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What About Genesis, Chapter One

Page history last edited by pinkhamc@... 10 months ago

Two books that you should read as you study Genesis, Chapter One are "The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate" by John Walton, and the booklet, Genesis One and the Age of the Earth" by Rodney Whitefield, or the longer version, "Reading Genesis One: Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation."

 

In a nutshell, here's the problem. One cannot hope to translate any foreign work accurately until one has thoroughly grasped other writings penned at the same time in the same language and the cultural milieu at the time of their writing.  Genesis One was understood in this manner by the middle of the 19th century and this understanding was so widespread, that no one saw a need to include it in Seminary courses in America. As a result, shortly after Darwin's "Origin of Species" appeared, Certain American Evangelistic movements began to see (erroneously) that an old earth threatened Biblical credibility. These books return their reader to the original Hebrew in the original culture at the time that Moses (and his "muse," the Holy Spirit) wrote Genesis to correct this misunderstanding.

 

Both of them review the meanings associated with the Hebrew words and phrases "bara" and "asa", "tohu and bohu", and "yom."  Genesis One cannot be appreciated or understood until these words are comprehended in the sense and setting in which they were originally used.

 

An additional good read that relates more specifically to understanding the cosomology of the time which provided the setting for Moses' writing, is Denis Lamoureux's excellent book, "Evolutionary Creationism: A Christian Approach to Evolution," or the shorter, more readable, "I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution."

 

Accommodation

Denis first introduced me to the concept of "accommodation."  Fundamentally, it is that God comes down to the level of knowledge possessed by the author of a particular Biblical book to convey the truth He is revealing.  God uses words, terms, and concepts familiar to the author (and his audience at the time of his writing) as symbols.  God is not so concerned with whether the symbols accurately represent physical truth; He is concerned that they accurately convey spiritual truth.

 

I take this concept one step further than Denis and many of my colleagues in ASA.  I reason that if God is all-knowing and able to influence the thoughts of man, then He must have influenced the thoughts of the cosmologists of the time so that their physical view of the heavens and earth, although not physically correct, was correct enough that it could be recognized by us with our current knowledge (and a willingness to uncover the metaphor) to convey the physical truth accurately.

 

Adam and Eve

This is just a short thought I discovered today (14 10 06) going through some old notes-don't want to lose it so I'm leaving it here.  Romans 5:12 tells us that sin entered the world through one man.  In other words, it probably occurred as a mutation (or a family of mutations) that when completed, created the sin nature that we have been inheriting ever since.  To do so, it must have also created a strong, positive selection coefficient.  So strong that the mutation has been protected ever since.  What could that be?  Perhaps it is simply the awareness of self to the extent that we also recognize that others have a self awareness like ours and thus have every right to have their awareness of self favored just as much as we want ours favored.  That would inevitably create situations when we would favor an action that pampered our self awareness at the expense of someone Else's.  That would be sin-even to the point of being the original sin.  This thought is embellished in What is Sin? in Witnessing Tools and Conversations with a Seeker of Comprehension, under the discussion of Adam and Eve.

 

Continuing the thought process started above:

Intelligence has to emerge as a product of evolution because there is a limit to how much information can be carried in DNA.  Reflexes and instincts can accomplish only so much.  It probably requires a fairly large number of synapses and the right kind of connections among these synapses, but it probably emerged earlier in the evolution of complex organisms than one might think (octopi and even fish can demonstrate intelligence.  But the evolution of intelligence is not sufficient by itself, concomitantly, there must be the ability to convey the information obtained to others.  That's where observation and more effectively, teaching come in.

 

At some time during the evolution of intelligence, also perhaps earlier than some might be willing to admit, consciousness emerged.  I suspect this emerges first in predators, which have to be intelligent to catch their prey, rather than in primary consumers, which only have to find the normally superabundant vegetation [primary producers] they feed on).  However, experiments show that elephants (primary consumers) are conscious of themselves.  When a dot is painted on their body and they are given a large mirror, they try to touch the spot with their trunks. (I'll provide ref for this one day-there are other, similar examples.)  With further evolution of intelligence superimposed on this consciousness, a point is reached where the organism can value its consciousness and strive to protect it.  I have seen that in animals being led to the slaughter, either in my own hen house, where the hens panic only when I enter with an axe in my hand, or in pictures of other, similar situations.  They know.  Then comes the evolution of more intelligence and with it, the awareness of the consciousness of others.  This will be followed with further evolution in a line of organisms where intelligence can be selected for easily (bipedal hominids with hands free to manipulate and teach) to awareness of the validity of the other's consciousness to themselves with the same degree of worth that we put on our own consciousness to ourselves, which leads to the event that happened in the Garden of Eden, the awareness of good and evil.  For when the only consciousness we had to protect was our own, there was no choice involved, everything involved preserving us or our genes.  As soon as we are aware of our responsibility to preserve others and their genes, we inevitably come face to face with choice:  Protect our genes at the expense of theirs or theirs at the expense of ours.  Philippians 2:3-4 makes it clear what God expects us to do, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."  Eve ate the apple.  Eve provided the opportunity for Adam to see the value of another.  Adam ate the apple Eve offered.  Adam chose to satisfy himself, rather than tell Eve, "No, Eve, don't eat that."

 

Genesis 1:1 (16 12 06)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  We know that the universe, "the heavens," came into existence 17.8 billion years ago in the Big Bang and we know the solar system and the earth formed 4.5 billion years ago.  So for Genesis 1:1 to be true from our perspective (not of course, from God's who is timeless), when the Big Bang occurred, God had to have set in motion processes that 9.3 billion years later would cause the earth to form as assuredly as if He had formed it at the Big Bang.  These processes are those suggested in Eight Phenomena Which Recur Often in Cosmological, Chemical and Biological Evolution That Suggest a Creator.

Genesis 1:2

"Now the earth was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters."  So the earth was not formed yet, it was in some kind of void; darkness was the rule; and the Spirit of God was hovering, waiting for the "Go ahead" from the Father.   Could it be "waters" is a a code word for hydrogen (water is, after all, H2O, and hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and is the source of all other elements that were created in the Big Bang and the ensuing cosmological evolution?  Or perhaps more specifically, is it the quark-gluon plasma that became hydrogen et al? 

Genesis 1:3 

"And God said, "Let there be light."  And the Big Bang happened and thus photons with their energy came into existence, being created out of nothing. 

John 1:3 and John 8:12

"Through Him, all things were made; without Him, nothing was made that had been made."  “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’" And with the Big Bang, this light ensured that the earth and its people would came into existence at their pre-appointed times.  How could this be?  This light, which became the quark-gluon plasma via E=mC2, and this plasma, acted on by the unfolding consequences of the fundamental forces, masses, and constants defined by God at the Big Bang, playing out over cosmological, chemical, and biological evolution, guaranteed it.

 

And in case you missed it, light becomes matter; God becomes man.  Light replaces the nothingness of physical darkness; Jesus replaces the aimlessness of spiritual darkness.  Or continuing to John 1:4,5, we see, "In Him was light, and that light was the light of mankind.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."  Not only is this a reference to the darkness of man, but it is a perfect description of the way photons that emanate from quarks and gluons (which make up about 5% of the matter of the universe) penetrate the dark matter (which, whatever it is, makes up about 35% of the matter in the universe) and is not overcome by the dark matter!  Now please tell me, Moses and John were in cahoots and they were cleverly looking forward to how it would all fit in the 21st century! 

 

Last Monday (19 07 09), I was listening to Ravi Zacharias talk about Genesis 1.  He made the point that we have either two choices: Matter came from Mind or mind came from matter.  In case you don't see what he is getting at, he means that the matter in the universe, both that seen and unseen (dark matter and dark energy, which makes up the other 60% of the matter in the universe) came into being from the Mind of God who intended that matter to become our mind, or our mind came unintentionally from matter via some incredibly unlikely event.

 

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