Re: Geology, Fossils and Genesis

Dick Fischer (
Mon, 10 Jun 1996 19:31:40 -0500

It looks like I have been handed the tactical advantage of the last
parting shot. I'll try to be succinct.

Glenn referred to Wiester's quote:

>The full quote is
>"About 3.5 billion years ago, huge dome-like blocks of granite welled
>upward from the depths of the mantle. These intrusions were more than
>twenty-five miles in height and formed the enduring core or cratons of the
>continents. The precise cause of these granitic (lighter rock) cratons
>thrusting up from the mantle below is unknown, but most geologists think
>that the enormous heat energy required was produced primarily by
>radioactive nuclides in the upper mantle." p. 61
>Wiester wrote that passage very badly and you are misunderstanding it.

I won't speak for John's writing, but 25 miles in "thickness" should clear
that one up.

>If the author were to have written that Caesar Augustus lived after
>Franklin Roosevelt, I would certainly say that he is wrong or I would look
>for some guy named Caesar Augustus who was born in the 1950's baby boom.
>If the document says land life came first, and land life didn't come first
>then I think that either the interpretation of the document is erroneous
>or the document itself is poppycock.

The "document" in question is an integral part of the Holy Bible. Maybe
"poppycock" is a bit strong.

I had quoted from an earlier source that "the first hint at vertebrates
appeared in the Ordovician period 500 million years ago," and Glenn quoted
an article published about nine months ago that indicated a chordate had
been found dated to the Cambrian. Although not central to any of my
arguments, I'm glad to have the update.

I wrote:

>>I don't think Moses wrote the Pentateuch with this kind of microscopic
>>scrutiny foremost in mind. The kind of exactness you are looking for
>>isn't available in the Hebrew language. You have to wait until NT
>>Greek before you are going to have a precision language form that will
>>allow this kind of examination.
>>In Psalm 22:14, David laments that "... all my bones are out of
>>joint ..." Do I think for a minute that 206 bones could be out
>>of joint? Does that mean Bible error? Please, cut the Bible a little

>Wait a minute. Re-read what you wrote. You were the one doing the mental
>contortions trying to defend an indefensible order in Genesis 1. I was
>the one who asked you if you thought the Bible was really making the kind
>of distinction you were making. You were trying to say that Genesis 1 was
>making a distinction between seed-bearing and spore-bearing plants, I
>certainly was not making that distinction. And now you act as if it was me
>demanding that type of exactness. And I don't look for poetry in Psalms to
>give me exactness.

If I am guilty of defending the Bible then I stand in noble company. The
mention of "fruit trees" on the third day of creation appears troublesome
and the point I hope I made was that seeds and nuts in Hebrew qualify as
"fruit." Plants producing seeds on the third day of creation can precede
modern fish talked about on the fifth day of creation. Primitive
vegetation precedes primitive fishes, and land-based vegetation precedes
modern fish. To label the biblical text as untrustworthy in its
presentation of the order of creation is judgmental, in my estimation.

I believe alternatives and explanations exist - I have presented some -
that, if used, approximately aligns the Genesis text with the fossil record
as presently understood. At least there is enough concordance between the
two to warrant further investigation, something that ceases when we simply
assign Genesis to some condescending category such as poetry, or allegory,
or tradition, or mythology, or to say that God commanded 1,2,3,4,5,6 and
all came forth 4,1,2,5,3,6.

>I don't find exactitude in science to be picky. Christian apologists have
>too long been allowed to say what they want and get away with it. Phillip
>Johnson believes that evolutionists advocate that a rodent gave rise to
>the whale. This is wrong and when I told Johnson that, he thought I was
>being picky. To a paleontologist, Johnson looks like an...
>(see Darwin on Trial 2nd ed. 1993, p 87 he asks of the loss of feet, "
>what stage in the transformation from rodent to seamonster did this
>occur?" In point of fact it was not a rodent but a wolf-like creature
>called a mesonychid which is believed to be the whale's ancestor.)

Phil Johnson is another subject. Suffice it to say that I appeared in
debate on another forum that was called "Fischer vs. Johnson," although
surrogates filled in for Johnson. There is a value in exactitude, I'll
grant that. But somehow I've felt that throughout our discussion anything
that was more recent was given the benefit of the doubt over what had been
believed previously. Whatever had the latest copyright date ruled. The
body of science acquieces slowly to new ideas in contrast to the theological
establishment that remains entrenched. A concordist's life is not an easy

Glenn had stated that he thought of Genesis 1 as commandments from God that
may have been in an order very different from the order in which his
commands were fulfilled, i. e., the fossil record.

I responded:

>>Very convenient. Makes it much simpler that way. Had my book come out
>>a year ago, I would have stated the age of the universe at
>>approximately 15 billion years. After new data from the Hubble Space
>>Telescope, I used a figure of approximately 12 billion years. Isn't it
>>amazing that the entire universe got 3 billion years younger in just one
>>year? Science, the fossil record, and dating is an ongoing process.

>Your analogy is irrelevant. My view is "convenient" because I don't have
>to try to defend the Genesis 1 order against what observational science is
>saying. Nor do I have to go to the extreme that you are going to to try
>to tell us that seed-bearing rather than spore bearing plants are what is
>meant in Genesis 1. I don't have to try to find a linguistic reason why
>Day 4 should be treated specially in its interpretation. Nor do I have to
>argue for constant cloud cover over all the earth for the first 4 billion
>years of the planet's existence and that the sun and moon were exposed for
>the first time 400 million years ago. (For physics reasons I will not go
>into, your suggestion that there was a global cloud cover is impossible
>absolutely unequivocally impossible.)

Glenn did an article about the vapor canopy not holding water. (He and I
agree it doesn't.) But I went on to say that the sea is a visual
barrier to those that dwell therein. Fish certainly cannot use the stars
for seasons, for example. When animal life ventured on land the celestial
bodies were there to be seen, thus fulfilling their commission. Plant life
can't appreciate celestial constellations.

>Darn tootin' my view is convenient. I don't have to publically argue for
>the things you are having to argue for. :-)

He has a point. I could have said after Gen. 1:1, "Now let's skip to
Genesis 2." Why bother pointing out that "whales" should have been
translated sea creatures, or that the word for "fowls" also applies to
insects, or the word, create, is missing from the day four mention of the
sun, moon and stars, etc. The point is that much of the disharmony emanates
not from the text, but from the translation of the text from Hebrew into

I'm not sure that every single seeming discrepancy came at the hands of
translators, but after translation mistakes are taken into account, which
few others bothered to do, is there anything of substance left to dicker
about? I think the Genesis account and the fossil record are as close as
could be expected given the antiquity of the language in which Genesis was
recorded and it's inherent limitations.

I wrote:

>>As an apologetic device, if God commanded in one order and the events
>>transpired in another order, that would cover almost any discrepancies
>>you could name. My position would be that once obvious corrections are
>>applied, any possible discrepancies that still exist would be minor in
>>nature and could be explained by either Hebrew mannerisms and grammar,
>>scribal errors, mistakes in translation and interpretation; or by a
>>fossil record that is continually revised as new evidence surfaces.

>You are correct. My view can absolutely fit with any future scientific
>discovery and I can have the Genesis 1 account be an actual historical (or
>pre-universe) event. What is wrong with being able to fit a Biblical
>interpretation within the confines not only of present science but also
>within the confines of almost any future science? Are you against that?

I'll admit I'm for harmony, but not at the expense of biblical integrity.

>The corrections you have tried to make work only if you don't look at the
>details (here I go again being picky, picky, picky). When you look at the
>details, nothing makes sense. You desperately need to study the original
>source material in geology and paleontology and not get your info from
>books like Wiester's or other apologetical works like Wilcox's June 1996
>article. Those types of books can not and do not go into the type of
>detail needed to really solve the problem.

None of the geologic miscues were foundational to my case. If I missed
the date of the introduction of chordates, or mistook height for thickness,
okay, I blundered. I'll stand in the corner. Am I now disqualified as a
Bible apologist? Such a thundering reproach obscures the issue. The
methodology I employ still works. It works better than previous Christian
attempts at harmony. It may even be true! At least it's a methodology
driven by data and evidence, and not by archaic presumptions.

I had suggested that maybe we are supposed to view each day of creation
as completed before the next succeeding day, or perhaps, the days overlap.

I wrote:

>>If I had to retreat from that position, due to more difficulties than I
>>have seen raised thus far, a fall back position is the overlapping days
>>method, which I think fully eliminates any difficulties. God creates
>>heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1) which has to include the surrounding
>> universe, galaxy and solar system. He commissions the heavenly bodies
>>for the sighted creatures that appear after plant life appears. Day
>>three, five and six could overlap.

>The overlapping day methodology makes no sense either because the 4th day
>must be second. If they we sequentially overlapping that would be one
>thing but they are not.
>Sequential overlap
>day 1 ------------------
>day 2 ----------------
>day 3 -----------------
>day 4 ----------------
>Acatual overlap required to match data
>Day 1 ------------- light
>Day 2 ------------- expanse
>Day 3 --------------land life
>Day 4 ----Sun and moon
>Day 5 -------Marine life
>Day 6 --------------- wild animals, man
>Did the ancient hebrew scribes shuffle the scroll?

Well, ancient scribes took their toll. (Remember the deletion of Cainan
in Genesis that is recorded in Luke 3:36, but remains in the Septuagint?)

Day four is a statement of appointment of the sun, moon and stars as a
means to measure seasons, days, and years, and for signs for the terrestrial
creatures who began to appear on the fifth day. If overlapping days is used
as an apologetic device, then only day three need overlap day five. But I'm
not at all sure it's necessary.

I also wrote:

>>My opinion is that the order of events in Genesis 1 is too good to give
>>up on it altogether, which is how I would view your approach. It's the
>>same way I feel about progressive creation. If God used progressive
>>creation, why does it look like evolution?

Thank you, Glenn, for giving me the last word. In the spirit of kinship,
I'll return the favor and give it to you.

Glenn wrote:

>I prefer to think of it as finding a solution which is unassailable but is

Dick Fischer
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