Re: [asa] Augustine and Young Earth Creationism

From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Mar 02 2007 - 16:40:52 EST

Gordon,

Yes, I'm well aware that Augustine didn't endorse the 24 hour "days" and
have read some of his writings which are very interesting on this. However,
I think instead that he took the view that God would have created it all
instantly.

But he certainly seemed to accept the chronology according to the Bible, and
that therefore only a few thousand years had elapsed since the creation of
Adam. I am uncertain what his view of the history of the earth was before
the creation of man. Clearly he had no especial cause to believe the earth
was billions of years old, as the science hadn't been done yet.

There would seem to be 2 issues here. One is the seven day account - were
they 24 hours or not? The second one, which is perhaps even more relevant
to YEC's is was Adam historical, was he the first human, was he responsible
for the Fall? Since YEC's are hot on the no death before the fall argument,
this is one that needs to be addressed & I'm not sure if Augustine's views
don't support this.

Iain

On 3/2/07, gordon brown <gbrown@colorado.edu> wrote:
>
> Iain,
>
> Although Augustine may have accepted the idea that there are no gaps in
> the genealogies in Genesis, he did not endorse the notion that the days of
> Genesis 1 are 24 hours in length. In "City of God" he expresses the
> opinion that it might be beyond the capacity of humans to understand what
> was meant by days in that chapter. He cites the fact that the sun wasn't
> there to use as a clock until the fourth day.
>
> Gordon Brown
> Department of Mathematics
> University of Colorado
> Boulder, CO 80309-0395
>
>
> On Fri, 2 Mar 2007, Iain Strachan wrote:
>
> > Hi,
> >
> > I wonder if anyone can comment on this.
> >
> > I am having quite a wearying debate via email with two YEC's whom I met
> via
> > a work Christian group (on a science park .. one of them with a PhD in
> > molecular biology). It started when one of them wrote a long email to
> > everyone on the list about his recent discovery of Young Earth
> Creationism
> > and all the fascinating and amazing stuff you could find on the AiG
> website
> > (my heart sank!). Since then I've been trying to gently debate about
> all
> > the pseudo-science that he's coming up with. I've pretty much refuted
> just
> > about every argument he has thrown at me, usually by just pointing him
> at
> > the relevant post on the Index to Creationist claims at Talk Origins. [
> I
> > did warn him that yes there are some militant atheists there but when
> people
> > do science for the most part they are just trying to be honest]. I think
> his
> > most spectacular own goal was talking about the "dinosaur blood and soft
> > tissue" claims of YEC's. He sent me a link to an article from the
> > Smithsonian magazine in which Mary Schweizer, who made the discoveries
> was
> > interviewed. It turns out that Schweizer is a devout Christian, who is
> > absolutely mortified at the way YEC'ers have misrepresented her work.
> >
> > He's admitted that most of the ideas he's come up with are non starters,
> > but still is content to believe that there are other explanations and so
> it
> > doesn't change his views. Recently, for instance one of them came out
> with
> > the amazing observation that the ages of the patriarchs post-flood
> follow an
> > exponential decay (he was really "blown away" by this - though they
> don't
> > make a particularly convincing exponential curve). The other one piped
> up
> > and said that this would fit in with the idea of accelerated radioactive
> > decay during the flood, and the subsequent genetic damage caused decay
> to
> > set in resulting in the decaying ages. I pointed out that not only
> would
> > such a burst of radiation kill Noah et al instantaneously, but it would
> also
> > probably vapourise the earth. But he still said it didn't change his
> views
> > and that there were probably "other explanations" for the discrepancies
> > (though he didn't give any).
> >
> > Recently I have tried to play the Augustine card, which pretty much like
> > when Pim continually reminds Janice of it, has fallen on deaf ears. No
> > response to Augustine's warning has come. I guess we all know the
> relevant
> > quote:
> >
> > It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the
> sky,
> > about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or
> even
> > the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the
> sun
> > and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of
> > animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known
> with
> > the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is
> not
> > a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to
> be
> > avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so
> > idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian
> writings,
> > that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw
> how
> > totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind
> > constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I
> was
> > able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings
> of
> > obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to
> the
> > prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation." (*The Literal
> > Interpretation of Genesis 1:1920*, Chapt. 19 [AD 408])
> >
> >
> > Emphasis mine as I was illustrating precisely what happened when the
> atheist
> > population in my office stumbled upon Conservapedia and were whooping
> with
> > delight on the entry of Kangaroos and how they originated in the middle
> east
> > and possibly floated on matted vegetation all the way to Australia.
> >
> > However, as I say nothing has come of it. But in anticipating
> comebacks, I
> > found on the Wikipedia entry on Augustine, that Wikipedia says that
> > Augustine defended what would now be called Young Earth Creationism, in
> > "City of God", citing the following quotation:
> >
> > Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say,
> when
> > they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. For some hold the
> > same opinion regarding men that they hold regarding the world itself,
> that
> > they have always been... They are deceived, too, by those highly
> mendacious
> > documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years,
> though,
> > reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet
> > passed." (Augustine, Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many
> > Thousand Years to the World's
> > Past<http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-02/npnf1-02-18.htm#P2017_1154484
> >,
> > *The City of God*, Book 12: Chapt. 10 [AD 419]).
> >
> >
> > I can anticipate that, given that it's there for all to see on
> Wikipedia,
> > that a YEC might seize on this quote of Augustine's to point out that he
> was
> > a YEC, and I'm wondering if members of the list might speculate on how
> to
> > respond to this. My thoughts are that Augustine wasn't talking about
> > science, but was probably referring (by "mendacious documents") to other
> > chronologies of ancient civilisations, which sometimes have the reigns
> of
> > kings lasting thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of years. I
> > believe Augustine also wrote that Psalm 90:4 (a thousand years = a day)
> was
> > linked with Genesis "the day you eat of the fruit you shall surely die",
> as
> > a reason why Adam (and no other patriarch) reached 1000 (one
> day). Whether
> > or not this is right, it seems to me that he was talking about
> inaccurate
> > and exaggerated histories, and not about science.
> >
> > I'm wondering what peoples' thoughts on this are. Was Augustine a
> YEC? Not
> > in the modern sense of the word I guess, but he did reckon the age of
> > mankind at least by the chronology of scripture.
> >
> > I'll conclude by adding that whilst I made my comments on Conservapedia
> > yesterday, I do not consider Wikipedia to be at all a reliable source of
> > information. When I've looked up articles on things I'm expert in, I've
> > found more than once there to be either straight factual errors, or
> > extremely misleading statements. I corrected on of this (on the entry
> on
> > Kalman filters) because a quite misleading statement was made, but it
> was
> > quickly corrected by a know-it-all PhD student who wants to make himself
> > look clever. Conservapedia is probably right that Wikipedia has a
> liberal
> > bias (but that doesn't make it right to create a site that has an
> equally
> > strong, if not more so, Conservative bias). I was always taught that
> two
> > wrongs don't make a right. I'm wondering if Wikipedia is not being fair
> in
> > associating YEC-ism with St. Augustine.
> >
> > Iain
> > --
> > -----------
> > After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
> >
> > - Italian Proverb
> > -----------
> >

-- 
-----------
After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
- Italian Proverb
-----------
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Received on Fri Mar 2 16:41:13 2007

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