Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yom, Compromise, and obsessing again.

I've been obsessing. I didn't even wait for my copy of "A Biblical Case for an Old Earth" to show up in the mailbox. Having the internet handy can be a curse.

It’s about ‘Yom’…

One little word in Hebrew: It can mean day, as in - the day is hot. It can mean an unspecified period of time, as in – the time Solomon ruled was 40 years. It can also mean a single year, or all the years in the future. I read that the ancient Hebrew of the OT had only about 5700 different words. They had to get a lot of mileage out of each of them. As long as YEC’s (Young Earth Creationists) cling to YOM as a single, 24 hour day they don’t have to consider another thing, from their pov.

It’s also about the definition of idea of there being no death before sin. It seems that the early Christian Fathers assumed that meant no human death. (But then again, the Church Fathers fought about the ‘days of creation’ too…) The young earth crew claims that nothing that was created died before Original Sin. I found nothing in Genesis 1-3 that stated that no animals died before Original Sin, and certainly the bacteria that was in Adam’s and Eve’s guts helping them digest their food was multiplying and dying at the same rapid pace it does in every human.

It’s about compromise. YEC are exhorted to never, ever compromise on Biblical truth. That’s a good thing. Then they are told that the Bible clearly tells us that the Earth came into being in October of 4004 B.C., and anyone who questions this rock-solid fact is a compromised, and not a true Christian brother or sister. That’s a bad thing. I never read in the NT that Salvation comes from my faith in Christ, AND that I believe that creation occurred 6000 years ago.

One tiny example: tree ring dating.

Using cores from very old living trees and overlapping cores from older dead trees, tree rings from the deserts in California can be traced back over 11,000 years. I’m not saying the Earth is 11,000 years old, I’m saying that people with no interest in this little argument, lining up pieces of wood and counting rings (very low-tech) tell us it is at least 11,000 years old. YEC's have to turn a blind eye, or explain away dozens of these types of examples.

I could go on like this, but no one is listening. I've been praying to gain wisdom. I've read Genesis 1-3, very slowly, in three English translations. I've read the Wiki, along with following a lot of the links, for multiple beliefs. (very well done, I might add) I've dug out and read the two kid's books that spout YEC we have lying around here, and I've browsed Hugh Ross's "The Creator and the Cosmos" I'm tired.

Creation is more mind-boggling than any human can imagine – both on microscopic and universal scales. Genesis tells us almost nothing about how this all happened, but I trust God has told Moses all we needed to know at the time – and is having a great time letting us figure out the rest.

My Current Working Hypothesis:

I Do Not Know How God Created Everything– but I will keep my mind open to the wonders around me, and that will make me very unpopular in some social circles.



vxbush said...

An excellent answer. I personally have no need to stick to 6,000 years for the age of the earth, but because of some physics issues I can't quite see the earth being billions of years old. I just figure the flood did a lot more damage than people give it credit for. But neither do I consider it a "make-or-break" issue.

Hubster said...

There are a number of practical problems with using the Bible as arbiter of science. Primary of these is a breakdown of logic, mostly the fallacy of the “False Dilemma” which is what the YEC are setting up. Let me make an extreme example:

YEC with their match at the science library door states, “Either all science books agree with scripture and are therefore superfluous and need to be destroyed or they do not agree with scripture and should be burned”

I am a late-comer to the YEC party – only recently reading up on some of their literature. However, I have found it disturbing in that, generally speaking, they seem to undertake science investigation in a backwards manner. The “scientific method” as I was taught was something like “Define the question – observe – form hypothesis – collect, analyze and interpret data – conclusions” However, the YEC crowd seem to do it backwards, they seem to start with their conclusions (i.e. “Earth created in 6 x 24 hour days") and then cherry pick data (or mis-interpret other data) to support their conclusions while ignoring the vast amount of data that do not line up with their foregone conclusion – all the while pejoratively claiming that failure to believe in their conclusions risks your salvation.

I have read through the entirety of Protestant Canonical Scripture (and some of the Roman Catholic Apocrypha) at least a few times and nowhere do I see mention of: Algebra, the Calculus, Newtonian Physics, Chemistry or Biology. I do not see the laws of thermodynamics mentioned, nor quantum mechanical principles, or laws of motion mentioned anywhere. As Galileo put it, “The Bible tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” God gave us the brain to figure these out on our own. One problem of that is we can and some do, bias the data. Good scientists recognize this problem and attempt to avoid it; poor scientists either don't recognize it as a problem (aka: "ignorance") or see the bias and incorporate into the data (aka, "cooking the books"). Either way, bad science turns out to be...well, bad.

There is a lot of danger in speaking where Scripture is silent. Paramount among the dangers is that it can/will drive people away from the power of the Cross and message of salvation – which is clear and simple. I fear that a lot of kids who have accepted Christ as a young person and been indoctrinated in Young Earth Creationism will go to college and be presented with mounds of the best data from some of the best scientific minds in the world and will fall away from the Faith because they will naturally conclude that what they were taught was a lie.

kate said...

Person #2 has Harry's writing voice.
In my own small way, with very little knowledge of YEC, I say that FAITH is the beginning for each of us. If we have that then the arguments and debates are good exercises but the conclusion must be that God did/does things in HIS time, which we likely do NOT understand and therefore, we MUST have faith. Maybe that's simple but I do believe each of us can over-think too much too often.