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KKLA Creation Dialogue with Drs. Jason Lisle and Hugh Ross, Part I April 2, 2010

Posted by Dave Landis in science.
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On March 31st, 2010, KKLA radio host Frank Pastore had a dialogue with Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis and Dr. Hugh Ross of Reason to Believe.  Dr.Wall Clock from Wikipedia

Lyle is a six-day young earth creationist, Dr. Ross a proponent of what is called Progressive Creation.  BCASV endorses Dr. Lisle’s position and disputes Dr. Ross’.  Both hold Ph. Ds in astrophysics.

I welcomed  hearing Dr. Ross directly for the first time, and I look forward to hearing him and Dr. Lisle dialogue in the future.   However, as I listened to the two, I thought that Dr. Ross was very loose with some of his terms and ideas.  I would like to discuss examples of these in several blogs.

Dr. Ross asserts that he takes Genesis 1 literally,  as does Dr. Lisle.  However they differ over the literal meaning of “day”.   Dr. Ross believes that in Genesis 1, “day” means a long period of time.   Indeed, in both Hebrew and English, “day” can take this meaning.   However, the context of Genesis 1 is in terms of enumerated days and in the context of “evening and morning”.   When “day” is enumerated “first day”, “second day”, etc., it never means a long period of time.  Coupled with the phrase “evening and morning”,  a simple reading of the text can mean nothing but days of normal length.

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1. Elly Varbanets - April 2, 2010

Ross is playing jiujutsu with the scripture. Nowhere in the Bible the creation period is described as a long period of time. There is a verse that states that for God time does not apply, but it doesn’t talk about the creation account. So Ross is applying the wrong verse to support his point.

2. davelandis - April 3, 2010

I call it “linguistic gymnastics”.

3. Kirk Bertsche - April 4, 2010

First, a technical point. I believe your statement that “When “day” is enumerated “first day”, “second day”, etc., it never means a long period of time” is a bit too strong. The identical wording to “day one” (“yom echad” in Hebrew) is found in Zech 14:7 speaking of the coming “Day of the Lord.” It is a bit hard to determine how Zech meant this; it may refer to the entire extended judgment period, or it may only refer to the first literal day of the period. And “the third day” is used in a metaphorical sense in Hos 6:2.

Second, the length of the days is not the main point of the passage. I think anyone who puts a major emphasis on the length of the days is misrepresenting the text, no matter whether they are claiming 24-hour days or long periods of time. The text says that one of God’s purposes for the sun and moon on Day 4 was “to indicate days,” implying that there was not a good way to gauge the length of the day until Day 4.

With these caveats, I agree with your main point. Taken on its own, with the most literal interpretation, the text would seem to indicate normal, literal days. But this “literal day” view creates some internal tensions in the text, and also external tensions with God’s revelation in nature. There are many, many different approaches by conservative Christians to try to resolve these tensions. Old Earth Creationists are far from monolithic on how to properly view the days of Genesis.

(BTW, the verse Elly is thinking of is probably from Psalm 90:4, which is a Psalm of Moses–the same person who wrote Gen 1.)

4. davelandis - April 4, 2010

Not only does the term ‘yom’ appear enumerated for day one, but for a creation week. Along with the enumerated days, the term ‘evening and morning’ . This strengthens the case for a understanding of ‘day’ as the normal period of time we experience.

The tensions in nature of which you speak, go back to one’s interpretation of scientific data and presuppositions. As you know there are astrophysicists in the YEC camp who are working on that question too. Are you letting Scripture interpret Science, or is Science interpreting Scripture?

Just finished reading Numbers 7 this morning as part of my devotions schedule. Twelve enumerated days, no ‘evening and morning’ markers but a simple reading of the text shows that normal days are in view. I think there is a lesson there that can be applied to the Genesis narrative.

5. Kirk Bertsche - April 4, 2010

Dave asked, “Are you letting Scripture interpret Science, or is Science interpreting Scripture?”

A valid question. Lately I’ve been trying to look at Gen 1 simply on its own terms, with careful hermeneutical considerations (grammar, history, culture, etc.). I’m leaning more toward the perspective that Moses was referring to “normal” days, but that he intended the entire structure to be understood as a metaphorical, poetic description of creation. I.e. these are “literal” days within a “non-literal” account.

Kirk

6. dancingfromgenesis - April 5, 2010

There really is no tension between science and the Bible, checkout the evidence at http://DancingFromGenesis.com, and note article #2 at http://IceAgeCivilizations.com, how the ancients measured the earth by its wobble rate, and then help me spread the word please.

When you realize that Darwin’s term species is meaningless, and that only about 20,000 syngameons of animals need have been on Noah’s Ark, the biblical model clearly has the upper hand, remembering that species truly is a meaningless term, that’s to hammer home.

7. dancingfromgenesis - April 5, 2010

If the earth and universe are billions of years old, then was there a better choice of wording which God could have selected in order to communicate that ostensible reality? Since the answer is clearly yes, the old earthers are accusing God of lacking communications skills.

Kirk Bertsche - April 6, 2010

There are LOTS of things that God could have explained in the Bible, but didn’t. The existence of supernovae, or the mass of the electron, for example. Is this an accusation that God is lacking communication skills? Or does this tell us that God’s purpose in Scripture is not to tell us about supernovae or electrons (or maybe even the age of the universe)?

8. dancingfromgenesis - April 6, 2010

What are you talking about? He did explain the timeframe involved, followed up directly with the generations having begun about six thousand years ago. He didn’t say one thing or the other about supernovae, or about electrons, that’s the point, he did however speak on the age and ancient history of the earth and universe. Please don’t obfuscate.

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

You assume and assert that Gen 1 is intended to convey a timeframe. I disagree. Framework theologians and others make a convincing case (from the text, not from science) that the “day” structure is a non-chronological non-historical literary framework. I don’t agree with all of their points, but I agree with this fundamental one. I don’t believe God was trying to communicate chronological history in Gen 1.

Dwight Christensen - April 13, 2010

Kirk,

I think that one of the points of “creation week” including the day of rest was to model our 7-day week. Also, I agree with Ting’s assessment that the sun took over as the source for light to measure evening & morning with the time frame already established. If it were not that way, then it does seem misleading to have the first half of the week with an undetermined time frame and the latter half measured as we have it today. If creation week was not intended to be a model, wouldn’t it make more sense to just create light, sky, water, land, and vegetation instantaneously (on Day 0) before time began and then take an additional 7 days to create the sun, moon, stars, animals, and man, ending with a day of rest.

I think we all believe that God is powerful enough to have completed all of creation instantaneouly. So there must have been a reason to record the events as six, successive evenings and mornings.

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

Dwight, I agree that one of the reasons God chose this six-day literary framework followed by a day of rest was to present a model of our week. There are other Sabbatical references in the account, too. (E.g. count the number of words in the first verse of the Hebrew text.)

9. dancingfromgenesis - April 6, 2010

I’ve been out of the old-earther loop for awhile, what’s the top theory these days about the nature and scope of Noah’s Flood?

10. dancingfromgenesis - April 6, 2010

Since nobody’s trying to refute the information at my two links provided, I hope you all refer and link often to them, particularly since Answers in Genesis and ICR are ignoring the material for unknown but suspected reasons, they’re jealous I’m afraid, how do you like them apples, I have promoted and supported them for years, and this is what I get? Give ’em a ear-full please.

11. dancingfromgenesis - April 6, 2010

The darwinian timeline for the development of ancient technologies crumbles when the submerged bronze age cities are made known (totally ignored by AIG and ICR), which render senseless the commonly accepted 10000 b.c. date for the end of the Ice Age, and when you couple that with the fact that only a warmer ocean (after Noah’s Flood) could have caused the Ice Age, the darwinists are on their heels for sure, finished off with the fact that only about 20,000 syngameons of animals need have been on Noah’s Ark. Please contact ICR and AIG to get them up to speed, and the ancient mapping finding in article #2 at http://IceAgeCivilizations.com, the means by which such as Sidon and Ophir sailed vast distances during the bronze age, which was the Ice Age.

12. Ting Wang - April 6, 2010

Hi Kirk, you write that “The text says that one of God’s purposes for the sun and moon on Day 4 was “to indicate days, implying that there was not a good way to gauge the length of the day until Day 4.” I would like to present another view for your consideration.

I think the text indicates a good way to gauge the length of a day on days 1-3, “God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:4-5).

In other words, I think Genesis 1 to teach us that God marks day and night on days 1-3 (separating the light from the darkness), subsequently assigning this task to the sun and moon on days 4-ff.

In addition, you write that “this ‘literal day’ view creates some internal tensions in the text, and also external tensions with God’s revelation in nature.”

I would like to ask you to which internal tensions you are referring? To which external tensions?

Thank you and blessings,

ting

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

Ting, your suggestion is interesting, and possible. But if God were using the light/dark cycles to indicate the days, wouldn’t this continue through the entire 6 days (and beyond)? There is no change in the evening/morning formula, so what in the text implies that God was indicating days Himself for the first three, then ceased doing this for the last three? The events on the creation days seem to address things which were necessary for man but were lacking, so it seems more likely to me that the indicators of days, seasons, and years were lacking until God made them on Day 4.

The internal tensions in the text are much too complex and detailed for a blog reply. I’ve been trying to write a paper on this for awhile, but it’s going slowly.

Ting Wang - April 19, 2010

Dear Kirk, thanks so much for your reply, and apologies on my tardy reply. 🙂

You ask, “what in the text implies that God was indicating days Himself for the first three, then ceased doing this for the last three?”

An excellent question, and I think the text rather straightforward in its response. On day one, we read that “God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness,” and on day four, we read that “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night,'” indicating to us that on day four, God assigned the task of marking the alternation of light and darkness to the “greater” and “lesser” lights–the sun and moon. 🙂

I think God’s “naming” the light “day” and the darkness “night” on day 1 can be understood as an establishment of a regular alternation of day and night (“evening and morning”) in light of God’s “covenant” with day and night as described in Jeremiah 33:20: “This is what the LORD says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time. . . .”

So another question might be “why?” Why does God himself alternate light and darkness on days 1-3 and then assign the task to the sun and moon on days 4 (and beyond) till the present?

I think there are at least two good reasons why God does it this way. . . 1) sun worship was a common Ancient Near Eastern practice–and Modern Southern Californian practice as well :)–, and the fact that God himself controls light discourages sun-worship. 2) Similarly, to remind us that God actively sustains all things (contra “deism”)–the sun does not “inherently” produce light; instead God produces light and shines it “through” the sun. 🙂

Thanks for the interesting discussion, and blessings,

ting

13. dancingfromgenesis - April 6, 2010

Great point Ting, I’ll be certain to blog about that.

14. James I. Nienhuis - April 8, 2010

What did Jesus say about Noah’s Flood? The crux of the matter is the Flood, if it was as the Bible describes, then we have a six thousand year old earth, if not, then what’s to believe in the rest of the Bible?

15. James I. Nienhuis - April 8, 2010

Kirk, if the creation account and the Noah’s Flood account don’t really mean what they appear to say to a twelve year old reading it, then at what point can that twelve year old begin to take what is written at face value? With Japheth, Ham, and Shem? With the Tower of Babel?

Please say at what point in the Bible you think the reportage can be taken at face value, and are you aware that all but the six days of creation were recorded by eyewitnesses? Refer please to article #13 at http://GenesisVeracity.com. Any thoughts about that Kirk?

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

Paul noted that purpose of Scripture is “to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:15). The message of salvation is accessible to the twelve year old. But many non-salvific details are not. They require detailed study using proper hermeneutical methodology, incorporating grammar, culture, history, literary style, etc.

From the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy:
“WE AFFIRM the clarity of Scripture and specifically of its message about salvation from sin. We deny that all passages of Scripture are equally clear or have equal bearing on the message of redemption.”

16. dancingfromgenesis - April 8, 2010

Here’s a notion to ponder; why did it take the advent of Charles Darwin’s dogma, two thousand years after biblical times, to cause theologians (after all that time) to question what’s written in Genesis?

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

It didn’t. Augustine had doubts that the days were literal (he thought creation was instantaneous). The Gap Theory predated Darwin’s theory by more than 50 years. And Jewish commentators have puzzled over the meaning of Genesis for much longer.

17. dancingfromgenesis - April 8, 2010

In fact, if Genesis really means what you say Kirk, then people who “knew what Genesis really means” through the centuries since Christ would have been the leaders in proponing that the earth and universe are billions of years old, fostering the timeline into which Darwin’s theory would later very nicely fit. But is that the case?

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

How does any of this follow from what I say? I don’t see the logic.

18. dancingfromgenesis - April 8, 2010

One wonders why Augustine comtemplated an instantaneous creation when but the history was written for him. With what other portions of the scriptures did Augustine attempt such poetic license?

The jews puzzled their way right to 5770 years, but using the Seder Olam Rabbah to shorten it, making Jesus appear to have incarnated two hundred years too late.

19. dancingfromgenesis - April 8, 2010

Why should people come to a christ whom you’ve made a liar?

Kirk Bertsche - April 8, 2010

Is this like asking “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” 🙂 What have I said that makes Christ a liar??

What I’ve said may make some INTERPRETATIONS of the Bible incorrect, but it does not oppose Christ or the Bible itself. I would defend biblical inerrancy as strongly as B.B. Warfield, the conservative Christian scholar and theistic evolutionist who formulated the doctrine in response to Modernism.

20. dancingfromgenesis - April 8, 2010

Reading what it SAYS is superior, in my humble opinion, and Jesus spoke of the globe covering flood through which only eight survived, but you think that was eight who survived a swollen river flood?

21. Dave Landis - April 9, 2010

I’ve heard people on *BOTH* sides this issue call the other side’s organization “liar”. Before this forum was created, I was disappointed when I heard a RTB supporter call AIG a “liar” on a certain issue and I would ask that people on our side refrain from those on the RTB side liars. Calling the other party a liar assumes that the other person know the thoughts or motives of the “liar”.

I would like to see lively dialogue, but as Christians let’s keep it as irenic as possible.

22. dancingfromgenesis - April 9, 2010

I didn’t call anybody a liar if you read closely.

23. Dave Landis - April 9, 2010

It carries some emotionally charged language and I would like to see that avoided.

I love your contributions to the YEC cause, but I would request that you take care.

Kirk, B.B. Warfield could not be a minister in the OPC if he were living today. The OPC does not allow its officers to hold to theistic evolution. Of course the OPC allows for a variety of views on creation, but not theistic evolution. I’m simply saying this as a FYI.

Kirk Bertsche - April 9, 2010

Strange–didn’t Warfield help set the stage for the OPC and Westminster Seminary? Do you think he would have been allowed in the early OPC if he had lived long enough to see it? (Has the OPC gotten more restrictive over the years?)

24. Dave Landis - April 9, 2010

Warfield died as a Princeton professor. I don’t think he was a member of the OPC. There was a trial, in the 1990s for a ruling elder, Terry Gray, who held to theistic evolution. The case went to General Assembly and it was determined by the OPC that theistic evolution was not in accordance with the Westminster Standards. If I recall correctly, He was suspended until he reconsidered his views. I believe that he eventually moved and joined the CRC where his theistic evolution views were accepted.

Kirk Bertsche - April 9, 2010

Dave, do you know whether or not OPC is more rigid than PCA (or RPC) on its views of creation and evolution? (BTW, I know Terry, and I know another OPC guy from Portland who I believe was facing similar difficulties.)

25. Dave Landis - April 9, 2010

I cannot attest to the positions of the PCA nor RPC.
The OPC was very strong in its view that theistic evolution was unbiblical. I forget the exact count, but I think there were about 15 votes in favor of Dr. Gray and 85 against.

The vote only dealt with church officers. One can believe in theistic evolution and be a member, so long as you have a credible profession of faith.

The OPC allows the YEC position, Gap, Day Age, and Framework, but there has been much controversy about the allowance of those positions. IMO, only the YEC is what is taught in the Westminster Standards and was the original intent. Dr. Gerstner, a Framework adherent, admits this.

26. David Dana-Bashian - June 22, 2010

For the record, from any given person’s perspective on the Earth, the concept of a “day” does not need to depend on a light source at all. Rather, such a “day” (to be more precise, “sidereal day”) is the amount of time the Earth rotates once on its axis relative to the vernal equinox. Besides, Genesis 1 is inspired and so never depended on man, who didn’t even exist until the latter verses of that chapter anyway, verifying the amounts of time elapsed to certify that the text contained therein is true.

So having a light source to measure a day is nice but not necessary. As just one evidence, the Egyptians who experienced the ninth plague agreed with the Jews who did not experience the ninth plague that that plague lasted three days, even though during that plague, of the two, only the Jews had light. Egypt so far has never disputed the amount of time that occurred during that (for at least some of them, alleged) plague.


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