If you’re 100% convinced the earth is young, and your faith and theology fall apart if you admit a different possibility the following article makes sense, I suppose. Honestly though, a part of me questions the whole endeavor, even though the motives are right, and the intent is to protect what those involved perceive as the integrity of the Biblical record, and the literal interpretation of the Genesis account of Creation.
Gentry Yeatman I will present an opposing view, having once been there: To some a literal 7-day creation is an absolute requirement because, having “allowed” a single exception to literal interpretation, a slippery slope is constructed. And if there is a slope that can slip, it will. There is honest fear of a “pick and choose” philosophy of interpretation. To even consider “arbitrary” allegory, therefore, would border on allowing heresy. So by the same measure, all of Jesus’ parables would require both a literal and a figurative meaning.
Steve Millikan Having once been there as well, I try to present my views charitably. But the universe does seem to tell us that it is on the order of 14 billion years old, and it started from a single almost infinitesimally small point of energy, which old universe creationists view as God’s miraculous creation of everything in the observable universe. We find very few scientists, even Christians, who are young universe proponents. This doesn’t seal the deal, of course, but the evidence is very compelling nonetheless.
How does this fit with the Creation account? There are many ideas extant… my favorite is one I may have shared in an earlier HSF post, that both 6 days and 14 billion years can be correct when cosmology is viewed through 2 different lenses – 1) the expanding universe, and 2) an imaginary point in space where the earth was to be formed. This involves a very limited understanding of relativity and how “time” is anything but constant throughout our universe.
Gentry Yeatman Therefore, a common ground for discussion between Intelligent Design(ists) and Literal Creationists would be finding the figurative meaning beyond the literal. I have some ideas in that regard, I will have to develop the idea more fully. But, in the meantime, “In the beginning God…” I believe that means the same thing no matter how we spin it. A pre-existent God. Let his creative juices flow… I don’t know about you folks but that alone makes me want to shout! In fact, Steve Millikan, I feel a song coming. If we can just figure out what kind of music you deem appropriate, ha!
Gentry Yeatman Actually Sonya, you are right, it is not required. That word is far too strong. For instance, it is hard for 99.99999999999999% of Christian believers to think that Jesus actually wants us to cut out our eyes when they sin. Believe you me, all men would be blind! But do we know he was not being literal? The more I think about it, as I type, i am beginning to think he meant exactly what he said, BUT it is covered by grace. Forgiveness of sin does not require execution of the “eye for mental adultery” principle. His figurative meaning, oddly enough, is the more practical, less troublesome and universally believed principle-not letting our eyes dwell or seek situations and images that will cause our heart to sin. The third level of meaning-yes I believe there is a third-is the most important of all. We are basically condemned creatures incapable of restoration to Godliness, without a Way of escape. He told us that He is The Way.
Are their first, second, and sometime even deeper meanings he used in the Old Testament as well? Maybe so. How would God explain to Moses the many minerals from which our bodies are made without just saying they came from the dirt? He created the heavens and earth, he created man from the substance thereof.
Steve Millikan I hope I haven’t offended anyone with the subject matter of this post. I don’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable who holds a different view. I have many good friends who are young earth. The old earth view is not without it’s problems – there are some serious difficulties when trying to integrate it with Scripture, and I certainly haven’t formed my own cohesive understanding of it all.
Gentry Yeatman And that statement goes for me as well. I think it is interesting to discuss the mysteries, both scientific and, if you will, supernatural. Sonya Murphy Acord, my comments have diverged from the scientific to some thoughts of my own, which of course, could be way off base. We desire feedback not only on scientific “facts” but spiritual “truths” as well. My comments were not aimed at you but the general audience. I just think that there is so much mystery yet to be discovered. Some of it will be discovered by science, some by scripture, and I believe there is no substantial contradiction if fully understood (no one does). As a Christian who is open to Intelligent Design, I am amazed at the complexities constantly discovered by mankind. I attribute them all to God. Hey Steve Millikan, I am teasing about the music. Sometime it would be fun to get back to your post on the subject.
Trevor HappyFeet Martin I have never been a literalist. It is not important to me whether a day was 24 hours as we would understand it. After all, our concept of time is built upon our physical existence on this earth. God is beyond time as we know it. Whether it was done 6 days or 600 million years matters not to me. Whether He created the design and set the process in motion or created every structure of matter and life makes no difference to me. God was the creator of all. He is still the Creator who makes all things new, if we but place ourselves in His hands. What is important to me is our right perspective on God, our knowledge of His character and our relationship with Him. Those things are necessary for Him to bring us to abundant and eternal life.
Sonya Murphy Acord Gentry~ thank you for your response. I believe Scripture is written in figurative, literal and cultural response. as we come to know and understand the character of Christ it becomes clearer which is which. After that “me thinks you thinks too much.” <–not “you” literally.
I confess, i take more of a stand w/the Hamm school of thought. in other words, if we alter the words (history) of Genesis we tend to compromise some key Truths in the Word. (I’ll get back w/you later w/an example.)
i love discussion w/intelligent, rational folks who may have to agree to disagree. i absolutely take no offense. lost in online translation….voice inflection.
Gentry Yeatman Sonya, “Me thinks” I think too much too. But it is fun and great to know that we didn’t have to check our brain in at the church hat rack. Hey, I appreciate the tip. You would think I would have learned a simple thing like paragraphs by now. How is the knitting business? BTW, to set the record straight, I have no intent of altering anything, just expanding my meager understanding.
Sonya Murphy Acord i can dig it. but honestly, i don’t think anyone really intends to alter the Word. so, i guess a better way to express this opinion is to say there is a danger in doing so.
when i 1st heard the argument for early earth i didn’t want to accept it because of my own personal conviction of cherry picking the Word. this may not be true in everyone’s situation but in mine….OUCH.
i’ve heard a good friend of mine say (several times) when we want things to go our way we can be quick to go to “the book of justifications.” heh…heh (it’ll be interesting to see how we all “justify” either candidate in this fall’s election.)
but i digress….
anyhow, i’m quite sure we young earthers sometimes embarrass the our Christian friends who think otherwise. but i tend to believe the Lord is probably smiling gently and patting us all on our heads.
the yarn biz is slow this time of year. but if you need anything just let me know! are you a hooker or a needler???
Jeanie Nicolson Isn’t the definition of a “parable”.. a simple or short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson? I think that lends itself to a more figurative than literal meaning in all religious parables… the key word is “story”.
Full text of the original discussion can be found at the Health, Science & Faith forum, July 5th, 2012. Some comments here have been edited for clarification; other shorter contributions from the original thread have been omitted.