Monday, January 14, 2013

In the Beginning...

Today Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason posted an interesting video making some comments on our interpretation of Genesis 1. It is worth watching:
Now, those of you who have read my blog long enough will know that I agree with Greg when he says that Genesis 1-3 does not support naturalistic, Darwinian evolution. In fact, I do not believe even a theistic evolutionary paradigm can be imposed on Genesis 1-3, which I will get to below. If you just look at my "evolution" tag, you will find a lot posts in which I point out inherent problems in that model.

I also agree with Greg's comments here about considering how the Israelite audience would have viewed the passage. Genesis 1-3 is an historical account of how God created the world, but the emphasis is less on the length of the days and more on beginnings by YHWH (the God of the Bible) in contrast to beginnings by Egyptian gods or according to Egyptian cosmology. I have not read the book to which Greg refers, In the Beginning... We Misunderstood: Interpreting Genesis 1 in Its Original Context, but if you are interested in an excellent book on this subject that also addresses the issue of day-length, I would recommend A Matter of Days by Dr. Hugh Ross.

Now, I mentioned theistic evolution (TE) above. Let me point out several reasons why I do not think it can be supported biblically, on which you can proverbially "chew":
  • It is worthy of note in the beginning that there is no one, systematic expression of TE. Many Christians hold a variety of views, so the follow critiques are general. 
  • Genesis, particularly chapters 1-3, fits the historical narrative genre, not a poetic or allegorical genre. So, while we can differ on the view of day length, the narrative is still historical, particularly on the point of creation of Adam and Eve, which is given specific detail in Ge. 2. For example, Ge. 2:7 has man moving from inanimate dust to animate life as man, but TE has man moving from an animate hominid to an animate human. This is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to get out of the text without first sacrificing biblical inerrancy.
  • Genesis is not the only book in the Bible that deals with creation (Job, Psalms, etc.). With these other texts it is not possible to draw the conclusion that the Bible is not addressing scientific details. It is, and consistent interpretation from the whole of the Bible argues for an historical creation by God.
  • TE severely limits, if not completely denies, God's providential interference in the cosmos. 
    • What about God's Creator-Redeemer relationship with man? TE says that God did not really do anything except get stuff started. If that is true, then the Redeemer relationship with humanity just comes out of "left field." Why did God choose that point to involve Himself in creation? This relationship is much more obviously and coherent with biblical data when Genesis 1-3 is viewed as historical. 
    • If TE is correct, how should we evaluate any of the Bible's claims about miraculous events? They all represent a clear departure from naturalism. Are they all poetic too? Are Jesus' miracles? Is the resurrection of Christ? 
  • Adam and Eve had to be historical figures (for which I have argued here and here). If not, was there an in time and space Fall (Ge. 3)? From where did we get our sinful natures? What about Adam and Jesus' imputation of sin and righteousness, respectively (Ro. 5:12-191 Co. 15:42-49)? For without Adam's, Jesus' does not follow, and God's work of redemption is incoherent. Were Jesus and the apostles wrong for believing in an historical Adam?
  • What about challenges to Biblical inerrancy? If we say that the Bible has "pre-scientific truth," what does that say about the overall truth of God's Word? Was it only true in the ancient world and no longer true today? Is it only true for "faith and practice" and not archaeology and science? How do we then determine what parts are true and what parts are not since biblical scientific claims overlap with faith claims?
  • How special is humanity if TE is correct? If God just got things started then why have a relationship with us at this stage of evolution? Why create at all? The Bible presents humanity as the apex of creation but TE just has us as a step along the path of evolution to something else.
Those are just my theological issues with TE. Those of you who have read my blog long enough know that I have many scientific problems with Darwinian evolution in general (as noted above). In fact those are very strong in my rejection of it. The fossil record, explosive/rapid diversification of life forms, DNA, repetition of biological forms, origins of life, etc. do not support TE or a naturalistic evolution model.

A couple of great resources which I highly recommend to you are Reasons to Believe and Stand to Reason. Both affirm biblical inerrancy, infallibility, and inspiration, and both treat scientific data with great care rather than ignoring it or attempting to explain it away. 

By His Grace,

No comments: