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Sunday, July 11, 2010 | Comments (82)

Liberals, conservatives, scientists, and philosophers have offered—or demanded—their own interpretation of Genesis. They consult science, Ancient Near Eastern mythology, and even enlist the help of liberal scholars to advance their views. I’ve got a question: Why don’t they take the Creator’s word for it?

It would seem all those who have a different slant on the plain reading of Genesis 1-3 didn’t bother to look at the New Testament. There the Holy Spirit provides irrefutable support for a literal, historical interpretation of Genesis 1-3. Join John MacArthur, as he takes you on a guided tour . . .

Scripture always speaks with absolute authority. It is as authoritative when it instructs us as it is when it commands us. It is as true when it tells the future as it is when it records the past. Although it is not a textbook on science, wherever it intersects with scientific data, it speaks with the same authority as when it gives us moral precepts. Although many have tried to set science against Scripture, science never has disproved one jot or tittle of the Bible—and it never will.

It is therefore a serious mistake to imagine that modern scientists can speak more authoritatively than Scripture on the subject of origins. Scripture is God's own eyewitness account of what happened in the beginning. When it deals with the origin of the universe, all science can offer is conjecture. Science has proven nothing that negates the Genesis record. In fact, the Genesis record answers the mysteries of science.

A clear pattern for interpreting Genesis is given to us in the New Testament. If the language of early Genesis were meant to be interpreted figuratively, we could expect to see Genesis interpreted in the New Testament in a figurative sense. After all, the New Testament is itself inspired Scripture, so it is the Creator's own commentary on the Genesis record.

What do we find in the New Testament? In every New Testament reference to Genesis, the events recorded by Moses are treated as historical events. And in particular, the first three chapters of Genesis are consistently treated as a literal record of historical events. The New Testament affirms, for example, the creation of Adam in the image of God (James 3:9).

Paul wrote to Timothy, "Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression" (1 Timothy 2:13-14). In 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, he writes, "Man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man."

Paul's presentation of the doctrine of original sin in Romans 5:12-20 depends on a historical Adam and a literal interpretation of the account in Genesis about how he fell. Furthermore, everything Paul has to say about the doctrine of justification by faith depends on that. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Clearly Paul regarded both the creation and fall of Adam as history, not allegory. Jesus Himself referred to the creation of Adam and Eve as a historical event (Mark 10:6). To question the historicity of these events is to undermine the very essence of Christian doctrine.

Moreover, if Scripture itself treats the creation and fall of Adam as historical events, there is no warrant for treating the rest of the creation account as allegory or literary device. Nowhere in all of Scripture are any of these events handled as merely symbolic.

In fact, when the New Testament refers to creation, (e.g., Mark 13:19; John 1:3; Acts 4:24; 14:15; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, 10; Revelation 4:11; 10:6; 14:7) it always refers to a past, completed event—an immediate work of God, not a still-occurring process of evolution. The promised New Creation, a running theme in both Old and New Testaments, is portrayed as an immediate fiat creation, too—not an eons-long process (Isaiah 65:17). In fact, the model for the New Creation is the original creation (cf. Romans 8:21; Revelation 21:1, 5).

Hebrews 11:3 even makes belief in creation by divine fiat the very essence of faith itself: "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." Creation ex nihilo is the clear and consistent teaching of the Bible.

Here’s John’s point: From Creation to the Fall, James, Paul and Jesus all clearly treated Genesis as historical narrative, not mythology or allegory. Now, if we dismiss the literal, historical creation and fall of Adam, how should we understand New Testament references to content in Genesis 1-3? It’s a fair question. Take your answers to the comment thread.


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#1  Posted by Jorge Alvarado  |  Sunday, July 11, 2010at 4:49 PM

"Why don’t they take the Creator’s word for it?"

Because they don't believe in God, or have a wrong view of what He can do. They just want to leave God out of anything scientific, or, at best, they strive to prove God right by using science alone.

"Now, if we dismiss the literal, historical creation and fall of Adam, how should we understand New Testament references to content in Genesis 1-3?"

I think dismissing ANYTHING from the bible is not the way to approach any issue. The whole of the bible must be used. By design, the old testament complements the new.

The christian testimony can not stand if christians choose to leave things out of the bible to avoid conflict.

#2  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Sunday, July 11, 2010at 5:40 PM

People want to say what they want the bible to say. I understand

Genesis cause God told me. I prayed for years and I had to read between

the lines then Jesus open my heart to understand Genesis. I am grateful

for that. When I tried to explain to my family and they don't believe

me. I know they are rejecting God of what He is saying in Genesis. Jamming science and evolution in God's Word makes the foundation crack.

#3  Posted by Steven Hals  |  Sunday, July 11, 2010at 9:21 PM

"Why don’t they take the Creator’s word for it?"

Because they don't WANT to take the Creator's Word for it. I always find it funny that people want to disprove the Bible because "it was written by man." But then they turn around & quote intellectually brilliant scientists, academics, and philosophers. Guess what? All of their writings are also "by man."

In the end, every argument I've heard against the Bible (i.e. it's changed so much since it was written; how do we know what the original text meant? how do you know that your God is the real God) at the end of the day, even if you could prove their claim false, it still wouldn't matter. It rings Christ's Words even truer in the Rich Man & Lazarus story in Luke 16:

29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:29-31, NKJV)

I believe people are not persuaded because they don't want to be, plain & simple. To God be the Glory for his infalliable & ever-reliant Word. May we know it more day-by-day in our walk with Him!

#4  Posted by Jeremy Harris  |  Sunday, July 11, 2010at 10:42 PM

Belief in uniformitarianism conflicts with the Bible. Genesis 5.

#5  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 7:39 AM

Jorge: I believe in God, and I have a very high opinion of "what He can do" -- He's the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. Why do you have such a high opinion of yourself and your understanding of Scripture that you can tell God how He can and can't create? He could have used evolution, creation ex nihilo by divine fiat, sovereign declaration of an ongoing or future process, etc.

The God of the Bible uses process as well as instantaneous miracles -- both are within his power and will. Declaring that you or John MacArthur or anyone else has ultimate understanding of exactly what God did, when He did it, and how is just arrogance and pride. Read past Genesis 1-2 to chapter 3 if you think it's a good idea to substitute your own ideas for God's word -- didn't work out so well there.

#6  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 7:55 AM

David,

The point of this article is that we aren't reliant on our ideas of how and when God created because He told us how (and we can deduce when) He created. Not only did He tell us how, but He affirmed it throughout the Old and New Testaments.

So again, the question is why don't you believe Him? Genesis 3 is a condemnation to those who believe in evolution, not creationists. For creationists, God said it in Genesis 1-3 and repeated it throughout Scripture, so we believe it! For evolutionists, God said something (they're not sure what) in Genesis 1-3 and made reference to it (whatever "it" is) in some places in Scripture.

Who is substituting God's Word here?

#7  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 8:15 AM

Gabriel: You said "The point of this article is that we aren't reliant on our ideas of how and when God created because He told us how... So again, the question is why don't you believe Him?"

I obviously wasn't clear, so let's begin at the beginning -- Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The pastor of the church where I grew up explained this verse to be a sort of topic sentence or summary of the next 6 literal days of creation. My current pastor takes Genesis 1-2 figuratively, so this verse is simply theological. The pastor of a church I've visited believes that Genesis 1:1 is the actual creation ex nihilo ('bara' in Hebrew) at some indefinite point in the past, then the 6 literal days of creation are the shaping and filling of the earth ('asah').

So my question is: which of these interpretations is "what God told us" and which ones are "reliant on our ideas"? How do you know?

My point is, unless God came down and spoke audibly to you, you (and everyone else) have learned to interpret the Bible from a certain perspective and believe Genesis 1:1 to have one certain meaning, which may or not match one of the 3 above. Whatever your interpretation, you probably also disbelieve 2-3 of the above explanations, although those people ALSO honestly believe their interpretation is exactly what God said and what he meant. How and when did your perspective gain priority over the perspective of other sincere, Bible-believing Christians who also believe they are taking God at his Word?

#8  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 8:41 AM

David,

It really is an unfortunate reality that many interpret Genesis 1-3, and the rest of Scripture, in different ways. The same is true of virtually every passage and every theological point. Even on passages that would seem to be the most obvious, do a little search and you'll probably find more than one interpretation.

However this reality is not the result of a lack of clarity in the text, but a lack of consistent application of biblical hermeneutics and exegesis. There is indeed only one true meaning of every text. God has communicated in such a way that His intended meaning is discernible. It is up to the interpreter, then, to approach the text with the right presuppositions and tools to interpret the text.

The reason there are different religions that claim to believe the Bible (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant), and within those religions various denominations that hold a number of different view with varying degrees of importance, is because many people approach the Bible with different presuppositions and tools.

To cut to the chase, here we believe that we should presuppose that Scripture is true and does not err. We believe that God has communicated in normal human language such that we can discern the meaning based on the genre of the material, the grammar, the meaning of words, and the context. We also believe that God Himself breathed out the text, so the meaning is not limited by the human author.

All that to say, we know the literal interpretation of the text is correct because when we apply standard rules of meaning we arrive at a literal interpretation; and that literal interpretation is validated by Jesus, Paul, and many other biblical authors.

So no, God did not speak audibly to me, but He spoke audibly to many people during Jesus' life and gave a literal interpretation to Genesis 1-3. He continues to speak through the written Word through multiple witnesses, as this article points out.

Just to point out, the first and last pastor you mentioned, so long as they agreed with the rest of the text, would likely not have too much to argue about. Though I agree with that last pastor, I wouldn't spend my time arguing whether Genesis 1:1 was a title if that pastor held to a literal interpretation. You should ask your current pastor what exegetical and hermeneutical basis he has for taking Genesis 1-2 figuratively, and how he reconciles that with Jesus and Paul. He should also answer to how he makes the decision that 1-2 are figurative, but 3 is literal. That seems pretty arbitrary.

#9  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 9:05 AM

Gabriel: I'm going to assume that you're neither being condescending nor throwing big words around to sound impressive, so I'll ignore your first 4 paragraphs as obvious groundwork anyone reading this should be familiar with.

However, paragraph 5 is a non sequitir. Every one of the pastors I mentioned accepts the concepts of your first 4 paragraphs and yet believes that their interpretation best meets those criteria. This is such a large topic, why don't you address the example I gave: what is the "literal interpretation" of Genesis 1:1? A plain, straight-forward, hermeneutically-adequate, scholarly reading of the verse can yield views 1 and 3, and I've seen many convincing arguments for view 2 as well.

To the point, you entirely miss my argument with your last paragraph: my childhood pastor (who holds the traditional YEC view) would declare pastor #3 a heretic and have him disciplined by the church if he didn't repent of his Old-Earth Creationist views (he'd probably skip the discipline and just execute pastor #2). In fact, I've read many stated opinions from Sarfati, Gish, Ham, Hovind et al. that people such as pastors 2 and 3 (and you, according to what you said) are what's wrong with the church today, and to experience true revival we must root out the evil among us to restore the traditional, historical view of special creation just 6,000 years ago (or 10,000 depending on whom you ask).

You suggest that I ask my pastor more specifically about his views of Genesis 1-2; in fact, I've spent the last 6 years doing so, and they're very sound and reasonable, and are gaining majority support in the academy. They are neither arbitrary nor easily dismissed, as you imply. (Your assumptions regarding his view of Genesis 3 are both incorrect and incidental to the main point.)

If you wish to continue the discussion, please address the issue of differing interpretations of Genesis 1:1 by conservative, Evangelical, Hebrew-reading scholars who hold to the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible in light of your argument that "there is only one true meaning of every text, and that God has communicated in such a way that His intended meaning is discernible."

#10  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 9:41 AM

David,

Not quite the response I was expecting :). I was not intending to be condescending or trying to sound impressive.

You can find my explanation of Genesis 1:1 here. Subsequent comments explain the difference between "heavens" in vs. 1 and "heaven" in verse 8.

Could you give one biblical reason your current pastor has to take Genesis 1-2 figuratively? What in the text makes him take it that way? All those pastors might assent to standard rules of interpretation, but whether they actually use them consistently is another matter. I submit that your current pastor has no exegetical reason for taking Genesis 1-2 figuratively; or does he?

Can you explain how paragraph five of my previous comment is a non sequitir? If "Scripture interprets Scripture" is a valid principle of interpretation, then what Jesus, Paul, and other biblical authors taught about Genesis 1-3 should match what we come up with; and if it doesn't, then we are wrong.

please address the issue of differing interpretations of Genesis 1:1

This issue has been addressed many times since this blog series started at the end of March. Among the reasons for differing opinions is some scholars (like Bruce Waltke) succumb to scientism and think we need to trust science more than Scripture. Scholars who reject a literal interpretation make their own personal subjective determination of how much scientism to believe in. Some accept it all and embrace evolution, some accept an old earth but not evolution. How OEC folks decide what science to accept and what to reject is beyond me, but I attribute it to a realization that evolution is incompatible with Scripture, but since they think that and old earth is compatible, they'll re-interpret Scripture to accommodate that.

It has been said that exegesis is as much an art as much as it is a science. Some are better at it than others. Some don't really do exegesis at all but claim (or think) they do. Hebrew scholars who are not young earth creationists have admitted that if you take the text literally you have to be a young earth creationist (I need to track that quote down), but some reject the literal interpretation for other reasons (like a desire to accommodate to science).

Once an interpreter rejects the literal interpretation, they can do whatever is right in their own eyes. If Genesis 1-2 should be taken figuratively, what does it actual mean? How do we decide?

As for Genesis 1:1, young earth creationists (YEC) can take it as either a title or the first step in creation. Clearly I think that the "title" view has less explanatory power since the Hebrew grammar is structured such that verse 2 is parenthetical which would make an odd first verse. Nevertheless the issue isn't how one takes Genesis 1:1, but how one takes Genesis 1:1-3:34.

If it's not all literal, how does one determine where to break it up between figurative and literal?

#11  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 10:42 AM

Gabriel: I don't have the time or the education to go over the last 40 years of work my pastor has done on the issue of origins -- he has a doctorate in New Testament and has studied archaeology as well, so I'm sure he has his reasons (biblical and extrabiblical) and I'm also sure I couldn't do them justice in this blog comment. One thing I can say is that I oversimplified by claiming his view is "figurative" -- if I understand his perspective correctly, he holds that a literal, proper hermeneutic of the text in its cultural context with special emphasis on the meaning to the author and audience *requires* a reading other than YEC; the ancient Hebrews wouldn't even understand the modern debate over this issue.

I suppose I misunderstood your perspective; I've never heard of a YEC who takes 1:1 to be the creation of all time, space, matter, and energy and still holds to a literal 168-hour creation week. e.g. John Piper argues for OEC on the basis of 1:1 being the general creation, while 1:3-34 is the creation week which occurs at an indefinite time following the original creation. I suppose this allows for YEC (if the gap is minuscule) as well as gap theory, some forms of progressive creation, and OEC. Personally I find it to be a stretch, but that's probably the bias of my upbringing in the "topic sentence" tradition.

I'm a biologist and not a Bible scholar so my understanding of the text is somewhat secondary, but my current view is that chapters 1-11 are somewhat prehistoric and perhaps allegorical or "figurative", to abuse the term. I've read that there's some textual support to divide Genesis there, as the genre and style changes radically as does the method and depth of storytelling. I suppose I prefer breaking there also to save myself from the cognitive dissonance imposed on me in childhood of a literal tower of Babel, simultaneous stone, bronze, and iron ages, nephilim, a global flood that left no traces, 900+ year lifespans, etc. but I don't have the Hebrew scholarship to back it up.

#12  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 10:46 AM

Incidentally, I've heard the argument before that Paul and Jesus affirm YEC, but can't make sense of it... don't they also affirm a stationary, flat earth with four corners and a solid dome overhead, with windows to let in the rain? I know Jesus and Paul both refer to sunrises and sunsets, which the Church used to condemn Galileo... how is this argument substantially different?

#13  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 12:22 PM

David,

Regarding your post #12, you'll need to go back through the series of posts and comment discussions to learn why those arguments are without merit. Let me ask you this: where did Jesus and Paul affirm that the earth is stationary, flat, and had four corners? They didn't, nor did any other Scripture writer.

Regarding your lack of Hebrew scholarship, none of us here are Hebrew scholars, nor does one need to be in order to properly interpret Genesis 1-11. Unlike your assertion, there is no break in the text between Genesis 11 and Genesis 12. The language doesn't change; the genre doesn't change; nor does the style change. The depth of detail changes only because it begins to focus certain persons, but Genesis 6-9 focused on Noah, so it isn't a drastic change from before.

Also, Piper doesn't argue for OEC, he merely assents to a certain view and acknowledges he hasn't studied it himself.

At first you said your pastor had strong arguments that cannot be dismissed, but now you can't repeat any of them? You don't need to explain all of them, I'd just like to know one reason taken from the text itself that causes one to take the text figuratively. If you are so convinced of his arguments, perhaps we can discuss them one at a time (at least one or two of them)?

Regarding why we shouldn't put too much weight on what the original readers would understand, see my comment here.

If you'd prefer not to discuss your pastor's arguments, can you answer the question of today's post? How should we understand New Testament references to content in Genesis 1-3?

#14  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 12:26 PM

David writes,

If you wish to continue the discussion, please address the issue of differing interpretations of Genesis 1:1 by conservative, Evangelical, Hebrew-reading scholars who hold to the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible in light of your argument that "there is only one true meaning of every text, and that God has communicated in such a way that His intended meaning is discernible."

There could very well be a variety of reasons why evangelicals take differing interpretations of Genesis. That doesn't make their reasons right nor their interpretive grid they utilize to study Genesis right either. The one specific reason we see such a variety of interpretations, however, is that outside presuppositions are more than likely brought to bear upon the understanding of the text. The popular presupposition these days is what really amounts to the unfounded belief that a high level of unquestionable infallibility exists in the so-called scientific "evidence" evolutionary science utilizes to explain the origin and history of the earth. As we have seen here at our blog the last couple of months, one's commitment to which hermeneutic one takes to read Genesis depends on how high a premium one places upon the infallibility of that "evidence."

David continues,

I'm a biologist and not a Bible scholar so my understanding of the text is somewhat secondary, but my current view is that chapters 1-11 are somewhat prehistoric and perhaps allegorical or "figurative", to abuse the term.

Actually, there isn't any grammatical or syntactical reason why chapters 1-11 should be separated from the remainder of the book. Chapter 11 moves right along into chapter 12 seamlessly. People insist on distinguishing 1-11 from the remainder of the book because what is recorded in chapters 1-11 messes with their sensibilities; what you sort of admit in your comment. People don't live to be 900 years of age now, so they couldn't back then, either, so we have to re-read the text or make it a myth. The same could be said about a perfect paradise, a talking snake, a flood, an ark with a bunch of animals, and the tower of Babel. But if we are going to take the book of Genesis as a myth and the stories contained in 1-11 as figurative or metaphorical, then we are basically condemned as sinners because of something a metaphor did in a story. The NT, however, treats Adam as a real, historical person and his sin as a real and historical event. One for which the real, historical Jesus died for sinners.

David continues,

Incidentally, I've heard the argument before that Paul and Jesus affirm YEC, but can't make sense of it... don't they also affirm a stationary, flat earth with four corners and a solid dome overhead, with windows to let in the rain? I know Jesus and Paul both refer to sunrises and sunsets, which the Church used to condemn Galileo... how is this argument substantially different?

So Jesus, who is God in flesh, couldn't make sense of the creation? Our very sovereign creator who created all things as John 1:1-3 affirms?

To be honest with you, no, Paul and Jesus did not affirm a stationary, flat earth with four corners and a solid dome over it. That is an urban legend cooked up during the Enlightenment. We have already been over this particular point a dozen times here, so it would be helpful if you were to go through the other posts and read through the comments.

I wrote about this myth at my own personal blog you can read here:

http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2010/05/raqia-and-ancient-cosmology.html

By the way, on the NASA website, heavens-above website, and the weather channel website, they all refer to the sun rising and the sun setting. What are we to make of that?

#15  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 12:27 PM

I've never heard of a YEC who takes 1:1 to be the creation of all time, space, matter, and energy and still holds to a literal 168-hour creation week.

Just to clarify, I haven't either, since that isn't what you said before. I said some take it as a title/summary of the chapter, and some (myself included) take it as step 1 on day 1 including the creation of some things (e.g. like the planet).

#16  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 12:55 PM

Gabriel: Honestly, I'm not unwilling to discuss my pastor's arguments and viewpoints (or my own), although I know I couldn't do his justice in this forum, and mine are regrettably not well documented and sometimes not fully reasoned and defended (we all work within the time and other limitations we have). It's just that I'm self-employed and behind on my mortgage, so sitting around chatting about theological matters of origins isn't paying the bills (unlike my pastor, I haven't figured out how to swing that yet :-).

I originally jumped in here because I was incensed by the old canard thrown out by Jorge that anyone who doesn't hold to the hyper-literalist, minority opinion that God created ex nihilo exclusively by divine fiat in 168 hours just 6,000 years ago does so because they don't believe in God or the Bible. My intention was to simply raise my hand and say "that's bull, can we stick to real arguments and not strawmen?". Like Kenneth Miller, I refuse to stand in the same corner as militant atheists who use their a priori commitment to philosophical naturalism to deny the existence of God or the authority of the Bible, yet I find the evidence for evolution and long ages overwhelming (and occupationally necessary); so I'm forced to find some workable position that maintains a firm grasp on reality (as I see it) without sacrificing my commitment to biblical inspiration and inerrancy. My entire intention was simply to ask for grace toward those of us stuck in the middle, as it were.

But then I overstepped my knowledge and time constraints after reading a few more comments that prompted me to assert that it's a little arrogant of us to claim that our interpretation of any passage is the only "correct" one, especially when the issue is secondary and the text leaves out a lot of details, and Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, conservative Evangelicals hold differing opinions. I maintain the latter, although I obviously can't argue it with intellectual heavyweights so well versed and educated in their viewpoint that they can prove chapter and verse that they're right and everyone else (including the vast majority of Christians) is wrong.

I'll have to conclude with my original intent, and plead with all of you to consider the possibility that we Evolutionary Creationists may actually be saved, may be motivated by concerns other than our hatred of God and the Bible, and may actually hold dearly to the authority of Scripture and struggle sincerely to reconcile it with our functional knowledge of extrabiblical evidence. To paraphrase Galileo, the primary concern of the Bible is to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

#17  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 1:19 PM

David,

I appreciate your candor and humility in acknowledging your deficiencies; certainly we are all deficient in a lot of areas--usually every area. Some people know a lot about a little, some know a little about a lot, some no nothing about anything, but no one, except God, knows everything.

However, since you are a biologist, I would think you, more than most, would really want to have a handle on what the Bible says about origins. Since origins is a theological issue before it is a scientific one (and we would argue it is not a scientific one at all), it would seem that as a believer you would want to make sure you understand God's view of origins and how that relates to your profession. Did God make man out of dust like He said, or did man evolve (and is still evolving)? Did all life come from a single cell or did God create plants, animals, and humans distinct?

The problem with saying that there are believers who struggle reconciling science with Scripture is that it's simply not true. In almost every case science is bestowed more authority, and Scripture is molded to fit science. The struggle is how to morph Scripture, there seems to never be a struggle to change science. Isn't this true?

Also, no one here is saying that a person can't believe in evolution and be a Christian. We are simply saying you can't believe in evolution and interpret Scripture consistently.

It is true that the Bible doesn't necessarily teach how the heavens go, but it does clearly teach how the heavens and earth came.

I would encourage you, as you have time, to go back through this series of blog posts starting at the end of March and read through the posts (and the comments if you can bear it).

Believe it or not it is not occupationally necessary to believe in evolution. There are biologists and scientists almost every field (except perhaps evolutionary biology) who believe in a special creation.

#18  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 1:33 PM

David writes,

I originally jumped in here because I was incensed by the old canard thrown out by Jorge that anyone who doesn't hold to the hyper-literalist, minority opinion that God created ex nihilo exclusively by divine fiat in 168 hours just 6,000 years ago does so because they don't believe in God or the Bible. My intention was to simply raise my hand and say "that's bull, can we stick to real arguments and not strawmen?"

Old canard? David, up until the 1800s pretty much all Christians of all stripes affirmed a creation of the world out of nothing by divine fiat in 6 days 6,000 years ago. It has never been a "minority opinion."

David states,

To paraphrase Galileo, the primary concern of the Bible is to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

True, but the Bible does tell us about man's origin and the history of the earth. That is the issue being raised in the post. Either you accept the history of what the Bible says about our world or you reject it. This is where I don't believe you have really thought through the implications of your theology.

#19  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 2:00 PM

Fred: As I said, I'm really intending not to get pulled back into this argument due to time constraints, but please don't insult me by suggesting that I haven't thought through my position -- I've been working it out since at least 1987, when I first ventured outside my Fundamentalist bubble.

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you, but the glory days of the 1700s and before are over. Almost every mainline Christian denomination has embraced or at least grudgingly accepted some sort of position differing from YEC; this includes many Evangelicals such as myself, and those who like Billy Graham would say, "it's not a primary issue; I'm not going to be distracted from my mission." You're right that most Christians accepted a young Earth before Christian geologists started to discover evidence for long ages back in the 1800s; most Christians also demanded geocentrism on biblical grounds prior to the 1600s, Southern Baptists argued for the biblical affirmation of slavery until late in the 19th century, and there are still those who maintain that the Earth is flat and pictures of the globe taken from space are forgeries because the Bible says so. (I've personally talked with a Pentecostal who believes that dinosaur "fossils" are a trick of Satan, and a different Pentecostal who also believes they're fake but they were put there by God to test our faith.) Not to start a game of "name the fallacy", but you're at least erring via appeal to authority, appeal to tradition, the "every school boy knows" fallacy, and the seemingly-ubiquitous non sequitur.

The inspired, inerrant word of God makes statements in Genesis that describe God as sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe, establishing his supremacy over all other gods and religions, his worthiness of worship, and his authority to judge sin and provide salvation. Fallible, uninspired knowledge of man declares that God's word requires that all this literally happened 6,000 (or 10,000, or 100,000, etc.) years ago exactly as they describe it (however that may be, depending on the person you ask and when you ask -- there is no monolithic creationist position). Fallible, uninspired knowledge of man also concludes that the universe is 14 billion years old and life arose from blind, unguided chance. Personally, I think both are wrong. Someday we'll know fully, as we are fully known; until then, you're just trying to prove that you're right by yelling the loudest, and I won't have it.

#20  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 2:13 PM

David,

To be fair, you did say that your views "are regrettably not well documented and sometimes not fully reasoned and defended" in comment #16.

The problem with saying, "The inspired, inerrant word of God makes statements in Genesis that describe God as sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe, establishing his supremacy over all other gods and religions" is that unless Genesis 1-2 is taken literally God isn't the Creator. If evolution is true then God created a broken and fallen world that has fumbled along. So either Genesis is true in ascribing to God the status of Creator and Sustainer of the universe, or Genesis is ascribing to God something He didn't really do.

According to evolution, God didn't create animals, or man, or vegetation, or institute marriage, or give man a charge to rule the earth, or anything. Some have tried to argue that Genesis 1-2 are figurative representations or creative re-tellings of what actually happened through evolution. The only problem with that is there is zero correlation between Genesis 1-3 and what scientists tell us they think happened. So Genesis 1-3 is either complete fabrication--pure fiction--or it is true.

#21  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 2:26 PM

Gabriel: I can respond to every one of your assertions in comment #20 with "so you say" or "in your opinion." There are defensible, biblical arguments against each of your statements, including views that directly oppose your assertion that God cannot have created via evolution and that Genesis 1-3 is either literally true (as you define it) or a complete fabrication.

I'll go back to my main point: there are many different ways Evangelicals view Genesis 1-11, and the creation story in particular, and all of them think their version is the right one. In the final analysis, you can't say you absolutely know for sure your version is right and a majority of the other 2 billion Christians in the world who don't share your exact view are wrong; or if you do, I think there are more important applications of Genesis 3 here than the date and time.

#22  Posted by Dylan Perkins  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 2:39 PM

I don't think we're going to make much headway here. Religious opinions are just that: opinions. Even the all-important one of how much "authority" to ascribe to the bible, and how much to the natural world, is just that. Where one falls on that continuum seems to dictate how literally one takes the bible.

Interesting discussion anyway. You should stick around David; we had a geologist show up in a couple of the earlier threads, and now we have a biologist.

#23  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 2:54 PM

David and Dylan,

What does Genesis 1-2 mean?

Religious opinions are just that: opinions.

Would you include the resurrection of Christ in that statement? Because there is a ton of disagreement about that in our world.

David,

In the final analysis, you can't say you absolutely know for sure your version is right and a majority of the other 2 billion Christians in the world who don't share your exact view are wrong

First of all, there aren't 2 billion Christians. There may be 2 billion people who think they are Christians, just like 80% of Americans say they are Christians, but it is well documented that most people who think they are Christians simply can't be since they don't believe the Bible at all.

Second, do you find it odd that the first eleven chapters of the Bible would be unintelligible? If the Bible is God's inerrant and inspired Word that will never pass away, why would God breath out such an incomprehensible text (as you see it)? It seems to me that the problem lies in men, not the text.

Again, you should go back and read through the blog posts and comments. If we have missed the silver bullet argument against a literal interpretation, feel free to let us know.

#24  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 4:59 PM

“Also, no one here is saying that a person can't believe in evolution and be a Christian.”

Which is a more dangerous statement? “You can’t believe in evolution and still be a Christian” or “You can believe in evolution and still be saved”. I cannot read the prophets, both the minor and the major, I cannot read the gospels and the epistles, in short I cannot read the whole council of God, I cannot read the sermons of Whitfield, J. C. Ryle and so many others (of course they are all dead, though they yet speak) without being convinced that the former statement is by far the safest statement and in the end, the one most likely to earn you the title of being “a good and faithful slave”.

It is a dangerous thing to speak peace, peace, when in the end, and everything was all said and done, there was no peace (see Micah 3:5, 8, Jeremiah 6:14, and Ezekiel 13:9, 10). Throughout the ages there have been those who honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. God’s true prophets have always been faithful to warn them of the judgment that was to come upon them. Occasionally there were those who heeded the warning. The others were warned nonetheless.

A case in point;

“It's just that I'm self-employed and behind on my mortgage, so sitting around chatting about theological matters of origins isn't paying the bills”- But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…Matthew 6:33

“(we all work within the time and other limitations we have)” - Oh how true! What are our priorities? We have only one life to live! At that, our lives are but a vapor. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world…what can he give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26

“I'm a biologist and not a Bible scholar so my understanding of the text is somewhat secondary” - Priorities, priorities, priorities… “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

“yet I find the evidence for evolution and long ages overwhelming (and occupationally necessary)”- “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24

“My entire intention was simply to ask for grace toward those of us stuck in the middle, as it were.” - Grace, much like liberty, is such a misused word these days! “Grace” is not the tolerance of, or the trivializing of, sin or error. Grace is a supernatural gift of God. One of the characteristics of grace is the supernatural ability to believe His word and act accordingly. Oh, may God grant us the grace, the enabling grace, to be innocent of the blood of all men. –His Unworthy Slave

#25  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 5:28 PM

I have quoted many scriptures in the last many weeks. Many of those scriptures are direct quotes of Christ, including those of earlier today. I have endeavored to quote them accurately and in an appropriate context. If by God’s grace I have been successful, I ask this question. Do we tear those words out of our bibles, or do we, through God’s enabling grace, believe those words, yield to and apply those words to our lives, to the glory and honor of the One who alone is faithful and true? –His Unworthy Slave

#26  Posted by Jorge Alvarado  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 6:07 PM

Hi, David, (this is the Jorge from post #1). From your posts I can see you'd "agree to disagree" with anyone, christian or not if you believe their arguments hold ANY weight, or just to not be "dogmatic".

I'm sorry if I came across as arrogant. It's just that I went through the whole Battle For The Beginning sermon series before I posted here (and, in all humility, I ask you to make time do the same), and I agree with most of what John MacArthur said.

The point could be made that, when he dealt with scientific "facts", since he (as he himself put it) went to scientists for reference, he took what they had to say at face value, or to put it another way, he deposited faith in what they had to say ( and he notes more than one source for his information), he could have gotten more than one "version" of how things happened; yet what he ended up with the sermon series, I think, is in keeping with biblical truths.

The questions posted for us were straight forward, and I attempted to answer them in the most concise way I could.

I will leave you with this: John MacArthur said early in the series " you either believe the bible, or you don't ". The fact that I'm in agreement with him on that doesn't mean you should be to. All I ask of you is to please give the sermon series a listen.

#28  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 7:19 PM

Gabriel: I should have taken your advice earlier to read your other posts. In them you have done an excellent job proving at least one thing: that you are unwilling to give any ground or acknowledge even the most fair-minded, well-argued points. It's reminiscent of Duane Gish, who continued using the same transparencies and making the same discredited arguments decade after decade, even when his fellow YECs had abandoned most of his "evidence" and each one of his points had been soundly refuted many times in many ways by many people (including other creationists).

Do you understand what I mean by "secondary matters"? Obviously the virgin birth, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are all essential doctrines of Christianity, and uniform belief in them is the hallmark of true Christianity. In contrast, while Paul uses some interesting analogies between the "First Adam" and the "Second Adam" to make some theological points, I have never seen anyone being asked to confess their belief in YEC before they were baptized or allowed to take Communion.

I never claimed that the first 11 chapters of the Bible are "unintelligible" -- quite the contrary. Up to this point you had avoided ad hominems and strawmen (i.e. where Fred started and most creationists end up), but I can see your logical arguments have run their course and you're falling back on the old standbys. No one has made any claims to have found "the silver bullet argument against a literal interpretation" -- in fact, you're making my point for me by attempting to use my exact argument against me (apparently another of your favorite tactics). There is no "silver bullet" to refute most creationist views of Genesis 1-11; we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder in agreement again Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Muslims, and atheists, but apparently when they walk away we then turn on each other. It's truly sad, all the energy we expend arguing with each other instead of advancing the kingdom.

As I can see from your other comments, there is no need for me to continue arguing the same points that have been presented to you better and more vociferously by others -- please feel free to continue defending your faith as you feel you must, but I would ask that you take a moment and consider that there might be a possibility that you are wrong on some point, somewhere, at some time. Thanks so much.

#29  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 7:28 PM

Jorge: Thanks for the response. While I understand and appreciate MacArthur's point that you were reiterating, I find statements such as his to be unhelpful and divisive when turned inward toward other members of the flock. Certainly, in discussions with liberal Christians or agnostics I've fallen back on that argument many times -- we have no ground to discuss these issues if they simply dismiss outright the authenticity and authority of the Bible. But when people such as you and I affirm our commitment to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures and still disagree, it's unproductive at best to throw out simplistic statements like "you don't believe the Bible" when the truth is much more nuanced.

I'm glad that you and MacArthur have weighed the evidence and ended up more sure of your faith; my interest in the topic stems from my experience from so-called "both sides" of this debate and my desire to keep Christians on this battlefield from being wounded by "friendly fire." I do intend to listen to MacArthur's lectures on this topic when I have the time (and can get my podcatcher to download them -- having a little trouble with the massive RSS feed). God bless you as you pursue the whole truth of God.

#30  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 7:58 PM

Douglas: I'm sorry, but you're way out of line. I'm not going to take the time and effort to pepper you with proof-texts as you did, but the most relevant I have on my mind these days is 1 Timothy 5:8: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." So please forgive me for prioritizing keeping a roof over my family's head a little higher than arguing with a cabal of close-minded creationists over nuances of nonessential doctrine.

No one is neglecting the state of his mortal soul here or turning a deaf ear to a prophet's calls to repentance -- we're talking about differing Evangelical Christian views of Genesis, for which there likely will not be an adequate resolution until Jesus returns. I don't appreciate your out of context quote from Luke 6:45 that implies I'm evil because I disagree with you, and you're completely twisting Jesus' point in Matthew 6:24, as I doubt he was suggesting that everyone needed to abandon their jobs and their responsibilities so they could lie around and argue minor points of doctrine while their children starved and the rest of the world burned.

"Grace, much like liberty, is such a misused word these days!"

Not everyone starts and stops at a Bible dictionary when using common words. Would you correct someone who described a dancer as "graceful"? Do you thunder in fiery remonstration when a child "says grace" before his meal? Does every woman named Grace need to file for a name change since she blasphemes to call herself the embodiment of one of God's "supernatural gifts"? (In case you're uncertain, the correct answers are "no".)

"'Grace' is not the tolerance of, or the trivializing of, sin or error."

Just to be clear, are you accusing Christian brothers of "sin or error" who differ with you about the meaning and interpretation of a particular passage of Scripture that is nonessential to salvation?

Since you're so handy with that double-edged sword you wield so readily against the brethren (incidentally, were you aware that in Hebrews 4:12 the sword is supposed to be wielded by God, and in Ephesians 6:17 it's to be used "against the devil's schemes", not Christian brothers?), please let me know how you would apply the following verses to your assertions: John 8:7, Matthew 7:1-4, Matthew 7:12, James 3:1. I'm guessing you'll have a "ready defense", but I'm hoping it will at least be amusing if not instructional to see how you use the words of Jesus and his apostles to attack and condemn fellow Christians who are sincerely seeking truth and wisdom.

#31  Posted by Patrick Dunbar  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 9:25 PM

It's not arrogant nor prideful to say you know when or how God established everything in creation, it is basic and simple faith based on His Word. Even a child with a childs mind can accept His Word as fact. The bottom line on why people don't want to believe what God has so clearly said is that if you can remove God from creation then you can make accommodation for your SIN.

If you are unwilling to believe Genesis 1-3 then at least listen to what apostle Paul had to say in Romans 1:16-32 as it reiterates God's message in Genesis; Romans 1:16-3 "16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith." 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." Bottom line - people love their sin and they refuse to come to the light as their sins will be seen.

#32  Posted by Jorge Alvarado  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 9:43 PM

David, you say: "But when people such as you and I affirm our commitment to the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures and still disagree, it's unproductive at best to throw out simplistic statements like "you don't believe the Bible" when the truth is much more nuanced."

2 Timothy 3:16 says to us: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," Now, I will not compare myself to Timothy, let alone Paul, but if that verse applies to us also (does it?), then I beg of you; Use scripture to back up your beliefs. Not just to defend yourself from "attacks", but to prove your point (s).

#33  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 9:59 PM

Gabriel, I am heartened to see that someone came back to the very first question I asked on the "Chicken and Egg" post. Unfortunately, I let myself get distracted into dealing with other arguments. The very point that changed my mind about the YEC interpretation of Genesis had nothing to do with science, but with the relationship between Genesis 1:1 and the rest of the chapter.

If it is a title, then verse 2 begins with the "land" (or earth) already in place, and this creates a problem because then nowhere does Gen 1 tell where the "land" (earth) came from.

If you think it describes step 1 on the first day, this leads to other problems. I find the distinctions you make between the various uses of "heaven" in Gen. 1 unlikely. There is the problem of whether "earth" means the planet, which no one in that day would have understood; they had no concept of a "globe" or a planet. Furthermore, verse two as parenthetical is troublesome, most commentators who hold the traditional translation of verse 1 see verse 2 as beginning a new subject—"Now the land..." You also fail to grasp the merism in verse 1—"the skies and the land" is a way of expressing the totality of creation from the human point of view. Also, you miss the fact that Genesis 1:5 does not say it was the "first day" it simply says "one day," thus designating that the things he is describing did not necessarily take place on the "first day of creation."

In my opinion, it is much more true to the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of Genesis 1 to interpret 1:1 as referring to the creation of everything, in the beginning. Then verse 2 prepares for the subsequent preparation of the land, transforming it from tohu wabohu (an uninhabitable wasteland) to tob (a good land), so that God may fill it with his creatures, set humans over it, bless them, and take his throne to rule (rest).

But if it is taken like this, and I was convinced 25 years ago that this was a better interpretation, then it causes serious problems for a YEC view of creation and their take on what the days "literally" mean.

#34  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 10:45 PM

While Jesus did command us not to be judgmental, He also instructed us to beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15) which requires us to be discerning. There are many scriptures which warn against false teachers who will be in the church (wearing sheep’s clothing). 1 John 4:1 warns us not to “believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Jude 3 tells us to “contend earnestly for the faith,” and I believe that is the aim of many on this blog.

We are to be careful that we rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This means that we must read the scripture carefully to discern what God is saying. It also means that we can perceive what God is saying and can teach it accordingly. The idea that no one can really know what God is saying so we should not be dogmatic and just get along is not biblical. While we should teach with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), we must nevertheless confront with boldness that which we consider false teaching.

I believe Genesis provides foundational doctrine for the gospel. I believe a person can come to saving faith without a full understanding of it, but the heart of a believer will be to draw nearer to God and to know Him better by studying all of His Word including Genesis. Genesis lays the groundwork for understanding man's sinful nature, the cursed world we live in, the hope of a savior who will defeat Satan and atone for our sins. In Proverbs 3:5, we are told not to lean on our own understanding and this applies when we read His word. We don’t start with our ideas (or science) and interpret scripture accordingly but we go to scripture and search for what God is saying, always looking at the context of the passage we are reading and always comparing our understanding with other scripture to confirm our understanding is correct. This blog looks at some of the New Testament passages which confirm a straight forward reading of Genesis. Other blog threads have mentioned the geneaologies, Exodus 20:11, Psalm 33:6 among other verses which also confirm God's miraculous six day creation. The Bible speaks with one voice and the more you read it, the more that becomes clear.

David, I am sorry you are without a job right now. I pray you will find work soon.

#35  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 11:35 PM

Michael,

Glad to have someone answer the question!

Responding to your criticisms of the YEC view:

I find the distinctions you make between the various uses of "heaven" in Gen. 1 unlikely.

Whether it is unlikely is beside the point. I'm willing to be proven wrong on the meaning of "heaven" in 1:1. If someone wants to claim that the merism is being used to refer to the material universe in an unformed state I'm happy with that (who knows, I might even prefer if I thought about it more).

There is the problem of whether "earth" means the planet, which no one in that day would have understood; they had no concept of a "globe" or a planet.

It doesn't matter whether they understood the concept of a globe. God did and He communicated what that He created everything that exists... even the continents that the Hebrew people didn't know about.

verse two as parenthetical is troublesome, most commentators who hold the traditional translation of verse 1 see verse 2 as beginning a new subject—"Now the land..."

It's not troublesome at all. You could put "Now the land" inside a parenthesis. Verse 2 is not introducing a new subject at at; it is explaining something about object created in verse 1. If it is a new subject, the reader would be completely confused "wait, what land? What land is he talking about?"

"the skies and the land" is a way of expressing the totality of creation from the human point of view

So you go with most commentators on verse 2, but you reject most commentators on the translation of the merism? Hmmm... Also, how do you know it is from the human perspective? God wrote it and there were no humans there.

Also, you miss the fact that Genesis 1:5 does not say it was the "first day" it simply says "one day," thus designating that the things he is describing did not necessarily take place on the "first day of creation."

Actually, it literally says "day one" (י֥וֹם אֶחָֽד). Remember, Hebrew reads right to left. The end of verse 8 says, "day two", and so on. Yes, the author is designating what happened on the first day. Perhaps if the text ended with verse 5 you'd have a case, but we have the day-by-day pattern for six days laid out pretty clearly, so we can be confident he is saying what happened on the first day.

As to your interpretation, I'll just ask a few questions to see where you are coming from:

1. If Genesis 1:1 is the creation of everything, does that include animals and humans?

2. If the answer to #1 is yes, then why would God create animals and humans from dust? If the answer is no, then did God create animals and humans from the dust of the ground?

3. What is the light created on the first day? How does separating the waters and creating the sky work if the sky already existed?

4. Why did God create stars in 1:16 if they already existed?

5. If God was preparing the land in that week, what does creating sea creatures and telling them to be fruitful and multiply have anything to do with the land? What that just in the Mediterranean?

I have more questions, but I'll stop there for now. I truly hope you'll take the time to elaborate your interpretation.

#36  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Monday, July 12, 2010at 11:50 PM

David,

I don't think I used an ad hominem (can you point it out?), perhaps I did raise up a straw man or two. I would still be interested in your view of what Genesis 1-2 means.

I have never seen anyone being asked to confess their belief in YEC before they were baptized or allowed to take Communion.

And I would hope that never happens. However rejecting a YEC view is not a solitary decision; it often leads to rejecting other orthodox views, as the organization BioLogos has demonstrated so clearly.

you are unwilling to give any ground or acknowledge even the most fair-minded, well-argued points.

Unfortunately, such is the case with every evolutionist who has visited this blog. Not giving ground isn't a reason to disengage, it is a reason to put forth better arguments. I haven't given ground because no one (except Michael who is now trying) has given sufficient exegetical reasons for rejecting a literal interpretation. The vast majority of evolutionists that have carried on discussions here think that science is somehow more authoritative than science, so they don't win very many points.

please feel free to continue defending your faith as you feel you must

Trust me, if I thought I was trying to defend the faith by debating this issue I would stop right away, as I did on the BioLogos site. My goal is not to win people to Christ through YEC. My goal is to win Christians to a higher trust in Scripture than science.

It's truly sad, all the energy we expend arguing with each other instead of advancing the kingdom.

While I'm not personally prepared to declare evolution a heresy, I do think that it is an erroneous doctrine (and yes, it is a faith-based doctrine) that must be contended against. If there was a blog post on Lordship salvation and someone came in rejecting the necessity of the Lordship of Christ I would debate the issue just as much. Just because a particular issue isn't one of the finer points of the Gospel, that doesn't mean we should all sit back and relish in our differences. We should spur each other toward greater understanding of the biblical text.

take a moment and consider that there might be a possibility that you are wrong on some point, somewhere, at some time.

I will, when someone brings up a valid biblical argument.

#37  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 5:54 AM

Gabriel: Please explain to me how someone can show you from the text that your presuppositions are causing you to look at the text incorrectly. That's like trying to look at the back of your head in the mirror -- no matter what direction you turn, you'll always be influenced by your perspective. You might as well tell me my right hand is actually my left because it's on *your* left side.

Do I really need to point you to verses that advocate humility and graciousness toward your Christian brothers and sisters, the imperfection of the human mind and inherent wickedness of the human heart, and the tendency of fallen man to allow sin and error to influence his understanding of everything, including scripture? One would think that those concepts would give us cause to be humble about any nonessential issue, whether creation or global warming or the price you thought the item was supposed to be at the grocery store when it rings up differently.

#38  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 9:12 AM

Good morning, David.

As I see them, here are my presuppositions: Scripture is God-breathed, inspired, and inerrant. It doesn't make any kind of erroneous claim. What it says, it says in truth regardless of the extent that the original readers would have understood. I believe in Authorial intent, not reader response. I believe that we can get meaning using normal language tools such as grammar, syntax, genre, lexicography, etc. I believe when other biblical authors comment on a text, their interpretation is the right one. Based on those presuppositions, I take the text, written in normal historical narrative, at face value.

You can show me my presuppositions are wrong by demonstrating how they are unbiblical and providing biblical presuppositions in their place.

If you agree with my presuppositions you can demonstrate how I incorrectly apply standard rules of interpretation (exegesis) or how I force external concepts into the text (eisegesis).

So there is a way to conduct civil debates within Christianity to arrive at the truth. If we agree on the presuppositions we can have healthy debates on the text. If we disagree on the presuppositions then debating the text will not prove helpful until the presuppositions are in line.

So far you've make 12 comments and none of them have even begun to deal with the text of Scripture. You've claimed that we can't know what it means (#19), and yet claimed that we are wrong even though you acknowledged you can't defend your position (#11, #16).

As a biologist, I would think you would want to be fairly certain that you have a solid grasp on what the only authoritative text says about the origins of life. It is no different than an archeologist needing to know Scripture better than pagan histories because Scripture is more authoritative. I counsel people who would otherwise see a psychologist, and I want to give Scripture's answers to life's problems before I lean on man's thinking.

Scripture is not a science textbook, it is not a history textbook, and it is not a psychology textbook. But is does provide factual information about our origins, it does give a large amount of factual historical information, and it does contain all we need for life and godliness. So we whatever field we are in, we should make sure we know what God says about that field and do our work in light of God's Word.

One last thing, going back to your statement "you can't say you absolutely know for sure your version is right and a majority of the other 2 billion Christians in the world who don't share your exact view are wrong."

Aside from the out-of-proportion numbers, it's not like there is majority opinion about what Genesis 1-11 means. The vast majority of people, like you, trust what their pastor teaches them but haven't reasoned it out themselves. There are a plethora of different non-literal interpretations out there, most of which come from someone's imagination. The reason most evolutionists are "humble" about their interpretation is because they realize they don't have a leg to stand on. They just believe in science and interpret Scripture through that grid.

So it's not that there is this massive agreement about what the text means, and we are standing on our own telling the majority they are wrong. No, everyone with their own interpretation is telling everyone else they are wrong. The only level of majority agreement is a faith in science which forces them to come up with their own interpretation.

#39  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 2:06 PM

Gabriel, back...after work. Let's stick with Genesis 1:1-2 right now.

You wrote:

"So you go with most commentators on verse 2, but you reject most commentators on the translation of the merism? Hmmm... Also, how do you know it is from the human perspective? God wrote it and there were no humans there." and,

"It doesn't matter whether they understood the concept of a globe. God did and He communicated what that He created everything that exists... even the continents that the Hebrew people didn't know about."

It is always telling when someone has to resort to what amounts to "sensus plenior" in order to explain a text. The point is not what God knew, it's what he communicated in words and to whom he communicated it.

First, I do not reject the standard translation of Gen 1:1. "Heavens and earth" is a legitimate translation. The words in English can be perfectly synonymous with "Skies and land." But to our modern ears, "heavens and earth" brings up different pictures in our minds.

When we read "heavens and earth" today, we do so as 21st century people with our own conceptual framework that has changed with advances in scientific knowledge over the centuries. We have atlases and globes in our houses. We have Google Earth. We have seen pictures of the planet from outer space! We think "globe" and "planet" when we hear "earth." We think of that "little blue ball fallin' around the sun" that James Taylor sang about.

But God didn't give his Word at first to 21st century humans. He gave it to people who observed the world by looking out across the land and looking up at the skies. That was their conceptual framework.

Proper hermeneutical method starts with trying to grasp the author's intent and what his words would have meant to his original hearers. The fact that God wrote it is not in question here, but rather how he communicated it in a language that fit the conceptual framework of his first readers.

Their framework was phenomenological; they saw the world primarily as it looked from where they were standing. Our framework is scientific; we see the world through tools and models that have been developed and applied, and this has allowed us to observe it from drastically different perspectives.

If what you are saying is true, the early Hebrews could not have really understood Genesis 1:1. God knew what he meant, but he communicated it in words that could only be fully understood later in time, when our knowledge had sufficiently advanced.

#40  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 2:18 PM

Michael,

You are right that when we think "heavens and earth" we think of the universe, but the Hebrews probably were limited to what their eyes had seen, distant lands they had heard of, and what they saw when they looked up. That doesn't change anything.

They would have understood, just as we understand, that God made everything. The writer of Hebrews made this explicit in Hebrews 11:1-3.

If what you are saying is true, the early Hebrews could not have really understood Genesis 1:1.

I have no doubt they did not fully understand Genesis 1:1. Just like I don't fully understand what is going on under the hood of my car, but I know in very general terms what is going on.

I'd like you to move on from Genesis 1:1-2 because at this point the rest makes no sense of your interpretation of 1:1-2. Context is key; you can't determine what 1:1-2 means apart from the rest of the text.

#42  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 3:37 PM

Gabriel, rather than take up space and time here, let me just direct you to my post on Internet Monk: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/another-look-my-view-of-genesis-1.

You'll find (and disapprove of) my interpretation as a combination of the approaches of Sailhamer (mostly), Waltke, and Walton, plus my own study.

As I said on the "Chicken and the Egg" post, we should read Genesis 1 and following as the introduction to the Torah, with the (inspired) intent of its author and the conceptual framework of its original readers first and foremost in mind.

#43  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 4:02 PM

Michael,

Thanks for that... I know sometimes we get queasy about attaching names to our theology, but it is actually quite helpful in determining where we are coming from. I am impressed by your theological eclecticism. Combining Sailhamer, Waltke, and Walton is quite a feat since their views all contradict each other. Has your eclectic view been adopted by anyone? (this is a serious question)

There is no possible way that we will be able to have a profitable discussion because our interpretations are so vastly different. However, if you haven't read any critiques of your position (or Sailhamer's specifically), you should read this, and you can find other critiques in this blog comment.

Nearly three years ago today you posted a comment Darren Larson's blog regarding Sailhamer's view. Regarding Genesis you said, "(1) It must be understood from a pre-scientific perspective, (2) it must be understood from the perspective of a human observer, not from a cosmic point of view, (3) it must be understood as the text that introduces the main themes of the Torah."

(1) Is that how we should view all miracles in the Bible? (2) Says who? (3) Why?

What support do you have for forcing these requirements on the text? It seems to me reading the Promised Land into Genesis 1-3 has no support in Scripture.

#44  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 4:41 PM

Gabriel, you wrote: "What support do you have for forcing these requirements on the text?

I don't think I'm "forcing requirements" on the text. You may disagree, but what I'm trying to do is to apply an appropriate hermeneutic to the text, namely:

1. Read a passage in the context of the book in which it is written.

2. Read a passage trying to understand the author's intent.

3. Read a passage trying to grasp the situation of the original readers and what the text would have meant to them.

You wrote: "Combining Sailhamer, Waltke, and Walton is quite a feat since their views all contradict each other."

In some details their views contradict each other, yes, but in other ways they are wonderfully complementary. For one example:

(1) Sailhamer focuses on the "Promised Land" as the focus of the seven days, and draws parallels between the way it is portrayed here with the Garden as well as the Tabernacle and Temple.

(2) Waltke explains how the course of the six days when God worked is organized into a literary pattern of two triads marked by God "forming" and "filling" his world.

(3) Both Sailhamer and Waltke separate the six days of "creation" from Genesis 1:1 and see the creation days as representing acts of God subsequent to the initial creation of the cosmos.

(4) Walton's unique contribution is an understanding of the ANE cosmological (not mythological) background. He brings this out by emphasizing functional organization as the emphasis of God's work rather than material creation, and by noting that the pattern and vocabulary used leads us to see Gen 1 portraying God the Creator as a King constructing a temple for his glory, with humankind as his representatives in the world, and then taking his throne (resting) on the seventh day.

Finally, you wrote: "It seems to me reading the Promised Land into Genesis 1-3 has no support in Scripture."

I realize this is a controversial point, nevertheless I am persuaded of it at this point. In fact, if you trace the geography of Genesis 1-11 carefully, you will see that there really is no emphasis on "lands" beyond the "land" until you get to ch. 10 and the dispersal of the nations in ch. 11. The sole geographical focus until then is on the area of the ancient near east.

I recognize there are other views, and I always enjoy hearing and reading them. From many of them, I gain new insights. Please know that where I am now is the result of over 25 years of studying and thinking about these things. It was Dr. Sailhamer's teaching back in the early 80's that set me on this course, and I owe him a great deal.

#45  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 5:02 PM

Gabriel, I thought your other question deserved another comment.

You wrote: "(1) IIs that how we should view all miracles in the Bible? (2) Says who? (3) Why?"

To be honest, I don't really see the applicability of the question. I have read other comments here and elsewhere saying something like, "If we applied the same hermeneutic to the resurrection, we'd throw that out too." But I just don't see that.

I've given you my hermeneutic, and I think it applies across the board. The discipline of hermeneutics doesn't speak to issues like the historicity of the text. That generally falls into the realm of apologetics, whereas hermeneutics is focused on the meaning of the text for its readers. I'm not trying to divorce meaning from history, I'm just saying that interpreting the text and determining the historical claims of the events described involve two complementary, but different areas of study.

#46  Posted by Landon Lehman  |  Tuesday, July 13, 2010at 6:18 PM

Gabriel,

You wrote to Michael, "There is no possible way that we will be able to have a profitable discussion because our interpretations are so vastly different."

I have some questions. How do you see your hermeneutic (not interpretation) differing from Michael's? Michael's context and authorial intent fall into your "normal language tools." Do you just differ in the relative importance you would place on the viewpoint of the people to whom the text was first written?

And, more importantly, can you point to the Bible to defend your hermeneutic over and above Michael's? I must confess that I am somewhat bewildered about how you got all of your "presuppositions" from Scripture itself.

And, perhaps even more importantly, does the Bible say that all hermeneutical principles used in its interpretation must be derived from its own text?

#48  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 8:41 AM

Landon,

How do you see your hermeneutic (not interpretation) differing from Michael's?

That's a fair question. At a strictly exegetical level, I'm sure we would use similar principles. Even there, though, there would be differences in the application of grammar. For example, he sees 1:2 as introducing a new subject chronologically subsequent to verse 1; I think that is contrary to the grammar (reading a Hebrew grammar book would solve this difference, and I think, of course, in my favor).

Also, Michael imports a number of later complex themes into the text which become the grid of his interpretation. Themes of the Promised Land and the Temple. Bringing these into the text is pure eisegesis. The Promised Land doesn't come into the biblical picture until chapter 12, and there is no correlation anywhere in Scripture between Genesis 1-3 and the Promised Land. The temple imagery is also completely imported. It ain't there (ain't being emphatic).

Since Michael eisegetically imports the Promised Land and Temple imagery into Genesis 1-2, his exegesis is then skewed according to those concepts. Because of his grid, everything in the text must be strictly localized even though the text has plenty of "global" markers. Obviously Michael would disagree, and from my limited understanding of Lutheran theology he probably sees no problem in creating this kind of interpretive grid and does it elsewhere.

#49  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 8:50 AM

And, more importantly, can you point to the Bible to defend your hermeneutic over and above Michael's?

The best way to demonstrate which hermeneutic is superior is to determine which one best matches biblical commentary on the text. As I said before, Michael's interpretation is not found anywhere in Scripture. Biblical authors consistently point to God's creation of everything in six days and that human creation was "from the beginning" (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6).

I must confess that I am somewhat bewildered about how you got all of your "presuppositions" from Scripture itself.

True, not all the presuppositions are directly from Scripture. Inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility are directly from Scripture, but some of the others are not--even though they are clearly used in Scripture. Jesus interpreted Genesis as a historical narrative, we should too. All the biblical authors considered Genesis 1-11 as true history, so we should too. If our hermeneutic doesn't result in that interpretation then we need to change our hermeneutic. The concepts of using grammar and syntax in hermeneutics is plainly evident. We are having a discussion here based on those principles, so we should also be able to read ancient documents in a similar way.

does the Bible say that all hermeneutical principles used in its interpretation must be derived from its own text?

Obviously not. But the biblical text does tell us which rules we should apply, just like a poem tells you not to take every word woodenly literal and a history book tells you not to allegorize the contents.

#50  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 9:08 AM

Michael,

The sole geographical focus until then is on the area of the ancient near east.

It's one thing to make this statement, which is quite possible (though we don't know the exact geography prior to the world-wide flood). However to make the leap and call it the Promised Land and make that the interpretive grid for the entire text is a huge leap of eisegetical faith.

The three points of hermeneutics you mentioned in #44 are all well and good, but those are completely different from the ones you made in the three-year old comment. If you want to retract those, then fine, but until then you have to explain why we have to understand the text according to a human observer (when there were none) and why the text has to introduce the themes of the book. Does any other biblical book do that in the first few chapters?

Again, is there anyone who agrees with your view? Have you subjected your view to scholarly review? I have a strong feeling that all three of those men you rely on so heavily would reject your eclecticism.

#52  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 10:00 AM

Michael said: The sole geographical focus until [Genesis 11] is on the area of the ancient near east.

Gabriel said: It's one thing to make this statement, which is quite possible (though we don't know the exact geography prior to the world-wide flood). However to make the leap and call it the Promised Land and make that the interpretive grid for the entire text is a huge leap of eisegetical faith.

Let's imagine a boy named Charlie and his grandfather are standing in front of a candy store. The grandfather tells Charlie a story about a boy who let his greed and haste ruin his experience in a magical candy land and ultimately cost him his inheritance (greatly resembling one of the bad children from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Then they go into the store.

3,000 years later, two men are discussing the text of the story, which was somehow recorded for posterity. One man, whom we'll call Michael, holds that the allegorical story was told as a warning to Charlie not to act up in the candy store and ruin things like the child in the story. The other man, let's say his name is Gabriel, argues that strict textual criticism requires that we focus only on the literal story of the bad child and the magical candy land, and reading into the text any kind of warning or meta-theme to some supposed extra-textual audience (such as a child entering a candy store) is ludicrous and a perversion of the text.

[Incidentally, I find it somewhat amusing that the primary combatants in this discussion are named Michael and Gabriel.]

#53  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 10:07 AM

David,

Uhh... except your analogy doesn't match our discussion at all. Both Michael and I agree that Genesis 1-3 is literal history, not a fictional allegory as in your story.

Your story would only fit if we were debating Nathan's story to David regarding Bathsheba.

Regarding "textual criticism", quoting Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it mean." :-)

#54  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 10:15 AM

Gabriel: picked any nits lately?

Most people who see temple/enthronement themes and Promised Land analogies in Genesis 1-3 consider the text to be allegorical. If Michael doesn't, more power to him -- it doesn't change my point.

If you prefer, remove the phrase "textual criticism" and then consider the point I was actually making: The second man in my story argues that it's ridiculous to claim that the story was told to warn the audience of making similar mistakes because you can't get that from the text of the story.

i.e. please ignore the nits and take the point. Thanks.

#55  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 10:36 AM

I got the point, and explained why it was wrong. There is nothing anywhere in Scripture that says Genesis 1-3 is a warning to Israel. There is nothing anywhere in Scripture that correlates Genesis 1-3 with the Promised Land. There is nothing anywhere in Scripture that correlates Genesis 1-3 with Temple imagery. If you want to say those aspects are there, fine, but it is more of an application of the text, not the meaning of the text.

Your story assumes that you know the Grandfather is telling a story leading up to a historical event, and there are markers in the story designating it as fictional. Neither are true of Genesis.

Do you believe in all three meanings? Temple, Promised Land, warning... does the text mean anything else in addition to those? What bars someone from saying that the text primarily means we shouldn't talk to snakes, eat good fruit, and hide in bushes? That seems just as legitimate. How do you determine which one(s) is right and which one(s) are wrong?

By citing Inigo I thought you'd take it as a jab, and too seriously.

#56  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 10:49 AM

I don't really have the time to connect the dots for you, but I continue to be optimistic that you'll eventually give an inch to those of us who don't toe your rigid line...

Based on your questions in #55, are you denying that Genesis was written by Moses around the time the Israelites were approaching the Promised Land? Surely you're aware that the Israelites were mostly-illiterate slaves who had spent 400 years surrounded by a pagan, polytheistic culture with no ultimate Creator or Judge? I'm sure you've at least seen a documentary or two about Egypt's pharaohs, who spent most of their lives and money building monuments to themselves and claimed to be related to the gods or even gods themselves. I also imagine you've read biblical and/or extrabiblical accounts that many foreigners had joined the exodus by the time they were entering the Promised Land -- foreigners who had not learned Hebrew history and religion orally as the Israelites had, and therefore needed to be instructed and corrected in their worldview and theology?

Now, please explain to me how a story about God as Creator / Judge who gave a perfect land to his chosen people but they ruined it by sinning wouldn't have any bearing on or significance to Moses' audience. It doesn't really matter whether you acknowledge these details as being taken from the text or not; they're real, truthful history and certainly must be taken into account when considering why the original author wrote what he did and how it was understood by his original audience.

#57  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 11:16 AM

"Hebrews 11:3 even makes belief in creation by divine fiat the very essence of faith itself: "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." Creation ex nihilo is the clear and consistent teaching of the Bible." -JM (above)

It is also makes the best sense and is very reassuring.

The alternative, spontaneous generation, was proven impossible although it is obvious on its face that lifeless things do not suddenly turn into complex, living creatures with personalities and the ability to feel pain and pleasure. Adding millions of years makes it worse. Take anything whatsoever and the longer it sits the less likely it will become alive.

Then there is the new alchemy, that forms of life magically turn all by themselves into other forms of life.

It is not surprising that the men who invented hard, physical laws to prove that everything is random, not only fail to realize the obvious self-contradiction, but were often beset by depression. Depressed, men such as Darwin created a depressionist view of the whole world. His answer to his depression was that it is worse than he feared. Life, he thought, was random at the start and meaningless in the end.

Contrast this to the word of God, which promises that not only was every detail created by an all-good, loving Being, but that he promises that if his creatures, men, just follow him, he would save them from the evil the world had become. It's beautifully simple.

God created a beautiful world for man, man departed from God to go off on his own ways with his own thoughts and deeds. Now divorced from the Source of all good, man does evil all the time. The solution is to return to his all-good Creator, who promises to redeem him.

The Creator even left a playbook on how to find him, trust in him completely, and obey him. He tells how the whole world, including every one of us, was made by him and thus is loved by him.

But man, as usual wants to go his own way, apart from the Source of all good. We take his word and change it to fit what we, like small children on a playground, think "everybody else believes." We water down his word, we may even try to remove him from his creation, so that we can tell ourselves we are right to go our own ways apart from the all-good God.

And so we have no way out of our depression.

But in faith is freedom from all that. And as God created us, surely he will deliver us.

It's so simple. And God saw that it was very good.

#58  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 11:16 AM

are you denying that Genesis was written by Moses around the time the Israelites were approaching the Promised Land?

Nope, and I'm quite uncertain how you would gather that based on my question in #55. Genesis was indeed written by Moses at that time, but Moses was relating God's revelation to him. Revelation, to be sure, that served a purpose; but revelation that was true and factual in the history it related. Genesis 1-2 is as factually historical as Exodus 1-2.

explain to me how a story about God as Creator / Judge who gave a perfect land to his chosen people but they ruined it by sinning wouldn't have any bearing on or significance to Moses' audience.

First of all, it's not just a story--it's history. Second, Adam and Eve aren't God's "chosen people", they are the first humans God created. There were no "unchosen people". Third, I already acknowledged that it could have applicational significance as they looked forward to entering the land, but I just don't see any evidence that anyone ever took it as the primary meaning.

they're real, truthful history and certainly must be taken into account when considering why the original author wrote what he did and how it was understood by his original audience.

Is there any biblical or extra-biblical evidence that anyone in ancient times prior to, say, 200 years ago understood it your way? Why is it that non-literal interpretations are so concerned with how allegedly illiterate, pagan-influenced, hard-hearted, mind-darkened Israelites understood Genesis 1-11 when there is no extant evidence of how they understood it, only modern beliefs of how they might have understood it? Authorial intent is the hermeneutical principle; not reader intellect.

#59  Posted by Landon Lehman  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 2:57 PM

Gabriel,

Thanks for answering my questions.

According to what you have previously written (#38), you should be "able to have a profitable discussion" with Michael. You say that your differences involve applications of grammar and the fact that you think Michael "imports a number of later complex themes into the text."

You wrote, As I said before, Michael's interpretation is not found anywhere in Scripture. Biblical authors consistently point to God's creation of everything in six days and that human creation was "from the beginning" (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6)."

This is somewhat misleading. Neither of the two passages you cite speak of God creating everything in six days.

"The concepts of using grammar and syntax in hermeneutics is plainly evident."

So are the concepts of literary and cultural context.

"But the biblical text does tell us which rules we should apply, just like a poem tells you not to take every word woodenly literal and a history book tells you not to allegorize the contents."

The poem and the history book don't actually do that. You as a reader make a decision about the genre of a book. And not every book fits exactly into a pre-determined genre.

I don't see the Bible telling us to pay attention to its literary structure, though obviously that is important. So I don't agree with your idea that "the Biblical text does tell us which rules we should apply."

Kudos for the Inigo quote :).

#60  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 3:18 PM

Landon,

The verses I referenced applied to the latter statement that humans were created from the beginning, directly contradicting any kind of evolution and Michael/Sailhamer/Gap/Framework interpretation.

Exodus 20:11 directly contradicts Michael/Sailhamer's view that Genesis 1:2ff only refers to the Promised Land.

Though Michael/Sailhamer reject Exodus 20:12 as a merism, their reasoning doesn't work with Exodus 31:17.

So are the concepts of literary and cultural context.

Literary in terms of genre and style, yes. Importing foreign themes and concepts, no. Cultural context is also sticky because Walton wants to use pagan mythology (I know, he calls it ANE Cosmology, but it's the same thing) to interpret Genesis. I think that is way outside the boundaries of exegeting a text of God's revelation. If Genesis were just a human document, then fine.

You as a reader make a decision about the genre of a book.

That's not true at all. Genre is a pretty objective category. Sure, some texts can be tricky (Job), but most texts are pretty straightforward. Also, you are right that books don't fit exactly into a category. Most of the historical books contain portions of poetry or prophecy. We don't categorize books and apply that to each text within the book, we categorize passages as well. Which is why we can say things like Adam's first recorded words were a poem of love and devotion to his wife.

I don't see the Bible telling us to pay attention to its literary structure, though obviously that is important.

There is a difference between literary structure and genre. Framework folks make literary structure the primary determiner of meaning over and above words and grammar. Genre doesn't determine meaning, just which rules we should apply.

#61  Posted by Landon Lehman  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 3:46 PM

Gabriel,

Thanks for the clarifications.

I wouldn't call the concept of the Promised Land a "foreign concept" to the early chapters of the Pentateuch. But that just might remain a point of disagreement.

I don't think there is much more I can say right now without repeating what has already been repeated multiple times.

#62  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 3:46 PM

Gabriel, this is about as much time as I am going to be able to devote to this discussion. Let me conclude with a final response.

First, you said: "The three points of hermeneutics you mentioned in #44 are all well and good, but those are completely different from the ones you made in the three-year old comment." I don't agree. My basic hermeneutic approach to all texts is:

My earlier comments merely represent the application of my general hermeneutical points to the first chapter of Genesis. It's pre-scientific because that's who the first readers were. It's phenomenological for the same reason. And the third is transparently the same as general principle #1.

Second, there are MANY correlations between Genesis 1-3 and the Promised Land in Scripture, as long as you understand that the Promised Land includes everything from the River of Egypt to Mesopotamia (which is why I said "the ancient near east"). This was the land God promised Abraham in Genesis 15, and this is the same land described by mention of the rivers in Genesis 2. The only time Israel ruled over all this land was during the days of David and Solomon. But this entire area is the Promised Land, and some in Israel today are pushing for expansion of Israel's boundaries in recognition of the Biblical evidence.

Furthermore, check these passages:

(1) Jeremiah 4.19-31 is Jeremiah's lament over the fall of Jerusalem. Here the prophet pictures the land going back to its pre-preparation state, using language directly from Genesis 1—"I looked on the earth [land], and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light" (v.23). This text is specifically about the "whole land" of Israel (v.20) and not the earth as a planet. In judgment, God returns the land to its Gen. 1.2 condition.

(2) Jeremiah 27.5 is part of another passage which predicts judgment on the Promised Land. "I have made the earth [land], the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth [land] by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight." The passage is about God's right to give the Promised Land to whomever he chooses, the same land he formed and filled in Gen 1.

Finally, I thoroughly reject your charge of eisegesis. It is the vocabulary and imagery of the early chapters of Genesis that is reflected throughout the Torah, not the other way around.

If anything, it is those who read this part of the Bible with all their subconscious assumptions that come from having Enlightenment-educated, scientifically-oriented minds that are actually reading into the text things that its first readers would never have seen.

Gabriel, it has been a pleasure to discuss this with you. Thanks.

#63  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 4:02 PM

Michael,

Jeremiah 4 is interesting indeed, but it is entirely possible that Jeremiah is simply playing off the text of Genesis for effect, not interpreting it as such. Would we be able to tell the difference?

Regarding Jeremiah 27:5, I'm guessing you understand verses 6-7 as limited to the Promised Land, right? I haven't studied it, but at first glance Yahweh seems to be referring to far more than just the Promised Land in that text. Just to be clear, "all these lands" and "all the nations" isn't exactly a description of one land and one nation.

#64  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 4:16 PM

Re: Jeremiah 27. In context (see v.3) it is "all the lands" of Israel's neighbors as well as Israel, the lands and nations that Nebuchadnezzar was threatening. All part of the general geography of the ancient near east.

#65  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 4:34 PM

Michael,

Indeed. Looking at it more, it is interesting that it switches from talking about the lands, which in a sense is specific as you helpfully pointed out, to "earth/land" singular in verse 5. It seems as though God is making a general statement about everything, therefore he has control over these lands in particular as well.

Also, one of the big questions I have about your interpretation is how "seas" fits into the Promised Land. Does it only refer to the portion of the Mediterranean that Israel can see? I don't recall God giving the sea as part of the promised land.

#66  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 5:00 PM

Gabriel, the emphasis on the sea in Genesis 1 is on God gathering up the waters and putting them in their place so that the land may appear. TheThey are in that sense a foil for the land, which is the "star" of the show. Though it is muted here, this may reflect an emphasis that appears often in the First Testament, that of God overcoming the chaos of the seas and setting it within its boundaries for the sake of life on the land. Note that the "seas" come from the "deep" that covered the land in v.2, which pictures a land that is completely uninhabitable.

It is also interesting that the only specific creatures mentioned in Gen 1 are the "great sea monsters" (v. 21). In the ANE myths, the gods created the world by subduing the great sea creatures such as Leviathan. However, the subtle polemic here is that these creatures are mere works of God's hands, and not great mythical powers that God must defeat.

It is interesting that in the new creation, there will be "no more sea" (Rev 21). This reflects John's understanding that the sea in Gen 1 is that it is something that stands in the way of life and blessing, which must be overcome and put within bounds to make the land "good."

God is good at separating the waters and giving his people a good land. 'Twas so from the beginning, Moses and the people certainly knew it, and the emphasis on God overcoming the waters shows up throughout the Bible, in the miracles Jesus did, and all the way to the new creation.

#67  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 5:48 PM

From Creation to the Fall, James, Paul and Jesus all clearly treated Genesis as historical narrative, not mythology or allegory. Now, if we dismiss the literal, historical creation and fall of Adam, how should we understand New Testament references to content in Genesis 1-3? It’s a fair question. Take your answers to the comment thread.

If it's not historical, then one can do whatever he wants with the text, and the basis for the Gospel is wiped out. There is no Fall because creation isn't God's; it's chance.

Very quickly, Genesis 1-3 becomes the genre of a fairy tale. Anyone who believes in its truth and accuracy is hounded.

#68  Posted by Garrett League  |  Wednesday, July 14, 2010at 9:18 PM

Quick (and probably irrelevant at this point) point on something you said in #35 Gabriel:

"verse two as parenthetical is troublesome, most commentators who hold the traditional translation of verse 1 see verse 2 as beginning a new subject—"Now the land..."

It's not troublesome at all. You could put "Now the land" inside a parenthesis. Verse 2 is not introducing a new subject at at; it is explaining something about object created in verse 1. If it is a new subject, the reader would be completely confused "wait, what land? What land is he talking about?"

The original readers (or hearers, most likely) would not have been confused since beginning the creation narrative with a pre-existent, watery chaos would have made perfect sense to them. In fact, though the bible does indeed teach creation ex-nihilo elsewhere, Genesis 1 assumes that the audience would have been perfectly at home starting right off the bat, not with absolute nothingness (an odd place to start an ANE cosmology), but with a formless and void earth covered in water.

So nothing is created in Genesis 1:1; it's a literary introduction (like toledoth, found throughout Genesis, like "these are the generations/account of" or in Gen. 2:4 "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created"). It's basically saying "In the initial 7 day period, God made everything, and here's how: Now the earth..." So clearly, the account of how God made the heavens and the earth starts in verse 2. And it starts, not with a lack of matter, but with a lack or order. Darkness and sea = chaos, disorder to the Israelites. Then God makes it "good" by separating, naming, ordering, filling, etc. So "nonexistent" refers to undifferentiated, and without function and Genesis 1 tells us how God changed that.

Does that make sense? That seems like the most natural understanding to me.

#69  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 9:05 AM

Garrett,

How do you know Genesis 1:1 is a literary introduction? There is a ton of evidence that toledoth's are a distinct literary intro, but I don't think there is any shred of evidence that makes 1:1 an introduction.

I think you're just going to keep running against the Hebrew grammar with your view.

#70  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 9:45 AM

Michael,

I'm not sure how you can say the emphasis of the sea is for the dry land to appear as if the seas are incidental. It is interesting that the text doesn't say, "Let the waters on the land be gathered..." but rather "Let the waters under the heavens..." So the emphasis is not what is covering the land, but what is under the sky. He also named the dry land just as He named the gathered waters, so the seas get as much attention as the land.

The land, in verse 2 wasn't just uninhabitable, it was fully submerged. It's odd to say that a fully submerged land was without form and void. It would make more sense to say the earth is without form and void. By using the term "deep", it doesn't appear that the land was flooded but the surrounding land was fine. It seems as though the waters covering the land were, well, deep. Furthermore, why would God name the dry land "land" when there was already dry land all over the earth? Why would God name the sky is there was already sky all over the earth? Why would God name the seas if there were already seas all over the earth?

Regarding the sea creatures, the "great sea monsters" are not the only sea creatures mentioned. Verse 20 says, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures." Also, verse 21 says, "So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm..." So the very verse you referenced includes everything that moves in the sea, in addition to all the birds of the air. Now, if God was preparing the land of a pre-existing earth with pre-existing animals; did God create new sea creatures to prepare the land? Is the sea limited to Israel's territorial waters? Or are they the seas of all the earth?

I accept that there may be a subtle polemic there against ANE myths regarding Leviathan, but that polemic can only be true if God actually created the sea creatures as it says.

#71  Posted by Garrett League  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 10:47 AM

#69 Gabriel:

"How do you know Genesis 1:1 is a literary introduction? [...] I don't think there is any shred of evidence that makes 1:1 an introduction."

Sure there is; Genesis 1:1 is book-ended by Genesis 2:1: "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array." It nicely wraps up what Genesis 1:1 introduces, namely, God creating everything in "the beginning," which refers not to the absolute start of space/time/matter, but to the initial 7 day period (bere'shith) before the world really got going. This concept of an initial period is also found in Egyptian cosmology. Plus, elsewhere in the bible, "the beginning" can refer generally to an initial period. For example Job 8:7 "And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great." and Jeremiah 28:1 "In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah." Also Jesus says in Matt. 19:4 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'" So God made both the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1) and male and female (Gen 1:27) in the beginning, that is, during the 7 day creation week, the initial period.

So that's my evidence. Bere'shith refers to an initial period (the 7 days) and not the beginning of space/time/matter that preceded the creation week. That fits nicely with the "heavens and earth" merism mentioned above and the complementary summary found in Genesis 2:1. The beginning refers to an early/initial period elsewhere in the bible (I think Jesus used it that way too when he referenced Genesis 1). Plus, Egyptian cosmology has the same concept of an initial period of setting up the cosmos before it got rolling. Given that evidence and the fact that this interpretation helps avoid some of the problems Mike points out above, why do think it's wrong? You 2 are clearly the experts on this one.

#72  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 11:38 AM

Garrett,

Genesis 2:1 is improperly translated as you have it there. A better translation would be, "Thus the heavens, and the earth, and all their host were completed."

Also, I'm not sure how bere'shith helps because it is merely setting the period of time wherein it all happened; 1:1 and everything else. How do you understand Matthew 19:4 since you believe in evolution and that man evolved billions of years after the beginning?

#73  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 12:13 PM

Dear Michael and David: In looking at your blogs, both "torts and retorts", it seems that there has been a lot of "Ships passing in the night". I know a fair number of Christians and Christian organizations who would not hold to your view points. The literal days of creation are the GARBC, SBC, Independent Baptist/Bible/Brethren/Pentecostal/AOG/ Charismatic, etc. churches and some synods, (which comprise much of Christianity in this fair land as well as the RCC's) official position, Each of the above groups says that it is a literal 6 day creation, and while not all members adhere to those beliefs it is still the official position. So why would you say that "most" Christians believe in OEE? ({Although I have been told that the Reformed movement thinks they are the "only ones", he he-TIC (tongue in cheek) meant to be a joke, not a snipe}.

#74  Posted by Michael Mercer  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 1:20 PM

Paul, I'm not sure what you are talking about. I've never said anything like you've suggested in #73. I'm fully aware many Christian groups hold to a literal 6 day creation. I have never talked at all in any of my posts about an old earth or evolution. My sole focus has been on the fact that the YEC "literal" interpretation is not the only way to look at the text of Genesis. I don't think my way is either, and though I can defend it, I would never say that everyone else must look at it my way or they are totally wrong. I just think Christians ought to be aware that there are other views and always have been. And that we should therefore all lighten up a bit from all the alarmist nonsense that's being thrown around.

#75  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 1:59 PM

Paul: Let me start by saying that Gabriel has affirmed that Michael believes in a literal 6-day creation, so I'm mostly on my own here. That said, here's some statistics for you, along with my analysis:

"51.3% of Americans are Protestants (26.3% Evangelical), 23.9% are Catholics, 1.7% are Mormons, 1.6% are Other Christian"

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/02/26/us_religious_identity_is_rapidly_changing/

}}} Most mainline Protestant denominations (Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian/Anglican, United Church of Christ, etc.) DO NOT hold to Young Earth Creationism -- they've either explicitly embraced evolution or old-earth creationism, or are intentionally silent on the topic. Individual Catholics may hold creationist beliefs, but several statements have been made by the Vatican that they have no problem with evolution. My understanding is that many Mormons are YEC, but the official position of the Church (when you can find one) leaves room for OEC and other beliefs -- basically they're not willing to die on that hill, presumably because they have enough odd beliefs to defend. It's probably reasonable to place most of your named denominations in the 26.3% of Evangelicals, although clearly not all 26.3% hold to YEC (one exception right here, and I know of many others). So adding up the 25% mainline Christians + 23.9% Catholics + let's say 5% of Evangelicals (and growing), you get about 54% of the total population that's probably not YEC, or 68.8% of Christians.

[U.S.] members of Protestant denominations now stands at barely 51%. Moreover, the Protestant population is characterized by significant internal diversity and fragmentation, encompassing hundreds of different denominations loosely grouped around three fairly distinct religious traditions - evangelical Protestant churches (26.3% of the overall adult population), mainline Protestant churches (18.1%) and historically black Protestant churches (6.9%).

http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

}}} This puts a finer point on it -- just to overgeneralize, it's likely that traditional black Protestants are either YEC or don't have a strong position. So we'll subtract, say, 5% of the above -- leaving 49% of the total population, or 62.4% of Christians are not YEC. This would correlate nicely with surveys showing less than half of the population holds at least loosely to YEC, given +- for undecideds, and non-Christians such as Jews (split) and Muslims (mostly YEC).

}}} The following numbers don't exactly agree with the above, but still make my point:

U. S. statistics for religious and nonreligious worldviews as reported by ARIS 2008.

Catholic 25.1%

Baptist 15.8%

Mainline Christian

(Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian/Anglican, United Church of Christ, etc.) 12.9%

Generic Christian

(Christian Unspecified, Non-Denominational. Christian,

Protestant Unspecified, Evangelical/Born Again) 5.0%

Pentecostals/Charismatics

(Pentecostal Unspecified, Assemblies of God, Church of God) 3.5%

Total Christian 76.0%

http://www.teachingaboutreligion.org/Demographics/map_demographics.htm

By the 2010 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches of the National Council of Churches, the five largest denominations are:

* The Catholic Church, 68,115,001 members

* The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,228,438 members

* The United Methodist Church, 7,853,987 members

* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,974,041 members

* The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members

http://www.ncccusa.org/news/100204yearbook2010.html

}}} Notice how Catholics dwarf all other denominations, and they're joined by UMC in rejecting YEC; so even though the SBC is mostly YEC, you're looking at 76M "not YEC" vs. 27.7M "potentially YEC" (counting Mormons) in the 5 largest denominations.

I'm a little surprised at these numbers myself -- I didn't realize the Catholic church in America was so comparatively large, and Latin American immigrants are growing it every day. Surveys of the general public aren't too helpful because most people aren't well educated on the topic, but when less than half the population self-identifies as marginally YEC even in biased polls and 76% of the total are Christian, I think it's reasonable to say that most Christians are not YEC.

#76  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 2:09 PM

David,

The only problem with all those stats is they tell you nothing about what a majority of biblical Christians believe.

51.3% of Americans are Protestants (26.3% Evangelical), 23.9% are Catholics, 1.7% are Mormons, 1.6% are Other Christian

There are more than four different religions represented here. Within the Protestant mainline denominations, many of them are not Christians in the biblical sense.

What those statistics show is that a majority of unregenerate people who believe a false gospel believe in evolution.

#77  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 2:10 PM

In short, the vast majority of the people you listed stats for don't believe the Bible in general, so of course they don't believe YEC in particular.

#78  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 2:24 PM

Gabriel: Do you even realize how wearisome it can be arguing with someone so self-righteous?

Since my "Regeneration-ometer" is broken, I can only speak to denominational statements and positions and self-identification of those calling themselves Christians, saying they believe in YEC, and/or identifying with one of the mainline denominations.

The stats were an interesting side-note -- my original comment that Paul was referencing was "Almost every mainline Christian denomination has embraced or at least grudgingly accepted some sort of position differing from YEC", which is still true. Most people who call themselves Christians, and most Christian denominations, are not YEC. You may be right that they're wrong, but I'm right that they think you're wrong. :-)

#79  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 2:33 PM

someone so self-righteous?

So... if someone says they are a Christian we should go along even though they preach a false gospel? That isn't how Paul (of the Bible) seemed to think.

Of those who claim to teach or believe the true gospel we can't ultimately determine who is regenerated and who is not. But of those who teach a false gospel (e.g. Catholics, Mormons, many mainline denominations), we can be fairly certain they're not Christian.

#80  Posted by Jorge Alvarado  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 3:56 PM

Please, David, do not take this as a personal attack.

to # 79 Gabriel Powell:

David wrote in # 5 of me

"Why do you have such a high opinion of yourself "

and in post # 7:

"So my question is: which of these interpretations is "what God told us" and which ones are "reliant on our ideas"? How do you know? "

and in post # 16

"My intention was to simply raise my hand and say "that's bull, can we stick to real arguments and not straw men?" and "yet I find the evidence for evolution and long ages overwhelming (and occupationally necessary"

I think it's time to give this a rest. We are no longer discussing ideas.

#81  Posted by Peter Heffner  |  Thursday, July 15, 2010at 5:12 PM

David-

Mormons never were Christians. As for the others, the going phrase regarding whatever Bible story you may name is, It's one of the founding myths of Christianity.

In other words, they don't believe.

But I can tell you first-hand, they will aggressively persecute anyone who truly does.

#83  Posted by David Sirrine  |  Friday, July 16, 2010at 2:17 AM

Jorge: I don't know what you're getting at, but I need to quit anyway. I was hoping to interject the fact that many people who believe in God also accept evolution, because belief in YEC isn't required for salvation. I'm obviously not going to do any good arguing this point with people who tie their faith to YEC, and maybe I shouldn't anyway. Regardless, for other reasons I'm unsubscribing from this thread and will do my best not to revisit to see who decides to declare victory in the face of my self-defeat. Take care.

#84  Posted by Garrett League  |  Friday, July 16, 2010at 9:13 AM

#72 Gabriel: So, all in all, are those your problems w/ reading Gen 1:1 as a literary introduction? Was my evidence at all convincing? I'd like your opinion since you're better able to judge.

"How do you understand Matthew 19:4 since you believe in evolution and that man evolved billions of years after the beginning?"

That's a good question. Here is what Jesus said in Matthew 19:4 (ESV): "He answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female.'" Now, if I were a concordist like Hugh Ross, that might be a huge problem for me. If I read Genesis as you do (more along the lines of pastor John here or Ken Ham), it would be an even bigger problem. I think the best solution is to read Genesis differently than Ham and Ross. And doing so, I think it's best not to take creation out of dust as a statement of material origins (we've been down this road before, you and me ;). So I don't think being made from dust should be taken as a rival explanation of man's origins, as if it rules out or is in competition with a scientific explanation, but rather a comment on man's mortality and I think it applies to all people, male and female. I don't think science could properly disprove the creation account of man's origins or how God set up the functions of the world. So if God made male and female at the beginning (which I take to be the 7 day creation week) then it's no problem if that account is operating on another level than typical scientific explanations. As Waltke has said:

"Ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies are a very different literary genre from the genre of scientific writings. These ancient cosmogonies-including that of Genesis 1-do not ask or attempt to answer scientific questions of origins: the material, manner, or date of the origin of the world and of its species. The biblical account represents God as creating the cosmological spheres that house and preserve life in six days, each presumably consisting of twenty-four hours. But how closely this cosmology coincides with the material reality cannot be known from the genre of an ancient Near Eastern cosmology, which does not attempt to answer that question.

Recall that biblical narrators creatively and rhetorically represent raw historical data to teach theology."

And I would hold a view similar to that whether or not I accepted biological evolution because I think it does the text justice in a way YEC seems incapable of.

#85  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, July 16, 2010at 9:25 AM

Garrett,

Your answer was really confusing. Let me ask again: Jesus said that God made man male and female from the beginning.

Did Jesus make an accurate historical statement reflecting the historical material creation as described in Genesis 1? Or was Jesus wrong? Or...?

#86  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, July 16, 2010at 12:00 PM

TO #78 David Sirrine

Jesus loves you and He cares about you, Do you want know who Jesus is?

Jesus is the living God who had to die on the cross for our sin so, we

would be free and have a wonderful life with him both in this life and

hereafter too. Heaven is an awesome place and I am going there someday. Smiles, cause no more death ,sin ,and sufferings in new earth and heaven. Yay !!!

Jesus said He created the heaven and the earth in 6 days. God says, not us. Cause God is our Creator and we are his creatures with souls.

I been there and hateful. God changed me and God can do the same for you if you choose. Pray and ask Jesus to show you the way, God cares

about you. I can pray for you.

#87  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, July 16, 2010at 6:50 PM

#84 Hi Garrett League,

How are you.

Umm, Can I share a story which it's true. Adam was created from the

dust of the ground. God breathe onto him. Adam came to life. Adam was

created in God's image. A special thimg. A man. Wow!! Later God said

It's not good for man to be alone. God made Adam a helper. God made

Adam sleep a deep sleep. The first surgery that God did. Awesome. God

took Adam's rib. Adam never lost a rib, remember it grows back. God

made a woman from the rib. Awesome! When a man and woman come together becomes one. A man cannot join a man or a woman join a woman because it is not natural and God never made it that way.

Just thought to let you know that.