Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Genesis Debate - Part 2

The Day Age Response: (by Hugh Ross and Gleason Archer)

In the last lesson, we covered Duncan and Hall’s opening essay concerning a defense of the 24 hour view. We also partially covered Ross and Archer’s day-age response. In this lesson, after a quick review of that response, we will complete it, cover the framework view response, and the 24 hour reply.

Agreement on some basic things was noted, such as the transcendence of the Creator, the singularity of the creation event , the Biblical case as well as a growing scientific basis for the recent, special creation of Adam and Eve and for the literal descent of all humanity from them. There were disagreements about church history. While many held to a 24 hour day view, there was also a diversity of views by some. Generally, evangelical Old Testament and Hebrew scholars do not think that the Genesis creation account mandates six consecutive 24 hour creation days

Duncan and Hall repeatedly assert creation ex nihilo where Genesis 1 does not. For example, in the case of “light” in Gen 1:3, the word for God’s creative activity is haya, not bara. This suggests that the light appeared (shone through clouds), and was not the original creation ex nihilo of light. This is exegesis, which is Duncan and Hall’s emphasis. It also makes the account agree with science. Similar arguments can be made for other things (Sun, continental land masses, etc). Duncan and Hall misrepresent the physics of stellar burning (with implied great age) as uncertain and widely disputed. It is not. On this basis, they discount generally astronomical research, which is much more certain than Darwinian evolution.

Sin’s impact on nature.
Duncan and Hall maintain that pre-Adamic and/or pre-Noahic physics has no bearing on anything we observe today.
According to Gen 1, stars were created before Adam. Stars depend upon all four forces of physics (gravity, the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism and the electro-weak force), the gas laws, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, relativity, and quantum mechanics.
According to Gen 2 and 3, Adam and Eve were moving, breathing, working, and eating before the Fall, all of which involve the laws of physics.
Romans 8:20-22 concerning “bondage to decay” is reviewed. (See the summary of lesson 6 for details.)

Sin’s impact on the mind
Duncan and Hall maintain that sin corrupts man’s ability to correctly learn truth from nature, since truth learned from nature is much harder to learn than truth from Scripture. This enormously downplays the immense contribution of science to civilization and technology. It also implies that there would be good agreement on the interpretation of Scripture.
There are large areas of physics and related mathematics on which there is no disagreement, such as Newtonian mechanics, statistical mechanics, and linear differential calculus. Both Christians and non-Christians agree. Of course, limitations imposed on Newtonian mechanics by quantum mechanics and relativity effects under extreme conditions are understood, but within those constraints, Newtonian mechanics is simply accepted as correct. One cannot imagine “decontructionist” physicists.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. Ps 19

God is not a man, that he should lie. Num 23:19a

Denying that we learn valid truth from nature is denying a theological treasure and an evangelistic gold mine.
Christianity’s uniqueness relies not only on the gospel message, but also on the many ways in which it can be tested, such as fulfilled prophecy, historicity, and agreement with science.
Test everything. Hold on to the good. 1 Thess 5:21

Long sixth day.
And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. Gen 2:9
Adam did a lot of things on the sixth day, and trees grew out of the ground. This implies a long sixth day.

Long seventh day.
All agree that God finished his creation work on the sixth day. Science apparently agrees that since the creation of mankind, new species are not being created.
Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” John 5:17
In Duncan and Hall’s view, God is no longer at rest, but is again working, although not creating.
Response: Jesus repeatedly declared that the Sabbath is not a cessation from all activity, and especially not from spiritual activity. This is just what he was saying here. God’s creation Sabbath is on-going, even today. The type of work he does now is different.

And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Heb 4:3-6
Duncan and Hall: Believers enter God’s rest, a reflection of the original 24 hour day of rest.
Response: These verses picture God’s rest as on-going, even today, and that believers can still enter His present rest.

The seventh day is long, but not infinitely long. There will be an eighth day when God resumes creating things.
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. Is 65:17

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Rev 21:1

Thus, the seventh day is a long, but finite period of time, just like the first six days in the day-age view. Thus, the analogy to a conventional seven day week makes sense. This is not six long days and then one infinitely long day.

But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Lev 25:4
This Sabbath is one year long, and this “week” is seven years long.

“… but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when [literally in the day, yom] you eat of it you will surely die.” Gen 2:17
The problem here is that Adam lived for several hundred years after he ate from the tree. Often commentators distinguish between physical and spiritual death to explain this. But if Adam sinned on a long seventh day, then he did die “in the day” he ate.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Heb 11:3
Duncan and Hall say that God did not use natural processes to create. We know this by faith, not by science.

Response: The above Scripture is consistent with science and a single, cosmic creation event. God also created out of nothing (bara) with regard to plants, animals, and people. It still takes faith to believe that God did it.

Was everything directly created and sustained?

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col 1

Duncan and Hall note that Jesus Christ directly, miraculously both created and sustains.
Response: He also created natural processes that he uses to sustain us. Physics exists, because he created it and sustains it. Some things mentioned in the first 6 days were natural results of other things that were themselves directly created.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Eccl 1:9
Duncan and Hall: This verse implies that new interpretations are not favored.
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare;
before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Is 42:9

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22:20

And they sang a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Rev 5:9

The Bible says that there are new things since the time of Solomon. Also, Solomon would have been amazed at all of the new technology in our day that came from science. Thus, we have had new truth from both special and general revelation. Solomon’s saying is from the genre of wisdom literature. It is true, but not as universally applicable as basic Bible doctrine.


The Framework Response: Irons and Kline

Duncan and Hall argue against the Framework view mostly by arguing against positions that advocates of the Framework view do not hold, but are held by day-age advocates. They do not seem to have a good understanding of the Framework position.

The seventh day.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” John 5
Duncan and Hall argue that these verses imply that God is no longer at rest. However, here Jesus was healing on the Sabbath. He said that the Father is still working on the Sabbath, therefore it is okay for Jesus to do it, too.
Response: In the Framework view, this implies that the Sabbath/seventh day is ongoing. God is no longer directly creating things. Therefore, the seventh day is eternal, since God will never cease to rule.

And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Heb 4:3-6

Here, God is still resting, and since he does this on the seventh day, the seventh day is ongoing. If the seventh day is not just 24 hours long, then the other six days do not need to be either.

Church history.
Duncan and Hall maintain that church history supports a 24 hour view. However, Augustine disagreed with the 24 hour view because of exegesis, not Darwinism. He noted that days 1 – 3 are mentioned before the creation of the Sun, and therefore are not to be taken literally. Also, he read Gen 2:4 as stating that God made the heavens and earth and all the stars in one day.
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens… Gen 2:4 (NIV)
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day [yom] that the Lord God made earth and heaven. Gen 2:4 (NASB)

Furthermore, Augustine influenced subsequent theologians such as Anselm, Lombard, and the early Aquinas. Others, such as Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, and Chrysostom had a 24 hour approach, while some church fathers tried to find middle ground between them. Thus, the debate over this issue is not strictly recent.

Furthermore, Duncan and Hall say that Scripture should only be interpreted based on exegesis, and never on science. However, for many centuries the church used exegesis to maintain that the earth is immobile (Josh 10:12-23, Ps 104:5). Why didn’t any interpreters discover alternative explanations of these texts until after certain scientific discoveries? Those who support views other than the 24-hour “day” can at least point to early church fathers who disagreed with it on the basis of exegesis alone. Thus, Duncan and Hall are inconsistent in saying that the church has never let science influence Scripture.
He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. Ps 104:5

Duncan and Hall say: if the scientist, as Kline has argued elsewhere, may be “left free of constraints when hypothesizing about cosmic origins” by a literary approach to the meaning of the days, why shouldn’t he also be left free of constraints when hypothesizing about human origins?
Response: Duncan and Hall misquote Kline to say that the Framework view accommodates Darwinism. The complete quotation is as follows. “The conclusion is that as far as the time frame is concerned, with respect to both the duration and sequence of events, the scientist is left free of biblical constraints in hypothesizing about cosmic origins.” Kline (1996)
[Note that this same Kline is one of the present authors of the framework view response.]


The 24 hour Reply: Duncan and Hall

Despite some areas of agreement, “the response essays do not interact with our compelling challenges or refute the massive weight of hundreds of previous commentators who loved Scripture. Neither do they represent a comprehensive Biblical theology, surveying Biblical texts from Genesis to Revelation, as we have. … Furthermore, to agree with our esteemed counterparts would require us to disagree with Solomon; for if they are right, they have discovered – where others have not – something new under the sun.”

“We do not so much fear the slippery slope arguments of our counterparts as we view their positions as needlessly conceding to modernity in many ways.”

1. The predominant use of “day” in Scripture is for 24 hours.
2. “Evening and morning” supports a 24 hour interpretation.
3. The ordinals “first”, “second”, etc. supports 24 hours.
4. No reasons are given in Gen 1 for yom meaning a long time period.
5. “God said… and it was so” indicates immediate fulfillment.
6. The flow of redemptive history after Genesis gives no indication that the creation days are anything other than ordinary days.

Church history
“The day-age view first arose when jazz was on the rise in America, while the framework view only surfaced in English just before the Beatles!” Before that, it was the 24 hour view. If ever the church agreed on anything, it has been on the days of creation.
The authors then again review the early church fathers, the middle ages, the Reformation, etc. They maintain that until around 1800, the overwhelming consensus was the 24 hour view.

Natural and special revelation
“We are to interpret nature in light of Scripture, not vice versa.”
“The two often are harmonious, but sinful observers frequently misinterpret natural revelation. Special revelation, with its own Scripture-interpreting-Scripture hermeneutic, has a corrective built into it that nature is lacking.”

[Note differences in interpretation concerning infant baptism, veneration of Mary, predestination vs free will…]

Ross – Archer statements on the age of the stars is simply “immaterial” and require no reply. We simply have no Biblical information on this subject, and we refuse to speculate or let the state of scientific orthodoxy call into question the accuracy of Genesis.

Distinctions between haya and bara are specious, as if those words alone somehow prove that the celestial lights only “appeared” on the fourth day.

[Definition of specious: “plausible but false”, “deceptively attractive”]

“We would rather maintain a heavily miraculous creation and call on science to conform to that truth than to dilute the faith.”
“The Genesis text is and always has been clear. The record of church history is and always has been clear. The theological and apologetical consequences of succumbing to secularism are now clear. Let God be found true!”


[Note: these are the views of Duncan and Hall. Their arguments may have strengths and weaknesses. Other young earth creationists who share the 24 hour view may use somewhat different arguments which may not share any particular weaknesses of the arguments of Duncan and Hall. Also, some young earth creationists believe that science gives important truth and does agree with the 24 hour view.]

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