Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Creation and Evolution

When discussing contradictions between two conflicting sources of information, there are three options one can take. Either the first must be true, the second must be true, or neither can be true. So it is between the Bible and science. While this is an overly simplistic statement, it encompasses the debate between Biblical creationism and materialistic theories of origin. Too often, Christians have bent the rod of Scripture to accommodate the musings of scientists who themselves even acknowledge the theoretical nature of their work. One would think Christendom would learn from history. Every time Scripture is contorted to support the “flavor of the day” in theoretical science, empirical data later prove the theory wrong. Take for example the early geocentric view of the universe. Much is made today of the Catholic Church’s rejection of Galileo’s endorsement of the Copernican heliocentric theory. The history is presented from the bias of comparing the Church’s ignorant allegiance to geocentricity, even as scientific data opposed it, to modern Christian objections to evolution. Virtually no quarter is given to the idea that the Catholic Church was tenaciously holding to a false doctrine based on incorrect scientific theories purported years before. They saw the geocentric science of the day, then bent Scripture to proof-text and accommodate it. When the scientific theories were empirically proven wrong, the Church believed it had to protect the false theory to preserve the veracity of Scripture. We would be wise to see that it has never worked to bend Scripture to accommodate science. This brings me to consideration of Millard Erickson’s view of origins.

In his systematic theology, Christian Theology, Erickson professes belief in what is termed the “age-day theory”. Erickson wrote, “The age-day theory is based upon the fact that the Hebrew word yom, while it most frequently means a twenty-four-hour period, is not limited to that meaning. It can also mean epochs or long periods of time, and that is how it should be understood in this context. This view holds that God created in a series of acts over long periods of time. The geological and fossil records correspond to the days of his creative acts.” There are many problems with this theory, of which I will deal with two.

First, there is the Biblical problem. While it is true that yom can be rendered as “age” or “epoch”, it is only done so when there is clear contextual support for that concept. Otherwise, it is translated in its most natural sense as a 24-hour period. There is clear contextual support to insure the proper translation of yom in Genesis 1. Instead of supporting the age-day rendering, the inclusion of “the evening and the morning were the X day” adds support and therefore emphasis to the most natural translation – that of a 24-hour period. This is, in fact, a triple emphasis. The first is 24-hour period is the most natural rendering of the word. Second, the 24-hour periods are bracketed the same way that every 24-hour period man has ever experienced has been bracketed – with a morning and an evening. While a new age can be said to be dawning, I am not linguistically familiar with any reference to an age’s evening. The third emphasis is the enumeration of the days. Not one Scriptural instance of yom being used to describe an age or epoch is modified by a number. On the other hand, it is common Scriptural practice to numerically quantify 24-hour days.

The second problem with Erickson’s age-day theory is a scientific one. While accommodation theories such as this one were formulated to bend Scripture to support the latest scientific theories; once again, science pulled the rug out. The irreconcilable tension between Newtonian physics, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and quantum physics has led to strange new theories involving multiple dimensions and strings. According to string theory, creation could have happened in 7 seconds – two weeks from now. Time has no concrete meaning in the mind of modern theoretical physicists. To add to the scientific problem, astronomers can’t figure out if our universe is expanding or contracting – or both. Certain astrophysicists with one type of bias search out data that “irrefutably proves” the universe is expanding. Others, with opposing biases find different data that “irrefutably proves” the universe is contracting. One thing virtually all modern scientists agree upon – Darwinian evolutionary theory is untenable. The age-day hypothesis originated as a way for the Bible to show enough time to account for the billions of years Darwin, Dawkins, and Hawking called for. Their brand of evolutionary theory is now passé due to modern conceptions of time.

Erickson’s support of the age-day theory is untenable and unnecessary. Hopefully, one day we will learn to bend our rational and empirical studies toward the unbendable Canon of Scripture. When we do, we will find that God’s Word was right all along.


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