Climate Change Notes

Here are the notes I took while listening to Dan Britt’s lecture.

21:00 When India collided with China, the uplift of the Himalayas resulted in greatly-increased rock weathering, which pulled 80% of the CO2 out of the atmosphere, rending the climate very sensitive to the changes in solar input that result from the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit around the sun.

Climate results from oscillations in:

Eccentricity of the earth’s orbit around the sun, a cycle of 100,000 years;

The tilt of the earth between 21 and 24 degrees, a cycle of 41,000 years; and

Precession, which is the movement around the earth’s orbit of the time of year when the earth is closest to the sun, a cycle of 23,000 years.

Presently we are closer to the sun in the winter, producing cooler summers and warmer winters.  Cooler summers allows snow to accumulate, producing glaciation – an ice age.  Also, warmer winters tend to be snowier.

But our glaciers are nevertheless melting.  Greenhouse gases are delaying the next ice age.

It’s the interplay of these factors which, by causing variations in the amount of solar radiation which reaches the surface of the earth, causes ice ages and periods of warming.

If you put global average temperatures on a graph, you can see all of these cycles.  The net effect is known as the Milankovich cycle after the Bulgarian scientist who discovered it in the 1920s.

For the last million years, our climate has been characterized by long glacial periods and short warming periods.

Global temperature followed the path predicted by these factors until about 8,000 years ago, when agriculture was introduced.  We cleared the forests and planted crops.

And 5,000 years ago we invented rice cultivation and terracing and domesticated livestock.  Cows are a major source of methane.

In the preindustrial period we put all the carbon in 10% of the global biomass into the atmosphere, which increased the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere from 260 parts per million (ppm) to 280 ppm.

Despite all of this, solar radiation was still declining, so that in the middle ages the climate was actually getting colder.

Starting in about 1850 we began tapping fossil fuels – first coal, then oil, then natural gas.

The pre-industrial atmosphere had about 600 billion metric tons of carbon.  (A metric ton is 2205 lb.)  By burning fossil fuels, we are presently adding about 8 billion metric tons per year.  (He doesn’t say whether that’s in addition to the agriculture and livestock contributions.)

Volcanoes are the largest natural input, at about 0.2 gigatons/year, 1/45th of the contribution of fossil fuels.

39:30 In the short term we are heading into a period of increasing sunspot activity, and he predicts that for the next 4 or 5 years we are going to have extremely hot summers.

There has been strong warming in the last 150 years.

In 1950 we were putting out about 1.3 gigatons of carbon per year and atmospheric carbon was 310 ppm.  Now we are putting out about 9 gigatons, and it is 390 ppm.

China’s GDP has exploded.  They want the same things we do.  They are producing a gigawatt-sized coal-fired power plant every two weeks.

We are in an ice age.  Continental glaciation is very unusual.  Human action has increased atmospheric CO2 by 25% and has stopped the currant Milankovich cycle in its tracks.  We should be seeing glacial advance, and what we are seeing is glacial retreat.

“If you don’t have continental glaciation, you don’t have Miami.”

2.5 to 6.5’ rise in the ocean by 2100.

The Greenland ice sheet will melt.  We don’t know how fast.

 

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Climate Change

Much is being said about climate change: is it real?  Are we causing it?  What can be done?  I have recently come across three fascinating discussions of how human-caused increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide may relate to various natural cycles, and how, too, it provides an amazing object lesson in the fine-tuning of the Earth and solar system.   Essential reading/listening.

How Ice Ages Happen: https://youtu.be/iA788usYNWA.

The Hiawatha Asteroid: https://www.reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2018/12/17/did-a-giant-collider-help-give-us-extreme-climate-stability

Geologist Dan Britt, Orbits and Ice Ages: the History of Climate (2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yze1YAz_LYM&feature=youtu.be

 

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Pray for the Church in the Middle East

May God strengthen and protect our faithful brothers and sisters.  Read this message from Martin Accad of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, here.

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Genesis as Allegory

This is the fourth in a series on the old earth/young earth controversy.

Paul in Galatians 4:21-31 refers to the birth of Isaac to Sarah and of Ishmael to Hagar (Genesis 16), as an allegory.  Some have appealed to this text as warrant for treating Genesis 1 also as allegory.

Here is the Galatians text in the King James:

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.  [My emphasis.]

The critical word in the Greek is ἀλληγορούμενα·

I do not have any Greek, and I appeal to the Greek scholars among us to correct my mistakes.

The English Standard Version (https://www.esv.org/Galatians+4/) also:

Now this may be interpreted allegorically.

The New International Version takes a slightly different approach:

These things are being taken figuratively.

But there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference between “allegorically” and “figuratively.”  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “the word [allegory] traces back to the Greek word allēgorein meaning “to speak figuratively,” and means “a work of written, oral, or visual expression that uses symbolic figures, objects, and actions to convey truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience.”

It may be noted, of course, that the dictionary definition is neutral as to whether the events which carry the allegorical meaning are themselves true, or whether the allegorical meaning is true. And in the case of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, clearly Paul has no intention of questioning the historicity of the births of Isaac and Ishmael.  Genesis could, likewise, be both history and allegory, no?  What if it is?  Would its allegorical quality have any bearing on the meaning of the Six Days of Genesis 1:3-31?

Paul’s comment on Genesis 16 is very helpful, in that it shows that in regard to any given biblical text, a figurative interpretation cannot be ruled out a priori.  Essentially, Paul gives us permission to ask the question.

Genesis 1 doesn’t sound much like an allegory.  An allegory uses actors and actions to represent other, deeper things.  What deeper things do the waters and the mountains and the fish and the birds represent?  They represent themselves, do they not?  The uncertainty as to the duration of the Six Days isn’t resolved by any attempt to interpret them as allegory: how is a 24-hour day an allegory for some longer period of time?  How is a longer period of time deeper than a 24-hour period?

This is to be contrasted with Genesis 2 and 3, however.  A Tree of Life, a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and a talking snake look everything like symbols of greater things.  But if Genesis 2-3 are an allegory, would that make a figurative understanding of Genesis 1 any more plausible?

It might, particularly in light of the apparent need to read Genesis 1 together with Genesis 2 and 3; for they both contain accounts of the creation of man, and the latter account does sound figurative.  The man is formed out of the dust of the ground, God breathes life into him.  There also seems to be a connection between the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and Genesis 1, in that Eve was created on day 6, and 1:27 and 2:8 together show that the Garden and the Trees came before Eve (perhaps even as early as day 3).  2:16-17 shows that some time on day 6 but before creating Eve, God commanded Adam not to eat the fruit of the Tree.  (There is no positive indication that God made that command to Eve directly, since she didn’t yet exist – Adam may have informed her about it later.)  All of this shows that even if the Fall did not occur until day 7, the command concerning the Tree must have come on day 6.  To me, the Tree looks everything like an allegory.

I would like to mention here the possibility that we are Adam (and Eve) – and I mean literally!  Modern genetics shows that every human being has a genetic endowment inherited from our first parents.  Isn’t it Adam who now walks the fields and the streets of the world?  Weren’t we literally in Adam at the Fall?  In some mysterious yet literal way, didn’t we also repudiate God on that primordial day?  Taste the fruit?  Isn’t this both an allegory and literally true at both levels of meaning?

Galatians 4 shows that the at least some of the people and events of the Old Testament – people who actually existed and events which actually occurred – were providentially ordered so as to teach deeper things about God and his plan for redeeming the cosmos.  It does not enable us to rule out the possibility that Genesis is history or that it is allegory or that it is both.

Genesis seems to describe universal human experience in a way which is unfathomable, at least until now.  Genesis is somehow my biography, and yours.  Genesis tells me that being human may be a greater mystery than any of us realizes.

But at present, I remain unconvinced that it is necessary to take one view or the other or, if one takes one view or the other, to convince anyone else that one is correct.  Why?  Because what we do know, through other lines of reasoning, is that whether it took him 6 days or 13 billion years, God created everything that exists.  Together, nature and the Bible assure us that there is a God who wants us to know him, and that our happiness is in knowing him.  If we know this, then we are free, and how is it then necessary to pledge loyalty to one interpretation of Genesis or another, and why should we feel compelled to try to convince anyone else that our view is the correct one?  Better minds have wrestled with this, to no clear conclusion.

I do not intend (obviously) to suggest that it is not worth the attempt; and again, we have not yet looked at the scientific arguments and counter-arguments.

 

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A Challenge to Intellectual Engagement

This is why I love William Lane Craig.

To those who think there is no real truth, what history teaches is:

that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism.  The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather, it is not to think you are right at all.

. . . [T]he very concept of tolerance entails that one does not agree with that which one tolerates.  The Christian is committed to both truth and tolerance, for he believes in Him who said not only, “I am the truth,” but also, “Love your enemies.”

(From “In Intellectual Neutral – a challenge to Christians to intellectual engagement.”   Read the entire essay at https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/apologetics/in-intellectual-neutral/.)

 

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Genesis: Four Views

I recently read Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Kindle edition; J. B. Stump, ed.; Zondervan 2017, contributions by Ken Ham, Hugh Ross, Deborah Haarsma, and Stephen C. Meyer).  I will be posting my ruminations about it from time to time.

This is the third in a series on the old earth/young earth controversy and the first on Four Views.

Chapter 1: Young Earth Creationism by Ken Ham.

Ham writes:

. . . [C]reation is cursed, whereas Scripture (the written Word) is not. Without the biblical revelation about  the cosmos-impacting fall of man, the creation gives a confusing message about the Creator.5 Therefore, we start our thinking about origins (as in all other areas) with Scripture, God’s inerrant, holy Word.  [Kindle Location 292.]

From the fact that the creation is cursed it does not follow as a matter of logical necessity that God’s revelation in nature is confusing.  It certainly can be, of course, and there is no question that the scriptures teach much about God and a great many other things which cannot be discerned in nature.  But Paul writes to the Romans that God’s power and deity are readily apparent from nature.  Paul’s view is vindicated by Big Bang cosmology and the Fine-Tuning of the laws of physics, which prove God’s existence[1]; and that is no small thing.

Moreover, Ham here claims merely that nature is confusing without the revelation of the Fall; but none of the other contributors deny the Fall.  So is Ham conceding that nature is not confusing, as long as the Fall is in view?  Then he is not making much of a claim.  It might be more pertinent to observe that in light of the Fall, we should adopt a healthy skepticism with regard to all our judgments, and be cautious about human interpretation of both Genesis and the book of nature.

To me it is not the meaning of the word “day” which is most interesting about the Genesis account, but the phrase, “and there was evening and there was morning.”  It’s pretty hard to interpret that as having anything in mind other than one period of darkness followed by one period of light.  This may be YEC’s best argument.  There are other compelling arguments, based on Exodus 20:8-11 (“in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them”), the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, and the question why it would have been necessary to save the animals in an ark if the flood was not global in extent.

Yet the findings of science appear to be at great tension with these texts.  The question is whether there is a way to resolve that tension without stretching either the biblical text or the science to the breaking point.

My present bias is that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe much older.  If, at the end of this project, I remain of that opinion, then I may be forced to say that I do not understand the biblical text.  I do not think I will be forced to say that I do not believe the biblical text.  Instead, I might say that it belongs in the catalogue of the many unanswered questions that I have about the universe, God, and his plan of redemption, right up there with the Trinity, the Incarnation, and atonement for sin.  I do not understand those things either, yet I believe them because the Bible clearly teaches them, they make very good sense insofar as I do understand them, and I have very good, independent reasons to believe that the Bible is the Word of God.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Ham does not go into YEC’s responses to mainstream geology and astronomy, and I intend to reserve judgment until I can review all of that.

I do very much doubt I’ll change my opinion.  It’s like my views on same-sex attraction (SSA).  I read widely and have been doing so for many years.  I noticed pretty much everything that was said about gay rights from the time I was in law school starting in 1971; but I did not take notes, and would not have been able to marshall the evidence against the notion that SSA is inborn and immutable.  Yet I was sure that that evidence was out there.  When, ultimately, the task of marshalling the evidence became unavoidable, I researched the matter thoroughly.[2]  I was not certain, when I began that project, that my opinions would be confirmed, but they were confirmed.

It is like that here.  I have been paying attention for a long time to the debate over the age of the earth, and have not been convinced by YEC arguments about the unreliability of radiometric dating, geological strata, ice corp samples, or astronomical measurements.  But until now I was not taking notes, and I confess I have not heretofore had the motivation to entertain young earth theories seriously and carefully as I now, God willing, hope to do.

[1] See joshualetter.com/blog, June 28, 2018 post, “The Existence of God: Four Philosophical Arguments.”

[2] See joshualetter.com/blog, July 4, 2015 post, “What is Homosexuality?  A Survey of the Scholarly Literature.”

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“And There was Evening and There was Morning”

(Third in a series on the old-earth/young earth controversy.)

I am reading Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (2017), a sort of symposium presenting an interchange among Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis for young-earth creationism (YEC), Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe for old-earth creationism (OEC), Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute for intelligent design (ID), and Deborah Haarsma of BioLogos for evolutionary creationism (EC).

I was already aware of the omission of the phrase, “And there were evening and morning, the [nth] day” from the discussion of the 7th day (Genesis 2:1-3), but had not fully appreciated the implications until now.

In context, the omission is very conspicuous and requires explanation.  Perhaps the most popular explanation is that the 7th day did not end, that it indeed continues to the present.  God rested from his creation activity and continues to rest from it.  “God rested” would be taken to imply “God rested permanently,” or at least until further notice.  I suppose that would become the eighth day.  (Wow, we could form some sort of eschatological movement and call it “The Eighth Day”!)

It would certainly be difficult to show that explanation to be implausible.  But if the 7th day did not end, then it was longer than 24 hours; and if the 7th day was more than 24 hours, then on what basis can we confidently say that the first six days were themselves 24 hours long?  Isn’t it young earthers’ argument that we are addressing an ordinary 7-day week?  But if the 7th day was more than 24 hours, that alone would mean that it was not an ordinary 7-day week.

And if we cannot confidently say that the first six days were 24 hours each, then we also cannot confidently say that the Genesis account is incompatible with standard interpretations of modern scientific observations.

There is no need to show this explanation to be true: if it is even possible, OEC’s fidelity to scripture is established.

And yet . . .

Yet the text nevertheless recites, after each of the first six days, “and there was evening and there was morning, the [n]th day,” which unavoidably seems to imply the phenomenological effects of the rotation of the earth, once around.  How else can one make sense of it?  How far do we stretch the ordinary meaning of the text in order to reconcile it with what modern geology and astrophysics seem to be telling us?  I think this remains a challenge for OEC.

Presently I don’t have an answer.  My solution is simply to leave the question open in the hope that someday I will understand.  Emphatically, I do not throw Genesis out the window; but then, neither do I throw modern astrophysics out the window.

God is the author of both the scriptures and nature.  What he has revealed about himself in each must be compatible with the other.  If it appears otherwise, the defect is not in the revelation but in our understanding, and requires further inquiry.

In the meantime, I prefer to emphasize what we do know.  Science has vindicated the biblical world view in very impressive ways, both generally and specifically.  We know there is a God, and everything science tells us about his attributes (personal, intelligent, powerful) is true to the biblical revelation.  Knowing all of that, it becomes possible (and permissible, I think) to tolerate the uncertainty we have about the proper interpretation of Genesis.

And we have barely begun our investigation.

 

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Are the Laws of the Universe “Inevitable”?

https://evolutionnews.org/2019/12/are-the-laws-of-the-universe-inevitable/

 

 

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John C. Lennox on the Age of the Earth

(Second in a series on the old-earth/young earth controversy.)

John Carson Lennox is a British mathematician, a philosopher of science and a Christian apologist.  He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford University.  (Wikipedia.)

In Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (Zondervan 2011), John C. Lennox examines the Genesis text and provides many enlightening observations.

I don’t recall how I heard about this book, but when I did hear about it I bought it immediately because Lennox is one of my favorite Christian thinkers.

I was hoping that Lennox would discuss the scientific theories of young-earth creationists.  His focus, however, is on the scriptural text, the title of the book notwithstanding.  At the outset of my investigation of this topic, it does seem to me that the science is crucial, since each side seems to criticize the other for both their interpretations of scripture and for their science.  Young earth advocates accuse their opponents of subordinating the authority of scripture to modern science, while old earth advocates maintain that young-earthers adopt far-fetched scientific theories to accommodate their woodenly literal interpretation of the biblical text.  It’s my intention to start boning up on the science right away.

Nevertheless, Lennox’s observations about the biblical text are illuminating.

The “Pillars” of the Earth

Lennox observes that the Copernican controversy arose partly out of a very natural, but ultimately discredited reading of 1 Samuel 2:8:

For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and on them he has set the world.

It wasn’t easy for the church to accept the idea that the Earth orbits the sun, but ultimately she did so under the pressure of irrefutable scientific observations.  Lennox asks,

But now we need to face an important question: why do Christians accept this “new” interpretation, and not still insist on a “literal” understanding of the “pillars of the earth”?  Why are we not still split up into fixed-earthers and moving-earthers?  Is it really because we have all compromised, and made Scripture subservient to science?  (Page 19.)

One young-earth advocate commented:

Only when such a position became mathematically and observationally “hopeless,” should the church have abandoned it.  This is in fact what the church did.  Young earth creationism, therefore, need not embrace a dogmatic or static biblical hermeneutic.  It must be willing to change and admit error.  Presently, we can admit that as recent creationists we are defending a very natural biblical account, at the cost of abandoning a very plausible scientific picture of an “old” cosmos.  But over the long term this is not a tenable position.  In our opinion, old earth creationism combines a less natural textual reading with a much more plausible scientific vision. . . .  At the moment this would seem the more rational position to adopt.   [Moreland and Reynolds, eds., Three Views of Creation and Evolution (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1999, p. 73.]  (Page 62.)

Neither old earth theory nor young earth theory is a recent invention

The Jewish calendar, for instance, has for centuries taken as its starting point the “Era of Creation,” which it dates to 3761 BC.  (Page 40.)

Lennox:

Some of the early church fathers, such as Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho, and Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, suggested that the days might have been long epochs, on the basis of Psalm 90:4 (“For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night”) and 2 Peter 3:8 (“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”).  (Page 41.)

Augustine (354-430):

As for these days, it is difficult, perhaps impossible to think, let alone explain in words, what they mean.”

In his famous commentary On the Literal Meaning of Genesis, he added:

But at least we know that it [the Genesis day] is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar.

Lennox:

In fact Augustine . . . held that God had created everything in a moment, and that the days represented a logical sequence to explain it to us.  (Page 42.)

Four Distinct Usages of the Word, “Day”

The author of Genesis uses the Hebrew word yom in four different ways.

God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  Genesis 1:5.

Lennox:

What is the natural reading of this statement?  Here day is contrasted with night; so a twenty-four-hour day is not in view, but rather “day” in the sense of “daytime.”  (Page 49.)

The second time the word for “day” occurs, again in Genesis 1:5, it is in the context of saying that day one involves “evening and morning,” and “day” would naturally then be understood to refer to a twenty-four-hour day.

The third usage of the word “day” is in reference to the seventh day – a day of indefinite duration.  (Page 50.)

Finally, in Genesis 2:4, the author refers to the entire period of creation as “the day” of creation.  (Some translations render it “When God created . . .” but it should be rendered “In the day God created . . .” according to Lennox.)

Turning to the Six Days of creation, Lennox says,

[T]here is a clear pattern to the days: they each begin with the phrase “And God said” and end with the statement “and there was evening and there was morning, the nth day.” This means that, according to the text, day 1 begins in verse 3 and not in verse 1. . . .  [T]he text of Genesis 1:1, in separating the beginning from day 1, leaves the age of the universe indeterminate.  It would therefore be logically possible to believe that the days of Genesis are twenty-four-hour days (of one earth week) and . . . that the universe is very ancient.  (Pages 52-53.)

Lennox suggests another possibility:

[T]he individual days might well have been separated from one another by unspecified periods of time. . . .  One consequence of this is that we would expect to find what geologists tell us we do find — fossil evidence revealing the sudden appearance of new levels of complexity, followed by periods during which there was no more creation.  (Pages 54-55.)

The Science

Again, Lennox does not provide a detailed description of YEC scientific theories, nor does he critique them.  He does mention, however, “The honest and admirable admission of prominent young-earth creationists that ‘recent creationists should humbly agree that their view is, at the moment, implausible on purely scientific grounds.  They can make common cause with those who reject naturalism, like old earth creationists, to establish their most basic beliefs.’”  (Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds, “Young Earth Creationism,” in Moreland, et al., eds., ibid.)  (Page 86.)

The source just cited may be the next place I’ll look, despite its having been published 20 years ago.  I have studied under both Moreland and Nelson and I found them both to be brilliant in their fields and of high integrity.  However, another basis for critique of Lennox is his “cherry-picking” of unusually non-doctrinaire young earth advocates.  He does not mention Ken Ham or Ham’s organization, Answers in Genesis (AIG), which is one of the leading young earth advocacies in the world, and certainly a more contentious one than Moreland and Reynolds.  I am sure we will hear more about AIG in these pages in the near future.

 

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CREATIONISM: YOUNG EARTH OR OLD EARTH?

A Live Series

The question of the age of the Earth is a touchy one.  Expressing an opinion on the topic is likely to attract dismissiveness, derision, and sometimes even charges of heresy.

In addition to being a very controversial topic, it is a very complicated one – at least it is so for anyone who takes seriously both the account of the book of Genesis and the findings of modern science.  These two factors – the controversy and the complexity of the topic – may explain why I have been reluctant to delve deeply into the subject until now.

But delving has become unavoidable.  A number of Jesus’ followers in Eugene – Springfield (myself among them) have initiated an apologetics project to address the falling away of so many young people from the church.  They prove incapable, apparently, of answering the religious skepticism which they confront upon leaving their parents’ homes on graduation from high school.  It seems that much of that skepticism has to do with the biblical account of creation.  Our profession of concern for such young people can hardly be credible if we do not address this particular problem.

The recent experience of a friend strikingly illustrates the situation.  The local newspaper published a letter to the editor claiming that no reputable scientist doubts the neo-Darwinian account of the origin of humanity.  My friend responded by publishing his own letter with a link to a web site where were published the names of over 3,000 US college faculty, all with PhD’s in life sciences, who wished to state publicly that they have serious reservations about neo-Darwinism.  Three days later he received a letter from the author of the original letter to the editor, expressing in very offensive terms his contempt for anyone who believed that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.  Of course my friend had not written that he believes that, and in fact he does not believe in a young earth.

Part of the problem, I think, is that relatively few people, whether within the church or without, are even aware that there is a creationist alternative to young earth theory.  Consequently, if an evolutionist college teacher discusses creationism, he or she will generally address young-earth creationism only, and will treat it with contempt and ridicule; and meanwhile, our 18-to-20 year old college student, who also hasn’t heard of old-earth creationism, is stuck defending what he was taught in church with appeals to scientific theories which admittedly sound a little far-fetched.

And by saying just that much, already I have offended half of my friends.  Bear with me.  I do have opinions about young-earth creationism (hereinafter, YEC) and old-earth creationism (OEC).  But those opinions are at least somewhat tentative, because I have not studied the subject with any thoroughness, which is what I now propose to do.  My views may change.  Indeed, the reader is invited to attempt to persuade me to change them.

What I have in mind is this.  Rather than waiting until my study is complete and then publishing a lengthy, crafted essay, I am going to publish my thoughts as I come across materials that I find to be especially useful.  It will be a kind of “conversation with myself,” spoken aloud for anyone to hear, and then also, I hope, a conversation with anyone who wishes to join me in my quest for discovery.

So what are my opinions on the matter presently?  I can think of the following.

1. God exists.

2. God is the author of “Two Books”: the Bible and the Cosmos. What we can learn from the Bible, therefore, should be expected to be compatible with what we learn from science, which is the study of Creation. Any apparent conflict would then indicate that we lack understanding, either of the Bible or the science.  Science can inform our theology, and vice versa.

3. As far as I can tell, both YEC and OEC are compatible with biblical teaching.

4. The science on which YEC advocates rely appears very shaky to me.

I am very confident about #1. and #2.; less so about #3. and #4.  Let’s see where the journey takes us.

 

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