November 26, 2013

News Related to Day Three (Gen. 1:9-13)

According to the Bible, photosynthetic organisms formed early in Earth's history, before marine animals and before land animals. On Day 3 the Bible speaks of the ground causing 'vegetation' to form. But did this 'vegetation' include single-celled organisms, cyanobacteria, plankton, or was it just plantlike organisms growing in the ground? There are various ways to interpret the Day 3 passage in Genesis 1. My own preferred interpretation is that it is speaking of photosynthetic organisms actually growing on or in the ground. So, that would include some forms of plankton, algae, and fungi.

It looks like it is certain from the fossil record that photosynthetic life formed long before sea animals. But, the idea that this kind of life was colonizing the land way before sea creatures is still uncertain, though it appears that the evidence is mounting.

- Large bacterial colonized land 2.75 Ba

Photosynthesizing bacteria appears to have been growing on land at least 2 billion years before sea animals formed. This confirms the Bible's account that 'vegetation' (in the widest sense) formed before the creatures in the waters.

- Greening of Earth pushed way back in time

Evidence for plant-like organisms growing up from the ground before 500 Ma has been lacking. However, now there is some evidence that a simple photosynthesizing fungus anchored in the ground was growing as far back as 2.2 Ba. By most anyone's interpretation, this form of life would qualify as 'vegetation' as described in Gen. 1:9-13. (Remember, the word for "grass" in Gen. 1:11 is more literally just a "sprout" of any kind. It seems to only signify something growing in the ground.)

This organism would likely have produced spores, as typical fungi do. This, in my opinion, would qualify as the "seed" producing "shoots" mentioned for Day 3 in the Bible. The Bible does not pretend to use the technical biology terms that we use today. Though spores would not today be considered technically seeds, the term "spore" actually comes from a Greek word meaning "seed," and there is no reason to believe that the ancient Hebrew word for "seed" would not have included spores.

- Ediacaran fossils may have been land lichen and other ‘vegetation’ [542-635 Ma]

As I have suspected for some time, the Ediacaran fossils may potentially be fossils of land organisms rather than sea organisms. These strange organisms were some 20-80 million years before the Cambrian Explosion. Now some scientist(s) are questioning these Ediacaran fossils based on new analysis of the soils represented in the fossils. There is now good reason to think that at least some of these living things were terrestrial, plant-like organisms.

- Origin of flowering plants pushed back ~100 million years earlier [~250 Ma]

The Bible also mentions fruit-bearing plants forming on Day 3, though the Hebrew wording seems to allow for this to have been a process that was only started without a completion on that Creation Day. So, apparently there is now evidence that flowering/fruit-producing plants were already forming as early as 250 Ma. What appears to be pollen has been found dating to about 250 Ma (the Triassic). This is before birds, mammals, or even the vast majority of modern sea creatures.

This helps add strength to the validity of the Bible's chronology for the formation of living things.

November 17, 2013

News Related to Day Zero (Gen. 1:1-2)

I've got a significant collection of science news stories that I've wanted to share for some time. These stories all reinforce creationism and/or the theory of designed evolution. I'll start with Day 0 and go through all six Days of Creation as specified in Genesis 1.

1. New Physics Suggest the Universe is Not Natural (June 2013)
First, there was a news article not too long ago that mentioned that the universe does not seem 'natural' given the properties of the Higgs that has been discovered recently. That is, as I understand it, the structure of the universe does not seem to be the natural, random result of the laws of physics, since it is too finely tuned for life. This means the universe appears super-natural. However, as always, those writing the news story completely overlook the possibility that this means the universe was created. A Creator would be "impossible," after all. Instead, they suggest the findings point toward a multiverse. The only problem is that a multiverse is just a model that may never be provable.

2. Moon Water Came From Very Wet Young Earth (May 2013)

So, as I have written in my book, I believe that Genesis 1:1-2 and the book of Job indicate that Earth's oceans formed quickly at the beginning of its history. Now the moon is giving evidence to support that belief. Though scientists often will say that Earth got most of its water from comets and asteroids, the Bible indicates that the ocean waters mostly came from within the Earth. As mentioned previously, there is a model postulated by some secular (non-Bible believing) scientist that has the majority of water coming from the magma oceans very early in Earth's history.

Here is a lengthy quote from the recent analysis of lunar rocks:

The notion that all Earth's water was delivered by comets or asteroids has just taken a hit. Chemical analysis of lunar rocks suggests that Earth was born wet, and it held on to its water long enough to donate some to the moon. . . .

Saal and colleagues measured the ratio in volcanic glasses that were trapped inside the Apollo 17 rocks and so protected from surface weathering. They found that the deuterium ratios were almost identical to those found in Earthly rocks, suggesting the two worlds got their water from the same source. . . .

So if the moon's water came from Earth, where did Earth's water come from? The impact that formed the moon happened within about 100 million years after solid bodies began to form. . . .

"The implication, although I cannot absolutely prove it, is that probably the Earth formed with water," he says. . . .

Saal thinks that Earth may have formed near where the asteroid belt is now, which is far enough from the sun for water to condense. The planet would then have migrated inward. 


August 24, 2013

The Dawkins Debate

So, I watched the whole debate here between Dr. Dawkins and Dr. Lennox about the existence of God and just had to make some comments:

First, I want to say that Dr. Dawkins appeared to be a somewhat better debater. But, the truth is not determined by who wins a debate.

1. Dawkins wrongly dismisses the Gospel based on a human sense of beauty

It is ironic that Dawkins claims that the idea of Jesus coming and dying is “petty” in comparison to the grandeur of the universe. On the one hand, Dawkins see the beauty of the universe and can't help but be impressed and enthralled, which are subjective human feelings quite akin to worship and love. In his mind, these feelings are purely subjective byproducts of evolution, and have nothing to do with absolute Truth.

On the other hand, Dawkins appeals to a human sense of beauty and importance to reject as “petty” the immeasurable love of God displayed in the incredible sacrifice of His Son on the cross for fallen and unworthy humanity. (Consequently, he confirms what the Bible says about how scoffers view the cross: 1 Cor. 1:22-23.) He appeals to human feelings to determine the truth of the Bible. Again, these feelings have absolutely nothing to do with truth. The best he can do is show that this is why he personally rejects the Gospel. It is subjective. I, and all Christians, believe just the opposite: the magnificence of the universe pales in comparison to the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ redeeming man on the cross. But how we feel about these things has little or nothing to do with absolute truth. We can't prove anything from these feelings.

Lennox did not seem to verbalize this faulty reasoning of Dawkins. If, as it seems, Dawkins was trying to use his emotional reasoning to dismiss the truth of the Gospel for everyone, then he is using a cheap and unreasonable ploy.

I have to seriously wonder if Dawkins ever experienced deep love in his childhood. I kind of doubt it; otherwise, it is unlikely he would think the love described in the Bible is “petty.”

2. Dawkins trivializes justice

Obviously, as an atheist, Dawkins can't believe in any kind of absolute justice. He has had to reconcile himself to the idea of no ultimate justice, no absolute right and wrong, and no higher meaning to existence. It is no wonder that Dawkins can't see any beauty in the cross. He sees no purpose in God finding a way to save humanity justly, rather than just willy-nilly forgiving people free of charge. If there is a God, then it makes most sense that God would be just, for we have a strong internal sense of justice. How then could God ever forgive sinners in a just manner? The answer is the cross. According to laws of justice, evil must be punished harshly one way or another. Sin-debt must be dealt with by a repayment. The cross provided a way whereby God could forgive without trivializing evil. We see in the cross that God always, always, always takes sin seriously even when He exempts some people from personally paying the price of justice. It's called substitution—something that no other religion really understands.

To become an atheist, you must forget about trying to find justice. You must forget about any kind of emotional and spiritual answers to life. Pain just is. Evil is just the byproduct of “selfish” evolution. Meaning and purpose are what you make them to be for your brief and vain life.

3. Dawkins assumes that Evolution is a sufficient answer to the complexity of life

Dawkins repeatedly stated as fact that the theory of evolution adequately solves the question of how complex life—like humans—came into existence. Disappointingly, Lennox failed to address this point very strongly. For starters, the theory of evolution does not seem to adequately explain the mechanisms behind how dinosaurs sprouted complex wings and how modern birds eventually formed. The mechanisms are supposedly mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, etc. It's an unguided, blind process—supposedly. By very definition, then, the traditional theory of evolution is unable to explain the rise of complexity quickly over short periods of time. No evolutionist would suggest that a normal crocodile could give birth one day to a baby crocodile with feathers. Complexity like that cannot (or very nearly cannot) appear in one generation. It should take many generations, some failed experiments, and many relatively minor genetic alterations. (Organisms, by the way, protect against random mutations.) How then is it that we see very early Cambrian creatures with complex compound eyes? Compound eyes with perfect little lenses should never have evolved that soon at the dawn of the animal kingdom—unless it arose by a series of large accidents. However, evolutionary history is too replete with such examples of complex creatures forming quickly. It is not consistent with blind, random, and inefficient mechanisms.

Dawkins presumes that neo-Darwinism holds the basic answers to how simple cells evolved into humans in approximately 4 billion years. Not all evolutionists are convinced. If you read any science articles related to evolution at all, you can detect that there are still many unanswered questions about how evolution does what it does (as if it were a rational agent). There are questions of how gradual evolution really is. There are questions about what role epigenetics plays in evolution. There are questions still about basic mechanisms—e.g. maybe living space of creatures is the major driving force of evolution. These sorts of questions indicate that evolution is not yet well understood and that scientists are still looking for (or even needing) more compelling mechanisms to easily explain how “it all happened.” If the process of evolution is somewhat poorly understood then it is inaccurate to say that “we know” that naturalistic mechanisms were the underlying cause behind increasing complexity.

4. Dawkins falsely assumes that an uncreated universe is a better "answer" than an all-powerful Creator because it is simpler

Dawkins indicated in the debate that the universe at its essence is very simple, since it may have began as a set of “simple” laws of physics. For that reason he thinks that an uncreated universe is more reasonable than an uncreated God. But, what makes us think that the foundation of existence is a simple
foundation? Dawkins argues that introducing God replaces the question of the universe's existence with a bigger question: where did God come from? I disagree. The question is the same either way.

Really there is only one impossible question for us humans to answer here, and that is the question of pure existence—of anything—whether that be God or the universe. There can never be an adequate answer to this question, because it involves the concept of infinity beyond our finite capacity of imagination. Thus, regardless of an all-powerful Creator or an uncreated universe, there is no real, fully-satisfying answer to this nagging question of existence. An eternal universe does not feel okay logically any more than an eternal God. A universe that popped into existence does not feel okay. A universe that existed only in an abstract form of “laws” and then that gave rise to energy and matter does not feel okay, either. We are forced to except the inexplicable nature of existence. So, the so-called simpler answer to existence is really not an answer at all. What would make us so sure that the core basis of reality/existence is simple vs. complex, when we cannot even begin to comprehend how anything could exist at all? Either way, existence feels like a miracle. A simple, uncreated universe does not help me understand existence. A “simple universe” that exists without cause does not seem like a smaller miracle than a God who exists without cause.

(By the way, we don't know how complex God is to be able to compare Him with the universe.)

April 25, 2013

Advanced Life is Very Rare

Given Occam’s Razor, I believe it can be shown logically that highly-intelligent life most likely is rare in the universe. The reasons have nothing to do with how many planets can sustain life. All we need to do is look at Earth and the history of life on this planet to see that life is rare in this universe—or, in fact, any conceivable universe(s). I shall only summarize the arguments, since the full reasoning is incredibly tedious. I will be starting with the faulty assumption that life evolved apart from God’s design, since if God designed life we can have no idea how common advanced life is elsewhere. (From now on in this post, I shall be using “advanced life” to refer only to beings with human-like intelligence.)

The basis for the argument is two simple facts: (1) human life evolved on Earth almost as soon as is conceivable, and the evolutionary path was replete with fortuitous circumstances and advancements, as many evolutionists will candidly admit[1]; and (2) Darwinian evolution by definition is not optimal and life evolves without purpose or desire for increases in complexity.

Because advanced life (humans) evolved so rapidly on Earth, relative to the full spectrum of conceivable time frames, Occam’s Razor suggests that advanced life had to evolve quickly or it would never have evolved at all. (One possible reason would be that the conditions for life may rarely last more than about 5 billion years before all life is destroyed by some extinction event.) We see, then, that the simplest answer is that almost wherever advanced life exists it will have evolved quickly. Lower forms of life may be abundant in the universe, but the vast majority of these planets would undergo complete extinction before advanced life could evolve.

Now, even if you allow for an infinite number of universes, Occam’s Razor would also strongly suggest that advanced life is not common in any of these alternate universes—or else the odds tell us that we should have been living in such a universe.

Under the faulty assumption of us being a cosmic accident, this means that one way or another it looks like we won the cosmic lottery where the odds were majorly stacked against us. Either (1) against the odds, we randomly ended up in a universe where advanced life is very rare, even though there are other universes where advanced life is common; or, (2) somehow the fundamental properties of the universe/multiverse allowed for the unlikely existence of advanced life forms—but just barely. Likely, if the fundamental properties of reality were altered even slightly then advanced life could not exist in any universe.

Bottom line: taking God out of the picture invariably makes the odds of our existence to be highly unlikely. It leads to the conclusion that life is probably rare in the universe(s). Finally, it leads to the conclusion that there probably is a God who designed life on Earth.

NEWS: Living Fossil Fish Has Genes for Wrists, Ankles, Fingers and Toes

A fish, called a coelacanth, thought to be extinct was found living and well in the seas (or at least a fish very similar to the extinct species). The fish is found in the fossil record as far back as 300 Ma, which places it at a point in Earth’s history when land creatures had just begun to form. So, scientists got curious and decided to investigate the genome of this living fossil to see if it could help explain the evolutionary process of bygone ages. What they found can—in my opinion—only support the idea of a designed evolutionary process. Darwinian evolution fails to explain the findings, as does young-earth creationism.

The scientists made an educated guess: the living-fossil fish should have some adaptations that are related to walking on land, since it existed around the time that land creatures were first evolving. Most fish do not have genetic code for hands and feet and toes and fingers. I’m not surprised. They don’t have those. However, this ancient fish species did indeed have some genetic code related to limbs:
“The authors located a fragment of DNA within the coelacanth's genome that is also found in land vertebrates but not in fish without lobed fins, such as tuna, tilapia, and sharks. Because researchers cannot study live coelacanths in the laboratory, they inserted the fragment into a mouse embryo in order to learn what it does. The fragment activated a network of genes that forms bones in wrists, ankles, fingers and toes. … [I]t's not yet clear what the DNA fragment's function is within [living] coelacanths …”
This is rather shocking! The genes in this fish are “upstream” genetic switches that would typically activate an array of genes that would result in the production of hands and feet, etc. In other words, the fish has genes that appear to be useless without additional genetic information. These genes found in this fish do not appear to be an evolutionary experiment leading to limbs, but rather fully “modern” genes that today serve to activate limb production in limbed creatures. This leads to the reoccurring problem of preexisting information before evolutionary utilization. It appears more than ever that animals had all the genetic toolkits needed to produce the varied and complex organisms that exist today. The evolutionary process does not appear to have tinkered with failed experiments, but rather it used efficient and existing information to quickly adapt to new environments and survival challenges. That contradicts the tenants of Darwinism.

(This follows a number of similar findings of organism genomes containing information that is only known to be used by other vastly different organisms, such as sponges with genes for nervous systems and immune systems and ancient fish with complex segmented backbones designed for walking.)

Young-earth creationists (YECs) should be perplexed by these findings as well. Did God create animals with junk information? Obviously, YECs can (and will) assume that God reused the same genetic codes for various purposes, and we haven’t yet discovered the true purpose of these genes in the living-fossil fish. But, considering that other similar fish do not have this information and that it was predicted by evolutionists that this one fish would have some walking-related genes, it seems too big of a coincidence to swallow.

Neither Darwinians nor YECs seem to be able to easily explain the evidence. Only created evolution accurately predicts this kind of evidence.

February 28, 2013

The Origins of Life: Did Life Get Started by Asteroids?

(Disclaimer: Origins of life research is a new area of study for me. I’m not an expert on this topic and writing this post may be somewhat premature on my part. Please feel free to correct me if you see something that is incorrect, since I am going on limited research.)

For decades scientists have been searching for answers about the origins of life. How did life get started on Earth? How did the first cell form? Today, many scientists are convinced they are closer than ever to an answer—an answer that does not include God. Life, they say, was jumpstarted by asteroids bearing organic compounds; furthermore, they believe they have found such asteroids dating to the early years of our solar system. The organic material in these asteroids is compelling evidence, they believe, that primitive life got started by a natural process. However, they fail to recognize that there is a perfectly good alternative answer to why organic compounds have been found on asteroids which has everything to do with design.

The Discoveries

First, let’s take a quick look at the types of organic molecules that have been found in asteroids since the 1960s. These include: two of the four building blocks of DNA (guanine and adenine), a few of the amino acids that are used to build proteins, and amphiphilic compounds which are used in building cell membranes. Notably, two of the four building blocks have not been reported to have been found, as best I can tell. These molecules are all built of common organic elements: carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N).


I should also discuss chirality. To save time let me boil it down to the best of my limited knowledge. Amino acids and various other molecules can be in two forms—what are called left-handed and right-handed forms. Most of life uses left-handed forms of amino acids and proteins. All proteins need to be constructed of 100% left- or right-handed amino acids[5]. Also, life’s DNA and RNA chains use exclusively right-handed sugars in the backbones. Asteroids and comets have contained 60% or less of left-handed forms of amino acids. Even the 18% excess of left-handed acids in one meteorite[2] is thought to be statistically insufficient to accidentally produce a useful protein (with 50+ amino acids) or enough right-handed sugars to directly form and facilitate the perpetuation of a self-replicating strand of typical RNA.

Even one molecule of the wrong type of handedness in a protein or an RNA strand would destroy its biological activity, it appears. Thus, even a small percentage of either left-handed or right-handed molecules mixed with the other would present problems for life’s eventual formation. No known natural means exists to produce nearly 100% of one handedness in such a way as to allow an ongoing random mixing of organic compounds—a condition that would seem to be necessary for the emergence of life.

An Abundance of Organic Elements

Now, the primary point of this blog post is to point out that there is a perfectly good reason why one kind of asteroid has amino acids and, more significantly, nucleic acids. If an alien race that reproduced asexually were to come to earth and see two brothers who are identical twins they might jump to the conclusion that one brother came from the other brother. But they certainly would be wrong. Though the aliens’ assumption might seem logical, there is another perfectly sound answer: the identical humans had a common origin. The materials of asteroids and the planet Earth have had a common origin, which is the sun. Moreover, the Earth’s atmosphere may have been formed partly from asteroid and comet bombardment. Because of the common origin for these things, it would stand to reason that their chemical compositions might have some similarities.

God wanted to form life from certain elements, and these elements (e.g. carbon [C], Hydrogen [H], Oxygen [O], & Nitrogen [N]) needed then to be common in the universe and more importantly on earth. If you look at the relative abundance of elements in the universe you will see that these are the top seven: H, He, O, C, Ne, Fe, and N, with the abundance of Ne, Fe, and N being nearly the same. Notice that the “organic elements” C, H, O, & N are all highly abundant in the entire universe. If you look at the earth, you will see that in the atmosphere these are the top five elements by number of atoms: H, He, O, C, & N. Again, the organic elements are the most common (excluding the inert noble gas He which does not bond with other atoms). The sun was used to produce these organic elements in the early solar system. Is it any surprise that some asteroids contain high levels of the organic elements? 75% of asteroids are C-type, which contain significant levels of carbon. These carbonaceous asteroids are rich in H, O, C, & N[1]—not to say that they have no other elements. What might seem more surprising is that roughly 20% of asteroids do not contain high levels of carbon, considering that C is a common element in the universe. The earth’s crust also contains high levels of C, H, & O, though N is much rarer there, probably because it mostly formed N2 gas early in the Earth’s formation making it get expelled into the atmosphere. (Nitrogen is also very stable in the atmosphere and has built up over the eons.)

Organic life requires organic elements. Our environment needed to be filled with these elements to allow for life to thrive. The sun that formed the Earth also formed asteroids, and asteroids were likely used to help form the Earth and its atmosphere[3]. So, the four most common organic elements needed to be abundantly generated by the sun. Again, it would be likely that most asteroids would be rich in these organic elements, considering the design purposes of God. (Aside: this argument only really works for an old earth.)

The Reason Some Organic Molecules Are Common

Now, just because it makes sense that there would be asteroids abundant in organic elements does not mean that you would necessarily expect to see organic compounds, like the four DNA nucleobases (viz. the molecules generally represented as G, A, T, C). But here’s the deal: C-type asteroids contain a wide range of molecules composed of C, H, O, & N, including acids not typically found in life on earth. The nucleobases are relatively un-complex molecules composed of anywhere from 12 to 16 atoms. Because God undoubtedly wanted to form living creatures using simple, stable compounds (which is the only thing that makes sense), that implies these building blocks of DNA should be chemically stable compared with many other similar molecules. This leads us to the conclusion that it would be fairly likely that asteroids containing the organic elements would contain the stable and relatively un-complex organic building blocks of life.


So, in case I have made the logic hard to follow here, the summary is that a wise and intelligent Creator who wanted to make C, H, O, & N based organisms would probably make those elements abundant in the universe and would make the organic components stable and thus more likely to be found in Nature in places unrelated to life’s formation. This means we should expect to find organic compounds to be quite common elsewhere in the universe, even in other solar systems, and there still be no life in any of those other places.

(Aside: this also is the same type of logic I would use to explain why Earth-sized planets may be abundant in the universe.)

Closing Arguments

There are two other things to address, though. One is an argument in favor of life forming through natural means, and the other argument is against it. The argument in favor relates to the 18% excess of left-handed amino acids found in an asteroid. Why would there just happen to be this left-handed excess in asteroids and also in living organisms, if life did not get jumpstarted by these meteorites? There are several possible answers. One, it could be coincidence and nothing more. Remember, 18% excess does almost nothing to solve the origin of life problem; we need very close to 100% of one form. Two, it could be from contamination, as some scientists have acknowledged[4]. Three, it could be that those left-handed acids are even more stable such that Nature sometimes generates those forms in greater abundance, and God designed and used the most stable form of the molecules for life. (It is important to note here that news reports seemed not to mention anything about finding an excess of right-handed sugars used to form the backbone of DNA/RNA, which might have been more interesting.)

The second important argument is that two of the four DNA/RNA building blocks, the T (or U for RNA) and C, appear to have not been found naturally occurring in meteorites—not to mention most of the other bioactive amino acids. This may be highly problematic to those trying to find the origins of life. How did the other organic compounds form? They are either relatively rare in the solar system or they are nonexistent apart from life. Either way, it is not especially good news for those looking for a naturalistic answer to the origins of life. Will these other two nucleic acids turn up sometime? I imagine they will, but that may be the least of the problems facing the origins of life researchers.

How life got started is still very much a mystery for Darwinian evolutionists. There are a number of hypotheses, but none of them are validated by observational evidence. None of them have been shown to be probable paths to how life began. Purely theoretically, could God have used “natural means” to form life? Even if there are countless Earth-like worlds, the probability of it happening naturally still seem slim, but perhaps so. Nevertheless, the evidence is lacking. Finding organic material in asteroids may well mean nothing more than that the whole universe was designed with Earth’s organic life in mind.

EDIT: After posting this, it was reported in the news that organic compounds were found in a galactic cloud here in our galaxy.[6] Even later, another science article mentioned that a "complex" organic compound (isopropyl cyanide, C3H7CN) was found in intergalactic clouds.[7] These new discoveries actually help validate what I've been saying in this post: organic elements and compounds are likely to be common in the whole universe.



January 10, 2013

The Truthfulness of God

One of the most disturbing things initially about the thought of an old earth was that the Bible could be so unclear and my views wrong for so many years. This brings up the important theological question of the truthfulness of God. Is the Bible frank and truthful in its presentation of the creation of the world? Or, was God being deceptive in presenting what at first blush appears to be a young earth in the Bible? How could serious and godly students of the Bible be wrong for millennia about this topic? The following points help explain how believers could be wrong for so long and yet God not be dishonest.
1. The original Hebrew language of Moses' time is not always easily understood.
The Bible was written roughly 3,500 years ago. Though God preserves His Word faithfully, determining the original meaning that Moses intended should not be assumed to be easy. Languages often change significantly over hundreds of years, not to mention thousands. My guess—and it is only a guess—is that the Hebrew readers of Moses’ day would have had no difficulty in discerning that the Days of Genesis 1 were unspecified periods of time—maybe 24-hours but maybe much longer periods.
The Bible has been preserved, and we can determine its original meaning, but we should not assume that the Bible is always obvious in its meaning. We should not assume that what appears obvious in an English translation was just as obvious in the ancient Hebrew. Anyone who might argue for the perspicuity of the Scriptures in regard to non-essential doctrines has a very difficult case to make. Traditionally, it has been believed that the Bible is clear in matters of salvation and other essential doctrines, but not concerning peripheral doctrines. The age of the universe is not—or definitely should not be—a core doctrine.
2. A right understanding of the “two books” of God answers the truthfulness of God.
It has been believed by many through the ages that there are two revelations of God: the revelation of Nature and the special revelation of Scripture [1]. This is the correct view, as indicated in Romans 1-2 and Psalms 8 and 19. Both are sent to us from God’s fingers. The revelation of Nature needs to be treated as God’s honest message about Himself and the history of the whole cosmos and earth. We should not marginalize this revelation when interpreting the special revelation of Scripture. In regard to matters that Nature speaks to, such as the history of the universe, the Bible needs to be interpreted in light of weighty evidence of Nature. Such has been done in relation to heliocentricity.
Some have tried to argue that to do such a thing puts the Bible at risk of being twisted to mean anything we want it to mean. Some have argued that this belittles the supreme revelation of the Bible. However, the Bible speaks more clearly to spiritual issues, the history of Man, godly living, God’s divine nature, and prophecy, whereas Nature is relatively unhelpful in those areas. As a result, the Bible is supreme in its revelation pertaining to such truth, and Nature cannot be legitimately used to twist the essential doctrines of the Bible. Yet, Nature speaks loudly about itself. We should not think that the Bible is the only information that we have about the world and its history. The starlight from distant galaxies, for instance, lets us directly observe the history of the universe.
If God expects us to investigate Nature’s revelation to uncover secrets of the past, and to compare that revelation with the Bible, then He is not dishonest to give only a simplified and unclear account of history of the universe in the Bible. The Bible was never intended to be a scientific textbook. It was never intended to tell us everything about Nature when Nature is readily able to speak for itself. The Bible, then, should not be expected to be obvious, precise, or detailed in its teaching about the workings and history of the universe—especially since the Bible’s focus is on God and man’s relationship with Him.
3. The precise history of the universe and animal life is a minor issue.
Though some groups (e.g., ICR and AiG) have attempted to artificially exult the importance of the Genesis 1 Creation account, the Bible teaches that the world’s history is relatively unimportant. Time is relative to God, and man did not exist while the world was being created, making the precise length of the days in Genesis 1 trivial by comparison to the doctrine of Redemption. If God wanted to call long ages of time “days” (as translated into English), we should not be disturbed by that or concerned about His honesty. Those who persistently stress the importance of the “days” being literal 24-hour days ultimately distract from the greater importance of the Gospel of Jesus.
The age of the world is not directly related to the issue of man’s sin and death, as some would like to suggest. One can believe in the literal Fall of Man and the entrance of human death from sin without believing in a young earth. If those teachings are upheld, then the doctrines of sin and salvation are preserved and untouched. Whether one believes in a young or old earth makes no difference, theologically.
4. Proper interpretation of Scripture answers the truthfulness of God.
The most surprising thing for me was that Genesis 1 is, at best, only half of the Creation story of the Bible. Most people are unaware that there are a good number of other verses outside of Genesis that speak about the history of the heavens and earth. When these verses are interpreted together, the fact that Genesis 1 is a simplification of the Creation history becomes clear, and the possibility of “days” longer than 24-hours becomes more evident. Those who argue for a young earth do violence, in my opinion, to these other passages pertaining to Creation and passages that inform us about how words were used by ancient Hebrews.
When all the passages are viewed together the Genesis account of Creation is shown to be an abbreviated account where much more is taking place than specified. Where Genesis 1 might be viewed as one quick supernatural creation after another, other passages reveal that God created through the use of other processes that typically would require more time than six 24-hour days. Unless God greatly accelerated the processes to fit 24-hour periods, these “days” of Genesis must have been longer periods. As a result many young earth creationists insist that these passages are referring to sometime other than the Creation Week.
It is generally believed that you interpret the less clear passages of the Bible in light of the clearer passages. However, I disagree with that idea. The Bible needs to be viewed as a whole, as much as possible. The clearer passages should be interpreted together with the less clear passages, where each passage informs the other passages. It’s true that the clearer passages help us understand the less clear passages better than the other way around, but the goal of interpretation should be harmonization of teaching. The interpretation that most fully and beautifully unifies all the related passages should be accepted, not the interpretation that is merely simplest. The Bible—since it is true—is self-consistent and harmonious and logical.
The book of Genesis needs to be viewed as the beginning or foundation of the Mosaic Law. It was the first book of Moses written to the Israelites, specifically. It is quite reasonable that Moses (or perhaps earlier godly men) under the guidance of God may have structured the Creation Account to help reinforce the keeping of the Sabbath as applied in Exodus 20.
5. God never promised it would be easy to find the Truth.
No, in fact, the Bible teaches us that God sometimes hides the truth from the lazy. He loves us to be seekers of the truth (e.g., Mt 7:7). To not reward laziness, apathy, and dependence upon tradition, He sometimes makes the truth obscure. Consider that the doctrine of God’s Redemption is infinitely more important than the doctrine of Six-Day Creation, yet God in the Old Testament gave little clear revelation about how He would accomplish Redemption. So unobvious was the truth of Substitution that the disciples had little to no understanding of it (e.g., Mk 8:31-32) and thought Jesus was going to reign on earth immediately.
Other examples of obscurity of God’s truth would be various prophecies and Jesus’ parables that were spoken specifically to conceal truth from apathetic listeners (Mk 4:11-12). The teachings in Daniel, for instance, were to be “sealed up” until the time of the end (Dan 12:4,9), indicating the purpose of God to prevent a clear understanding of it until the time was right.
God may have had various good reasons why He obscured the details of the history of the universe and earth and life. God certainly is not in the business of proving His Word to be true, since He delights in faith (Heb 11:6). If clearer details of Creation had been given then modern science would have proven the Bible to be true. But God never wanted to prove Himself to all humanity.
6. Genesis contains a small measure of poetic language.
Lastly, and least importantly, poetic flare exists in Genesis, such as the reference to the “windows of heaven” (Gen 7:11), Lamech’s speech (Gen 4:23), the structure of the Flood Account as a chiasm [2], the rhyming Hebrew words of “tohu” and “bohu” (Gen 1:2b) and the repetition in Genesis 1. A clear example of repetition being used poetically is Psalm 136. Genesis 1 uses the phrase, “Evening came and morning came,” over and over again, which could be a small poetic element. The only clear time indicators in Genesis 1 are these repeated phrases, along with the word “day,” which could show us that these phrases are poetic in nature and not to be taken literally.
By no means should Genesis 1 be considered primarily poetic! As in Lamech’s speech, poetic elements of a passage do not imply that the whole passage should be interpreted allegorically, spiritually, metaphorically, or otherwise non-literally. The argument is that Genesis 1 contains a small amount of poetic flare, but most of it should be taken literally.
The Bible indicates that Nature is a revelation from God not to be twisted to fit the Bible. Neither needs to be twisted. The Bible can be comfortably interpreted to fit well with the compelling evidence of Nature. They are in harmony.
God’s account of Creation is truthful since the Bible itself shows it to be a partial, summarized passage containing minor poetic elements, which allows the days to be viewed as long periods. Since God never said that His Truth in the Bible or Nature would be easy to discern, and the language of Moses’ day is not easily recovered, we can begin to understand how the Creation Account has been misinterpreted for thousands of years. Though we might like to believe the account is simple and easily understood, we see from the rest of the Bible that the events of creation are complex and not spoke in absolute language that belongs in a science textbook. The account is mostly literal but needs to be handled with care. When all these points are considered, we see that God never intended for Genesis 1 to be taken so absolutely without proper regard for Nature’s own testimony about itself. We see that God was not dishonest, but rather we (who strongly believed in a young earth) were presumptuous of His Word.

January 02, 2013

Genesis One Commentary

I've created my first book. A small portion of the content on this blog (such as charts) and detailed personal study notes on Genesis 1, compiled over months and many hours of work, have been compiled into a book (and e-book). The book is 157 pages long.

Sadly, this book is in black-and-white, even though it was intended to be in color. The cost of printing a color book, however, is too great at this point.