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January 14, 2013

Comments

Don't scriptures such as Exodus 20:8 - 11 and Matthew 19:4 clarify the meaning of Genesis 1 and 2?

Interesting thoughts on the counter-perspective being provided by Moses in opposition to the pagan creation accounts that the Hebrews were no doubt indoctrinated with. This may indeed have been the intent of the entire book of Genesis. I think some questions that would plague (pun intended) the notion of seeing that theory as having total explanatory power in terms of interpretation remain. A few being:
--What should we then make of the rest of the book of Genesis? Is it also merely a refutation of pagan indoctrination without regard to historical accuracy? That certainly doesn't seem to be the case. And if not, why the total change of genre between chapters 2 and 3? If chapter 3 is to also be considered to be soley a theological correction of sorts and not a historical accounting of actual events, we have greater issues to consider.
--Continuing with the above, at what point then would Genesis become a historical narrative rather than an abstract "framework" of understanding?
--In the interest of hermeneutical consistency, what causes us to seek other than the grammatical and historical interpretation of Genesis 1&2 when we seek no other interpretation of any other chapter in the same document?

On the other hand, here is a negative review of the book. Not sure why some of the comments say that the person reviewing the book was rude; saying so, doesn't make it so (i.e. they provide no evidence.)

I read your website a lot and I listen to your podcasts whenever I can and it seems that this question comes up a lot.
I am a young earth creationist or biblical literalist or however you want to label me. I believe that based on the context and the type of literature that Geneseis represents we as bible inerrantists must take the days of creation in Genesis 1 as literal days. Greg you mention that Moses was trying to teach them about their God in light of Egyptian Gods they were used to and I can understand looking at it from that point of view. This does not negate the fact that Moses was stating them as days. There was morning and evening.. this signifies one day. There was nothing in the Egyptian lore that would change the fact that when a person writes about history and they say a day that it would not be interpreted as a day. Yes the hebrew word- yom - had several meanings but in this context with the words that surround it, I don't see how it can be interpreted any other way. There are a lot of scientists out there that have a lot of really good theories about how the world could have been created in the context of literal days. I think you should spend some time reading their theories, visiting their museums. I know for a fact that if you were to visit Dallas and talk to the group from ICR they would answer any questions and let you see all they could offer. I know personally I have asked Answers in Genesis to extend an invitation to you so that you could come visit their museum. I would suggest you take that invitition so you can honestly say that you have looked at all of the angles. If you come to Dallas I would even sit down with you and answer your questions.

I'm with Jim; Greg mentioned "getting more details", and aren't we provided with those from other passages in the Scriptures, such as what he mentioned above?

Also, one question I have about this line of thinking presented by Greg, which is very intriguing and something I haven't considered before.

Anyway, does any of this have a bearing on the so-called "gap theory", by which I mean the idea that in between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 there could be potentially millions of years that have gone by, and that when God said, "Let there be light", that marked the "official" beginning of the creation process, and THEN it either took 6 literal days or some other period time depending on which view you take?

I'm not real up to speed on this issue, so I don't know if these are good questions to ask or not.

For Koukl, the text contains both scientific and now 'chronological' error. (Listen to the end.)

The 'scientific' error has to do with the length of the day.

So, what is this 'chronological' error in the text?

Well, maybe the long 'days' overlap.

Or maybe 'chronologically' means the text gives the days in a wrong order.

It doesn't matter because, for Koukl now, the text can err; it's the purpose that matters.

Might 'the people the book was written to' understand the so-called second day to overlap with or come before the so-called first day?

It's possible.

So, let's go with it!

If we apply this new idea of inerrancy - inerrancy of purpose - to some other passages, the we can do pretty much anything.

Yay!

RonH

Since the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 accounts are in straightforward logical conflict if read as strict chronologies, it seems most obvious that they are not and were never intended to be strict chronologies. Not by Moses, and not by some later editor.* Not any more than Rousseau intended to assert that people were both free and in chains or that Dickens intended to say that it was simultaneously both the best and worst of times.

That's grist for the mill for Greg's framework hypothesis. I think that the most chronology we can read into Genesis 1 is this: God spoke in 6 successive intervals, possibly of constant, but unknown length.

The ultimate completion of what God spoke into existence could have happened at any time, and taken any amount of time. Or (as I think) it might still not be complete. God spoke an ongoing process into being in six separate words. Light is still coming to be, as are stars, moons, planets, waters and lands, animal and plant species. There was a moment of the beginning of each of these.

BTW - I do NOT think that this reconciles Genesis with evolution. Evolution was not happening because of God's words. The ultimate result of all of God's speaking and doing was the Man and the Woman. One man named Adam. One woman, later called Eve. Formed directly by God...not by a chaos of competition, privation, and death. Formed in a world that did not know those things until all creation was frustrated by the sin of this one man. A world that would not be returned to its prior state except by the work of the one God-Man: Jesus Christ.

Indeed, the story of Genesis is not even compatible with physics. Forget about evolution. Since the laws of physics themselves (in particular, though not limited to, the second law of thermodynamics) would really make such an ordered and deathless world impossible.

(BTW - I think Genesis, is true: There was one man and one woman...the parents of our race and it sin that lived in a paradise that runs contrary to all out understanding of nature...to which literally none of laws of our frustrated natural order would apply)

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* FTR, I don't believe that there was a later editor of Genesis or any other book in the Torah. I think that's entirely a liberal fever-dream. I include the noted sentence to emphasize a point about the standard liberal technique of splitting the narrative into 4 parts authored at different times by different (groups of) authors (Where Gen 2 is from the earliest author, and Gen 1 from the latest). And that point is this: the liberal fantasy does precisely nothing to explain the presence of apparent contradictions in the texts. Editors are as concerned about consistency as authors are...maybe even more concerned.

RonH,
Where does Greg say the Bible is in error?

Mike R,

At about 6:30, he says (roughly) that Genesis 'wasn't meant to give a scientific - or maybe even a chronological - day by day characterization...'

What I hear is: Genesis wasn't meant to give an accurate account of what things happened... how they happened... in what order they happened... or how long they took.

On a plain reading, Genesis conflicts with the evidence and the simplest explanation is that Genesis is not and never was correct.

The writer(s) had no idea what happened and never dreamed people would find out. They were probably surprised that anyone believed them.

Ask Senator Jon Kyl: Not intended to be a factual statement means Not expected to be checked.

RonH

We wouldn't be discussing this if the writer(s) had had knowledge of the history of the world.

"What I hear is: Genesis wasn't meant to give an accurate account of what things happened... how they happened... in what order they happened... or how long they took."

Seems to me this is putting words in Greg's mouth.

What's operative is not so much what the writer of Genesis (Moses) knew or did not know. What's operative is what the readers of Genesis knew.

Nothing in the Genesis account is false. Like all linguistic communication not everything true that might have been said was said. In particular, Genesis does not attempt to give a fully spelled out scientific account of the formation of the world.

Had it done so, I believe that we wouldn't have the first clue what it was talking about. Forget about the Israelites alive over 30 centuries ago. That is because I'm pretty sure that we have vastly more to learn about the natural world, including its origins, than we already know. I suspect that were we to compare our best modern scientific beliefs to a fully adequate and accurate account of nature, we might as well believe that the world is on the back of a turtle.

When it comes to science, it's like we're all on a walking along the American coastline from Barrow, Alaska to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego. Our fellow travelers in Moses' day have traveled 1 mile. We've traveled 100 miles. Our science is 100 times more advanced than theirs. Hooray for us. But, honestly, we've scarcely gotten a tenth of the way to Nome.

As another note, Greg stated somewhat factually that the 6th day was too long.....I'm assuming you think that those events didn't have enough time to happen? Answers in Genesis has recently answered this question. It turns out that all those event could have easily occurred during a day. I believe most young earth Creation have answered this question too in detail. I always assumed that there must have been enough time, but it's good to see the breakdown for each event, and how it could have easily occurred within a day!

Here's the issue I have with every old earth view:
When you try to fit millions of years into the Bible, you end up interpreting the fossil layers as being slowly laid down over millions of years, instead of the global flood. Every old earth Creationist that I've heard of claims that Noah's flood was local. If adding millions of years to the text causes you to understand Noah's flood as a local event, isn't that a good sign that it's a bad interpretation?

There are essentially 2 choices:
1. Old earth, thorn, animal death & disease, carnivory before the fall, combined with a local flood.

2. 6 day creation, no death, no disease, vegetarian diets before the fall, and a global flood in the days of Noah.

One of those flows naturally from the text, and the other requires alot of intellectual gymnastics in order to fit in the millions of years.

Also, you seemed to assume that theistic evolutionists don't accept biblical innerrancy, but many of them do!! They will use many of the same concepts/interpretations that you do (ie, Genesis is just a poem, it just conveys an idea, it's not chronological, etc etc).

..we've scarcely gotten a tenth of the way to Nome.
So how do claim
Nothing in the Genesis account is false.
Maybe when we get to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego we will know that nothing in the Genesis account is true.

The reading that flows 'naturally' from the text is often the worst reading. And rejecting the 'natural' reading of the text often involves no mental gymnastics at all. (Not that mental gymnastics in the arena of mental endeavor are any worse than bodily gymnastics are in the arena of physical endeavor. When a wide receiver is described as doing gymnastics to make a catch, I think that's usually a compliment.)

The 'natural' reading of Genesis 1-3, that it presents a chronological account of creation, is by far the worst reading of the text, since it implies contradiction!

If Genesis 1-3 present a chronological account of creation, then Man was created before and after the animals. The animals were created before and after the plants.

In light of this, it's actually a little surprising that the 'natural' interpretation of Genesis 1-3 is taken seriously by anyone.

Not that I agree with the theistic evolutionists. I don't think that we can read Genesis, or the Gospels, or any of the rest of Scripture, in a way that allows us to think that the world had death and disease prior to the Fall.

It seems to me that:

1) The world described in Genesis 1 is not compatible with any of our current scientific theories.

2) The Fall is responsible for the change in the order of nature that makes our current scientific theories decent approximations. There were the Laws of Edenic Nature, and there are the Laws of Fallen Nature. And they are quite different.

3) Genesis 1-3 say nothing about how much time elapsed between the initial creation of the world and the Fall of Man.

4) Because of item #2, science also can tell us nothing about the time mentioned in item #3. This is because all of the models by which we might try to infer what was going on in the past are predicated on laws of Fallen Nature. Laws that were not operative at the time in question. Our science cannot tell us about Eden any more than the Tower of Babel really could have reached Heaven. In essence, the Fall places a veil between our eyes and Eden as impassable as any Angel and any flaming sword. We know only what God chooses to reveal to us about that time.

5) Genesis 1-3 also tell us nothing about how much time elapsed between the Fall, when the world changed, and the expulsion from Eden.

6) Since the new laws of the Fallen Nature we live under had become operative in the time period mentioned in item #5, science might be able to say something about that time. But simple intellectual humility demands that we admit, even here, that our ignorance vastly overbalances our knowledge. And that means we must be very temperate in our claims even about that.

Ron-

I am not claiming that nothing in the Genesis account is false because I've got a fleshed out scientific theory that tells me so. How could you have read that into my remarks?

Nothing in the Genesis account is false because Genesis is the Word of God (and I've got reason to believe that that does not depend on the science of origins). And God is not a deceiver.

Let's say that I'd read detailed accounts by a traveler who'd actually gone from Barrow to Ushuaia.

Now, suppose I say to you as we're shivering on our way to Nome. "Don't worry, I have it on good authority that it will get warmer."

What kind of sense would it make to say "How would you know, we haven't even gotten to Nome yet!"

But that's essentially what you've just said.

Wisdomlover,
Before you claim there are contradictions in the Bible, have you stopped to see what Christians have said about this?

Most "contradictions" are easily resolved. For example, Man and animals WERE created on day 6. Chapter 2 is not a different creation account, but a more detailed account of day 6. God made the animals first, and Gen 2:19 allows for that just fine. Even the NIV states "Now the LORD God had formed ..", as in before man.

This isn't a contradiction, and adding millions of years doesn't help to resolve anything.

Wisdomlover,
You also stated:
"I don't think that we can read Genesis, or the Gospels, or any of the rest of Scripture, in a way that allows us to think that the world had death and disease prior to the Fall."

I agree, and that means that the geological layers (which contain fossils and disease and thorns) were layed down AFTER the fall, which would have to be during the global flood, about 4300 years ago. The evidence for an old earth has now vanished. It's not 'slow and gradual' processes that secular geologists claim, but a global catastrophe as described in the flood account.

Which means of course that man lived with dinosaurs, radiometric dating is wrong, and many other secular ideas based on the philosophy of naturalism.

And of course, there is good evidence for this.

The RATE project has very powerful evidence of accelerated nuclear decay, and has C14 in diamonds among other things suppose to be millions or billions of years old.

Then, there is dinosaur soft tissue which only makes sense if dinosaurs lived thousands of years ago, as the Bible lays out.

That's one interpretation Mathieu. And it could be right for all I know. See my point #6. But also see my point #5. The text actually says very little about whether a long time or a short time passed between the Fall and the expulsion from Eden.

It seems possible to me, at least, that Adam and Eve might have had to endure a very, very long time under God's disapproving gaze before they were actually expelled into the world we all live in now. And in that time nature itself was overturned and re-ordered. It also seems to me that time itself is part of the nature that was overthrown and may have flowed differently before the Fall than it did after the Fall. So that from Adam and Eve's perspective only a short time passed while eons went by on Earth.

The bottom line is that God spoke the curse, but, as with the words of creation, it's really anyone's guess how long it took for those words to be fulfilled. As such, I think an old earth is still compatible with Genesis.

None of that commits me, of course, to the idea that there was not a global flood of Noah. I think there was. I have my doubts about whether it could really explain all the sedimentary layers we find in various rock formations. (But again, see point #6.)

I'm currently reading through "Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science" by John Lennox. It deals extensively with this issue and Dr. Lennox does a pretty fair summary of all the different views in play. He also spends quite a bit of time dealing with exactly what the Bible says and what it does NOT say. Lennox believes that one could believe in an old earth AND 24 hour creation days. From a textual stand point, he sees no problem with reconciling those two views. It's a relatively short read and pretty informative. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone studying this issue.

B. Houston,

I would encourage you to take a look at this review of Lennox's book.

"

Wisdomlover,
You also stated:
"I don't think that we can read Genesis, or the Gospels, or any of the rest of Scripture, in a way that allows us to think that the world had death and disease prior to the Fall."

I agree, and that means that the geological layers (which contain fossils and disease and thorns) were layed down AFTER the fall, which would have to be during the global flood, about 4300 years ago. The evidence for an old earth has now vanished. It's not 'slow and gradual' processes that secular geologists claim, but a global catastrophe as described in the flood account.

Posted by: Mathieu Bechard | January 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Which means of course that man lived with dinosaurs, radiometric dating is wrong, and many other secular ideas based on the philosophy of naturalism.

And of course, there is good evidence for this.

The RATE project has very powerful evidence of accelerated nuclear decay, and has C14 in diamonds among other things suppose to be millions or billions of years old.

Then, there is dinosaur soft tissue which only makes sense if dinosaurs lived thousands of years ago, as the Bible lays out."

This are the most ill informed posts I have ever had the misfortune to read. If you actually go and read the science you'll understand how wide of the mark you are.

But you wont read the science I'm sure. Its much easier to swallow the BS that AiG et al pump out.

CE-

"This are the most ill informed posts I have ever had the misfortune to read. If you actually go and read the science you'll understand how wide of the mark you are."

Why did you address this comment to me when it was Matthieu who made the points you repeat?

Am I ill-informed because Matthieu is right and I disagree with him?

Or am I ill-informed because Matthieu is wrong and I agree with him?

Or am I ill-informed because I claim not to know whether Matthieu is right, but that for all I know he might be?*

Or what?

I have no certainty on the issue of evolutionary science. It seems to me that many of the criticisms of evolutionary theory made by creationists are cogent. And the evolutionist's tendency to ridicule them and not address them does little to convince me otherwise.

With that said, the evidence for evolution is itself compelling in many ways. Especially divinely directed evolution.

I don't think that evolution is, strictly speaking incompatible with a somewhat literal reading of Genesis 1-3. (Bearing in mind that what people call the 'natural' reading of Genesis 1-3 is actually no reading at all, since it implies contradiction.)

At the same time, I think that most efforts to reconcile evolution with Genesis 1-3 are failures. Either they do not succeed in reconciling evolution with their reading of Genesis 1-3, or they do reconcile evolution with their reading of Genesis 1-3, but their reading is so bad that their enterprise fails on that ground.

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* In fact, I neither agree nor disagree with Matthieu. Instead, I claim not to know whether he is right though, for all I know, he might be.

BTW, I am so ill-informed that I did not know at first who AiG was. I had to google it to find out that it's a group called "Answers in Genesis".

My first association with those initials was of the insurance company.

CE-

Oh, wait, I see.

You directed your remarks at Matthieu...it's just that in your extended quotation of him you began with his initial address to me.

OK. I get it.

I'll let Matthieu answer for himself.

I do stand behind what I said regarding my uncertainty on evolution (both ways). And I think that Matthieu and others overlook the possibility that there is a long gap after the Fall but before the beginning of the remainder of Biblical history. And all the Old Earth events, including evolution, might have occurred during this time. As such, I do not think that the Flood is needed to explain the existence of all the sedimentary layers in rock formations...there may have been plenty of time for those layers to form just the way the Old-Earthers say that it did.

I found this program a few weeks ago, and I believe it is worth every bit of your time watching: Origins. Archives of the show are available here.

Challenge Everything,
Your post did not contain a single argument against mine. All you had were insults.
I also find it odd that you call the Christian ministry AIG "BS". Is that really proper language for a Christian (I'm assuming you are one?)? If you want to have an intelligent conversation based on logic and reason, I'll listen. However, your position thus far is based on nothing more then ad hominem attacks.

Wisdom Lover,
But we do know how long Adam lived....I'm assuming you accept the Biblical genealogies? Adam would have lived about 6000 years ago. Anyway, if I don't get a chance to reply to you.....it was good discussing with you! God bless

Two things to say about Adam's age.

First, the time mentioned in Chapter 5 may start after the expulsion from Eden.

Another possibility is that from Adam's perspective it really was 'only' 930 years from his initial Creation to his death...even if eons passed in the fallen world before Adam took his place in it. I can't overemphasize the importance I place on the frustration of creation by Sin. We really can know virtually nothing about how the world governed by the Laws of Eden operated...not through our fallen reason and senses using the laws we know about our fallen world.

One thing to mention about the time since Adam.

Biblical genealogies sometimes skip generations. This does not amount to error because the aim is often not to give a fully rigorous list of generations but to historically connect prominent Biblical figures. Matthew, for example, wasn't trying to accurately fill in all the spaces in Mary's family Bible for her...he was trying to connect Jesus through the fallen Kings of Judah to David and then back to Abraham. He skipped some generations to do so because, frankly, they weren't important for his project.

There's no reason I can think of think that the Genesis 5 genealogy might not skip some generations too. The point is to connect Noah and his sons, Shem in particular, back to Adam through Seth. The point was not to list each node in the family tree no matter how minor. at least, that's how I read it.

The God Who is Love makes the claim on all things Physics as but the lesser which is the servant to the greater. Immortal Life and His Child meander within, upon, above, and beneath Mortal Physics and this while simply sauntering in delight. The Laughing God and His Child speak to Wind, to Water, and Wind while blowing Water, pushing Water and what Water pushes, there calms, and is still. The Child laughs. Earth is blown this way and that, though not the Child upon that lake. And what has Water thus done? It matters not for the Child casually walks upon it. And Time here too serves the greater for in an instant upon the calming of the storm Love’s Child and His sin-filled beloveds find themselves easily upon a shoreline though tis-nothing new as these Melchizedeks stroll untouched in both Old and New. “Time is too slow for we who wait. Tis too swift for we who fear. Tis too long for we who grieve. But for those who love, time is eternity”. The Child speaks a word, and Authority swallows up Space for He need not touch the sickly servant: what is Distance to Love’s Power? The First Adam, the Last Adam, Sin lives not. Space and Time, Water and Wind, they shout and bellow, yes they do carry on, and though the door is closed, the Child steps through it, and asks for a fish, thus startling His sinful beloveds, for the servant Physics serves quite well. Perhaps it is Augustine who ponders and muses upon this fish, “The thirsty earth, and the burning rays of the sun absorb water, each in a different way; the one because of its need; the other by its power.” Immortal needs not, lest Death make its easy claim, but such is obvious to those who know Love’s touch. We find in Love Himself those Feet that walk upon, within, above, and beneath Space and Time, Water and Wind, and though Space and Time, Water and Wind do bawl and carry on within the servant called Physics, there is that Child who is not touched, but touches. And the Door out is Love’s Death, which is the god called Self, and in that spiraling fall the servant becomes the master, and the master the servant, for the Self who Dies is no longer King, but the Self who Kills, who shouts and bellows tis now the master. But such has not always been, and will not always be. What hope as Wind’s Noise before Power’s Call?

Matthieu-

I wrote up a detailed response to each of the claims of your earlier post of January 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM. But the system refuses to post it. I may have hit some line limit issue.

I'm going to break it up into smaller posts and see if I can get the reply out.

You began with this:

Before you claim there are contradictions in the Bible, have you stopped to see what Christians have said about this?
First of all, I happen to be quite familiar with the answers you tried to give in your post. And I also happen to be one of those Christians that tries to answer contradictions and is, if I do say so myself, not too bad at it.

But indeed, answering the alleged contradiction is precisely what I AM doing here. The answer to the supposed contradiction is that the accounts were never intended to be chronological.

Matthieu-

You continue.

Most "contradictions" are easily resolved.
I agree with this. recognizing that Genesis 1 and 2 are not intended to be chronological easily resolves this one.

Now we get to the meat of your effort to resolve the alleged contradictions of Genesis 1-2:

For example, Man and animals WERE created on day 6. Chapter 2 is not a different creation account, but a more detailed account of day 6. God made the animals first, and Gen 2:19 allows for that just fine.
No. Genesis 2 is not just an expansion of day 6. And Genesis 2:19, read chronologically, does not allow the animals to be created first.

For starters, understand that my objection to this reading is not based on the idea that the plants and animals had already been described as having been created in Genesis 1 and then they are described as being created again in Genesis 2. I'm sympathetic to the idea that Genesis 2 is an expansion of day 6 and may, as such, recapitulate in detail some things that were mentioned in overview in the Genesis 1 account of day 6.

The problem is that Genesis 2 has its own internal chronology that is not compatible with the internal chronology of Genesis 1.

It's no good trying to force the interpretation here. You can't object to my insistence on a non-chronological interpretation, and then proceed to give a non-chronological reading.

If we're reading chronologically, let's read chronologically.

In Chapter 2, Man was clearly created first. God makes Man, then He makes the plants and then He makes the animals, including birds, and presents them to Man to name them, and finally He makes Woman.

If we are not trying to force it into compliance with the chronology of Genesis 1, the chronology of Genesis 2 is Man, then plants, then birds and land animals, then Woman.

But in Chapter 1, Man was created last. On day six, God first said "Let the earth bring forth creatures..." and then He said "Let us make Man in our image...".

And birds were not made on the sixth, day, but the fifth. And plants were made on the third day. (And so much for Genesis 2 being an expansion of day 6)

If we are not trying to force it into compliance with the chronology of Genesis 2, the chronology of Genesis 1 is plants, then birds, then land animals then Man and Woman.

If this is chronological, then it is an inescapable mass of contradictions. Man is both before and after the plants. Man is both before and after the land animals. Man is both before and after the birds. The birds are both before and at the same time as the land animals. The animals, both birds and land animals, are both before and after the plants. Man is both before and at the same time as Woman.

Matthieu-

You continue with an effort to argue that the text of Genesis 2 does not actually say that God created Man before the animals:

Even the NIV states "Now the LORD God had formed ..", as in before man.
The NIV does indeed say "Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals...".

But that doesn't work.

The word translated as "had formed" in Gen 2:19 occurs, conjugated in that way, precisely twice in the OT. The other occurrence is in Gen. 2:7...where the text says "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground..." The NIV translates the same exact word form as "formed" here...note the conspicuous lack of the word "had".

Doesn't simple consistency require that we also translate verse 7 as "God had formed Man" (or take the "had" out of verse 19)?

Fortunately, we don't have to leave this as a hopeless translational riddle. It's not translated that way in 2:7 because the verb form used is imperfect. "Had formed" is a perfect form. So you really just can't translate 2:7 as "had formed". That's just a bad translation. By the same token, "had formed" in 2:19 is simply a bad translation.

You could argue that it should have been translated in this way: "God was forming Man...then He was forming the animals." That's the way Young's Literal did it...except YLT uses the archaic "formeth". But "God (had) formed Man..., and He had formed the animals" is no good.

Indeed, it's precisely this 'sanitizing' of the translation that the NIV is often excoriated for. Sadly, many other translations follow the NIV on this. But not the gold-standard NASB.

And even if you mistranslate verse 19 so that the animals were made first, it's just no use. The plants ruin it all. In Genesis 1, they were made way back on day three...well before Man. But Genesis 2 explicitly says that there were no plants and then God made Man. He made the plants later on.

Matthieu-

You conclude your defense of the consistency of Genesis 1-2 admirably with this clear statement of your thesis:

This isn't a contradiction
Well, if it is chronological, then sorry, but yes it is.

Now, I have been arguing thus not to run down the Bible. I'm NOT trying to find 'Bible contradictions'. I believe that the Bible is the Inspired and Inerrant Word of God.

I also have the highest respect for the human author of Genesis, Moses. I expect that he was quite a bit smarter than I am. He was certainly more in touch with the True Author than I could ever be in my wildest dreams. And I am sure that he was actually smart enough to know all about the ordering of the claims in the account that he himself wrote. And I think he knew all about contradictions and such. And he knew things about the Hebrew language that would make today's foremost scholars green with envy.

The inference I draw from all this high praise of Moses and my absolute confidence in the One who inspired Moses is not that Moses still bunked it and wrote a multiply inconsistent creation account. The inference I draw is that Moses had no intention of claiming any strict chronology here, and neither did the Person who inspired him. That's just blindingly obvious to me.

To put it in logical terms, my argument here DOES NOT proceed via the valid form known as Modus Ponens:

  1. IF Genesis 1-2 is chronological, then Genesis 1-2 is contradictory
  2. Genesis 1-2 is chronological
  3. THEREFORE, Genesis 1-2 is contradictory
Instead, my argument DOES proceed via the equally valid logical form known as Modus Tollens
  1. IF Genesis 1-2 is chronological, then Genesis 1-2 is contradictory
  2. Genesis 1-2 is NOT contradictory
  3. THEREFORE, Genesis 1-2 is NOT chronological

Matthieu-

You concluded your post with this contention

[A]dding millions of years doesn't help to resolve anything.
Of course, I never said that adding millions or even trillions of years would resolve the alleged contradictions of Genesis 1-2. I was pointing out that the reading should be taken as non-chronological. I was arguing that that resolves the contradiction. And it clearly does.

By the way, understanding that the texts are non-chronological does precisely one thing in terms of 'answering objections': It resolves the apparent internal contradictions in the text.

It does very little to reconcile the Genesis account with evolution.

Except perhaps this...

It unbinds the Bible-believing Christian from having to choose between somehow fitting evolution into a six day/time chronology or scientifically debunking evolution's claims.

Of course, in pointing out that no choice is necessary between those efforts, I am not arguing that choosing between those alternatives anyway is somehow invalid. I'm just saying that it isn't necessary.

Matthieu-

I must include in my remarks (and conclude this batch of remarks with) the contention that evolution is still fundamentally incompatible with Genesis 1-3.

And the reason is far more profound than any quibble about how long things take to happen. Whether the earth is young or old, those two people, Adam and Eve, could not have originally come to be thanks to evolution. The reason for this is that it is essential to the story that that singular Man, Adam, lived with his wife Eve in a sinless and deathless paradise creation.

That singular man fell and only then did death enter the world. And later on, a singular, sinless God-Man redeemed us all from that Fall...by one Man came the curse and by one Man came the salvation from the curse.

So I find myself much more in sympathy with your view than with the typical 'Theistic Evolutionist'. Somehow shoehorning evolution into Genesis 1 and 2 makes matters worse, since, in that case, there is no singular Adam who fell but an entire human species...who actually got better than their predecessor non-human ancestors.

Evolution is predicated on death, so it is incompatible with the whole account of the world before the Fall.

On the other hand, evolution, and all its companion Old Earth processes of erosion, decay, upheaval, chaos, destruction and death are quite at home in a world of ruled by Sin and Death.

So it is still possible, that all of those Old Earth processes began to occur after the Fall. After the world and everything in it was cast down by Sin. Indeed, it is utterly true that all those Old Earth processes began to occur after the Fall. It is those processes that still prevail today.

The only question is: Has enough time elapsed since the Fall for all those Old Earth processes to lead to all the Old Earth events that Old Earthers believe have occurred?

I certainly make no claim that enough time has passed for that. I also make no claim that not enough time has passed. The only claim I make with absolute conviction on that point is this: I have no idea.


The Master and the Slave make this all too simple, as Time and Space, Wind and Water are pulled out of Timelessness itself by Triune Vectors and for moment we play the student and into Timelessness once again the Child of Power's Delight quite naturally flows. Birth is what was not, but is, and Birth is what is, and what will then be. These three. As for the present master, fated to be a servant once again, a few easy reads in Q & A # 272: ".....what shall I say in response to your final paragraph? "C'mon Man!" You know better than that. You can be a theist and a Christian and accept the documentary hypothesis of the Pentateuch as well as a Darwinian theory of evolution, if you think that's where the evidence leads (see Q&A # 253, 269)." We find within 253 and 269 qualifiers of 272's statement, which on the surface may overreach, or may not overreach. Whatever. It matters not, really, as Power's Finger is found Sighted within all vectors whatsoever. 253 houses "Evolutionary Theory and Theism". 269 houses "Who Speaks for Science?" and 272 houses: "The Limits of Reason" (Q and A by William Lane Craig).

WisdomLover,
Concerning Adams age, you state the following:

"First, the time mentioned in Chapter 5 may start after the expulsion from Eden.
Another possibility is that from Adam's perspective it really was 'only' 930 years from his initial Creation to his death...even if eons passed in the fallen world before Adam took his place in it."

I won't comment on that, other than to quote scripture: Genesis 5
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. 4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5 Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.

There is no reason to doubt how long Adam lived, unless you are trying to bring in confusion and the possibility of deep time.

You've stated that you agree that the world was 'very good' before sin, with no animal death or disease. Correct? That's why in Genesis 1:29, God specifically mentions the vegetarian diets.

Now if you accept the geneologies (unless you want to add thousands and thousands of "missing" genelogies), then that means that Adam lived roughly 6000 years ago.

That means that all the fossil layers (which have death, disease, carnivory, thorns, etc) were laid down in the last roughly 6000 years. Does that make sense? Or do you object to any of that?

As for Genesis 2:5,
Genesis 2:5 is only dealing with specific types of plants (‘shrub of the field’ and ‘plant of the field’), and it is only dealing with a specific location(the Garden of Eden).
Genesis 2:5 speaks of two types of plants that arent mentioned during Day Three of Genesis 1:
(‘shrub of the field’) and (‘plant/
herb of the field’) (You can look up the original if you wish). Although the definitions of these plants arent clear, it is clear from the verse that these plants require both rain and man (ie cultivation). So its safe to assume these two kinds of plants are those which man will raise for his own sustenance (farm plants).

"Plant of the field" is a pretty generic characterization. How is that different from a plant bearing seed after its own kind? (The Genesis 1 characterization of the same thing.)

I've heard it argued (as you just did) that the phrase "of the field" is suggestive. Maybe it means "of the farm".

Except I don't much think that shrubs get farmed. In fact, shrubs are usually what get cleared before you can farm.

That particular term "field" is used a lot. And I think the only general thing we can say that it means is "outdoors". Essau, for example, went out into the field to hunt. I do not think that that means he was poaching Issac's sheep. On the other hand Joseph levied a tax of seeds of the field from the farmers of Egypt.

Bottom-line "of the field" neither excludes nor identifies what you are talking about as farm-related.

Now, as you note, the passage also says that God hadn't sent rain and no man was there to work the ground. You infer that these plants, then, must require rain and cultivation. And so they must be farm plants.

But, of course, no plant that's constantly watered by mist needs rain. And no plant requires human cultivation. Plants grow without human help you know. Even wheat and barley grow without human help. What human help does is make it so that more of it grows.

So I don't think the passage is referring to farm plants. On the other hand, I'm not sure what it is referring to.

But even if it is referring to farm plants. That's really neither here nor there. Genesis 1 doesn't express any limitation on the plants God created on the third day. That's you reading into the text that he did not create wheat, barley and such, but reserved that until the sixth day. This in spite of the fact that these manifestly are plants that bear seed after their own kind...the very kind of plant mentioned on the third day.

And BTW, the fact that I said that the plants ruin everything even if you mistranslate Genesis 2:19 does not mean that it's OK to mistranslate Genesis 2:19. The animals were also created after Man according to Genesis 2.

On Adam's age, I don't deny that he lived 930 years. But there's some reason to think that you'd only count the time after he left the Garden...before he left the garden, he was ageless.

There's also reason to doubt that the flow of time was the same before and after the Fall. Time...like everything else...is a piece of creation that was overthrown by the Fall. As such, I still maintain that it is possible that from Adam's point of view, 930 years passed until he died. Even though eons may have passed before he was expelled from the garden.

Now, I can't prove that that's definitely what happened. Of course not. But remember, my goal in this part of the discussion is not to ask whether Old Earth events, like the evolution of bumblebees or the carving out of the Grand Canyon by slow erosion and geological upheaval, actually happened between the Fall and the expulsion from Eden. My question is much more modest. The question is could it have happened given the truth of Genesis.

My conclusion is that there is no possibility of the Old Earth processes going on before the Fall...let alone the Old Earth events they give rise to. But that after the Fall, the Old Earth processes are at work, and if it is possible that enough time passed after the Fall, but before the expulsion from Eden, then there's a possibility that the Old Earth events could have taken place then.

Now, for all I know, there wasn't enough time. Given Genesis 5, I am definitely going to consider the passage of enough time as less probable than I would in the absence of Genesis 5.

But that's not the question. The question is "Is it possible?"

I think I have to answer "Yes" to that.

On the genealogies, my point about skipping generations was really a side-show. You can ignore it if you wish.

All I was saying is that I could imagine that, even given the genealogies, the time from their beginning until now could be longer than 6000 years. Not by millions or billions of years, but by hundreds or thousands.

I wouldn't lose my faith were we to positively identify Adam's bones (dunno how we'd do so...missing rib?) and it should turn out that they are 20,000 years old.

It's greater than 6000 years, but it's nowhere near old enough to make any difference in the evolution vs. creation debate.

WisdomLover,
So it sounds like you (somewhat) agree that the earth must be young. The only different is, you think it might be in the tens of thousands, by interpreting Adams age as beginning after the fall (I would never get that from reading the text, but I'll give it to you), and by adding in a few possible missing generations between Adam and Abraham.

Even if the order of the creation of plants was not chronological in Genesis, you still agree that Cambrian fossils must be post-fall (since they are dead obviously), and therefore only thousands of years old.

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