Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Clashes in Genesis

“In many cultures, it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must of course, ask next where God comes from.” - Carl Sagan (Cosmos p. 212)

Most Christians criticized the theory of evolution for being merely a theory, but not known to many, Christians can't even agree on what "creation process" they will believe in.

Different types of Christian Creation Process.

Q: Do All Christians agrees on the creative process?

Not all Christians believe in a single creative process. Interestingly, Evangelicals, Fundamentalist and Liberal Christians don’t agree with one another with respect to the original creative process.

The creative processes on Genesis are the following:
a.) Progressive Creation (Day-Age Theory)
b.) Gap Theory (Ruin-Reconstruction Theory)
c.) Theistic Evolution

Q: What is Progressive Creation?
Progressive Creation, AKA Old Earth creationism.

Progressive Creationists present God as doing many more creative miracles. That is, God creates the world in numerous progressive steps. That is why this belief is called "Progressive Creation" or "Process Creation." More commonly, some advocates of an old Earth, in an attempt to harmonize mainstream science with biblical literalism, hold that the six days referred to are not ordinary 24-hour days, but rather much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years); the Genesis account is then interpreted as an account of a progressive creation, or sometimes a summary of life's evolutionary history. This view is often called "Day-Age Creationism".

Although there is little widespread agreement among Progressive Creationists, they generally believe the following:

  • The "Big Bang" is interpreted as God's way of producing stars and galaxies through billions-of-years of natural processes.
  • The Earth and universe are billions of years old.
  • The days of Creation were overlapping periods of millions and billions of years.
  • Death and bloodshed have existed from the very beginning of Creation and were not the result of Adam's sin.
  • Man was created after the vast majority of earth's history of life and death had already taken place.
  • The flood of Noah was local, not global, and it had little effect on the Earth's geology, which represents billions of years of history.

It is obvious then that Progressive Creationism is a belief which opposes both atheistic evolutionism and historic Christianity's understanding of biblical creationism. The teachings of Progressive Creationism are not new or original, but only recently have the views of Progressive Creationism received unprecedented wide and favorable publicity through Christian radio, television and magazines. Because Progressive Creationists often present their views as being based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, they have been invited to speak at numerous prominent evangelical churches, schools and ministries.

Another concern for many Christians is the Progressive Creationist belief that the "days" of creation in Genesis 1 can be legitimately understood as long, undefined periods of time.

Q: What is the Gap Theory?
According to the Gap Theory, Genesis 1:1 describes the creation of the heavens and the earth, but then there is a "gap" of millions or billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2:
Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Genesis 1:2: "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

There are different variations of the Gap Theory, but there seems to be a common belief that there was a "pre-Adamite" race of people who lived on earth during this "gap," long before Adam and Eve were created.
In addition, there were many other forms of life on earth during this "gap," such as dinosaurs and other creatures and plants which have been found in the fossil record. The basic idea is that the fossil record and many of the geological changes which have taken place on the earth are remnants from this "gap" between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Since many scientists tell us that it would have taken millions of years for the fossil evidence and the geological evidence to have been formed, the Gap Theory seems to provide Christians with a way to fit these "geologic ages" into the Bible while still believing in the six literal days of Creation and while denying the theory of evolution.

The basic Gap Theory goes on to say that there was a cataclysm of some kind which killed all life on earth and which left the earth "without form and void" and completely covered with water, and this water is "the deep" over which the Spirit of God hovered in Genesis 1:2. Therefore, the Gap Theory says that the "six days of Creation" in Genesis are not actually six days of Creation, but rather they are six days of re-creation after the cataclysm which destroyed the earth between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. For this reason, this theory is sometimes referred to as the Ruin and Reconstruction Theory. People who believe this theory tend to speculate that the "great cataclysm" which ruined the earth between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 was caused in some way by the devil being cast down out of heaven.

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a notable Scottish theologian and first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, was perhaps the man most responsible for the gap theory. (W.W. Fields, Unformed and Unfilled (Collinsville, IL: Burgeners Enterprises, 1976), p. 40.)

The idea can be traced back to the rather obscure writings of the Dutchman Episcopius (1583-1643), and was first recorded from one of Chalmers' lectures in 1814. Rev. William Buckland, a geologist, did much to popularize the idea.

Although Chalmers' writings give very little information about the gap theory, many of the details are obtained from other writers such as the 19th century geologist Hugh Miller, who quoted from Chalmers' lectures on the subject.

This ruin-reconstruction view is held by many who use Bible study aids such as the Scofield Reference Bible, Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, and The Newberry Reference Bible.
The most notably influential 19th century writer to popularize this view was G.H. Pember, in his book Earth's Earliest Ages, first published in 1884. Numerous editions of this work were published, with the 15th edition appearing in 1942.

The 20th century writer who published the most academic defense of the gap theory was the renowned Canadian anthropologist, Arthur C. Custance. Custance produced Without Form and Void (1970), which many consider the ablest defense of the Gap Theory ever put into print.

The basic reason for developing and promoting the gap theory can be seen from the following very telling quotes:
Scofield Study Bible: Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains.
Dake's Annotated Reference Bible: When men finally agree on the age of the earth, then place the many years (over the historical 6,000) between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there will be no conflict between the Book of Genesis and science.

The above quotes are typical of the many compromise positions -- accepting so-called "science" and its long ages for the earth, and incorporating this into Scripture.

J.D. Thomas, former chairman of the Bible Department at Abilene Christian University, has stated that “no man can prove that it is not true, at least in part” (1961, p. 54). The popular Scofield Reference Bible was first published in 1909; by 1917, it contained a reference to the Gap Theory in the footnotes accompanying Genesis 1. In more recent editions, references to the theory may be found as a footnote to Isaiah 45. John Clayton has accepted major portions of the Gap Theory, but has added to and deleted from the theory to produce what has come to be known as the Modified Gap Theory (see Clayton, 1976, pp. 147-148; Thompson, 1977, pp. 192-194; McIver, 1988, 8[3]:1-23; Jackson and Thompson, 1992, pp. 114-130).

Arguments Presented in Support of the Gap Theory
Advocates of the Gap Theory base their beliefs on several arguments, a summary of which is given here; comments and refutation follow.

Gap theorists suggest that the word bara (used in Genesis 1:1, 21, 27) must mean “to create” (i.e.: ex nihilo creation), while the word asah cannot mean “to create,” but rather means “to make.” Therefore, the original creation was “created”; the creation of the six days was “made” (i.e., “made over”).
Gap theorists suggest that the Hebrew verb hayetha (translated “was” in Genesis 1:2) should be rendered “became” or “had become”—a translation required in order to suggest a change of state from the original perfect creation of the chaotic conditions implied in verse 2.

Gap theorists believe that the “without form and void” of Genesis 1:2 (tohu wabohu) can refer only to something once in a state of repair, but now ruined. Pember accepted these words as expressing “an outpouring of the wrath of God.” Gap theorists believe that the cataclysm that occurred was on the Earth, and was the direct result of Satan’s rebellion against God. The cataclysm, of course, is absolutely essential to the Gap Theory. Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-17 are used as proof-texts to bolster the theory.

Gap theorists believe that Isaiah 45:18 (“God created the earth not in vain”—tohu; same word translated “without form” in Genesis 1:2) indicates that the Earth was not tohu at the initial creation. Therefore, they suggest, Genesis 1:2 can refer only to a judgment brought upon the Earth by God.
Gap theorists generally believe that there was a pre-Adamic creation of both non-human and human forms—a position adopted to account for the fossils present in the geologic strata.

C.I. Scofield, editor, The Scofield Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945). (Originally published as The Scofield Reference Bible, this edition is unaltered from the original of 1909.)F.H. Dake, Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, (Lawrenceville, GA: Dake Bible Sales, Inc., 1961), p. 51.

Q: What is Theistic Evolution?
Theistic evolution is the proposition that God is in charge of the biological process called evolution. God directs and guides the unfolding of life forms over millions of years. Theistic evolution contends that there is no conflict between science and the Biblical book of Genesis. Theistic evolution believes that new species of animals develop from existing species over a very long interval of time, in response to the guidance, supervision, and intervention of a deity.

Famous theistic evolutionists included Asa Gray, Darwin's correspondent, and Henry Drummond, whose Ascent of Man was a popular apologetic work of the 1890s. Among modern proponents of theistic evolution are theologian John Haught and astronomer Howard J Van Till.

No comments: