November 19, 2017

A Final Word about Creation Week

By Chaplain Mike

Cue applause. Cue wild, hilarious celebration in the streets. Creation week has come to an end.

As God himself would say, “Time for a rest!”

Before we go, I want to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to all who have read and commented. You have, in some ways, participated in a different kind of “Internet Monk” this week. It’s been a bit more academic, more focused on pure study and esoteric theological discussion than on other weeks. I hope you haven’t found it impersonal, too “heady,” or too impractical.

It’s not that I doubt for one second the capacity of our IM readers to digest this stuff. You folks always impress me with your knowledge, experience, and insights. I have learned a great deal from reading your comments, and in some cases, your input has helped me refine or even rethink my position on some area of interpretation.

Why did I decide to devote most of an entire week to this subject?

  • Because I believe that, in part, the health and witness of evangelical Christianity in America depends on our ability to discuss issues like this without resorting to trench warfare.
  • Because I believe that a proper view and use of Scripture should lead to Christians becoming more open to discussion about ideas, not less.
  • Because the world is becoming more scientifically and technologically knowledgeable, and in order to be able to participate redemptively in it, Christians must not hide their heads in the sand or accept simplistic explanations.
  • Because too many people have assumed they know what texts like Genesis 1-3 teach, they assume the text is simple to understand, and they assume that everybody who really believes in Jesus must have a particular interpretation of Genesis.
  • Because it’s hard for me to fathom that Christians wouldn’t be prime examples of people who not only respect Biblical authority and tradition, but who also realize they serve a God who is so far beyond our intellect and imagination that there will always be new things to discover, new possibilities of integrating knowledge from the various realms of God’s revelation, and new ways of learning to talk with one another and our neighbors about Jesus and the teachings of Scripture.
  • Because I want you, our faithful Internet Monk community, to know that this writer will not be afraid to tackle hard subjects, do some serious study, and present posts that represent an ongoing careful effort to communicate the best teaching and most insightful commentary I can muster.

Michael Spencer set a high standard, and I hope to maintain it, along with the fellowship of writers that has gathered to carry on Internet Monk. My approach may be different at times, but I hope I will always be accessible, thought-provoking, humble, gracious, and personally authentic.

Oh, and by the way, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” That will always be the bottom line.

Comments

  1. This has been one of the more enjoyable weeks for me here at the Internet Monk. I’ve enjoyed your posts thoroughly. I’m more encouraged every day at the rising tide of thoughtful Christians engaging this issue, here, and elsewhere. On my own blog, Augustinian Democrat, I have a listing on the upper right that is over a dozen long of Christians who affirm evolutionary biology. There’s still a long way to go, but at least the journey is happening. And the I Monk crew is definitely contributing in a positive way. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks so much, Chaplain Mike.

  3. david carlson says:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/eons-of-darwinian-evolution-somehow-produce-mitch,17635/

    Onion article on evolution – somehow it just ties everything together

    • That is genius.

      My favorite line: “It’s great that Mitch has been so disruptive to the evolutionist camp,” Jim Moore of the Colorado Springs–based Genesis Ministries said. “But quite honestly, there’s no way we can explain him in terms of a perfect or loving God, either.”

  4. To Jeff, Chaplain Mike and Denise,

    Thank you so much!

    I have just recieved my copy of Michaels book that you sent me – along with the handwritten notes inside. That is so very kind of you!

    Blessings,

    Matthew Johnston

    • You are most welcome, Matthew! Just don’t tell anyone else we did that for you.

      Oh, wait, you just told tens of thousands…

      Blessings, our Aussie brother!

  5. Thank you for a very interesting series.

    “Oh, and by the way, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” That will always be the bottom line.”

    So do I. I believe that Christ lives and that the Spirit is with us always.

    I believe that I can only know this through faith, although my five senses do scream YES in agreement.

    I believe that Christians should not fear that anything learned in the realm of science can undermine faith. Science, what we can observe and study about the natural world, is always being expanded and modified as new instruments and techniques are refined. The answer to one question raises a thousand new questions. These sands are always shifting.

    Knowledge of the natural world will continue to be misused by man. Humans have a nasty habit of misusing every type of knowledge. If for no other reason, this should be reason enough for all people of faith to try to see the natural world as it really is.

  6. For good or for bad, God has kept me off the Internet and all these discussions for most of this week. That’s probably been a blessing to some here. Or, rather, trying to pass a kidney stone has kept me pretty much off everything but pain meds since Tuesday. Frankly, in a lot of ways, I haven’t cared too much what Christians think about Creation Week. When I’m not in too much pain to do anything, I’m on too much pain medication to do or care about anything. Kind of like hell and heaven, no? Carry on, folks. :^)

  7. – -|||

  8. dumb ox says:

    “…that there will always be new things to discover, new possibilities of integrating knowledge from the various realms of God’s revelation, and new ways of learning to talk with one another and our neighbors about Jesus and the teachings of Scripture.”

    The older I get the more the lyrics to U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for” make more sense. I believe in absolute truth, but as soon as one believes they have truth in their grasps, what they have is really an idol of their own making.

  9. Lukas db says:

    Let us not put God into a prejudicial box.

  10. dumb ox says:

    “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
    – Susan B. Anthony

  11. Jonathan Blake says:

    I have enjoyed your posts this week and appreciated your courage this week. You’ve given me much to think about. I plan on getting some John Sailhamer’s works to look further into what you have so graciously shared with us. Thanks.
    Grace and Peace

  12. Good bye ‘Creation Week’!

    So long Old Earth ‘stuff’!

    Ciao strange views on Adam & Eve!

    Adios even stranger views on the flood!

    Hello to more thought provoking iMonk posts!

  13. It has certainly been a very interesting, informative, and educational week.

    I also greatly appreciate the Chagall paintings,as he’s one of my favourite artists.

    Thank you, Chaplain Mike!

  14. Genesis tells us why God created the world and the universe around it but not the details of how. If He had recorded the details none of the libraries in the world could hold it. This is my simplistic way of dealing with the matter

    • Not the details of how, but can we reason about it? Atheists say Christians turn off their brains, are we going to give them that point?

      • In essence we’ve already given them the point by taking a simplistic approach to Genesis and insisting we’re right in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.

        I’d rather take the stand that Chaplain Mike has taken (and before that, Michael Spencer),which is that the scriptures don’t address the issue, or do so in a manner that is consistant with the evidence presented by evolutionists. Which leaves us debating the cause. And on that there can be no agreement with the atheist.

        • But the evidence isn’t that clear. That’s what is so ironic.

          • The evidence is very clear. Choose to ignore the evidence if you wish, but that makes it no less clear.

          • I suppose that depends on the field. In astronomy I don’t see any way around an 11-15 billion year old universe. And even in other fields I find “evidence” of a young earth to be, shall we say, less than compelling?

          • Relativity has shown that time can move at different rates in different reference frames. It is very possible the earth is in a frame where time moves more slowly. Another explanation is that God stretched the light (so that it would be visible to us).

            I commented on another thread about errors in phylogenetic trees based on morphology (which is the basis for the fossil record).

        • Well said, James. Chaplain Mike and others like him can give hope to Christians who are struggling to find a way to have faith without being intellectual suicide.

          Overall a great series, Chaplain Mike.

          • “I suppose that depends on the field. In astronomy I don’t see any way around an 11-15 billion year old universe. And even in other fields I find “evidence” of a young earth to be, shall we say, less than compelling?”

            Exactly. I can’t think of any scientific field where a young earth theory makes sense.

            A deliberate choice to ignore the evidence is not the same thing as no evidence. You can shut your eyes and cover your ears as you cross a busy highway, but the automobiles are still there. And for the YECers who believe that all creatures were vegetarian before the fall, if you ever get hold of a time machine, you may still wish to approach with caution if you encounter a saber tooth tiger.

      • If anyone insists that the Earth is 6000 years old, then they are turning off their brains, regardless of religious affiliation.

        • joel hunter says:

          Not turning off their brains, David–misusing them. It takes a great deal of mental effort to deny what reason and the evidence presented to the senses imply, fabricate fanciful conjectures as alternatives based on selective evidence, and perform the awkward hermeneutical gymnastics needed to apply concordism when it is desirable to do so (basically, at the point people in enough numbers start thinking that disbelieving crazy False History theories, like God stretching light to trick us into believing astronomical phenomena are really that distant and ancient). When is it desirable for them to give up their determined effort to find their theology and a particular scientific theory incompatible? When enough time passes and they yield to the consensus. That’s been the history. So much waste of God’s good gift of the intellect.

          • It’s not a trick. The purpose of the stars is to be seen. They can’t be seen if the light is still billions of ly away. It has to be stretched to fulfill its purpose.

            Don’t let the astronomers fool you. Their story is not as nice and neat as they let on.

            Solar evolution (the process by which clouds of hydrogen become stars) cannot work in the first generation – without the introduction of magic (know as dark matter, a substance which supposedly around in quantities ~5x normal matter, but has never been directly observed).

            The supposed expansion of the universe cannot be explained without dark energy, an even more mysterious item – which is supposed to be ~3x the total of normal and dark matter.

            You have to believe in miracles for your origin story. Is it the miracles described by God or those of man?

          • Joel,

            “It takes a great deal of mental effort to deny what reason and the evidence presented to…(do all that followed). ”

            You do have a point, old boy. This does take great mental effort.

          • joel hunter says:

            There’s no point in answering your last question, nedbrek, until we deal with what your claim that stretching light (whatever that means) isn’t a trick. Of *course* it’s a trick. It’s a false history. The best inference from the evidence is that the universe is expanding (and that expansion is accelerating) and has been for 13.7 billion years. We know this is the best inference because the predictions made when the big bang theory is put to the test bear it out. Lots of money, engineering and material resources have been poured into determining whether the cosmic microwave background radiation that was discovered in the 60s are the remnants of the big bang or caused by something else. Astronomers have used earth- and space-based instruments to observe and record this radiation (check out ESA’s Planck mission for the latest instrument and findings. The light spectrum can be mapped to show what the universe looked like about 13.4 billion years ago. To believe that it isn’t actually that old, you also have to believe that God fabricated an infinite number of historical images of the early universe, because it couldn’t have actually ever been that way.

            When God performs a miracle, he doesn’t fabricate a historical backstory to fool people. As Gordon Glover suggests, it would be like Jesus not only turning the water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, but also planting evidence like a bill of sale to the wine merchant, missing casks from the cooper, scruffed ground and floors where the casks were dragged into the house, and infinitely many other details. In other words, he created the wine by fiat AND fabricated a history for the wine. If all that history were in place, then an observer would be quite right to conclude that Jesus pulled a parlor trick, not a real miracle. Yes, Jesus still could have done the miracle, but then why go to all the trouble to fabricate an obviously plausible alternative? That’s deceit, and that’s not in God’s character. If all the circumstantial evidence were there, yet you still believed he did a miracle, you’d be saying that evidence counts for nothing. That’s a science stopper. And that’s what you’re doing with these questions about the nature of the cosmos. You can make up anything you want to in order to avoid the obvious conclusions–facts (phenomena, mechanisms, history, etc.) are irrelevant to your claims. You can take a shortcut around all the pretend stories and just say that God implants all of our sense experience into our heads. It’s equivalent to what you’re saying. In both cases there’s no point in doing science, in seeking explanations based on the evidence given. When have theologians who believe scientific theory X is incompatible with orthodoxy ever been right about theory X? Answer: never.

            I would agree that the origin of the whole show is a miracle. Before a beginning, there’s no history. I’m filled with wonder at the arrangement, operation and history of the universe just as science has disclosed it under God’s providential care. A God who “stretches” light in contravention to every other bit of evidence for the history of that light does not delight or even interest me. Parlor tricks are boring and unimpressive after five minutes.

          • I don’t think it’s a trick, because no where does God say “You can use the stars to look into the past”. The purpose of the stars is for navigation and telling the seasons (in addition to demonstrating God’s scale).

            In order for the stars to be visible, something must be done to the light to get it here. Or, it is the result of a physical process we are unaware of (like gravitational red shift – astronomers assume space is flat locally, but that has not been measured).

            Measuring distance in space is very difficult. Using triangulation (how we measure distances on the surface) is only good for a few parsecs. Longer distances use more assumptions, which are more likely to be wrong.

            It is far more likely that we are wrong about space. I am a big fan of space exploration (and the science behind it). That is the best way to know.

          • joel hunter says:

            You’re making up more stuff, nedbrek. I take it you don’t have a good response to my point about false history.

            Check out Karl Giberson’s response to Al Mohler’s address. I see you’ve already commented there, but I would commend especially Karl’s question #3 and his commentary on it.

          • I’m curious what you think I am making up…
            This article (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609220555.htm) details how changes in methodology resulted in an almost 50% change in the distance to a nearby star.

            The scientific certainties of today are often proved wrong. Sometimes they even oscillate (for example, the earth as immovable: first shown false by Galileo, then shown true by Einstein – using the ECEF reference frame).

          • Melanie says:

            Nebrek, please review your physics about light, space and stars. Its not the right forum and there is not enough space/time to review here but your assumptions are erroneous. Anything you extrapolate from an erroneous assumption is flawed.

          • Hello Melanie, if there is something egregious in my statements feel free to point it out here or on my blog. If there is something you’d like me to read, post it. I can’t promise to read it or respond, but it will be there.

          • nedbrek, you need to actually read an article if you’re going to post a link. That Science Daily article had absolutely nothing to do with the distance to the star. It was about the measured DIAMETER of the star as measured over the course of the last 17 years. The diameter has changed by 15%. Not one word of the article was about measuring the distance to stars.

          • Melanie says:

            Hi Nebrek. I can recommend a website and excellent podcast that could help explain the physics that you are alluding to. Astronomycast is a great place to start (podcast and website). The Astrophysicist (Prof. Pamela Gay) on this podcast is also an excellent teacher and a Christian. If you use ITunes there are some excellent University Courses that cover this physics in greater depth. I think that the key is to understand that none of this science can be boiled down to sound bites. Much like Theology, it takes a lifetime to wrap our heads around the details (if possible). There are other excellent resources but these will definitely help. If you are really keen there are some intro courses through Swinburne University that need no prerequisites unless you have them and want to do post grad study. Ultimately the best place to find out about science is to ask scientists, the best person to fix a sore tooth is a dentist, not a mechanic who once read a book on visiting a dentist. The source is key.

          • From the article, “Last year, new measurements of the distance to Betelgeuse raised it from 430 light years to 640”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And this means what, Nedbrek?

            Another stick to beat Godless Secular Science with?

            Another proof of Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles?

            The difference between a range of 430 and 640 ly is less than 1/100 of an arc second of parallax; measured from the center of the earth, this difference in angle would be a matter of inches on the surface. This is probably right at the limit of our instruments’ measuring ability. Never mind that being large for even a red giant, Betelgeuse has a visible diameter larger than that, one of the few stars whose visible disc can even be theoretcially measured.

            But all this is just “the vain imaginations of men”. Keep crowing in triumph reciting The Word of God (TM). Just like Wahabi reciting the Koran. “WERE YOU THERE? HUH? HUH? HUH?”

        • Melanie says:

          I like the term ‘willful ignorance’.

  15. Chaplain Mike,

    It has been an interesting series of posts. You convinced my wife and me to order one of Sailhamer’s books :).

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    And on the Seventh Day, Chaplain Mike rested?

  17. Just a word of appreciation for keeping things going after Michael’s death–thanks!

  18. I don’t recall if anyone else in these discussions added words from Aquinas, but I was reading this section today and thought it appropriate.

    In a section on differing views of Genesis, Aquinas says:
    “In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to observed, as Augustine teaches (Gen. ad lit. i. 18). The first is, to hold the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation, only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.”

    from Q. 68, Art. 1

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Aquinas seems to be restating Augustine.

      And what’s gone on in these blog threads around Creation Week proves both Aquinas & Augustine.

  19. Imonk’s posts on the modern creation/evolution craziness are worth framing. They will certainly find their way onto my short list of recommended links for those looking for a fresh take on this controversy. If this doesn’t cause our young-earth brethren to pause, if only for a second, and say “hmm…,” I don’t know what will! Thanks for this series!

  20. Michael Spencer set a high standard, and I hope to maintain it,

    To Chap Mike and all the writers: I’d say the Monk would be and is very proud of the lot of youze…..
    I know I am also……. keep up the good work, mates

    Greg R