Re: Answersingenesis

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 19:46:12 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: YEC Article"

    Hi Chuck

    In answer to your March 31 question, here are so landmarks on my personal and
    ongoing journey in this area.

    As a child I had a naive literal perspective on Genesis (although my father
    personally was sympathetic to the Gap or Restitution approach, it was not an
    issue for him). My mother influenced me against organic evolution (I remember
    expressing excitement over a picture on the evolutionary history of the elephant
    was was told that "Christians do not believe that"), however again it was not an
    issue for her.

    I was exposed to flood geology (Gish and Enoch's books) in my early teens and
    found it unconvincing.

    A book of my father's by Beasly called "Creation's amazing architect" convinced
    me of the age-age approach when I was about 14. Another work on by father's
    bookshelf was Pearce's "Who was Adam? (which postulates a neolithic Adam), this
    too was very influential when I read a few years later.

    When I was about 16 I heard a series of tapes by Coulson (I think) from the UK,
    who was the first to propose a theistic evolution perspective. I was not
    convinced by the scientific evidence but did learn that there was no theological
    objection. Thus when I seriously began to study the scientific evidence at 18 I
    was soon convinced especially by ring species.

    I would have held day-age theistic evolution until I was about 30 when, thanks
    to Blocher's "In the beginning" I began to see that the primary structure of
    Genesis 1 was literary and theological, not scientific.

    When I was 34 I read van Till et. al.'s "Portrait's of Creation". John Stek's
    chapter comparing the Biblical cosmology with other ANE accounts was a
    revelation, reinforced by Jaki's "Genesis 1 through the ages". This second book
    not only showed the conformity of Genesis 1 to the ANR world picture but also
    the futility of 2000 years of concordism.

    Only the last change caused any angst, but I think because I had already
    realised that the structure and purpose of Genesis 1 was theological not
    scientific, I was eased through that, by the grace of God.

    Where I am at the moment then (8 years down the track) is that I would regard
    Genesis 1 as a highly structured theological account expressed in the world
    picture of the day.


    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:

    > Gordon,
    > Thanks for your e-mail. Let me put the comment that you lifted out my
    > e-mail of 31 March in context. I wrote, in part:
    > "I don't see any particular mystery in the support that the YEC-based views
    > are receiving in the evangelical arena. If one holds to a literal (or
    > near-literal) interpretation and ignores the geological record, a YEC-based
    > view makes perfectly good sense. Since there are many more Bible-reading
    > Christians than Christian geologists, a YEC-based view will no doubt
    > predominate.
    > Over the last few years since I started "lurking" on (in?) this forum I've
    > noticed a marked decrease in the YEC-OEC debate. Rather than thinking that
    > this means that the YEC-based supporters have "lost" the argument, it's more
    > likely that many of the YEC adherents have simply given up.
    > I want to pose another question: how many of "you out there" grew up with a
    > literal interpretation of the Biblical narrative and when, and what caused
    > you to change your views to your current view?"
    > I was only using these examples as the sort of thing we tend to scratch our
    > head over. I suppose a "non-literal interpretation" of a floating axe head
    > would be to say that there is a deeper meaning to the story and that one
    > doesn't quite know what to make of it. IOW, unbelief: one simply does not
    > believe that an iron axe head could float. Either that, or one would
    > explain the "floating" [quotations mine] axe head as the surfacing of a
    > denser-than-water object as a result of some turbulence in the water.
    > Ascribing the fall of the walls of Jericho to an earthquake falls in the
    > same category.
    > Was Jesus' walking on the water in the same category? I don't know.
    > Intuitively, I could say, no, it does not and, yes, He did walk on the
    > water. After all, he managed to make some fish and some bread go a long way
    > so, why not!
    > Now I have a question for you, Gordon. Would you put the sun-standing-still
    > during one of the battles of the Israelites and the shadow moving backwards
    > (as a sign of the earth moving in the opposite direction), as a sign that
    > God would heal Hezehiah, in the same category as the floating axe head and
    > Jesus' walking on the water? The implication of the floating axe head are
    > rather minimal and involve a (temporary and local) suspension of some
    > physical laws while the earth moving in the opposite direction might have
    > all sorts of repercussions.
    > I think that, intuitively, we tend to put miracles in different categories.
    > Some of these are so fundamental to our faith that there is no room for
    > argument. The resurrection falls into that category. Then there are the
    > sort of miracles that Jesus performed, like walking on the water, healing
    > the sick and raising the dead. We tend to accept them because 1) "the Bible
    > tells us so" and 2) they show the power of Jesus and indicate that He is the
    > Son of God. When it comes to the floating axe head, the walls of Jericho,
    > we don't see these as essential to our faith as the resurrection and these
    > become "negotiable" to some.
    > As I mentioned, some fellow believers hold to the "domino theory" where a
    > non-literal interpretation of the Bible is tantamount to denying everything.
    > Incidentally, in my e-mail of 31 March, I posed the following question, "how
    > many of "you out there" grew up with a literal interpretation of the
    > Biblical narrative and when, and what caused you to change your views to
    > your current view?" I have not had any reply.
    > Shalom!
    > Chuck Vandergraaf
    > Senior Scientist
    > Waste Technology Business Unit
    > AECL
    > Pinawa, MB R0E 1L0
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: gordon brown [mailto:gbrown@euclid.Colorado.EDU]
    > Sent: Saturday April 07, 2001 3:43 PM
    > To: Vandergraaf, Chuck
    > Cc:
    > Subject: RE: Answersingenesis
    > On Sat, 31 Mar 2001, Vandergraaf, Chuck wrote:
    > > With "literal interpretation" I mean an actual Adam and Eve, walking and
    > > communing with God in a lush garden, surrounded by an impenetrable wall
    > > (remember the angels with flaming swords at the gates), a factual murder
    > of
    > > Abel by Cain, the flooding of the entire world, an honest-to-goodness
    > > floating axe head, the collapse of the walls of Jericho, etc.
    > Chuck,
    > In your post you linked the above views with YEC, but I certainly wouldn't
    > be surprised if most Christian OEC's believed in at least one of the items
    > on your list.
    > What is a nonliteral interpretation of the floating axehead?
    > Is Jesus walking on water in the same category as a floating axehead?
    > Gordon Brown
    > Department of Mathematics
    > University of Colorado
    > Boulder, CO 80309-0395

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