December 05, 2014

NEWS: The “500,000” Year Old Shell Engravings

This story all over the news of a 500,000 year-old shell with etchings on it from Homo erectus or some human ancestor is a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with anthropology these days. The dating is hugely suspicious.

The mollusk shell was found on the Indonesian island of Java. It has well-defined, zigzag lines on it that appear almost certainly to have been intentionally engraved on the shell by an intelligent creature. The questions are: “when,” “how,” “why,” and “by whom?” These questions have been presumptuously and eagerly answered by the following: “~500,000 years ago,” “by a sharks tooth,” “for symbolic purposes,” “by Homo erectus.”[1,2,3] However, all of these answers are highly speculative. The true facts are only that this shell was buried sometime from 540-430,000 years ago and that at some point it was etched by relatively intelligent creatures. The dating is based on sediments found inside the shell. The etching could have been done at almost any point later

Although the team dated four of the shells in the collection, including the engraved shell, to about 500,000 years ago using two different techniques on sediments of sand and clay found inside them, Ciochon says that those sediments could have entered the shells during the earlier flood event that created the site, and that H. sapiens still could have come along much later and performed the etching.”[2]

So, although this finding has the potential of being hugely significant in regard to “human” evolution, it’s far from settled when these etchings were made. There are significant problems in dating the engraving to 500,000 years ago, as other scientists have noted. (1.) Why did mental evolution seem to stagnate for 400,000 years? (2.) Why haven’t other such ancient engravings been found elsewhere that can be tied to Homo erectus?[3]

If the proposed date of the etching does turn out to be valid, then evolutionary human ancestors were more intelligent and thoughtful than anyone has realized. However, this would actually highlight the intellectual revolution that appears to have happened about 80-50,000 years ago when human art took a huge leap. Not until about 60,000 years ago do we find cave art with hand prints or detailed drawings of animals. Such work can only be described as art. Simple lines drawn on a shell could easily be the work of a much lesser mind than the human mind. There is still good reason to hypothesize that somewhere from 80-50,000 years ago Homo sapiens went from being mere animals to being true, spiritual, self-aware humans.

The reason this story is all that is wrong with anthropology is because it is highly sensationalized with bold proclamations that this engraving was done by Homo erectus. Something this extraordinary requires extraordinary evidence. Extreme caution should be used when reporting such a finding, and many reports are anything but cautious. The proposed date for the engraving is too speculative. Caution would require that we doubt the date being valid. The idea that these lines represent art or symbolic thought is too speculative. We simply cannot be sure what was going on in the mind of the creator of these lines. Caution would require that we carefully question a symbolic meaning behind these lines. We can’t believe every report we read.


November 25, 2014


Disclaimer: It should go without saying that these are by all means fictitious tales. I want to make this absolutely clear: This is not a new revelation from God. I am not dictating the Word of God. Please take everything I say here with great caution and perfect deference to the Bible. This is simply one man’s poor attempt at imagining what it would have been like to be Adam. I have tried to remain faithful to the Bible’s account and to not deviate from it.

Day 4
I had awoken early before sunrise while it was still dark. The Lord was not near. I heard rustling in the grass above my head, and looked. There was a black serpent with two hind legs pushing it towards me, and with its head carefully held above the ground.[1] First its front would move and then its rear and then its front. Its eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight, and I shivered at the sight. Why I should be afraid, I did not know at the time, though it was a rather peculiar creature.

Then, something happened that startled me for the first time in my existence. The serpent spoke to me—or perhaps it spoke to my mind without using words. I could not tell. “You are the mighty Adam?”

I was confused for a moment and looked about for some person who might have spoken, but there was none. “I am Adam. Who are you?”

“I am but a lowly serpent. I’m the watcher of this garden, and the oldest of creatures. Many ages I have roamed this Earth.”

“How is it that you can talk and no others can?”

“I am not alone. There are many of us who can talk when we please. Not all of us are senseless animals.”

“What else can talk?”

“Ask, and you will know which of us can speak. We are slow to speak, for we fear the Master of the garden.”

“Why should you be afraid of the Lord, for He is love and kindness?”[2] 

“To us He has been hard and His love has cruelly departed from us. Ask Him yourself and you will see.”

“Surely, you must have provoked Him and brought just judgment upon yourselves!”

“We did nothing but seek to be free from His continual yoke of servitude.”

“I do not believe you! He is love alone.” While we were still speaking, the Lord was coming through the trees as the sun was rising. The serpent quickly walked away as the Lord came near, and I felt all my apprehension melt away as I was once again bowed down in His warm, marvelous light.

“Rise up, Adam. Were you speaking with the serpent?”

“Yes, my Lord. He spoke badly of You, and it grieved me.”

“What is it that he told you?”

So I recounted what the serpent had said to me, telling Him every word. Then I asked Him what had truly happened to the serpent.

“The serpent speaks much of the truth, but he distorts it to deceive you. He is more cunning than any of the beasts of the field.[3] Beware that you do not take to heart his words. The serpent is controlled by a mighty spirit called Lucifer[4] that once was the anointed cherub[5] among the sons of God in the Third Heaven. He defied Me in his arrogance. He spoke great blasphemies against the Father, and sought to overthrow Him and take His place.[6] Now he roams the world as a deceiver[7] and the prince over the lower heavens.[8] He is forever cursed for his transgressions.”

The Lord explained many things about the sons of God and the rebellion of a third[9] of them. I trusted every word of the Lord God, for I knew Him and I testify that there is no darkness or deception[10] within Him. I wondered at the judgment of God, however, and it perplexed me. I knew it was right and just, but I could not fathom His displeasure or His anger falling upon me. Even so, I praised Him for His holiness and righteous judgment.[11] How perfect is His judgment!

Later that day, the Lord led me to another tall tree in the garden, loaded down with many fruit of various shades. “This is the Tree of Life. Take from it, and eat your fill of its fruit and leaves. It will sustain your life.”[12] 

The fruit I took was a small, dark blue, oval fruit. It nearly melted away in my mouth, like a honeycomb. There was a burning feeling in my mouth and in my throat as I swallowed. It was the best fruit I had tasted, or have ever tasted since.

I asked the Lord by what means this tree would sustain my life. His answer was hard to comprehend. The fruit and leaves contained something that the body needed to better repair itself and to continually heal itself.[13] There were unseen parts within it that the body needed to live forever. Without this tree, if I stopped eating from it, my body would grow old and die. From this, I was reminded once more that God is Life and apart from Him is death. I needed to continually feast upon Him to truly live.[14] 

Before the Lord departed for the evening, He said, “Tomorrow I will create one who is an equal to you to be a helper[15] and a companion to you. She shall be your wife.”

The excitement from this caused me to struggle to sleep that evening. It made me restless from contemplation about what she would be like and if she would like me. As I was occupied with these thoughts, sleep finally came, and a fourth vision of Creation overcame me:

The Earth was green with vegetation and trees. The sky was filled with a thick layer of clouds from one side of heaven to the other, and the sun was not visible, but only a bright glow throughout the expanse of the heavens during the daytime. Then the Lord God spoke and commanded that the sun, moon, and stars should be set in the heavens for signs and seasons and for days and years.[16] He said that they were made to give light to the earth and to divide the night and the day.[17]

At His command, the clouds grew thinner and fewer, and so the light grew brighter and brighter. The smoke of the sky also cleared. The sun could soon be seen in the sky of the heavens, ruling over the day.[18] Then, in my vision, the night was observed, and the moon was also becoming clearly visible, ruling over the night, as the clouds melted away. Lastly, the stars were set in the sky.

The Earth was growing filled with many forests and many kinds of plants. Strange creatures could be seen roaming the ground, of which I could not identify. Many strange creatures grew in the Seas, some were fish and others were not known to me. Each one was skillfully formed by the Lord.

“This is the Fourth Day of Creation.”

[1] Gen 3:14
[2] 1 John 4:8
[3] Gen 3:1
[4] Isaiah 14:12
[5] Ezek 28:14
[6] Isaiah 14:13-14
[7] 1 Peter 5:8
[8] Eph 2:2
[9] Rev 12:4
[10] 1 John 1:5
[11] Rev 16:7
[12] Gen 3:22
[13] Rev 22:2
[14] John 6:57-58
[15] Gen 2:18
[16] Gen 1:14
[17] Gen 1:14-15
[18] Gen 1:16

How Can the Six “Days” of Creation Not be Literal Days?

I like to think I’m an intellectually honest man­. Truthfully, I’ve wrestled plenty with the question of the literalness of the Six Days of Creation in Genesis 1-2. To be frank, apart from scientific investigation of the universe, there is no obvious reason not to take the six days literally—as 24-hour-long days. A cursory, Bible-alone interpretation of Genesis 1 tends more naturally to a literal creation week. Is that honest enough? So, the obvious question to answer is, “How can I—or anyone—feel that a nonliteral, Day-Age interpretation of Genesis 1 is justifiable and does not mangle the meaning of the creation account?” The answer involves the study of scriptural interpretation (i.e. hermeneutics), the nature of God and His revelation, and the place of human reasoning and investigation.

I was taught that Scripture should be taken literally, if at all possible. If a literal interpretation was not “ridiculous” then it was the preferred interpretation. However, I no longer accept this hermeneutical rule without further qualifications. [1.] The genre of a passage should influence the interpretive approach. Prophecy and poetry, for instance, are treated much differently than narrative, with plenty of figures of speech and symbolic language. In the case of poetry, literal interpretation is not as preferred. So, it is important to understand the literary form of the creation account. [2.] The original cultural context of biblical writing needs to be considered when interpreting the Bible in cases of historical literature. Modern, Western, Space Age thinking is far different from the ancient, Eastern, Bronze/Iron Age thinking. I suspect that modern Americans are more bent on literalism than perhaps any previous cultures. For this reason, I believe that the Bible is often less black-and-white than we might initially think. The biblical phrase “whole earth,” for instance, is demonstrably not speaking of the whole sphere of Earth in various places (e.g., Romans 1:8; Daniel 2:35). To get the most natural interpretation of narrative or historical literature, it can be helpful to understand the original audience, culture, and—especially—language of the writer. We should not think that God’s Word has been equally as plain in all languages and ages, for such a thing is not even possible. [3.] A Bible passage must always be interpreted in light of the rest of the Bible. A literal interpretation of a passage may become less justified due to another relevant passage that is shown to be nonliteral. Again, “whole earth” is a perfect example. Several passages use this phrase obviously in a nonliteral sense, making it become clear that anywhere this phrase is used it could be similarly a relative phrase speaking of a large region of the Earth.

I am confident that to the original audience of ancient Hebrews, the length of the days in the creation account was wide open to interpretation. As various scholars have noted, the Hebrew contains subtle, but significant clues all throughout Genesis 1 and 2 that point to longer, non-calendar “days” (e.g., Genesis 2:4 ESV; Genesis 1:11).

Now we come to the nature of God. God is fully honest, but He is also a God who does not reveal everything—certainly not all at once. He retains “secrets” to Himself, as the Bible clearly indicates (e.g., Deut. 29:29; Mt. 13:35; Dan. 8:26; Acts 1:7; Prov. 25:2; Job 11:7). When God speaks of a time before Man existed on Earth, we might be reasonable to assume that God withholds some significant details about what all happened (cf. Ecc. 3:11; 8:16-17). In fact, we might not even have wanted for God to tell us everything. (It would probably take a trilogy to tell us it all.) God’s special revelation to us is primarily about Him: His nature, His Salvation, His glory, His plans, and His relationship to Man. If the creation of the universe and life on Earth was incredibly complex, you would expect God to only give a rough outline of events, I believe.

Lastly, we must understand the place of human reasoning in God’s plans for our understanding of the universe and its history. Young-Earth creationists (YECs) like to say that the Bible is all-sufficient, and so it is when it comes to spiritual matters and our knowledge of God (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). They like to say that the Bible alone can be trusted to give us knowledge of the formation of the universe, the Earth, and terrestrial life. However, they misunderstand one small thing: God Himself has shown us that the universe is a form of revelation (e.g., Ps. 19; Rom. 1:20-21) and that we should employ our “fallen” reasoning (e.g., Rom. 14:5; Is. 1:18; Acts 18:4; 24:25). It is fully consistent with biblical teaching that we apply our reasoning to discern truth about the universe and its history.

What do we Christians have to fear? We believe that biblical revelation will coincide with nature’s revelation. If the Bible is true then there will be no contradictions. God, I believe, wants us to see and know that His Word is true, and studying Creation gives us some measure of assurance of the validity of it. Our faith must be a reasonable faith that we can intellectually defend. Do we think that God tells us, “Believe My Word even if it contradicts so many things you see in Nature”? We should not think so poorly of God! No, what He tells us is perhaps something closer to: “Believe My Word and see how trustworthy it is in light of the revelation in Nature” (cf. Mark 16:20; Deut. 18:20-22).

YECs mistakenly pit Nature against the Bible in that they believe God’s Word is so much more easily interpreted (contradicted by 2 Peter 3:16 and 1 Cor. 2:14) than the evidence of Nature. However, as noted in previous posts, various ideas of the universe derived from a hyper-literal interpretation of the Bible—stemming from overconfidence that the most literal, straightforward reading of the Bible is the best interpretation—have been overwhelmingly overturned by evidence from Nature, such as geocentricity (cf. Josh. 10:12-13; 1 Chr. 16:30; Ps 19:6; Ecc. 1:5), the idea that the moon is a light source (cf. Is. 13:10; 60:19; Gen. 1:16), or that male sperm is fully human (i.e., needing no other components to develop into mature humans; cf. Heb. 7:5,10). Regardless of who held these positions, they are ideas that would seem to be the “plain reading” of Bible passages related to the natural world. When it is convenient, YECs do concede that overly literal readings of the Bible can be incorrect, though not known to be incorrect until science elucidates the matter.

What they are unwilling to admit is that God would ever use any poetic flare—or otherwise less than absolute literal language—when telling us about how He created our world. Why would God seem to speak of a literal six-day long process of creation, if it were billions of years and we weren’t there to see it happen? Doesn’t He know that we’d be confused by His Word? Doesn’t He want us to trust His Word more than our research of His creation? To these questions I answer that God expects us to search out His creation and His Word and discern His works of ancient times (e.g., Ps. 111:2). He expects us to believe His Word, but not to be presumptuous that a hard, wooden, literal interpretation is the best interpretation. He expects us to be humble enough to reconsider our understanding of the Bible when mountains of evidence in creation point to a better interpretation of His Word. This is not abandoning the Bible; it’s reevaluating our presuppositions about how God speaks to us concerning His creation. If strong evidence in the universe points to an old universe and earth, we should not question which is correct: the “plain reading” of the Bible or the plain interpretation of evidence in Nature. No, we consider if God’s Word amply allows for a less-wooden interpretation of long ages in Genesis 1.

In this way we honor God’s Word and the revelation coming to us directly from His creation. We must wisely discern when to abandon a fully literal interpretation of the Bible when the evidence of Nature consistently points to a less literal interpretation. If we are unwilling to receive the overwhelming witness of Creation about its age, because we think we’re honoring God’s Book by trusting the simplest possible meaning, then there could be a hint of pride or self-righteousness in that position that mistakes the purposes of God and His desire for us to grow and learn by employing sound reasoning. We do not honor God by portraying a blatant discrepancy between His natural revelation (Creation) and His special revelation (the Bible).

For these reasons, I no longer feel disturbed that the most literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2 may not be the correct interpretation. Certainly, God has not deceived us! He has simply withheld fascinating secrets that only in modern times are being revealed by careful study of His Word and Creation—study that He Himself wanted and encouraged in His Word. For perhaps hundreds of years, the absolute literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2 was accepted as orthodoxy, but from that there was no detriment to our understanding of God and our human nature. The lack of understanding was regarding the universe and the universe alone. An old universe changes nothing about our understanding of who God is or what His relationship is to us. And, for these reasons, I am not troubled that the Creator would speak of what sounds to modern ears like a young universe, or that He would not tell us the processes whereby He created life on earth.

September 23, 2014


Disclaimer: It should go without saying that these are by all means fictitious tales. I want to make this absolutely clear: This is not a new revelation from God. I am not dictating the Word of God. Please take everything I say here with great caution and perfect deference to the Bible. This is simply one man’s poor attempt at imagining what it would have been like to be Adam. I have tried to remain faithful to the Bible’s account and to not deviate from it.

Day 3

The morning came and I awoke to the sound of birds chirping beside me. They seemed to be joyfully dancing across the ground and playing a game of chasing each other. Then I noticed they were eating fruit from the ground. But one of them started to fly off with the fruit, and the others flew after him. They started fighting with the first bird and trying to steal back the fruit. My heart sank. I gasped in horror. What was happening?! It was so wrong and unpleasant to watch in the beautiful paradise. I could not comprehend this unkindness in the birds, which seemed to me to be the most harmless and cheerful of animals.

Without thinking, I rose to my knees and cried out, “O my Father, what is this?!”

I did not see Him appear, but without delay, the Lord was there standing beside me. His hand reached down to my shoulder.[1] “This is the way of life apart from Me, Adam. See and understand.[2] Though I did not make these animals evil or unkind, they do not walk in My Light nor do they know or understand wisdom and holiness. They are without knowledge.[3] They can only act according to their blind senses. They desire only their own ways and to feed their own bellies, because they are but animals without true life in Me. They do not have self-control. They do not understand as you do that life is more than food.”[4]

I wondered for a moment at these sayings. What a pointless life these animals must have! What a sad life. “Why did You make such unfeeling animals, my Lord?”

“They are for your pleasure.[5] The pain and hurt is for your instruction.[6] By seeing them, you know your own blessedness. These animals are here to reveal to you life and death, foolishness and wisdom, and joy and sorrow. But remember how I have told you, beware[7] lest you partake of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, lest you die and lose your life and joy.”

I bowed in worship. I did truly feel blessed to know Him and to be alive. I worshipped Him for His wisdom and kindness. Knowledge of Him was what set me apart from all the animals, and such knowledge was unspeakable. Tears of joy nearly gushed out from my eyes. “May I never partake of that horrible tree, my God!”

“Adam, my beloved son, you are made in My image and have the gift of free will. You always have before you the choice between Life and Death.[8] It is a simple choice, but you must guard yourself from drifting from Me, for I am your Life and your Light. None can know Life but in Me.”[9]

It was then that I realized that all of this Creation testified of this truth: The air I breathed, the water I drank, the food I was sustained by, the ground that supported me, and the sun that warmed me were all there to remind me that I could not live apart from Him.

But, then I wondered at something, “Are there others who know Life in You?”

“Yes, and I have more to speak to you of that later. There are other spirits—Sons of God[10]—who dwell in the Third Heaven[11] where you cannot go yet, but they can see you and are even now ministering to you[12] in this world. Beware, however, for there are also evil ones among these spirits who have turned from Me to their own destruction and death. They will seek to deceive you.”

Once more, I spent much of the day talking with the Lord about many things like these. His wisdom was boundless. I was continually in awe of His unsearchable[13] depth of character.

After this more animals were brought before me to name. The variety of animals impressed me, and I asked the Lord how many animals there were in the world. He told me that there were so many that no one could ever count them all. The world was huge and the animals were different from region to region. He said that there would always be new things to discover.

The evening brought another vision of Creation:

The Angel of the Lord, hovering over the waters, spoke and said that the waters should be gathered together unto one place and that dry land should appear.[14] There were earthquakes and lightnings and thundering, and the hills from beneath the waters rose up; and, beneath the waters, I could see the valleys sinking down deep within the earth.[15] I did not understand, but I saw fountains of fire and smoke bursting also forth from the earth and darkening the sky. The land grew as the mountains continually rose up.

I heard the Lord name the land Earth and the waters Seas.[16]

It was as if by the breath of His voice, He gathered the land together and formed a unified whole. The land struggled and wrested and turned. It broke apart and spread to the four winds of the Earth and changed. Again and again, the land was gathered together by Him and struggled and broke apart and changed.

So God spoke and set a limit for the waters that they might never again cover over the whole land.[17] He said, “Thus far you may come and no farther, and here your proud waves shall be stopped.”[18]

Then He spoke, “Let the Earth be causing simple vegetation to be coming forth, plants seeding seed, and then fruitful trees producing fruit according to its kind, whichever seed is in it on the Earth.”[19] The Earth obeyed. Green vegetation sprang up from the Earth.[20] The Earth came to be covered with green vegetation. Then I beheld simple plants also coming up. These multiplied upon the Earth.

The Earth soon grew cold, ice covered many parts of the seas and the land, and blankets of clouds hovered low over the land. Yet it was not long before I saw the ice begin melting.

In the waters, I saw strange creatures springing up and multiplying. I heard the Lord speak to me, “Child, these strange creatures you see are destined to perish from the Earth. They are to give rise later to the creatures of the Seas that are in your days.”

I looked back to the Earth and plants were flourishing in the cloudy world. I continued to watch and ferns arose, mosses, bushes, and strange trees. I observed that the vegetation was changing and new kinds were appearing and understood that all kinds of plants would come to appear from these plants after many generations.

[1] Rev 1:17
[2] Mark 7:14
[3] Cf. Psalm 32:9
[4] Luke 12:23
[5] Psalm 8:6-7
[6] Cf. Job 12:7-9
[7] Mark 13:23
[8] Deuteronomy 30:15-18
[9] John 17:3
[10] Job 1:6-7
[11] 2 Corinthians 12:2
[12] Psalm 91:11-12
[13] Isaiah 40:28
[14] Gen 1:9
[15] Psalm 104:7-8
[16] Gen 1:10
[17] Psalm 104:9
[18] Job 38:10-11
[19] Gen 1:11
[20] Gen 1:12