David Malcolm – What Was the Ancient Jewish View of Creation?

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The Talmud is a collection of ancient writings by Jewish rabbis which relate to the Hebrew Scriptures. It has been described as “a work wherein is deposited the bulk of the literary labours of numerous Jewish scholars over a period of some 700 years [from 200 BC to AD 500]”.

Thus it is the oldest Bible commentary in existence. There is, however, a very wide range of views held between the different rabbis. According to Abraham Cohen in Everyman’s Talmud, “Usually we are faced with a variety of views which are often contradictory, and it is by no means easy to achieve a coherent presentation of a doctrine.”

How did those learned ancient men view the biblical account of creation? Did they take the Scriptures literally? Or did they absorb evolutionary views from their Greek neighbours?

The beginning

To the question, ‘Why does the story of creation begin with the letter beth?’, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the Talmud’s answer is given: “In the same manner that the letter beth is closed on all sides and only open in front, similarly you are not permitted to inquire into what is before, or what was behind, but only from the actual time of Creation.” That is to say “time is meaningless as far as God is concerned and did not exist until He created the world”.

Was Adam one man?

Did any of the ancient rabbis believe that ‘Adam was a crowd’? Apparently not. Cohen says that a curious explanation is given in the Talmud as to why the whole human race originated from one man: “Because of the righteous and the wicked, that the righteous should not say ‘we are the descendants of a righteous ancestor’ and the wicked say ‘we are the descendants of a wicked ancestor’.” The moral is that “neither can plead hereditary influence as the deciding factor in their character”. “Man was first created a single individual to teach the lesson that whoever destroys one life, Scripture ascribes it to him as though he had destroyed a whole world; and whoever saves one life, Scripture ascribes it to him as though he had saved a whole world.”

Eve made from Adam’s rib

The story is told that an emperor said to a rabbi that his God was a thief, because he took a rib from Adam. The rabbi’s daughter made an excellent reply. She told him a story about a thief breaking into her house, stealing a silver ewer and leaving behind a gold ewer instead. When the emperor expressed envy at such a robbery, she replied, “Was it not, then, a splendid thing for the first man when a single rib was taken from him and a woman to care for him was supplied in its stead?”

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Mark Howard – Fallacy: Creationists Can’t Be Scientists!

9948-creating-life-from-nothing (1) How many times have we heard this refrain, “Creationists can’t be scientists”? When I taught freshman English as an adjunct faculty member at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, among our objectives was the development of the students’ analytical skills. To do this, I chose Philip Johnson’s book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Perhaps you can imagine my dismay when I, a mere English teacher in this Christian college, was asked by members of the science faculty to remove the book from my required reading list! Three science professors called me to meet with them so they could set me straight concerning the origin of man.

I had become convinced of creation independently from knowledge or resources provided by the various creation ministries. Based on personal investigation and reading, I knew the subject well enough to survive the onslaught of evolutionary arguments they threw at me. Dr. James Behnke, however, caught me totally off guard when he said, “Did you know that creationists like Dr. Steve Austin are not real scientists. He should have his degree taken away from him, because he does bad science.” I scarcely had heard the name before, but the accusation placed a question mark over the name which lasted for years. I had become victim to a logical fallacy known as ad hominem: attack the man, rather than his arguments. Some 10 years later, I have still not discovered any of this alleged “bad science” practiced by Dr. Austin, who, like me and millions of other creationists, actually believes that God meant what he said in Genesis 1–11!

Logical fallacies pop up everywhere. What is a logical fallacy? It consists of misusing arguments for or against a topic under discussion, whether intentionally, or unconsciously. For example, when the Spanish public discovered that there are people who still believe in creation: “You can’t take these people seriously. They’re all just a crowd of ignorant, religious fanatics who know nothing about science,” the university professors glibly quip, thus avoiding all need to ever examine the case personally.

One promising future scientist, José, is studying science in a Spanish university. His classmates tried to get him expelled from the science program when he told them that there was solid, empirical evidence which denies the possibility of evolution.

In 2008, after universities in León and Vigo cancelled lectures on intelligent design, a Spanish medical doctor, Antonio Martínez, was invited to debate with an evolutionist, Manuel Soler, on the nationally broadcast TV program, Espejo Público (Public Mirror), about whether creationism should be given a public hearing or not.

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Michael Boling – What is Really Behind the Debate on the Position of C. S. Lewis on Creation/Evolution

There seems to be a continued debate on whether noted author and philosopher C. S. Lewis affirmed a belief in the possibility of evolution or whether he averred what could be termed a more literal view of the Genesis account of Creation. While ultimately the real question is not what even the most noted Christian authors, theologians, or philosophers belief on this issue but rather what the truth of Scripture declares, the debate nevertheless rages on the position taken by C. S. Lewis. This is arguably due to the rather elevated position, whether rightly or wrongly applied, that many evangelicals give to the writings and musings of C. S. Lewis. Certainly his influence on Christianity over the last number of decades is evident. With that said, the views on C. S. Lewis, specifically on the topic of validity of evolutionary dogma and whether such a position could be supported by Scripture is once again rearing its head if you will in the blogosphere.

Noted Young Earth Creationist organizations such as Creation Ministries International (CMI), the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and Answers in Genesis (AiG) have provided several articles saliently delving into position of C. S. Lewis on the matter of the ongoing creation/evolution debate. As with many of the writings of C. S. Lewis, it is somewhat difficult at times to ascertain exactly what Lewis posited on the issue of origins. As noted by CMI contributer Peter Barnes in his article “C. S. Lewis and Evolution”, “Lewis’s views on evolution provide an interesting insight into his questing intellect. Ultimately, they stop short of the full-orbed Christian view, but we can be thankful that he came to see that the evolutionary hypothesis made for bad philosophy, and increasingly came to view its scientific underpinning, in so far as he understood it, as equally as flawed.” Continue reading “Michael Boling – What is Really Behind the Debate on the Position of C. S. Lewis on Creation/Evolution”

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Mark Harwood – Created to be Inhabited

In 1969, when observing the Earth from the moon, Apollo astronaut James Irwin said, “When you lean far back and look up, you can see the earth like a beautiful, fragile Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space”.1 The delicate blue shell of the atmosphere, the deep blue of the sea, the brown continents, the white polar caps and smudges of cloud, all in stark contrast with the pitch blackness of space with its myriads of stars, make the earth the most beautiful place in the universe.

There is a hidden beauty about our planet that makes it apparent that Earth is extraordinarily well suited to be the home for mankind, just as it has been designed to be. Let’s explore just a few of the amazing features of our planet that make it so well suited for life.

Earth’s orbit

Planet Earth moves in a nearly perfectly circular orbit in what is called the circumstellar habitable zone, or ‘Goldilocks’ zone, around the sun. This zone is where liquid water can exist so it is not too hot, to prevent all the water from boiling away, and not too cold, to prevent all the water from freezing solid. For liquid water to exist on a planet, that planet must have a solid surface and an atmosphere providing sufficient pressure at the surface to prevent all the water evaporating. In fact, on earth, water can and does exist in all three states (liquid, solid (ice) and water vapour) and can move relatively easily between them. If the earth’s orbit were highly elliptical, there would be large variations in temperature, making the environment unsuitable for life.

Earth’s spin

The more we learn about our planet the more amazed we are at how extraordinarily well suited it is for life
The earth spins on its axis once per solar day, providing variation of night and day and providing colourful displays in the clouds at sunrise and sunset. The rotation of the earth helps to regulate the temperature around the globe so no one part becomes too hot or too cold. If the earth were tidally locked to the sun, as the moon is to the Earth, one side would be permanently facing the sun, and would be searingly hot, with the other in permanent frozen darkness.

Earth’s axis

The axis of the earth is tilted about 23.5 degrees with respect to the plane in which the earth orbits the sun, so we experience a variation of seasons each year. In the northern hemisphere summer, the North Pole is tilted towards the sun so the sun is higher in the sky and the days are longer than the nights. At the same time the southern hemisphere is experiencing its winter. The reverse is true six months later. When the sun passes through Earth’s equatorial plane, the days and nights are of equal length. This is called equinox and occurs in late March and late September.

The variation of seasons is vital for many forms of life to thrive. The annual cycle of cold to warm seasons regenerates plants and animals and serves to measure the passing of time with variety in the weather conditions around us. The warmth of summer gives way to the glorious colours of autumn, then to the repose of winter followed by the explosion of new life in the spring.

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Lita Cosner – How does the Bible teach 6,000 years?

The Bible’s history gives us the answer to the age of the earth

Many people write in and ask, “How do we know that the earth is 6,000 years old from the Bible?” Given that the chronogenealogies—genealogies where the age of the father at the time of the son’s birth is given in an unbroken chain—end shortly after Noah, how do we get from ~1600 AM (anno mundi = ‘year of the world’) to today, which we would argue is about 6000 AM?

How precisely can we know the earth’s age?

The precision by which we can know the timing of historical events or ages of things is constrained by the precision of the data we’re given. The timing we’re given in the chronogenealogies is accurate to within one year of the event. By this, I mean we can know that Adam was 130 years old when he fathered Seth, but we don’t know if he was 130 and 3 months, or just shy of 131, for example. This is true for all the ages. So when you add up the chronogenealogies, we know that the Flood happened in 1656, plus up to less than 10 years, because we have 10 numbers that have less than a year of uncertainty. If all of the numbers were recorded just shy of the next birthday (for instance, Adam was 130 and 11 months when he fathered Seth, Seth was 105 and 11 months when he fathered Enosh, and so on), the Flood could have been as late as 1665 AM. But clearly this sort of small-scale uncertainty won’t give any comfort to people who want to add thousands of years to human history.

The Flood to the Patriarchs

There is an unbroken chronogenealogy from Shem to Abraham in Genesis 11, and we’re given the information elsewhere in Genesis1 to extend the chronology until the relocation of Israel to Egypt when Jacob was 130 years old. Going by these numbers, Jacob went to Egypt in 642 + less than 12 years after the Flood, or 2298 + less than 22 years AM. The chronogenealogy ends here, with nearly 2,000 years to go until Christ.2 How do we extend the timeline?

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Shaun Doyle and Tas Walker – BioLogos and the Age of the Earth

Recently, BioLogos published an infographic entitled “How do we Know the Earth is Old?” Many Christians have wondered what to make of this poster since BioLogos presents itself as an association of evangelical Christian academics committed to harmonizing science and conservative Christian faith. That sounds good, especially the word “conservative”, but their starting position is anything but orthodox. They promote evolution over millions of years, as taught by secular scientists, as truth, and that Christians must accept it. They do not concern themselves with how such acceptance undermines the authority and the message of Scripture itself.

Moses has a lot to say about the age of the earth, and ignoring this fact leads to heretical Christian teaching and very bad natural history.

To many the age of the earth may seem an innocuous topic but it has a massive impact on conservative Christian doctrine such as the integrity of the gospel. If the earth is billions of years old, as the BioLogos poster presents, then Jesus made mistakes in his teaching and the gospel is false. It is that simple, as we will see.

According to BioLogos, all we have to do is reinterpret Moses, Jesus, and Paul, and everything is harmonized. A historical Adam doesn’t matter, and Jesus’ Incarnation allows him to make errors concerning what the Father commanded him to say about the age of the world (Mark 10:6; Luke 11:50–51; cf. John 8:28). However, their ‘reinterpretations’ look nothing like what Moses, Jesus, and Paul actually said. Neither were such interpretations ever entertained in church history before the advent of long-age geology in the 18th century (on which see The Great Turning Point). The reasons are pretty obvious. If Jesus made mistakes, especially in his teaching ministry, then He is not perfectly trustworthy, as Christians have believed through the ages. If a historical Adam doesn’t matter, then the whole doctrine of salvation, as presented by the Apostle Paul, falls to pieces (see articles on Romans 5, Romans 8, and 1 Corinthians 15). One could say that there never has been a time when Jesus’ words about Moses have been more important for us to hear than now: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:46–47).

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David Catchpoole and Jonathan Sarfati – ‘In my father’s day … ’

One argument often raised by people doubting that God created in six ordinary earth-rotation days is that ‘day’ can mean a period of time longer than 24 hours, i.e. a non-literal day.

“In my father’s day … ”, they say, and also point to Bible passages such as Genesis 2:4b (KJV )— “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens”. They might also refer to Numbers 7:10 (KJV) — “in the day that it was anointed”—which refers to the twelve days of sacrifice at the dedication of the temple. (All Bible quotes in this article are from the KJV, unless otherwise indicated.) “See?”, they argue, “In those instances ‘day’ doesn’t mean a 24-hour day, but is clearly referring to an extended period, longer than a day.”

On that point, they’re absolutely right. ‘Day’ can sometimes mean something other than a 24-hour day. It can indeed refer to a longer period than 24 hours, as they say. Sometimes too it is shorter than 24 hours, i.e. referring only to the daylight hours. But often ‘day’ does mean an ordinary 24-hour day, and it’s the context that determines this.

For example, consider the three occurrences of the word ‘day’ in the following sentence:

In my father’s day, it took six days to drive a car across this great country of ours, driving only during the day.

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John Leslie – Religion, Science, Philosophy And How Each Interfaces In The Noah Flood Account

Introduction

In the context of discussing the Noah Flood Account a correct understanding of it as a narrative can be better ascertained by a correct understanding of the fields of religion, science, and philosophy. These three categories are part of the fabric of every human being. How one views and integrates them together will affect their views on the Noah Flood Account. A brief description and discussion of the interfacing of them will follow—but a longer account has been given elsewhere. Thus, I am presenting how I view the inter-related fields of religion, science, and philosophy and their impact on my views of the Noah Flood Account. But it is very important to acknowledge that every single theologian, philosopher, and scientist brings to the debate a bias—some admit this, but many are unwilling to admit that they do so.

Religion

Religion answers questions that no other domain of inquiry can answer. It answers what is unanswerable by any other means. As a dialogue written in 1826 stated, “Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? How shall I reach the one—how shall I reach the other? Let reason pronounce: let reason determine. It cannot. No created intelligence can come forward and satisfy me. Who can find out God, and his infinite mind and will. But look ye, companions; to be left ignorance, or even doubt, on these things, is to be left without the first elements of religion … .”

Neither science nor philosophy can answer whether there is a heaven or hell, nor can they answer questions regarding the absolute beginning or ending of the universe, the exact composition of matter, whether there is an immaterial soul or spiritual part of man, nor the absolute “meaning to life.” It remains a domain of religion. Even today, all of mankind are religious whether each considers themselves God-fearing, agnostic (who states he’s not sure whether there is a god—but to most god becomes irrelevant) or an atheist (i.e. who chooses to believe there is no God).

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Marc Ambler – Biblical Creation—Truly, a Theory of Everything (ToE)

Do we Christians who accept the biblical account of creation know how blessed we are? We have something (actually many things) that no other group in the world have, a theory of everything, something that humanism has long sought. This is not the same as claiming we know everything, but we do have a framework within which everything in this universe; personal, physical and spiritual, fits. Most of us when assembling a jigsaw puzzle begin with the easy or obvious parts, the corners and edges with the straight sides. Once this is done, it just becomes so much easier to fit the other pieces and to spot pieces that have been mixed in from other puzzles. The Bible is like this; it gives us an overall framework of interpretation of the world around us, and allows us to fit all the pieces that come our way into that framework. All the big questions (pieces of the overall puzzle)—Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Why is the world as it is, socially and physically?—find a comfortable fit within this framework. Even other political, economic and scientific facts fit perfectly into the ‘big picture’ given us by God in the Scriptures.

Of course, most importantly; the works, teachings, beliefs and person of the One we are called on to believe in for salvation, Jesus Christ; make perfect sense once we accept the plain meaning of Genesis. The reason for this cursed world, Christ’s physical incarnation, life, death, resurrection and future restoration of all things only make sense (perfect sense), if Genesis is true history. Genesis is a major part of the biblical theory of everything; the entire outside frame of our puzzle if you like, with Christ at the centre.

The framework makes sense of why the world and universe has the appearance of design; from the clocklike mechanism of our solar system, to the gears, motor and propeller of the bacterial flagellum—because they were made by the Master Designer—‘The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork’ (Psalm 19:1). The reason that all life arises from incredibly complex specifying information in the DNA molecule is that, ‘In the beginning was the Word (logos) … all things were made by Him’ (John 1:1,3). It makes sense of why all social and political systems based on the idea of the perfectibility of mankind (if only … ) are doomed to fail, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’, (Rom 3:23). The biblical history of the Flood fits wonderfully a world of sedimentary rock, fossils, mountains and canyons. They are phenomena we should expect to find because the Bible is true.

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Philip Bell – Perils of Theistic Evolution

For many years, I have felt keenly both the privilege and the responsibility of speaking about the truth and authority of the Bible. Nowhere has the conflict of opinion been more intense than in discussion with theistic evolutionists (TEs)—those who insist that God used evolution2 to bring living things into being. According to Denis Alexander, we ‘creationists’ “bring the gospel into disrepute”, our teaching is “damaging to the spread of God’s kingdom”, we’re “divisive”, and “Christian campaigns against evolution represent a giant ‘red herring’ … ”3 On the last claim, we have found, quite to the contrary, that our ongoing Question Evolution campaign has gathered momentum and is certainly not being ignored.

Dangers of compromise

For a few years, until part way through university, I myself departed from the straightforward reading of Genesis and embraced theistic evolution (TE). I can testify that, humanly speaking, belief in evolution brought me to a crisis in my faith: I faced the stark choice that either the evolutionary view was wrong, or the Genesis record of Creation/Fall/Flood/Babel was wrong. If Genesis couldn’t be trusted as historically reliable, Christianity itself would fail to be a logically defensible faith in my eyes.

Thanks to God, my own story did not end in spiritual shipwreck—but I have never forgotten my wrestling about origins. I am now more convinced than ever of the real dangers in swallowing worldly philosophy. It is dangerous for Christians to allow the opinions of clever men and women to shape their understanding of the Word of God, if what they say contradicts its plain meaning. Allow me to share just some of the many reasons why I passionately believe that the Christian church must strongly resist the accommodation with evolution that is threatening more and more otherwise evangelical churches.

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