Re: Genesis One that Fits

From: Keith B Miller (
Date: Thu Feb 14 2002 - 15:44:40 EST

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "Re: Genesis One that Fits"

    I just happen to be compling a list of quotations for another purpose, and
    thought that it might be helpful for this thread.


    St. Augustine:

    "Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the
    heavens, and other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of
    the atars and even their size ..., and this knowledge he holds to as being
    certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous
    thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of
    Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all
    means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up
    vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn... If they find a
    Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him
    maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to
    believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the
    hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven...?" (From Augustine's "The
    Literal Meaning of Genesis" quoted in Howard Van Till, et al., 1990,
    Portraits of Creation, p. 149)

    John Calvin:

    "For to my mind this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated
    of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy and the
    other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere ... It must be remembered, that
    Moses does not speak with philosophical acuteness on occult mysteries, but
    states those things which are everywhere observed, even by the
    uncultivated, and which are in common use." (Quoted in Bernard Ramm, 1954,
    The Christian View of Science and Scripture, p. 66.)

    Benjamin B. Warfield:

    (B.B. Warfield was an evangelical Presbyterian theologian at Princeton. He
    was largely responsible for developing the scholarly defense of Biblical

    "As far as Warfield was concerned, it was possible to explain any given
    phenomenon in terms of either a religious cause or a scientific cause.
    This idea of "concursus" was central to his theological project; it also
    enabled him to take into account the human and divine elements in biblical
    inspiration. Clearly, therefore, Warfield was just as willing as McCosh to
    relocate design in the orderly laws of nature." ...
    "The significance of Warfield's proposals is not inconsiderable, especially
    in view of his defense of biblical inerrancy. He plainly held that there
    was no conflict between evolutionary science and belief in scriptural
    infallibility." (From: David N. Livingstone, 1987, Darwin's Forgotten
    Defenders, p. 117, 121.)

    "To Warfield, then, Calvin's doctrine opened the door to a controlled
    "naturalistic" explanation of natural history -- including the human
    physical form -- in terms of the operation of secondary causes. These, to
    be sure, were directed by the guiding hand of divine providence; but this
    conviction did not prevent him from asserting that Calvin's doctrine of
    creation actually turned out to be "a very pure evolutionary scheme." In
    addition, Warfield's architectonic defense of biblical inerrancy did not
    prevent him from departing from a literalistic interpretation of the early
    Genesis narratives." (From David N. Livingstone, 1999, "Situating
    Evangelical responses to evolution," IN, D.N. Livingstone, D.G. Hart, and
    M.A. Noll, eds., Evangelicals and Science in Historical Perspective, p.

    George Frederick Wright:

    (Wright was an evangelical congregationalist theologian who taught at
    Oberlin. He was a contributor to the series of volumes called the
    "Fundamentals" which began the fundamentalist movement.)

    "First, Wright continually insisted that while God is the final or ultimate
    cause of life, Darwin had supplied a pretty good explanation of the
    secondary causes. ... The solidly historical character of the Christian
    faith made it more closely allied to modern science than to 'the glittering
    generalities of transcendentalism.' The implications were plain. Simply
    to say 'God created the world' in answer to scientific questioning was to
    undermine the whole scientific enterprise, to cut off the very possibility
    of scrutiny before it had begun. And, even worse, Wright pointed out that
    such an approach would undermine the rational foundations not just of
    science but of the very proofs on which divine revelation rested." (David
    N. Livingstone, 1987, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, p. 67)

    James McCosh:

    (McCosh was a calvinist and supporter of the evangelical Free Church of
    Scotland. He was a theologian at, and then president of, Princeton.)

    "I have been defending Evolution, but, in so doing, have given the proper
    account of it as the method of God's procedure, and find that when so
    understood it is in no way inconsistent with Scripture." (From: David N.
    Livingstone, 1987, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, p. 106)

    A. H. Strong:

    (Strong was a Baptist theologian serving as a pastor and then professor of
    systematic theology at Rochester Theological Seminary. He also served a
    term as president of the American Baptist Missionary Union.)

    "If we were deists, believing in a distant God and a mechanical universe,
    evolution and Christianity would be irreconcilable. But since we believe
    in a dynamical universe, of which the personal and living God is the inner
    source of energy, evolution is but the basis, foundation and background of
    Christianity, the silent and regular working of him who, in the fulness of
    time, utters his voice in Christ and the cross." (From: David N.
    Livingstone, 1987, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, p. 129.)

    James Iverach:

    (Iverach was professor of apologetics in the Scottish Free Church.)

    "Are we, then, to deny even in the case of man "special creation"? Yes and
    no, as we understand the meaning of the term. To me creation is
    continuous. To me everything is as it is through the continuous power of
    God; every law, every being, every relation of being are determined by Him,
    and He is the Power by which all things exist. I believe in the immanence
    of God in the world, and I do not believe that He comes forth merely at a
    crisis, as Mr. Wallace supposes. Apart from the Divine action man would
    not have been, or have an existence; but apart from the Divine action
    nothing else would have an existence." (From: David N. Livingstone, 1987,
    Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, p. 139-140.)

    James Orr:

    (Orr was a theologian at the United Free Church College in Glasgow, widely
    respected as a scholarly apologist for evangelicalism. Along with Wright,
    he was a contributor to the "Fundamentals.")

    "Assume God -- as many devout evolutionists do -- to be immanent in the
    evolutionary process, and His intelligence and purpose to be expressed in
    it; then evolution, so far from conflicting with theism, may become a new
    and heightened form of the theistic argument. The real impelling force of
    evolution is now from within; it is not blind but purposeful; forces are
    inherent in organisms which, not fortuitously but with design, work out the
    variety and gradations in nature we observe." (From: David N. Livingstone,
    1987, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders, p. 142.)

    Bernard Ramm:

    (Ramm was a professor of systematic theology and Christian apologetics at
    the American Baptist Seminary.)

    "In discussing the Biblical cosmology we must return to our general
    position defended earlier in this chapter; the references of the writers of
    the Bible to natural things are popular, non-postulational, and in terms of
    the culture in which the writers wrote. This principle applies directly to
    Biblical cosmology. The language of the Bible with reference to
    cosmological matters is in terms of the prevailing culture. Biblical
    cosmology is in the language of antiquity and not of modern science, nor is
    it filled with anticipations which the future microscope and telescope will
    reveal." ...
    "The cosmology of the Bible is not systematized and is not postulational.
    It is neither for nor against any of the current and ancient theories of
    the universe except where they might be polytheistic or in conflict with
    basic Christian metaphysics. But the Bible does not support Aristotle or
    Ptolemy or Copernicus or Descartes or Newton or Einstein or Milne.
    Certainly, the Bible works as a negative criterion in telling us that
    dualisms and pantheisms and materialisms are wrong, but it gives us no
    positive cosmology. " ... ...
    "To this point we have shown that evolution with all necessary
    qualifications has been adopted into both the Catholic and Protestant
    evangelical theology and has not meant the disruption of either. The
    charge that evolution is anti-Christian, and that theistic evolution is not
    a respectable position, is very difficult to make good in view of the
    evidence we have here given." (Bernard Ramm, 1954, The Christian View of
    Science and Scripture, p. 65-66, 202.)

    Bruce K. Waltke:

    (Waltke is professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary ,
    and professor emeritus of biblical studies at Regent College. He is
    acknowleged as one of the leading evangelical Old Testament scholars.)

    "First, Genesis and science discuss essentially different matters. The
    subject of the Genesis creation account is God, not the forces of nature.
    The transcendent God is a subject that science cannot discuss."
    "Second, the language of Genesis and science is entirely different. The
    creation account is formed in everyday speech, nontheoretical terminology,
    rather than mathematics and technical terminology. More important, Genesis
    1 is concerned with ultimate cause, not proximation. The intent of the
    creation account is not to specify the geological and genetic methods of
    creation, but to definitively establish that creation is a result of God's
    creative acts. ..."

    "Third, the purposes of Genesis and science also differ. Genesis is
    prescriptive, answering the questions of who and why and what ought to be,
    whereas the purpose of science is to be descriptive, answering the
    questions of what and how. The narrator of the creation account is not
    particularly concerned with the questions a scientist asks; rather, he
    wants to provide answers to the questions science cannot answer -- who has
    created this world and for what purpose?"
    "Fourth, since they are addressed to different types of communities,
    Genesis and science require distinct means for validation. Science,
    speaking to the academic scientific community, requires empirical testing
    for validation. Genesis, addressed to the covenant community of God,
    requires the validation of the witness of the Spirit to the heart (Rom.
    8;16). For these reasons, the Genesis creation account cannot be
    delineated as a scientific text." (Bruce K. Waltke, 2001, Genesis: A
    Commentary, p. 74-75.)

    "Since the biblical narrative is non-scientific, we draw the double
    conclusion that it cannot be a satisfying scientific account of the origins
    of things and that it can be supplemented by scientific theories. The
    Bible and a scientific theory of origins clash only when the latter is set
    forth as the complete explanation of origins and the former is interpreted
    as a scientific treatise." ...
    "Natural theology and exegetical theology are both hindered by a continued
    adherence to the epistemic principle that valid scientific theories must be
    consistent with a woodenly literal reading of Genesis. Because of the
    attempt to harmonize Genesis with science, such implausible interpretations
    of Genesis 1 as 'the Restitution Theory,' commonly called 'the Gap Theory,'
    and 'the Day-Age Theory,' have vexed biblical exegesis, and scientific
    theories presupposing a young earth and denying evolution, unnecessarily
    have discredited their advocates, despite their unconvincing protests that
    they are not influenced by Genesis. Let each book speak its own language
    and be appropriately exegeted and exposited, and let each in its own way
    bring praise to the Creator, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
    (Bruce K. Waltke, 1991, "The literary genre of Genesis, Chapter One": Crux,
    vol. 27, no. 4, p. 2-10.)

    Billy Graham:

    "I don't think that there's any conflict at all between science today and
    the Scriptures. I think that we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many
    times and we've tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren't meant
    to say, I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a
    scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book
    of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that
    God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether
    it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this
    person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact
    that God did create man. ..... whichever way God did it makes no
    difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God." (Quoted in
    David Frost, 1997, Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man, p.

    James I. Packer:

    (J.I. Packer is professor of historical and systematic theology at Regent

    "It should be remembered, however, that scripture was given to reveal God,
    not to address scientific issues in scientific terms, and that, as it does
    not use the language of modern science, so it does not require scientific
    knowledge about the internal processes of God's creation for the
    understanding of its essential message about God and ourselves. Scripture
    interprets scientific knowledge by relating it to the revealed purpose and
    work of God, thus establishing an ultimate context for the study of
    scientific ideas. It is not for scientific theories to dictate what
    Scripture may and may not say, although extra-biblical information will
    sometimes helpfully expose a misinterpretation of Scripture." (J. I.
    Packer, 1988, God Has Spoken, p. 170)

    "I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, and maintain it in print, but I
    cannot see that anything Scripture says, in the first chapters of Genesis
    or elsewhere, bears on the biological theory of evolution one way or the
    other. On the theory itself, as a non-scientist, watching from a distance
    the disputes of experts, I suspend judgment." (J. I. Packer, 1978, The
    Evangelical Anglican Identity Problem, p. 5)

    John H. Walton:

    (Walton teaches Old Testament at Wheaton Graduate School.)

    "This approach [a commitment to the Enlightenment and Baconian science] has
    become so pervasive and so ingrained that we no longer realize we are
    asking the wrong questions. It only distorts the biblical text to try to
    read science between the lines, as if the text were constructed to
    accommodate modern scientific understanding. Nevertheless, it also
    undermines the text to reduce it to a harmless variation of primitive
    mythological misconceptions. We cannot defend either a totally postponed
    communication (i.e., one that would make no sense until scientific
    knowledge had progressed and new models developed) or a symbolic message
    (e.g., that the waters above the earth really stood for a canopy in
    suspension) when it would have corresponded to something very different in
    the ancient audience's cosmology. These do not take the text at face
    value, even though the original audience would have been taking the text at
    face value."
    "The solution is to understand the worldview through which the text is
    communicating and focus on that which it seeks to communicate in isolation
    from our pro- or antiscientific agendas. We should not be asking (1) how
    the text validates my scientific understanding or (2) how the text
    describes the scientific system we know to be true; rather, we must ask (3)
    on what level the text is communicating its message. This does not require
    scientific apologetics and text manipulation; it requires comparative
    study. We must come to an understanding of the ancient worldview. Where
    does this lead?" (John H. Walton, 2001, Genesis: The NIV Application
    Commentary, p. 94.)

    John Stek:

    (John Stek is a reformed theologian who was a fellow of the Calvin Center
    for Christian Scholarship when the aritcle below was written.)

    "He [the author of Genesis 1] was not grappling with issues arising out of
    modern scientific attempts to understand the structure, forces, processes,
    and dimensions (temporal and spatial) of the physical universe. He was not
    interested in the issues involved in the modern debate over cosmic and
    biological evolution. His concerns were exclusively religious. His intent
    was to proclaim knowledge of the true God as he manifested himself in his
    creative works, to proclaim a right understanding of humankind, world, and
    history that knowledge of the true God entails -- and to proclaim the truth
    concerning these matters in the face of the false religious notions
    dominant throughout the world of his day." (J. Stek, 1990, "What Says the
    Scripture," in Portraits of Creation, p. 230.)

    Conrad Hyers:

    (Hyers, now retired, was professor and chairperson of religion at Gustavus
    Adolphus College.)

    "One cannot simply abstract Scripture from its original context of meaning,
    as if the people to whom it was most immediately addressed were of no
    consequence. Having thus created a vacuum of meaning, one cannot then
    arbitrarily substitute one's own intellectual issues and literary
    assumptions. Certainly the relevance of the Bible is not restricted to the
    ancient world, but too much haste in applying the Bible to our own
    situation, lifting its words out of context, may seriously misinterpret and
    misapply its message." ...
    "In fact, if one looks at the cosmological alternatives that were prominent
    in the ancient world, one senses immediately that the modern debate over
    creation and evolution would have seemed very strange, if not
    unintelligible, to the writers and readers of Genesis. Science and natural
    history as we know them simply did not exist, even though they owe a debt
    to the positive value given to the natural order by the biblical
    affirmation of the goodness of creation and its monotheistic emptying
    nature of its many resident divinities. What did exist -- what very much
    existed -- and what pressed on Jewish faith from all sides and even from
    within were the religious problems of idolatry and syncretism." ...
    "In the light of this historical context, it becomes clearer what Genesis 1
    is undertaking and accomplishing: a radical and sweeping affirmation of
    monotheism vis-a-vis polytheism, syncretism, and idolatry. Each day of
    creation takes on two principal categories of divinity in the pantheons of
    the day and declares that these are not gods at all but creatures,
    creations of the one true God who is the only one, without a second or
    third. Each day dismisses an additional cluster of deities, arranged in a
    cosmological and symmetrical order." ...

    "The fundamental question at stake, then, could not have been the
    scientific question of how things achieved their present form and by what
    processes, nor the historical question about time periods and chronological
    order. The issue was idolatry, not science; syncretism, not natural
    history; theology, not chronology; affirmation of faith in one transcendent
    God, not empirical or speculative theories of origin. Attempting to be
    loyal to the Bible by turning the creation accounts into a kind of science
    or history is like trying to be loyal to the teachings of Jesus by arguing
    that his parables are actual historical events and are only reliable and
    trustworthy when taken literally as historical events." (Conrad Hyers,
    1984, The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science, p. 42-46.)

    Henri Blocher:

    (Blocher is professor of systematic theology at the Faculté Libre de
    Théologie Evangélique in France.)

    "The literary interpretation takes the form of the week attributed to the
    work of creation to be an artistic arrangement, a modest example of
    anthropomorphism that is not to be taken literally. The author's intention
    is not to supply us with a chronology of origins. It is possible that the
    logical order he has chosen coincides broadly with the actual sequence of
    the facts of cosmogony; but that does not interest him. He wishes to bring
    out certain themes and provide a theology of the sabbath. The text is
    composed as the author meditates on the finished work, so that we may
    understand how the creation is related to God and what is its significance
    for mankind." ...
    "To put it plainly, both the genre and the style of the Genesis 1 prologue,
    as our introductory chapter saw them, provide strong grounds for presuming
    in favour of the literary interpretation. We discerned a composite
    literary genre, skilfully composed. We admired its author as a wise man,
    supremely able in the art of arranging material and very fond of
    manipulating numbers, particularly the number seven. From such a writer
    the plain, straightforward meaning, as in two-dimensional prose, would be
    most surprising when he is setting out the pattern of seven days. From
    such a writer you would expect the sort of method which is discerned by the
    'artistic' interpretation." (Henri Blocher, 1984, In the Beginning: The
    Opening Chapters of Genesis, p.50-51.)

    Meredith G. Kline:

    (Kline is a minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and has taught
    Old Testament for nearly 50 years at Westminster Theological Seminary and
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.)

    "In short, if the narrative sequence were intended to represent the
    chronological sequence, Genesis 1 would bristle with contradictions of what
    is revealed in Gen. 2:5. Our conclusion is then that the more traditional
    interpretations of the creation account are gilty not only of creating a
    conflict between the Bible and science but, in effect, of pitting Scripture
    against Scripture. The true harmony of Genesis 1 and Gen. 2:5 appears,
    however, and the false conflict between the Bible and science disappears,
    when we recognize that the creation "week" is a lower register metaphor for
    God's upper register creation-time and that the sequence of the "days" is
    ordered not chronologically but thematically." (M.G. Kline, 1996, "Space
    and time in the Genesis cosmogony": Perspectives on Science and Christian
    Faith, vol. 48, no. 1, p. 2-15.)

    James Montomery Boice:

    (Dr. Boice was pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, a
    writer and radio Bible expositor.)

    "It (Genesis 1) is a theological statement, however, and we must
    acknowledge this because if we do not, we will inevitably find ourselves
    looking for a scientific explanation of things and will be misled. Not
    that the Genesis record will be opposed to any established scientific data;
    truth in one area, if it really is truth, will never contradict truth in
    another area. Still Genesis 1 is not a description from which we can
    expect to find answers to purely scientific questions. Rather it is a
    statement of origins in the area of meanings, purpose and the relationship
    of all things to God." ...
    "Actually, there is no firm bibilical reason for rejecting some forms of
    evolutionary theory, so long as it is carefully qualified at key points.
    There is, for example, no reason to deny that one form of fish may have
    evolved from another form or even that one form of land animal may have
    evolved from a sea creature. The Hebrew term translated by our word let,
    which occurs throughout the creation account, would permit such a
    "There are, however, three significant points at which a unique action of
    God to create in a special sense seems to be marked off by the powerful
    Hebrew word bara, rendered "created." Bara generally means to create out
    of nothing, which means that the activity it describes is therefore a
    prerogative of God. And, ... , it is used in Genesis 1 to mark the
    creation of matter, of personality and of God-consciousness." (J. M.
    Boice, 1986, Foundations of the Christian Faith, p. 162-163.)

    Gordon Wenham:

    (Dr. Wenham is an evangelical theologian and senior lecturer in religious
    studies at the College of St. Paul and St. Mary in Cheltenham, England.)

    "It has been unfortunate that one device which our narrative uses to
    express the coherence and purposiveness of the creator's work, namely, the
    distribution of the various creative acts to six days, has been seized on
    and interpreted over-literalistically, with the result that science and
    Scripture have been pitted against each other instead of being seen as
    complimentary. Properly understood, Genesis justifies the scientific
    experience of unity and order in nature. The six-day schema is but one of
    several means employed in this chapter to stress the system and order that
    has been built into creation. Other devices include the use of repeating
    formulae, the tendency to group words and phrases into tens and sevens,
    literary techniques such as chiasm and inclusio, the arrangement of
    creative acts into matching groups, and so on."
    "If these hints were not sufficient to indicate the schematization of the
    six-day creation story, the very content of the narrative points in the
    same direction. In particular, evening and morning appear three days
    before the sun and moon, which are explicitly stated to be for "days and
    years" (v 14). Also, this chapter stands outside the main historical
    outline of Genesis, each section of which begins, "this is the (family)
    history of. ...."
    "The Bible-versus-science debate has, most regrettably, sidetracked readers
    of Gen. 1. Instead of reading the chpater as a triumphant afirmation of
    the power and wisdom of God and the wonder of his creation, we have been
    too often bogged down in attempting to squeeze Scripture into the mold of
    the latest scientific hypothesis or distorting scientific facts to fit a
    particular interpretation.Whenb allowed to speak for itself, Gen 1 looks
    beyond such minutiae. ..." (Gordon J. Wenham, 1987, Word Biblical
    Commentary, Volume 1, Genesis 1-15, p. 39-40.

    Keith B. Miller
    Department of Geology
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506

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