Tuesday, April 14, 2009

24

I wil tell you why I believe in a 24 hour day creation. I did not use to but I changed my mind on it a few years back:

Linquistically:

- Because of the linguistic Hebrew use of "yom" in Genesis. By this I mean fiat out of nothing to something creation, a miracle in other words. Normal usage of "yom" implies it to be understood by the contemporaries of Moses as that, I find it unbelievable that his classmates would have understood it as a very very long period of time. So in this case I am being literal here.

- Also linguistically, the ancients do not have a sophisticated view of billions and millions of years. To them, this is packed under the term "myriad". So I doubt if I speak to Moses' contemporaries about evolution he would have accepted it. He would probably say to me, look man - I was there, the Red Sea parted, I have been around miracles my life, so don't talk to me about naturalistic creation.

- Did Jesus believe this? I think so in Mat 19.

Philosophically:

I already belive things that are quite peculiar, for example:

- I believe in the virgin birth and Christ's resurrection these are all peculiar beliefs already as far as naturalism and science is concerned. By statistics, my belief in resurrection as far as they are concerned, is improbable. No one rises from the dead as a normal phenomenon.

- The Apostle's Creed. I doubt if the ancients when they recited the first article - they understood it in evolutionary terms. Ancients were fiat believers. They had no problem believing in miraculous creation.

- Here is the kicker, I also believe at the Supper that is the actual body and blood of Jesus given to me to eat and drink. I already believe this and if the wafer/bread is broken down bio-chemically, science would probably tell me, there is no human flesh here etc etc.

So I do not understand, if I believe already these things that are scientifically odd, why should I not believe in a 24 hour day in Genesis? I do not need science to confirm my faith and I do not care if I am thought dumb for believing in literal day period in Genesis. If I cower to science, I have to justify scientifically my belief in the Supper etc.

Here is also the issue (I credit this to the missus who teaches Sunday school), what do you teach the children about Genesis day period? So you sit down a 4 year old kid, read Genesis 1 to him, you mention the word day. So what do you do? You put a fine print in the text, - actually kids, "day" there means not your usual day, actually it does not mean what you think it means - day there really means thousands and thousands of years. According to the missus, the kids have no trouble believing the literal day period.

You just undermined the kid's understanding/confidence on the Scriptural text. You just told him - you cannot understand this as plain words to you. You just told him that when the text is being literal, you are not to take it as literal, then what confidence would he have that he could understand it when he reads it on his own when he grows up? Don't you think the kids has just been dumbed down?

35 comments:

Augustinian Successor said...

Amen, Kuya!

Maybe our friend, Lucian the Romany-boy derides such 'fundie' interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2!

Drew Lomax said...

I am by no means someone who knows anything in depth about the science of creationism, but I try as best I can.

For me, and as it would appear for you as well also believe scripture to be correct in it's plain reading and understanding, and therefore trustworthy where it is crystal clear, as it is with a six-day creation.

Below is a link to an article about a (WHC) cosmological model as proposed by Dr. Russ Humphreys. It regards White Hole Cosmology as the means God brought about to create the universe. It also attempts to explain distant starlight and how that jives with a six-day creation as the time referent exclusive to earths perspective during creation.

I'm not sure you've ever read anything along these lines before, and if you have I'm sorry for wasting your time. However, Humphreys unflinching dedication to God's Word in respect to creation as the presumption of any science is refreshing.

I hope you enjoy!

www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/magazines/tj/docs/v17n2_cosmology.pdf

Drew

L P said...

AS,

I find it inconsistent with the rest of one's theology to believe in the real presence and at the same time allow for science to validate one's view of creation.

LPC

L P said...

Drew,

Actually I have not heard this argument and I will be interested in the white hole concept.

Thanks so much for the link! This is useful to know.

If I already believe in the real presence which science cannot verify/validate, why should I not believe in 24 hour creation? Both are miraculous and mysterious to me.

Last of all is the argument for what you teach your children. To make them doubt the plain reading of the text is to say to them, you cannot read this book on your own and study it. You shoot their foot and yours too, in the process.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

"I find it inconsistent with the rest of one's theology to believe in the real presence and at the same time allow for science to validate one's view of creation."

Touche!

How can science explain *the origin of life* in the first place? Can the creature explain the Creator?

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

Good post.

My biggest issue is Genesis 2:4, "... in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens."

One must have a view of "day" that is not litteral, 24 hour, in order to square Genesis 1 and Genesis 2:4.

How do I explain this to my 5-year-old? I start from a position of humility. I don't know everything about how God created. I do know that He is the creator and sustainer.

Drew Lomax said...

LP,

First, I must say that I understand and agree with the import of your arguments whole-heartedly. Please don't get me wrong.

Also, the birth of our universe is as perplexing and miraculous in a naturalistic worldview as it is in any other. So, for us Lutherans to believe the actual presence of our Lord is "in, with, and under" the sacrament, makes it very easy indeed to believe God created the world "ex nihilo" in 6 actual earth days.

However, science and cosmological models (with their prior assumptions) do not necessarily rule out such a situation from happening, or from making such an idea supposedly "ridiculous".

Hawking assumes, out of the gate, that the earth is in no special position within the universe, based on the incorrect assumptions of ancient cosmologists, astronomers, and physicists believing the earth to be the center of the solar system, if not the universe. While Hawking's suspicion is perhaps warranted, that is not to say he is given a pass on his un-warranted belief in an edgeless, un-bounded universe.

His cosmological underpinnings are merely question begging, as all unprovable assumptions are, and as such what he assumes in the beginning is his conclusion regarding big-bang cosmology and earth's place in it.

He is certainly allowed to do this, as all model makers can start with an idea they are personally partial to, for reasons undisclosed, but doesn't that mean Christians are allowed to do the same thing? Aren't Christians allowed to start with the presumption of a six-day creation and let the science bear it witness of its validity or not.

Not that we put faith in science over the Word of God, but that it's a way for us to attempt to break through each others rock-like intellects in hopes of leading someone to distrust the dogmatic ideas of men like the big-bang cosmology, Macro-evolution, etc.

Plus, it's also a great way to bare witness to a stubborn naturalist who's naively smug in his scientific dogma (all in the hopes of bringing about repentance of course).

Sorry for the long post, just a few thoughts.

Drew

Drew Lomax said...

J. K. Jones,

I'm not attempting to answer for LP. but I'll attempt to give one. (I hope I'm not stepping on any toes here!)

Wouldn't you say there is a difference between the phrases and the use of the word "day" in each sentence when I say:

"Back in the DAY I went on vacation."

&

"On the first DAY of my vacation we boarded a plane headed for Orlando, Fl., etc., etc."

The first use of "day" is ambiguous and descriptive of an unspecified period of time, while the latter use is specific to the actual first day.

I guess what I'm saying is that if a number modifies the meaning of the word "day" to something of specificity, and not ambiguity like the first use then this might be a way of showing your five-yr-old the difference.

Does that make sense?

Drew

J. K. Jones said...

Drew,

Your first comment above outlines an excelent approach. It also indicates good familiarity with Hawking's theory and approach.

I hope you engage in apologetics / arguments for the faith often as you show some appropriate gifts.

Your second comment makes a good point as well. Of course the word "day" ("yom" I think, but I don't know Hebrew) can mean slightly different things depending on the context.

My point is that the word must be interpreted in some differing sense at some point in the accounts.

I also question, with Tim Keller and others, whether Chapter One is poetry. That would require different rules of interpretation.

Lastly, I am not saying that I know the universe is very old. I am trying to say I don't know. Those two thingsbare miles apart.

On a different subject, I do not see the Lutheran view of
The Lord's Table to be seflf-contradictory or illogical. The bread and wine are bread and wine in one sense and the body and blood of Christ in annother sense. (LP, you DNA pick your jaw up off the floor now after you saw a Baptist put that in writing.)

Mystery is allowable, and Christianity certianly has it's mystery, but I hope you are not implying actual contradiction.

(Pardon the bad spelling. I'm commenting alot from my iPhone lately, and spell checking is difficult. I am revealing myself to be a typical engineer.)

L P said...

Drew,

No you are not stepping on my toes. Not at all. JK is a bro who I know appreciates interaction.

I had a look at the link and I admire the bold attempt of the good doctor in presenting his view. I have not looked at it in detail.

By Hawking you mean Stephen, correct? Now have you seen the youtube of Brian Cox interviewing the CERN physicists? The CERN physicists are skeptical they will get Higgs particle, i.e., they have a different view from Hawking, to the point of being critical too.

but doesn't that mean Christians are allowed to do the same thing? Aren't Christians allowed to start with the presumption of a six-day creation and let the science bear it witness of its validity or notAbsolutely! Scientist are not impassioned none presuppositionalists. They have their starting points and they use that to interpret what they find.

JK,

I was thinking of you lunch time yesterday and then I saw your comment just now.

My jaw got locked. It is paining me LOL.

Agree somewhere the rules of context/languages should be obeyed, the Reformers call the way God speaks to us as baby talk, he accomodates himself to us. Therefore, the whole point is that how would the classmates of Moses understood what he wrote in Genesis 1? I doubt they understood it in a evolutionary terms. They were surrounded by miracles, a pillar of fire by night, a cloud by day, manna from heaven each day except the sabbath etc. Shoes that never get worn out etc. So instateneous creation would have been no problem for them believing.


LPC

Drew Lomax said...

LP,

"Now have you seen the youtube of Brian Cox interviewing the CERN physicists? The CERN physicists are skeptical they will get Higgs particle, i.e., they have a different view from Hawking, to the point of being critical too."

No I haven't seen this yet, but I will take a look for it on youtube, very interesting stuff!

Drew

Lucian said...

St. John Chrysostom said that Moses is the greatest among all Prophets, because he alone saw the past, whereas all others foresaw the future. Genesis is a prophesy about the past. I think this view does more justice to the text, then trying to make it fit into other unrelated paradigms (like the scientific one, or whatever).

L P said...

At least we agree that we do not have to make the text fit what science says.

LPC

Drew Lomax said...

Lucian,

What prevents you from just taking the words of Genesis chapter 1 plainly and literally?

Just curious?

Drew

Past Elder said...

Well, they also thought the sky was blue because there was water up there.

I think it buys into the "scientific fallacy" just as much to treat Genesis as if it were a scientific text from God with which Man's science may or may not catch up, as to treat it as a myth exploded by science.

Nor do I find the Real Presence scientifically untenable. Matter and energy being forms of the same phenomenon related over time, a massive disruption of the normal operation of matter, say a Resurrection, would also produce a massive disruption of the normal operation of Time, say a Real Presence, relative to us.

Revelation is not so much to help you get the Alpha right, which we may at some point do anyway, but to get the Omega right, which we cannot do, and which clarifies the Aplha too.

L P said...

P.E.

I contend that creation was a miraculous activity of God.

So to follow your take on this, God broke through nothing because under normal circumstances, nothing can only have nothing.

LPC

Past Elder said...

Nothing is an interesting topic. It's often mistaken for the lack of Something. Nothing is not an empty Something!

God didn't break through bupkis. God was just being God.

L P said...

So from one math bro to another...
you mean to say that Nothing is not equivalent to the empty set?

So take any x, x is not an element of 0. But from your take on nothing, you mean there is a y such that y is an element of 0.

Me scratch my head.

LPC

Xan said...

We (well, at least I, and I think most people) have enough trouble dealing with null sets as opposed to zero, and how those relate to concepts of "nothingness". This is another level beyond that.

It's quite impossible to conceive of whatever is or isn't around when the universe has not "yet" been created. We can't even talk about the concepts appropriately, because there's no "before" the universe as we are capable of conceiving of such terms and ideas. It's like trying to see out the back of your head, or trying to visualize a four-dimensional object. It's just a non-sequitur.

L P said...

Xan,

At first go that is correct there was nothing before. But now we have something and the way to define nothing is in relation to something. We have something now.

Calvin I believe spoke of God using baby talk in Genesis. God accomodated himself to us through Moses, who related what happened before using concepts we can understand, i.e., our language.

I contend this because to lose meaning of the words in Genesis is to lose our anchor.

I think it is not that complicated and we are putting complexities on a simple narrative.


LPC

Past Elder said...

I mean exactly that -- the empty set is not nothing, it is something with nothing in it, x, y, or otherwise. It does not express nothingness at all.

The greatest lecture I ever heard in my life, bar none, was at Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies where the creation of nothing, not something which is emopty, was discussed.

It's like the word "before". That's a temporal word, bound to time, there can only be a before where there is time. Before time, then, is something which can be discussed, but first one must understand that our words for it are time-bound thus inadequate from the outset, otherwise we discuss "before time" as if it were time before time, rather than before time itself. Likewise "eternity", which is not endless time, though we can hardly imagine in otherwise, but exists outside of time altogether.

That's the beauty of an Alpha and Omega Point, both of which are outside our reference of experience. So by the same token where we understand God is speaking to us in terms within our referene of experience, when God says the world was created in six days, he is describing his creative process in terms we can easily comprehend, but not describing the technical details of that process which are beyond our understanding.

Our laws and theories and maxims are not something of God, but something of us which allows some of what is of God to be understood and to some extent even controlled and predicted. They do not refer to things that objectively exist. This is where the philosophers have been in a centuries long sleep, thinking that either our laws and principles must refer to discoveries of truth and God, or if they don't there is no truth and God.

Rather, they are simply useful or not useful. You don't need quantum physics to build a bridge, which does not make quantum physics "false", just not useful in bridge building. You won't find Newtonian physics helpful in studying sub atomic particle physics, which does not make Newtonisn physics "false", just not useful re subatomic particles.

Which is also why Nietzsche is the only philosopher worth reading, because he was the only one since possibly Heraclitus who got that. He just didn't get the rest.

Everything that rises will converge!

L P said...

P.E.

An interesting take on the empty set, I always understood that {} is simply a notation with the semantic that it is equivalent to nothing. Such that we can debate if the empty set is really a set! Of course nothing is always a subset of something, and that means nothing is a subset of any set, because a set is something.

I am getting a reading that nothing is a physical object with nothing in it.

At anyrate, if you are saying in the reality of our God that he is not bound by any physical laws, then of course that is true, but the point is the narrative of Genesis. His point is that he performed a miracle, fromn nothing something came to be. True, there are things that human language can not achieve, but in Genesis he accomodate himself to us. That is what I say and to lose its meaning is also to lose the meaning of Adam/ EVe, sin etc.

I cannot let that go. Scripture will not make sense and the disciple will lose confidence God is talking to him - i.e. - revelation.

LPC

Past Elder said...

God bless me sideways.

This is why the ancients distinguished Multitude from Magnitude, and Absolute Multitude from Relational Multitude, in education. The latter two being number in the abstract, which they called arithnetic, and number related to phenomena, which they called music.

That's where we get confused, thinking that when we find the "principle" etc of arithmetic useful re phenomena, the "principles" themselves must have the same sort of reality as the phenomena. They just bloody don't. Think Hawking -- what is North of the North Pole.

That God is the creative force behind everything, and that that creation has been fatally damaged by the force of our rebellion, sin, is neither proven nor disproven by Genesis being a "literal" description of how that happened.

That is why all religions have the intuition of an order or power greater than ourselves, and that we are out of harmony with it -- natural theology, to use the traditional term. It is also why God's answer to the problem we caused can be neither figured out nor acheived by us since it lies beyond our powers to understand. Therefore the revelation of Law and Gospel.

L P said...

P.E.

Contrary to your faith or lack of it in arithmetic, it does work and that is really the puzzle of it all. The puzzle is that the axioms have not proven to be true and it works. The axioms have been assumed to be self evidently true. The system is incomplete (Godel proved this), but what it means is that there are true statements in arithmetic, that have no proof in it. Which comes around again to the axioms - true statements no proof of truthfulness.

So just likw what Jesus says, arithmetic says - Believe and you will see. Even arithmetic is a gift of God. It does not always work true, but it is useful, as you have said in the last post - it is a matter of usefulness.

One further thing, the sign is not the same as the thing signified. So as I said as I understand it, the null set is a sign for the thing signified, empty - nothing. It is there so we can refer to it and talk about it and manipulate it abstractly. But semantically it reflects our notion of nothing. The word 'nothing' is not the same as the reality of nothing, because 'nothing' is a referrent to a vacuum. The sign is not the same thing as the thing signified.

The creation of nothing does not need God. It is the creation of something from nothing. Creating nothing is somethinq we are a master of. Give me a paper and I can make it disappear. I can destroy it with fire - so it becomes nothing.

The issue is revelation, is God trying to reveal something? Granted the ultimate revelation is the Lord but some of these baby talk (to use Calvin's term) is foundation of his coming. So in one sense we cannot reduce things to a minimum. Example would be a the trinity, the thief at the cross had no chance to understand this, he got the main thing right, but had he lived and then denied the trinity, his logic of salvation falls into the toilet, it becomes inconsistent. There are things in Scripture that serve to underpin the Gospel, one of that of course is the actual understanding of what happened in the garden.


LPC

J. K. Jones said...

"Nothing is what the sleeping rocks dream of." -Joanthan Edwards

As soon as we start talking about what nothing "is," we have made it into something. "Nothing" does fine as some kind of abstract concept, but, by definition, the concept has no concrete form.

Nothing cannot be. The notion is incomprehensible.

"Classical Apologetics" by Sproul et.al. Rightly calls this idea, boroughed from Edwards, the ultimate form of the onthological argument. Wherever we think, there is always "something."

God, or neccesary being, must be.

L P said...

JK,

Nothing being of no conrete form and it being an ultimate ontological illustration I can accept, since it is defined by what is there, it is a negation of that.

However, I am do not think it is incomprehensible. Surely we can comprehend it, because it is defined by what can be comprehended - something.

I think we are once again trying to make it complicated than what it is, where in fact, a child has no problem believing what the Word of God says.

A child accepts creation without constant buts and redefinitions.

That was my experience and the experience of my kids, at least I can recall I accepted the Christian creation story without caveats.

LPC

Xan said...

JK is right: nothingness is incomprehensible.

Lito, you referred to it as "a vacuum" above. That's an awfully precise definition, and I don't think it's that simple. That describes a volume of space in which nothing exists. But the volume described has length, width, depth, and time. It is defined in terms of the universe, which is the only way we know how to define things.

As PE mentioned, true nothingness is like thinking what's north of the north pole. There's simply no answer. What was before the start of the universe? Time started with the universe, so there's simply no answer.

It's not as simple as saying "it's the opposite of something", because then you've already assumed something.

I really believe that the true, actual, real (tm) concept of nothingness is not something that we universe-bound beings can comprehend.

Past Elder said...

You end up with the same problem, Lito. Remember the difference between logical and non-logical axioms? Or the difficulties when for example Boolean algebra appeared? All of which derives from confusing "arithmetic" in the ancient sense from "music" in the ancient sense, which is to say, to immediately connect sign with signified and attempt to understand the former in terms of experience of the latter.

North of the north pole. Or, if the universe is everything there is, but it is expanding, what is that into which it is expanding?

Related to that, there is no analogy between mathematical axioms and religious ones. The former are accepted, rather than proven, because they are self-evidently true, or true by definition to define a domain. For example, it is possible to draw a straight line between any two given points. But neither self-evident nor definitional truth obtains with religious axioms, at least ours. That is why they were revealed.

L P said...

PE/Xan/JK,

Firstly equating the universe with nothingness is not a good thing since the two are not synonymous.

A vacuum is not the same as a tube without anything in it. The vacuum I am thinking of has no concrete encapsulation as you would think.

We are interested in the operational notions, that is again the idea of usefulness. Something incomprehensible as you guys think gives me a sense that it is not meaningfully accessible, which violates usefulness. You guys give me that idea when you say it is incomprehensible. Budhism has the same thing when it comes to nothingness. Suddenly it becomes a mystical notion, which I can not disagree more.



To give an analogy in geometry (non-Euclidean), the thing called point is not defined. It is assumed with the general notion in tact. That is enough for us and for God (I believe) .

I am surprized, it is customary for Lutherans to be pathetically void of epistemological commitments, yet except for PR, you guys who are non-Lutheran are agreeing with him (LOL). You are now not so far from becoming like one of us (LOL).

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

Tell me again what "nothing" is.

Christianity can be accepted with childlike faith. Based on what Jesus said, it must be accepted that way.

But I am no longer a child. I have more basis for my faith now than I had when I became a Christian at age 7. Now that I am older, like the Apostle Paul, "I have put away childish things."

My faith has become stronger the more thought I have put into it. Like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia, I have seen my God get bigger and bigger as I get older.

Nothing wrong with that.

JK

JK

L P said...

JK,

Nothing...my definition, a description of a situation wherein there are no objects. The negation of something. Even in the definition of nothing, I can not avoid using nothing, but so what? The common sense understanding is useful enough.

Come on, don't tell me you have to parse that. It is already a given that a child understands what it is.

To the contrary, though you say we have become older, and wiser, I read your replies an my impression is the reverse, you guys plead ignorance (at the wrong place).

The more you get older, the more you do not know, is what I am getting in you guys wanting to parse deeper the concept of nothing.

Heb 11:3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.After becoming a theist as I came out of atheism, I studied Budhism; they have a concept of nirvana, which is in the final analysis, to become nothing and at one with everything. They too do not know when they have reached it.

I am hammering on this because it touches upon the perpescuity of Scripture and to reduce aspects of creation to some mystical concept is to dubunk the belief in the perpescuity of Scripture. In the Apostle's creed we have the first article. This is one of the tenets of Christianity, that GOD created ex nihilo. I know you guys agree with that.

But surely you have to accept the operational common sense understanding of what 'nothing' is or else, you are saying, you can not explain what the 1st Article means. It has gone mystical when in fact it is not.

LPC

Xan said...

Lito,

I see where you're coming from, but I really don't think anybody here is "going mystical" with the concept of nothingness.

Along the lines of JK's seeing God getting bigger (nice Narnia reference, btw): when dealing with a child, you can point to a big mountain, or the ocean, or a picture of the earth itself, or the stars in the sky, and say "God created all that". You'll get a "wow".

As we get older and are able to ponder more about the concept of nothingness, and learn more about physics, then it becomes clear what a great distance we are from a reality in which the universe did not exist. The lack-of-objects nothingness pales in comparison to the nothingness of there being no universe.

This elicits a much bigger "wow" about God's creative power. The gap between true nothingness and what we know is so huge that we can't really comprehend it, and He was able to cross that gap by speaking. One of the greatest miracles is simply that there is something rather than nothing. Wow.

L P said...

Xan,

OK now I am getya. Filya bro.

I agree it is a miracle that there is something rather than nothing.

It is that nothing is so incomprehensible but the beauty of God is.

LPC

Acroamaticus said...

Lito,

If I could, with your permission, follow up on Drew's very good response to JK Jones on the meaning of "day" in Gen 2:4b, I would be grateful...

JK, respectfully, I think you are putting more exegetical weight on yom in 2:4b than it is meant to carry. It occurs in that verse in an adverbial construction that is simply the Hebrew idiomatic way of saying "when". That is why some modern English versions translate it as such without doing any great injustice to the original.

In other words, it is a figure of speech, not meant to be interpreted literally. Now, I know some will say that about yom in Gen 1 too, but exegetically that is a much harder case to make, given the use of ordinals and the night/day framing.
Hope this is helpful information as you grapple with this subject!

L P said...

Pr. M,

No permission needed. Anything that will help iron sharpen iron will be appreciated I know by JK.

That take is very helpful; I have not looked at Gen 2 in Hebrew myself. So that nuance on the adverbial form is very strong and compelling.

LPC