look back in time and even now see when the universe was too hot to maintain regular matter. So we have terrific experimental evidence that it did explode. We are making progress but we aren’t there yet.

    My point was the “what was there before the singularity” is simply not understanding the theory of the big bang.

  8. Steve Drake said,

    April 21, 2013 at 9:21 am

    CD-Host @ 8,

    Even that said CD-Host, we’re back to the existence of God arguments, aren’t we?. What I believe you are trying to promulgate is that everything from stars and planets to all the biodiversity of life including man with his use of the immaterial abstract laws of logic sprung out of the void. And that all of this was impersonal. We’re back to the questions of purpose, meaning and significance for man in a universe that could care less.

    It’s time to reassess CD-Host. You sound very similar to Frank Schaeffer in his book ‘Sex, Mom & God’ who being raised in a Christian home became disillusioned at an early age and faked it through his twenties and early 30’s, until finally abandoning it all together. Sure, he attends an Eastern Orthodox church, but writes as if he’s agnostic with caustic vitriol against the Creator God of the universe.

    I know that that you know this God exists. Your presence here and your many posts screams your knowledge of this God. The question for you is what you must do with Him.

  9. CD-Host said,

    April 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    @Steve —

    I know you like to make every thread about me as my secret yearnings or lack there of had any bearing on whether Derek Thomas is presenting a valid apologetic or not regarding creation.

    But I’ll indulge this irrelevant topic. Even when I was a believer I was an evolutionist and believed in an old earth. The evidence for evolution and old earth was to me always stronger than the evidence for Christ. If I ultimately was going to have to throw one overboard, I would have had a tough choice but ultimately I would have sided with evolution. But I didn’t face that situation, most evangelicals had been old earth evolutionists.

    As a point of fact when Creation Science became more popular that was highly damaging to my faith. I remember very clearly my emotion seeing Lord Kelvin’s argument for a cap on the age of the earth based on heat loss. I wasn’t upset the argument was wrong, it didn’t take into account heat generated from radioactive decay. What upset me was there was no way the author wouldn’t know that the argument was wrong. That wasn’t a mistake it was a lie.

    While it wasn’t the first time I had seen a dishonest apologetic it was one of the those crucial moments were I began to believe that my church leaders and the evangelical community were lying to me. The shift towards old earth theology punched another hole in my wall of faith.

    I may find Jesus and Christianity romantic. But evolution is simple fact.

  10. April 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Does anyone else find it remarkable that the Big Bangers believe in an ex nihilo creation? It is a point of fundamental agreement between us. We could even say that General and Specific Revelation are harmonious on the subject of ex nihilo creation. I have found it a useful starting point, rather than focusing on the differences,

  11. CD-Host said,

    April 22, 2013 at 8:21 am

    @Adam 11

    Let me just throw out there, there are other points of agreement. For a long time the bible was criticized for having light long before there were stars and suns. The “big bangers” believe that for the first 300-400k years the universe was too hot to have stable atoms, i.e. even an atom was too large a stable structure in that heat. In such a situation all matter would if cooled enough to would need to release photons to become a stable atom. This is the structures you would see on the inside a star. The universe would in a poetic sense all be light.

    You would need some allegory for interpreting “water” though.

  12. Steve Drake said,

    April 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

    CD-Host @ #10,

    I know you like to make every thread about me as my secret yearnings or lack there of had any bearing on whether Derek Thomas is presenting a valid apologetic or not regarding creation.

    You are in a precarious position. You have stated your denial of God’s existence, a denial of the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, His claim to be God Incarnate, and His claim that you have a sin problem that needs to be dealt with. This has eternal significance.

    You cloak yourself in anonymity for reasons I’m not sure of, but is further evidence of the shame and guilt to someone you must feel somehow. Further evidence you are unwilling to take responsibility for what you write, say, or do. Further evidence of your desire to be unaccountable to anyone, let alone God.

    My efforts with you will always carry an evangelistic plea. A plea, and prayer to the Creator God of the universe, that you recognize your sin problem; a true moral guilt before this God, and turn to Christ for the answer of His sacrifice on your behalf.

  13. CD-Host said,

    April 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

    @Steve —

    Anonymity originally for church discipline came from my desire that the blog not be about me. It was never supposed to be about me or my experience. And mostly I still don’t think this should be about me. Things are true or false regardless of the speaker. Anonymity doesn’t mean much I’m not known to you all in real life anyway.

    Maintaining it has nothing to do with guilt. I just don’t want blowback in my real life from random internet people. The people in my real life, who would care know who CD-Host is, and there are internet religion board people who know my real hame.

  14. Steve Drake said,

    April 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    CD-Host @ #14,

    Things are true or false regardless of the speaker.

    Not quite. In accordance with an unregenerate adopted monistic assumption one assumes there are such things as ‘brute’ facts without interpretation or objective truth without an objective truth-giver. This assumption is keeping you from recognizing your Creator; from acknowledging a responsibility and accountability to Him.

    Anonymity originally for church discipline came from my desire that the blog not be about me. It was never supposed to be about me or my experience.

    Perhaps it would be worth considering then that if anonymity is important to you, you stay within the confines of your own blog anonymously, and yet when posting on this blog, you sign in with your real name?

  15. paigebritton said,

    April 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Steve,
    Lane has chosen to respect those who, for whatever reason, don’t care to identify themselves as they comment, so long as they check in with the moderators as themselves. CD-Host has done so, and very promptly when asked, so his anonymity is now beside the point at GB.
    pax,
    Paige

  16. Brad B said,

    April 23, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Hi Steve, I see nearly invariably from those like CD-Host the error spoken of here. In the blog post called Behe’s Elephant comment #11 by a “JDH” quoted here below for convenience speaks to what you warn CD-Host about in #15. I think he nails the root problem with those who’ll elevate science above that which it is capable of. Philosophical naturalism makes methodological naturalism invalid this is demonstrated especially and plainly when it is pitted against special revelation.

    “Another unfortunate event that has shaped the biased attitudes towards ID of modern thinkers is the confusion of the methods of science with the concept of what reality is. It is in this light that men of faith and science ( Newton, Pascal, Planck ) practiced science and believed in God.

    A. By the mere fact that scientific experiments insist on reproducibly, the practice of the scientific method must assume methodological naturalism.

    What should be understood by all, ( and is ignored by fools ), is that point A is a statement about the limitations of science. It has no bearing about what the reality looks like. The questions that science can not answer are simply the question that science can not answer.

    People who do not see science as a tool of humanity, but instead have made it their god, unfortunately must insist on a reality which is limited to the small portions of reality that can be investigated by science.* No wonder they reject the true and living God.”

    *bolding is mine

  17. Steve Drake said,

    April 23, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Thanks Brad,
    Right on point. John K. Reed and Emmett L. Williams in the Fall 2011 issue of CRSQ in an article titled Battlegrounds of Natural History:Naturalism make a similar point. It can be found at:http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/48/48_2/CRSQ%20Fall%202011%20Reed%20lo%20res.pdf.


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