70 Responses to Three Reasons To Think the Earth Is Young

  1. Joseph Justiss August 8, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Believing that Adam is from about the 4th millennium BC does not automatically mean that the earth is the same age as Adam. I think John Sailhamer has helped us greatly on this issue in Genesis Unbound arguing that Genesis 1:2-2:25 is primarily about the preparation of the land rather than the creation of the globe. And his work there is all text-based exegesis.

    • G. A. Dietrich August 8, 2011 at 8:45 am #

      I greatly appreciate Sailhamer’s work on the Pentateuch. In the last year I read through “Genesis Unbound” a couple of times to critique it for a DMIN course. While I appreciate the emphasis upon the preparation of the land, he does put some stumbling blocks in front of me when it comes to adapting his view.

      1. Death occurs before the fall with his view.

      2. He contends that many Hebrew words and idioms have been not translated well and therefore have lost their meaning.

      3. Sailhamer gives little attention to the other Scripture dealing with creation, such as Exodus 20:11.

      So again, while I appreciate Sailhamer, his view is difficult because of these issues.

      • Don P August 9, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

        Exodus 20:11 teaches that God formed the sky, land, sea and all that is in them in six days. The break in Genesis 1 is between verses two and three. God created the universe in verse one and describes the earth’s condition in verse two – a barren planet. After an undetermined amount of time, God called for light from the universe (sun) to reach the earth’s surface (thick clouds, Job 38:4-9, Genesis 1:3).

        God created the earth’s foundation out of nothing when he created the universe. After an undetermined amount of time (Genesis 1:2 Holy Spirit hovered), God fashioned the earth’s biosphere to make it habitable for man (Isaiah 45:18). So the age of the universe may possibly be very old, while the earth’s biosphere may be quite young.

    • Fred Butler August 8, 2011 at 8:53 am #

      …does not automatically mean that the earth is the same age as Adam

      It’s not just the creation of the “earth” but the “heavens and the earth” which implies a much broader scope than “the land of Israel.” It implies the entire universe, globe included. Additionally, Sailhammer’s position leads to a myriad of problems with passages that follow in Genesis, including the fall of Adam into sin, death before his fall, and the extent of the flood. The extent of the flood is particularly important, because the NT uses it as an illustration of God’s future judgment. Is that judgment merely going to be on “the land,” or is it global?

  2. Joseph August 8, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    You begin your first observation by making a distinction between ordinal and cardinal numbers and conclude that the text could read “day one” instead of the traditional rendering, “the first day.” Correct me if I am wrong, but there is no ordinal for the number one in Hebrew. The Hebrew Bible either uses רשׁון or אחד, and context will have to determine whether אחד functions as an ordinal number. Genesis 1:5 appears to be a textbook example, “the first (אחד) day.” I don’t think this helps or hurts the point you are trying to make, except to remove a shadow of skepticism placed on traditional translations of the text.

    Also, you suggest that we need not reinterpret genealogical texts (and I assume by extension texts with significant chronological markers), even in light of information gleaned from other disciplines (e.g. science and archaeology) because the text provides a single “chronology.” If this is true, then what would you do with Exodus 12:40-41 in light of Galatians 3:17. The narrator in Exodus describes the time of the Egyptian sojourn as 430 years. This is the same period of time described by Paul that spans from the promises to Abraham to the giving of the law. To this we could add Yahweh’s words to Abram in Genesis 15:13 that Abram’s offspring would be afflicted for four hundred years. We could, perhaps, use Exodus 1:8 to suggest that Joseph’s time in Egypt with his family was under 30 years and that the Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph assumed the throne and began afflicting Israel 30 years after the beginning of the sojourn, but this would not work because of the information in Genesis 41:46 and 50:22-23, 26. Acts 7:6 follows Genesis 15:13, and does not correspond well with Paul or Exodus. So perhaps there is a warrant from within the text itself to “reinterpret” numbers. If this can be granted, why should science and archaeology not be granted the same privilege?

    • JMH August 8, 2011 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks Joseph, in my first point I’m following the argument made by Andrew Steinmann in this essay: http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/45/45-4/45-4-PP577-584_JETS.pdf.

      On your second paragraph, I would distinguish between interpreting biblical texts in light of one another and interpreting biblical texts in light of the conclusions of a modern archeologist or a modern scientist. My theological conviction is that the biblical texts are inspired and without error. I don’t have that confidence in the conclusions of archeologists or scientists.

      Paul probably is referring to the number of years stated in Exod 12:40–41 as a way to refer to the time between Abraham and Moses, and this is a quick shorthand reference that he makes as he describes the relationship between law and promise. His purpose is not to tally up the years exactly, nor, apparently, does he want to stop and sort out exactly how many years there were between Abraham and Moses. It seems he wants a ready to hand way to reference the period of time between the promise and the law, and Exod 12:40–41 gives him that. I would see this as comporting with the statement in Genesis 15:13, the point being that Israel was in Egypt from the mid 1800s BC to the exodus in 1446.

      400 is a round number, and 430 is, too. A lot of that time they were afflicted. Maybe not continually, but enough for a summary statement.

      Blessings!

      JMH

      • Jugulum August 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

        JMH,

        “My theological conviction is that the biblical texts are inspired and without error. I don’t have that confidence in the conclusions of archeologists or scientists.”

        Archaeologists & scientists engage in interpretation of physical data. Shouldn’t you be comparing them to “people who read & interpret the Bible”, and comparing the biblical texts to the physical data that’s interpreted by archaeologists & scientists? The Bible isn’t correctable, but our understanding is; the physical data doesn’t lie, but our analysis can.

        Now, the Bible is language, and is intended by God to communicate to us–to guide us and equip us. When we approach the text, we can assume a certain kind of clarity. But when we approach any random bit of physical data, we can’t assume that it will tell us anything in particular. The data isn’t self-interpreting. (Neither is the Bible, but since it’s in language, it’s closer to being self-interpreting.)

        Still:
        1.) It can also extremely easy to misinterpret the Bible, when you bring false assumptions about interpretation. Example: If you read Proverbs as a collection of promises rather than as wise generalities, you will falsely believe that no child will depart from the way he is taught to go. Another example: If you leave no place for imagery & metaphor, you will falsely believe that Jesus claimed to be the entrance to a building, as well as a viney plant. And you’ll believe that the Earth has corners and pillars. And the sun has to orbit the earth (because of the phrase “sunrise”).
        2.) Some physical data is clear beyond reasonable doubt, on some questions. For instance, various rock formations tell us that giant lizard-like animals once existed (i.e. fossils come from dead animals). And the presence of animal tracks in rock strata tells us that those strata were not submerged when they were formed. And the earth is a globe, orbiting the sun.
        3.) In both science and exegesis, we are sometimes overly confident.

        My conclusions: (Note: #2 is the controversial one.)
        1.) Archaeological & scientific evidence can legitimately cause us to at least double-check our exegesis.
        2.) Extraordinarily clear archaeological & scientific evidence can legitimately outweigh comparatively uncertain exegesis.

        The problem with #2 is that people are usually too quick to do it, or they overestimate the clarity & certainty of the scientific evidence. (And how do you estimate the certainty of evidence that’s totally outside your expertise?)

      • Joseph August 10, 2011 at 12:54 am #

        But I’m not talking about “the conclusions of modern scientists or archeologists,” I’m talking about the theoretical possibility that one could allow a scientific or archeological datum to provoke one to reinterpret a biblical text and be justified in doing so (see also Jugulum below).

        You have taken two biblical numbers (400 and 430 years) and rejected a literal reading of both of them because you encountered data that provoked you to reinterpret them as “round numbers.” In this instance, that data was the biblical text. You defend your reinterpretation on the basis that the text is “inspired and without error.” If I understand you correctly, you will not allow a scientific or archeological datum to provoke you to revisit a biblical interpretation the way the biblical text provoked you to reinterpret a number because science and archeology, unlike the biblical text, is subject to error.

        This is problematic. If science and archeology are subject to error and should not be allowed to provoke one to reinterpret a biblical text, then neither should they be used to support a biblical text (yet you traveled to the Grand Canyon). If they can’t be trusted when they might otherwise provoke us to reinterpret a biblical text, why should we trust them when they support the truth claims of the biblical text? Or, if they can be trusted when they support the truth claims of the biblical text, why can’t they be trusted when they provoke us to reinterpret the biblical text?

        The Reformation Movement placed the works of God and the word of God alongside one another (much as in Psalm 19). Both have something to say about the glory of God (a topic, I do believe, you have some interest in). But in your post, you present a very negative attitude toward the potential testimony of the works of God. “I’m hesitant to move away from a conclusion that the text leads me to because of conflicting data from science or archeology.” In the end, both the works and the word of God require interpretation. I don’t see why we should not allow either one to provoke us to reinterpret the other.

        • JMH August 10, 2011 at 8:17 am #

          Thanks for your note, Joseph, some quick thoughts:

          1) It’s one thing to adjust your interpretation of a book in light of more information from that same book. This happens all the time, for instance, in a novel when the author hints that someone is a bad guy then surprises the audience with him being a good guy. I don’t think we would say that Paul was unaware of the information from the OT that would indicate that it was more than 430 yrs from Abe to Moses, so for some reason he has chosen that number. If an author who clearly knows what he’s talking about uses a number like this, do we pounce on him and cry “error!” Or do we interpret him according to his intent?

          2) It’s another thing to adjust your interpretation on the basis of information that comes from outside a book, especially when the information from outside is limited and subject to reinterpretation. Should we have concluded on the basis of archeology that nothing like what Homer described in the Iliad and the Odyssey ever happened? Then more archeology comes along . . . and lo and behold there really was such a place . . .

          3) On your comment, “yet you went to the Grand Canyon.” While there, a friend and I were discussing things like trips to Israel. I said that though I’ve been, I don’t think it has altered anything about the way I interepret the Bible. Yet I’d love to go again! Not because I think it will make me more pious or a better Bible reader, but b/c it’s a great experience to go. Same with a trip like this. It will add illustrative material to my teaching. I have seen first hand the way that the uniformitarian view of development is less persuasive than the catastrophic view. So while I know more about these things, and while the trip was a great experience that I’d love to repeat and that I’d recommend to anyone, it’s not like I think this kind of trip is necessary for interpreting the Bible.

          So yes, I’m hesitant to allow information from other disciplines to influence my reading of these ancient texts. I’d say the same about modern psychology. That’s not to say there’s never an insight from another field, but I want to interpret the text and allow it to operate within its own integrity.

          Blessings!

          JMH

          • Charles August 10, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

            Hi Jim,
            Your second two points are of interest to me. Particularly your concern to not let data external to a book influence your interpretation of the book itself. This seems to me to be a breeding ground for reader-response because each of us approaches a book with our own proclivities and worldview but then where is the correction mechanism to help reorder genre expectations and the like? In many other areas, where it is convenient and supports our positions, most of us readily adopt extrabiblical information, such as looking at deuterocanonical writings to help us understand apocalyptic literature. Furthermore, we use grammars and dictionaries which are based upon external data. These things are integral to even reading and decoding the text much less interpreting it. So, how do we guard against reading modern assumptions into a text unless we study the ancient culture and worldviews and reorient our assumptions accordingly? The Bible is a historically conditioned book, right? It is not the Golden Tablets that fell from heaven–Christians have always had a “complex” view of Scripture as a divine and human product. At the end of the day, if we do not engage in a real hermeneutical spiral that incorporates background studies and the like, then when we read the Bible it will be like reading from a mirror, or from early American puritan experience, or 16th century Catholic flavored Germany, or whatever our preferred interpretive starting point is.

            Also, I don’t think your restriction of external information holds if you assert that a book’s contents and claims correspond to external reality. If a book is fiction then by all means, judge and read it internally (but even then historical information, grammar, language is necessary to even understand the work). But, if a book claims to explain the universe then it should do it accurately. If a book claims to recount historical events then it is not foolish to try to corroborate them.

            Also, I think we may be setting up a double standard here. Would you, in assessing the Book of Mormon, use archeological and genetic discoveries to show that Native Americans were not descendants of the Israelites or use linguistic, historical, and cultural data to show that “Reformed Egyptian” writing is not Egyptian in any sense of the word, or would you merely judge the Book of Mormon on its own, internal grounds?

            On the third point, just because data is open to interpretation and there are other interpretations out there it does not mean that we have to be skeptical about the data or exclude it from shaping our ideas and conclusions. What really matters is what is probable not possible. I think this is the sticky wicket with YEC. Sure, it is probable that the speed of light exponentially slowed down (although there is no evidence for this) or that a huge flood produced the Grand Canyon instead of steady erosion but it is also possible that I will spontaneously combust as I am writing this comment, nonetheless, I still keep typing. Instead of dividing and conquering the data and showing how each isolated piece is by itself remotely possible, rather, we should build a cumulative assessment of what is most probable. I don’t say that I will be agnostic about baptism and exclude certain biblical verses from consideration because Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Lutherans have a different theological interpretation than Baptists. I don’t say, well, the data is open to interpretation so I’m not going to let it impact my beliefs. No, we assess the available data and make the best synthesis that we can.

            On a related note, you know that video on the Gospel Coalition with Piper, Carson, and Keller talking about this subject of background info–you sound like you are advocating Piper’s position while I am advocating a position more like Carson’s. Is that an accurate assessment?

          • JMH August 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

            Thanks for your note, Charles, I’ll number my brief response according to your 5 paragraphs:

            1) I don’t disagree with anything here. There is a spectrum, right? Some people go quickly to archeology and extra biblical writings, others move more slowly. Sailhamer seems to want to stay in the text, but I think even he makes recourse to extra-biblical stuff. How can you not? So I’m on the hesitant end, esp. with modern science and unbelieving archeology, because the starting points are so different.

            2) Agreed, as long as we’re interpreting that book according to its authors’ intent. That is, if the author doesn’t mean to make a modern, scientific statement, we shouldn’t judge him by that standard.

            3) Those are interesting questions about the Book of Mormon. I think I would go first to the reliability of the authors of the Bible over against the dubious claims made by Joseph Smith.

            4) I agree with you on the need for a most plausible synthesis.

            5) Yep – I’m with Piper.

            You didn’t comment on the interlocked nature of the genealogies in Gen 5 & 11 – was that part of what interested you?

            Thanks for the interaction!

            Jim

          • Charles August 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

            In my comment I mistyped this sentence:
            “Sure, it is probable that the speed of light exponentially slowed down (although there is no evidence for this)”

            I meant to say “Sure, it is possible;” I in no way think it was probable that the speed of light exponentially slowed down.

          • JMH August 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

            Thanks Charles, are you talking about the speed of light with specific reference to the sun standing still in Joshua 10?

          • Charles August 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

            Hi Jim,
            Cool, it looks like we are in basic agreement but a little apart on the spectrum–me toward Carson and you toward Piper, but hey, I don’t take it as too bad a thing to be on Carson’s side ;-)

            It looks like we also may default toward a more evidentialist vs. presup apologetic method yet I don’t view it as an either or thing.

            The speed of light thing is one of the explanations I’ve encountered from people who try to explain how the earth could be young yet stars be billions of light years away from us–they hypothesize (without any data) that the speed of light must have slowed down to account for this.

            I am not sure how your genealogical link supports YEC. In general, I think genealogies are tough–often the numbers are different in the versions and I don’t think they are always exhaustive, i.e., ben being used for “descendent” instead of a literal “son.”

          • RD August 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

            Charles,

            I’ve enjoyed reading your comments here. I thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth with regard to the speed of light thing. I’m no scientist by a long shot, and I might be misinterpreting this, but my understanding of the argument is that it’s based somewhat on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. It isn’t that the speed of light slows down (the speed of light is a constant), it’s that our perspective of the speed of light is based on our position in time. As present persons looking back into time at distance stars, our perception is relative to our position. In other words, looking back time appears to be elongated, especially since the universe and the stars within it are moving away from us (although earth is moving, too). BUT from the perspective of origination, looking forward out into the future, time appears to travel at a different rate. It appears to move more slowly. It’s related to the proposal that Einstein made if it were possible for a man to travel at the speed of light. If he traveled a certain distance at the actual speed of light, he would only age a few seconds. However, when he returned to earth those he left behind would be years and years older.

            All this to say, I’ve understood some YEC folk to use this argument to explain why, from our vantage point, the universe appears to be billions of years old. As I understand their argument, it’s really both, billions of years old AND only 6000-10,000 years old, depending on the relative base of the observation.

            Clear as mud, right?

            Thanks for the comments. Jim, thanks for yours, too. A lot to ponder here.

            -rd

          • RD August 11, 2011 at 9:48 am #

            Jim,

            I must be getting slow, but for some reason I’m having trouble following your point on the Genesis geneology. Are you saying that we take the creation date of the earth to be 4114 b.c. over any other theory simply because of the biblical life-spans provided from Adam to Abraham? If so, isn’t this the same method that has been utilized for thousands of years by Hebrew and Christian rabbis, monks, popes and scholars?

            Like Charles, I personally have a problem relying on the accuracies of scriptural geneologies. I personally think that the Gen chapter 5 account, that begins with Adam fathering Seth, is a seperate creation account (far less detailed than the previous two given in Gen 1&2). It’s interesting to me that no further mention is ever made of Cain or Abel from this point forward. It’s as if neither ever existed. The writer of the Seth lineage, I think, knew of the earlier Cain lineage, but reworked it as he began to lay down the geneological narrative from the perspective of Seth.

            When we read the lineage of Cain we see that his son is named Enoch. Enoch’s grandson was MethuSHAEL who was the father of Lamech. In the chapter 5 accounting (the literary style of which is VERY disctinct from the style of chapter 4) tells us that Seth had a son named Enosh (Cain/Enoch; Seth/Enosh…both sons, linguistically, very similar). Later down the line, Seth’s offspring bear an Enoch of their own who then fathers MethuSELAH (Enoch/Methushael; Enoch/Methuselah….again, linguisticaly very similar) who then fathers his own Lamech.

            I see this as more evidence that what we are given in Genesis are poetic/literary accounts that go to the heart of God’s relationship to mankind, but that should not be seriously considered factually true, detailed accounts of God’s creative timeline.

            There has been much praise and remembering of John Stott since his recent death. He’s been praised as, perhaps, the most influential evangelical of the modern era. Yet, as I understand his position, he was not at all opposed to accepting scientific understandings of the origins of the universe and the earth. Old earth creation did not seem to pose a theological problem for him. If this was indeed his view, I am on the same page. I do not see how accepting scientific data with regard to the age of the universe and the earth can pose any serious theological threat.

            Blessings-

            -rd

          • JMH August 11, 2011 at 10:01 am #

            Thanks RD,

            You’re reading me correctly on the genealogies, and we’re reading Genesis very differently from one another!

            I think the Gen 5 & 11 genealogies are written such that the author means to exclude the possibility of gaps in them.

            Blessings,

            JMH

  3. Robert M. August 8, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Jim,

    Regarding: “I want to interpret science and archeology from the biblical text rather than re-interpreting the biblical text in light of science and archeology.”

    This seems like a simplistic statement and actually is almost the identical argument that the inquisitors made against Galileo as Galileo rejected geocentrism. His accusers responded and said that the natural, literal, straightforward reading of passages like 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5 necessitated a geocentric view. It was *only* through scientific data that one could then be in a position to reinterpret these passages as idiomatic figures of speech and Galileo’s accusers were naturally suspicious of extra-biblical data and interpretations. So, assuming that you do not hold to geocentrism, why would you allow scientific data to shape your interpretation of these passages but not when it comes to things like the age of the earth? Is there a consistent methodology that you are applying?

    Also, it seems to me that if you take Gen 1 as a scientifically accurate text then inerrancy is out the window because the orders of creation in the LXX and MT are different between Gen 1 and 2, specifically, the order of the creation of man and animals (unless you invoke the special pleading and mental gymnastics that run counter to the straightforward flow of Gen 2 that are employed by Cassuto).

    • JMH August 8, 2011 at 9:54 am #

      The Galileo issue is complicated. I think the wagon of the significance of man was wrongly hitched to geocentricity, but I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t done a lot of study of that era and may not understand all the issues in that debate fully. This is also why in the post I say there may be things I don’t understand about what the Bible is doing with the numbers. It’s a huge can of worms. Does our understanding of the galaxy match Galileo’s?

      As for Gen 1 & Gen 2, are you addressing Gen 2:5–7? I’m convinced grammatically that v. 7 begins a new thought with the vav-consecutive on the imperfect verb (wayyiqtol form). This would allow a harmonization between Gen 1–2 in terms of the order of creation. I haven’t read Cassuto, and I’m not sure what you’re referencing in the LXX.

      We need to read the text according to authorial intent, and I’m not suggesting that modern science was part of that intent. It does seem to me that part of the intent of Gen 1:5 is to establish what a “day” is, and it does seem to me that the genealogies in Gen 5 & 11 are written so that a coherent set of dates can be derived from them. What I’m saying is that I think the genealogies in Gen 5 & 11 are excluding “gaps” in the genealogical record.

      • Michael August 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

        Some mythis never die, like that Augustine was an old-earther and the trumpeting of the Galileo affair every time this issue comes up. In short, it was politics that got Galileo, not Biblical argumentation. See here for what really happnened:

        http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i1/galileo.asp

  4. Fred Butler August 8, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    The Galileo issue was more of a struggle between Roman Catholic scholastic commitment to Ptolemaic cosmology and newer, proposed models of the solar system. It really had nothing to do with the Bible. Rodney Stark has an extended study on all of this in his book, “For the Glory of God: How Monotheism led to Reformation, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery”

  5. Scott August 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Excellent post. The issue is, are we going to allow so-called “scientific” assumptions, which are based on evolutionary “theory” to reinterpret the Bible, or are we going to allow the text of Scripture to inform our assumptions when interpreting the evidence of true observational science. If we do the later, we find that observational science actually confirms the text. Answers in Genesis has some excellent videos in the area of chemistry, biology, geology and even astrophysics that explain this. Those who claim we must change our view of the Bible because of science are not looking at genuine observational science, but are listening to those who are using arguments based on speculative origins science with an evolutionary mindset. Again, great article. Thanks.

  6. Dr. James Willingham August 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    The problem with reading a text is that there is usually more to the text than meets the eye, and we can only grasp when and if our eyes are opened to see what has been there all along. From the perspective of intellectualism (I have a Master’s in American Social and Intellectual History) the ideas presented in Scripture are far more profound than we imagine. Over 40 years ago I began to look at the Scripture, being inspired by an Omniscient Being, as surely reflecting a wisdom commenturate with its inspiration. The ideas are so constructed as to make a believer balanced, flexible, creative, enduring, and magnetic; they do this by setting up a desirable tension in the mind, the result of the apparent contradictions which are not meant to be reconciled and which the believer finds provides him or her with the empowerment to act and think freely without ecoming a slave to such freedom per se.

  7. RD August 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Jim,

    If the Hebrew is putting forth a 24 hour day as being “one day”, how is that 24 hour period determined? Is it the same at the creation as it was for later Jews (a day consisting of sundown to sundown, with a new day beginning at sundown)?

    Blessings,

    -rd

    • JMH August 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

      yep – and there was evening, and there was morning, one day.

  8. Doc B August 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    “…I want to interpret science and archeology from the biblical text rather than re-interpreting the biblical text in light of science and archeology.”

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people will try with so much passion to talk us out of this simple (yes, even simplistic) but amazingly fitting tidbit of worldview.

    This is an excellent simple explanation of a complex study. Thanks for posting it.

  9. RD August 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Okay, I feel sure you know that I’m going to go here, so here goes :-)……if the ancient Hebrews designated calendar days the same way from the beginning of time, then they used a soli-lunar system of establishing days and months and years. A 24 hour day was established by the setting of the sun. Without the sun the Hebrews could not establish the flow of time. The sun, according to Genesis, wasn’t created until day 4. How were the other three days established as 24 hour days if there was no solar ability to calibrate a 24 hour period?

    And, another small point: the scriptures tell us that God established two great lights in the sky on the fourth day; the greater light was the sun, the lesser light was the moon. The moon isn’t a light. It was perceived to be a light by ancient folk – just a “lesser” light than the sun – but we know from science that it is a chunk of rock. I know science isn’t perfect, and theories are always being revised, yet there are certain scientific discoveries that are pretty reliable. Most Christians I know who dispute the scientific dating of the age of the universe don’t have a problem accessing modern technology that is also based on scientific discovery (every time you fix popcorn in your microwave you accept the existence of microwaves and microwaves can be measured in the universe which is how scientists were able to establish an age for the universe). We doubt sciences understanding of the process of microwaves as an instrument of measure, but never doubt that our bag of popcorn is going to be ready to eat in 2-1/2 minutes.

    Blessings-

    -rd

    • Don P August 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

      The Bible does not teach that the sun was not created until day four. Genesis 1:1 teaches that God created the universe out of nothing. When God did this, did he not create the sun, moon, stars, galaxies, solar systems at that time? Zechariah 12:1 teaches that God stretched out the heavens at the time that he laid out the foundation of the earth.

      Therefore, the sun was created in Genesis 1:1, not Genesis 1:14. Job 38:4-7 teaches that the stars were created at the same time God was laying out the earth’s foundation!

      On day four God “appointed” the sun, moon, and stars to govern the day and the night. He did not create them on day four, rather he “made” them on day four or appointed them on day four to govern time from an earth bound perspective. This means that the clouds of Job 38:9 were finally cleared away so that a person on the earth could finally see them.

  10. Robert August 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    This was a good post. The whole notion of attempting to understand cosmology from either a biblical or scientific standpoint is a study in proving our finitude.

    I too appreciate Dr. Sailhammer’s perspective and his voice has provoked me to think more broadly than my neo-fundamentalist upbringing would allow.

    One concept that has constantly pushed me is that in the creation act it seems God creates with the appearance of age built in. For example, who believes Adam was created as an infant? So if Adam was created as a (say) 20 year old man why couldn’t the entire cosmos be created as appearing to be billions of years old?

    If this is the case to attempt to reconcile our observations with revelation would place the final determination of the actual age of creation beyond our ken. I am happy living with that thought.

  11. steve hays August 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Robert M.

    “This seems like a simplistic statement and actually is almost the identical argument that the inquisitors made against Galileo as Galileo rejected geocentrism. His accusers responded and said that the natural, literal, straightforward reading of passages like 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5 necessitated a geocentric view. It was *only* through scientific data that one could then be in a position to reinterpret these passages as idiomatic figures of speech and Galileo’s accusers were naturally suspicious of extra-biblical data and interpretations. So, assuming that you do not hold to geocentrism, why would you allow scientific data to shape your interpretation of these passages but not when it comes to things like the age of the earth? Is there a consistent methodology that you are applying?”

    i) Notice that these passages say nothing about the motion of the earth in relation to other celestial bodies. So the Copernican/Ptolemaic dispute already superimposes a framework on your prooftexts which you can’t actually derive from the passages themselves.

    ii) I think it’s arguable that terrestrial “motion” in Scripture has reference to seismic activity. In particular, eschatological earthquakes are stock imagery in Scripture.

    iii) In modern astronomy, as I understand it, there is no fixed frame of reference. Rather, it’s like two ships at sea. You can’t really say which one is moving in relation to the other.

  12. steve hays August 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Robert M.

    “Also, it seems to me that if you take Gen 1 as a scientifically accurate text then inerrancy is out the window because the orders of creation in the LXX and MT are different between Gen 1 and 2, specifically, the order of the creation of man and animals (unless you invoke the special pleading and mental gymnastics that run counter to the straightforward flow of Gen 2 that are employed by Cassuto).”

    It’s not unusual for scholars to treat Gen 1 as a global creation account whereas Gen 2 is a local creation account, dealing with the making and furnishing of the Garden. On that view, there’s no obvious reason why the order of events must be the same in each case. You might as well say a house in a residential neighborhood must be built at the same time as the city in which the house is located. That’s a non sequitur.

  13. steve hays August 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    RD

    “Most Christians I know who dispute the scientific dating of the age of the universe don’t have a problem accessing modern technology that is also based on scientific discovery (every time you fix popcorn in your microwave you accept the existence of microwaves and microwaves can be measured in the universe which is how scientists were able to establish an age for the universe). We doubt sciences understanding of the process of microwaves as an instrument of measure, but never doubt that our bag of popcorn is going to be ready to eat in 2-1/2 minutes.”

    That fails to distinguish between the origin of a process and the operation of a process.

    • RD August 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      Steve,

      My point is that we all are a bit guilty of picking and choosing how much we are willing to rely on science. When it comes to matters of theology, most conservative Christians are uncomfortable allowing scientific knowledge into the sanctuary. If, however, our child has a suspected brain tumor, we have no problem accepting medical reports that rely on scientific understandings of the constants of radiation, magnetic imaging etc. Not many of the folks in my circle dispute microwaves (though they were disputed for years and years at one point), and in fact rely on them in their kitchens daily. The microwave background in the universe is as much a reality as the microwaves in the oven in my kitchen. Scientists understand that microwaves can be used to heat certain substances and they also understand that microwaves can be used to measure time. If I accept the validity of one function I personally think I should at least consider the validity of the other function.

      • Michael August 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

        Microwaves can be measured and observed today by using science. The age of the earth cannot be done the same way. Just because a Christian does not accept a theory does not mean he should also stop using microwaves.

  14. steve hays August 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    That’s an anomaly on just about any interpretation.

    It’s a mistake to interpret Gen 1 in isolation to other Pentateuchal passages. Gen 1 is intertextual with the Pentateuch at large. To some extent Gen 1 foreshadows the flood, Noah’s ark, and the tabernacle. And by the same token, the flood, Noah’s ark, and tabernacle backshadow Gen 1. They’re mutually interpreting.

    Gen 1 arguably depicts the world as a cosmic temple, with different levels and rooms, a roof and skylights. Architectural metaphors.

    So the fourth day may be analogous to Noah’s ark, where you could see daylight inside the ark, but you couldn’t see the sun, moon, and stars until you removed the roof (Gen 6:14-16; 8:6,13).

  15. steve hays August 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    RD,

    Perhaps you don’t understand my point. There’s nothing about “picking and choosing” when we distinguish the origin of a process from the operation of a process. Take the difference between making a watch, setting a watch, and the watch running thereafter. You can’t use the same watch to time how long it took to make the watch. Once the watch is made, once the watch is set, it will cycle through the seconds, minutes, hours, and days. But that’s distinct from the origin of the ongoing process.

  16. Eric August 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Thanks, Jim, for another good post. I also like the spirit of the dialog of your readers. I think Sailhamer makes too much of “land”/”earth” in Genesis Unbound, although typically he is a stickler for author’s intention in a model very similar to Hirsch’s. I still think we have not found the right philosophical model for how to relate scientific data to the Scriptures while yet holding to inerrancy, the sufficiency of religious language, and the conventions of textual communication (grammar, history, genre). But I certainly think the Genesis 1 account speaks of 24 hour days. I am still sitting in the stands watching the game on the age of the earth. I am thankful that one’s belief on such is no longer a measure of one’s position of inerrancy.

    • Don P August 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

      A better model than Sailhamer’s is Gorman Gray’s “The Age of the Universe: What are the Biblical Limits?”

      You can read his first chapter on the internet. Simple, biblical, amazing!

  17. steve hays August 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    BTW, it’s a fallacy to think a scientific theory must be true to be useful. Ancient sailors navigated by the stars. From their earthbound viewpoint, they were using a geocentric reference frame. Ptolemaic astronomy, if you will. That was perfectly reliable for their limited purposes–even if heliocentrism is correct.

    • Don P August 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

      What Steve said is the key to unlocking Genesis 1:1-31 (from an earthbound viewpoint). The other keys are Job 38:4-9, Zechariah 12:1, and Isaiah 45:18.

      God created the universe first, including the earth’s foundation (Genesis 1:1-2). At an undetermined later date, God fashioned the earth’s biosphere to be habitable for mankind (Genesis 1:3ff.).

  18. Matteo August 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    The topic is interesting, but I really don’t think about it. I’m more concerning about my salvation and the salvation of the people around me than I do about the past.

  19. Joseph Justiss August 8, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Death before the Fall is no problem for two reasons. 1. The act that brought death to all human image-of-God-bearing people was Adam’s sin. Sailhamer’s view, therefore does not undermine Paul’s teaching on the subject. Paul is speaking of human death in context. 2. It may be likely that the text even suggests that there was death before the Fall because God’s warning to Adam that he would die would be rather confusing if Adam did not know what death meant. In yall’s view, Adam should have paused and said, “If I eat the fruit I will die? What? What is death?”

    The issue of the scope of the flood is not a problem for sailhamer’s view of eretz because he admits it can mean the total known inhabited earth. That’s exactly what the context of the flood narratives demands.

    Eric, there’s no way Sailhamer makes too much of the earth/land distinction because without question “the land” as promised to the Patriarchs and their “seed” is a theme of constant attention in the Pentateuch as a whole. It only makes sense that the Pent. would open by establishing that the land is God’s, and he gives it to whomever he wishes and takes it from whomever he wishes.

    On point number 2 above, it is halfway a joke. I realize that the text does not demand that Adam must have had a concept of death before God gave that warning, but it is worth considering why there is no explanation given to Adam of what death means.

    Great discussion gentlemen
    Joe Justiss

    • Michael August 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

      Joseph Justiss,

      Death before the fall fails to explain what futility creation was subjected too and why creation groans, as Paul states in Romans 8:20-22. Romans 1:20 makes it plain that people can clearly see God’s power by looking at the “things that are made”, and that people have been able to see this ‘from the creation of the world’. Was Paul off by 4 billion years or what?

      Also, an old earth theory fails to deal with Christs words in Mark 10:6 “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.” To a Jewish audience “in the beginning” was a very specific allusion to Gen. 1:1. In Luke 11:50-51 Christ makes the point that the prophets blood has been shed “since the foundation” of the world, starting with Abel. When Christian used “Creation” and “foundation”, was he referring to 4 billion years after the fact?

      Regarding Adam’s understanding of the word “Death”, did he need to experience every word’s meaning before knowing what it meant? Could God not ‘program’ Adam and Eve with the language at creation?

      • Joseph Justiss August 9, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

        MIchael

        You answered your own questions by rightly noting that the allusions were to texts not events. Jesus was alluding to the creation narratives of the Bible. Secondly “from the foundation of the world” and other such phrases, as far as I can tell, don’t contradict what Sailhamer argues for as the meaning of Gen 1:1. Thirdly, I already addressed the fact the my statement about Adam’s knowledge of death was not air-tight.

        The undeniable fact is that “reshith” in the Hebrew Bible refers to an undetermined beginning period of time, and the Qatal verb form in narrative gives background/staging information to the reader for better processing the coming narrative. Secondly, the BH phrase “the sky and the land” in the Hebrew Bible functions as a merism for all of creation. Therefore all of creation had already been in place for an undisclosed period of time (could have been long, could have been short) before God turns his attention to a specific piece of land on the globe in order to make it fit for human habitation. If someone can give be a better explanation of the Hebrew here, I will go with that. Right now Sailhamer is the most compelling analysis of the Hebrew.

        JJustiss

        JJustiss

        • Michael August 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

          Joseph, the text accurately describes the history. Phrases like “from the foundation of the world” and “from creation” have a certain meaning tied back to the original creation, described in Gen 1 & 2. Jesus clearly ties the creation of man to these events. Why would he tie the creation of man to the “in the beginning” of Gen. 1:1, if there was a 4 billion year gap? Sailhamer does not address these verses (as far as I know).

          Sailhamer’s view has many weaknesses, some of which are noted here:

          http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i3/rules.asp

          And here:

          http://jimhamilton.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/sbjt-v14-n-2-hamilton.pdf

          • Joseph Justiss August 9, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

            I’m not getting what you’re saying. It seems to me that those phrases just mean something like “as long as there have been people on planet earth…

            they could see his divine power

            and they were male and female as long as humans have been around. i.e. humans have been male and female always

          • Joseph Justiss August 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

            All I’m saying is that the earth could be young or old. I don’t think “reshith” makes that clear. the problem I have with the young earth folks is that, in my opinion, they make the Bible answer questions it was never trying to answer, and then they use their view on such questions as a litmus test for seeing who really believes the text and who really believes in inerrancy.

  20. RD August 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Steve,

    I appreciate your insights and the points you are making, but I think we may be coming at this from two different sides of the ball. My point is that science has provided reliable information on which we can extrapolate the age of the universe. Is it really being responsible to scripture to simply ignore what science tells us in this regard, especially if it’s true? We certainly don’t have a problem accepting science if it concerns using our cell phones, operating our microwave ovens, getting CT scans at a doctors request. Why must we be so inclined to emphatically reject what science tells us concerning the age of the universe?

    Blessings-

    -rd

  21. steve hays August 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    RD

    “I appreciate your insights and the points you are making, but I think we may be coming at this from two different sides of the ball. My point is that science has provided reliable information on which we can extrapolate the age of the universe.”

    That’s your claim. Needless to say, that’s one of the issues in dispute.

    “Is it really being responsible to scripture to simply ignore what science tells us in this regard, especially if it’s true?”

    No one is suggesting that if it’s true, we should ignore it. Rather, you have Christians who don’t think it’s true, and one reason they don’t think it’s true is because they think Scripture teaches otherwise.

    “We certainly don’t have a problem accepting science if it concerns using our cell phones, operating our microwave ovens, getting CT scans at a doctors request. Why must we be so inclined to emphatically reject what science tells us concerning the age of the universe?”

    You’re repeating yourself without advancing the argument. You seem to think technology can only succeed if scientific theories are true. That makes me wonder if you’ve actually studied the history of science or the philosophy of science.

    To take one obvious counterexample, Newtonian physics was highly successful, yet if Einstein is right, Newton was wrong.

    Likewise, to recur to my prior example, Ptolemaic astronomy is quite adequate to navigate by the stars–even though you think that’s false.

  22. Scott Barber August 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    If you take Gen 1 as a scientific account then you also have to accept the ANE cosmology it assumes: a Higher heaven (the realm of God) separated from a lower heaven (the realm of the stars…) and a primordial mountain founded on the chaotic primal waters [see link: http://bit.ly/13rVSe. This cosmology is common to Moses, Egypt (funny enough) and the greater Mesopotamian region, and is a staple of the Mosaic period. Moses was writing from his culture to God people of the same culture. God does not speak into a void but into the real world where we all have a transitory understanding of the physical world. If the Bible were to be written today, God would inspire the author to write his revelation to us, and not to a people three and a half thousand years off. That is why we have to exegete the text, translating what that meant for the culture it was written to into our own current understanding.

    Much grace and peace.

  23. Dr. James Willingham August 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    One of the things i have learned is that science’s evidence is not always what it seems. I remember hearing once of a member of the Soviet Academy of Science who was in America teaching quantum algebra. He offered up a mathematical theory that showed the universe was no older than 6-10,000 years. His paper was handed back after peer-review with no marks on it and he was told it needed work. He reviewed every part of it and could find no errors. He went back to the acadmy and told them, and they said, “We could find any errors, too. We just didn’t like your conclusions.” Just think what it might mean, if the doppler shift doesn’t mean what we think it means. And what about the age appearance of the universe…and how old would Adam appear, fresh from the hand of his creator? The geological layers also present us with the problem of older rock overlying younger rock and that conformably. And there just ain’t no geologic time scale that is buttressed by rock layers in that order. And the bones of the animals are still found at the highes elevations as if they were fleeing a flood, while the records are world-wide among virtually all the peoples of the earth that there was a great flood. Even the very characters of the Chinese language or one of the Chinese languages is tied to the flood, bearing record of eight people in the ark. It has been about 20 years or so, since I read that. Morris and Whitcomb did not do a bad job with the Genesis Flood. I took about 200 5×8 notecards from their work nearly 50 years ago.

  24. Pastor Moose August 9, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    Thanks Jim for a great thread and discussion. As others have noted there’s been a respectful spirit along the way.

    My concerns with appealing to science are:
    1) The use of microwaves, cell phones, etc has been demonstrated. Science hasn’t demonstrated the origins of the universe (and I would add it can’t do so). Science is very limited in its ability to reconstruct events thousands of years ago.
    2) Of all that can be known, how much is presently known? IMO, a very small percentage. Is it not reasonable then to think that what is unknown might affect and shape man’s understanding of what is “known”?
    3) There were no (human) eyewitnesses to the events of the first five days of Creation. So whatever is claimed for those days is done so on the basis of revelation. The rest of Scripture assumes the straightforward account given in Genesis 1. In other words, as followers of Jesus we all have to get on board the revelation train at some point.

    Yours in Christ

  25. RD August 9, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Steve,

    Good Tuesday morning to you! Thanks again for your comments. You’re right, I’m certainly no scientist so my technical understanding is very limited with regard to all of the nuances of ongoing scientific development.

    And I certainly agree that science is not precise in all matters. The fact that the entire microwave background in the universe wasn’t discovered until the 60s is proof enough.

    “You seem to think technology can only succeed if scientific theories are true.”

    Well, certain scientific understanding can be applied without completely understanding the true theories behind them….to a point. Our ancient ancestors had no trouble establishing a time measurement system using the patterns of the sun and moon even though they didn’t understand the truth behind their movements. Nor did they have a problem utilizing gravity to throw large rocks down from high places onto animals and enemies without actually having a true understanding of why that heavy rock actually fell so fast. So certain successful technologies can be employed without a true understanding of underlying causes. But that only goes so far. Folks disputed the existence of the atom for years and years. Some of the folks in Hiroshima might well have disputed the existence of atomic particles, saying it was nothing but wild speculation that could not be substantiated. And even if atoms DID exist, there certainly wouldn’t be any way to split one if they were really as small as scientists claimed. Well, holding to that belief was fine, but it was a denial of the truth.

    As Christians where does it become appropriate to accept scientific understandings and incorporate them into our lives? There are people who refuse to allow their children access to modern medical attention because they have concerns about the validity of the science behind the medicine (it conflicts with their understanding of scripture and how God wants us to live our lives).

    And when does it become appropriate to accept scientific understandings and incorporate them into our reading of scripture? Do you believe that God literally stopped the sun in the sky for Joshua?

  26. steve hays August 9, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Scott Barber

    “If you take Gen 1 as a scientific account then you also have to accept the ANE cosmology it assumes: a Higher heaven (the realm of God) separated from a lower heaven (the realm of the stars…) and a primordial mountain founded on the chaotic primal waters [see link: http://bit.ly/13rVSe.”

    There are many problems with Scott’s contention:

    i) The Bible has a “tripledecker” viewpoint in part because it was written for the benefit of land-dwellers. From the perspective of a human land-dweller, the sky is “up” while the sea is “down.” There’s nothing mythological about that perspective. This is merely descriptive of how the world looks from the vantage-point of a land-dweller. For instance:

    “…17the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth” (Deut 4:17-18).

    ii) The Bible builds on this phenomenological perspective to construct a cosmic temple motif. Among other things. Gen 1 foreshadows the tabernacle in Exodus. Again, this isn’t mythological. Rather, that’s an architectural metaphor.

    iii) The presence of mythopoetic imagery in Scripture is nothing new. That’s not a challenge to a conservative view of Scripture. Indeed, Scripture sometimes uses mythopoetic imagery polemically to critique paganism. For more on this:

    http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/19-Psalms/Text/Articles/Smick-MythopoeticPs-WTJ.pdf

    iv) What about the diagram Scott links to? Let’s bracket the inspiration of Scripture for a moment and consider what an ancient Near Easterner was in a position to know:

    v) The horizon is a shifting boundary. For the observer is a moving reference point.

    You‘d only have to walk to the horizon to discover that the horizon didn‘t end. As you move, the horizon moves away from you. As you move forward, the horizon recedes.

    vi) Let‘s also keep in mind that many ancient near Easterners were travelers. For example, some were sailors. As such, ancient sailors knew that the dry land didn‘tconsist of one central landmass or supercontinent surrounded by the cosmic sea.

    They also traveled along far-flung trade routes. Over mountain passes. They knew from experience that the hills and mountains on the horizon of their hometown didn‘t represent the outer limits of the world. They knew from climbing the local hills and mountains that the sky wasn‘t a solid dome, resting on the summit.

    If the firmament was a solid dome, with sun, moon, and stars embedded in the firmament, then they‘d be frozen in place. If the firmament was secured by pillars, and luminaries were embedded in the firmament, then there would be no apparent motion from east to west. Likewise, embedding stars in a solid firmament could never account for retrograde motion, or the different rates at which the luminaries seem to move across the sky.

    vii) On that model, moreover, you couldn‘t account for the seasonable variations in sunrise and sunset. Not just shorter or longer days, but the apparent displacement along the horizon over the course of a year.

    viii) On a related note, if the moon was a disk, and the earth was flat, the apparent shape of the moon would vary depending on which part of the flat earth the observer occupied. But ancient peoples traveled. Yet the moon was the same shape wherever they went. At a minimum, that would imply the sphericity of the moon. And if the moon, why not the earth?

    Yet this information was easily available to ancient stargazers. Naked-eye astronomy would suffice.

    But if we take this literally, what does it imply? A closed system–like an aquarium or snowglobe.

    The firmament is like a dam that keeps the upper waters from inundating the earth. It
    rains or snows when God opens a floodgate.

    But an obvious problem with that depiction is that rainwater would have nowhere to go.
    There is no drain. So every time it rained, the sea level would rise a bit more.

    Surely there were smart, observant people in the ANE who could figure that out. It wasn‘t easy to survive in the ANE. It took a lot of practical intelligence to make it from one day to the next in those harsh, inhospitable conditions.

    Ancient observers saw the sun (and moon and stars) go around the sky, from east to west. Then what happens? If the earth is flat, you‘d expect the sun to stop at that point–because it can‘t go further. The sun literally lands or touches down at one end of the earth. It can‘t pass through the solid surface of the earth. At that point, the logical way for the sun to get back to the east is to reverse course. So, if the earth is flat, we‘d expect the sun to alternate between clockwise and counterclockwise motion.

    Instead, it reappears every morning in the east, right where it started! Wouldn‘t this suggest that it went around the earth, in empty space–just as it went around the sky?

    And if it moves in a semicircle during the day, wouldn‘t that suggest it also moves in a semicircle at night? The sun went full circle because the earth is round.

    ix) Moreover, wouldn‘t that be reinforced by the fact that day and night are roughly the same length? (And even if we make allowance for seasonal variations, that evens out over the course of a year.)

    x) Likewise, didn‘t ancient sailors, who sailed by the stars, ever notice that the position of the constellations varied depending on where you were? Is that what we‘d expect from a flat earth–or a spherical earth?

    xi) Needless to say, sailors were also acquainted with the phenomenon of relative motion, viz. passing ships. So appearances could be consistent with more than frame of reference. And sailors also saw ships sinking below the horizon (or rising above the horizon). Yet they knew from their own experience that those ships hadn‘t gone over the edge of the earth–like a cosmic waterfall

  27. steve hays August 9, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    RD

    “And when does it become appropriate to accept scientific understandings and incorporate them into our reading of scripture? Do you believe that God literally stopped the sun in the sky for Joshua?”

    There are three basic ways to interpret that text:

    i) One suggestion is that Joshua was requesting an ominous portent or prodigy which would demoralize the enemy:

    http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2005/08/Joshuas-Long-Day-and-Mesopotamian-Celestial-Omen-Texts.aspx

    ii) For an alternative interpretation: “An important starting point is to take seriously its poetic nature–that its thought world is phenomenological and metaphorical rather than historical or scientific. The best option is to read verses 12-13 [i.e. Josh 10:12-13] figuratively as a poetic depiction of the military conflict on a cosmic scale. It compares to the claim of another poem, the Song of Deborah, that “from the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera” (Judg 5:20)…Habakkuk 3:11 probably offers the closest literary parallel,” R. Hubbard, Joshua (Zondervan 2009), 297.

    iii) Finally, there is no antecedent reason to think God could not or would not temporarily suspend the earth’s axial rotation in this situation.

    If that naturally happened, it would, of course, trigger a cataclysmic cascade effect. However, on the miraculous interpretation, this is not a matter of changing one variable in a closed system of second causes. Rather, God temporarily takes over the functions he normally delegates to second causes. So the overall balance remains intact.

    The only objection to that interpretation is if you automatically discount miracles.

  28. Jeff Downs August 9, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    This past week, Greenville Seminary’s summer institute was on the topic of creation. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati and Dr. Joseph Pipa were the speakers. If want a good exegetical explaination of a six normal days, I’d highly recommend Dr. Pipa’s material. If you’d like a critique of Framework and other views, I’d hightly recommend this material. If interested, Email me media at gpts dot edu

    Sarfati’s Monday evening presentation is located online here

  29. steve hays August 9, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Matteo

    “The topic is interesting, but I really don’t think about it. I’m more concerning about my salvation and the salvation of the people around me than I do about the past.”

    Of course, many unbelievers say they are unbelievers because they think what the Bible says about the past is false. That’s why we need to discuss these issues from time to time. One can’t seal off the gospel from the past.

  30. Bob Hayton August 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    I’m surprised no one brought this up yet. But going back to the OP (original post), Dr. Hamilton, you said this:

    I think that the genealogies in Genesis 5 & 11 are interlocked. That is, we’re told how long Adam lived before he begot Seth (Gen 5:3), then how long he lived after he begot Seth (5:4), then how many years Adam had lived when he died (5:5). Then the genealogy doesn’t skip a generation but picks up with the son named, Seth (5:6). This pattern is followed throughout the genealogies in chs. 5 & 11.

    Then in the comments you expanded:

    We need to read the text according to authorial intent, and I’m not suggesting that modern science was part of that intent. It does seem to me that part of the intent of Gen 1:5 is to establish what a “day” is, and it does seem to me that the genealogies in Gen 5 & 11 are written so that a coherent set of dates can be derived from them. What I’m saying is that I think the genealogies in Gen 5 & 11 are excluding “gaps” in the genealogical record.

    The problem I see with this stems from Luke chapter 3 vs. 35-36, which inserts an additional patriarch into the OT geneaologies from Gen. 11:

    the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, (Luke 3:35-36 ESV)

    Cainan is added in there and he does not appear in Gen. 11. This isn’t a textual variant, it is in the New Testament text. Would this be a reason to think differently about the geneaologies? If we know there is at least a gap in Gen. 11. And if we know other geneaologies in Scripture contain gaps (compare different genealogies for Moses some add several names in, and others leave them out), should that biblical information not inform our handling of the genealogies?

    • JMH August 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      Bob,

      Great observation! There are, however, textual issues here. Cainam is in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, Cainan is attested by Alexandrinus and other mss, but the name is not in P75 or D (Bezae).

      Cainan is in the Greek translation (LXX) of Gen 11:12–13.

      There’s another Cainan in Luke 3:37, as well.

      In his big commentary on Luke, Bock notes “Plummer regards the name in the LXX text as possibly a late insertion, since it is not attested independently until Augustine.” He then concludes, “there is too little evidence to make a clear decision” (Luke vol. 1, p. 359).

      Perhaps a scribe copying Luke inadvertently added the Cainan in v. 37 into v. 36. 1 Chron 1:18 goes straight from Arpachshad to Shelah, as Gen 11:12 does in the MT.

      I don’t know! Uncertainties like this demand that we hold our conclusions loosely, but the observation that the MT presents a tight genealogy stands. The addition of a name in Luke is cause for question.

      Blessings!

      JMH

  31. Chris Taylor August 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    While the semantic domain of the word ‘day’ (yom) includes the notion of ‘age’ or a generic period of time, I would argue that such a notion should be thought of as residing out in the periphery of the word’s range of meaning. A standard reading of the text would adopt the most common sense of the word, unless context required otherwise.

    If the context of the word ‘day’ was something like, ‘In that day’ or ‘in those days’, we would have reason to consider a more marginal reading. However, we don’t see any markers in the context that would cause us to think that the author was using a secondary sense of the word. In fact, the context clearly constrains us by the qualifications, ‘evening’ and ‘morning’.

    Can the poetic nature of a text really undermine the basic laws of language?

  32. Dr. James Willingham August 9, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    I would like to call attention to the fact that our present day scientific method is also suffering from its preoccupation with analysis. Whe I was getting my master’s in intellectual history I ran up against the problem that the method as so construed in the sixties and seventies (and apparently into this century, too) as to be lacking in the wherewithal to deal with a thesis and antithesis, that both happened to be true, or, in other words, the null hypotesis was also true and both the thesis and the null hypothesis must be recognized as reflective of reality and dealt with accordingly. I shall not soon forget a science educator who was getting her Ph.D. in Science Education while working as the director of science education for a local county and how shocked she was when I mentioned the problem to her. She almost gasped as she asked, “How did you know that?” (after all preachers are supposed to be ignorant of such things…I suppose). Our present scientific method, the last time i looked at what was avaiable about it lacked a synthetical approach to multiplex realities. Of course, it is possible someone has worked out a way to apply a better version of the scientific method to varied and complex realities that must be investigated and understood with the consequent benefits to human society. Any one care to comment on this problem and how it might also apply to our discussion of the day-age issue. After all, the preponderance of present day science is so settled on evolution that it would have a hard time recognizing creation, if it stood up and hit most of the scientists in the face.

  33. Dr. James Willingham August 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Even if the present day scientific method is wanting or lacking in the wherewithal to examine multiplex situations, that is, it stands in need of a synthetical approach, still it was developed, according to the Mathematician and Philosopher, Alfred North Whitedead out of the theological background of the immanence of God which makes for an orderly and regular universe, one where there are natural laws. The idea that we can examine only the text has its limitations, namely, the limitations of our abilities to recognize new ideas and how they apply and/or effect human behavior. Imagine a thesis/antithesis or nulll hypothesis in which both the thesis and the antithesis or null hypothesis are true. With the both/an situation how does one then postulate a null hypothesis that is applicable to the both/and thesis/antithesis or null hypothesis formulation? In any case, such being the situation and the scriptural ideas being so deep in their crystal clarity and the human insight being limited in its depth perception, how then does one understand the Bible from a mere reading with regard only to the textual realm…especially when the text could also be dealing with immediate reality then in vogue at the time of one’s reading. In other words, how does one recognize, wehn the Book is speaking to relevant situations without a grasp of the multiple realms and bits of information that could only be applicable to the text designed for that particular time?

    I have been contemplating a revision of the modern scientific method, in order to make it more responsive to our contemporary complexities, a method which would, indeed, be synthetical and yet able to grasp both the objective and subjective elements so often present in practically every situation but presently ignored by the demands for objectivity in the present method, which demands wind up making the results objectively less than desirable. Sort of an x+ &/or – y = to Z to the ultimate power squared.

    • RD August 11, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      Dr. James-

      Dude, you’ve lost me…..

      I sincerely want to make certain I understand your points, but I’m getting lost in the posted equation and the whole “revision of the modern scientific method” thing. Are you saying that modern scientific methods are based on the fixed certainties that the universe is made up of natural laws and, therefore, the methods are lacking or somehow deficient….That the methods don’t take into account more recently discovered complexities (quantum mechanics or the like)?

      And how does revising the scientific method intersect with Biblical exegesis?

      Blessings-

      -rd

  34. Dr. James Willingham August 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Just consider the idea of reframing, a technique from counseling. The Bible is a first class teacher of the practice. Indeed, sometimes I take it that the Bible reviserates man’s spiritual being…not just reframing. In any case, reframing gives and insight into the biblical approach to adverse events in our lives. That which seems most negative is counted as a positive in the long run, though very unpleasant at the time of its occurrence. Joseph said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The idea of paradoxical intervention, of therapeutic paradox, of the opposite being used to accomplish some good, suggests, at the very least, a wisdom profoundly beyond our normal range of comprehension and understanding. In the same way, the scientific method and understandings that flow from it, and especially those that will flow from a revised formula, will provide us with the wherewithal to grasp insgihts that have never before occurred to us. The Bible being inspired by omniscience suffers from the problem of clarity, even crystal clarity, at times. Like the fellow who thought a mountain stream was only 2-3 feet deep, because he could see the grains of sand rolling along the bottom. He almost drowned as the stream was 18-20 feet deep. He had forgotten the magnifying power of the medium into which he was gazing. Thus, the word of God reflects a wisdom commensurate with the source that inspired it, and its very clarity is a problem for us as we think we understand that clarity – not realizing we are lacking in depth perception. We also suffer from the shortness of ambiguity totlerane, and the Bible often presents us with frustrating opposites as both reflecting truths. The development of complex comprehension and the wareness of how bits and pieces of information can be the means to the whole awakens perceptive abilities in us which began to recognize truths in the word of God that we had never seen before.

    I did research in church history for 6 years, sovering over 250 sources, and accumulating some 3000 5×8 notecards (written on both sides, so 6000 pages of writing). In the process, I stumbled across Black folks in slavery in the South. I wound up writing a prospectus for a Doctoral Dissertation at Columbia University in NY on the Baptists and Slavery. My aim was to demonstrate the superior kind of Christian that the Gospel produced among African Americans (we referred to them then as Black folks).

    This was the result of their embracing the doctrines of the Christian Faith with a trust that put even the white folks (many of them our ancestors) to shame. These African American believers were often a believers of a superb quality. Just to indicate how they could be so, let me mention that in one case I found where a white church in Virginia purchased a Black man’s freedom and made him their pastor (I think he served for 10 years). Some 40 years later (in the past few years, in fact) I came across the fact that Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was put to death for opposing Hitler had been inspired by his brief contact with Black Christians in American in 1929 and again around 1939,40. He attended their churches, was inspired by their simple biblicism, and took their spirituals back to German with him to inspired his Confessional Church. Within the past few months I read where Martin Luther King had been made aware of the fact that the famous historian of England, Arnold Toynbee, had declared that Western Civilication might well be renewed throught eh efforts of African Americans due to their spiritual development (I suppose in the time of slavery and segregation). Imagine how far Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and Ehrman would get with their crusade for unblief, if some Christians had developed the scholarship and done the research to show how God had develop some magnificent believers among African Americans in spite of the hardships. Think of the insights that would provide for Christian understanding. Think also of our understanding of political situations and how emproved that would be, had we really giving ourselves to understanding the political aspects of the Bible, especially of the New Testament, and how the Bible has contributed to freedom. Just think how two scholars om Houston found that our founding documents in America were influenced in the double digits by the Bible (like about 34%) and that the next two leading influences by single digits were two poliltical statemen (Locke by 8’9% and Montesquieu by 6-8 %).

    There are scientific depths to scripture yet to be even dimly grasped. Our problem is that we don’t even have the equipment to begin to understand it in this realm of science. And I am think primarily in the realm of ideas, ideas which we can’t even recognize but might be able to in a hundred years…when the mind will have become exposed to much more information and have the help of computers taht will be astronomically beyond what we can now conceive. Sorry, dear brother, things are getting harder and heavier. There are no easy short cuts.

  35. Henry Bruno August 24, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Good stuff, brother Hamilton!! Highly recommend Dr. Walt Brown’s solid scientific materials on young earth creationism. http://www.creationscience.com. His stuff on Noah’s flood brings quite a dose of the fear of the Lord!!

  36. Steve Drake August 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Dr. Hamilton,
    Can you reference the work of Eugene Merrill that you cite in regards to the chronogenealogies? I’d like to read his material.

    blessings,
    Steve Drake

    • JMH August 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

      Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel

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