Archive for the Genesis Category

Michael Shermer at the Creation Museum

Posted in age of the earth, Evolution, Genesis, religion, science with tags , , , , , , on March 23, 2009 by airtightnoodle

Michael Shermer, author of such books as The Science of Good and Evil
and Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, recently interviewed a researcher under the employment of AIG’s Creation Museum.

Here is the You Tube clip. Enjoy.

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What did Paul say about creation?

Posted in Evolution, Genesis with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Some creationists attempt to say that Jesus and Paul also taught a literal six day creation.  I’ve already discussed what Jesus had to say here.  Regarding Paul, Romans 5 is often quoted to support creationism, as Eric Kemp does here:

If death and suffering already existed before the first man had a chance to sin, why do we need a savior?  The most important doctrine of Christianity, humanities need for a savior and Jesus’ ability to fill that roll, is based, according to Paul, on Adam’s first sin (Romans 5:16-18). 

Are we condemned merely because of Adam’s sin?  No.  According to Genesis, sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, but we are all sinful.  Do we not all deserve damnation based on our own deeds? 

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)

Was Jesus’ goal to save us from physical death?  Are we ever promised that we won’t have to suffer physical death simply because we are believers?  No.  We are safe from spiritual death because Jesus died for our sins and rose again. 

The entire focus of Romans 5 is man’s fall and redemption through Jesus Christ.  It is not teaching creationism.

Does an “old earth” make God cruel?

Posted in Evolution, Genesis with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Yet another common argument proposed by creationists is that the theory of evolution turns God into a cruel tyrant.  Some go even further and accuse “old earth creationism” of the same, even when it doesn’t include the theory of evolution.  For instance, Eric Kemp recently wrote:

How can God call His creation “very good” if there was billions of years of suffering and death in the animal kingdom before humans were created?  This notion also makes God into a bumbling, lying, cruel creator who lacks the power to prevent disease, natural disasters, and extinctions to mar His creative work, without any moral cause, but still calls it all “very good.”

How does this make God into a liar?  He said it was “very good”; who are we to judge Him?  How does this make God bumbling?  One could easily make the argument that God is a bumbling fool if He created in the “creationist” manner.  “Oops, this model of Archaeopteryx isn’t really working out for me…I’ll let them go extinct and then start over from scratch.” 

The argument of God being “cruel” or “impotent” applies regardless of how old the earth is or whether evolution is factual.  Indeed, this is one of many reasons why people choose not to believe in God.  People get sick.  People get injured.  People die.  God could stop that if He chose to, could He not?  He is all-powerful, according to Christianity. 

Even if one does view evolution as cruel, etc, does it really matter?  We aren’t God.  If He chose to create via evolution, it really doesn’t matter what we think about it.  God’s character is complex.  Let’s face it.  The bible teaches that He has thrown plagues against the earth (and shall again), He will eventually demolish the earth in judgment, and ultimately sentence nonbelievers to eternal torment.  And yet years of animal death, of all things, is what bothers us about God and His creation in light of these other biblical tidbits?

Exodus and Creation

Posted in Genesis with tags , , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Updated 10-25-08

Creationists often cite Exodus 20, which refers back to Genesis 1 and the six days of Creation, as proof that the days in Genesis 1 are meant to be read literally.  For instance, Eric Kemp states on his blog:

Read the above passage again[referring to Exodus 20], no really I mean it.  God’s entire reason for the Sabbath, and for the literal Jewish work week, was because of a literal creation week.  If God wanted to say that the Jews should work six literal days, and rest a seventh, because He worked in an indefinite period of time, He could have used any of the other three Hebrew words for “a period of time”, but instead He chose what the Jews would interpret as literal days, the word yom

Get ready.  I’m about to shock the heck out of some of you. 

In reality, I don’t think it really matters whether you think Genesis 1 is using such terms as “yom” in a literal manner.  I’m sure some of you are wondering, “Then why go to the trouble of the stuff you have written previously on your blog?”  I do think good arguments can be made for not reading these terms so literally.  Also, things like this are what initially piqued my curiosity, several years ago, that maybe there is more to the creation story than meets the eye.

I actually don’t have much of a problem with this argument of Eric Kemp’s, quoted above.  It is entirely conceivable, in my opinion, that God would have indeed used the words in Genesis in this manner to make the Jewish people treat the work week in such a way.  I agree that one of the interests in Genesis 1 is to correlate the divine work in creation with the six days of work in the Jewish week.  Obviously it would have been inappropriate to depict God’s creative work in eleven days to a society who based many of their rules, celebrations, etc, on the six-and-one schema (six days of work, one day of rest). 

God set a pattern for us in creation, with six “yom” followed by a seventh “yom”.  This is acknowledged by all.  Yet do not mistake me.  To read into these verses that God is making statements about the actual length of the creation is more than what the text supports.  This still does not mean that Genesis is teaching, scientifically, how God created the heavens and the earth. 

The intent of the creation story in Genesis is to set up a monotheistic religion at a time when most people worshipped many gods.  The intent is to smash the beliefs of polytheistic societies to bits while affirming belief in one supreme Creator.  God gave the Jewish people something they could relate to in Genesis by drawing on cosmological imagery familiar to Near Eastern cultures.  It is doubtful that this would have been as effective at helping the Jews establish their identity and religion if God had used scientific principles and terminology to describe exactly how the universe was created.  More on this to come. 

A long yom’s work

Posted in Genesis with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Updated 10-25-08

A somewhat hotly debated issue is the usage of the Hebrew word “yom” in Genesis 1.  “Yom” is translated in Genesis 1 as “day”.  Some Christians have gone so far as to say that “yom” always means a literal 24-hour day.  This is simply false.  Some Christians make a more intelligent argument by saying it can mean something other than 24 hours, but they claim in Genesis 1 it clearly is literal.

A word of caution before going further…Genesis 1 contains the phrase “and there was evening, and there was morning – the ‘nth’ day”.  The actual number of words in the Hebrew is much fewer than what one reads in the English translations.  The actual phrase is better described as “evening and morning ‘n’ day”.  This phrasing is unique in the Old Testament, occurring only in Genesis 1 to my knowledge, so making firm conclusions on its meaning is tenuous at best.

Eric Kemp at Intelligent Science makes the following argument:

It is true that the Hebrew word for day, yom, does not always refer to a literal twenty-four hour period (it can also mean from sun up to sun down and an indefinite period of time).  But when it doesn’t, the context always makes it clear.

Is the context for “yom” always so clear?  Let’s look at Genesis 2–also part of the creation story.

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. (Genesis 2:4)

Did it literally take God only one day to make earth and heaven?  Recall that according to Genesis 1 it took Him 6 days

Genesis 2 uses “yom” again when God commands Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

Yet did Adam really die that day?  No; according to the Old Testament he lived for hundred of years after this event.  (Now, of course, there is another issue here–one could say that the death referred to here is not physical death but spiritual death.  That would not make reading this particular verse literally as much of a problem.  Yet most creationists actually don’t make this argument.)

Another argument often seen on creationists sites is that when “yom” is combined with “evening” (ereb in Hebrew) and “morning” (boqer in Hebrew), it is always referring to a literal 24 hour period of time.  Here is such an example from Eric Kemp again:

Yom is also used here with “morning” and “evening”.  Everywhere these two words are used in the Old Testament, with yom or without it, the text is referring to a literal evening or morning of a literal day. 

Moses, traditionally held to be the author of Genesis 1, is often also credited for writing Psalms 90.  In this Psalm, Moses compares human lives to grass.  He says that the grass sprouts in the morning and withers in the evening.  Evening and morning in this example surely do not refer to a 24-hour period of time. 

You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning [boqer] they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning [boqer] it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening [ereb] it fades and withers away. (Psalms 90:5-6)

The verse above does not also contain the word “yom”, but it does demonstrate that the words for “evening” and “morning” can be used for something other than a 24 hour day.

So what about when “evening” and “morning” ARE used in conjunction with “yom”?  Do they really ALWAYS indicate a 24 hour day?  Unfortunately there aren’t many instances of such usage.  But let’s continue our investigation with Daniel 8:

“The vision of the evenings [ereb] and mornings [boqer] Which has been told is true; But keep the vision secret, For it pertains to many days [yom] in the future.” (Daniel 8:26)

Daniel 8 is a hotly debated chapter in eschatological circles, but no matter how one interprets it, it is clear that this part of the vision in Daniel does not take place in a mere 24 hours. 

The reference in Genesis 1 to “evening” and “morning” on the first day also means we have to ignore the fact that there is somehow light and dark without there being a sun or other stars at that point–which is how one would normally gauge such times as “morning” and “evening”.  Also interesting to note is that the seventh day does NOT refer to evening and morning.  The seventh day of Genesis is not “closed”, yet the vast majority of creationists treat it like the other “days” mentioned in the creation account–as 24 literal hours:

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

Another creationist claim often made is that when “yom” is used with a number, it always refers to a 24 hour time period.  Again, Eric Kemp demonstrates:

Yom is also used in conjunction with a number; one, two, three etc.  Every other time yom is used with a number, it is in description of literal days.

In Genesis 1, numbers are used to describe the different days.  Genesis 1:5 states:

And there was evening, and there was morning—the first [echad] day [yom].

The word “echad” is used to represent “one” here.  It is also used in Daniel 11:20:

Then in his place one will arise who will send an oppressor through the Jewel of his kingdom; yet within a few [echad] days [yom] he will be shattered, though not in anger nor in battle.

“Echad” is also used here but is translated as “few” instead of “one”.  This verse is widely believed to refer to Seleucus Philopator, who reigned for several years, not mere days (though certainly a short period of time when compared to his father). 

Zechariah 14:7 also contains the word yom combined with an ordinal (again, the number one, echad).  (It is interesting to note that the NIV translates yom echad as “unique day” in Zechariah, but translates the same Hebrew phrase as “first day” in Genesis 1:5) The context of Zechariah 14:7 seems to indicate that the yom echad will be a period of time at least spanning one summer and one winter (see 14:8).

“Echad yom” is also used often in the Old Testament to refer to the “Day of the Lord”–a time period which is often not regarded as lasting one day, but for several years (some people insist it will last literally 7 years). 

I, for one, actually believe that the intent of the creation story is more important than whether one should read it figuratively, literally, symbolically, and so on.  Yet I find it interesting to engage in such discussion anyway, especially as such issues as the ones above and the ones in my previous post simply cast doubt on how the account should be treated.

Further thoughts from other commentators:

Some thoughts from Christian scholars:

Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pages 60-61, Baker 1982:
” There were six major stages in this work of formation, and these stages are represented by successive days of a week. In this connection it is important to observe that none of the six creative days bears a definite article in the Hebrew text; the translations “the first day,” ” the second day,” etc., are in error. The Hebrew says, “And the evening took place, and the morning took place, day one” (1:5). Hebrew expresses “the first day” by hayyom harison, but this text says simply yom ehad (day one). Again, in v.8 we read not hayyom hasseni (“the second day”) but yom seni (“a second day”). In Hebrew prose of this genre, the definite article was generally used where the noun was intended to be definite; only in poetic style could it be omitted. The same is true with the rest of the six days; they all lack the definite article. Thus they are well adapted to a sequential pattern, rather than to strictly delimited units of time.”

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, page 271, Zondervan 1999:
“Numbered days need not be solar. Neither is there a rule of Hebrew language demanding that all numbered days in a series refer to twenty-four-hour days. Even if there were no exceptions in the Old Testament, it would not mean that “day” in Genesis 1 could not refer to more than one twenty-four-hour period. But there is another example in the Old Testament. Hosea 6:1-2 . . . . . . Clearly the prophet is not speaking of solar “days” but of longer periods in the future. Yet he numbers the days in series.”

Some brief difficulties in forcing Genesis 1 to be read literally

Posted in Genesis with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

There are certain issues that arise when attempting to read Genesis 1 literally.  Now, let’s be clear…with God all things are possible.  Could God have created in six literal days using nothing but His words?  Sure.  But, let’s explore these briefly just for the fun of it:

Day 3–man, those plants are fertile!

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

The Hebrew word “zera” is used for “seed” here.  This word is often translated as “descendants”.  The text implies that on day 3 plants sprouted, grew to maturity, and then also produced descendants that same day.

Day 6–No wonder Adam needed to model God’s seventh day of rest after this!

God creates animals, man, brings the animals to Adam for him to name according to Genesis 2, and then creates woman.  Phew!  That sounds like quite a day.  Adam would have had to name many, many, many organisms or at least many “types” of organisms.

Some creationists will argue that this really would not have taken so long because Adam was only naming “kinds” of animals (fish, dog, cat, bird, etc.).  Let’s look at the text of Genesis 2:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. 

It is doubtful, naturally, that Adam was giving a name to each cow, each fish, each bird, and so on.  “I name thee Bessie, and thee Belle, and thee Milky…”  The text says Adam gave names to the birds of the air, livestock, and beasts.  Even if he was only naming “kinds” of these organisms, there would still be many “kinds” of birds, many “kinds” of beasts, and so on.  This is also ignoring the fact that we do not really know what is meant by a “kind” (is it something along the lines of a taxonomic family, order, phylum, class, or something else entirely), and we also can’t even conceive of how many “kinds” this would be anyway since some of the organisms alive at the time of Adam would now be extinct!

The Firmament

Posted in Genesis with tags , , , , , on October 5, 2008 by airtightnoodle

I’ve been having a discussion over at Internet Pastor with the blog owner about the mention of the “firmament” in the Old Testament.

This is something I’ve planned on discussing on my own blog, but it looks like it will have to wait this week.

In any case, it’s turned into a rather interesting and somewhat humorous conversation, as I feel the good pastor keeps dodging my questions.

*Update 10-6-8

Internetpastor claims he can no longer have this discussion with me after learning of my gender. 

Noodle,
Having only recently learned the truth of your gender I am obligated to inform you that due to the enormous respect I have for my marriage I have a personal conviction to not engage in intimate conversations (debates) with persons of the female gender. You are involved in other similar debates and I hope you find them stimulating.
You are welcome to comment on any of my articles as you wish.
Be well, sister.

Now, my gut tells me this is a cop-out.  But, I’ll give this man the benefit-of-the-doubt and drop the debate at his site unless he wants to continue pursuing it.  I posted the following as a response:

Well, that’s certainly a new cop-out for me.

Hope you’re truly being honest and not running away from something you’re tired of debating/don’t know how to debate/are worried you might be wrong about.

God bless.

I still plan on writing more about the firmament in the near future.

*Another update, 10/13/08

This guy is really a hoot!  After telling me he can no longer converse with me based on my gender, he then refers to me in his most recent post as a “christian?”. 

Likewise, if you believe as this {christian?}, you really have no clue what to believe, so you just go along with the current intellectual dogma, thereby actually losing your mind completely.

So, if you come across my mind, please return it.  I’ve lost it completely (not partially, mind you).

And, in another post, I left a comment pointing out how Internet Pastor had contradicted himself (again).  He then replies to the post but at the end leaves the following disclaimer:

This comment is to the panel and to no one in particular.

Like I said, he’s a hoot!  Who does this guy think he’s fooling?