Saturday, July 13, 2013

Maker of heaven and earth

I read both Mohler's article and Evan's response with interest. I must say it seems rather poor form to try and denigrate Dr Evan's position on the Bible or pull someone like Enns in the argument.

Not false…just bad form. 

i) I'm less concerned with denigrating Evans' position on the Bible than how his position denigrates the word of God. People who are more concerned with protecting Evans' reputation than the Bible's betray the fact that God is less real to them than their fellow man.

ii) Walton said Gen 1 reflects an obsolete cosmology. God didn't correct the narrator's misconception. Evans agreed with Walton. It's striking that some defenders of Evans are so blasé about that. 

iii) Walton takes the same position as Enns in his notorious Inspiration & Inerrancy, pp54-55.

 Thankfully amongst the ranks of YECs, Dr Mohler acknowledges that adhering to an old earth doesn’t preclude one from being an inerrantist in regard to Scripture.

My review of Evans didn't suggest that OEC is incompatible with inerrancy. 

 More positively I, as an undogmatic old earth creationist who is willing to concede some place to evolution, though at the micro level, willingly, gladly affirm an inerrant Bible and in particular an historical Adam and Eve, even though tidying up all the aspects of this lies beyond any of us whether trying to understand how death came to be prior to the Fall, or how for that matter Adam could name all the animals in a single 24 hr day.

In context, Adam didn't name every animal on earth. Rather, he named every animal in the Garden of Eden. 

…and just how many animals did Noah fit into the Ark given 5 million known species today (though you may take out the fish).

Young-earth-creationists don't claim the ark contained "5 million known species today." Rather, they claim the ark contained all the natural kinds of land animals extant at the time of the flood. A natural kind is broader than a species. They aren't using the current status quo as their frame of reference. They attribute the "5 million known species today" to the subsequent microevolution of the ark's survivors. So Palmer's characterization is either an ignorant misstatement of the YEC position or else a malicious caricature of the YEC position.  

 Yes I know YECs people have explanations how these things might happen, but it is conjecture, certainly not explained in the Word, and I wish they would acknowledge that with at least a modicum of humility (I'm reflecting here on past conversations!).

Both young-earth and old-earth creationists have to resort to a certain amount of conjecture. So does anyone who attempts to reconstruct the distant past.

I think without being terrible certain about it that the framework view of the creation days is the best understanding on offer. I note Dr Mohler wants to argue that according to the framework view the sequence of the days doesn’t matter – that’s not the way I learnt it from Henri Blocher: Days 1, 2 and 3 are clearly sequential matched in a clear movement through Days 4,5,6.

According to the framework hypothesis, the numbered days are nonsequential. But why are they numbered 1-7 if they are really two simultaneous pairs?

Against the necessity of linking Biblical fidelity to the YEC - I'll revert to naming YEC as the 6 day/24 hr interpretation.

The current term for that interpretation is the calendar-day interpretation. 

…the classical Reformed view on the place of the Scriptures is that the sufficiency of Scripture is for “faith and life” (WCF 1.6). More particularly regarding life in the world and its right understanding, Scripture establishes the general theological principles (e.g. the divine attributes, the Creator/creature distinction, the cultural mandate, love of God and neighbour) that become the lens through which we interpret and apply the knowledge found in general revelation. General revelation provides the scientific particulars that enable us to better understand the world in order that we might fulfil the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:26f.

Fulfilling the cultural mandate doesn't require scientific realism or direct realism. 

 In other words, the Scriptures, while being the infallible and inerrant revelation of God’s saving work in human history, are not a textbook for the various disciplines of botany, zoology, geology, astronomy, mathematical computation nor a manual for architects, parents, mechanics or school teachers. 

That's a popular straw man. The question is not whether Gen 1 is "scientific" in the technical sense of the word, but whether it's factual

To learn the age of the universe is properly the study of geology, astronomy and cosmology. The unequivocal testimony of such study is that the universe and the earth are very old, even billions of years old. (I know some creation scientists are trying scientifically to demonstrate a young earth, and good for them trying: the point I make is that it does indicate some at least in the YEC camp acknowledge that natural/general and special revelation must be brought into harmony).

i) I already addressed that claim in my response to Evans. The fact that Palmer blows right past by counterargument goes to show that he's not arguing in good faith. 

ii) Palmer also seems to be oblivious to some of the challenges facing OEC. For instance:

A couple of other points: first the failure of proponents of the 6 day/24 hr view to acknowledge the way God accommodates himself to the immediate audience being addressed. In this regard there is the more general point as Calvin expresses it that the mode of accommodation that God employs in His Word is for Him to represent Himself not as He is in Himself, but as He seems to us (Institutes I.XVII.13) or even more to the point Calvin likening God’s speech to us as ‘lisping’ much as a mother to her child, by which Calvin means God in His Word finds it necessary to accommodate the knowledge of Him (including by extension His creative work) to our slight capacity – to do this, says Calvin, He must descend far beneath His loftiness (Institutes I.XII.1).

The interpretation of Gen 1-2 is less about what God is like, in himself, and more about what the world is like, when he made it. Let's assume that OEC is true. Why would God have to accommodate himself to human capacities to describe how he made the world by that process? Can't an OEC creation narrative be expressed in popular language? 

Second, Dr Mohler’s statement that the 6 day/24 hr view was “the untroubled consensus of the Christian church until early in the 19th century” glosses over the considerable discussion that existed over Genesis 1&2 in the early and later church. To point to Calvin again, it is worth noting that in the one chapter in Calvin’s Institutes (Institutes 1.14) where Calvin references God’s work of creation “in six days” and an age of the world extending back 6,000 years, he also states that God “could have made (the world) very many millenniums earlier”.

Historical theology is secondary to exegetical theology.

Not only so, but Calvin offers a very positive view of human competence in art and science: “…if the Lord has willed that we be helped in physics, dialectics, mathematics, and other like disciplines, by the work and ministry of the ungodly, let us use this assistance. For if we neglect God’s gift freely offered in these arts, we ought to suffer just punishment for our sloths”. (Institutes 2.2.16)
The very least we can say is that whilst Calvin affirmed creation in six days and 6,000 years for the age of the world during his lifetime, we are not entitled to say that would be his view if he lived today.

Calvin is not our rule of faith. 


  1. steve can guys who deny plenary inerrancy like walton or evans have a credible profession of faith i am studying in a seminary with all kinds of people. some professors who adhere to limited inerrancy (wanted to use NT Wright's authority instead) and kenotic Christology a counselling professor even doubted that Adam is real, how do I distinguish a person with a credible profession of faith

    1. If feasible, I think you should transfer to a different seminary, or consider distance education.

  2. Concerning the remark about Noah's ark, cf. Todd C. Wood's paper 'Terrestrial Mammal Families and Creationist Perspectives on Speciation'. You can probably find this online, though a quick google search on my part didn't turn up anything but a dead link.

    In the discussion section of the paper Wood states, "Considering all three classifications, we can draw some tentative conclusions. First, the number of terrestrial mammal families is relatively small (<500) compared to the total number of species. If the rank of family does approximate the baramin, this small number of terrestrial mammal baramins should have had sufficient space on Noah’s Ark."