Saturday, July 19, 2003

On Vacation

I am on vacation this week. This is a break from my regular job and the teaching and writing tasks that I just do. I would continue with at least the writing were it not for the disruption in the routines of life that make such things possible.

For those of you who like to stop by and would perhaps miss the daily offering, I have pulled together some suggestions from past posts.

Search Engines

This blog named Nagid Ben Chesed is often visited as a result of some search. Based on these incoming searches, I make the following recommendations:

  1. The most frequent search argument that brings people to visit Nagid Ben Chesed is "Judas Iscariot." You can read my perspectives on who he was and why he betrayed Jesus by clicking here.
  2. For those seeking pictures of "nagid women," I recommend that you read The Boundaries of Godly Sexuality. Taken to heart, it will improve your life. Do this before you get out the dictionary or run a spell checker.
  3. The supposed parody of Matthew's gospel is a very popular search. The fact that I wrote a timely article on the subject has given me great satisfaction.

Short Reads

  1. Music through the ages and in the Bible offers my conclusions regarding music in the church.
  2. My article drawn from the book Fahrenheit 451 is the most politically relevant of my posts.
  3. I encourage those who teach the scriptures to read this article, this article, and finally this one. Students of the Scriptures who have the nobility of the Bereans should read them as well.


  1. Most commented on series and the one causing greatest jump in readership is Creation and Science.
  2. If you ever wanted to know what Nagid Ben Chesed is all about, click here.

Grace and Peace to all of you.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

Thursday, July 17, 2003


I will be on vacation all next week. It is a road with people to visit. Blogging will be sporadic. When I return around July 29, I am planning on beginning a rather large series on the Book of Job. This is a famous book. Everybody knows the beginning and the end. Few understand the real drama that takes place in the long slow moving middle. I hope to take you there.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Creation and Science Part 6

This is part 6 of a series that examines the evidence for a universe created by an Intelligent Designer. I would say that this Designer/Creator is the God of the Bible, but the evidence for this second bit will need to come later. To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Reconciling Content

What are some of the alternatives to reading Genesis 1 as other than containing God's work over six contiguous twenty-four hour days?

The Formless and Void Earth

Genesis 1 starts with a summary statement, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It then goes on to say, "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." When did this happen? Was it part of day 1 or before day 1? Note the next phrase, "Then God said,..." This phrase marks the beginning of all the other days, and it is not illogical to say that Genesis 1:3 marks the beginning of the seven days, leaving an indeterminate time for God to brood and plan. This is really only a small point and does not do much to address other issues about what happened on which days, but it is important to keep in mind that a history of the universe is possible before the first day without any violation, and indeed with the support of the literary structure.

This "brooding" fascinates me. When I read it, I think of Proverbs 8:22-31:

The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From everlasting, I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth; while He had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world. When He established the heavens, I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, when He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of men.

It is worth noting that there is no fixed chronology in the above song. Note the repeated references to springs, skies, earth, and heavens. It is like the whole is just to wonderful to take in all at once.

Poetic Structure

Some have noted that the arrangement of Genesis 1 contains a parallelism that is usually associated with Hebrew poetry. I have noted this in the table below:

Day 1: Light and Darkness Separated Day 4: Light and Darkness filled with the heavenly bodies.
Day 2: The sky separates heavens and the waters Day 5: The sky is filled with birds and the waters with fish.
Day 3: The dry land and vegetation appear Day 6: The dry land is filled with animals

The first half brings order to the formlessness of the earth and the second half fills its void. This is the important connection with Genesis 1:2, "and the earth was formless and void." It again demonstrates that the earth was there prior to the beginning of the first day. The first day was the beginning of the shaping. We can also conclude that Genesis 1 is geocentric in its perspective. It tells us about the fashioning of the earth and may not have that much to say about the rest of the heavens. It is the earth that was formless and void, and it is the earth that is shaped and filled.

Poetry may or may not have to conform to the way things actually happened. Look at Proverbs 8:22-31 again. That is a song of wisdom and exhibits no concern for chronology or the correct sequence of one event following another.

If Genesis begins with a Song of Creation, the repeated pattern of "there was morning evening and there was morning, one day." becomes a poetic device. I can hear some reasonable objections rising here, but read very closely, "one day," "a second day," "a third day," etc. The absence of the definite article can mean that chronology is given second place to structure. A man could list his children, "Arnold, one of my children; Judah, a second child; and Sarah, a third child" Or he might say, "Sarah, the first child; Arnold; the second child; and Jude the third child." The first lists the sons, followed by the daughters. The second lists the children in birth order.

We need to know how dramatically different Genesis 1 is compared to the creation accounts of Israel's neighbors. They are full of battles with sea monsters restraining creation and gods who do battle and slay them. God fashions the world by the Word of his mouth. Genesis 1's Song of Creation takes on and defeats other ancient songs of creation. The poem serves as a polemic against the mythology of its day.

Mapping the Six Days to Science

Hugh Ross' Reasons to Believe website is the best resource to explore this avenue. He takes the concept, established above, that Genesis 1 tells about the shaping of the earth from the earth's point of view. He then refines and further says that the viewpoint is from the surface of the earth, and then maps the Genesis days to these scientific events:

  • God Created the Heavens and the Earth: Big Bang, formation of the Solar System
  • The Spirit of God brooding over the surface of the waters: Design and creation of single celled organisms
  • Age 1: The cloud cover begins to decrease, allowing the light of the sun and moon to diffuse through.
  • Age 2: God created a stable water cycle of evaporation and condensation.
  • Age 3: God creates the mountains and continents. God creates the plants to grow on them. Oxygen levels increase in the atmosphere.
  • Age 4: The increased oxygen creates the ozone layer and God disperses the now unneeded cloud cover and lets the sun, moon, and stars shine through.
  • Age 5: God creates the fishes in the waters.
  • Age 6: God creates the animals and finally He creates man.

For Hugh Ross, the creative activity of God is direct and special. There is no evolution here. At one point in time, there were no sea creatures, and then there were sea creatures fully formed. It is interesting that the fossil record supports this concept. It especially explains what is known as the Cambrian Explosion at which time all modern phyla and then some suddenly appear in the fossil record. There was nothing before. For Hugh Ross and others that is evidence of the God's actions in Age 6.

It is somewhat remarkable that, although the picture is contrived, the day/ages map as smoothly as they do. One must acknowledge, on the one hand,  that Moses did not have the above notions in mind as he wrote. On the other hand, there is nothing essentially wrong with the understanding shifting to accommodate discoveries impossible during the times of Moses. Rather we can give praise for a creation account that has the ability to move into the realms of modern cosmology.

Final Words on This Topic

There are other ways of dealing with Genesis 1 and science. I have highlighted the ones with which I am the most familiar. None of them are perfect. They all have problems. And really, even the six-by-twenty-four is not perfect, even if current cosmology supported it. As I wrote in the fifth post of this series, the sixth day packs in a lot of activity. It is one thing to have God do all that creating. It is another thing to force Adam to do and feel so much in such a short amount of time.

I hope that those of you who read this conclude that I have been fair to the material and have maintained integrity in handling the Scriptures. I have just recently read where the second generation of creation-scientists are instituting a peer review system and endeavoring to pay attention to those all important details. This can mean nothing but good, and I am glad to hear such things. I await their work.

In the meantime, I plan to steer my blogging course back to more direct Scriptural themes. If I might borrow from Francis Schaeffer, I have been writing about the God Who is There. But He is There and He is not Silent. I will steer my course once more to His written Word: the special revelation that communicates His desire to have us for His own. Our universe was not wound up like a top and left to spin wherever. No, He continues to create and interact with His creation day in and age out.

Thursday: After 6 days on Creation and Science, I am taking a day to rest.

<>< Test Everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

Monday, July 14, 2003

Creation and Science Part 5

This is part 5 of a series that examines the evidence for a universe created by an Intelligent Designer. I would say that this Designer/Creator is the God of the Bible, but the evidence for this second bit will need to come later. To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Before getting into some alternative views of Genesis chapter 1, I want to develop a little more fully the concept that creation and science must not only be reconciled with Genesis 1, but also with Psalm 19 and Romans 1. This is particularly true of Romans 1:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20, NASB)

Paul states that one can look at the universe, with no Scriptural interpretation, and apprehend enough about God to be morally responsible for one's actions. The NASB tells us that such things are "clearly seen." Paul is talking about those who do not know what the scriptures say about God or His creation. The understanding among today's world, without the scriptures to say otherwise, is that the universe is old. This is attested to by the cosmic distance ladder, the size of coral reefs, and independent dating methods that yield similar results through dissimilar methodologies. Emerging within this framework is the Anthropic Principle and reasonable inferences of Intelligent Design. In other words, when the universe speaks on its own terms, it fulfills the requirements of Romans 1:18-20. Although the universe has good evidence of age, life has relatively poor evidence for macro-evolution. The more we investigate the fossil record, the inner workings of the cell, and so forth, the less convincing is the case for macro-evolution.

Here is why this discussion is important. Let's take a hypothetical person by the name of Guy Secular. He is a trained scientist, but as he looks at the fine tuning of the universe, he decides that he should investigate the God who might be there. He enters a young earth environment that gives no quarter to any other view. He explains that he is seeking God, because of the evidence that he sees in Creation. The Christians, there, tell him in no uncertain terms that the Bible proclaims a young earth. They insist that Genesis 1 be taken at literal face value. Guy Secular leaves. He cannot make that shift. He knows the evidence too well. Has he left because his heart is rebellious or because we made the case that the Bible and this area of science is all or nothing? 

Guy Secular will perhaps return to his scientific work or turn to other religions. He never had a chance to encounter the gospel.

It is the Bible that tells us that the creation, without reference to interpreting scripture, can speak true truth about God. Indeed the Bible tells us that the creation can speak enough truth to place any man under God's righteous judgment and wrath. I believe that we are responsible to seek reconciliation between the Bible and its message as much as possible.

The dilemma is that an old universe is at odds with the most natural reading of Genesis 1, but the old universe points to the Creator in powerful ways that has caused scientists like Martin Reese to take notice. What are we to do?

The first thing is to recognize that the Bible contains other difficulties that require us to make adjustments to a plain understanding of the text in order to reconcile them:

And he (Judas) threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:5)

Now this man (Judas) acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. (Acts 1:18)

The plain reading of these two passages tells two different stories. A combined reading suggests that Judas hanged himself and after some days of decay fell from his noose and his body burst open. The reconciliation only comes from treating both stories as true, but in need of reconciliation. Similar work is required to reconcile the money trail between the two passages.

Romans 1:18-20, the voice of Creation, and Genesis 1 need to be reconciled as well. It is not good enough to simply say that Genesis 1 absolutely requires 6 twenty-four hour days, because in doing so, we come close to making that truth an implicit condition of salvation.

We could, perhaps, wait until a newer breed of creation scientist emerges and finally makes a strong case for a young earth that speaks to Guy Secular as strongly as the Creation does today, but what of Guy Secular's soul -- today? The Anthropic Principle gives us common ground to reach out to Guy Secular and ask him to wake up and see the remarkable wonder of it all.

So What Does It Take?

Without a doubt, a normal, everyday, nothing fancy reading of Genesis 1 would communicate that God created the universe and everything in it in six days.

Without a doubt, a normal, everyday, nothing fancy reading of Matthew 27 would tell us that Judas threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary.

Without a doubt, a normal, everyday, nothing fancy reading of Acts 1 would tell us that Judas acquired a field with the pieces of silver that he received when he betrayed Jesus.

Without a doubt, a normal, everyday, nothing fancy reading is not always good enough to tell us the truth. I have to also assume that the Holy Spirit intended for us to work through such issues. I believe that Genesis 1 and Romans 1 need reconciliation. I also believe that their reconciliation has scriptural support.

The question is whether Genesis 1 can accommodate an old heavens and an old earth. There are some intriguing clues:

  1. Immediately after the events in Genesis 1, Genesis 2:4 reads, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven." The word day here is the same word used in Genesis 1, but no one seriously says that God made the heavens and the earth in a single twenty-four hour period. We understand that here, the word day means a period of time. The fact that this phrase occurs immediately after the account of the 6 day creation perhaps gives us license to consider the days in Genesis 1 as periods too. Why did Moses not say, "in the six days that the Lord God made earth and heaven."
  2. Second Peter 3:5 says, "For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water." Peter, speaking to non-believers, tells them that "the heavens existed long ago." Later, in the same context Peter writes, "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." (2 Peter 3:8) So whose time keeper is ticking during Genesis 1? Is it man's or is it God's? If it is God's do we have to place on it the same constraints as if it were man's? Perhaps the reference to days in Genesis 1 and day in Genesis 2:4 and days in Peter is just to tell us that God is eternal and to not make such a big deal about literal 24 hour entities.
  3. Day 6 in Genesis 1 has to be reconciled to much of Genesis chapter 2. Genesis 1 tells us that on that day God created man as male and female. There seems to be too much to reasonably cover a single 24 hour period. God made the cattle and other animals. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground. He planted a special garden for the man and planted fruit trees. He brought some, if not all, the animals to Adam to see what he would name them. This had a dual role of giving Adam dominion over the animals and to make him yearn for a companion. The Lord put Adam to sleep, and fashioned a woman from him. This is a lot to do in a day, and the story has more drama by giving it the time that it needs for Adam's loneliness to grow. The story does not demand, nor does it indicate that a single 24 hour day is in view.
  4. Hebrews 11:3 says, "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible." The writer makes no mention to 6 days being essential to this faith.

And so there is some room for reconciling Genesis 1 with and old universe. In doing so we greatly expand the audience to which we can proclaim the gospel.

Wednesday: Reconciling Content

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>