RE: How to encourage a former creationist to persevere in faith?

From: Dick Fischer <dickfischer@verizon.net>
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 11:58:34 EDT

Iain wrote:
 
Actually I think there are clear literary elements as well. The
"evening and morning" before the sun is created seem to indicate that
this is a literary device.
 
Poor hermeneutics is partially to blame for some of the misconceptions
that Genesis cannot be taken at literal face value. In an article in
Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Roy Clouser takes the
fourth day as a time when God caused the sun, moon, and stars to come
into existence, notwithstanding that God created heaven and earth on the
first day. Clouser states:
 
"It shows that the intention of the text was to reveal
a teleological order to the process of creation,
which is not at all the same as either a scientific
explanation or a description of what an observer
would have seen."
 
In his "teleological" order the "days" of creation are lined up such
that the first day on which God separated the light from the darkness
sets up a "precondition" for the fourth day when God created the sun,
moon, and stars. Then the second day is lined up against the fifth, and
the third is lined up against the sixth so that it seems to make some
sense whereas otherwise it would not. Conrad Hyers calls this a
"cosmogonic" order.
 
These attempts of help out poor Moses (or an otherwise unnamed author of
Genesis) who otherwise would have been just plain wrong are totally
unnecessary. This has been addressed and resolved long ago.
 
In Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason Archer said this:
 
Genesis 1:14-19 reveals that in the fourth creative stage
God parted the cloud cover enough for direct sunlight to
fall on the earth and for accurate observation of the
movements of the sun, moon, and stars to take place.
Verse 16 should not be understood as indicating the
creation of the heavenly bodies for the first time on the
fourth creative day; rather it informs us that the sun, moon,
and stars created on Day One as the source of light had
been placed in their appointed places by God with a view
to their eventually functioning as indicators of time ('signs,
seasons, days, years') to terrestrial observers. The Hebrew
verb 'wayya 'as' in v. 16 should better be rendered 'Now
[God] had made the two great luminaries, etc.,' rather than
as simple past tense, [God] made.
 
Simply put, Bible scholars put a strain on these passages, maintaining
that the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day. This is
unwarranted. The emphasis in this verse is on the purpose for the
heavenly bodies not their coming into existence.
 
If we take "the heaven" from Genesis 1:1 to include the visible
universe, or cosmos, then it would incorporate the sun, moon, and stars.
Even if we just take the heavens to mean "sky," it would be strangely
black without sunlight, moonlight, and starlight. This is from The
Expositor's Bible Commentary:
 
So the starting point of an understanding of vv.14-18
Is the view that the whole of the universe, including
the sun, moon, and stars, was created "in the
beginning" (v.1) and thus not on the fourth day.
 
In the creation account, the Hebrew word bara' means create, and always
emanates from God. That can imply an ex nihilo creation, a literal out
of nothing creation (Gen. 1:1), or the use of elements brought into
existence previously as with primitive sea life (Gen. 1:21), also a man
and his woman (Gen. 1:27). The word "made" used in Genesis 1:14-19, is
the Hebrew 'asah, a more general term, and may mean "appoint" or
"accomplish" in this verse.
 
The Septuagint avoids confusion: "God indeed made the two great
luminaries, the greater luminary for the regulations of the day, and the
lesser luminary, with the stars, for the regulations of the night ..."
 
Thus, on the first "day" God created the sun, moon, and stars in
addition to the earth, and on the fourth "day," God appointed the sun to
govern the day and commissioned the moon and stars to rule the night.
Had the sun not been created until the fourth day, we would be left to
wonder what caused the demarcation between the "day" and "night" named
on the first day (Gen. 1:5). Furthermore, from what we know about the
physics of orbital objects, it would be impossible for the earth and its
sister planets to circle a blank spot in space awaiting the sun's
creation.
 
~Dick Fischer
Received on Thu Sep 1 12:00:08 2005

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