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Thread: Days of Proclamation: Historical Reading of Genesis 1

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    Days of Proclamation: Historical Reading of Genesis 1

    Days of Proclamation: Historical Reading of Genesis 1Part 1 Someone please ask for part 2
    by Glenn R. Morton 2019

    Introduction

    Those who know me know I have spent much of my life looking for ways to harmonize science and the Biblical record without violating either the historicity of Scripture nor the data of Science. Most will say this is a fool's errand; maybe, but I think we should at least try. God had a communication problem to deal with: He was going to talk to Neolithic farmers AND 21st century scientists. Our God is said to have foreknowledge, so why do so many interpretations of Genesis 1 act as if He was only speaking to the Neolithic farmers and not to 21st century scientists? It seems to me He should have been able to convey truth to both groups. Below is the Days of Proclamation view which I firmly believe solves this problem.

    In this quest we need to examine my hermeneutical method(method of interpretation). I believe the words should be interpreted by what they mean. That is, one shouldn't change the meanings of the words, but can consider the limitation of the Neolithic language or alternative meanings of the words. Conservative interpreters of the Scripture often say that the proper meaning of a passage is what it meant to the original author. I agree with that. The original reader's understanding is not important because he might not have understood the meaning correctly. Finally, my most important rule, if there is a way to interpret the passage so as to make it historically/scientifically true, use that interpretation. If a method of interpretation forces the Scripture to be false, then it is the wrong approach. Why would we Christians want the Bible to be false?

    Sadly, most Christians working in science deny that God could have told a true story of Creation to Neolithic farmers. These Christians say that the Neolithics would have been unable to understand or unwilling to accept the truth. So, they say, God accommodated his views to the falsehoods of the culture of the day. This is called Accommodationalism. Thus large parts of Scripture, including Genesis 1 are not to be taken as anything but cultural tales. I find this appalling. First, I spent much time during my crisis of faith talking with atheists. Both atheists and accommodationalists use the same arguments; use the very same problems in the Bible. Accommodationalist believe in God in spite of the problems while atheists disbelieve in God because of the same set of problems.

    Secondly, Accommodationalism says God isn't smart enough to tell a simple but true story of Creation that Neolithics could understand and we would also feel is true. Is our God that small? Third, if God is telling falsehoods, it shatters His credibility, like a perjuror's credibility is ruined. If God allows falsehood in one place, can we trust that He didn't tell us a falsehood in the resurrection of his son? How could we trust a lying God to truly lead us to salvation? How can we trust a God who tolerates fabrications in His message to humans?

    Other views that treat Genesis 1 as allegory, reworked myth, poem, or just a theological document generally maintain that history in Genesis 1 is not important or not God's goal. They never explain why, even if it is a poem, it is forbidden for poems to convey true information. Some try to say Genesis 1 is to show that the Hebrew God is greater than the Gods around them, but fail to say why every religion's creation story can't be said to attempt the same goal. These views all suggest that God doesn't know anything about his creation. Why? Because Genesis 1 certainly has all appearances of a creation story trying to tell me what happened. When the Creator doesn't know how Creation was created, we have a problem! Thus, I must reject this widely held view.

    The framework interpretation of Genesis1 says the first three days were fixing the form of the earth and the final three days filling the earth. But again, this view is subject to Lee's criticism below that nothing matches the geologic record. If one says it is a poem and isn't supposed to match actual history, then once again, why doesn't God know what happened and have the ability to communicate it to us? The views presented here are designed to avoid this and other traps in Genesis 1.

    The Problem

    The basic problem we all have in Genesis 1 is the order of creation. Biblical critics often point to the order of events in Genesis 1 as being counter to what science knows to be the case. Adam Lee writes:

    "Far from paralleling the geologic record, the Genesis story gets it wrong on every detail. If the creation order of Genesis followed the order of appearance of major groups of multicellular life, it would have begun with simple, non-vascular plants like moss and algae, followed by fish and insects, then amphibians, then reptiles, then mammals and flowering plants, birds, whales, and finally human beings. (Here's a good reference for the evolutionary timeline.)"
    "This doesn't mean that progressive, scientifically minded Christians are forbidden to interpret the Genesis account as a parable for the gradual emergence of life over the eons, if they so choose. But it does mean they must abandon the pretense that the Genesis account contains any sliver of real scientific accuracy
    ."1

    The arrogance of an atheist telling us, how we must interpret Genesis is galling. What galls me more is that he is correct about how most scientifically minded Christians interpret Genesis--as something not containing any scientific truth. And that is very sad. This scientifically minded Christian can figure out how to interpret Genesis so that it is completely scientifically accurate, but I already know how it will be received by those same scientifically minded Christians. It is almost as if they want Scripture to be untrue. The views presented below make Genesis 1 match the current view of science.

    Another criticism by atheists is that it is hard to have days prior to the formation of the sun. This could be due to the fact that the 'days' are not real days but pre-temporal events, logically before the universe came into being and this is just the best way for a temporal person to understand eternity, put it into our terms.

    On the other side of the coin is the very common, orthodox view that Genesis 1 was not meant to be scientific but to show how Israel's God is better than the surrounding Gods. To me, this view is little more than agreeing with Lee that the Genesis account doesn't contain a "sliver of real scientific accuracy." This view has no defenders of Genesis 1 as real history. When in this situation, I always wonder why I should take seriously an account that is totally false. When statements about reality appear to be false, it doesn't make sense to then claim the theology contained in these statements is true. Again, "Doesn't God know what happened in Creation?" and "Can't He communicate a simple version of the truth to us?" Secondly, nowhere in the Scripture does it state that the purpose of Genesis 1 is to be a 'My-God-is-bigger-than-your-god" statement. This is a 20th century assumption forced onto scripture. If you read the Genesis 1 account, it reads as if it is a creation story, not a bragging about their God. Advocates act as if this view of Scripture is unquestionable and irrefutable. There simply is no evidence that their assumption is true.

    The Days of Proclamation View

    The Days of Proclamation view of Genesis 1 is an overlooked interpretation which avoids the problems above and allows us to really believe the account. It says Genesis 1 only consists of proclamations about what the Universe would be like. Nothing was created at the time of the proclamation. The phrase 'and it was so' was added by the human author, telling his readers, look around, this was accomplished. What the account doesn't say is as important as what it does say. No where does the human writer say: "and it was so, instantly". The assumption that each proclamation was instantly fulfilled is a long-held belief, but one that isn't really in the Scripture. There are eight proclamations on 7 days, day three has two. With each proclamation, I will break the Scripture up between what God said, and what the human writer added to show how the Days of Proclamation view work.

    The picture below shows the relation between Genesis 1 and 2. The Days of Proclamation (DoP) view holds that Genesis 1 is the pre-temporal planning of the universe. I will discuss the ancientness of this view in Proclamation 1. The DoP places time between Genesis 1 and 2.
    DaysOfProclamation1.jpg

    I come from an old earth/evolutionary perspective, as will be seen below. I believe billions of years separate Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Young earth creationists can use the Days of Proclamation view to avoid Lee's criticism by changing the amount of time this view places in between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and still hold to their time scale. While I think young-earthers hold to an invalid time scale, there is nothing to stop a young-earth person from avoiding Lee's criticism via this means.

    Is Genesis 1 Historical?


    Genesis 1:1 is an executive summary of the rest of the chapter. In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. To those who believe in God, this verse seems to be obviously true. But because many Christians believe Genesis 1 is not scientifically accurate, I did a informal poll over the years. I have asked hundreds of Christians if Genesis 1:1 is a historically and scientifically accurate statement. Even those who claim there is no science in Genesis 1 will say it is historically and scientifically accurate, and then say the rest of the chapter is scientific mush. Only one liberal Christian in all those years said, it wasn't accurate. I never could understand his reasoning. But if Genesis 1:1 is historically accurate, why can't the rest be accurate as well? I think it can be.

    The Days of Proclamation might be hinted at in Genesis 1:2, "The earth was formless and void../" What could that mean? Looking up synonyms for formless we find that tohu, formless, means, without plan, without design, without configuration, without pattern, without structure, without framework. This strongly hints that God had not yet set up the plan for the earth. If form is the opposite of formless, then what St. Basil says is interesting, with regards to this view, " The form of the world is due to the wisdom of the supreme Artificer."2 The earth was formless because the Creator hadn't formed the plan. Genesis 1, I believe, is the outline of that pre-temporal planning. Looking up synonyms for bohu, void, we find it means, bare, empty, and lacking. Again, it appears that there is no plan in place for what would fill the earth.

    Proclamation 1

    Genesis 1:3.
    Proclamation: Then God said, “Let there be light”;
    Human writer's addenda: "and there was light".
    Information from what isn't said: It doesn't say "and there was light instantly"

    The account has God saying "Let there be light"; it doesn't have Him saying "Let there be light and there was light". That would make no sense. The phrase, "and there was light", is the editorial statement of the human author. "Let there be light" is the statement of God; "and it was so" is the statement of the human writer.. This is how the Days of Proclamation view approaches each of the proclamations in Genesis. Remember, this is the pre-temporal planning of the universe. The 'and there was light' was added to the account maybe billions of years after the proclamation.

    Pre-temporal is both a logical and an old view.

    Is viewing Genesis 1 as pre-temporal sensible? Absolutely it is. No matter whether one believes all of Genesis 1 is pre-temporal planning of the universe, or believes these statements immediately created the light, part of this first proclamation is pre-temporal. When God said 'Let', there still was no light, time or space. When God said 'be' there still was no light, time or space. The first part of this sentence is clearly a pre-temporal event until the sentence is finished and light comes into being. So even if one rejects the Days of Proclamation view which has all of Genesis 1 as pre-temporal planning, there is no getting around the fact that the first creative proclamation was stated logically prior to the universe's existence. So why not take a look at how a pre-temporal interpretation of Genesis 1 improves the fit between science and the Bible. Secondly, both Christians and Jews have taken at least parts of this passage as pre-temporal. Nachmanides, a medieval Jewish rabbi, said the whole Torah was written prior to the creation of the world. He explains why Moses doesn't list himself as author:

    "The reason for the Torah being written in this form [namely, the third person] is that it preceded the creation of the world, and needless to say, it preceded the birth of Moses our teacher.” 3

    St. Basil, looking at Genesis 1:3-5, notes that there is an oddity in the account. Instead of saying "the first day," the Hebrew says "was one day." New American Standard translates it this way. The Hebrew word e-hat is the word for one, and it is translated everywhere else in the Bible as "one", "single", or "only", but never as first. Basil suggests that this day is connected with eternity past.

    "If then the beginning of time is called one day rather than the first day, it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It was, in reality, fit and natural to call one the day whose character is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all the others."4

    Earlier in his essay, St. Basil had presaged the above statement with:

    "The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite."5

    The first day was eternity past plus the first day of creation. With these two statements, St. Basil began the path to the Days of Proclamation view by making the first day, pre-temporal.

    The Importance of Light in Genesis 1:3

    Liberal Christians, by this I mean those who do not believe the early Genesis accounts contain history or scientific information. will often agree that Genesis 1:3 is historical and scientifically accurate. I am a physicist so Genesis 1:3 tells me much about nature. To me it is quite interesting that the pre-planning mentions light first. It is fundamental to the nature of the universe. It is implicit in the nature of light. When God called light into existence, we know that the velocity of light is measured in distance divided by time. Light's existence requires both time and space to exist. Because light travels in space-time and the shape of space-time is controlled by the gravitational field, we also know that gravity was in existence. General Relativity is about both gravity and the space-time that comes with it. Gravity is one of the fundamental forces in nature. Light is a form of radiation formed by time-varying electrical and magnetic fields so we know electromagnetism existed. . Further, since science shows that at high temperatures, electricity, magnetism and the weak force (responsible for radioactive decay) are all one force, we know the electroweak theory was in existence. To explain this a bit more, while at high temperatures, electromagnetism and the weak force are one, at our temperatures, they split into two different forces. This simple sentence "Let there be light," proves God was thinking about 3 of the 4 fundamental forces in the first planning event.

    Science tells us that the first thing that came into existence in the big bang was light. The first 30-50,000 years after the big bang was an era dominated by radiation, called the radiation era. During the radiation era, it was too hot for quarks to condense and hold together to form particles. So, with the very first proclamation we know a lot about the universe. Thus with this simple statement we know that 3 of the 4 fundamental forces of nature are in existence, and we match what we know of the big bang. Thus, I think that proclamation is as true as is the Genesis 1:1.

    Proclamation 2

    Genesis 1:6-7:
    Proclamation: Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.
    Human writer's addenda: God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.
    Information from what isn't said: It doesn't say when God made the expanse in relation to the proclamation.

    Some will find this section very eisegetical (reading modern things into the Scripture) but as I said above, God has to communicate truth both to Neolithic farmers and to 21st century scientists. There is a way to interpret this proclamation as scientifically true. As it is currently interpreted. as showing a vaulted domed sky, this is a troublesome proclamation and it is ridiculed by skeptics. Interestingly, that idea might have come not from the Hebrews but from the Greeks. There was a mistranslation of the Latin Vulgate. The Vulgate translates, raqiya, as 'firmament. but etymologyonline explains why it is a bad translation. That site says:

    "Used in Late Latin in the Vulgate to translate Greek stereoma "firm or solid structure," which translated Hebrew raqiya, a word used of both the vault of the sky and the floor of the earth in the Old Testament, probably literally "expanse," from raqa "to spread out," but in Syriac meaning "to make firm or solid," hence the erroneous translation." 6

    So, why did the Septuagint use stereoma as the translation for raqiya? A fascinating article which traces the idea of the vaulted sky, says that Hellenized Jews, knowing of Ptolemaic science bent the translation so as to match what they thought was known about the heavens. Since the Ptolemaic system had 8 solid crystalline spheres with stars, sun, planets and moon embedded in them, the Septuagint translators chose stereoma to match Greek beliefs. Expanse doesn't have the same meaning as firmament. Thus the vaulted sky idea ultimately came from the Greeks, from their understanding of the Ptolemaic system, and thus wasn't demonstrably a Hebrew idea. Further, it is quietly likely that the Syriac meaning of rqi a was influenced by the Septuagint as well, causing the dictionary compilers to call it make firm.

    Raqiya does not mean solid, it's root is 'expansion', which is very interesting, of one thinks of the expansion of space. In my opinion, this word should never have been translated 'firmament'. It was a bias caused by the Septuagint and the Vulgate.. Because of the Vulgate, firmament made it into both Strong's and Brown-Driver-Briggs concordances on Hebrew. Frankly, using 'firmament' absolutely makes the Bible false, because it gives the view that the sky was a solid dome separating waters above this solid dome from the waters below. We know this is false from Science. If you want a false Scripture, read no further, there is no point in wasting your time. Those who suggest to me that we can't interpret the Scripture in any other way than the way the Neolithic Hebrews read it, condemn the Bible to be scientifically false with no hope of it ever being interpreted consistently with science. If the Bible is false, it shouldn't be believed.

    So how do we get out of this problem? Consider, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate... " Separate has two different meanings, the first is to "divide", and that is the meaning normally given to this verse. This meaning leads to falsehood. The second meaning is "force apart". If we use this meaning then the verse reads: Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it force apart the waters from the waters.” This indicates continuing action as opposed to finished action when separate means divide. Further, 'force apart' is more consistent with the meaning of raqiya's root, expansion.

    With this meaning, then we can match modern science, and there are several possible ways to match modern science. My favorite, because it is simple is that it might refer to the expanse between the clouds and the earth, which we see every day. It is a fact that updrafts keep the clouds afloat, so maybe this is what it is referring to. The updraft of air acts moves the water up and away from the earth and only when the drops are too big to be held up by the updraft, do they fall as rain. If you watch a cumulus cloud growing, you can see it getting taller, spreading up and away from the earth.

    Secondly, while the Neolithics couldn't have known of this, we all know of the expanding universe. Galaxies are separated from each other by the expansion of space itself. This is why the use of raqiya is so interesting. It is like there is a double entendre here, as some have observed dual meanings in Biblical prophecies. Space's basic nature is to expand, in the sense of forcing things apart. Space expands because of quantum mechanical properties of space, which generate the cosmological constant for general relativity. Now you can see the match from this possibility--Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate waters from waters. This could be the separation of galaxy from galaxy, or it could be the collapse of matter to form planets in a solar system, where gravity's pull separates the areas of the nebula going into one planet or the other. All of these interpretations makes Day two proclamation match science.

    If one of the latter two interpretations is true, why did the Hebrews say waters? Well, they had no word for matter, and water seems quite common in the galaxy. Both gases in space and stars in gravitational fields can flow, like water when gravitational interactions are just right. When galaxies collide one can see stars flowing from one galaxy to another. See the picture below. You can see the bridge of stars flowing from one to the other.


    merging-galaxies.jpg

    The Vaunted Vaulted Sky Flat Earth Cosmology.

    As Younker and Davidson show, this is a topic that was actually developed by Biblical critics, and possibly has no basis in history. They say:

    "Anyone who wishes to study ancient Hebrew cosmology will quickly discover that the common understanding among most modern biblical scholars is that the Hebrews had a “prescientific,” even naive, view of the universe. This understanding is built around the idea that the Hebrew word rāqîa‘, which appears in Genesis 1 and is usually translated “firmament” in English Bibles, was actually understood by the ancient Hebrews to be a solid, hemispherical dome or vault that rested upon mountains or pillars that stood along the outermost perimeter of a circular, flat disc—the earth. Above this solid dome was a celestial ocean (“waters above the firmament”). Attached to the dome and visible to observers below were the stars, sun, and moon. The dome also possessed windows or gates through which celestial waters (“waters above the firmament”) could, upon occasion, pass."7

    The idea that the Hebrews believed in a flat earth and solidly domed sky is a myth, as we will show. I will not deny that some people did believe in the vaulted sky, but they were rare and considered eccentrics. Elihu, when speaking to Job said,

    Job 37:18 can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?

    Does this support the domed sky/flat earth? It sounds like it but maybe not. The word used for 'skies' is more often translated as clouds than as skies, so it isn't really clear he is speaking about the firmament (raqiya). Robert C. Newman points out that r i is not the normal word for mirror in Scripture. Younker and Davidson say:

    "Newman, 15, also notes that ḥāzāq can mean “mighty” as well as “strong,” and mûṣaq literally means “poured out.” He concludes that since in this verse the context is on-going weather phenomena rather than creation, the following translation of the verse is preferred: “Can you, with Him, spread out the mighty clouds, With an appearance of being poured out?”"8

    For context: Job 37 has words like lightning, thunders, snow, rain, whirlwind, cold out of north,, frost, watering while wearing cloud, fair weather, wind. The chapter is speaking of meteorology, not cosmology. Given the uncertainty about the proper translation of the verse this does not provide certain evidence of a solid firmament, unless one is predisposed to looking for such evidence.

    The vaulted sky idea has the ignorant Hebrews believing rain came through windows in the firmament. Wiki says:

    "Rain, snow, wind and hail were kept in storehouses outside the raqia, which had "windows" to allow them in - the waters for Noah's flood entered when the "windows of heaven" were opened."9

    The most important reason not to believe the nonsense above is that in Gen 7:11 it is the windows of shamayim (the sky), not the windows of raqiya (expanse)!. So, categorically NO; the firmament raqiya) didn't have windows through which water flowed.

    The second reason is that there is plenty of Biblical evidence that the ancient Hebrews knew that rain came from clouds, not from windows in the sky. Since Job is the oldest book, this knowledge predates the rest of the Bible.

    Judges 5:4“the clouds poured down water."
    2 Samuel 22:12"the dark rain clouds of the sky."
    1 Kings 18:45"Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds,the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling "
    Job 26:8 “He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.”
    Job 36:28 "the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind."
    Job 37:11 “He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them.”
    Job 37:13 “He brings the clouds to punish people, or to water his earth and show his love.”
    Job 38:34 ““Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?
    Job 38:37 “Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
    Psalm 18:11 "the dark rain clouds of the sky."

    Now that we have established that Hebrews knew the source of rain–and weren’t quite as stupid as they are portrayed, we need to look at the history of the idea of the vaulted sky/flat earth cosmology to see how it happened. Multiple researchers have debunked this idea and it doesn't seem to go away. No one seems to be listening. There are many points Younker and Davidson make:

    1. Some have suggested the Hebrews borrowed the vaulted sky/flat earth cosmology from the Mesopotamians. Lambert showed that the Babylonians didn't have a vaulted sky.10 Their cosmology was quite different from a vaulted dome.

    2. Early Church fathers rejected the solid vaulted sky. St. Basil said:

    "I have said what the word firmament in Scripture means. It is not in reality a firm and solid substance which has weight and resistance; this name would otherwise have better suited the earth. But, as the substance of superincumbent bodies is light, without consistency, and cannot be grasped by any one of our senses, it is in comparison with these pure and imperceptible substances that the firmament has received its name. 11

    "As Edward Grant notes, “Most Christian authors and Latin Encyclopedists during late antiquity . . . thought of the heavens (i.e. celestial spheres) as fiery or elemental in nature, and therefore fluid.”12

    3. Medieval Christian scholars didn't commit to a solid dome cosmology
    "During the late Middle Ages, most authors were vague and noncommital despite the fact that the very name firmamentum, with its implications of strength, power, and stability, and even of solidity and hardness, seemed to invite an explanation and thus to provide an occasion for the expression of opinions about its possible hardness or softness. "13

    4. In the 14th century scholars moved to a solid firmament and it remained that way for two centuries.

    5. Hard spheres were abandoned in the 16th century because of the observations of Tycho Brache and the comet of 1577 which proved there were no hard spheres. The comet seemed to plow right through those hard spheres without any effect.

    6. The idea of the vaulted cosmology came from religious skeptics.

    "Historians Jeffery Burton Russell and Christine Garwood respectively debunk the long-held view among modern scholars that ancient philosophers and scientists of the early Christian church, late antiquity, and the Middle Ages believed the earth was flat. After an extensive review of the letters, papers, and books of all the major thinkers throughout these periods, Russell and Garwood made the surprising discovery that apart from a few isolated individuals, no one believed in a flat earth—indeed, the common consensus throughout this entire period among virtually all scholars and churchmen was that the earth was spherical. Where, then, did the flat-earth understanding of early Christian and medieval thought originate? They were able to trace its origin to the early nineteenth century when antireligious sentiment was high among many scholars and intellectuals." 14

    Russell wrote a piece on the internet debunking the flat earth which is part and parcel of this vaulted cosmology idea, and said:

    "No one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the earth was flat."15

    And further how no one is listening.

    "Historians of science have been proving this point for at least 70 years (most recently Edward Grant, David Lindberg, Daniel Woodward, and Robert S. Westman), without making notable headway against the error. Schoolchildren in the US, Europe, and Japan are for the most part being taught the same old nonsense. How and why did this nonsense emerge?"16

    Russell's article shows that it was Washington Irving, and Antoine-Jean Letronne who got the vaulted dome and flat earth going around 1800. Irving wrote the fraudulent story about Columbus being told that he would fall off the flat earth if he sailed west, when in fact Columbus was being told that China was far to far away for his ship to make it. Letronne was an academic with anti-religious biases' who misrepresented the early church fathers, portraying them as believing in a vaulted domed sky and flat earth.

    This falsehood became an easy story for Christian opponents to use on us. "Look how dumb those Christians are!" And as academia turned more and more away from Christian culture over the past 2 centuries, few want to look into this, change it, or tell the truth. Even Christian academics love this game, but as I said, they prefer their Bible false.

    Biblical scholars need to rethink the idea of a solid firmament, which falls into the trap atheists lay for us. As long as we agree with them that the vaulted, domed sky/flat earth was what the Bible taught, we will continue to force falsehood on the Scriptures. I know it goes against the grain of a couple of hundred years of thinking, but raqiya-expanse, does not indicate solidity--firmament, it indicates exactly what space out there does--expand.

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    tWebber
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    Someone ask for part 2. 10 views and no one asked?

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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    Someone ask for part 2. 10 views and no one asked?
    I'll ask.

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" -- starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)

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    Quote Originally Posted by rogue06 View Post
    I'll ask.
    Thanks Rogue.
    Days of Proclamation: Historical Reading of Genesis Part 2

    Proclamation 3
    Genesis 1:9
    Proclamation: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear:
    Human writer's addition: "and it was so."
    Information from what isn't said: doesn't say when dry land appeared.

    To match this proclamation, all I have to do is to follow Wiki's article, History of Earth.17 When the earth first formed, there were no continents, no oceans. The earth's surface was a basaltic crust lying over magma, melted rock. As the convection of this hot fluid proceeded, the minerals began to separate, with the lighter minerals being granite and forming the seeds of the continents. Just before 4 billion years ago, these proto-continents were formed and the water had begun to condense, causing erosion and the formation of sedimentary rocks. Once the oceans formed, erosion began, and we find the earliest sedimentary rocks prior to 4 billion years ago.18 Also, a clearly layered sedimentary rock is said to be 3.9 billion years old.19 This proclamation, made pre-temporally, was fulfilled long after the big bang, but early in earth history.

    Proclamation 4

    Genesis 1:11
    Proclamation: 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:
    Human writer's addenda: 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.
    Information from what isn't said: Doesn't say when.

    This is the point at which I must disagree with my young-earth brothers and sisters. The plain reading of this passage is that the earth is doing the work of bringing forth the grass etc. One has to ignore the grammar to claim that the earth didn't bring forth this life. Look at the words, "Let the earth bring forth...". God ordered the earth to bring forth life. This means the earth was doing the work. While God gifted to the earth the ability to produce plants, it was actually the earth that did the bringing forth. This is mediated creation.

    The idea of mediated creation was held by many of the church fathers. St. Augustine believed that God put potentialities into creation which developed later in other days:

    "For Augustine the seminal reasons have a real physical existence, but in the creation act recorded in Genesis 1 they were not produced with definite bodily form. They did not exist actually but only potentially, and contain as potential all possible species of particular things."20 " Augustine stresses that everything was created before it appears on the earth, so that things are not created at the time when they appear."21

    St. Basil wrote that it was the earth that travailed to obey God:

    "Let the earth bring forth. See how, at this short word, at this brief command, the cold and sterile earth travailed and hastened to bring forth its fruit".22

    He further writes that God gifted the earth with grace and power to bring forth life!:

    "At these words Let the earth bring forth, it did not produce a germ contained in it, but He who gave the order at the same time gifted it with the grace and power to bring forth." 23

    John Chrysostom agrees that the earth was awakened to bring forth life:

    "What is really remarkable and surprising is that the one who now by his own word awakens the earth to germination of so many plants and demonstrates his own power surpassing human reasoning," 24

    Chrysostom says it was the waters which were activated by God's spirit, so that the waters brought forth life.

    "but what does this word mean, the Spirit of God was carried on the waters? It seems to me that it reveals to us that the waters possessed an effective and vital virtue. They were therefore not stagnant and motionless, but they moved with a certain activity. For every body that rests in total immobility is completely useless, while the movement makes it fit for a thousand uses." 25

    Chrysostom says this about the ability of the waters to produce life:

    "Therefore the Holy Prophet said that the Spirit of God was carried on the waters, to show us that they possessed an energetic and secret force, and it is not for no reason that Scripture expresses thus; for it wants to dispose us to believe what it will tell us later that animals were produced from these waters by the command of God, creator of the universe."26

    Yes, by the command of God, but the water did the work.

    So, now we see that God didn't directly create the plants but indirectly created them by empowering the created earth and waters to bring forth life, we can see here, that this is consistent with evolution. If only Christians had paid attention to grammar, we might not have the problem with accepting evolution that we have today in the church.

    Proclamation 5

    Genesis 1:14
    Proclamation: 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:
    Human addenda: 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.
    Information from what isn't said: Again, it doesn't say when God made the two great lights.

    This proclamation is so easy to fit with the knowledge of modern science that I almost don't know what to say further. The sun formed billions of years after the big bang, and so did the moon. Some stars in our galaxy formed very early in cosmic history.27 Never the less, they were formed, I think all can agree.

    Proclamation 6

    Genesis 1:20

    Proclamation: 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.
    Human addenda: 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.
    Information from what isn't said: again, no claim that this happened instantly.

    Yes verse 21 says "And God created..." but He did it by making the waters capable of bringing forth the living creatures.

    This passage is one that is particularly criticized by Biblical critics for having fowl created with fishes, something that didn't happen in the geologic record. Fish first appear in the Cambrian period, about 530 million years ago, and birds arose in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago. If we Christians insist that this verse has to be interpreted as instantaneous creation, then we doom the scripture to being false. In my mind, if there is an interpretation that allows the Bible to be factually true, we should take it.

    I should talk about the birds here. The phrase as translated in Genesis 1:20 in King James as:

    "fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven."

    Open firmament is an oxymoron. Firmament is solid, not open. Even the Hebrews knew that birds didn't bump into a solid object in the sky. This is a hint that raqiya should be translated as expanse, as the NASB says: let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”

    The bolded part in
    Hebrew is:...……….... al, ….. ha-ares, ….. al, ……. pene, …... raqiya, ………….... has-sa-ma-yim
    Strong's meaning: above, ….. earth,..... across, the face, of the firmament, ….. of the sky

    I have put commas between the English corresponding to the Hebrew. Note that al, is translated differently in its two occurrences. pene is translated "before" 77 times, and sometimes as "before the face of." Given this and what we have said before, about raqiya, this phrase could be translated as "above the earth before the expanse of the sky" and it would be perfectly correct scientifically, not holding to the idea that birds could bump into a solid wall up there and in some sense recognizing that so much of the expanse is far beyond the birds--outer space. As I have said, if there is a way to interpret the Bible as true, let's take that path. To do otherwise, and then claim it is Gods word is illogical.

    Proclamation 7

    Genesis 1:24
    Proclamation: 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:
    Human addenda: 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.
    Information from what isn't said: Doesn't say the creation was instant upon God proclaiming it.

    Again, we see the earth doing the work of bringing forth these living creatures. God empowered the earth, but the earth did the work. Again we see the statement God made but the proclamation makes it clear that God did it indirectly by means of the earth.

    I think it is time to talk about the phrase "after their kind." This phrase is often claimed to rule out evolution but it doesn't. The phrase means, "of various kinds". Strong's translates it "according to its kind." This means, crocodiles, deer, cows, cats, dogs, rats, etc. These are the kinds of animals. The phrase says nothing about the reproductive abilities of the animals. If it did, the sentence would say, "And God made the beast of the field reproduce beasts of the field after its kind." Since it doesn't say that, we can say, the phrase means "of various kinds" again through the mediation of the earth by the empowerment of God.

    Proclamation 8

    Genesis 1:26
    Proclamation: 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.
    Human addenda: 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.

    Information from what isn't said: Doesn't say when man was created.

    While the proclamation was a plan of what God was going to do, this proclamation is different than the ones above. This proclamation says that He (Trinity?) will make man, directly, and in His image. He didn't use the earth to create us, or at least not all of us. Our bodies show many similarities with the great apes, including non-working genes, called pseudogenes that we share with them. This does show our bodies evolved, but, and this is important we are unique in that we have God's image.

    Many of my atheist friends will roll their eyes at the claim that we humans are unique. Well, we have a symbolic language, and our language does not come from the same part of the brain that language of the apes comes from. Indeed, the area of our brain that produces language is unique among the animal kingdom. Ian Tattersall writes:

    "Indeed, Jane Goodall believes that vocalizations are so closely tied to emotional states that 'the production of a sound in the absence of the appropriate emotional state seems to be an almost impossible task for a chimpanzee.' Even among chimpanzees, the sound production appears to be controlled in the brain by the ancient structures of the limbic system and the brain stem, which we'll read about shortly and which are involved in emotional response. The 'higher' centers of the brain do not appear to be much involved. This is a far cry (sorry!) from language as we humans know it, which is initiated in those higher centers the cerebral cortex) and is dependent on production and interpretation of sounds in isolation from the emotional states of the speaker and hearer. It is also dependent upon rules of grammar, syntax and so forth that are totally absent from the sound combinations chimpanzees make. So, no. Not only do chimpanzees not have language; they don't even have an incipient form of it."28

    Alone among the animal kingdom, humans wear clothing. No, a hermit crab shell is not clothing. He didn't make it, he just absconded with the shell. Even the Ona and Tasmanians, the most abjectly poorest humans on earth when they met Europeans, had articles of clothing, small as they were.

    Alone among animals, humans can control fire.29

    Humans are the only species to cook food.30

    As Aristotle noted millennia ago, man is a rational animal. No other animal pursues knowledge for knowledge sake.

    Humans are the only animals to engage in mathematics via proving theorems. This is just one of the many ways we exhibit symbolic abstract thinking. No other animals do that.

    No other animal produces art as humans do. Yes, some collect objects for display, like bowerbirds, but none make multicolored pigments to paint objects, and only paint when encouraged to do so by human trainers. None do it in the wild.

    Humans are the only creatures who try to figure out where we came from.31.

    Humans have a unique sweating system. I won't get into it here, but it is. This reminds me of God telling Adam, "By the sweat of your brow".

    Humans are the only species who can chose to be evil on either an individual or a massive, organized scale.

    Humans are the only species to engage in pornography.

    We have come to the end of the Days of Proclamation view. I feel it is the only way to interpret Genesis 1 in which it will be scientifically true. People can and will continue to avoid conflicts with science by saying that Genesis 1 isn't meant to convey scientific information, because it is poetry (which it is not quite like Psalms), or because God didn't intend it to teach science (How they know God's intent when He didn't state it, is never made clear). That is their choice and freedom, but such views miss an opportunity to address the criticisms atheists throw at the Scripture. At the very least, I hope this discussion will help someone who is on that slippery slope, beginning to see the problems in Genesis as insurmountable.

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    tWebber
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    Atheists have always claimed that Genesis 1 can't be interpreted in a literal fashion because it would violate science. Any of them want to say mea culpa?

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    Atheists have always claimed that Genesis 1 can't be interpreted in a literal fashion because it would violate science. Any of them want to say mea culpa?
    No.

    First, atheists rarely if ever say that Genesis can't be interpreted in a literal fashion because it would violate science. We know that Genesis can be interpreted in a literal fashion even if it does violate science, because contradictions between Genesis and science aren't an issue either for atheists (who don't require them to correspond) or many Christians (who either don't know about, don't give credence to, distort, ignore or reject scientific findings).

    Second, you've characterised one third of the text as editorial statements by the human author that don't have to be taken literally, and completely ignored another third of the text which repeatedly says "And there was evening, and there was morning—the [n]th day". You aren't interpreting Genesis I at all, let alone literally, if you miss out every third verse.
    Jorge: Functional Complex Information is INFORMATION that is complex and functional.

    mikewhitney: What if the speed of light changed when light is passing through water? ... I have 3 semesters of college Physics.

    Mountain Man: First of all, the Bible is a fixed document.

  7. #7
    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Personally, and as I've made clear several times in the past, I see the creation account, especially Genesis 1, as primarily being a monotheistic polemic against the various pagan cosmogonies and polytheistic myths of the people that surrounded the ancient Hebrews and were corrupting the ancient Israelites -- and that it still conveys powerful truths today. Theological truths that remain timeless. This is very similar to the view expressed by George Frederick Wright a century ago and by folks like Conrad Hyers and others today.

    Such a reading is still a literal interpretation but one which doesn't rely on symbolism or a lot of poetic elements. While historical and scientific questions may be foremost in our minds it seems doubtful that it was foremost in the author’s. If it were then it would contain the answers to questions that have vexed theologians probably since the day it was written. If the text were primarily concerned with presenting history then it would have provided simple details such as who in the world Cain married, and the like.

    This is why we need to be real careful about attempting to extract answers to questions the writer wasn't concerned with. We need to be on guard that we don’t get so distracted by our own interests that we fail to notice what the message about God here is.

    The burning issues when the text was written had nothing to do with science or history but the temptations of idolatry and syncretism that threatened Jewish monotheism. Hence, the frequent invectives by the various prophets against altars in high places, the Canaanite cult of Baal, and "whoring after other gods” seen throughout the Old Testament. What appears to be emphasized at the start of Genesis is that God is the one true God who is responsible for the creation of and is Lord over literally everything.

    He isn't merely yet another tribal deity or the ruler of a nation, but the creator and ruler over the Sun, Moon and stars, which (as Deuteronomy 4:19-20; 17:3; cf. 29:25; 32: 8-9; II Kings 21:2-3; 23:5; Jeremiah 8:2; 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5 demonstrate) were seen by many as deities themselves. In Genesis the heavenly bodies are denied any divine character or potency. Their primary duty is to bestow light at their appointed times, thus restraining the darkness in an ordered fashion. Notice how in Genesis 1:16 the sun and moon are deliberately not named but are merely referred to as "two great luminaries" or "two great lights." That is because the sun and moon were deified by the neighboring people and in the Semitic languages the words "sun" and "moon" are also the names of gods. But here they’re reduced to nothing more than lamps that light the Earth and along with the stars regulate the calendar in service of humanity (as opposed to the belief the stars control our lives).

    The same thing goes for the other things mentioned in Genesis 1. There were sky gods and earth gods (in some myths the earth was made from the body of a dead god) and water gods. There were gods of light and darkness, rivers and vegetation, animals and fertility. Water and darkness themselves were often characterized as forces with which the deities in pagan lands had to struggle with and overcome. Yet all are relegated to the status of merely things that God created and commands. Everything worshiped by the Egyptians, Canaanites, Assyrians or any other Mesopotamian people are shown by Genesis 1 to be creations of God, effortlessly brought into existence.

    God is not one of the forces of nature like so many of the neighboring deities represent. Not even the supreme fertility or Nature with a capital “N.” Instead God is the sovereign creator of the world and source of everything in it – but not identifiable with it. He is wholly other, the transcendent God. God is, well God. Absolutely nothing lies outside His creative power[1].

    There isn't the slightest indication here that God is bound or restricted by Chaos or merely some demiurge working with a resisting material that wasn't of His own making and that somehow places limits on His will. The plants and animals reproduce after their own kind to stress that they remain plants and animals and don’t become deities – not some scientific declaration. And mankind isn't like the Pharaohs of Egypt, divine in our own right, nor are we merely some afterthought as depicted in the Babylonian Enuma Elish.

    Further, it is made clear that while nature is "good" it is not divine and shouldn't be worshiped, and by declaring it good God informs us that the view that physical things are inherently evil is also to be rejected. Our problem is sin, not physicality.

    Look at what the author chooses to open the Bible with: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." We can see for ourselves how God's existence is outright assumed, and how His transcendence is plainly proclaimed in that opening sentence. It is clear that God is not part of the created order, and as I've noted above how God is the God who made everything else. This is a declaration being made to a people who already knew God as the one who delivered them from bondage in Egypt where they had been surrounded by a culture that worshiped many false gods and idols. Afterwards they found themselves still surrounded by cultures that continued to worship them. So the fundamental purpose of this part of Scripture then was to inform God's people more fully of who their God is: the almighty God of the universe, the God who redeems his people, and the only God worthy of worship. IOW, God is God.

    For me, the intent of Genesis 1 is crystal clear; it serves to glorify God the Creator, not those things which He created. All of creation, the entire universe and everything within it, owes its existence to the creative power of God (cf., Acts 17:24; Romans 11:36). God has absolute sovereignty over creation and everything in it. There are just too many elements suggesting (to me at least) that history is being used here more as a literary device or framework for presenting the completed work of creation.

    Moreover, it seems a good idea to keep in mind that even when presenting historical events that they’re theological representations of the historical events. IOW, essentially, biblical history is more concerned with transmitting significance over exact statistical detail[2].

    Finally, we must keep in mind that the entire concept of reconstructing and recounting events in exact statistical detail (as it actually happened) is in fact a relatively modern development owing a lot to the ideals of the 19th century positivists. The point is that it is ridiculous to hold Genesis, or other parts of the Bible for that matter, to modern standards of scholarship that were unknown to it.

    Paul tells us what the purpose of the Bible is, and it is not to tell us how nature functions or came about. Rather, it is "to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). It is "breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (vs. 16-17).

    Genesis isn't an attempt to grapple with or answer technical scientific questions, but instead deals with matters beyond the realm of science. It seeks to bring us in touch with the eternal God and to reveal the sacred meaning of His being, His purpose and His dealings with us as He works out His holy will. Simply put, the Bible is not trying to tell us exactly HOW or WHEN God did this or that but rather, it is telling us WHY God did this.












    1. And God is responsible not just for the origin of all that there is but the entire being of all that is (As Thomas Aquinas wrote in "De potentia dei" (On the Power of God), the only cause of being is the power of God and all natural causes act as instruments of that power).

    2. Like other sections of the Bible, Genesis 1 appears more concerned with great Truths rather than mere chronological exactitude which while so important in much of our Western writing is not such a big deal in the Hebrew literary tradition. Topical arrangement or rearrangement is not infrequently found.

    For instance, the Temptation accounts recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 provide different orders which are only contradictory if you feel that the authors were concerned with getting the order of the temptations correct rather than emphasizing the fact they took place. Likewise with Psalm. 78 which is intending to stress God’s care of the Israelites but places the smiting of the rock (78:15) before the manna from heaven (vv. 24-25) in contradiction to the account in Exodus 16 and 17. Even the ten plagues are summarized as seven, and in a different order, in Psalm 78:42-51; 105:24-37.

    If the author of Genesis 1 was interested in stressing the fact of creation and wasn't overly concerned with its exact chronological sequence of events, then many difficulties are eliminated.

    I'm always still in trouble again

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  8. #8
    tWebber tabibito's Avatar
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    Alone among the animal kingdom, humans wear clothing. No, a hermit crab shell is not clothing. He didn't make it, he just absconded with the shell. Even the Ona and Tasmanians, the most abjectly poorest humans on earth when they met Europeans, had articles of clothing, small as they were.
    Clothing is much a matter of survival in many regions of the world - its use arising from necessity. In other areas, clothing can be considered an aesthetic choice - and a number of species do pretty their environments up a bit - and a scant few, their own bodies.

    Humans are the only species to cook food.30
    False. A few species of raptor will cook food where opportunity presents.

    As Aristotle noted millennia ago, man is a rational animal. No other animal pursues knowledge for knowledge sake.Humans are the only animals to engage in mathematics via proving theorems. This is just one of the many ways we exhibit symbolic abstract thinking. No other animals do that.
    Unproven. A number of species demonstrate curiosity about things that don't really matter in the pragmatic sense. Some species demonstrate the ability to give consideration to matters that they don't understand.

    No other animal produces art as humans do. Yes, some collect objects for display, like bowerbirds, but none make multicolored pigments to paint objects, and only paint when encouraged to do so by human trainers. None do it in the wild.
    It could be argued that "humans in the wild" don't normally indulge in such endeavours either.

    Humans are the only creatures who try to figure out where we came from.31.
    unproven and to date not testable.

    Humans are the only species who can chose to be evil on an individual scale.
    Evidence enough exists to provide grounds for hypothesising that this assertion might be incorrect.

    Humans are the only species to engage in pornography.
    Prostitution is known among certain species of penguin. Sexual violence is not unknown in a variety of species. Cross-species sexual attraction is not unknown, and being affronted by an advance from another species can be distinctly communicated.

    Self awareness (manifesting as embarrassment on occasion), curiosity, empathy or sympathy, attempts to communicate (with varying degrees of success) with humans and other species, considering matters that are not understood (and being satisfied with a resolution, or scared by a failure to resolve), co-operative effort to achieve a result - all are demonstrated. How many species actually do these things without getting done in ways that humans recognise is a matter for conjecture. The inability to manipulate materials as easily as humans seems to be about the only distinction that can be reasonably considered demonstrative.
    Last edited by tabibito; 06-07-2019 at 04:27 AM.
    1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

  9. Amen shunyadragon, Seeker amen'd this post.
  10. #9
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roy View Post
    No.

    Second, you've characterised one third of the text as editorial statements by the human author that don't have to be taken literally, and completely ignored another third of the text which repeatedly says "And there was evening, and there was morning—the [n]th day". You aren't interpreting Genesis I at all, let alone literally, if you miss out every third verse.
    Roy, that is so untrue. the editorial statements are literally true. Are you saying we don't have light?

    Secondly, it is ridiculous to claim as your statement above would require, that God said "Let there be light and it was so" Why would God say 'and it was so"? Putting those two parts together makes no grammatical or logical sense.

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    tWebber
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    Rogue said: "For me, the intent of Genesis 1 is crystal clear; it serves to glorify God the Creator, not those things which He created. All of creation, the entire universe and everything within it, owes its existence to the creative power of God (cf., Acts 17:24; Romans 11:36). God has absolute sovereignty over creation and everything in it. There are just too many elements suggesting (to me at least) that history is being used here more as a literary device or framework for presenting the completed work of creation. "



    The problem I have with this is merely to 'glorify God' is that it doesn't do that. Genesis 1 as normally interpreted ties God to a false account that is so easy to criticize in the light of science. If God has foreknowledge, as most Christians believe, He would have to know that he was speaking not only to Neolithics but would eventually have 21st century folk looking at the account and thinking it is stupid. To me, that makes God stupid for not thinking about the future. That is my problem with the polemic interpretation.

    Nothing personal rogue, I like you, but I really believe that in today's workd, the Polemic idea fails to praise and glorify God today.

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