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Shawn

John,
I think you have more recent (positive) comments on the Pope than me and Kevin P. Edgecomb combined :)
So, I am interested, how do you see "Papa" as a pastor of the whole (not-with-standing recent definitions) church. Specifically, how would/do you direct your own flock in what to take heed of in what the Pope says and what not to listen to? I am interested.

Talmida

Ratzinger wrote the book on this subject-- or rather, a book: 'In the Beginning...' A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall. It's a collection of four homilies delivered in the mid-80s, I believe. The first of them discusses the difference between form and content in creation stories.

There are excerpts here, but it is well worth reading the whole thing. He's a very accessible writer -- much more so than the previous Pope.

JohnFH

Shawn,

I think this pope and pope John Paul II have been gifts to the church universal. The former pope was an iconic presence. Many non-Roman Catholics cheered him on and loved the fact that he traveled all the time and connected with young people well. He showed us a facet of what a pontifex might be - and rarely has been.

Pope Benedict is a thinking Pope. A dialectical thinker, which surprises those who thought he drew lines in the sand where he should not have in his former role as enforcer of doctrinal standards. He is very good in a question-and-answer format. An academic pope: it is a miracle in a way. He shows us another facet of what the Petrine ministry might be for our time.

The two popes are models of ministry in different ways. John Paul: you go to where the people are. You visit. You don't wait for them to come to you. Benedict: a pastor is supposed to be a teacher, someone who thinks, for God's sake.

Too many pastors neither visit nor teach. They are personnel managers, YMCA directors, and entertainers. This all comes at a great cost.

Talmida,

thanks for the references. I agree completely that Benedict is an accessible writer. John Paul, on the other hand, was an accessible preacher. I enjoyed hearing him preach. So biblical, with a personal rielaboration of Thomas shaping the whole.

G.M. Grena

"The accounts in Genesis and the theory of evolution do not contradict one another. At least, they do not necessarily contradict one another."

Yes they do. As someone who simply believed this for many years prior to thinking about it in detail, I'd encourage you to consider the following, & respectfully ask for assistance in pointing out where I may be wrong:

1) Even if you eliminate the evening/morning statements, the sequence of events described in Gen1 completely contradict the theory of evolution. One glaring example is the appearance of plants & water on Earth before the existence of stars (including the sun & moon) in the sky.

2) If you relegate Gen1 to mere poetry instead of history (which, as I understand from people who know Hebrew, the verb-subject-object order & the frequent use of the Vau-consecutive argue against), or assert that it's merely a human opinion not delivered from God (the only possible eyewitness to the initial creation), then there's no point in comparing Gen1 to Evolution or trying to harmonize them.

3) If God did create everything in a short period of time per Gen1, there is no scientific way to prove or disprove it; however, this would completely contradict the fundamental tenets of Evolution (i.e., gradual changes over a long time with NO divine assistance).

4) Even if you were to prove some sort of similarity between Gen1 & Evolution, you'd still have to eliminate Exodus 20:11, in which case you might just as well eliminate Gen1. There's no way to reconcile a 7-day week with gradual changes over a long time.

In other words, they contradict one another! One is right & one is wrong, or they're both wrong; they both can't be right. It's not, as you say, merely that their "points of departure" or "methods used" in addressing the issue are different. It comes down to a simple choice: Who/what do you trust?

Every single scientist alive today has to make faith-choices since no one person can master every branch of science in detail. An expert in biology has to trust experts in geology, etc. Without faith, scientific progress is impossible because you'd spend your entire life trying to read/learn everything & die before making any accomplishments. Unfortunately, their ego usually doesn't permit them to bluntly say, "I have faith in the other scientists."

Just because their faith statements don't make media headlines, doesn't mean their theories don't require faith & multiplied hypothetical assumptions. Sadly, most people who attempt to harmonize Genesis & Evolution don't realize that they're actually trying to join 2 mutually exclusive belief systems to create their own. And that's theologically dangerous.

I'm curious what motivates someone (especially someone with a Jewish, Christian, or Muslim affiliation) to want to eliminate the possibility that God wants/expects each of us to make a choice. Why is Trust so taboo?

I respect everyone who chooses to disbelieve the 7-day creation in Genesis & Exodus, but I'm puzzled by people who assert that Evolution doesn't contradict it. Enter Papa Ratzinger.

Based on your quoted translation, his holiness does a bait & switch: He speaks of Creationism in general apart from Gen1 so he doesn't have to deal with specific issues like the 4 starters I posed above. And he also states an absurd falsehood: "the one who affirms evolution is supposed to be a non-believer in God by definition. This contraposition is an absurdity..."

If he's correct, I hope someone will cite a single peer-reviewed publication from the secular scientific community that allows a divine Foot in the door of Evolution. That's why atheists soil their pants whenever someone mentions Intelligent Design in a public school. Ratzinger's right: it's OK for scientists to believe in God, they just have to keep God completely out of everything when they write & lecture.

Then he outright proves Evolution contradicts Gen1: "...evolution does not respond to all questions. ... [H]ow does the whole take a direction whose point of arrival is humanity?" Any elementary student of Evolution will tell you that Evolution has no goals because that would require a purpose/intelligence. It's not, as Ratzinger claims, that Evolutionism doesn't respond to the question; its fundamental tenet is that there is no supernatural purpose to anything. There's only nature. Nothing else.

With all due respect to your opinion that he's an admirable teacher, I was brought up in Catholicism & rejected it after blindly following for 21 years because of its poor/false teaching. This expose is a classic example. I expect better from someone in such a position of authority.

JohnFH

Thank you, G. M. Grena, for an exceptionally thoughtful contribution to the discussion.

You raise a number of issues that are not easy to address in short order. Nevertheless, I will take a stab at a few of them.

Scientists like Polkinghorne and Miller, and I encourage you to read their thoughts first hand, make a sharp distinction between evolution as an explanation of the process of speciation and evolution as an ideology that serves as a teleology or anti-teleology as the case may be. Keith Miller in particular is blunt about the tendency of fellow biologists to ideologize evolution.

When evolution is offered as an alternative and sufficient explanation of the way things are over against the claims of the accounts of Genesis in which the order, intelligibility, goodness, and divine origin of all that is are affirmed, it will and must be rejected by those who regard the Genesis accounts as revelation in the deepest sense of that word. Here we are on common ground.

But it is quite possible to claim that intelligent design is a credible explanation of the ways things are, and hold that evolution is an element of that intelligent design. Perhaps you are unaware that this is the position of Michael Behe, the foremost proponent of ID.

You suggest that "the sequence of events described in Gen 1 completely contradict the theory of evolution. One glaring example is the appearance of plants & water on Earth before the existence of stars (including the sun & moon) in the sky."

Well, if that is true, then the sequence of events described in Gen 1 completely contradicts the narrative of Gen 2. There are translations that obscure the discrepancies by translating some verbs in chapter 2 as pluperfects (without any textual warrant). But surely you see my point.

Does that mean that Genesis 1-3 is "mere poetry," which traffics in products of the imagination, rather than history, which, apparently, tells us how things "really happened"? Not at all. I put the key phrases in quotation marks because I think they are misleading.

I discuss the genre of Genesis 1 elsewhere on this site. I encourage you to consider what I have to say.

Here is another way to think of things. If you take a close look at the works of great painters like Piero della Francesca, van Gogh, Chagall, and Picasso, you will notice that they treat the same subject in strikingly different ways. In the most basic of ways, two paintings of the same subject may contradict each other. Colors, proportions, and specific details are often glaringly non-identical. Does that mean that we must choose between disparate paintings of the same subject? Of course not. Each painting expresses truth the other does not, truth a photograph (= your “history”), furthermore, would be singularly inadequate to express.

There is no such thing as “mere poetry” or “mere art.” These are oxymorons. To classify the narratives of Genesis 1-3 as history in the sense of chronicle fails to take into account the cultural matrix in which the texts were written. The texts in Genesis are fighting words. On point after point, they deliberately contradict alternative cosmologies that were “out there” at the time they were written. The alternative cosmologies were expressed in terms of myth. The biblical authors, inspired by God in my view, did not hesitate to express cosmology as they understood it in polemically mythical terms.

But you are absolutely right: the texts in Genesis stand in contradiction to evolution understood as a teleology, or anti-teleology, which precludes the work of one whom the biblical tradition describes as Alpha and Omega.

On the other hand, they do not stand in contradiction to evolution in the sense of time-frame and sequence of events, any more than Genesis 1 and 2 stand in contradiction to one another in these matters.

The only way to grasp this is to understand that the texts in question are not based on God describing how things happened from the point of view of an eyewitness to an author who then transcribed the account, or on eyewitness accounts of Adam and Eve passed down from one generation to the next.

How do I know that the texts do not originate in this way? First of all, by comparing Genesis 1, Genesis 2-3, and other creation accounts with each other. The comparison helps to identify the genres they instantiate.

Secondly, by comparing them with competing accounts of the cultural matrix from which they come. It then becomes clear that the biblical accounts challenge the competition on its own turf, which is myth, and move in a demythologizing direction at the same time.

Please feel free to continue to go back and forth on these questions. They are not new issues. Origen and Augustine, for example, deal with them as well, and it is instructive to compare their conclusions with ours.

G.M. Grena

"But it is quite possible to claim that intelligent design is a credible explanation of the ways things are..."

I agree with this point wholeheartedly; however, it contributes nothing to the issue of Genesis vs. Evolution. ID is a 3rd/distinct interpretation of the past. It is (intentionally) not based on Genesis or any part of any Bible, & it is outright rejected by the scientific community because it violates the aforementioned tenet (the "divine foot" Dawkins won't allow in the door).

"...the sequence of events described in Gen 1 completely contradicts the narrative of Gen 2."

I knew you'd go there! That's a separate discussion that, again, doesn't demonstrate that Genesis jives with Evolution. However, even if those who interpret Gen2 as contradictory to Gen1 are correct (despite the pluperfect harmony provided in the Douay, Berkeley, & NIV for 2:19), you've still got the same problem: a version of human, plant, & animal origins (in that order) that completely contradicts Evolution! (Not to mention a divine being doing it all!)

"If you take a close look at the works of great painters..."

In the words of his holiness, that's an absurdity. A valid analogy would be this:

One great painter paints 6 paintings that a museum curator hangs on the wall from left to right in the order red, yellow, blue, green, purple, orange. Another great painter paints 13.7 billion paintings of slightly varying shades, & my imaginary curator in my imaginary museum manages to hang them in the traditional spectrum order varying from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to violet. Then you walk into the museum on the opening day of the exhibit & declare that "Each painting expresses truth the other does not...". They completely contradict each other!

If the purpose of the exhibition is to show a gradual change along the color spectrum, the 13.7G-version is right & the 6-version is wrong.

If the purpose of the exhibition is to show primary colors adjacent to each other & secondary colors adjacent to each other, the 6-version is right & the 13.7G-version is wrong.

This is a key issue for people to understand when entering the Creation vs. Evolution debate: Is there a purpose? Ratzinger seems to assume the scientific community at large admits/agrees there is a purpose. It's a fatal flaw in his argument. I say the same thing to evolutionists who expect me to believe at the outset that there's no purpose.

Not only do Genesis & Evolution contradict each other, but their reasons-for-being contradict each other. A creationist will argue that Genesis records the history of God doing it, while the evolutionist will argue that Naturalism is a way of explaining how it happened without God. I'm one of the few young-Earth creationists who freely admits that Evolution fulfills its objective (I simply disagree with its premise), but I've yet to meet or read an evolutionist who will admit that Genesis could be a reliable historical document (including a harmonized, literal reading of the first 2 chapters).

"To classify the narratives of Genesis 1-3 as history in the sense of chronicle fails to take into account the cultural matrix in which the texts were written."

This statement assumes that Genesis was written by just another culture group to compete with their neighbors (the popular view held by most scholars). Later in the paragraph you say you believe the writers were "inspired by God". I believe Genesis 1 & 2 were delivered from God to people directly on 2 distinct occasions. In either case, this issue doesn't contribute to the discussion of whether Genesis contradicts Evolution.

"...they do not stand in contradiction to evolution in the sense of time-frame and sequence of events..."

Beg your pardon? 7 days vs. 13.7 billion years. If that's not a time-frame contradiction, I don't know what is!!! If stating that Earth existed with plants & water for a day prior to stars does not contradict stars existing for a long time before Earth, which in turn existed for a long time before water, which in turn existed for a long time before plants, then I don't know what is!!!

"The only way to grasp this..." & "...I know that the texts do not originate in this way"

Has anyone ever told you you're out on a dangerous limb with these statements?

Do you realize what you're saying? When you demolish the 7-day week being patterned on a 7-day creation period, you're essentially saying that Evolution doesn't contradict Genesis because you've rewritten Genesis! It's the equivalent of telling a sports fan that the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Washington Senators in the Stanley Cup last year!

"...the biblical accounts challenge the competition..."

Oh, I see. So out of one side of your mouth, you imply they're so radically different that they challenge pagan myths; then out of the other side you say Genesis doesn't contradict a modern myth (a.k.a. Evolutionism; if you define "myth" as a story that you expect someone to believe without having to prove it).

Seems to me that you're contradicting yourself.

JohnFH

No, I agree that Genesis contradicts evolutionism, and so does Ratzinger.

You, on the other hand, fail to distinguish between evolution as a scientific theory and evolution as a pseudo-scientific ideology.

Young earth creationism deserves the same rigid scrutiny you apply, rightly, to evolutionism.

Young earth creationism stands or falls on the correctness of a set of harmonizations made on the assumption that we are supposed to harmonize differences in detail of the kind in question in the first place. That assumption is a product of modern rationalism, and is far from obviously true. The problems with this assumption were laid bare, among evangelicals, by Bernard Ramm long ago. To someone who knows Hebrew, furthermore, the harmonizations young earth creationists propose are not persuasive.

If young earth creationism is on thin exegetical ice, it is on even thinner scientific ice. Perhaps that is by intent.

Young earth creationism is not an attempt to make sense out of the sum total of physical and biological data by induction and deduction, but an attempt to make sense out of the sum total of biblical data by induction and deduction.

I would be more charitable than I am towards young earth creationism, which I tend to view as a reaction to evolutionism, and as such as unedifying as it is, if I saw evidence that young earth creationists were concerned to produce an interpretation of Genesis as rich and insightful as that of Origen, Augustine, Calvin, Barth, or Bonhoeffer.

The authors cited disagree among themselves about the issues which exercise young earth creationists, but have this in common: their exegesis is stunningly rich quite apart from that disagreement.

Could it be that young earth creationism is a magnificent obsession of those at war with scientism, a pernicious ideology to be sure, and of little or no help in understanding the biblical texts it harmonizes for its own purposes? Just saying.

Shawn

Thanks John,
I have no doubt your perspectives will do much for healing wounds between churches. As I imagine you also have many disagreements with the Catholic expression of our shared faith, but I respect your inclination to still learn from aspects of it. I hope Catholicism can do the same. In relation to biblical studies, I believe if it was not for Protestant scholarship, my Church would have never renewed its own biblical studies as it did through Vatican II, late though it may have been. As we say, let us know and we'll get back to you in 100 years:) Keep up the insightful blogging.
S.

G.M. Grena

First, I apologize for the belated response. Second, I apologize for the brash/harsh tone of my previous message with my "side of your mouth" remark; I could've said the same thing with more tact. After posting it, I turned off the computer, & on the way to bed for the night, I was left baffled by how someone could in one moment argue that Genesis & Evolution don't contradict each other, & in the next moment suggest that Gen1 & Gen2 contradict each other. The tone of my response expressed that frustration.

When you say Gen & Evol don't contradict each other, I'm wondering if what you & P.R. are thinking is that Theistic Evolution & a theistic-evolution interpretation of Genesis don't contradict each other. That would make sense to me. I can see how one can derive Theistic Evolution from the mainstream theory of Evolution (by supplying answers it'll never obtain on its own), & how one can put a theistic-evolution spin on Genesis (with some help from a pair of scissors). What you & he are thinking/saying is that A is similar to B, & B is similar to C; therefore, A doesn't contradict C.

I think you're trying to make the point that since Evol explains our origin via one method & Gen explains our origin via another, then in that limited sense (i.e., their function) they don't contradict each other. Again, please correct me if I'm misinterpreting you.

"The accounts in Genesis and the theory of evolution do not contradict one another."

"No, I agree that Genesis contradicts evolutionism, and so does Ratzinger."

On the surface, those 2 statements look like they contradict each other, so barring sarcasm or some other joke I don't get, I'm guessing that you're splitting hairs over the interpretation of "the theory of evolution" vs. "evolutionism". However, according to a couple of online dictionaries, "evolutionism" is "a theory of biological evolution" or "belief in biological evolution". There's no distinction. But just out of curiosity, can you actually cite a quote from P.R. where he explicitly says that Gen contradicts Evol?

"You ... fail to distinguish between evolution as a scientific theory and evolution as a pseudo-scientific ideology."

Well by that logic, you can say that nothing contradicts anything, because you can always relegate something to pseudo-ideology land. In other words, an atheist doesn't contradict a monotheist if you view their contradictory beliefs as pseudo-scientific ideologies. But if that's really the direction you were headed in your original post, it was still erroneous of you to say, "The results cannot be directly compared." Yes they can! One ideology posits a random, godless appearance of everything in a particular order over a particularly long timeline while the other posits a completely different order over a relatively short timeline by a purpose-driven God.

I want to insert a comment here to another remark you made:

"But it is quite possible to ... hold that evolution is an element of that intelligent design."

There's a huge difference between saying that Evol & Gen don't contradict each other, & then halfway through the discussion inserting a clause that Evol could be an element of Gen (although ID doesn't specifically reference Gen, I think you get my drift). That's called cheating! And Evol can't be an element of Gen because it's boundless by definition, whereas God puts boundaries in Gen: plants only produce plants, birds only produce birds, etc.

And I want to reiterate another statement you made regarding "the cultural matrix from which" Genesis came. How do you know that this cultural matrix did not challenge/distort the (earlier/original) record of Genesis? You're treating your date of it as if it's based on a fact, whereas it's actually based on an assumption.

"Young earth creationism stands or falls on the correctness of a set of harmonizations made on the assumption..."

I disagree (though it's interesting how easily you can see an assumption in a view you're challenging). A record or testimony doesn't need to be harmonized to be correct, it just needs to have a reliable source & a reliable messenger/transmitter.

By definition, God (if God exists) is the only reliable source for determining the sequence of events & duration of the Creation event. By definition, humans are subject to minor errors in transmitting that record (I don't uphold Biblical Inerrancy). Whether Gen 2:19 contains a pluperfect or not is not going to have any effect on the sequence or duration of the Creation event. As I've said elsewhere, don't expect to hear people who use deviations in the Bible's text to prove it wrong/false apply the same logic to prove it right/true. Do the NIV, Berkeley, & Douay "obscure the discrepancies" (as you wrote), or do they rectify a long-existing minor syntax problem with 1 verse?

In other words, if your strongest argument against a harmonization of Gen1 & Gen2 is a dispute over the word-order of 1 verse, then grant the writer/transmitter the allowance of having been imperfect in the past.

"To someone who knows Hebrew ... the harmonizations young earth creationists propose are not persuasive."

Since I'm Hebrew-illiterate, please tell me how Ex 20:11 can mean anything other than that God created everything (including humans) in a 6-day span. It's one thing for you to counter someone's interpretation in the 21st century with your scholarship (which, don't get me wrong, I admire), but it's another thing for you to withstand an imaginary debate with someone who lived in the [pick any BC-century you believe 20:11 was written in] century BC.

"If young earth creationism is on thin exegetical ice, it is on even thinner scientific ice."

According to atheistic & theistic-evolution scientists, you're correct. If the fossil-rich sedimentary rocks found all over the world are the product of a global flood, however, you (& those particular scientists) are wrong. An old age for Earth is not a fact, it's an interpretation of the evidence based on the beliefs that it's old & that there never was a global flood preceded by a very different Earth & atmosphere (i.e., a "very good" one).

Right now, as I understand it, the primary factor for determining Earth's age is a group of meteorites that originated elsewhere. Nobody knows where they came from, what launched them, what they were composed of before they began their journey, what they passed through on their way here, or what Earth was like when they landed here. All of those factors require assumptions. I respect everyone's right to believe those assumptions are legitimate, but like I said earlier, it's a choice. It's either your opinion or the record of someone who claimed to be writing on behalf of God (see the first verse of Ex 20; theologians can believe it was a late insertion by the same person who invented Gen1, but I wouldn't want to go skating with them).

I choose to believe the simplest/obvious interpretation of Gen1 coupled with Ex 20:11 because it makes the most sense to me. Even if I did not believe Gen, I would be a faulty scientist (the profession by which I've earned my living for the past 2 decades) if I failed to take into consideration the effects a global flood would have on the evidence. Unfortunately, the aforementioned majority of scientists are guilty of this, & they are completely unaware that the ice is equally thin under them. If anything, it's getting thinner under them as new discoveries are made each year corresponding with Gen (e.g., tropical forests at the poles, immense complexity of the microscopic world, & dinosaur soft-tissue preservation; induction & deduction would never have predicted these discoveries in a million years).

"Young earth creationism is not an attempt to make sense out of the sum total of physical and biological data by induction and deduction..."

Scientists are supposed to be unbiased & open-minded. The technology for making cement & pottery is very old, & dates back into the 2nd millennium BC. Any geologist who doesn't consider the possibility that sedimentary rocks (found all over the mere 20% of the planet not covered by H2O) were formed by a global flood, is either biased or ignorant. Earlier you praised P.R. for being open minded. Are you & he open to this possibility?

The point I keep hammering over & over is that mainstream/secular scientists don't reach their conclusions by induction/deduction of the sum total. If you really believe they do, you're simply wrong. Massive geological rock formations can occur in less than 1 year. Coal, oil, & diamonds can be formed in less than 1 year. Animals can--actually, have to--be fossilized in less than 1 year.

(And by the way, to any Christians who don't believe God could've created stars & animals fully formed in 2 days, I would ask how they would scientifically date the wine Jesus changed from water. And if they don't believe in miracles, I would ask if they think Paul was nuts in 1Cor 15:12-19. And if they think Paul & the other NT writers were nuts, I'd like to submit that they're not actually Christians. In an effort to remain tactful, I'm not going to quote Paul's opinion of them!)

Millions of years & the entire notion of "prehistory" are unnecessary inventions that scientific evidence doesn't demand. It may be a valid interpretation, but it's not the only interpretation, & nobody has the authority to say it's the correct interpretation, not even P.R. himself.

I don't blame P.R. or anyone else for wanting to harmonize Evol & Gen; it seems a noble objective. But anyone attempting to do this should recognize that it's far easier & more academically legitimate to harmonize Gen1 & Gen2. The plants-humans order of Gen1 differs from the humans-plants order of Gen2 simply because the context of Gen1 is the entire planet, whereas Gen2's context is a special garden.

"...as unedifying as [YEC] is..."

I've been a Catholic & a theistic-evolution Protestant, & I've endured a public school's & a secular university's attempts to indoctrinate me with Atheism. I can say unequivocally that my knowledge/science of theology, history, & physics has never been more unified & edified since I took the time to consider Young-Earth creationism [YEC]. I studied it in depth for an entire year & know of nothing that disproves/invalidates it. I can say the same thing for atheistic Evol (i.e., nothing disproves/invalidates it), but I can't say the same thing for theistic Evol. The latter is a modern invention that has no support from secular science or the Bible (unless you modify it by removing Gen1 & Ex 20:11, in which case you may be left wondering why your God would place Sabbath-keeping on par with the other 9 commandments).

YEC is the only theology that successfully addresses the question plaguing most rational minds: Why would a loving God create such a violent world full of death, disease, & suffering?

"...produce an interpretation of Genesis as rich and insightful as that of Origen, Augustine, Calvin, Barth, or Bonhoeffer."

I admire/respect you, John, for the depth/breadth of your background. I would love to take the time to read & contemplate everything written by those writers, but I know I won't be able to in this lifetime. I've found YEC to be very satisfying from a historical perspective, & I've found other OT & NT writings rich & insightful enough to last a lifetime, though I admit I also thoroughly enjoy an occasional debate.

"Could it be that young earth creationism is a magnificent obsession..."

I'll defer that answer to the day when you & I can query the writer of Gen1 & Ex 20:11 firsthand.

"...of little or no help in understanding the biblical texts it harmonizes for its own purposes? Just saying."

It's own purposes? When Jesus harmonized Gen1 & Gen2 in Matthew 19 & Mark 10 (regarding Divorce), whose purpose did He have in mind, & would you fault Him for it?

And would you say He helped or hurt our understanding of Gen1 & Gen2?

And would you deduce from His exegesis that humans are the product of millions of years of biological evolution?

Just asking...

JohnFH

G. M. Grena,

thank you for a thoughtful post. I'm on a mission trip in northern WI, and have just a few minutes to spare.

I've considered the possibility that the geological record is left over from a universal flood. The sequence we have, however, with distinct layers corresponding to distinct sets of species, cannot be explained by the hypothesis that they were laid down in a single catastrophe.

In general, I think you are very aware of the assumptions others make, which is fine. But you are in denial about the ones which you make. I doubt a fruitful discussion will take place until you recognize that you, too, proceed on the basis of assumptions and an interpretation of facts, just as the rest of us do. You do not occupy some kind of assumption-less higher ground from which you can peer down on the rest of us.

I have a question for you. I have friends who subscribe to YEC, and while I disagree with them on this point, I have never said and never thought that YECers are anything but well-intentioned believers. The example of their faith has a positive influence on my life.

Are you able to say the same thing about scientists who understand God to be the creator of all this it is in the sense of predisposing an evolutionary process that led to, for example, homo sapiens - I am thinking of people like Polkinghorne, Collins, Jaki, and Miller, and closer to home, members of my own congregation who are scientists? Of course you disagree with them on questions that relate to their areas of scientific specialization, and more especially, it seems to me, on questions of biblical interpretation (their 'assumptions,' as you rightly call them; I repeat, you have another set, but do not regard them as such). But are you able to praise God for the fact that people like Polkinghorne and Collins make no bones about their
commitment to Jesus Christ in the public square, even though they adhere to a theistic explanation of the origin of all things at variance with yours?

If you are not able to do so, that means YEC is status confessionis for you. The faith stands or falls on YEC. I'm hoping you will tell me you are not of this opinion.

G.M. Grena

"I'm on a mission trip in northern WI,..."

That is very cool/admirable, & I appreciate your taking time to respond. I wish you a very safe, fruitful trip!

"The sequence we have, however, with distinct layers corresponding to distinct sets of species, cannot be explained by the hypothesis that they were laid down in a single catastrophe."

Yes they can. The fact that you repeated "distinct" the way you did shows that you've been successfully programmed to not only believe a lie, but to proclaim it in a public forum. Bummer! A quick scientific demonstration of this is the fact that if species overlap & evolve into other species, there should be no major distinction between the contents of adjacent layers--only minor variations. Otherwise, it would (& is) rather hard to explain why cyanobacteria have been around through all the allegedly "distinct" layers, not to mention many other of God's creatures. Are crocodylia only present in 1 layer, or throughout a range? How about worms? Did they all become extinct hundreds of millions of years ago & never cohabit Earth with humans?

For the most part, the layers are imaginary & their contents are not always distinct. You can't even find many of them at most places on Earth! There are only a few small places on the planet where representatives from each have been found. A cursory presentation in typical school textbooks (a single drawing) gives the erroneous impression that they can be found anywhere you dig, & their contents are consistent, sort of like human-occupation strata in Israel.

A specific analogy would be sites in the Shephelah--Lachish, Timnah, & Beth Shemesh, for example--each of which can be clearly correlated from bottom to top with respect to the Assyrian conquest, Babylonian conquest, then Persian/Hellenistic occupation.

Now compare 3 major geologic formations only about 50 miles apart from each other--Grand Canyon, Zion National, & Bryce Canyon parks. Each one peaks out at around 9,000 feet above sea level, & each one contains layers that date to completely different times--imaginary times assigned as such because the top layer of Grand corresponds geologically to the bottom of Zion, & the top of Zion corresponds to the bottom of Bryce. I read a few mainstream explanations for this & they sound like fairytales where vast seas appear out of nowhere & the ground rises & falls huge distances at one place but not at the others only 50 miles away ... scenarios that require a great deal of imagination.

A far more satisfactory explanation is the recession of a global flood over the course of a year or so (Gen 8:3; tell me if the Hebrew does or doesn't say the waters receded by coming/going like a tide sloshing around instead of a single recession like someone pulling the drain plug in a bathtub). Obviously as the waters receded & upheavals were occurring (Psalm 104:8, "up rose the mountains, down sank the valleys"; please don't ask me to believe the writer plagiarized the Hymn of Aten rather than vice versa), the tides would be depositing sediments in piles, the same way you can see it happening on a much smaller scale at beaches, or even rivers & creeks after floods. If you look at a vertical slice, the material in the bottom of one pile will appear to ramp up to the top of a nearby pile that had been washed up earlier.

As for the "distinct sets of species", consider dinosaur fossils. If their existence were truly limited to a middle-period (230M-65M imaginary years ago), you'd always find them at about the same depth, & you'd always find "older" organisms beneath them & "later" organisms above them. You don't. Dino fossils have been found in deep quarries as well as very close to the surface. That's why every now & then a so-called Living Fossil appears to the amazement of evolutionists, but not to creationists; ditto for the consistency (i.e., non-evolution) of cyanobacteria over the past billion years!

Have you ever considered what you'd find in a slice of sedimentary layers following a flood? Would you be shocked to find small sea-dwelling creatures near the bottom & large land-dwelling creatures near the top? Does a dead clam float to the surface the same way a drowned human usually does? So when you see a fictitious drawing of a vertical slice of geology in a textbook, does your unbiased deductive reasoning immediately assume that large vertebrates evolved from small invertebrates?

I've found that Evol-proponents have answers/excuses for all of these things. They argue to protect their dogma the same way YECs argue to protect Biblical Inerrancy. No position can be held without having to explain anomalies. It's just as easy to use the old adage for either of them, "For those who want to believe [X], no explanation is necessary; for those who don't want to believe [X], no explanation is possible." You can insert "Evol" or "Gen" in there depending on your bias.

One Old-Earther told me confidently that isochron dating is indisputable proof of geologic ages, demonstrating a perfect correlation with depth. I asked about the isochrons in layers at Grand/Zion/Bryce. That ended the discussion. Some would've accused that person of being in denial, but not me; I was too busy laughing.

"But you are in denial about the [assumptions] which you make. ... (...you have another set, but do not regard them as such)."

If you can name an assumption I'm denying, I'd like to hear it so I can affirm it explicitly in this public forum. I have a very rational mind. I've assumed there's no supernatural realm, & found it contradicted by numerous things I can't explain, the intricately woven tapestry of the Biblical texts being first & foremost. So yes, I've assumed the counter-position--that God exists--& I'm confident in that belief based on everything I've studied.

I think the odds are rather overwhelming for any resident of the ancient Near East to have invented a global flood, & be so lucky as to have atheistic geologists finding billions of dead things trapped in sedimentary rock layers all over the planet some 2, 3, or 4 thousand years later (pick any BC millennium you'd like for the earliest composition of any Flood narrative--Jewish or Sumerian).

Likewise, I think the odds are just as staggering for the writer of Gen to have dreamed up a world so mild where people could walk naked, plus insert a detail about mist rising up from the ground to water the place, & then here I am thousands of years later reading atheistic textbooks describing tropical forests at the poles, & I'm surrounded by upperclass residences with in-ground sprinkler systems!

A YEC looks at staggering odds like this & believes in Gen because of them; an evolutionist looks at staggering odds against random chaos producing logical order (e.g., DNA) & believes in Evol despite them. Getting back to P.R.'s assertion, I'd say they not only contradict each other, but that Evol requires more blind faith!

"I doubt a fruitful discussion will take place until you recognize that you, too,..."

Ain't I the same guy who said earlier that everybody has a choice to make? Or did you miss that? I proceed on the basis of assumptions (e.g., the writer[s] of Gen1 & Gen2 had help from the only possible eyewitness) & an interpretation of facts (e.g., if there's no God, Evol makes sense & is valid; I've said this repeatedly here & elsewhere).

"You do not occupy some kind of assumption-less higher ground from which you can peer down on the rest of us."

Don't worry; the noisy jerks currently living in the apartment above me won't let that happen! (I've been playing Iron Maiden on my PC while composing this response to help drown them out a little. Nothin' like a little "Hallowed Be Thy Name" to keep me focused!)

"Are you able to say the same thing about scientists who understand God to be the creator ... predisposing an evolutionary process that led to ... homo sapiens...?"

Yes. I believe that the reason God created everything & put Adam in the garden was to obtain the one thing that can't be created--Faithfulness/Trustworthiness. Adam had it all & blew it. Now the tables are turned. We have nothing but the onus probanti. God's still looking for the same thing though, & the reward for us will be the same: A very good place full of fun-loving herbivores (including wolves, leopards, lions, bears, snakes, vipers, & T. rexes).

Everybody's born faithful. Most people become less trustworthy the older they get. Do you know of any babies who refuse to be fed because they don't trust the person feeding them?

So no, I don't believe (as many YECs do) that you have to be a member of a particular denomination to get God's attention. God is just as interested in atheistic scientists as Christian missionaries.

The benefit of being a YEC is in being able to stand firm/confident in the hope we have--we serve a very good, & very reliable God! I feel sorry for any scientist--Christian, atheist, or anywhere in between--who is plagued by questions about what made the Big Bang, how immensely complicated DNA appeared out of random chaos, or why a loving God would make a place where death/disease & sadness/suffering were normal/inescapable.

"But are you able to praise God for the fact that [people who disagree with YEC] ... make no bones about their commitment to Jesus Christ in the public square...?"

Hallelujah! I hope they're faithful to the end so they can be useful to God throughout eternity! I hope that they can adequately defend their faith as being based on an authoritative, unchanging record DISTINCT from their own imagination (i.e., liberal theology that goes with the flow, or is blown by the wind like a reed). I hope that any questions they have about theological things that don't make sense to them (such as commemoration of a 7-day week on par with the commandment to not commit murder) will not erode their faith, courage, & character as the teaching of Evol has done to so many (e.g., "After all, I'm just an animal like a monkey that randomly evolved from lifeless minerals", or "What kind of cruel God would let my precious baby die such a horrible death?", or "If Gen was just a literary invention of some Jew, was the rest of the Bible just a figment of someone's imagination?", etc.).

I like being able to say I'm accountable to a God I know because of the record of the same God's faithfulness--available in both paperback & hardcovered sedimentary layers.

"...YEC is status confessionis for you. The faith stands or falls on YEC. I'm hoping you will tell me you are not of this opinion."

I hope my comments up above were satisfactory. (Sorry for making that statement at the end--please don't think I'm saying my words are on "some kind of higher ground"...)

Michael Christensen

I'm not quite sure I was able to follow all of the previous arguments, but I do want to throw in two questions:

1. Since -- as was already pointed out -- the sun wasn't created until the fourth day (1:14-19), how could the preceding "days" possibly be of the exact same nature as the time periods we experience again and again, called "days"? A day is understood in the Hebrew bible as beginning with sundown and continuing through the sunrise until the next sundown -- in other words, since our definition of "day" requires a sun, how can one possibly interpret the "evening and the morning of the first day" (before the "greater light" in the expanse of the sky existed -- the sun) in Gen 1:5 literally?

2a. The main purpose of Gen 1:1-2:3 -- as far I can see -- was to introduce god as the source of cosmic order and meaningful life, as well as to serve as a model from which liturgy and commandments can be derived -- such as in the above mentioned Ex 20:11. What difference does it make in regard to that purpose whether god created the world in -- let's say -- 6 billion years or in 6x24 hours or in six seconds?

2b. Why should one have to take the assertion that HaShem made the world in six days (resembling a typical human time frame for completing one's work) any more literally than the assertion in Gen 3:8-12 that HaShem "moved about" in the garden at a breezy time of day, making a sound and asking questions (resembling typical human behaviour)?

Dannii

1. Genesis 1 gives its own definition of a day: a period of light and dark. What could be more clear than that! While the sun later provided the light, clearly whatever light it was that God made on the first day was satisfactory to define what a day is.

2a. Geologically it doesn't make any great significance. But along with the great ages go great periods of evolution. The real issue creationists have with long ages is that evolution requires death before sin, which they believe contradicts Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. Those passages are where the debate needs to be taken. They're not easy passages to fully understand.

2b. Why could he not be as physical in Genesis 3 as he was in Genesis 18?

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