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I’ve been pondering over the Creation account in Genesis for years now.
I mean, let’s face it; in today’s scientific and naturalistic culture, it’s a confusing topic.
All Christians believe in Creation…I mean, once you accept Genesis 1:1, every other miracle after that is small potatoes.
It’s the method God uses in Creation that’s in dispute.
There are basically 3 or 4 ideas about the method of Creation that bear ruminating on:
1. Young Earth Creation- self-explanatory. 6 literal 24 hour days. For most of my life, this was my belief. This would be the belief of Ken Hamm and Answers in Genesis.
2. Old Earth-Gap Theory/-Reconstruction Theory- thanks to my owning a Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, this became my next belief during my Word-of-Faith captivity period. The basic thought is that at some point God created the heavens and the earth. It could have been millions of years ago. There was a pre-Adamite race that fell with Lucifer, creating demons, and requiring God’s judgment of a universal flood. Then God renovated the earth a second time, restoring it in 6 literal 24 hour days. It seeks to harmonize young and old earth Creationism, but it’s Scriptural evidence is scant, and its speculation on pre-Adamites is dubious. Still, it does introduce the idea that there could have been vast ages between Ge 1:1 & GE 1:2. Many Pentecostals/Charismatics hold to this teaching, mainly due to Dake’s influence.
3. Old earth-Day/Age Creationism- This is the theory that the days of GE 1 & 2 are metaphorical, representing immense periods of time. Although this is a separate theory from Theistic Evolution, it tries to match the Book of Nature and the Book of Special Revelation (i.e. the Bible). Many current Intelligent Design scientists, and many thoroughly orthodox Evangelicals hold to this teaching. The group Reasons To Believe would be one of the more prominent groups promoting the Day/Age Theory.
4. Theistic Evolution- This is the belief that God initiated Creation, but instituted Macroevolution as the means to achieve the the arrival of humanity. It is basically a revamped Deistic and anti-supernatural explanation, catering to Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism. Groups such as Biologos promote this theory. This is the one of the four I have no tolerance for. It’s too reminiscent of Old-line Liberslism’s compromise with the Enlightenment. Most of these advocates end up denying the Imago Dei, the Incarnation of Christ, and the physical Resurrection of Christ, unless they violate their own worldview. IMHO, this lies outside of the historic Evangelical Faith.
All of this is a simplistic summary of each of these views. There are obvious nuances and explanations I can’t get into here, unless I’m ready to write a post that would rival War and Peace in length.
I believe we have to give one another room to disagree over the first three views. Many soundly orthodox Evangelicals hold to one of these three views. Obviously, all three can’t be true. The Law of Non contradiction precludes this. Yet, I don’t believe we’ll ever be able to answer all of the issues with any of the three views this side of Heaven.
Each view has to deal with some weighty subjects:
1. Uniformity of scientific laws since the beginning of time;
2. The introduction of death in the animal kingdom;
3. The fossil record;
4. The old appearance of the universe; and,
5. The apparent singular source of all life on earth, in the form of DNA.
One can’t discuss this theological difficulty with non- Christians without being reminded of the controversy involving Galileo in the 17th century.
If you want to make sense of the whole Roman Catholic Church and Galileo, you have to start with the Ptolemaic-Aristotlean worldview (the dominating earth-centric view of the solar system), juxtaposed against the Copernican-Galilean worldview (the upstart sun-centric solar system).
The Roman Catholic Church was staunchly pro-Ptolemy in its doctrine. It’s not really hard to understand. They were simply relying on the established scientific view of the day. The problem was in joining Christian doctrine with scientific theories and codifying them. There’s a lesson here for Christians to remember.
“Ironically, the traditional beliefs that Galileo opposed ultimately belonged to Aristotle, not to biblical exegesis. Pagan philosophy had become interwoven with traditional Catholic teachings during the time of Augustine. Therefore, the Church’s dogmatic retention of tradition was the major seat of controversy, not the Bible. It may also be noted that Pope Urban VIII was himself sympathetic to Galileo but was not willing to stand against the tide of controversy. In reality, the majority of persecution seemed to come from intellectual scientists whose monopoly of educational authority had been threatened. During Galileo’s time, education was primarily dominated by Jesuit and Dominican priests.
Much of the controversy began when Roman Catholic Tradition had been criticized by the Reformers of the 16th century. The Roman Catholic hierarchy responded with the Council of Trent, which censored
“any books that challenged traditional interpretations of the scripture.”
Galileo quoted Augustine (who was partly responsible for an overly allegorical view of Scripture himself):
“If anyone shall set the authority of Holy Writ against clear and manifest reason, he who does this knows not what he has undertaken; for he opposes to the truth not the meaning of the Bible, which is beyond his comprehension, but rather his own interpretation; not what is in the Bible, but what he has found in himself and imagines to be there.”
It’s always dangerous to hold to tightly to scientific theories as applied to theology.
“Beware of holding steadfastly to a particular interpretation of Scripture and/or a scientific model, which may be in error. For instance, there are various scientific challenges to the Young-Earth Creationist position. We should hold many of our scientific views and their corresponding Biblical interpretations loosely. For we will never have all the right answers this side of heaven.”
This is as applicable to today’s Science/Faith controversy as it was in the 17th century.
The difference is that today, the roles are reversed. In the 17th century, it was ensconced Ptolemaic/Aristotelean philosophy embedded in Roman Catholic tradition that was the majority view, while Copernicus and Galileo challenged the stays quo.
In the 21st century, Science reigns as king, and it is Creationism and Intelligent Design that is challenging the weakening view of Darwinism and NeoDarwinism.
Remember Galileo’s warning:
“Take note, theologians, that in your desire to make matters of faith out of propositions relating to the fixity of sun and earth you run the risk of eventually having to condemn as heretics those who would declare the earth to stand still and the sun to change position–eventually, I say, at such a time as it might be physically or logically proved that the earth moves and the sun stands still.”
All of this adds credence to my statement that we need to be careful of dogmatizing a particular scientific interpretation of Genesis. We could wake up in Heaven to a V8 head slap from Jesus, calling us lunkheads for not seeing the complete answer to our Creation queries.
I remain a tentative young-earther. However, I am certainly open to the reality I could be completely wrong. Let’s give one another some slack here for disagreement…except for Theistic Evolution. I’m not going to compromise Scripture for Darwinism.
I end with one more quote:
“The lesson to be learned from Galileo, it appears, is not that the Church held too tightly to biblical truths; but rather that it did not hold tightly enough. It allowed Greek philosophy to influence its theology and held to tradition rather than to the teachings of the Bible. We must hold strongly to Biblical doctrine which has been achieved through sure methods of exegesis. We must never be satisfied with dogmas built upon philosophic traditions.”
1. Galilei, Galileo, and Stillman Drake. Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo: Including The Starry Messenger (1610), Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1615), and Excerpts from Letters on Sunspots (1613), The Assayer (1623). New York: Anchor, 1990. pg. 186, Print.
2. Henderson, Thomas H. “What Were Galileo’s Scientific and Biblical Conflicts with the Church?” Christiananswers.net. Christian Answers Network, 1996. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .
3. Bebber, Mark V. “What Is the Lesson That Christians Should Learn from Galileo?” Christiananswers.net. Christian Answers Network, 1995. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .
4. Galileo, 1632, in Janelle Rohr, editor, Science & Religion–Opposing Viewpoints (Greenhaven Press, 1988), p. 21.
simul iustus et peccator,