Re: On the seventh day...

From: Dr. John Stahl (
Date: Wed Feb 13 2002 - 15:29:28 EST

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    The thread opened by Joel Bandstra was briefly discussed on this list before, and it has recieved a bit of interest this time. This matter has concerned me for quite awhile, ever since I first became a Christian. I am a little puzzled at the response of summary quotation of scripture proof-texts and the implied assumption that "of course God is still creating." In the lingo of this debate, I do not agree with YEC, maybe I am mostly OEC or ID sympathetic, but somedays TE makes a lot of sense. One thing that is clear in 23 years as an ASA member wrestling with a Christian perspective on origins is that one has to wrestle to stand in the middle.

    It has always seemed to that God's pronouncement of Gen. 1:31 "God saw all that He had made and it was very good." combined with Gen. 2:1-2 "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all His work." implied that there is some sort of difference between God's creative actions and His sustaining actions that we see now. I am OK with a literary framework view of these chapters, but even given that, should there not be some implication for our understanding of the natural world.

    Now David Campbell's recent post reminds us that "many new species and even a few higher taxa have been produced during human history." I won't dispute the claim, since this analytical chemist knows little zoology and less paleontology. I do wonder about the difficulties in defining a "species" and also note the uncertainty of the period of human history (i.e. when did Adam live). However, if good science indicates new species, then I am forced to consider anew what Gen. 1:31-2:2 is indicating.

    I greatly appreciate George Murphy's insights into theology and science, but could not the John 5:17 passage simply be speaking of God's providence and sustaining action in the physical world, or even of God's action in general in history. Creation and the natural world are not part of the context.

    Ps. 104: 30 was quoted in another response. However, in context, this seems to be talking about the life cycle of creatures, death and birth, not creation of new species.

    Maybe I make too much of this, but the principle of the sabbath runs throughout scripture, and it seems to me that there are some rich insights to be gained here that others are missing. In what sense did (does?) God rest from His creative work after the dawn of covenant history with Adam and Eve? How do we understand this?

    Dr. John W. Stahl
    Professor of Chemistry
    Geneva College
    Beaver Falls, PA 15010

        "Joel Z. Bandstra" wrote:
            Does the biblical creation narrative indicate that God stopped creating? If so, is that teaching at odds with our understanding of species development processes?

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