It never ceases to amaze me that people portray themselves as so virtuous. I am not virtuous. Never was, never will be. I am a flawed human being. Aren’t we all? Could we honestly be otherwise than flawed? Isn’t that a basic part of being human?
The Middle Word
Rabbi Irving Greenberg
Living in the Image of God
Jewish law envisions a future in which all human beings are treated as infinitely valuable, equal, and unique
The following is the first in a two-part series:
There is a fundamental principle of Judaism that accounts for all Jewish ethics, including the obligation to love your neighbor as yourself. The Talmudic sage Ben Azzai suggests that this axiom is the Torah’s statement that “God created the human being in God’s image … man and woman God created them.” The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) spells out the implications of this concept. Judaism holds that–to paraphrase the American Declaration of Independence–all humans are created in the image of God, and therefore they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and dignities, among which are infinite value, equality and uniqueness. Let’s explore what these three concepts really mean.
INFINITE VALUE: An image of man has a finite value. A Picasso sold for $30,000,000 plus; a Van Gogh for $82.5 million. But an image created by God is worth incomparably more; it is of infinite value. That is why the Talmud states that “To save one life is equivalent to saving a whole world.”
If a life is infinitely valuable, then it must be treated with great concern and care. No precious work of art would be left outside, exposed to the elements. Thus no image of God should ever be allowed to lie on the street, homeless and freezing during winter. Similarly, it is worth spending hundreds of thousands, and indeed millions of dollars, to medically treat and save the life of an infinitely valuable person–meaning, everyone.
EQUALITY: In the Jewish tradition, God is described in images ranging from a powerful warrior to a comforting mother. But it is understood that no image is literal or fixed, and no image is intrinsically superior to the other. To present an image of God as the preferred (or fixed) image of God is idolatry. All images of God (that is, all humans) are equal. Thus the claim that whites are superior to blacks, or males are preferred to women, or members of one religion are truly the image of God and the others are not, is equivalent to idolatry.
UNIQUENESS: Images of man are meant to be replicable. The normal assumption of all stamps, all coins, all reproduced photographs is that one is identical to the next; that is because they are images created by human beings. However, says the Talmud, an image created by God has this distinction: The Holy One creates all human beings from one mold (Adam and Eve), yet each one is different from the other. Not even identical twins are identical. To see people through stereotypes violates the fundamental dignity of the other person as a unique image of God.
The world that we inhabit degrades these fundamental dignities. Poverty and discrimination, legalized slavery and oppression, cultural stereotyping, and human neglect are rampant–but they are incompatible with the dignities of the image of God. Therefore, the Jewish tradition insists that this status quo be fundamentally restructured. We are commanded to work for tikkun olam, to perfect and transform the world until it fully respects the image of God in every human being. We must overcome poverty and hunger, which contradict the infinite value of the individual. We must overcome oppression, because racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, etc., all deny the equality of the other. We must overcome war, which is essentially fought by destroying infinitely valuable images of God with abandon. That is why Isaiah prophesied that “they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and they will not learn war anymore.” Isaiah promises that death itself, the ultimate denial of our unique, irreplaceable value, “will be swallowed up in eternity,” that is, overcome.
In short, the Jewish dream of tikkun olam includes the ultimate triumph of life over death and the realization of a world in which the full dignities of every individual are respected, nurtured, and developed. This is the Messianic Age in Jewish tradition. Incorporated into Christianity, into Western culture, and into certain variants of Islam, the Jewish revolutionary promise of world transformation has proven to be extraordinarily liberating and shattering of the status quo.
How shall we live until the final perfection is achieved? The answer of Jewish law and tradition is that we should respect the image of God to the maximum possible degree in all our conduct. Tzedakah, the obligation to help the poor and the hungry, stems from the fact that the needy are equal and infinitely valuable. Lashon hara (evil speech) is prohibited (even if the facts asserted are true) because the talk degrades the image of God in another other person. Sexuality is the search for physical and emotional confirmation of our uniqueness and infinite value–as well as that of the other. Thus, all mitzvot (commandments) can be seen as attempts to nurture the dignity of every human being in the image of God. Judaism is the way of life of Jewry, the community that tries to live by this higher standard–until we achieve tikkun olam, the perfection that will make universal the infinite value, equality, and uniqueness of all human beings.
from belief net.
Moving on to the last installment, I want to focus on the harm done by Young Earth Creation Science. I have already discussed in the earlier series why YEC is not required (and is in fact contradicted by) the Bible. I have also summarized the evidence and the expert opinion of scientist that YEC is simply false.
The harm of YEC arises as an inevitable result of the combination of the first two problems. What happens when you embrace an idea that is demonstrably false? What happens when you insist that believing this false idea is the litmus test of Christianity?
As an illustration, I’d like to refer to the history of Glenn Morton. Morton, which you can find here: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/gstory.htm. Moron was a geophysicist employed by a seismic company working for Atlantic Richfield. He was also a Creation Scientist who published regularly in the Creation Research Society Quarterly and had frequent meetings with the members of the Institute for Creation Research. He also employed a number of the graduates of ICR’s graduate school of the sciences.
Morton began to become aware of problems with the geologic data that flatly contradicted Young Earth Creationism. After trying unsuccessfully to resolve these problems, he published a paper called “Geologic Challenges to a Young-earth” in which he solicited the help of other Creation Scientists in resolving these problems. The reaction was chilly.
Quoting Morton “Here is a list of what young-earthers have called me in response to my data: ‘an apostate,'(Humphreys) ‘a heretic'(Jim Bell although he later apologised like the gentleman he is) ‘a compromiser'(Henry Morris) “absurd”, “naive”, “compromising”, “abysmally ignorant”, “sloppy”, “reckless disregard”, “extremely inaccurate”, “misleading”, “tomfoolery” and “intentionally deceitful”(John Woodmorappe) ‘like your father, Satan’ (Carl R. Froede–I am proud to have this one because Jesus was once said to have been of satan also.) ‘your loyality and commitment to Jesus Christ is shaky or just not truly genuine’ (John Baumgardner 12-24-99 [Merry Christmas]) “[I] have secretly entertained suspicions of a Trojan horse roaming behind the lines…” Royal Truman 12-28-99”
Morton conducted an informal poll of his friends who had graduated from the ICR program and had worked in the oil industry and asked this question: “From your oil industry experience, did any fact that you were taught at ICR, which challenged current geological thinking, turn out in the long run to be true?”
Here is how he describes the reaction. “One man, Steve Robertson, who worked for Shell grew real silent on the phone, sighed and softly said ‘No!’ A very close friend that I had hired at Arco, after hearing the question, exclaimed, “Wait a minute. There has to be one!” But he could not name one. I can not name one. No one else could either. One man I could not reach, to ask that question, had a crisis of faith about two years after coming into the oil industry. I do not know what his spiritual state is now but he was in bad shape the last time I talked to him.”
And Morton had a crisis of faith himself. He very nearly became an atheist. Not because he began to disbelieve in God per se, but because Young Earth Creationist had told him that there were only two alternatives: be a Young Earth Creationist, or be an atheist. Since the facts convinced him that Young Earth Creationism was false (as they will anyone who approached them objectively), he supposed that atheism was the only alternative. A book on Old-Earth Creationism revived his faith.
From this story (and you can read a collection of similar testimonies here: http://www.answersincreation.org/testimony.htm) , we begin to see several of the harms of Young Earth Creationism.
1. Because it is false, and associated with God and Christianity, it made belief in God and Christianity seem
2. Because it associates science with deep personal beliefs, YEC Scientists became accusatory, hateful and angry when presented with simple facts which contradicted it.
So there we have lack of faith, anger and hatred.
Elaborating a bit on YEC’s effect on faith, we have to consider, not merely the Christians who will lose their faith when they discover YEC isn’t true. We also have to consider the non-believers who will never even consider Christianity because it is associated with a theory that is so obviously false and absurd.
Let’s examine another of the fruits of Young Earth Creationism. Because its proponents have so much invested in it (their entire religious framework), they are strongly emotionally motivated to support it. This has resulted in YEC Scientists gaining a reputation for exaggeration, misquoting and outright falsehood. When one thinks they are defending God himself, any means can seem justified.
In the story above, for example, John Morris of the ICR went to the podium during the presentation of Morton’s paper to challenge him claiming to have been in the oil industry himself. This turned out to be false (or exaggerated – he had once taught a course in petroleum geology). Duane Gish, a famous YEC debater, has a notorious history of using incorrect facts in his writings and debates – being publicly corrected with explicit proof of the error – and then continuing to repeat the same misstatements over and over. (see here: http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/gish.html for some examples). Walt Brown in his book (which is still available online) made a claim which has been repeated all over the internet that the cytochrome C sequence of a rattlesnake is closer to human than to any other animal. When pressed, it turns out his source for this claim is his own son’s science fair project! A project in which he drastically misinterprets the meaning of cytochrome C data. (see http://members.cox.net/ardipithecus/evol/lies/lie025.html). This is representative of a number of protein sequencing claims from YEC Scientist that are completely false, to the point of apparently being pulled out of thin air in the case of Kent Hovind: (http://members.cox.net/ardipithecus/evol/HovindLie.html). Out of context quoting is so rampant among YEC Scientist that whole websites have sprung up attempting to correct all the errors (you can start here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/project.html)
So now in addition to being destructive to faith and producing anger and hatred, we can label YEC as tending to produce dishonesty. In my opinion, however, one of the most aggregious tendencies of YEC is to attribute dishonesty, not merely to their opponents, but to God himself.
In order for YEC to be true, God must have intentionally created all the evidence in favor of evolution. For example, as I point out in my brief analysis of evolutionary evidence here: http://perennis.pathstoknowledge.com/evidence_evolution, God would have to have deliberately infected humans and other primates with retrovirus “scars” at certain points in their DNA in just such a way as to make it look like they inherited these scars from their primate ancestors. God would have to have created beams of starlight to give “apparent age” to newly minted stars millions of light-years away (or changed the fundamental constants of the cosmos by huge orders of magnitude). God would have to have tampered with radioactive decay, and done so in such a way that multiple isotopes of multiple elements would all match and agree on outrageously incorrect ages when employed by radiocarbon dating. God would have to have deliberately chosen, time and time again – methods of creating and maintaining the earth which managed to APPEAR as if they were evidence of great age and genetic relationships for all life.
We cannot trust the natural world that God created – because for various inscrutable reasons, he has made it tell a false story. Instead of Paul’s admonition to “let God be true, and every man a liar” we are urged to let God be the liar and every Young Earth Creationist be true. They would not see it this way of course. To them, it’s simply a matter of thinking that the truth of God’s natural world is not as reliable as the truth of an ancient inspired Hebrew text as interpreted by their particular theology.
So let’s add up the results. The fruit of YEC are faithlessness, anger, hatred, deception, and blasphemy.
What does this tell us?
I wanted to close with a quote from St. Augustine – still as eerily applicable today as when it was written more than a thousand years ago…
“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.” (St. Augustine: Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 19)
Continuing in my series on the problems of Creation Science we come to what should, by rights, be the first and only point:
Creation Science is contradicted by the facts.
As I said, this should, perhaps, have been the first consideration. But as fallible human beings, our minds can deceive us. Whatever we say about wanting the truth, we generally only want truth that reinforces what we already want to believe, on a deep and sometimes irrational level. This is why I thought it was necessary to first open up some room in the minds of Creation Science believers for the idea that the Bible does not explicitly and infallibly teach Young Earth Creationism (YEC).
The Bible gives us some interpretive space to form our own conclusions on this issue. We should do as the book of Job suggested (as was previously quoted).
But ask the animals, now, and they shall teach you; the birds of the sky, and they shall tell you. Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you. The fish of the sea shall declare to you. (Job 12:7-8 WEB)
Let us use our reason and powers of observation to inquire of the animals, the earth, and cosmos – and discover the facts. What, then, are the facts? The fact is that science has demonstrated two facts almost beyond any reasonable doubt, and these two facts completely contradict a Young Earth Creation. Those two facts are:
1 The earth (and the cosmos) are billions of years old.
2. All life on earth descended genetically from a common source.
I don’t have time or space now to even summarize all the mountains of facts that have been collected to demonstrate these two facts, but these links represent a good place to start:
On the age of the earth: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html
And the age of the universe: http://education.aas.org/publications/AncientUniverseWeb.pdf
The case for common descent: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
I had begun a series trying to address this evidence from a specifically theistic viewpoint, and the first installment of that series can be read here: http://perennis.pathstoknowledge.com/evidence_evolution
For the purposes of this series, I’ll limit myself to quoting from expert or influential opinions. I will quote here from statements of the official bodies representing large groups of scientist, and from religious groups or leaders.
“we are convinced that masses of evidence render the application of the concept of evolution to man and other primates beyond serious doubt.” (Statement of the Pontifical Academy of Science)
“The core concepts of evolution are well documented and well confirmed. Natural selection has been repeatedly demonstrated in both field and laboratory, and descent with modification is so well documented that scientists are justified in saying that evolution is true.” (Botanical Society of America's Statement on Evolution)
“Scientific evidence indicates beyond any doubt that life has existed on Earth for billions of years. This life has evolved through time producing vast numbers of species of plants and animals, most of which are extinct. Although scientists debate the mechanism that produced this change, the evidence for the change is undeniable.” (American Geological Institute)
“Today, nearly half a century after the publication of the encyclical, new knowledge leads to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor provoked, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.” (Pope John Paul II – Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996)
“During the past year, religious fundamentalists have intensified their effort to force public school science classes to include instruction in "creationism." As defined in publications of the Institute for Creation Research and in laws passed or under consideration by several state legislatures, this doctrine includes the statement that the entire universe was created relatively recently, i.e. less than 10,000 years ago. This statement contradicts results of astronomical research during the past two centuries indicating that some stars now visible to us were in existence millions or billions of years ago, as well as the results of radiometric dating indicating that the age of the earth is about 4.5 billion years.” (American Astronomical Society Statement on the Teaching of the History of the Universe)
“Evolution is a fact in the sense that life has changed through time. In nature today, the characteristics of species are changing, and new species are arising. The fossil record is the primary factual evidence for evolution in times past, and evolution is well documented by further evidence from other scientific disciplines, including comparative anatomy, biogeography, genetics, molecular biology, and studies of viral and bacterial diseases.” (The Paleontological Society)
“As a community, biologists agree that evolution occurred and that the forces driving the evolutionary process are still active today. This consensus is based on more than a century of scientific data gathering and analysis.” (American Institute of Biological Sciences)
“We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris.” (The Clergy Letter Project – endorsed by over 10,000 clergy of all denominations – see http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/religion_science_collaboration.htm)
So above we have the official endorsement of Biologists, Geologists, Botanists, Paleontologists, Astronomers – all testifying that from the perspective of their own disciplines, evolution and an ancient earth are not only supported by the facts, but overwhelmingly supported. We also have the statements of thousands of clergy, including the late Pope, that evolution is overwhelmingly supported by the evidence, and that it does not contradict faith.
While this sort of “argument from authority” is admittedly a shortcut, it’s important to understand that the opinions of these bodies of scientists are not offered simply as something we must believe because they SAY so. They are offered as the result of the combined observations and studies of hundreds of thousands of trained observers who have tested the predictions of the theory of evolution.
Creation Science is a Lie of the Devil
Many Christians glancing at the title of this essay would assume that I’ve made a mistake in typing. Surely it is EVOLUTION, not Creation Science, that is a lie of the Devil. Isn’t evolution, after all, the foundation of atheism, moral relativism, and attacks against the veracity of the Bible? Don’t many innocent and inexperienced Christians lose their faith due to the influence of godless evolution in high school and college? Yes they do. And I propose that the blame for this rests squarely with Creation Scientists. I believe that Creation Science, through faulty logic, poor scholarship, and the arrogant and blasphemous identification of its own human opinions with God’s word, poisons Christianity and lays the groundwork for massive loss of faith.
Jesus railed against this kind of spiritual arrogance. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you don’t enter in yourselves, neither do you allow those who are entering in to enter.” (Matthew 23:14 WEB) By insisting on making opposition to evolution the litmus test of Christianity, Creation Science turns away the scientifically minded and creates an artificial social rift.
Ok, let me back up and turn down the rhetoric for a minute. There are many in the Creation Science movement who are good, sincere people. There are some who have good scientific training in a variety of fields. A number of Creation Science arguments seem to make good sense, and require some expertise to refute – I believed in them myself for many years, and I was a Zoology major in college. Also, the variety of “Creation Science” I am arguing against here is hard-core Young-Earth Creationism. There are many believing scientists who, like myself, accept the basic facts of evolutionary biology and geology but still see the presence of God in the phenomena of life at some level.
The purpose of the “rant” above is to try to shock my Young Earth Creationist friends into looking for a minute at the consequences of their own rhetoric in a new light. Don’t assume too quickly that only your own view honors God. Don’t assume your reading of scripture is the only way to read it. Don’t make your personal theology a Procrustean bed in which all Christians must lie. Remember what God asked Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4 WEB) I’ve often heard this verse quoted against evolutionists. Billions of years you say? Were you THERE? But it applies equally well to Christians. We don’t have any direct knowledge of how God did it. We have our personal interpretations of the ancient Hebrew texts. We have the traditions of our denomination or our favorite teachers. These do not constitute personal omniscience on the subject of the creation! If it turns out that our insistence on one particular interpretation of Genesis is turning people away from the teachings of Jesus, is that the work of a positive spiritual force, or a negative one?
I submit that it is a negative force on several fronts. It is unscriptural. It is untrue, and it is ultimately harmful.
The Bible supports an old earth and evolutionary development.
I will address this topic first, because many people who believe in Young Earth Creationism in spite of significant opposition from the scientific community primarily because they are convinced that the Bible explicitly and unambiguously teaches Young Earth Creationism – leaving them with no choice but to dispute all evidence to the contrary. This is not true. Long before Darwin and evolution became household words, students of the scriptures had different theories on how God created the world, and how long it took. In short, they had questions over how to interpret the creation stories of Genesis. These differing interpretations continue to this day.
For example, Some think that the days of creation were thousand-day periods, not 24 hour days, based on the scripture:
“For a thousand years in your sight are just like yesterday when it is past, like a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4 WEB)
They point out that in Genesis 1:11, not only are plants created, but they produce seeds and fruit without any mention of supernatural intervention – hardly the work of a single day. If we try to harmonize Genesis 1 and 2, then it seems difficult that all the events of the sixth day, including the creation of animals, the creation of man, the naming of all the animals (thousands of species) Adam falling asleep, and the creation of woman – were all possible in a 24 hour period.
Others believe the creation days represent long ages of indefinite length – longer than simply a thousand years. They point out, for example, that the first several days of creation take place before any mention of the sun and moon – hence the evening, the morning, and the “day” mentioned must be symbolic of an age.
Indeed, while we are told that God rested on the seventh day (Gen 2:2) the book of Hebrews implies that the seventh day of rest is STILL going on, many thousands of years later. (Heb 4:4-11). Indeed, the Hebrew word translated “day” in Genesis (yom) also refers to ages of time, from years to entire epochs. For example:
“The time [Hebrew =’yom’] that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.” (1 Kings 11:42 WEB)
This could hardly be referring to a forty year DAY. It refers to a time. Using this definition, we could translate the verses of Genesis “and this was the first time period” . An even more striking example is here:
“Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time [Hebrew = ‘yom’ to come forever and ever [Hebrew = ‘ad olam’]” (Isaiah 30:8 WEB)
Did God intend Isaiah’s writing to last only a day? Clearly this is an age of time, and a very LONG age. It lasts for an “olam” which in Hebrew means a very long age of time, for example:
“The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting [olam] covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16 WEB)
How long does God’s promise last? Ages and ages. But what does the Bible say about the age of the earth?
“He stood, and shook the earth. He looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains were crumbled. The age-old [olam] hills collapsed. His ways are eternal [olam].” (Habakkuk 3:6 WEB)
Even back in the time of Jacob, supposedly soon after the flood, the hills are referred to as “olam” (Gen 49:26) or “age-old”. This doesn’t fit if the earth is only a few thousand years old – especially if most of the mountains were supposedly carved out by the flood – only a few generations earlier.
More on the word “olam” can be found here: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/olam.htm
Returning to our various creation theories, a number of theorists make an interesting observation about Genesis 1: 1-2. In the first verse, the entire earth is described as being created. Then Genesis 1:2 seems to begin a listing of the seven days of the creation of the earth. Is Genesis 1:1 part of the six days, or might it have occurred ages before? This is called the “gap” theory:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep. Gods Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.
(Genesis 1:1-2 WEB)
Some even suggest that previous creation and destruction events are all part of this silent gap, based on 2 Peter 3:5-7 (see the site here: http://www.kjvbible.org/major_models.html for a further explanation).
Another possible gap occurs between Genesis 2:3 and Genesis 2:4. Those of us who have studied the documentary hypothesis will recognize this as the gap between the “P” creation story and the “J” creation story. But in any case, it represents a completely new and somewhat different creation story following on the heels of Genesis chapter 1. Some Christians have hypothesized that this represents a of some kind. Perhaps between earlier “versions” of creation and the current one. Perhaps between a “spiritual” creation and a physical one (this gains support from Genesis 2:5). A further elaboration of this is the so-called “proclamation” theory, described here: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/synop.htm. Basically, according to this theory, Genesis one consists of God’s proclamation of a particular aspect of creation, followed by Moses commentary that, eventually, it was accomplished – but the accomplishment did not necessarily happen on that creation day. For example:
God: “Let there be light [proclaimed on the first day]”
Moses: “and [in the course of time] there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. [occurred at some later time in fullilment of the first day proclamation]”
(Genesis 1:3-4 KJVA)
Moving from the age of the earth to the development of life, there are several interesting observations to make about the Genesis account. When we are told that God “created” the earth, and life, the word used is “baw-raw”. While this can simply mean create, it also can refer to using pre-existing materials. The word can ALSO mean to “choose” or “select” or “mark for use” – a fascinating fact considering the implications of natural selection. Combine this with the fact that in several of the verses regarding creation, God seems to arrange things so that the laws of nature produce life in and of themselves.
“Let the earth yield grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with its seed in it, on the earth” (Gen 1:11)
“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life” (Gen 1:20)
“Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind” (Gen 1:24)
These all seem to imply a natural process, whereby the earth and the waters produce life on their own, rather than God producing it directly.
Even in the case of man, God is described as creating him out of the “dust of the earth” – out of the constituent chemicals already present on the earth. All these seem to fit well the concept of God using and directing natural processes such as evolution and natural selection.
I have focused above on fairly conservative biblical ideas. It is also quite possible, of course, that Genesis is poetic and figurative – and has little to do with an exact narration of the physical events of creation. In this case, there is no reason to insist on literal days and special acts of direct creation.
Needless to say, I’m not the first person to believe that the Bible teaches or is compatible with an ancient earth and the gradual evolution of life. Many intelligent believers have come to one or both of these conclusions. The next part of this essay will consist of quotes from some of these Christians. I believe the reader can see that Old-Earth Creationism and/or Theistic Evolution are widely-held and respected viewpoints among believers.
“Of course, there are many Creationists who argue for an old earth. Biblically, this position that the word for day is used for more than twenty-four hours even in Genesis 2:4, the events of the sixth day surely took more than twenty-four hours, and Hebrews 4:4?5 implies that God is still in His seventh-day rest. If the seventh day can be long, then the others could too. Scientifically, this view does not require any novel theories to explain the evidence. One of the biggest problems for the young earth view is in astronomy. We can see light from stars that took 15 billion years to get here. To say that God created them with the appearance of age does not satisfy the question of how their light reached us. We have watched star explosions that happened billions of years ago, but if the universe is not billions of years old, then we are seeing light from stars that never existed because they would have died before Creation. Why would God deceive us with the evidence? The old earth view seems to fit the evidence better and causes no problem with the Bible.” (Dr. Norman Geisler- Theologian, Apologist, Philosopher)
“But there is a very real, point of conflict that has been created in much of the church. Because of attitudes of bigoted, as often times prejudiced position is self righteous, if you don’t believe in creationism THIS WAY then you are not a Bible believer, that’s simply not true. And this way that they are describing is usually called the young earth approach…” (Pastor Jack Hayford, Church on the Way)
“Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science. As this principle is undeniably true, it is admitted and acted on by those who, through inattention to the meaning of terms, in words deny it. When the Bible speaks of the foundations, or of the pillars of the earth, or of the solid heavens, or of the motion of the sun, do not you and every other sane man, interpret this language by the facts of science? For five thousand years the Church understood the Bible to teach that the earth stood still in space, and that the sun and stars revolved around it. Science has demonstrated that this is not true. Shall we go on to interpret the Bible so as to make it teach the falsehood that the sun moves around the earth, or shall we interpret it by science, and make the two harmonize?” (Charles Hodge – Presbyterian theologian and professor)
“I would opt for the day-age theory, given all that must take place on the sixth “day” according to the Genesis record. Incidentally, this day-age view has been the majority view of the church since the fourth century, mainly through the influence of Saint Augustine.” (Walter Kaiser – president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
“The (young earth) author uses the verse from Job, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?’ (Job 38:4) to admonish the old-ager. To the author I say, “Where were you when God laid the foundations of the earth?” You were not there either! So you can’t “assume” a 6,000-year-old earth, just like we can’t “assume” a 13.7 billion year old universe. What we have to decide this issue is the evidence from God’s creation, and not our assumptions. Job 12:8 says “speak to the earth, and it will teach thee.” Secular and Christian scientists, outside of a religious framework, have examined God’s creation, and it says, “I’m 13.7 billion years old.”.. Does it matter which position you believe in? No, it doesn’t. The doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ is not affected by the age of the earth, nor the method God used to create the earth.” (Greg Neyman – founder Answers in Creation)
“As for the age of the earth and the universe, within the usual limits of any scientific conclusions, I believe that the present calculations of about 4 billion years for the earth and 14 billion years for the universe are not far wrong, and I see no conflict with that understanding and my understanding of the Bible.” (William D Phillips – Nobel Prizewinner in physics)
“The charge that evolution is anti-Christian, and that theistic evolution is not a respectable position, is very difficult to make good in view of the evidence we have here given.” (Bernard L. Ramm – Baptist theologian and professor)
“Christian apologists trained in the physical sciences and familiar with the Scriptures see no danger in connecting big bang cosmology with biblical teaching because the connection is based on well-established, thoroughly tested science and clear exegesis.” (Hugh Ross – theologian and scientist)
“The simple fact is that day in Hebrew (just as in English) is used in three separate senses: to mean (1) twenty-four hours, (2) the period of light during the twenty-four hours, and (3) an indeterminate period of time. Therefore, we must leave open the exact length of time indicated by day in Genesis.” (Francis Schaeffer – pastor and theologian)
“The first creative act refers to the dateless past, and gives scope for all the geologic ages. . . . The frequent parabolic use of natural phenomena may warrant the conclusion that each creative ‘day’ was a period of time marked off by a beginning and ending.” (C.J. Scofield – pastor and author of the “Scofield Reference Bible)
(quotes above courtesy of http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/notable_leaders/index.shtml)
To summarize, old-earth creation theories and theistic evolution are perfectly compatible with solid Bible interpretation. They have been the preferred interpretation of many good, devout Bible scholars and intelligent men of science. The literal six-day interpretation of Genesis does not account for all the facts, even Biblically.
I’ll pause for breath before proceeding to the subsequent points – Creation Science being untrue and harmful.