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Old 07-28-2015, 04:48 PM
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Default Young-Earth Creation? Intelligent Design? Theological Evolution? Earth origins?

Over in the Bible Literalism thread we had a bit of a discussion about earth origins. If anyone is interested, we may continue the discussion here.

I grew up in the Assemblies of God church which, as far as I recall from those days, was pretty much a young-earth creation outlook, that the earth was created in 6 literal days some 6,000 years ago and whatnot. I never gave it much thought growing up. I don't have the most scientific mind, so I never paid too much attention to this kind of discussion.

Then a few years ago in this forum, our friend Charn Tim, who is in fact a scientist and a committed Christian, was sharing about the age of the earth and the geology of it, and how earth's development can be seen mirrored in the creation story, etc. I became quite interested in his point of view and have since come to believe in Old Earth Creationism -- even Theistic Evolution seems OK with me.

I don't think any of these beliefs are a salvation deal-breaker at all, nor do I believe that if you don't believe in a literal 6-day creation and young earth, the the rest of the Bible falls apart or can't be trusted or whatever. Clearly many millions of Christians embrace the Bible and reject literal 6-day creation.

What I do find objectionable is "Christian" school and home-school curriculum that teaches bad science because real science doesn't feed into a young earth and 6-day creation. Truth will be true, and if the truth doesn't fit with your interpretation of the Bible, then I think you should reconsider your interpretation of the Bible, not reconfigure the truth.

So if you have opinions you would care to share, here is the place. Please state your opinion in your own words and try not to just post links to other sites. Most people don't take the time to check out the link, anyway, so it doesn't help make your point.

As always, let's be respectful and remember that we're brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks!
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Old 07-28-2015, 07:17 PM
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Inky

You've started this thread just as I am about to be very busy for the next little while, so I shall be on here very little if at all. I have written extensively on the YEC position in other places, though, so I won't repeat it all here. I will reiterate that the reason I think the YEC position is essential for orthodox Christian faith is not because I have some fixation on a literal six days or cannot imagine how the account could be mythical or hate the idea that I am descended from a monkey. All of those things I can happily adapt to - though they are not entirely unimportant. My issue is about allowing death before sin. If there is no death before sin, then all the evidence for an old earth - the fossil record - disappears, because it must be post-Adam. And then I ask, so, why can't the Genesis account be literal? And there is no reason. And where did the fossils come from? Well, probably they are the remains of the Flood and its aftermath.

There is no theological reason to prefer an old earth to a young one. The only reasons come from people saying that the earth must be old because of their interpretation of scientific data, and so we have to make the Bible fit that.

So, to those who allow death before sin, here are the questions that I have never had satisfactory answers to from anyone in your camp - whether OEC or theistic evolutionist.

- Why is death the punishment for sin? (Rom 5:12, 6:23, among others)
- If death has always been in the 'very good' creation that God made (and, for theistic evolutionists, not only has it been always present but was in fact the mechanism by which God created us in the first place), why is it regarded as the 'last enemy' to be destroyed? (1 Cor 15:26)

To those who try to make it only a 'spiritual death':
- why did Jesus have to die and rise physically?
- why does Paul parallel the death of Adam with the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15:21)? Is the resurrection also just spiritual?
- Why is the hope for life after death a hope of the resurrection of the body? Why not just have our souls fly off and enjoy an immaterial heaven? Such a view not only treads perilously close to Gnosticism, it also makes the Cross into a mere symbol, it was not necessary for salvation. Moreover, if physical death is no bad thing, will our resurrection bodies also die? If not, why not?
- Do you really want to say that natural evils are not a bad thing, that they are part of the 'very good' world that God made? If they are good, will they be there in heaven?
- Can you really draw a clear dividing line between 'moral evil' (sin) and 'natural evil' (things that cause suffering in the natural world)? As a child is growing up, surely they have a propensity to cause harm before they are really morally aware enough to be said to be 'sinning'. But the one flows into the other. (And for theistic evolutionists, the additional problem is, when in our family tree did we become capable of sin? Do animals commit moral evil, or only natural evil?)

To those who try to limit it to human death:
- Does God not value animal life too? Should we not? Are we not saddened when a pet dies?
- For theistic evolutionists, at what point in the chain did we stop dying? Why the sudden break? Did Adam and Eve's relatives continue dying, while they were promised perpetual life?
- Will animals die in heaven? Why does God illustrate perfection by using the imagery of the wolf lying with the lamb, and the lion eating straw like the ox, if in fact animals killing and eating each other is the norm in the world he made?
- For those who regard the text as literal, albeit allowing an old earth, why does Gen 1:29-30 explicitly seem to state that the world was originally made without meat-eating, but man and animals were created vegetarian.

To those who hold to a historical Adam and Eve:
- Are they the ancestors of all humans, or only some? What date would you put on their creation? Given that Australian Aborigines are said to have arrived in Australia some 40,000 to 60,000 years ago, are they descended from Adam and Eve? Are they human?
- If they are the ancestors of all humans, where did Cain get his wife? A YEC can answer that by saying that the genetic code would have been perfect at first, and so brothers and sisters could marry. How does an OEC or TE answer it?
- Where did Adam and Eve live? Which region has the geography described in Genesis 2?
- What do you make of the Flood? Local or global? Did it really cover "all the high hills under the entire heaven" (Gen 7:19), or is that bit of the text not literal? Where is the geological evidence for it happening, if not in the fossil record? Did it really wipe out all of humanity or only some? If only some, can it really be a type for God's global judgement in the future? What of God's promise never to send another Flood to wipe out humanity? Local floods have happened many times.

Some argue that we needed evil in the world in order to achieve a better future - heaven will be better than the earth. While I agree that the NT (esp. 1 Cor 15) indicates that the new heavens and new earth will be something more that just a restoration of Edenic perfection, but a transformation beyond our present physical existence into something greater, no-one has ever been able to explain to me why that means that there had to be evil or death in the original created order. Some say we needed evil to be present in order to understand good; in that case, did God also need a dark side in order to develop his good side? If not for him, why for us? If God was somehow incapable of creating a world without evil in it (there had to be the potential for evil, sure, but not actual evil unless humans chose to introduce it), can we have any confidence that he will be able to do a better job with the new creation?
(Note: Jesus could still have come, still have been incarnated, and still been transformed, and we could still have needed to unite with him, without needing death. We call the transformation 'resurrection', because in response to sin Jesus had to die and rise again; but if there had been no sin, this could happen with no need for death. So the argument that we needed sin for Jesus to come - as if Jesus was somehow God's backup plan in case the world went wrong - does not hold water.)

There are probably more questions, and I may come back to add some more if I have time, but those will do for starters.

I will say this one further thing. If I were going to move away from the YEC position, I would look for some kind of figurative (mythical, non-historical) interpretation of at the very least Gen 1-11 (possibly more) - but I have been unable to find satisfactory answers to my questions, and therefore have been unable to move to such a position.

I think trying to hold on to a historical Adam or anything in those chapters is a complete non-starter if you want to reconcile the Bible with the claims of modern science. The people who try to make Genesis 1 alone metaphorical and keep the rest are in the worst of both worlds - they are distorting both the Bible and the science. Moreover, the people who claim that Genesis 1 is literal but is not in fact talking about ordinary days but long periods of time are just not reading the text. You may as well claim that the parable of the lost sheep is not talking about sheep. They also have the problem that the order of creation is different from the order as determined by the scientists.

I look forward to hearing the answers to my questions when I am next on

Peeps

Last edited by Peepiceek; 07-28-2015 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:28 PM
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Thanks Peeps -- I think you and I will not convince each other of anything, and we have no other posts, so we can call it a draw?
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Old 08-03-2015, 08:38 PM
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I am a Theistic evolutionist, and honestly, I chose it because it seems to make the most sense to me. I'm not any good at defending it, especially not against Peeps, who has a knack for shredding my arguments, but I think it makes sense.

I don't see why the six days in Genesis need to be literal, since God is outside of time and space, and I don't see why it would be so horrible to say that birds are descended from dinosaurs.

I also differ from various TEs in that I think that God did do some spontaneous creation after the initial creation. The creation of humans, perhaps, and the Cambrian explosion.

As was said once on the TV show 'Murdoch Mysteries', "What if we're still in the seventh day of creation? What if tomorrow, God's going to create something else?...A horse that could run backwards. You'd never need to turn around."

Tongue-in-cheek? Yes. But the point is there.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:12 AM
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I weigh in with Peeps with a six day creation, pretty much for the reasons he has stated so well... but I am not looking for a debate. If there are specific questions I would be willing to share my perspective to keep though in the context of a friendly discussion.
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Old 08-04-2015, 07:12 AM
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Inky,

Not sure I'd call it a draw, since we didn't actually have a debate. I'm not out to fight, though, so I guess we have an armistice. I would like to know how you answer the questions about death, though. Pretending they're not important is not an answer.

WS,

I have no problem with evolution as such. In fact, the creationist position requires considerable variation in kinds. And there is important fossil evidence that needs to be dealt with honestly. I was interested last week, for example, by the discovery of the snake with legs.

Neither do I have a particular problem with the idea that Genesis 1 is not meant to be taken as a literal historical account of creation, if the reason for interpreting it as such is legitimate within Christian theology.

As posted above, and as I say every time this issue comes up, the issue is about the connection between sin and death. You need to seriously address the questions I posed. If you don't, then you are accepting that evidence for an old earth (which necessitates death before sin) is evidence against Christianity.

I don't say these things because I want to put you down or force you to agree with my personal interpretation. There are many areas of theology where I believe Christians can agree to disagree. But this isn't one of them. Death before sin is a direct contradiction of the gospel. To attempt to believe both is simply incoherent. And the motivation for doing so is not even taken from the Bible itself, but from extra-biblical sources. Which makes evolution and old earth creationism not only heresy, but the most serious heresy since Gnosticism in the 2nd century.

I'm not here to argue you down; if you will engage with the questions I will help you as you go and affirm whatever you say that is correct. But if you cannot satisfactorily explain how these two things can simultaneously be true and yet go on believing both then you are on very dangerous ground.

Peeps
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:55 PM
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Regarding the questions about death ...

Was there physical death before the Fall of Man? Yes, I think so. Maybe not in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were, but in the outer world. If we say the whole world was a death-free zone before the Fall of Man, then why are the original mum and dad placed in a Garden? Why isn't the world their Garden? When they are driven out of Eden, doesn't it make sense that they were going out into the wild where there was already "nature red in tooth and claw"? Otherwise, why drive them out? They could easily have gone in and out all day long if there was no death anywhere it seems.

The Scripture often used to defend the idea of no death before the Fall of Man speaks of Creation brought low by man's sin ... but, prior to man's sinning, it seems to me there was already death in Creation. There were mosquitoes who drank blood and bats who ate mosquitoes and and fish who ate other fish seals and walruses who ate fish, lions who were made to eat meat ... as well as plants which died, and sure they are part of Creation...All this dying and being eaten was happening in the world or else how was anything surviving? Even in Eden plants must have been dying. So why did God curse plants with death in Eden? He didn't, of course, it's just how he designed nature, to feed on death, and for the dead to nourish the living and the land. It's a good system. (He said so.)

The Genesis story says man will surely die in the day he eats the forbidden fruit, but he didn't die on that literal 24-hour day. Adam died many years later ... because the Bible uses that word "day" to mean any number of years, depending on the situation. So there's no reason to be locked into a literal 6-day creation when the book itself sometimes defines a day as a epoch. And as WS pointed out, there was no end to the 7th Day of Creation, so Adam did die on that day in which he ate the fruit, the 7th Day, the same day we all will die. So the Scripture Genesis 2:17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" is true, because Adam, and all of us, die on that same day in God's time.

But honestly, I believe the death referred to as the curse at the Fall of Man was spiritual death: his separation from God. Of course, I believe God already knew it would happen and had already effected the remedy in the person of the Lord Jesus, so death really became the way that we fallen humans travel to resurrection. A curse, for sure, because we now live in a world where people are separated from God until they let themselves die to this world and be resurrected by Him. And because of sin, we're afraid to die, afraid to trust that He will resurrect us. So we make all kinds of trouble for ourselves. But when we are willing to trust God with our death, He is faithful to bring about our resurrection. Physical and spiritual.

To me this seems wonderful, and it has the added advantage of not locking science, geology, anthropology and observation into a box of 6 literal days which isn't really intended in the Creation story from the Bible.

WS, I have no problems with Theistic Evolution, either. Creation seems wondrous to me, and perhaps the more so because of the time and trouble and God put into it.
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Old 08-04-2015, 10:51 PM
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Thanks Inky.

Let it be known that Inky and I seem to have very similar opinions.
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Old 08-06-2015, 12:51 AM
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I would have responded earlier, but I just finished my summer classes and haven't had a chance. But I will start out by saying that I believe it is very important to take each origins position on its own terms. This has nothing to do with my currently identifying with old earth creationism; I believed this as a YEC as well. OEC is not the same as theistic evolution is not the same as atheistic evolution. A lot of YECs seem to lump anything that is not YEC together. Certainly all non-YEC positions are non-YEC; but conflating them is inaccurate, as well as unfair. Even within "position groups" there are a lot of different positions: there are disagreements even among YECs. Personally, I would like to see more dialogue among the various positions, and less name-calling.

In regard to the questions that are directly relevant to my own position:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peepiceek View Post
To those who try to limit it to human death:
- Does God not value animal life too? Should we not? Are we not saddened when a pet dies?
- Will animals die in heaven? Why does God illustrate perfection by using the imagery of the wolf lying with the lamb, and the lion eating straw like the ox, if in fact animals killing and eating each other is the norm in the world he made?
- For those who regard the text as literal, albeit allowing an old earth, why does Gen 1:29-30 explicitly seem to state that the world was originally made without meat-eating, but man and animals were created vegetarian.
God values animal life, yes. But what does that mean? Job describes carnivores as being fed by God. Also, no passage in the Bible that lists death as a result of sin is talking about animal death--in each case, human death is being discussed. Conclusions can be drawn based on other evidence in the Bible, but there are no definitive statements here. And most YECs, so far as I am aware, do at least allow for death in the case of plants. Historically, from what I have been able to find, theologians have differed on whether animal death was part of the original creation: John Calvin, for instance, said that God created the original generation of animals with reproductive ability, so that their deaths would not wipe out their species. (Given things like cultural conditioning--and also many, many generations in which sin has done strange things to everything in the world--I don't think that our emotions about dead animals offer any definite proof, one way or another.)

So far as the Isaiah passages go, they refer to a lack of destruction "in my holy mountain"--whether the lamb-and-lion would apply to the rest of the world is not mentioned. Who knows? We don't even know for certain that animals will be in the new earth--I think it's logical to conclude that they will be, but we've got no way of knowing even that much.

As for the food issue--the Genesis verses don't ban meat-eating. But I think that it is certainly possible for God to have placed dietary restrictions on Adam and Eve, requiring them to be vegetarian. So far as animals are concerned, they aren't banned from eating meat--if the Genesis passage is interpreted as a ban on eating anything not directly mentioned, from what I understand about the Hebrew, animals could only have eaten grass. No birds picking at blackberries. Also, Adam is not warned about the new carniverousness of animals when the Curse is pronounced--nowhere in the Bible is meat-eating connected to the Fall. After Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, God killed an animal to make clothing for them, and we know that God was pleased with Abel's sacrifice of a lamb. Were they eating meat then? Genesis 9 suggests that perhaps they weren't, but in any case, they were definitely killing animals. This proves nothing either way, of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peepiceek View Post
To those who hold to a historical Adam and Eve:
- Are they the ancestors of all humans, or only some? What date would you put on their creation? Given that Australian Aborigines are said to have arrived in Australia some 40,000 to 60,000 years ago, are they descended from Adam and Eve? Are they human?
- If they are the ancestors of all humans, where did Cain get his wife? A YEC can answer that by saying that the genetic code would have been perfect at first, and so brothers and sisters could marry. How does an OEC or TE answer it?
- Where did Adam and Eve live? Which region has the geography described in Genesis 2?
- What do you make of the Flood? Local or global? Did it really cover "all the high hills under the entire heaven" (Gen 7:19), or is that bit of the text not literal? Where is the geological evidence for it happening, if not in the fossil record? Did it really wipe out all of humanity or only some? If only some, can it really be a type for God's global judgement in the future? What of God's promise never to send another Flood to wipe out humanity? Local floods have happened many times.
OECs differ on where Adam and Eve lived. So do YECs, because, if the Flood radically changed the world's geography, the names of the rivers in Genesis 2 may not correspond with the rivers we know of today. I also don't know of any OEC that would deny that Aborigines are human. According to OECs, Adam and Eve would have been created with perfect DNA; so Cain could have married his sister without any genetic problems.

I think that the Flood was universal in regard to man. So, yes, every human was wiped out. But humanity wasn't exactly spread out in those days. "All the high hills under the entire heaven" would refer to the "entire heaven" that Noah could see, in much the same way that "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered" does not mean that Caesar registered the people of Australia. It's not a matter of literalism, but of understanding the writer's intent. Geological evidence for a regional flood, to my understanding, isn't a problem; it's evidence for a global flood that is missing. But as I've said before, I'm not a scientist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peepiceek View Post
Death before sin is a direct contradiction of the gospel. To attempt to believe both is simply incoherent. And the motivation for doing so is not even taken from the Bible itself, but from extra-biblical sources. Which makes evolution and old earth creationism not only heresy, but the most serious heresy since Gnosticism in the 2nd century.
Are you saying that believing in animal death before sin is a heresy?
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:13 AM
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Ok. Don't know if I have time to address all these points, certainly not in detail, but I'll make a start.

1) Glen, yes there are differences between the different positions. However, the key issue is about death before sin, and all the non-YEC position have to allow this. Therefore, it is reasonable to group them. Moreover, am I required to produce a list of objections to every individual position? In that case, the reader can find just one detail of the position being discussed, however minor or irrelevant, that they differ with and say, "No, that's not my position so your criticisms don't apply to me." That's just dusingenuous.

I agree name-calling is not helpful. However, calling a spade a spade is sometimes necessary.

2) Is believing in animak death before the Fall a heresy? If you can't clearly explain why it is so different to human death, then yes it is. Humans are animals in all biological respects, so why make the radical distinction?

3) Again to Glen - yes, we need to beware of cultural assumptions about cute and cuddly animals clouding our judgement. But I think it more likely in this case that it was our ancestors, living in a fallen world where animals and man live in lethal competition, who undervalued animal life, rather than we overvaluing it.

4) Inky, could there be death outside Eden? Then do you imagine some kind of forcefield, where anything coming in was suddenly made invulnerable? That certainly isn't the only way to explain the Garden, and I wouldn't consider it the best. More likely, Eden was a special place where God lived, and Man walked with God. Being thrown out of the Garden visibly manifested the separation of man from God.

5) Inky, you assume animals ate each other then as they do now, but the text indicates otherwise. Glen, Gen 9 does rather more than just allow the possibility of no meat-eating before the Flood; it very strongly implies it. Besides, if there was meat-eating on the Ark, that could have been problematic. The question I have is why Gen 1 indicates both man and animals were vegetarian but Gen 9 talks only to man. My best guess is that in the original creation, man had full authority over animals and nature, while post-Fall, man having rebelled against God, was faced with nature's rebellion against man, and so God did not speak to nature through man any more. But that's just a guess.

Nevertheless, the plain and natural meaning of the text is that man and animals were created vegetarian in the beginning and that man was not permitted to eat meat until after the Flood.
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