Bible. Science. How Do We Approach the Merge?


I was recently invited to be part of an online discussion of origins that was supposed to be between Old Earth Creationists (OECs) and Young Earth Creationists (YECs). Technical difficulties kept me from participating which of course left me with many things I wanted to say, but didn't get the chance to. Which is a good thing for you (I hope you concur) because now you get to read approximately what I would have said, but in a more coherent, systematic layout. (If you don't find this systematic or coherent then you probably don't want to hear me talk in person anytime soon.)

As I understood it, the discussion was meant to be based on the overall approach and presumptions that we bring to the table as OECs and YECs and how those affect the results and conclusions we come to. To me, there are two main types of evidence that we as Christians can use in piecing together our view of origins. God's word, contained in the Bible and God's world, which we observe as Science. From these two we build our conclusions, but which one do we start with? Or can we somehow interpret both at the same time putting together what fits and rethinking the incongruous pieces? Since I am the writer here, I get to be the one to ask and answer the questions (to the best of my ability).

So, the absolute foundation here that both OECs and YECs have in common is that they are creationists and (as far as this discussion) Christians. As a Christian, I need to start from the foundation of the Gospel because that is the basis of who I am. Without Christ, who lived, died and rose again for me, I am nothing. So where else could I start?

The Gospels, the source of what I know of the life of my Savior, are full of miracles. The gospel, with the miraculous removed, becomes untenable. The virgin birth, Christ as the healer of every disease, and Christ as our risen Lord are impossible to remove from the gospel. Turning to look at what science has to say, these are impossibilities which already creates an apparent conflict between God's Word and God's world as we observe it. In observable science, virgins do not conceive, food does not multiply and the dead stay dead.

I think how we deal with these miracles becomes very telling about how we must deal with the question of origins. We could, I suppose, look at the impossibility of these things according to science and then rethink our interpretation of the Bible perhaps saying that the virgin conceived at her first encounter with her husband, that many or most of those eating the "multiplied" food had more hidden away that they ended up sharing, and that Lazarus was merely in a coma. However, I (and I certainly hope you) cannot seriously entertain those interpretations of the Bible. Basically, the Bible and science come head to head in the gospel and instead of rethinking the Biblical accounts, we make exceptions to science based on faith in our all powerful God.

Realizing this is key when we turn to the subject of origins. There are two types of evidence, but one must be seen as taking precedence if there is a conflict. To approach it any other way is inconsistent with the very nature of Christianity and belief that the Bible is the word of God. (A Christian could, I suppose, question whether the Bible is accurate when/if it conflicts with science, but once again, to be consistent that would require dismantling many of the central tenants of the faith.)

So at the point that we admit that God's word in the Bible has precedence over what we observe in science, the question as it pertains to origins becomes, "Does God's word insist on either a young earth or old earth view?" If so, we must hold to that view and fit in the science as we can, rethinking those pieces that seem not to fit. To answer the question, I do not see a tenable way to interpret the Bible as allowing for an old earth view.

My main reason for saying so is that the plain reading of Genesis is a seven day account. I have heard people try to interpret it as being a non-literal allegory or parable of origins, but considering that God said that he spoke to Moses plainly and not in parables (Num 12:6-8) and that God Himself, in one of the few times that His voice was heard from heaven, said that in six days He created "heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is and rested the seventh day" (Ex 20:11) I must stick with the literal viewpoint.

For one thing, even if the days were somehow long periods of time, the order of the things that were created on the various days does not match with accepted evolutionary theory. Scripture is also very tied together by the threads found in the first chapters of Genesis. If the days were not literal (as science suggests), then why, for example, would we believe that Adam and Eve are literal when science claims a gradual improving of the species?

Now I believe that the God's world evidence can be fit into the young earth framework, but the specifics of that are really another discussion. (In fact, probably an entire series of discussions.) However, supposing that there is some piece of scientific evidence that with current knowledge unavoidably points to a very old earth, we must remember that there is always the possibility that God created it in a way that makes it look older than it is.

Now I know that this is often an unpopular idea with creationists because it seems unscientific to attribute something currently unexplainable to "God made it that way" and I empathize. I like to know all the answers that I can. Yet, some of the answers we will not discover before we "see Him as He is." I have never heard of a Christian that had to know how the cells of a dead man could be restarted given the right voltage or frequency of electric shock in order to justify belief in resurrection from the dead. God did do some things that can only be explained as miracles. They don't fit into science and the only way we know they really happened is because He, through His word, tells us so. (So far, in my limited study of origins, I can not think of any scientific evidence that I have been forced to go to this explanation for, but the fact that it is a possibility has bearing on this discussion.)

Since there is always a ready, albeit unpopular, explanation for why the earth might look old, the question of whether we should start with the Bible or Science or both can be answered. The things that are clear in the Bible should be accepted and fit into our view of origins first of all since science, for Christians who hold to the omnipotence of God, can always be fit into the framework afterwards.

Another thing. Scientific opinion changes. God does not. Let's start with the solid rock for our approach to origins.

Comments

I think that you presuppositions are correct and your logic infallible. Most People do not realize the ramifications of not accepting Genesis as accurate and literal. The Gospels show emphatically that Messiah believed Genesis to be literal. If Messiah is YHWH in the flesh, then we have divine commentary and perfect testimony that Genesis is meant to be literal. To disbelieve Messiah, and/or those that tell us what He said, is to render the gospel worthless and salvation through Y'shua absurd. We just as well invent our own religion...but maybe that is what we have done when we do not believe the whole of scripture. Can a man-made religion save anyone?

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Ch. 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Paul would say that those that think Genesis is a fable have turned to fables and are not believing the truth. We end up disagreeing with every author of scripture when we think that Genesis is not literal. What ever real orthodoxy is, it not accepting men's ideas and "discoveries" over the plain reading of scripture.

Shalom

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