Christianity offers the ability to interpret the world

Scripture and the Church offer a cumulative amount of arguments to offer this skeptical world that God exists.

It isn’t that these arguments prove God deductively, its that fact that Christianity offers the most reasonable and cohesive interpretation of how the world works. It offers reasons for how humanity works, and answers better than any other religion how scientific discoveries relate to God’s creation.

The Ontological argument= God is the explanation of innate knowledge of transcendence.
The Teleological argument= God is the explanation for order in the universe.
The Cosmological argument= God is the explanation for creation
The Transcendental argument= God is the explanation for Logic, mathematics.
The Anthropological argument= God is the explanation for mans yearning and consciousness of God
The Moral argument= God is the explanation for objective moral truth.
The Argument for Desire= The appreciation for Beauty, Order, Peace all temporal in this world point to another world where human desire will be satisfied fully.

For the Christian these arguments are wrapped up in scripture and authored by God. The ordinary Christian need go no further than “Thus saith the Lord” to acquire validation for holding these truths. Those who are born of God, the reality of Christ as Savior, Lord and Creator are side-by-side with the reality of physical things. For the Christian the metaphysical and the physical are realities that are non-contradictory. The Christian is the ‘only’ one that can make sense of science, theology, faith and fact without formulating long-winded contradictions. Atheism has no equal coherency, all the varied attempts by famous atheists to explain the metaphysical eventually resound in irrational banter. Many an atheist has used Ockhams razor in an attempt to dismiss my explanations because it is not simplistic enough for their liking.  However, their own explanations are either assumed without proof or asserted as though their personal opinion rests upon bare fact.  To put it bluntly, each atheist has his own nuanced belief system, each without validation and each without any more credence than the false religions they denounce.

The easiest way to push atheism back on its heels is to question the presuppositions an atheist has made. Questions concerning absolutes in morality, logic or math usually end in utterly frustrating the atheist. When he cannot ad-homenum his way out of answering you, he must re-direct the Christian to some supposed fault with God, the bible or Christians themselves. Questions concerning origins is another, he must make faith statements, not about God, but about his faith in the latest scientific theory, or faith in “what will be revealed in the future”. In any case the atheist eventually leaves his science and logic behind and jumps to the irrational and emotional for pure self-defense.

There are atheists that are stout-hearted materialists and they have worked out a personal theory of boundaries or boxes. Such materialists or those who depend upon scientism believe against sound reasoning that these boxes are reality; for these people any thing transcendent is mere fantasy and the existential is a mental contrivance. One of the problems with their explanations is that it never rings true for the greater mass of people. If such a thing is so evident and obvious why would explanations for the metaphysical carry such a dismal reception from the greater population? It’s not as though others have not thought about the philosophy behind materialism; nor is scientism without its examiners who after diligent study, refuse the limited box and seek answers outside the confining philosophy. It is now noted among the wise of this age that scientism is incapable of providing the knowledge needed by even the child; those things outside the realm of empirical proof contain a tremendous ability to invade the human mind and lay waste to empiricism…all without higher education.

The Christian on the other hand has no such obstacles. The Word of God enlightens the mind and gives him insight into invisible realities. The moral, ethical and spiritual all find specific links to each other and all of them point the way to the lawgiver God himself. God has revealed man is the creation of God and is accountable to Him. God’s handiwork in forming the mind of man to understand the understandable-universe he lives in answers to the reality that intelligent design was created for designed intelligence. We are that designed intelligence, the scriptures reveal how it is we are to live among each other, and how we are to live in light of being God’s creation and eventually judged by God. The basis for what we are and who we are and what we are doing in this world is made plain by the scriptures. Atheism has made its loudest cry and asserted its best arguments but at the sunset of the day the world is no better off and man has no hope.

Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal God to us in a way we could never have imagined. His life and death destroys the idea that God is insensitive to the needs of humanity, and his resurrection is the answer to mans greatest hope and deepest needs. If you find yourself without a credible way to understand the world, turn to the Word of God, seek out a solid Christian and ask the questions that need asking. But know for a certain, God is willing to save those who will come to him, he will forgive your sins and give you mercy instead of judgment.

 

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VICTOR STENGER A Christian Response to His Atheist Primer 1

victor stenger

Victor Stenger Physicist and PhD wrote an article published in the Huff post blog Feb 28th 2014 called How to debate a Christian apologist.  Please read the article here.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/how-to-debate-religion_b_4876997.html

After reading the article I decided to answer his atheist debate primer by responding to the polemic myself. In his articles he offered the Christian answer to various atheist assertions. Under these Christian statements he adds his own retort to help the atheist appear smooth and keep the audience from taking sides against the atheist debater. My reasons for responding are simple. First, I will attempt to show Dr. Stenger’s coaching the atheist debater ends up coaching him into a substantial defeat. Second, I wanted to use this article of ‘defending atheism’ against the Christian apologist as a means of training myself and other Christian apologists. Thirdly, this Christian author enjoys subjecting the New-Atheist light regime to critical examination, so once examined, the arguments of the New Atheist do not frighten younger Christians. I will attempt to expose the darkness of atheist-thinking to the light of Christian-thinking and a biblical worldview. With all educational heavy-weights, they use what they believe is sound reasoning and critical analysis upon the Christian claims. These atheist apologists usually pull no punches when it comes to reproaching the Christian as a novice-thinker and logic-lightweight. It does the Christian good to see these men such as Dr. Stenger, are not heavy-weight philosophers nor do they share some DNA that makes their logic irrefutable. In short, like the hot-air filled Dr. Dawkins they are deflated easily once the source of their lofty words are exposed.


I believe Dr. Stenger’s article is plain ole damage control. The good Dr. is recognizing the atheist debater is losing his shirt when debating the Christian apologist and to help stem the tide of continual debate failures Dr. Stenger wrote up a few ‘primer’ pieces so the atheist will not appear utterly foolish in debating someone who knows more about atheism and what it asserts than the atheist does.

Over the years I have debated many atheists in person and online in informal one-on-one scenarios. What the Christian will find as I have is each atheist attempts to nuance his personal atheism in such a way that when the Christian apologist attacks the assertions of the atheism, this specific atheist claims “that’s not what I believe”. Because there is no formal external dogmas within atheism this act of ‘dodging’ the Christian apologists assertion is part of what it means to debate or discuss atheism with an atheist. The Christian apologist learns debating atheism one-on-one with another atheist cannot proceed like it would with a cultist so pseudo-christian cult where various dogmas differentiate between it and orthodox Christianity. As can be seen by Dr. Stenger’s comments, the appeal to ‘differences’ in atheist views is supposed to dislodge the Christian Apologist argument by insinuating the Christian apologist is referring to beliefs held by other atheists not present to defend themselves.

The nuanced atheist has a self-manufactured belief structure; the spongy-ness of atheist thought soaks up whatever appeals to the self-described atheist. Normally our nuanced atheist gathers from various sciences and other atheist thinkers. The atheist blog, even You Tube are good places for the atheist to go learn new arguments to support their own personal ideology. Facebook has also become the bully pulpit for internet atheists to confront Christian doctrines and philosophy.

The New Atheists are of a stripe that attacks Christianity and attempts to turn others away from belief in Christianity. The use of various arguments against Christianity is only one tool; if that doesn’t work its followed by shaming them by ad hominem attacks or bandwaggoning their own  favorite PhD. New attacks to Christianity arrive by the media. In some article, essay or book the latest Dr. So-and-so has provided some kind of science admixed with atheist philosophy to serve their purposes and season the meal they serve the public. Because it is labeled ‘science’ the impression they want to give is their information is ‘fact’ and not ‘blind faith’. This tactic works well on a public that wants only sound-bites, not a discourse in technical terms. I shall attempt to show several of Dr. Stenger’s statements originate from blind-faith. What the atheist condemns in Christians is used openly by atheists writers trying to prove their arguments.

Let us begin with an analysis of Dr. Stenger’s article, putting his ideas and answers alongside the Christian Apologist rebuttal.

Dr. Stenger has said he has participated in a number of events (Christian vs Atheist debate) and watched others that include arguments that have all been refuted by the atheist many times. If this were true, those refutations would have been headliners for every atheist blog and repeated ad nauseum on You Tube or played on the media. But in reality we find a far different story. Debates with Dr.William Lane Craig have been crushing defeats for every atheist so far. When Dr. William Lane Craig and the panel debated Dr. Dawkins and his panel it was obvious the atheist never mounted a real attack on Christianity nor did they really prove their own point. In fact the atheist panel under-whelmed everyone with side stepping. No serious attempt was even made to undermine the argument of Dr. Craig by any of the atheist panel. See it for yourself here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__m6LzS5EbY . I need not elaborate on the failure of Sam Harris in his debate with Dr. Craig and the Disaster of Dr. Dawkins had with John Lennox. When it comes to debating the issues the Christian Apologist clearly can prove his points and leave without them being overcome by any atheist argument presented thus far.

Dr. Stenger says “Atheists…with one or two exceptions don’t make a living promoting atheism” he evidently realizes this lack of expertise in presenting their own case makes it a “tougher job preparing for these debates”.

I think it might be important to understand that if the original argument from the atheist was as sound, rational and empirically provable as the atheist wants us to believe, there would be little necessity to answer minor issues dragged up by Christians attempting to derail valid atheist argument. But as Dr. Stenger wisely notes, these statements or questions from the Christian take a lot of steam from the atheist argument. In short, they must be addressed. This is nothing short of a confession of inadequate argument arising from the atheist.

During the debate rebuttals Stenger is concerned the atheist is not well versed in points the Christian Apologist will make and because of that, ignore or be unable to defend himself against them. The failure to give a cogent reply supplies the impetus for Dr. Stenger’s primer.

I believe this is a very important point to consider. Instead of Dr. Stenger working on polishing the original atheist argument so that it makes the best impression, carries the most weight and delivers the knock out punch, he moves over into the very arena that he earlier warned the atheist layperson not to go “It is unwise for a layperson to debate a theologian”. He is moving from his expertise in physics to theology and philosophy. This is important for every apologist to consider, the empiricist cannot conquer ideas with observations, bare data, experiments or theories, they must be inserted into a philosophy that addresses the intangibles of life where we all live. What intangibles? I think it is these; is it true?, is it real? is it logical? is it important to me? What is the value of arguing for atheism if the atheist believes it to be irrelevant to a persons well being or understanding the world he lives in? He does not argue as though it is unprofitable, the whole atheist-engine is based upon the intangible basic belief  ‘truth is better than falsehood’. So with that ethic driving the debate between Christian and Atheist the very platform for establishing materialism or naturalism from the atheist perspective rests upon the intangible explained only by the philosophical.

What comes next is in my opinion appalling. Dr. Stenger says “In a debate, impressions are more important than the substance of an argument and not answering the point makes a bad impression”. When the most important things of life are being debated; things like God, religion, faith, scientific knowledge, truth, reality; these are no trifles and true substance in ones answers to these topics means everything. By merely creating the impression that you have a substantive argument verses actually having true substance contained in your argument is a tremendous distinction to make. Anyone wanting truth over falsehood considers creating the appearance of substantive argument deceptive; especially when it is come to light substance and evidence were missing. Its one thing to fail to defend your position, its another to know your position is indefensible but cloak it with pretended facts. 

It is in the next section that Dr. Stenger forms his primer for the atheist debater. He suggests memorizing these as canned responses so the atheist will appear as smooth as the Christian apologist. Again its important to note that Dr. Stenger is placing high value on appearances, these “canned responses” as he calls them are essentially anecdotal. The atheist debater has no in-depth knowledge of what he is responding with so when called out by the Christian apologist the atheist may likely rebut with only his own observations and biased commentary. A valuable point for the Christian Apologist to understand, if this sort of anecdotal response is given by the logic-claiming atheist he/she is contriving an informal fallacy. Accordingly there may follow hasty generalizations or inductive reasoning giving the Christian apologist answers in the form of post hoc fallacies. What is important to understand is this is a cat-bag for the atheist debater. Once he has opened this bag and let one cat out ( a piece of anecdotal evidence) he will forever be unable to re-bag that cat in front of the Christian Apologist. This is an important warning to the Christian apologist as well and a savvy atheist debater will eat his lunch over a trivial point and minimize the much greater and important points the Christian apologist is attempting to show. In at debate similar to a wrestling match, these are ‘point makers’ and the audience remembers these point makers later.

Dr. Stenger quotes Dan Barker an apostate and atheist who says the audience will not remember 10% of what was said but will remember an “impression” made by one or the other debaters and go home with that impression being influential on future learning. There is some truth behind the nature of debates, the idea of one side prevailing over the other makes for the ‘draw’ so curiosity and plain ole partisanship meet together.

Now Dr. Stenger sets forth the philosophical statements of the Christian and coaches the atheist debater on how to reply.

The Christian statement will be bold and Dr. Stengers commentary will be analyzed and contained in my response under each statement. For the sake of brevity I will not quote all of Dr. Stengers comments on each Christian statement; please read the article by Dr. Stenger or place it alongside for comparison. I gave the link at the front of this article.

God can be proved to exist by logic alone. For example, we have the ontological argument, which appears in many forms. It was first proposed by St. Anselm in the 11th century. He defines God as “a being than which no greater can be conceived.” If such a being only exists in the mind, then we could conceive of a greater being. But we cannot imagine a greater being than God, so God must exist in reality.

Here Dr. Stenger states that this logic is offered in many forms but all of them have logic flaws; namely it attempts to prove too much. He then says it can prove non-existent things or even a perfect pizza. I think maybe Dr. Stenger was writing some humor about the perfect pizza, the pizza I’ve had has been eaten by others and they conceive a greater pizza…so that example doesn’t fit. The logic offered here is sound reasoning, its not unreasonable to think the greatest being to be conceived is actually in existence and that being is God. But that being said, the scripture presents a clearer answer. 1Co 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 

Putting it precisely God cannot be known by human logic. God’s existence is understood intuitively by the human mind as it understands human morality, truth and judgment. But knowing God beyond the intuitive human mind is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is why the unbelieving mind may give assent to God’s existence or something transcendent but it also uses the same logic to point them to extraterrestrials or even perfect pizzas. These arguments are meant to point to the reasonableness of a ‘belief in God’ not to knowing the God of scripture through logic. The scripture assigns this to the work of the scripture itself and the revelation of truth by the Holy Spirit of God. 

Pizzas, flying spaghetti monsters etc are not what’s in the scope of St. Anselm definition and these are normally used to poke fun at the Christian. 

This next paragraph is a nightmare for Dr. Stenger. In his attempt discredit the use of logic in the Ontological argument for God, and probably the other arguments too, he begins by effectively nullifying the use of syllogism. He starts off saying ” no logical deduction can tell you anything that is not already embedded in its premises.” That is the point good Dr.; in order to make a logical argument major and minor premises are made so that conclusions to the argument can be understood as valid or invalid. What comes next is amazing. Dr. Stenger says “Only by observation can we demonstrate whether the premises accurately describe or reflect the real world.” I would ask Dr. Stenger, have you not heard that logical positivism has been debunked?

Let me help you; how do you know what is right or wrong from observation? Can you observe the logic of your scientific philosophy? Can you observe the scientific method in its propositional form? If you cannot observe it, then you have disqualified your own reasoning to use “only by observation can we demonstrate…”. The philosophy behind the scientific method is taken for granted, it is not of itself falsifiable because it is a preference, a philosophical approach to scientific investigation. Yet, offering such a narrow view of what is true and real by means of the scientific method disqualifies the scientific method itself. Remember this is a battle in the arena of the intangibles; the atheist no matter how much he wants to confine himself to the observable world cannot interpret it from the observed data alone. 

Defeaters like that one which are built into Dr. Stengers primer will lead the atheist debater into instant defeat. Using logic to undermine the use of logic and unwittingly nullify the use of the scientific method lets all the cats out of the cat-bag never to be gathered again. Placing this argument at the head of the debate only to be ‘pinned’ by the Christian apologist later shows clearly that logic used illogically powerfully impresses the audience that you are unable to defend your views. The potential conclusion may be…the atheist is wrong.

Science and religion are compatible as evidenced by the fact that many scientists are believers.

Dr. Stengers commentary here is essentially low-brow. It confines itself to ad hominem attacks on Christianity without producing one shred of evidence for his claims. The ad populum fallacy shows it head here proving nothing. 7% of scientists that are members of National Academy of Sciences are theists with no citation made. Afterwards the following ad hominem compartmentalization tripe. None of this adds anything to atheism, nor does it subtract anything from Christianity. Science and Religion are incompatible because of epistemic sources? There is no Christian looking for an aspirin recipe in the bible, nor is any Christian asking the scientific community to produce faith in a test tube. God is the creator, He has both faith and chemistry available in this world and the Christian can avail himself of both. This dichotomy is insisted upon because the New Atheist regime wants to perpetuate Christianity as rejecting logic and science because it is incompatible with the claim they make that Christianity is blind faith. But, again this is where the atheist debater will encounter much difficulty. The Christian faith is built upon the empirical evidence of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. The miracles of God, healings and the prophetic coming to pass are all part of verifiable historical event. Unfortunately the atheist is resistant to look into these things unless of course it is only to cast endless skepticism upon those events.

Science was the result of Christianity, which introduced the use of rational thinking. Galileo, Newton, and other early scientists were Christians.

 The Dark ages, denoting that time from about the end of the 4 century to the 13th century had a great deal of troubles. The Visigoths pulling down the old establishments, the scriptures being tucked away from humanity in monasteries and the increasing power of the Roman Catholic church and its superstitions all tended towards dampening the human spirit. Instead of progress, lawlessness, instead of freedom, feudalism, instead of Christianity taking humanity forward, biblical Christianity was persecuted by the religious intolerance of popes and killed by Muslim raiders. The Islamic effect upon Europe cannot be mistaken as adding light to humanity, instead it made for more religious bondage. The departure from scripture added the spiritual darkness to a world embroiled in wars and power struggles. The superstition and ritual of the times darkened men’s hearts. Biblical Christianity did nothing to aid in darkening those days, men departing from the truth did that himself. The Dark Ages or the Medieval times were called so by those who thought their own century was more enlightened than previous. To others it was simply the lack of historical documents revealing this period in human history.

Science and religion were never at odds with each other. The Christian views science as a way of learning about the world that God had made. There was not a conflict of scientific investigation and religious devotion. What was discovered did shock the superstitious and called into question the ritualistic devotion. The Roman Catholics in power didn’t want its power base shaken with new ‘ideas’ that drew into question their authority on matters that were purely contrived for the sake of enslaving people to the priests. It was good that God brought in the janitors to sweep away such enslavement. The Humanism of the pre-enlightenment period were not atheists, Voltaire would have been more of a deist and Petrarch one of the first humanists sought for God that resembled more of a return to biblical Christianity. The atheist mindset had not invaded science to the ejection of God, it wasn’t until the later French and German philosophers in decrying the errors of the Roman Catholic Church demanded and pushed for separation from religious enslavement.

It was precisely because Christianity is not antithetical to science that Christianity birthed scientific endeavor. Galileo broke away from the old Greek Aristotelian-ism that still held the Scholastics. Dr. Stenger wants to put science into Aristotle’s lap, but Galileo moved it out and placed it in his own as time would prove. It is an important note for every Christian Apologist, atheism is entrenched itself in a stationary tower. It does not recognize that Christianity is a moving target. Christianity moves along, it receives scientific knowledge, it gains by cultural understandings, it flows under various governments without demanding the government to be toppled. The atheist even now attempts to lock Christianity in the dungeon of ancient political-religious governments or ancient mindsets that belong to centuries past. What the atheist shoots at can only be said to be ‘where the Church was’. It gains favor from the angry atheists by continuing to decry religious oppression, yet cannot find a modern Christian oppressing anyone. This same thinking flows over into the division between science and religion, whereby the atheist harps upon religion stifling scientific endeavor when in fact no such hindrance occurs from Christianity. Abundant cases can be made for secular powers oppressing the Christian and stifling his rights and privileges.

Galileo was not a Catholic on pains of burning, he was one voluntarily. One would think that Dr. Stenger has been reading too many atheist blogs that label any ancient scientist with a religious preference a slave to it on pains of death. History tells us Galileo was threatened for his Heliocentric views because they upset the powerful Roman Church. I would love to see the source for Galileo’s idea that observation rules over revelation. A devout Catholic would hardly have made such a short statement like that without explanation. Context means everything.

The obvious presence of design and complexity in the world, especially in life, proves there was a designer.

Dr Stenger obviously adhering to the theory of Evolution believes intelligent design is an ancient belief, Darwinism replacing such thinking. But, the difficulty arises when the scientist is asked to prove the simple has actually created the complex. In short added more DNA information to its simple structure. This is a monumental problem for all evolutionist because no scientist has been able to show anything but loss of DNA information and what mutation does occur does not create new species. The hype behind evolution is macro evolution gave us complex organisms. The only proof behind it is micro-evolution gives us species mutations and nothing more. The idea of a common ancestor is one of blind faith as no scientist can connect the DNA backwards toward a proof of evolving pre-species. A great deal of talk is generated about this issue, but when it comes to hard data, the jury is out and remains out. As such Dr. Stenger mounts no argument that undermines the design theory. T.O.E is tantamount to belief in a flat earth, only those in academic power attempt to hold to this theory while it has no basis in fact.

Snowflake formation hardly validates species mutation into another species. The idea is to extrapolate “we found a plastic laser gun in the back yard” therefore the inductive reasoning follows “there must be a Starship Enterprise out there some where”. This is a classic Darwin-of -the-gaps answer. A great deal of books are written on the subject of Evolution, each one extrapolating from some mutation, some gene potentials, some chemical capabilities; these speculations conclude that our current genetic make-up is the basis for what we have evolved-into. Yet, its not the observations or the experiments that demand T.O.E as the proper interpretation, unfortunately it appears from instances of resistance to Design theory that its the scientist himself that demands to see what it wants

Many Christians believe in evolution

Dr. Stenger believes that theistic evolution and Intelligent Design are one and the same. They are not the same. It would behoove Dr. Stenger to read up on Intelligent Design. William Dembski has written a book called Intelligent Design The Bridge Between Science and Theology. Published by Intervarsity Press, Downers grove. In the book he makes no claim at pointing people towards a Judeo-Christian God, what he does do is show the reasonableness of the claim that complexity in various animals or man has the ear-marks of an intelligent designer. He also goes on to show that there is genuine scientific methods to be used in verifying designer ear-marks.

I will give Dr. Stenger credit there are very few Christian theistic-evolutionists. Dr.Stenger again demanding science eject God as though science cannot be science if God is believed. I wont read much into this non-sequitor other than its a bias of his own not scientific in the least.

Science still has not shown how life began.

Dr. Stenger rejects the idea that God was necessary to bring life from non-life. He remarks that the basic ingredients of life are copious in space. He then references the Miller-Urey experiment in 1953. If you are an atheist debater and want to die a sudden death in a Christian vs atheist debate follow Dr. Stengers coaching here. Allow me to quote Lance Ponder in an article Creative Science 25 Life from Non-Life

In his last paragraph he mentions the Miller Urey experiment and it goes as follows. 

Odds have not stopped hopeful evolutionists in their daunting task to demonstrate how life might have arose from non-life. The principles of abiogenesis were most famously put to the test in the 1953 experiment was performed by Stanley Miller with the help of Harold Urey. They reproduced an artificial atmosphere to simulate what they thought might be early earth conditions. They then added the necessary soup components into that atmosphere, then applied electricity. The result was the spontaneous organization of organic molecules. The initial results were hailed as a huge step forward in human understanding of origins. Only later did the various problems with the experiment come to light. First, the simulated atmosphere, made up primarily of methane and ammonia, is universally rejected as impossible as an early Earth atmosphere. Very high electric charges had to be used to cause formation of the organic (carbon-based) molecules. The molecules generated were actually cyanide and formaldehyde, both of which are lethal to living cells. Although the Miller-Urey experiments have now been discredited and generally disavowed even by Evolutionists, the basic idea still lingers. Some text books in use today still provide a false impression that these experiments effectively demonstrated how life arose. Thus far every successful attempt to organize atoms, molecules, chemicals of any other level of complexity has involved the careful and purposeful implementation of an intelligent design under tightly controlled conditions not found in nature. It seems, then, that for man to create he must play at God, imitating Him with purpose, design, and very careful hands.

http://blogs.bible.org/impact/lance_ponder/creative_science_25_-_life_from_non-life

The very thing the Evolutionist use to dismiss God’s creative handiwork is an example of Intelligent Design itself. Yet at the heart of the experiment was the creation of chemicals that kill living cells. The big bang proved the universe had a beginning. Everything that begins has a cause. Therefore the universe had a cause, which was God (Kalām cosmological argument).

To Dr. Stenger its important to say “no laws of physics were necessarily broken to produce the universe”. That is to say roughly “I have blind faith that the explanation for the Beginning of the Universe can be explained by natural causes”. Then another use of faith in Quantum Mechanics to fill the gaps of knowledge for the Big Bang. Instead of addressing the Kalam Cosmological argument itself it was easier to skip to the faith he has in future scientific explanation from a naturalistic point of view.

The universe began with a singularity that marked the beginning of time.

Dr. Stenger now pulls back from the ‘singularity’ explanation to more fantastic ones. I said earlier that Dr. Stenger would fall upon Blind faith to resolve his difficulties arising from these statements. Here is one that highlights such a blind faith. He answers that the creator for the Singularity theory Stephen Hawking, abandoned it about 10 years ago. For him Modern Cosmology has turned to the science-fiction namely Multiverse theory. He says our universe is just one of endless universes that are infinite and eternal…therefore no need for a creator. Its does beg the question…”How does Dr. Stenger know this”?

I can’t help but wonder why the good Dr. has abandoned his own philosophy?

Dr Stenger said; “Only by observation can we demonstrate whether the premises accurately describe or reflect the real world.”

Since we have no way of knowing of another universe yet and have not yet found one, it can only be a blind faith, a belief without good evidence to support that belief. But that does not stop him from offering this to the atheist debater as ‘proof’ of an eternal universe, therefore no big bang and no Creator God needed. The multiverse theory is science fiction, abstractions done to create ‘possibilities’ in order to speculate the outcome of our own universe and the particulars of events. If we will permit multiverses as a reasonable cause for our own universe, then God is no stretch of the imagination by any means.

We cannot detect universes beyond our own. Therefore they are not science

Dr Stenger answers that science deals with theory all the time, its a part of how science proceeds to learn. Fair enough, but just what constitutes a “border” of our universe and one of the other multiverses? How does Dr. Stenger know the cosmic microwave has found its way to us from another universe and it does not belong to our own universe? This line of argumentation takes us into more and more speculation without the slightest evidence for any line of reasoning. In short, those with faith in multiverses existing offer far less than the Christian does. For the Christian claims the God he knows enters our universe and our world and directly effects it by his power and will. This is verifiable, the multiverse sets with the mythologies of ancient beings and for all we know has flat earths.

Where did the mass and energy of the universe come from?

These questions only take Dr. Stenger farther down the path of blind faith and speculation. Now Quantum tunneling is funneling in mass and energy by an earlier universe. Again, this ranks right up there with science fiction. Now, there is nothing wrong with speculation, but its anecdotal and offers us only mental abstractions. Again Ocham’s razor should be slicing off more and more of Dr. Stengers elaborate claims. At this juncture the Christian Apologist need do nothing. The atheist debater has no substantive answers unless your a sci-fi fan and these answers appeal to your imagination.

How can something come from nothing?

Dr. Stenger decides here to revert to Aristotle and claim the eternal universe idea. Its not original but its been scientifically faulted and even Dr. Hawking hasn’t nailed it down yet. Remember, when you have no substantive explanation from science, its not an improvement to jump to science fiction. Its desperation. The Christian Apologist need only remind his listeners that science fiction does not qualify as substantive argument; Dr. Stenger has done nothing to undermine the Christians claims at this point. The reality we all live in tells us “nothing” cannot produce “something”. Its a mental impossibility to conceive of it. We may imagine it, but we cannot reason it from anything in our world.

This will end Part one of this Christian response to Victor Stenger.

Post Modernism and Epistemic ignorance

I was reading the responses to a woman who wrote an article on post-modern relativism. The idea behind its “true for you but not for me” is itself a self defeating argument and is symptomatic of erroneous thinking by folks who hold that view. Now, its really just a conversation-ender so no uncomfortable awkwardness arises from disagreement. But for those who want to wrangle about the issue it tends to point at the moral argument for God. But, as some would have it, their claim that no moral absolutes exist are defended vehemently and they argue for that position. Whats really interesting is that to argue for one position or the other demands a right and wrong, a right and wrong logic or conclusion. In short, for the relativist to make his case he must use the absolutists tools to make the case. If it were true that the world ran on relativism, one would not need to argue to begin with because right or wrong would never arise as a necessity to coherent thinking and doing. This is where relativism is betrayed by his adherents. They argue for non-absolutes with an unsaid absolute paradigm that there are no absolutes. confusing?

The question arises; why defend a position that is intrinsically relative? Because to be right and logical is a characteristic of good reasoning which demands absolutes. So, how does this correlate to moral absolutes? Simple; right and wrong, good and evil exist because they are not mental constructs; nor are they ethical conclusions based on consensus. Murder, theft, lying, adultery, coveting are always wrong and they eventually emerge in every known culture. Even if the ethics of the Nazis held to the murder of Jews, the rest of the world recognized that such murder is reprehensible and immoral. Lying, the willful deception committed by one person to deceive another is always wrong where there is harm to another. Im discounting magic tricks Therefore contracts are made to stipulate conditions so that the chances of deception or mistakes are minimized. These are recognized the world over and have been recognized since the beginning of mans existence.

The question arises; where did these morals originate? The scriptures claim that God created them. He created them in two forms, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the revelation of Gods word to his chosen people. The first deals with mans knowledge of good and evil as he acts in a rebellious autonomy alienated from God by wicked works and evil thoughts. The second by specific truths revealed by God on who God is, what man is, and how man may serve both God and man acceptably. No matter which direction man may go, he cannot escape the origination of good or evil as defined by God.

Nature or materialism cannot supply ethics or morals for the thinking man. Materialism has no way of producing the dilemma of “should I lie or should I not?” It cannot provide even the hint of a concept of “who is the true God”? Nor can it provide the slightest insight into logic or mathematics. There are no abstractions contained within a materialist world. Man is forced to take for an absolute that the transcendent exists, that other beings exist outside of himself whether he agreeably acknowledges them or not. It is because of this epistimological mountain the Atheist and Skeptic must remain in the valley of irrationality. They must deny what everyone else knows and need not prove. Because of that, denial of moral absolutes requires suppressing what is understood among all men and claiming that morality is just a human construct incapable of extending beyond the consensus of like minded individuals.

The history of the world has shown situational-morality to be a monstrous lie and the avenue to genocides, murders and national catastrophe. Immorality may have its day in the sun, but its remembrance is held in infamy.

via Marvin Torgeson – I was reading the responses to a woman who wrote….

William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists

Wikipedia/Comethair

7362-william-lane-craigWilliam Lane Craig

I am a huge fan of William Lane Craig, I too agree with Jonathan’s evaluation of his apologetic prowess and his immense capability to debate and show the strength of the Christian position for faith and belief in God. I also believe Dr. Craig has missed it when it comes to Genesis. I offer this article written by Jonathan Sarfati as a rebuttal, not only to Dr. Craig’s views but to Old Earth Creationism in general.

by 

Published: 17 September 2013 (GMT+10)

William Lane Craig (1949– ) is a well-known Christian apologist, with earned doctorates in both philosophy and New Testament studies. He has written over 30 books, and is a very skilled debater, with one atheist admitting:

As far as I can tell, he has won nearly all his debates with atheists. … I’m not the only one who thinks Craig has won nearly all his debates. For some atheists, it is rather maddening. … Craig is a skilled debater, an encyclopedia of facts and quotes, and a careful rhetorician. If you make a logical mistake, Craig knows exactly how to skewer you for it (and for this, I respect him). … This is especially embarrassing for atheists because Craig’s arguments and debates are easily available, and he uses the same arguments all the time. So it should be easy for atheists to prepare for a debate with Craig.1

Much of his material is very useful, and I’ve cited his work plenty of times, e.g. in:

However, the big bang has long been a part of his argument for a beginning. But this is fraught with biblical and scientific problems (see The mind of God and the ‘big bang’). Indeed, many secular cosmologists are abandoning the big bang because of all the fudge factors needed to prop it up. So what will happen to a large part of Craig’s apologetic armoury? (See Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics?)

Thus it is no surprise that he endorses the error-prone big-bang-adoring progressive creationist Hugh Ross as “evangelicalism’s most important scientific apologist. … I enthusiastically support his work.” However, this was in an article where Craig sharply criticizes Ross for his heterodox view of the Triune Godhead and Christ as both fully human and fully God, arguing that Ross borders on the kenotic heresy (see The Kenotic Heresy and Genesis compromise).2

Hostility to biblical timescale

For much of his long apologetics career, his aversion to the biblical timescale has merely been implicit—logically entailed by his embrace of long-age ideas. However, more recently Craig has taken to explicit attacks on ‘young-earth creationists’. In an interview, he said:

… 50% of evangelical pastors think that the world is less than 10,000 years old. … that is just hugely embarrassing.—William Lane Craig

Yes, I’ve seen a comparable statistic that says that over 50% of evangelical pastors think that the world is less than 10,000 years old. Now when you think about that, Kevin, that is just hugely embarrassing. That over half of our ministers really believe that the universe is only around 10,000 years old. This is just scientifically, it’s nonsense, and yet this is the view that the majority of our pastors hold. It’s really quite shocking when you think about it.3,4

Craig’s view necessarily entails that animal death, suffering, and carnivory existed long before Adam’s sin, and he has defended this view explicitly.5 Dr Catchpoole wrote a fine overview on this issue, showing Craig’s fallacy (‘Billions of years’ makes Christians dumb (and atheists loud): A brilliant way to muzzle Christians: Get them to believe in long ages), so I won’t dwell on this here.

Craig vs creation days

Craig recently gave a series of talks where he attacked the biblical creationist view on the days of Genesis 1.6 In this article’s title, I indicated that this attack was “intellectually dishonest”, and I will explain that now. Any honest attack on a particular view should address the strongest claims for this view, which in turn demands that the critic should address the leading works defending this view. However, it becomes abundantly clear that Craig lacks the slightest familiarity with the leading creationist works on the issue (see recommended material, top right, for those from CMI). This is especially glaring when he attributes to young earth creationists a view that neither I nor anyone else in CMI has ever defended, and don’t know of any YEC who has; rather, this is a common view among old-earth compromisers! This will be demonstrated in the responses to his main points below:

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WLC: Now similarly, so-called Young Earth Creationism takes the aim of Genesis 1 to communicate scientific information about creation.

JS: More accurately, we regard it as teaching accurate history. E.g. from ‘But Genesis is not a science textbook’:

Actually, Genesis is about history more than science (of course it touches upon, and is highly relevant to, aspects of anthropology, biology, geology, etc.). Normal (operational) science that puts men on the moon and cures diseases is based on repeatable observations in the present. Genesis claims to be an eyewitness account about the past, which can’t be repeated. In particular, Genesis is an account of world history from creation to the beginning of the Messianic people, Israel.

WLC: Young Earth Creationism [takes] take the account to be accurate, not to be obsolete anymore.

JS: Indeed we do. A major reason is that the Hebrew text teaches it, and another important reason is that Jesus, the Apostles, and the New Testament in general takes it this way.

WLC: God created the world in 6 consecutive 24-hour days about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.

JS: For many years now, major creationist organizations have taught that it’s about 6,000 years ago. See Biblical chronogenealogies (2003) and How does the Bible teach 6,000 years? (and response to questions about this article).

WLC: This interpretation takes the text in a prima facie way, that is to say, at face value. It takes the text literally in what it says, or at least as far as they can.

JS: As we have explained before:

We would usually call this hermeneutic “plain”, “historical-grammatical” or “originalist” rather than “literal”, i.e. what the text meant (and conveyed) to the original readers.33 This means there is an objectively right way to interpret this.

However, Craig’s comment could be defensible if we can take the wider sense of the word ‘literal’. Medieval and patristic interpreters used the term ‘literal’ to mean the grammatical-historical meaning, which could include a figurative meaning if that’s what the text taught. Thus to them, the ‘literal’ meaning of the ‘the windows of the heavens were opened’ (Genesis 7:11) would include its metaphorical usage for a massive rainfall. Rather, the ‘literal’ meaning was contrasted with a spiritualized or mystical meaning not grounded in the text.7,8 One example is allegorizing the Song of Solomon as referring primarily to Christ and the Church, whereas the text itself is romantic love poetry between Solomon and Shulamit (the Hebrew feminine form of Solomon, i.e. Mrs Solomon).9 Another example comes from the great Reformer and Bible translator William Tyndale (1494–1536):

Thou shalt understand, therefore, that the scripture hath but one sense, which is but the literal sense. And that literal sense is the root and ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth, whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err or go out of the way. And if thou leave the literal sense, thou canst not but go out of the way. Nevertheless, the scripture uses proverbs, similitudes, riddles, or allegories, as all other speeches do; but that which the proverb, similitude, riddle or allegory signifieth, is ever the literal sense, which thou must seek out diligently.10

But now, ‘literal’ often means ‘woodenly literalistic’, denying any figurative language even when the text teaches it.

WLC: Even Young Earth Creationists are not totally literalists. For example, some aspects of the narrative are not taken literally, such as the creation of the sun on the fourth day in Genesis 1.

JS: Actually, we do indeed take the creation of the sun on the fourth day literally. It shouldn’t have been too hard to verify this, e.g. How could the days of Genesis 1 be literal if the Sun wasn’t created until the fourth day?

Very typically, Young Earthers will not embrace the view that there was plant life and life on earth prior to God’s creation of the sun. Rather, the creation of the sun on the fourth day is interpreted to mean something like the sun appeared on that day. That it came out from behind the thick cloud canopy that had been enveloping the earth.

Since Craig asserts that this is ‘very typically’ the view of YECs, he should have had no trouble in producing one example of this. But this is most definitely not a typical YEC view. It is in fact the view of Hugh Ross—the one he commended as “evangelicalism’s most important scientific apologist”, remember? Ross argues that the planets including the earth started with opaque atmospheres, that dissipated only on the fourth ‘day’ (age), allowing the luminaries to become visible from the earth’s surface.11 Thus Craig should have been aware that this view was held by one on his own side.

However, in my book Refuting Compromise (RC), I answered this view. If Craig had performed even the most minimal research, he would have known that this view was one we reject:

This is not only fanciful science but bad exegesis of Hebrew. The word ‘asah means ‘make’ throughout Genesis 1, and is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘create’ (bara’)—e.g. in Genesis 1:26–27. It is pure desperation to apply a different meaning to the same word in the same grammatical construction in the same passage, just to fit in with atheistic evolutionary ideas like the big bang. If God hadmeant ‘appeared’, then He presumably would have used the Hebrew word for appear (ra’ah), as He did when He said that the dry land ‘appeared’ as the waters gathered in one place on Day 3 (Genesis 1:9).

Craig gets the next thing right:

WLC: Clearly, Genesis 1–3 are intended to be historical at some level. For example, Adam and Eve are presented as the first human couple, the origins of the human race. They are treated as historical individuals who actually lived. They’re not just symbols of mankind. They’re actual people who are connected to other people in Genesis like Abraham and his descendants by genealogies that linked Adam and Eve to indisputable historical persons. It’s clear that Adam and Eve are not just symbolic figures in this narrative. The author does think of them as real historical persons who have descendants that eventually lead to Abraham and the people of Israel.

Many compromisers, including Craig, exhibit a curious blind spot in this area: human death before the fall. That is, according to dating methods accepted by long-agers, there are undoubted human fossils ‘older’ than any possible date for Adam.

JS: However, many compromisers, including Craig as well as John Lennox for example (also addressed in the Catchpoole article), exhibit a curious blind spot in this area: human death before the fall. That is, according to dating methods accepted by long-agers, there are undoubted human fossils ‘older’ than any possible date for Adam. For example, Homo sapiens fossils with evidence of intelligent cultural activity12,13 have been ‘dated’ at 160,000 years old.14 Also, two partial skulls of Homo sapiens unearthed in 1967 near the Omo River in south-western Ethiopia have been radiometrically re-dated to about 195,000 years old.15,16 This is a real problem to reconcile with biblical chronology, because the text of the chronogenealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 doesn’t allow for gaps (see Biblical chronogenealogies).

But suppose for the moment that we allow gaps, how many missing generations would be needed? To stretch Adam back from about 4,000 BC to 193,000 BC would mean adding 189,000 years to the biblical timeline. Even if we allow the long generation times in Genesis 5, with an average age of fatherhood of 156 years, this would require over 1,200 missing generations.

One must wonder how a genealogy could miss out all these without any trace. And since many of the names that are mentioned include no trace of any deeds or sayings by them, why would the writer bother to mention these when so many others had been omitted?

In fact, there are huge numbers of human fossils ‘dated’—by methods that Lennox and Craig implicitly must accept—long before any biblical date of Adam. And many of these humans are victims of sinful violence such as murder and cannibalism, and many others had diseases.17Once again, they must have died after the Fall, which should undermine trust in any ‘dating’ system that places them before about 4,000 BC. But this would undermine Craig’s whole case for millions of years.

Craig goes downhill from here from the previous section:

WLC: On the other hand, the Genesis narrative is also undoubtedly, I think, meant to be symbolic and metaphorical in certain respects. For example, the name Adam in Hebrew just means man. In the beginning, God created man. And Eve means the mother of all living.

JS: This is not too bad yet. In Genesis 1:26–28, God says, “Let us make man”. ‘Man’ is here the Hebrew word ‘ādām אדם, and here means ‘mankind’. The next verse makes it clear that both sexes are included here. Of course, most English readers are far more familiar with the same word as the proper name for the first man: Adam. But there are also many places where Adam is clearly treated as an individual, not as a metaphor for humanity. For example, Adam had relations with his wife (Genesis 4:1), fathered three named sons and other sons and daughters, and lived for 930 years (Genesis 5). In the New Testament, Paul states that Adam is “the first man” in contrast to Christ, “the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).18 In Romans 5, Paul contrasts two heads of humanity: Adam and Christ.”19

However, it should not be surprising that the individual first man Adam had the name he did. What could be a better name for the progenitor of all humanity than one signifying just that? The ESV rightly translates the Hebrew word without the definite article as the name Adam, while when it refers to a single person with the article, it’s ‘the man’.

WLC: Adam and Eve are not just historical individuals like Janice and Jim. This is man and the mother of all living human beings. They represent humanity before God. They are symbolic, I think, and metaphorical for humanity.

JS: In one sense, Adam did represent humanity—but he did so as an individual man. This latter must not be undermined.

Gustave Doré, 1866.

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WLC: In the creation story, as it continues in Genesis 2, we have clearly metaphorical or perhaps anthropomorphic descriptions of God. God is depicted in human terms. For example, God is depicted as walking in the garden and looking for Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are hiding from God and God calls out, “Where are you?” He’s looking for them in the garden.

JS: Is this a problem? This is not the only theophany, or visible manifestation of God, in the Bible. John Milton’s famous epic poem Paradise Lost depicts this as the pre-incarnate Christ. Before sin, Adam and Eve enjoyed a fellowship with God that they lost with sin. The same applies to their descendants, who won’t enjoy such a level of fellowship with God until the New Heaven and New Earth (for the descendants redeemed in Christ, “the last Adam”).

WLC: Or, again, when God creates man, it says that he fashions him out of the dust of the earth and breathes into his nostrils the breath of life. Clearly, this isn’t intended to mean that God literally bent down and performed CPR on Adam through his nose. Rather, this is using literary and metaphorical devices for describing his creation of humanity.

JS: This account is still a historical account: God first made Adam from non-living substance. Only after God breathed on him did he become alive. H.C. Leupold’s famous commentary on Genesis says:

The verb employed here accords more with the “Yahweh” character of God; yatsarmeans to ‘mold’ or ‘form’. It is the word that specifically describes the activity of the potter (Je 18:2 ff). The idea to be emphasized is that with the particular care and personal attention that a potter gives to his task God gives tokens of His interest in man, His creature, by molding him as He does. No crude material notions of God need to be associated with this verb. Let them misunderstand who insist that they must! Nor can it justly be claimed that an author who previously spoke of this work as a ‘creating’ and ‘making’ must be so limited and circumscribed in point of style as to be utterly unable to describe such a work of the Almighty from any other point of view and say He ‘formed’. Such an author must have an exceedingly cramped and wooden style. …

But more, a far more prominent distinguishing mark characterizes man’s creation: God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” A personal, vitalizing act of the Creator imparts life to man—an honour bestowed upon none of the lesser creatures. This breathing on God’s part must, as Keil rightly reminds us, be understood θεοπρεπώς [theoprepōs], i.e. in a manner befitting God. Nor can we for a moment hold that air or human breath was what God breathed into man’s nostrils. It was His own vital breath. …. Much as we may be inclined to claim that the distinctive element in man’s creation is the “breath of life” breathed into his nostrils, this is a supposition that cannot be maintained. For the expression involved, nishmath chayyîm, is practically the same as that used in 7:22 with reference to all life that perished in the flood, the only exception being that the phrase is altered to “the breath of the spirit of life” (nishmath rûch chayyîm). Not this breath itself but the manner of its impartation indicates man’s dignity.20

This is yet another huge problem for any attempt to reconcile molecules-to-man evolution with Scripture. Theistic evolution teaches that man evolved from living creatures. But in Genesis, man was made from non-living matter, with no suggestion that the ‘dust’ is intended as a metaphor for something living. Nonetheless, a common theistic evolutionary dodge is to regard ‘dust’ as a metaphor for the ape-like ancestors from which man allegedly evolved. But consider Genesis 3:19, where God judged Adam:

If the theistic evolutionists were right, then it logically follows that upon death we should become an ape-like ancestor. This is a reductio ad absurdumof the theistic evolutionary dodge. It shows once again that ‘solving’ one problem with eisegetical pretzelizing of the text creates far more problems than it ‘solves’.

… till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

If the theistic evolutionists were right, then it logically follows that upon death we should become an ape-like ancestor. This is a reductio ad absurdum of the theistic evolutionary dodge. It shows once again that ‘solving’ one problem with eisegetical pretzelizing of the text creates far more problems than it ‘solves’.

Also, Eve was formed from Adam’s rib, again not from ape-like creatures. That is why she could be the “mother of all living”—all the rest of humanity are descended from Eve, who was herself a sort of descendant of Adam. So Paul could explain to the Athenians that all humanity comes from one man (Acts 17:26).

WLC: In fact, the whole narrative in Genesis 1 is an incredibly carefully crafted piece of Hebrew literature. It really is unique. There is nothing like this in Hebrew literature elsewhere. Scholars generally agreed that it is not poetry. It’s not a Hebrew poem, nor is it a hymn exactly. Though, it seems to have strophe or verses. But it’s not just straight forward prose either.

This chapter is a highly stylized piece of writing that is constructed with certain parallels running all through it, for example “And God said,” “And God made,” “And it was so.” You find this structure repeated over and over again through the chapter. It is a very carefully stylistically constructed passage that exhibits an enormous amount of literary polish.

JS: Indeed so. Craig is right that it is not poetry. It is a structured Hebrew narrative:

  1. Command: ‘And God said, “Let there be … ‘
  2. Fulfilment: ‘And it was so.’
  3. Assessment: ‘God saw that it was good.’
  4. Closure of the day: ‘There was evening, there was morning, Day X.’

That is, God’s commands were fulfilled and even assessed within each 24-hour day. Attempts to avoid the clear historical time frame of Genesis destroy the connection between God’s commands and the response of His creation to His commands, making Genesis inconsistent with the rest of Scripture, and with His revelation in Christ, the ‘exact representation of God’ (Hebrews 1:3)—see also Why is CMI so dogmatic on 24-hour creation days?

WLC: The fact is that yom exhibits the same sort of latitude that the English word ‘day’ does. It can be used to describe a 24-hour period of time, but it can be used more broadly as well. Like when we say, “In Lincoln’s day, there were no automobiles yet” Obviously there, you are not referring to a 24-hour period. Yom, in Hebrew, exhibits exactly that same sort of latitude.

JS: Of course, we have long said the same thing. See for example our article ‘In my father’s day’: To determine whether ‘day’ means a long period of time, the hours of daylight, or a 24-hour period, you need to look at the context.

WLC: Also, the very phrase that is used in Genesis 1 for the first day, yom ehad or “day one”, is also used elsewhere in scripture in a nonliteral sense.

JS: Actually, this phrase is very strong evidence for literal days in Genesis 1. Andrew Steinmann, Associate Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University, Illinois , explains:

The answer may lie in the use of the terms “night”, “day”, “evening”, and “morning”. Gen 1:5 begins the cycle of the day. With the creation of light it is now possible to have a cycle of light and darkness, which God labels “day” and “night”. Evening is the transition from light/day to darkness/night. Morning is the transition from darkness/night to light/day. Having an evening and a morning amounts to having one full day. Hence the following equation is what Gen 1:5 expresses: Evening + morning = one day.

Therefore, by using a most unusual grammatical construction, Genesis 1 is defining what a day is. This is especially needed in this verse, since “day” is used in two senses in this one verse. Its first appearance means the time during a daily cycle that is illuminated by daylight (as opposed to night). The second used means something different, a time period that encompasses both the time of daylight and the time of darkness.

It would appear as if the text is very carefully crafted so an alert reader cannot read it as ‘the first day’. Instead, by omission of the article it must be read as ‘one day’, thereby defining a day as something akin to a twenty-four hour solar period with light and darkness and transitions between day and night, even though there is no sun until the fourth day.21,22

WLC: For example, this phrase is used in Zechariah 14:7 to refer to the day of the Lord. Zechariah 14:7 refers to the day of the Lord that is to say, God’s judgment upon Israel which is clearly not meant to be just a 24-hour period of time. So the language in Genesis 1 should not be pressed to indicate literal 24-hour days.

JS: Another very weak argument. Kulikovsky explains about Zechariah 14:7:

The ‘day’ in question is surely the same as that mentioned in verses 14, and 6, and it is clear from verse 5 that on ‘that day’ the Lord will come. In other words, it describes a specific time at which a space-time event occurs in the future. How can the coming of the Lord take a long period of time? It is an event: at one moment on that day, He will be absent—in the next moment He will have returned. Therefore the ‘unique day’ in Zechariah 14:7 does indeed refer to a literal 24-hour day.23

WLC: On behalf of those who do interpret it literally, I think one of the best proof texts for interpreting yom as literal in Genesis 1 actually isn’t in the book of Genesis. It’s in the book of Exodus. If you look at Exodus 20:9–11, the author is reflecting back on the Genesis narrative.

He is looking back on this seven day creation week and reflecting on it. In Exodus 20:9–11 he says this:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Here the passage says that in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them. Defenders of the literal interpretation will say that this shows that Genesis 1 is intended to refer to a literal week of six consecutive 24-hour days.

JS: Indeed we do. But Craig tries to explain it away:

WLC: But I think that this interpretation may be pressing the passage in Exodus a little too hard. What the Exodus passage is talking about clearly is the pattern that is set down in Genesis, namely, the pattern of God’s laboring for six days creating the world and then resting on the seventh day.

That pattern is the same that Israel should observe in its literal work week. Israel should work for six literal days and then rest on the seventh day. But that doesn’t mean to say that because the pattern is the same, that therefore, the periods of time or the days described in Genesis 1 are therefore exactly the same length as our ordinary calendar days. Look at how the Sabbath commandment is repeated in Exodus 31: [18:45] 12–17. …

JS: In RC, I wrote:

The clearest of all [evidences for 24-hour Creation days] is the Fourth Commandment, which, in both Exodus 20:8–11 and 31:17, has the causal explanation ‘For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the Earth … but he rested on the seventh day’. The word ‘for’ (Hebrew kî כי, also having the sense ‘because’) at the beginning of this expression is a causal explanation, showing that the Creation Week is the very basis of the working week. In these passages, it’s explicit that the Creation Days were the same as those of the human work week. There is no point even trying to understand the Bible if a word in the same passage and same grammatical context can switch meanings, without any hint in the text itself.

Craig continues with his eisegetical pretzelizing:

WLC: Notice that in this passage, it refers to the seventh day as the day of God’s Sabbath rest. It says, “On the seventh day, God ceased from labor and was refreshed by this day.” But when you read Genesis 1, the seventh day is clearly not a 24-hour period of time. It, unlike the other days, does not come to an end with evening and morning.

So “the seventh day is clearly not a 24-hour period of time”—not even something tentative such as “might not be”, mind you. This would have been news to most of the Church Fathers, medieval theologians, and Reformers. For example, the leading theologian and apologist of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274):

The words ‘one day’ are used when day is first instituted, to denote that one day is made up of twenty-four hours.—Thomas Aquinas

The words ‘one day’ are used when day is first instituted, to denote that one day is made up of twenty-four hours. Hence, by mentioning ‘one’, the measure of a natural day is fixed. Another reason may be to signify that a day is completed by the return of the sun to the point from which it commenced its course. And yet another, because at the completion of a week of seven days, the first day returns which is one with the eighth day. The three reasons assigned above are those given by Basil (Hom. 2[8] in Hexaem).24

More recently, Steinmann pointed out:

Likewise, the seventh day is referred to as הַשְּׁבִיעִי [hashəvî’î] (Gen 2:3), with lack of an article on יום[yôm]. This, also, the author is implying, was a regular solar day. Yet it was a special day, because God had finished his work of creation.25

Also, systematic theologian Dr Doug Kelly responded to this sort of argument as follows—and since this is a favourite of Craig’s hero Hugh Ross, I cited this in RC:

To say the least, this places a great deal of theological weight on a very narrow and thin exegetical bridge! Is it not more concordant with the patent sense of the context of Genesis 2 (and Exodus 20) to infer that because the Sabbath differed in quality (though not—from anything we can learn out of the text itself—in quantity), a slightly different concluding formula was appended to indicate a qualitative difference (six days involved work; one day involved rest)? The formula employed to show the termination of that first sabbath: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made” (Gen. 2:2) seems just as definite as that of “and the evening and the morning were the first day.”26

WLC: God is still in the day of his Sabbath rest. God is still in the period of no longer being active in creating new things.

JS: As I pointed out in RC:

If someone says on Monday that he rested on Saturday and is still resting, it in no way implies that Saturday lasted until Monday.27

WLC: If the seventh day, though it is referred to as a day and is the model for Israel’s literal Sabbath day, isn’t to be taken literally as we know, then why should the other days also be taken literally as 24-hour periods of time?

JS: Surely, if Craig is using the absence of evening and morning as proof that the 7th day is not 24-hours, then we have an answer to his question: that the other days do end with evening and morning!

WLC: Sometimes those who defend the literal interpretation of six consecutive 24-hour days will point out that when an ordinal number is used with the word yom as in second day, third day, and fourth day, then it always refers to a literal 24-hour day. When you use an ordinal number like second, third, fourth, fifth with yom, then it’s always referring to a literal 24-hour day. … They will say that the use of the ordinal number with yom indicates that it’s a 24-hour period of time. However, I don’t find this to be a convincing argument at all.

First of all, there is no grammatical rule in Hebrew that says that yom followed by an ordinal number has to refer to a 24-hour period of time. Even if it were the case that nowhere else in Hebrew literature that we have extant do we find yom followed by an ordinal number not referring to a 24-hour day, that could just be an accident of the Hebrew literature that happens to have survived.

JS: Of course, we could get into the debate about whether grammatical rules are prescriptive, as Craig evidently believes, or descriptive—describing the way the language is used. Indeed, it is true that day with a numeric does mean an ordinary day in Hebrew. See for example the carefully documented study The days of Creation: A semantic approach.

Also, Craig’s excuse is really special pleading. In RC, I responded to a similar claim:

Long-agers Bradley and Olsen claim that all exegetical bets such as the number/day connection are off, because Creation is the oneexception to the rule:

There is no other place in the Old Testament where the intent is to describe events that involve multiple and/or sequential, indefinite periods of time. If the intent of Genesis 1 is to describe creation as occurring in six, indefinite time periods, it is a unique Old Testament event being recorded. Other descriptions where yôm refers to an indefinite time period are all for a single time period. Thus, the absence of the use of yamîm for other than regular days and the use of ordinals only before regular days elsewhere in the Old Testament cannot be given an unequivocal exegetical significance in view of the uniqueness of the events being described in Genesis 1 (i.e, sequential, indefinite time periods).28

This is classic question-begging—they assume that the authors’ intent was to describe sequential indefinite periods of time, yet this is what needs to be demonstrated. And claims of exceptions require exceptionally strong reasoning! Secondly, as we have pointed out, we are perfectly aware that there are some occasions where yôm can mean an indefinite period of time. This is so only when it is modified by a preposition such as be (e.g. as we have shown with Genesis 2:4 [see below]). However, none of the instances in Genesis 1 are modified in this way.

WLC: Secondly, in any case, the claim is simply false. It is false. We do have passages where yom is used with an ordinal number to refer to a non-literal day. One such passage would be Hosea 6:2. In Hosea 6:2, it says, “He will revive us after two days. He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before him.” Here the days are not meant to be 24-hour periods of time. It is talking about God’s judgment upon Israel. He’s rent Israel. He has judged Israel. But on the third day, he will raise us up.

The third day is symbolic of the day of God’s deliverance and healing and restoration of Israel after it’s having been wounded and rent by the Lord’s judgment. It’s simply false that yom used with an ordinal number always refers to a 24-hour period of time. InHosea 6:2, it is clearly not referring to a literal 24-hour period of time.

JS: From RC, yet again:

The old-Earth creationist Alan Hayward, whom Ross praises for ‘sound theology’ despite being a unitarian,29 so denying the Deity of Christ as is clearly taught in the New Testament (e.g. John 1:1–145:18Titus 2:13), claimed that this passage “is at least one exception that shatters the so-called rule.”30 Not surprisingly, Ross accepts and repeats this argument (C&T:47).

However, this verse is set in a very specific sort of poetic synonymous parallelism. It is a common Semitic device, which takes the form X//X+1, i.e. one number followed by the next one, but where the numbers are not meant to be taken literally because they refer to the same thing in different ways.31 Other OT examples that illustrate the synonymity are:

Job 5:19: ‘From six calamities he will rescue you, from seven no harm will befall you.’

Prov. 6:16: ‘There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:’

Prov. 30:15: ‘There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, “Enough!”

Prov. 30:18: ‘There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand.’

Amos 1:3: ‘This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath…”

Hosea 6:2 is likewise this specific Semitic figure of speech, so must be interpreted accordingly. So the use of ‘two days’ and ‘three days’ are not intended to give literal numbers, but to communicate that the restoration of Israel mentioned in the previous verse will happen quickly and surely. This applies regardless of eschatological views about when this takes place.

Therefore, these instances must refer to normal days, or maybe even shorter periods, as opposed to long periods, otherwise the device would lose its meaning, i.e. the restoration would not be quick and sure if the days were long periods of time.

So Hayward and Ross are wrong to use this verse with a special grammatical structure to try to overturn the hundreds of crystal-clear examples of yôm used with a number.

WLC [in the following week’s lecture]: We saw in particular that it would be unwarranted to think that the word yom or day has to refer to a literal day. For example, in Genesis Chapter two and verse four, you have the word yom used in a clearly metaphorical way. In Genesis two-four, it says “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.”

Now in this passage, Genesis two-four, it refers to the entire creation week as the day in which the Lord made the heavens and the earth. Even in the very creation account itself we have the word yom used in a metaphorical sense to describe the entire creation week not just a 24-hour period of time.

In any case, showing that the word yom means a 24-hour day really doesn’t begin to address the question of whether or not a 24-hour day might be used as a metaphor for something else.

JS: Now Craig wrenches a word from one context to twist the same word used in a completely different context. As Hebrew scholar Robert McCabe explains:

In Genesis 2:4 יוֹם yôm is part of what I can call a grammatically bound construction. To communicate my point, I will provide a literal translation of 2:4: “in-the-day-of-making by the Lord God earth and heaven.” The five hyphenated words in this translation comprise this compound grammatical relationship. These five words involve three closely related words in the Hebrew text: an inseparable preposition (“in,” ) immediately attached to “day” (yôm) a construct, singular noun, and an infinitive construct (“making,” ‘āśôt). Elsewhere in the Bible, this compound bə yôm is often a Hebrew idiom for “when”, thus the verse means, “when the Lord God made the earth and heaven.32

Furthermore, as pointed out in RC:

There is also a parallel passage in Numbers 7:10–84. In verses 10 and 84, beyôm is used in relation to the whole 12 days of sacrifice at the dedication of the tabernacle. But in between these at verses 12, 18, 24, etc. we have yôm used with a number to refer to each of the 12 literal days.33

WLC: Even if it were true that the word yom means 24-hour period of time, that doesn’t even begin to address the literary question of whether or not a 24-hour day might not be used as a literary metaphor for something else. I don’t find the arguments on behalf of the literal interpretation compelling. …

JS: But unlike Craig, the vast majority of exegetes have found a literal interpretation compelling—until the rise of uniformitarian geology and capitulation of many conservative Bible commentators to this view. See How has Genesis 1–11 been understood throughout history? and Is Genesis poetry / figurative, a theological argument (polemic) and thus not history?

WLC: I want you to notice something very peculiar when it comes to the third day. If you have your Bible, take a look at Genesis chapter 1, verses 11 and 12. This is one of the most interesting features of this narrative.

Genesis chapter 1, verses 11 and 12 says, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth, bearing fruit after their kind with their seed in them,’ and it was so.” The earth brought forth vegetation and fruit trees, etc., etc.

Notice it doesn’t simply say here, “And God said, ‘Let there be fruit trees and vegetation,’ and it was so,” a sort of miraculous creatio ex nihilo. No. What it says is, let the earth bring forth vegetation, and fruit trees bearing seed after their kind, and bearing fruit after their kind. Then it says the earth brought these things forth.

We all know how long it takes, for example, for an apple tree to grow up from a little shoot, become a sapling, then grow into a big tree and blossom and put forth flowers and then put out apples, finally.

JS: God, the creator of time, is hardly limited by time. A number of the Church Fathers thus believed that God caused instantaneous growth, e.g. Basil the Great (AD 329–379):

“Let the earth bring forth grass.” In a moment earth began by germination to obey the laws of the Creator, completed every stage of growth, and brought germs to perfection. …

At this command every copse was thickly planted; all the trees, fir, cedar, cypress, pine, rose to their greatest height, the shrubs were straightway clothed with thick foliage. The plants called crown-plants, roses, myrtles, laurels, did not exist; in one moment they came into being, each one with its distinctive peculiarities. Most marked differences separated them from other plants, and each one was distinguished by a character of its own. …

‘Let the earth bring forth.’ This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants.—Basil the Great

“Let the earth bring forth.” This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants. It is this command which, still at this day, is imposed on the earth, and in the course of each year displays all the strength of its power to produce herbs, seeds and trees. Like tops, which after the first impulse, continue their evolutions, turning upon themselves when once fixed in their centre; thus nature, receiving the impulse of this first command, follows without interruption the course of ages, until the consummation of all things.34

WLC: Finally, notice also the sixth day. This is the day that God creates Adam and Eve. When you read chapter 2 of Genesis, it makes it plausible that the author didn’t intend that sixth day to be just a 24-hour period of time. He goes on in chapter two to describe Adam’s activity on this day prior to Eve’s creation, naming all of the animals, for example.

Hundreds and thousands of animals that must have been known to the ancient Israelites, and in order to get acquainted with their habits, to realize that none of them is fit for him as a mate, that he is alone and unique in creation, and then having him fall asleep, and Eve finally being created, seems to envision a longer period of time.

JS: More tired old arguments, long ago answered by YECs:

First, Genesis 2:19 clearly states that God brought the animals to Adam. So there was no need to expend time finding and capturing them.

Second, as explained earlier, the number of kinds was much smaller than the number of today’s species.

Third, the list of animals that Adam had to name was far from exhaustive. Scripture explicitly states that Adam named all the ‘livestock’ (behemāh), the ‘birds of the air’ (‘oph hashāmayim) and all the ‘beasts of the field’ (chayyat hassādeh). There is no indication that Adam named the fish in the sea or any other marine organisms, nor did he name any of the insects or arachnids. So, like the Ark’s obligate passengers (see comments on Genesis 7), this involved only a small fraction of all the kinds of animals. Furthermore, the animals Adam had to name were even fewer—Genesis 2:20 omits ‘creeping things’ (remes, reptile), and the ‘beasts of the field’ are a subset of the ‘beasts of the earth’ of Genesis 1:24.

Combining both facts—that ‘kinds’ are broader than species, and that there was only a small subset of all kinds—there were probably only a few thousand animals involved at most. Even if we assume that Adam had to name as many as 2,500 kinds of animals, if he took five seconds per kind, and took a five-minute break every hour, he could have completed the task in well under four hours.35,36

When at last Eve is presented to Adam in chapter 2, verse 23, what does he say? “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” The word there, “at last,” is a word that connotes a period of time or a period of waiting.

For example, it’s the same word that’s used in the story of Jacob with Leah and Rachel, where Jacob “at last” is able to leave Laban after 14 years of working to win Leah and Rachel as his wives. Also, when Jacob finally sees his son, Joseph, and is ready to depart this life and to die, the same word is used. “At last” he is ready.

This phrase “at last” is used in Genesis elsewhere to indicate a long time of waiting. That again suggests that the author didn’t see what he said in Genesis 1 as being a description of a 24-hour period. For these and other various reasons, I think that one can legitimately approach Genesis one-three with greater flexibility than what the literal interpretation would imply. If this is right, that would mean that the creation account is not meant to be transpiring in 6 consecutive 24-hour days. …

JS: Another eisegetical fairy tale from the Rossite woods, once again addressed in RC:

Happa’am = ‘at last’?

Happa’am (הפעם) is merely pa’am (פעם) with the definite article added, so the ‘p’ is doubled. Although Ross claims this is ‘usually translated as “now at length”‘, this is simply not supported by major translations such as the KJV, NKJV, NIV or NASB. Nor is it supported by other parts of the Bible. Rather, the lexicons show that while pa’am has a variety of meanings, and is most often translated ‘time’, with the definite article it means ‘this time’.37 This is illustrated by passages Ross conveniently omits:

  • Judges 6:39—Gideon says to God, ‘may I speak once more … let me make a test once more’. Both times, ‘once more’ is the NASB translation of happa’am, but the second test is only 24 hours after his first test. The KJV has ‘but this once’.
  • Genesis 18:32—Abraham said to God, ‘I shall speak only this once’ (NASB); ‘I will speak yet but this once’ (KJV). Here, happa’am is translated ‘this once’, and it is used at the end of a short dialogue about the coming destruction of Sodom.

There is no basis for saying that this word carries with it the idea of a long period of time in Genesis 2.

WLC: Historically, it’s interesting to note that many of the church fathers and the rabbis down through history did not take Genesis 1 to refer to literal 24-hour days. People like Augustine and Origen and Justin Martyr, for example, and others of the church fathers took these to be not 24-hour periods of time.

JS: Actually, it’s very hard to find plausible candidates apart from Augustine, Origin, and a handful of others. That’s why their names keep coming up as if they were representative of the early Church views, when they were actually a small minority. And even they do not support the compromisers’ case.

As Patristics scholar Dr Benno Zuiddam has documented, Augustine was a young earth creationist—theistic evolutionists take this Church Father out of context. At one time, he wanted instantaneous days—the opposite of the long days that Craig’s hero Ross wants. But he came around to 24-hour days. CMI has long ago pointed out that Augustine strongly denounced ages longer than 6,000 years, while Origen was scathing of ages over 10,000 years.

Justin Martyr did not believe in long creation days. Rather, he was one of a number of early writers who believed that the six days of creation were a pattern for six thousand-year periods of history. This came from the widely misunderstood passage 2 Peter 3:8, which in turn citesPsalm 90:4, “one day is like a thousand years”—see the correct explanation for this; note that it is a simile not an equation. But it’s important to note that they didn’t say that the creation days were a thousand years long. They believed the world would only last for six thousand years from Creation before the return of Christ and the Millennium. In other words, each Day of Creation corresponded to (but was not equal to) one thousand years of subsequent Earth history, which culminated in the Millennium (the thousand-year reign of Christ) that paralleled the 7th Day (of rest), and the world as we know it would last no longer than seven thousand years. Long-ager Davis Young affirms:

[Some Church Fathers] did not believe that the creation had taken place over six millennia but that the totality of humanhistory would occupy six thousand years, a millennium of history for each of the six days of creation.—Long-ager Davis Young

But the interesting feature of this patristic view is that the equation of days and millennia was not applied to the creation week but rather to subsequent history. They did not believe that the creation had taken place over six millennia but that the totality of human history would occupy six thousand years, a millennium of history for each of the six days of creation.38

Here is what Justin Martyr actually said:

Now we have understood that the expression used among these words, “According to the days of the tree [of life] shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound” [Isaiah 65:22] obscurely predicts a thousand years. For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, “The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,” is connected with this subject. And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place. Just as our Lord also said, ‘They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to the angels, the children of the God of the resurrection.’ [Luke 20:35f.] 39

So we see in this passage that Justin believed in a future literal millennium, which he had related to “The day of the Lord is as a thousand years.” But note that he never applied this thousand year period to the creation days. Justin also applied this simile to solve another problem—that Adam died on the same 24-hour day he ate the fruit (Genesis 2:17). Justin pointed out that Adam failed to live to 1,000 (he reached 930 (Genesis 5:5). However, this passage should not give old-earth compromisers an excuse, because the ‘day’ in Genesis 2:17 lacks both a numeric and the combination of evening and a morning.

The solution lies in the Hebrew, which uses forms of the same verb ‘to die’ (mût (מות)), together: môt’tāmût (תמות מות). It literally means ‘dying you shall die’, but the sense is the certainty, hence the translation ‘you shall surely die.’ Kulikovsky explains:

When the infinitive absolute precedes a finite verb of the same stem (as is the case here), it strengthens or intensifies the verbal idea by emphasizing “either the certainty (especially in the case of threats) or the forcibleness and completeness of an occurrence.”[40] In other words, the emphasis is on the certainty of their death rather than its precise timing or chronology.[41] This is demonstrated in 1 Kings 2:37–46: Shimei could not possibly have been executed “on the day” he exited his house since he was not killed until after he had travelled from Jerusalem to Gath, located his missing slaves, and travelled back to Jerusalem.42

Kulikovsky suggests an alternative understanding as well, that this phrase could be taken in the ingressive sense43—that is, a verbal form that designates the beginning of an action, state or event. In other words, the focus is on the beginning of the action of dying—i.e. God’s warning really means, ‘… for when you eat of it you will surely begin to die.’

Consider this analogy: if a branch is chopped off a tree and it falls onto hard concrete, one can say that it’s already dead, cut off from the source of life. But the process of physical death takes some time―the cells in the leaves will continue to photosynthesize for several days at least. Similarly, when Adam sinned, he immediately cut himself off from the Source of life, but the dying process took 930 years.44

Conclusion

Although Craig is an excellent apologist in many fields, he fails woefully to dent the strong case for biblical creation. It is even worse that he has failed to interact with the leading biblical creationist literature. This is like an atheist trotting out the juvenile “If God made the universe, then who made God” in a serious work, but failing to address the rejoinder that Craig specialized in with the Kalām argument: “Everythingwhich has a beginning has a cause.” Craig would do well to treat YECs with the respect he would demand of his atheist critics.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Muehlhauser, L., William Lane Craig’s Debates (Reviews), commonsenseatheism.com, 7 February 2009. Return to text.
  2. Craig, W.L., Hugh Ross’s extra-dimensional deity: a review article, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42(2): 305–373, June 1999; ldolphin.org/craig/. Return to text.
  3. Craig, W.L., Young-earth Creationism is an embarrassment, youtube.com, 23 January 2013. Return to text.
  4. Hallquist, C., William Lane Craig: Young-earth Creationism is an embarrassment, cited on the theologically liberal site patheos.com, 17 February 2013. Return to text.
  5. William Lane Craig Q&A: Was there animal death before Adam?, drcraigvideos, youtube.com, posted 15 August 2013. Return to text.
  6. Craig, W.L., Doctrine of Creation: Excursus on Creation and Evolution, Parts 2–3, ReasonableFaithOrg, youtube.com, posted 12 July 2013. Return to text.
  7. Nemetz, A., Literalness and the Sensus Litteralis, Speculum (A Journal of Medieval Studies) 34(1):76–89, 1959 | doi:10.2307/2847979. Return to text.
  8. See also Cosner, L. and Sarfati, J. Non-Christian philosopher clears up myths about Augustine and the term ‘literal’, J. Creation, 27(2):9–10, 2013. Return to text.
  9. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., Biblical Lovemaking: A Study of the Song of Solomon, Ariel Ministries, 1983. Return to text.
  10. Cited in Packer, J.I., ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God, pp. 101–114, Inter-Varsity Press, 1958. Return to text.
  11. Ross, H.N., The Genesis Question, pp. 26–27, Navpress, Colorado Springs, 1998. Return to text.
  12. D. Clark et al., Stratigraphic, chronological and behavioural contexts of Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Nature, 423(6941):747–752, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  13. C. Wieland and J. Sarfati, Ethiopian ‘earliest humans’ find: a severe blow to the beliefs of Hugh Ross and similar ‘progressive creationist’ compromise views, creation.com/ethiopianskull, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  14. Tim White et al., Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Nature, 423(6941):742–747, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  15. I. McDougall, F.H. Brown and J.G. Fleagle, Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia, Nature, 433(7027):733–736, 17 February 2005. Return to text.
  16. Wieland, C., Redating Leakey’s Ethiopian human finds: more problems for compromise, creation.com/redating, 18 February 2005. Return to text.
  17. Lubenow, M., Pre-Adamites, sin, death and the human fossils, J. Creation, 12(2):222–232, 1998; creation.com/pre-adamites. Return to text.
  18. Cosner, L., Christ as the last Adam: Paul’s use of the Creation narrative in 1 Corinthians 15J. Creation, 23(3):70–75, 2009; creation.com/1-corinthians-15.Return to text.
  19. Cosner, L., Romans 5:12–21: Paul’s view of literal AdamJ. Creation, 22(2):105–107, 2008; creation.com/romans5. Return to text.
  20. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis, book 1, Baker Book House, Michigan, 1942; ccel.org/ccel/leupold/genesis.toc.html. Herbert Carl Leupold (1891–1972), a conservative Lutheran, was Professor of Old Testament Exegesis in the Capital University Seminary, Colombus, Ohio. Return to text.
  21. Steinmann, A., אחד as an ordinal number and the meaning of Genesis 1:5JETS 45(4):577–584, 2002; quote from pp. 583–584; italics in original, bold added.Return to text.
  22. Sarfati, J., The numbering pattern of Genesis: Does it mean the days are non-literal? J. Creation, 17(2):60–61, 2003; creation.com/numbering, based on Steinmann, ibidReturn to text.
  23. Kulikovsky, Creation, Fall, Restoration, p. 166, 2009 (see resources, top right). Return to text.
  24. Summa Theologiæ, Question 74. All the seven days in common. Return to text.
  25. Steinmann, Ref. 21. Return to text.
  26. Kelly, D., Creation and Change, p. 111; see resources, top right. Return to text.
  27. Anon (based on research by Mike Kruger), Is the seventh day an eternal day? Creation, 21(3):44–45, 1999. Return to text.
  28. Bradley, W. L. and Olsen, R. L., The Trustworthiness of Scripture in Areas Relating to Natural Science, in Radmacher, E.D. and Preus, R., Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984. Return to text.
  29. Hayward admitted this in a letter to creationist David C.C. Watson, who reported it in his review of Hayward’s book in Creation Research Society Quarterly,22(4):198–199, 1986. Return to text.
  30. Alan Hayward, Creation and Evolution, The Facts and the Fallacies, p. 164, London: Triangle, SPCK, 1985. Return to text.
  31. Roth, W.M.W., The Numerical saying x/x + 1 in the Old Testament, Vetus Testamentum, 12:300–311, 1962; Numerical Sayings in the Old Testament, A Form Critical Study, Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 13:6, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1965. Return to text.
  32. See also Graves, D., “ … when Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens, a proposal for the right translation of בְּיוֹם [bəyôm] in Genesis 2:4Journal of Creation, 23(3):119–122, 2009. Return to text.
  33. Actually, these verses have bayôm, where the ‘a’ represents the definite article, ‘the’, meaning ‘on the day [xth]’, unlike beyôm, which lacks the article.Return to text.
  34. Basil, Hexaëmeron 5:5,6,10; newadvent.org/fathers/32015.htm. Return to text.
  35. Kulikovsky, A., How could Adam have named all the animals in a single day? Creation, 27(3):27, 2005; creation.com/naming_animal. Return to text.
  36. Grigg, R., Naming the Animals: All in a day’s work for AdamCreation, 18(4):46–49, September–November 1996; creation.com/animalnames. Return to text.
  37. Kautzch, E., Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd edition, translated by Cowley, A.E., Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 404, 1910. Return to text.
  38. Young, Ref. 9, p. 20. Return to text.
  39. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 81. Return to text.
  40. Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd ed., trans. Cowley, A.E., Oxford University Press, Oxford 1910: 113n, citing Genesis 2:17 as a specific example. Return to text.
  41. Hamilton, V., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 172, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990. Return to text.
  42. Kulikovsky, Ref. 23, pp. 192–193. Return to text.
  43. Kulikovsky, Ref. 23, p. 193, n. 88. Return to text.
  44. Thanks to Peter Sparrow for this illustration. Return to text.

Extra-Biblical Cosmogenies

Greek-GroupGods

The Biblical account of creation is so clear and so vastly superior to the ancient cosmologies there is little comparison. In some cases its clear that the biblical account was the basis of forming the new cosmogony. We also have the accounting of evil entering into the world so that we know where evil springs from and how its entrance into our world brought alienation from God. We have a clear understanding of what sin consists of, what disobedience is, what the result of disobedience to God brings…death.  Here we meet with God coming to man, not man running to God. We find God making a covering for their shame, a sacrifice for their sins, a promise to vanquish Satan and the promise that there would come a man who would bruise the head of the Devil. This accounting of human history; actual humans encountering spiritual beings and talking snakes sounds too far-fetched for this humanist-mindset that many have, but their humanist worldviews do not invalidate the necessity to confront the claims of scripture that has been shown by myriads of tests for millenia to be true and trustworthy.

Only the shallow infidel or the parroting internet atheist rages against what has been validated time and time again. Turning to every unproven assertion and ignorant philosophical proposition some people prove that its not evidence they want, they want something more, they want to live according to their own notions of life and pleasure. For them academic proofs are like specialized tooling; they have no idea how to use it; the scientific evidences or solid philosophical thought that establishes the necessity and importance of biblical truths are summarily dismissed for no other reason than the silly “Christians are stupid” jargon that’s common among them.  They are children of the immediate, the 6 minute attention span; because of this deficiency to think and reason, close investigation has no place in their lives. For others they have been like cows in the stall, or pigs in the pen, fed ideas that have no grounding universals, they are genuinely thirsty for a criteria to understand the particulars of life and give meaning to even their own education. These victims of the enlightenment live a life of insipid pleasure seeking valuing self and self-preservation above all…but they don’t even know why. For others who have not been inoculated against thinking and deadened to the invitation to reason without importing the angry bias of secular anti-theism I offer this little excursion so that one can compare stories.

The post modern mind is trying to find a new ‘thing’ because he is against everything that smacks of ‘status quo’. But the problem for the post modern mind is that he cannot recognize any ‘new’ thing. He is lost. So, what does this child of the 2010’s do? Just what the culture tells him or her to do. He or she does just what the primal urges of their sexual desires press upon them. He or she wants to find freedom from the shackles of an empty angst ridden mindset, but they have decided that the old ‘flash-lights’ don’t work any more. I beg to differ, They do work, the old ways of finding hope and life, joy and purpose exist, but it doesn’t exist in the boxed in post-modern mindset that refuses to admit objective truth.  If they don’t jettison the lie that objective truth is missing or cannot be known they will miss their chance to find out its really out there and ready to be received. Those who continue to reject transcendent objective truth will struggle in the same empty angst-ridden path. Some will revert to harming others and themselves, some will just give up and become puppets to a civilization that they know is not improving but degenerating.
The reason I offer this introduction to extra biblical cosmogonies is because the scriptures start immediately with settling some of the biggest questions the 21st century man is asking. Why are we here? What is wrong with the world? Why cant we fix it? If we look simply at the Genesis narrative we can see some valuable things that can settle universal truths that will give us the flash-light to find the path way to hope and life without chaos and destruction being the first outcome.

Written by Dr. H.C Leupold

About Dr. Leupold

On June 24, 1914. Thereupon he served as pastor of a mission, Ascension Lutheran congregation in Buffalo, and at the same time held an assistant professorship at the Martin Luther Seminary until 1922. He served as professor of historical theology at the Martin Luther Seminary from 1922 to 1929. In 1929, when the Buffalo Synod closed Martin Luther Seminary, Dr. Leupold was transferred to the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary at Capital University, Columbus, Oh., where he became professor of Old Testament Theology, in which capacity he is serving at the present time. He was elected secretary of the Theological Seminary faculty in 1941. Dr. Leupold received the Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Chicago Seminary in 1926 and the Doctor of Divinity degree from Capital University in 1935.

Dr. Leupold speaking…

If at this point we append a summary of certain of the better known cosmogonies, or at least of those which have a certain affinity with the Biblical account, anyone can judge for himself whether the Biblical account in any sense seems to be a derivative.

The most famous of the non-biblical cosmogonies is the Babylonian or the so-called “Chaldean Genesis,” which created such a stir at the time of its publication in 1876 after it had been unearthed as a part of the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh by George Smith in 1873. The several tablets on which the account is written are in a fairly good state of preservation. The story begins with an account that is a theogony—an account of the origin of the gods—in itself already an indication of a far inferior level. The true God did not come into being by a certain process, nor were there originally several deities. Now of these various deities one stood out as particularly aggressive and ferocious, the unsubdued Tiâmat—again a decidedly inferior point of view. For the struggle that impended Tiâmat, the old mother of gods, enlists as many of the old gods as she can and a whole crew of horrid monsters. The resulting conflict for supremacy (note the low moral level even among gods) is a truly titanic struggle in which the forces of the opposition are led by the great Babylonian deity Marduk. Marduk proves himself the stronger. He prevails over Tiâmat, cleaves her into two montrous halves, the upper of which he fixes in place as the heavens, in which in turn he fixes the heavenly bodies; and the lower of which halves, on the other hand, he sets in place as the earth. Then he compounds material of his own blood for the creation of man, the chief purpose of whose creation is “that the service of the gods may be established.” This account of creation is so pronouncedly different from the Biblical account that the points of difference completely overshadow the incidental points of resemblance. To speak of a “striking resemblance between the two cosmogonies” certainly is a partisan overstatement of the case; and to go on to say that “the cosmogony of Genesis 1 rests on a conception of the process of creation fundamentally identical with that of the Enuma elis (the opening words of the Chaldean Genesis) tablets” is simply a distortion of the truth.

Of the Phoenician cosmogony it is sufficient to remark that it contains the idea of the world-egg, hatched out to produce the world. Analogous to this from this point of view is the Indian conception. The uncreated Lord appeared in chaos. The next step was to render this world visible by means of the five elements, by shining forth in brightest light and dispelling darkness. Into the water, which he creates first, he lays a germ cell. This becomes a gleaming egg in which Brahma is found, the source principle. A protracted period of hatching brings him to light. Aside from fantastic and confused elements it may well be that even this cosmogony carries within it certain echoes of the Genesis account which are all but forgotten.

The Parsee Genesis, appearing in a late book of the Bundehest, has at least this sequence of created things: 1. heaven, 2. water, 3. earth, 4. planets, 5. animals, 6. man. Nothing is said concerning the creation of light. The partial correspondence with the account of the Bible is obvious. But since this is a late book, this correspondence may have resulted from an acquaintance with the Biblical record.      Still more nearly parallel to the Biblical account is the cosmogony attributed to the Etruscans by the writer Suidas, who lived in the tenth century A. D. For the sequence runs thus: 1. heaven and earth, 2. firmament, 3. sea and water, 4. sun and moon, 5. souls of animals, 6. man. To the six items six periods of a thousand years each are assigned. Yet the influence of the Bible record is so very likely in the case of a writer of the tenth century of the Christian era that there is great likelihood that the writer’s Christian ideas will have led him to find these successive items, which another might not even have noticed in the same material. Or else the ancient Etruscan tradition had absorbed a high percentage of Biblical thought on matters such as these.

One would expect the Persian cosmogony to be radically different and in conformity with the principles of dualism. In the Avesta time and light and darkness are uncreated. These constitute the true spiritual world. They are eternal because Mazda, the god of light, is himself eternal.      Hesiod informs us how the Greeks conceived of the origin of things. First there existed Chaos; thereupon the earth; next Tartarus; then Eros (Love), the most beautiful of the deathless gods. Out of Chaos night is born. The earth begets the heavens; then the ocean comes into being. After these Saturn, father of gods, existed. The rest of the pantheon follow him.

To the Egyptians several views on the origin of the earth are to be attributed. Some regarded the god Ptah as the craftsman who built the world. Others held that it was the goddess Neith who wove its fabric. The fundamental principle from which all things take their origin was thought to be water, for in it were fancied to be the male and the female germs of life. Even the great god Ra was supposed to have sprung from it, though others believed that he had been hatched out of an egg.

We may well say that these cosmogonies are the best available outside the Genesis account. A man does not need any supernatural enlightenment to discern that not one of all these can compare even remotely with the scriptural account for depth of thought, simplicity, propriety and beauty. All the others disappoint us by their incompleteness, or by their confusion, or by their lack of sequence, or as being the embodiment of some deep-seated error. Their conception of God is most unsatisfactory and unworthy. Or if they rise to a higher level, we have reason for believing that the better element is traceable to the Bible as the source.

This finishes Dr. Leupold.

Here is the Biblical account of the creation of the Earth and the Universe as given by Moses.

Genesis 1
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 
And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 
And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. KJV

In the simplest way, we can look at this account and understand God called what he created ‘very good’. He gave man power to govern his world, he gave food and cattle to man, fruit and seed for health and strength. We see man was made in God’s image, not evolving from slime then fish then reptile then man. God created this world to be live in and enjoyed, he charged man to go forth and multiply. Man is an image of God, with reason, wisdom, power, strength, knowledge, understanding, kindness and love. These qualities that exist in God are part of man, man has a designed intelligence, an intelligence created in order to relate to his Creator.

But we all know Genesis chapter 3 is coming soon and there we find that what man is, becomes twisted and corrupted, he is ashamed and now alienated by sinfulness. These are direct answers to life’s brutal questions, No other ideology even comes close to answering these questions, no other religions outside of Judaism and Christianity posit a personal God that created them, cares for them and provides for them. All the rest offer a human autonomy that keeps the human mind that is designed to relate to God in complete darkness about God. Complete and utter ignorance, rebellion, shameful hatred toward God…and all for what? Because the lie from the beginning is “you will be like God”. The human heart alienated from God presupposes that he is capable of providing for himself and live in harmony with one another according to his own wisdom. As we all know this has been an utter and complete failure and continues to fail every moment of every day. The only time man exists in harmony for any extended period of time is when man has accepted God’s moral standard and God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ.

God’s redemptive grace…that’s another post.