miracles (was answeringenesis)

From: Vandergraaf, Chuck (vandergraaft@aecl.ca)
Date: Sun Apr 08 2001 - 22:00:24 EDT

  • Next message: Bill Payne: "Re: Answersingenesis"


    Thanks for your response to my question about Joshua 10:12-14. Your
    response is interesting in that, like many of us, you appear to have a
    problem with a literal interpretation of this passage. You say, "it is not
    clear what really happened." Why not? The statement by Joshua (vs. 12b)
    appears to be quite clear (I'm looking at the NIV version). Not only that,
    but a paraphrase of what Joshua said follows: "so the sun stood still ...
    till the nation avenged itself ..." (vs. 13a), as if to emphasize what was
    said before. Without resorting to the most original text that I have at my
    disposal, one has two options: accept the passage as a supernatural event or
    argue these texts tell us that the battle was such an "earth shaking" event
    that the sun and moon paused in honour of God's great powers. Thus, either
    a literal interpretation or not. IOW, focussing on the sun standing still
    misses the point in that, on that day, "... the Lord listened to a man."
    (vs. 14) which may have been a bigger miracle. However, if we assume that
    the passage really tells us, in a somewhat round about way, that the Lord
    was listening to man, then the earth continued to move and all the
    repercussions of a stopped earth (oceans rushing towards the poles) did not

    Where does this put the floating axe head? Where does it put Balaam's
    talking donkey? (Num. 22: 28-30). Did the donkey really talk or is it the
    point that a "dumb" donkey was smarter than the owner? If the latter,
    again, the donkey did not really talk.

    How did we get to this discussion? It originated in the YEC-OEC link
    (answeingenesis). My point is that, if OEC's criticize YECs because the
    latter come up with (to me), for example, some strange explanations to
    reconcile tectonic plate movement within the time frame necessitated by a
    recent flood and a young earth, OECs have to reconcile
    an-earth-standing-still event with the physical repercussions. If they
    cannot, they have to either interpret the story as "fiction," (and I use
    this term with some trepidation) or postulate that God suspended all
    physical laws during the miracle (which He can, of course, do). However, if
    God suspended the physical laws when He listened to Joshua, why could He not
    have suspended to same laws of physics when He arranged the tectonic plates
    in record time? If that's the case, we're back in the box where we cannot
    extrapolate back in time.

    See my problem?


    Chuck Vandergraaf
    Senior Scientist
    Waste Technology Business Unit
    Pinawa, MB R0E 1L0


    > physical laws while the earth moving in the opposite direction might have
    > all sorts of repercussions.


    It is hard for me to categorize the sun-standing-still incident since it
    is not clear what really happened. It seems that the popular understanding
    of this passage (Josh. 10:12-14) is incorrect. Gibeon was in the hills to
    the east of the battlefield, and so this must have taken place in the
    morning, when no one should have been worried about the sun setting. Also,
    if Joshua had been concerned about not having enough light, why would he
    have thought to instruct the moon as to what it should do? The previous
    verses seem to suggest that the battle began while it was still night. The
    verb translated `stand still' actually means to be silent and is usually
    translated that way or simply to cease, and nowhere else has the
    stand-still translation. The last verb in verse 13 is `go', rather than
    `go down'. It is also interesting that the aspect of this event that is
    deemed to be unusual is not what happened to the sun but the fact that the
    Lord listened to the voice of a man (vs. 14).

    I have seen several speculations about what happened. One of these is that
    what Joshua wanted was not more light but rather more darkness such as
    that that had resulted from the meteorological conditions that had been
    occurring. Thus the sunset could still have occurred at the normal time.
    Any interpretation that has been proposed probably still has problems.

    Gordon Brown
    Department of Mathematics
    University of Colorado
    Boulder, CO 80309-0395

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