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Genesis Won

June 28, 2010

I’ve written something along these lines before, but a recent comment I made on another blog expressed my p.o.v. so succinctly, I thought it virtually criminal not to spread the wealth to my fellow Theologicians. Besides it is timely given some recent events, including Bruce Waltke’s comments and answers given by Al Mohler at the Ligonier conference. So this is definitely not OEC, but not really YEC either. “Text priority” is more like it.

I’m all for science. I’m all for good exegesis.

Bottom line: Gen. 1 is just not that complicated. It’s a cookies on the bottom shelf treatment of creation, but it means what it says. If you take it at its word without trying to over-sophisticate things, it is profoundly meaningful. God is Lord of time and certainly didn’t have to make life, the universe, and everything in six days, but evidently–He did. And that says something. We do better to listen to Him than to, in effect, argue back.

Without the need to resolve our own mental conflict, those exegetical alternatives would not exist. Day-age is a fraud, just a word game, a trick we can play on ourselves. It doesn’t really work. Framework is a non-solution to a non-problem (Sun on day 4, for example). It is radically anti-Ockham.

“Appearance of age,” however, is a poor phrase. It is inherently anthropocentric, especially if it is understood as God intentionally disguising His work to our eyes. Would it be that He made it look old, or that in our finitude and ignorance we look at what is and misinterpret it as old?

Anyway, let’s get back to science, not the Magisterium of pronouncements from St. Charles and his bretheren, but to the scientific method. It is a way of coming to the most probable conclusion by properly reflecting on our observations. We do this by controlling and eliminating variables that could otherwise explain the data, so as to arrive at a single conclusion.

We don’t need to assert as “our Position” the idea that the universe is not old but looks old, but we must admit, in intellectual honesty, that God may have very well created it like this. Think of Adam created adult. Think of water become wine. It is a distinct, and perfectly thinkable possibility.

It is therefore a variable that we cannot control for, cannot eliminate. I don’t think there is any valid way of exegetically negating the option. As long as this is the case, any citation of “science” as rationale for concluding the earth is old–-is itself profoundly unscientific. It’s like testing the effectiveness of drug X when some of the subjects are taking drug Y. You cannot scientifically reach a conclusion under those circumstances. You cannot eliminate bias. In fact, what we really see in many people’s adoption of old earth theory is actually an expression of bias, since it cannot be a result of the scientific method in exegesis.

Since science won’t let science rule out the “day-day” understanding of Genesis, I say it is a perfectly satisfactory understanding, indeed much more than satisfying: overwhemingly the most probable reading of those words. So to my understanding the pressure from “science” is off, and we are free to believe the text for what it says.

Besides all that, we have reduced our options to too few. We know next to nothing about how God created the universe. How do we know He didn’t created the universe actually old 6000 years ago??? We know many stories begin in medias res. You read Lord of the Rings and you begin on Bilbo’s 111th birthday. Even accounting for the narrative of The Hobbit, in that universe there are thousands of years of history that are, in effect, created backward from the moment of creation in addition to the forward moving narrative actually written in the book. Well, what the bleep do we know? Perhaps the book of creation was written in this way also. In the beginning God created time both backward and forward. Can anyone say He didn’t? Until we can, I say we don’t let Darwin breathe down Moses’ back. Let’s give the text the respect it deserves.

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