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Friday, July 20, 2007

Christian Carnival CLXXXI

The most recent Christian Carnival, a collection of current posts on Christian thought, is posted at Mere Orthodoxy. Matthew cleverly put together a little poem for each post, and the one for my new Earth post is:

Water becomes wine,
Science says that’s fine,
But cannot register an opinion.
The earth begins from nothing,
Due to God’s speaking,
where science finds its limits.

Check it out!

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Earth Creation

The year is 27AD. There is a celebration of a marriage in the town of Cana, in the Galilee region. One of the guests is a relatively unknown fellow who has attended with his mother, Mary. His name is Jesus of Nazareth.

During the festivities, a problem arises – the host of the wedding celebration has forgotten to have enough wine on hand for the party. Unless something happens fast, the host will be embarrassed and the party will be remembered as a failure. Discerning that her son can somehow do something about this, Mary tells her son that there is a problem. Jesus is not particularly receptive to her suggestion that he just ‘do something’. However, his mother ignores his reaction and instead tells the head servant to ‘do whatever he tells you to do’. The servants follow Jesus’ order, and where once water had been, wine now stood – the best wine at the wedding, to the amazement of many.

As we encounter the work of God in his miracles, in his actions taken and the results that follow that only he can do, we are faced with a question directly applicable to our creation dilemma: What scientific test could we perform that would tell us that the wine now in the jars was water only 60 seconds ago? What could we do to the wine to tell us of its sudden appearance, in apparent defiance of everything we know about how wine is created?

The answer is simple – nothing. There is no scientific test that would show that the wine was created instantly. There is no scientific test that would show that the woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years was healed instantly. There is no method we could use to show how Jesus made a blind man see instantly. In every case, God spoke, and it happened immediately, and not only could we not show that it was so after the fact, but we also cannot show that each was ever broken in the first place, or that it was the word of God that did the healing.

“Young Earth” creationism is the same. Some have claimed that God making a creation that seems older than it is would be an example of God being deceptive in some fashion. Laying aside the inherent (necessary) foolishness of the assumption of universality – that, for example, the amount of Carbon-14 in a living organism now is the same as it would have been 1 million years ago – there is no more deception in a creation we can’t prove its age than the same problem with the water and the wine.

In fact, I am far more likely to assume that our failure to “prove” a young earth creation from science is answered better by the Scriptures than by science. “For God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised has God chosen, yea, and the things which are not, to bring to naught the things which are – that no man may glory in his presence.” (1 Cor 1:27-29)

Jeremy has said that to believe that the earth is young, in the face of scientific ‘evidence’ to the contrary, is completely irrational. While Jeremy is a theologian of the highest degree, I would differ slightly. I would say that it may be foolish, but that it is also an expression of humility that recognizes my limitations compared to the God who the heavens cannot contain, whose works defy all the wisdom of men. While both the old and new earth theories I’ve described fit a historical view of Scripture, I will stick with a new earth theory that affirms that “evening and morning was the first day”.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Old Earth Creation

As mentioned previously, to believe in theistic evolution - that God used evolution to create man - requires a previous commitment to an age of the earth that is old enough to allow this evolution to occur. If the earth is this old, it is essentially impossible to believe that the creation account is a literal six-day event, because a six-day creation has man in existence only five days after the creation of the heavens.

Old-earth theory was essentially unknown until the advent of evolutionary theory. As evolution became culturally popular, theologians tried to find ways to make the reading of Genesis 1 fit evolutionary theory. One attempt was the "gap" theory, which proposed that there is a very long time gap between Genesis 1:1-2 and the rest of Genesis 1 - between the creation of the earth itself and the creation of life forms. There often is an expansion that explains that there was a completely formed heaven and earth, but something catastrophic, such as the fall of Satan from heaven, led to the destruction of the earth, leaving it without form and void. My Scofield reference Bible has this explanation.

Another effort is the literary framework method, explained by Jeremy in the link in the last post. This essentially says that the framework of the text is poetic, indicating a section that is not intended to be read literally, and thus its point is not intended to be historically accurate, but instead to demonstrate that there was a logical order to the pictures of creation given to Moses by God.

A third effort is age-day theory. This explanation posits that the Hebrew word transliterated "yom" that we translate to "day" does not always mean a 24-hour day, but can mean simply an unspecified period of time. As that is completely true, it has some exegetical value behind it that the other two do not. Yet what has been a struggle for me in accepting this theory is an exegetical reason in that passage that would lead us to beleive that the intent of the author was to read anything other than a 24-hour day for "yom".

However, recently I was presented with such a proximate exegetical reason...the seventh day. The Scriptures read that "So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Gen 2:3)"

What did He rest from? He rested from creating. So, if on the seventh day God rested from creating, when did he stop resting from creating? Has he begun creating again? I don't think so. If God's rest from creating the heavens and the earth ended on the seventh day, and he has not begun creating the heavens and the earth again, could it not be the seventh day still? And, if we are not aware of when this end of creation began, may it be that the "days" are very long periods of time to us?

What do you think?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Creation, Evolution, and Theology

It's a grand sounding title, but the coverage will be limited. Two and a half years ago I wrote a series of posts about evolution, concluding here.

My position hasn't changed from what is stated - your stance on evolution does not have an impact upon your spiritual condition. What has changed is this - why you have your stance speaks volumes about your spiritual condition.

While Jeremy posted one of the better defenses of old-earth theory, a required component of theistic evolution I have seen here, based upon literary styles, I found it still pretty unconvincing. I don't deny the presence of poetic elements, I simply acknowledge (and I'm guessing Jeremy does, too) that they do not demand a rejection of a more literal interpretation of the days as days. (I do think the whole 'sevens' issue is of little value to the argument).

Yet, in recent months I have come across the two most compelling arguments for both old-earth and new-earth creationism. Stay tuned and decide for yourself!