Thanks for writing.
You have written substantial papers on this topic, and I am impressed.
However, with respect, I can't agree with your statement: "... the basic
scientific picture in which this revelation (Genesis 1) is embedded is
the science of the times." In my view the creation narrative is a simple
statement of revealed truth. Further, however the ancients understood
this truth can hardly be of any concern to us today, for through
empirical observation and deduction we now have, by God's grace, a
fuller view of reality. In respect of how we come to be here, why should
it be supposed that God would speak truth only to the contemporaries of
the Patriarchs? So, I don't believe I am being inconsistent in accepting
the narrative as literal truth.
I think you will agree that for many people science has become a god.
They seem to believe that answers to all man's problems can be found
outside the Scriptures. Unfortunately for them evidence is now to hand
that Genesis 1:1 is supernaturally designed! - with interesting
implications for the future course of the creation-evolution debate. As
an example, consider the sequence of creativity given in Genesis 1. Is
it now reasonable to argue that our Creator got it wrong when he stated
'birds on day 5 'and 'land animals on day 6'? Something has to give! -
and, logically, it can't be Genesis 1! Perhaps TEs should expend some
effort in devising a line of descent which circumvents this anomaly.
"When I show a man he is inconsistent, I make him decide whether of the
two he loves better, the portion of truth he already holds, or the
portion of error." (J.H.Newman, Tract 85)
Vernon Jenkins MSc
[musician, mining engineer, and formerly Senior Lecturer in Maths and
Computing,the Polytechnic of Wales (now the University of Glamorgan)]
> Vernon (and I am writing this also for Kurt Streutker and John Neal who also
> share your assumptions)
> You have mentioned at least three times the necessity of a Christian to
> accept the literal truth of Genesis 1:
> "It [the theory of evolution] has progressively undermined
> the word of God - specifically, in challenging the literal truth of the
> early chapters of Genesis….
> The data available to us is surely capable of a different interpretation -
> one that is more in keeping with the literal requirements of Genesis 1.
> This matter alone [birds created before land animals], I suggest, presents
> the TE with a real problem. Believing God to be sovereign in respect of an
> evolutionary creation, how - logically -is he able to question a statement
> (that could only have come from God!) regarding the order in which the
> created forms appeared? 3(b) Believing the Genesis sequence to be correct,
> this suggests that an evolutionary reading of the fossil data is incorrect."
> You are asking, how can a TE believe in evolution and at the same time claim
> to be submitting to the Bible?
> First of all, though a TE, I do not question the basic interpretation of Gen
> 1 which you have mentioned. Further, I disavow the usual renditions of
> day-age concordism, which in my opinion distort the biblical data as much as
> creation science distorts the scientific data. You can see my rejection of
> concordism in "The First Four Days of Genesis in Concordist Theory and in
> Biblical Context," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 49:2 (June,
> 1997) 85-95
> What I do question is your assumption that Gen 1 is intended to teach us HOW
> God created the world, rather than, to put it basically, WHO created the
> world. I see in Gen 1 several revelations, which stand out in sharp contrast
> with the Ancient Near Eastern theologies of the time and especially
> Babylonian theology. Namely, (1) the monotheism (2) the demythologization of
> the natural forces (3) the concern for the welfare of man. But, I also see
> that the basic scientific picture in which this revelation is embedded is the
> science of the times.
> There are, I believe, two basic reasons why people think Gen 1 is a
> revelation of science. One, they are ill-acquainted with the ancient Near
> Eastern literature and background which is the historical context of the
> chapter and hence interpret the chapter out of context, and, two, human
> reason wants the Bible to be scientifically inerrant, rather than being what
> God gave, an accommodation to the science of the times in order to
> communicate his theological message to the people of that time.
> If "conservative Bible-believers" were consistent about accepting the science
> in Gen 1 as a revelation from God, they would affirm that the sky is
> rock-solid. That is the historical-grammatical meaning of the Hebrew word
> rightly translated in the KJV "firmament." I have documented this in my
> paper on the meaning of the firmament and the water above, in the Westminster
> Theological Journal vol 53 (1991) 227-240 and 54 (1992) 31-46. These papers
> are also on the web at
> http://www.bible.org/galaxie/journals/sample/wtj/9095/wtj201.htm and
> But, all of the "conservative Bible-believers" that I have met always reject
> this historical-grammatical meaning of "firmament" and twist the meaning into
> "space" or "atmosphere" in order to make the Bible conform to modern science.
> They do the same thing with the "water above the firmament" twisting it into
> meaning "clouds" or "a canopy of water below the firmament." (I might mention
> that both the solid sky and the ocean above it made perfect sense to anyone
> in the ancient Near East.) I venture to say that you also reject the literal
> meaning of "firmament" and "the water above" in favor of an interpretation
> that brings the Bible into line with your knowledge of modern science. If
> so, you are not in much of a position to question TE's for doing this. But,
> I am not seeking to be hard on you, rather to help you realize this issue is
> much more complicated than Ken Ham and the like make it appear.
> Best wishes,
> Paul S., a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Truth.