Dr. David Menton – What a Difference a Day Makes!

The lyrics of a popular song remind us, “What a difference a day makes—24 little hours.” Nowhere is this observation more profoundly true than in our proper understanding of the Hebrew word for day (yom) which occurs over 2,000 times in the Old Testament. Like our English word “day,” yom can be used to mean an ordinary 24-hour day or an indefinite period of time (such as “in the day of Abraham”). In both English and Hebrew, the intended meaning of “day” is generally obvious by the context in which it is used. For example, in over 100 instances where the phrase “evening and morning” accompany the word yom in the Old Testament (as it does in the days of Creation in Genesis), it always refers to an ordinary 24-hour day. Also, in all the places in Scripture where the word yom is preceded by a number (as it is in the days of Creation), it always means a 24-hour day. Despite these simple and quite obvious rules governing its use, interpretation of the Hebrew word yom in the Creation week of Genesis has become one of the most contested issues among professing Christians and Jews. How could this be, and is it really important?

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Dr. David Menton – Monkeying with the Scopes “Monkey” Trial

There has never been a stranger trial in the history of American jurisprudence than the famous Scopes “monkey trial” that took place in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925. This trial pitted William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow in a classic confrontation over the teaching of evolution and creation in the public schools. Regrettably, much confusion about the important issues raised in this trial has been perpetuated by the frequent production of the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee play Inherit the Wind (and its many film and television versions). Inherit the Wind is clearly based on the Scopes trial, but takes considerable theatrical liberties to portray the trial as a moral triumph of “science” (evolutionism) over Christian “fundamentalism” (creationism).

The gist of the play is that a young biology teacher is jailed and tried by local businessmen and clergy for daring to teach evolution in the high school. Bible-believing Christians, (especially the “fundamentalist” prosecuting attorney) are portrayed as ignorant, mean-spirited, and close-minded hypocrites who seek both legal and divine vengeance against the teacher for his great “crime.” They are opposed by a defense lawyer (a brilliant, broad-minded, and kindly agnostic) who fights courageously to spare the young teacher from this army of ignorance. This is all pretty typical “Hollywood” fare, and would hardly merit our examination were it not for the fact that this scenario has come to be perceived as essentially an historical account of the Scopes trial. The facts show otherwise.

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Answers in Genesis – Evolution or Creation?

EVOLUTION OR CREATION?

1. What is creation?

Creation is the belief that the account of the origin of the universe and of life given in the Bible in Genesis chapters one and two is literally true and accurate in every way. The theory of evolution as an explanation for origins is rejected as incompatible with both the Bible and the scientific evidence. The Biblical account is understood in its plain, literal sense, e.g., a day is of 24 hours duration. Accordingly, all scientific data relating to origins is to be interpreted within this Biblical framework. As a matter of faith, we hold the Bible to be God’s infallible and inerrant Word and therefore all science, when properly understood, will inevitably support it. In practice, we find that scientific data overwhelmingly confirms and upholds the account of origins recorded in the Bible.

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Dr. David Menton – Species, Speciation, and the Genesis Kind

In his “table talks,” Martin Luther spoke of the Greek scholar Cicero’s proof for the existence of God:

The best argument that there is a God—and it often moved me deeply — is this one that he proves from generation of species; a cow always bears a cow, a horse always bears a horse, etc. No cow gives birth to a horse, no horse gives birth to a cow, no goldfinch produces a siskin. Therefore it is necessary to conclude that there is something that directs everything thus (Luther’s Works, 1967, Fortress Press, p. 423).

As obvious as this principle of “like begets like” is in terms of common experience, a central tenet of Darwinism is that in the course of time, things are very different. Evolutionists seek to account for the origin of all species (past and present) from a single, hypothetical, primordial life-form by means of progressive change and natural selection.

Many think that Darwin solved the problem of speciation (development of new species) with the publication of his book On the Origin of Species. In fact, Darwin didn’t really deal with the subject, much less explain it. This failure to address what was seemingly the central issue of his study stemmed from the fact that Darwin, like many of the other English “transformationists” of his time, did not really recognize the species as a distinct and real category of organisms. Rather, he extrapolated the continuous (but limited) variation he saw among pigeons, finches, dogs, etc., into a limitless and seamless continuum among all organisms.

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Michael Boling – What Happens When You Die: Was Man Created a Living Soul or a Living Being?

Now that we have established the stark difference between the Greek and Hebrew/biblical understanding of the nature of man, we can begin to examine what God outlines for us in Scripture regarding this doctrine. As with anything in Scripture, in particular when it comes to the biblical doctrine of man, any discussion on this topic must begin in Genesis.

We are told in Genesis how God made man:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:2-27)

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

We have some basic facts provided to us in these passages. First, God made man in His image, giving man dominion over creation. Secondly, and perhaps most germane to this conversation is man was formed from the dust of the ground and was given life by God breathing into man the breath of life. When and only when God breathed into man the breath of life, man became something.

Now it is this something that forms much of the crux of the “what happens when you die” debate. Some translations (such as the KJV which I quoted above), state “man became a living soul”. Others translate this portion of Genesis 2:7 as “man became a living being”. What if any difference exists between the terms soul and being? Actually, at least in how the term soul is typically applied in much of today’s theology, there is a significant difference between what many understand how to define soul and what the biblical definition actually provides.

Before we dive into the establishment of a foundational understanding of the term soul, we must back up a second and take a look at the terms “breathed” and “breath”. In doing so, we will identify what allowed man to become a living soul/being.

God breathed into man the breath of life. These are important terms to understand, in particular as they are presented from the Hebraic/biblical mindset. It is common knowledge that in order for one to be alive, they have to be breathing. Stop breathing and you are quite frankly dead. Even if assisted breathing devices are what is allowing an individual to breath, it is still the process of breathing (albeit through a machine), that keeps the person alive.

In Genesis, we see God forming man from the dust of the earth (an important element we will return to later in our study). Then God breathes into man which animates the created body. The word translated as “breathed” is the Hebrew verb naphach, meaning “to blow out”, in this case air. God breathed into man something very specific – the breath of life. The word translated as “breath is the Hebrew noun nĕshamah, meaning breath. As noted by C. Ryder Smith, “As the text in Genesis implies, it is something from outside that God gives to man. Man is not neshamah, but has it.”[1] Thus, because man has the breath of life given by God, man then becomes something.

What does Genesis state man became once God breathed into man the breath of life? Man became what is noted in Hebrew as nephesh chayyah (living being). It is the term often translated as “soul” that becomes the source of debate if you will. What is a nephesh? Is it a soul in the idea of something that is or can become removed from the physical body? Or does nephesh define the entirety of what makes up a man? This is where we begin to note the important differences between Greek and Hebrew/biblical thought in the pages of Scripture.

In the Hebraic/biblical mindset and definition of terms, nephesh means something substantially different. Jewish scholar Neil Gillman saliently notes the following:

“In Greek thought, the soul is a distinctive entity which preexists the life of the person, enters the body at birth, separates from the body at death and continues to exist in some supernal realm.

The Bible, in contrast, portrays each human as a single entity, clothed in clay-life flesh which is animated or vivified by a life-giving spark or impulse variously called ruah, nefesh, neshamah, or nishmat hayyim.

In the later tradition, these terms came to be understood as synonymous with the Greek “soul.” But this identification is not in the Bible. The term “nefesh” signifies the neck or the throat (as in Psalm 69:2), or the breath (that passes through the throat, as in Job 41:13), or the life-blood (as in Leviticus (17:10-11). By extension, it signifies a living human being since it refers to the two characteristics that make a person alive: Breath and blood. When Exodus 1:5 numbers Jacob’s progeny as “seventy nefesh,” it means simply seventy persons, not seventy disembodied “souls.”[2]

Man became something when God breathed into man the breath of life. It is clear the correct definitely is not that a disembodied soul was placed into the physical body of man that resulted in man having life. Such a position is entirely a pagan Greek Platonic notion. Scripture teaches that God gave man (and by extension all of humanity from that point forward) the break of life and that breathe of life results in man as a living being. Nephesh represents the entirety of man. The idea of a soul that somehow is able to be separate at any point from the physical body is a concept foreign to the Hebraic/biblical position found in Scripture, most notably in the creation story found in Genesis.

Life and the ability to main life comes from God. It is a gift to us from the Creator. It is that breathe of life which makes us a living being.
Do we have a soul or are we a soul? According to Genesis 2:7, we are a living being. Nephesh refers to man as a living person, not a physical body that has a soul that can depart somewhere upon death. It is high time we recognize the negative influence of Greek pagan philosophy on our understanding of the nature of man. This process begins with recognizing how God created man as outlined in Genesis 1-2.

References:

[1] C. Ryder Smith, The Bible Doctrine of Man (Eugene: WIPF and Stock, 2009), 6.
[2] Neil Gillman, The Death of Death (Woodstock: Jewish Lights, 1997), 76.

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Dr. David Menton – The Religion of Nature: Social Darwinism

It has been said that no book, other than the Bible, has had a greater affect on society than Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould wrote that following the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859:

Subsequent arguments for slavery, colonialism, racial differences, class structures, and sex roles would go forth primarily under the banner of science. (The Mismeasure of Man, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 1981, p. 72)

Darwin himself seemed to approve of the application of his evolutionary ideas to moral and social issues. In a letter to H. Thiel in 1869, Darwin said:

You will really believe how much interested I am in observing that you apply to moral and social questions analogous views to those which I have used in regard to the modification of species. It did not occur to me formerly that my views could be extended to such widely different and most important subjects. (The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, edited by Francis Darwin, D. Appleton and Company, 1896, vol. 2, p. 294).

The feature of Darwinism most often cited by those who attempt to justify their moral and social views with “science” (evolution) is the concept of the “survival of the fittest.” This application of Darwinian dogma to human society and behavior is known as Social Darwinism.

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Derek Thomas – God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility

God is sovereign in creation, providence, redemption, and judgment. That is a central assertion of Christian belief and especially in Reformed theology. God is King and Lord of all. To put this another way: nothing happens without God’s willing it to happen, willing it to happen before it happens, and willing it to happen in the way that it happens. Put this way, it seems to say something that is expressly Reformed in doctrine. But at its heart, it is saying nothing different from the assertion of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” To say that God is sovereign is to express His almightiness in every area.

God is sovereign in creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Apart from God, there was nothing. And then there was something: matter, space, time, energy. And these came into being ex nihilo—out of nothing. The will to create was entirely God’s. The execution was entirely His. There was no metaphysical “necessity” to create; it was a free action of God.

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Dr. David Menton – The Dating Game

Much of the controversy between evolutionists and creationists concerns the age of the earth and its fossils. Evolution, depending as it does on pure chance, requires an immense amount of time to stumble upon anything remotely approaching the integrated complexity we see in even the simplest living things. For over 100 years, geologists have attempted to devise methods for determining the age of the earth that would be consistent with evolutionary dogma. At the time Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published, the earth was “scientifically” determined to be 100 million years old. By 1932, it was found to be 1.6 billion years old. In 1947, geologists firmly established that the earth was 3.4 billion years old. Finally in 1976, they discovered that the earth is “really” 4.6 billion years old. These dates indicate that for 100 years, the age of the earth doubled every 20 years. If this trend were to continue, the earth would be 700 thousand-trillion-trillion-trillion years old by the year 4000 AD. This “prediction,” however, is based on selected data and certain assumptions that might not be true. As we will see, selected data and unprovable assumptions are a problem with all methods for determining the age of the earth, as well as for dating its fossils and rocks. It has all become something of a “dating game” in which only the evolutionarily correct are allowed to play.

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Shaun Doyle – Deism and Divine Revelation

What is deism? In essence, it’s a belief in a divine creator of the universe and a rejection of ‘revealed religion’. Deists reject claims that God has revealed Himself to particular people in particular times and places (i.e. special revelation, such as e.g. the Bible or the Koran claim to be). Instead, deists believe the creator is known solely through reason and experience. Deists in the 18th century were the prime movers behind deep time thinking, including James Hutton, the so-called ‘father of geology’ (see St Hutton’s Hagiography). Moreover, the father of uniformitarianism, Charles Lyell, who had a massive impact on Darwin (see Darwin, Lyell and Origin of Species), was also a deist (see Charles Lyell’s hidden agenda — to free science “from Moses”).

There is general agreement among deists that, after the initial creation, miracles never happen and the creator doesn’t ‘intervene’ in the cosmos or human lives. Beyond this, however, there is much diversity among deists about the nature of the creator and how we should relate to ‘it’. However, despite this diversity, the basic attitudes of deism give us a clear way to test the broad ideology. We can ask of it a simple question: is general revelation enough?

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Matthew Henry – It Began in a Garden

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:21-25

Here we have the making of the woman to be a help meet for Adam. This was done upon the sixth day, as was also the placing of Adam in paradise, though it is here mentioned after an account of the seventh day’s rest; but what was said in general (Gen 1:27), that God made man male and female, is more distinctly related here.

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