The Cosmic Conflict and the Age of the Universe

It seems to me that Bible supports the notion that there was age long before God created man in which the Angelic realm interacted with the triune God for a vast period of time culminating when 1/3 fell into a rebellious state. This idea coheres nicely with many verses that imply an Angelic fascination with man and a literal reading of Genesis in which the entire universe is created in verse one: “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.” This opening declaration in verse 1 stands alone; Seven Hebrew words say it all. If you understand this verse you will have no trouble with any other verse in the Bible.

רֵאשִׁית reshit “the beginning”

The first word is Beresheeth, “In Beginning,” which yields the name of the book of Genesis in Hebrew. Hebrew scholar John Sailhamer contends in his book Genesis Unbound that:

The Hebrew word reshit which Moses used has a very specific sense in scripture. In the Bible the term always refers to an extended yet indeterminate duration of time – never a specific moment. It is a block of time which precedes an extended series of time periods. It is a time before time. The term does not refer to a point in time but to a period or duration of time which falls before a series of events. (Sailhamer, 38)

The Bible simply does not address the amount of time “in the beginning” in which the universe was created.  While we find some Answers in Genesis, we do not find them all, we need to consult the whole counsel of God. The multitude of events that necessarily lie somewhere “in the beginning” is a hermeneutically sound basis for adopting an Old Earth position. This video argues from the text of Genesis as well as appealing to the Angelic conflict which strongly suggests the preexistence of the universe to the “week” of Genesis 1.

My View On Creation (it’s a fact!)

YouTube has graciously changed their upload policy to allow longer length videos. Accordingly, I was able to upload my 45 minute documentary Creation is a Scientific Fact. That video was produced by me a few years ago and my view has changed a little since. Overall, I am in large agreement with the position expressed at www.Reasons.org by Hugh Ross and staff.  Also I have written a brief essay justifying my position from scripture.

PERSONAL VIEW OF CREATION

I strongly believe the Christian worldview is more coherent with reality and science than the naturalistic one. I fall somewhere between the categories of “Historic Creationist” and “Literary framework/ Day age.” I usually say that I am a progressive or “old-earth” creationist. I believe in creation ex nihilo and that the big bang cosmology has decisively confirmed it. Paul writes in Romans one that God’s “eternal power and divine nature” have been made in self-evident in creation and that for this reason atheists are “without excuse” (Rom 1:20). Therefore, I believe that sound science and biblical revelation should not conflict. When there is a perceived conflict there is a problem with either our exegesis or the interpretation of the scientific data. Both must be up for scrutiny. By all appearances the earth appears very old. Without getting into the technicalities of radiometric dating, very easy to understand ice core samples show rings similar to tree rings which strongly evidence that the earth is far older than young earth proponents imagine. These ice cores have been co related with known volcanic eruptions ash signatures and the dates match up.[i] This evidence is simple and compelling and reveals an earth orders of magnitude older that the young earth creationist model. Not to mention the evidence from geology and cosmology. The evidential case for a very ancient creation is overwhelming. I do not believe God would create the universe to appear old, when it was actually recent.  That would seem to constitute a viable excuse, in effect negating Paul’s argument in Romans 1:20. Like many contemporary Hebrew language scholars, I believe that sound exegesis places the creation of the entire universe during an unspecified duration of time “in the beginning” (Gen1:1). I believe God designed and employs a limited amount of evolution but I do not accept common ancestry. Above all, I believe man was uniquely created and given God’s image.

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE FROM GENESIS 1-3

Genesis 1:1 boldly declares that God created the entire universe “in the beginning” which is rendered from the Hebrew term bereshit. This word בראשית  is the name of the book in the Hebrew bible. I was encouraged that Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches this view because it resolves most of traditional conflict. I first encountered it in a book Genesis Unbound by Hebrew scholar Dr. John Sailhamer. In it he explains,

The Hebrew word reshit which Moses used has a very specific sense in scripture. In the Bible the term always refers to an extended yet indeterminate duration of time – never a specific moment. It is a block of time which precedes an extended series of time periods. It is a time before time. The term does not refer to a point in time but to a period or duration of time which falls before a series of events.[ii]

There have been dissenting opinions on the use of this term.[iii] But we can allow the bible to determine the answer by logical examination. The bible mentions that the angels were present singing while God created the earth (Job 38:7). Angels are created beings and were thus created necessarily before the earth. This is implied in Psalm 148:2, 5: “Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.” The angels, as well as the celestial objects mentioned in verses 3 and 4, are declared to have been created by the Lord. Furthermore, it is clear that the earth is already present in a formless state before the days of the creation week have ensued (Gen1:2).  There is never a day specified when God created the angels, chemical elements, molecules like water, and the earth. They are already present as the spirit hovers over the waters. Thus, there had to be time for all of this to occur prior to day one. This confirms that the rendering of bereshit as an unspecified duration is indeed correct. Additionally, the expression “heavens and earth” is a Hebrew figure of speech called a merism which means the entire universe or “all things” [iv] Thus verse one is a factual statement of what God did “in the beginning.”

Over an unspecified period of time, God created the entire universe consisting of stars, planets, and matter. I believe the creation week that follows describes God arranging what he had already created into the biosphere for man. I see the “days” as long periods of time. The Hebrew word yom can mean twenty-four hours yet it often means a longer period of time.[v] Even in the creation account, yom is used for a period of time summing up the entire creation week (Gen. 2:4). I really don’t think the purpose of the account was to quantify duration in hours. To do so is impose a modern empiricism on an ancient text.[vi] This account was written for us but not to us. It was written to ancient Hebrews with a pre-scientific worldview.

AGE OF UNIVERSE

I do not think dating creation from the bible is sound exegetically. A literal reading of the text does not specify any time duration for the formation of the universe. And even if it did, the attempt to derive dates prior to Abraham by adding up genealogies found in the book of Genesis is misguided. The tired old enigma, “Who was Cain’s wife?” ought to point out that Genesis was not intended to be a comprehensive chronology. Furthermore, the Hebrew verb for “fathered” often merely implies ancestry.[vii] Francis Schaeffer commented, “…we can say very clearly that the Bible does not invite us to use the genealogies in Scripture as a chronology.”[viii] Thus, scripture does not really support the young earth hypothesis. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports an old earth and I don’t see a compelling biblical basis to doubt it.[ix] There’s no need to reconcile Genesis to an old earth.  Actually, it is science that has had to reconcile itself to the biblical view.

Much to their chagrin, naturalistic scientists have concluded that time and space indeed had a beginning. According to Norman Geisler, “General Relativity supports what is one of the oldest formal arguments for the existence of a theistic God—the Cosmological Argument.”[x] It also infers and extremely old universe. Thus, I do not see any reason to argue against science on the age of the universe. God is not confined to our space time continuum.  In fact, the Bible tells us that “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Pt. 3:8). The Old Testament concurs, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Ps 90:4). The point is not that day is exactly a thousand years for God but that God is not temporal. God is not a simply a being with a lot of time on his hands. He transcends time in the manner that you transcend a two dimensional stick figure confined to a flat piece of paper. I think it is a category error to ask, “Why would God need billions of years?” God is outside of time altogether, it is an invalid projection of finite thinking on to an infinite God. He didn’t need 13.7 billion years or 6 days.

IS THEISTIC EVOLUTION POSSIBLE

This is somewhat of a loaded question because it depends on what is meant by “theistic evolution.” I completely reject the deistic version where God just seeded life and then pulled back. There is an important distinction between micro and macro evolution. Microevolution is the idea that creatures change over time and explains the wide varieties of breeds we observe. Macroevolution or Darwinism is the theory that all of life evolved from a single ancient ancestor purely by natural selection. According to Geisler and Turek, “Darwinists are masters at defining the term ‘evolution’ broadly enough so that evidence in one situation might be counted as evidence in another.”[xi] This creates a situation where it is extremely important to be precise in one’s use of terminology.

I think micro-evolution has occurred within certain genetic boundaries and God is actively involved in the world. I do take the bible seriously when it says God created things to reproduce “according to their own kinds” (Gen. 1:25). Due to this, I do not accept that all of life shares a common ancestor. Still, I find it compelling that the creation order matches what most scientists believe is the general order in which life evolved. That coupled with the evidence of the Cambrian explosion, where fossils for nearly all major phenotypes appeared suddenly in the geologic record, strongly supports creation over an extended period. However, I believe humans were uniquely created by God relatively recently on a geologic scale.

CONCLUSION

In this essay I have briefly expressed my personal beliefs concerning creation. As a new believer this was an area of primary concern. One of the primary reasons I did not take the bible seriously as a young adult was that I thought it was in error. The arguments of young earth creationists unfortunately only reinforced my skepticism. After serious study, I saw that nowhere did the bible claim the earth was only six thousand years old or any age at all for that matter.  Pastor Mark Driscoll has said, “Genesis is far more concerned with the questions of who made creation, how He made creation, and why He made creation than when He did.”[xii] I think it is a mistake to rest the credibility of scripture and thus the gospel upon a dubious scientific claim like a young earth that scripture does not actually make. The book of Genesis was written in an ancient near east context to people with a pre-scientific worldview. We should not impose our modern worldview on it.  It is important to pick one’s battles carefully. I believe Darwinism must be rejected but we must acknowledge that science has made great progress. For that reason, I think the most responsible and credible position is in line with the progressive creationism/intelligent design movement.


[i] Hugh Ross. “Deep Core Tests for the Age of the Earth.” Reasons to Believe. 07 01, 2005. http://www.reasons.org/deep-core-tests-age-earth (accessed 10 30, 2010).

[ii] John Sailhamer. Genesis Unbound. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996, 38.

[iii]R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 826.

[iv]John H. Sailhamer, “Genesis” In , in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 23.

[v]R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 370.

[vi]John H Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament) Volume 1: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 10.

[vii]R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 378.

[viii]Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer : A Christian Worldview. (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996, c1982).

[ix]Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), 206.

[x]Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 74.

[xi]Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 141.

[xii] Mark Driscoll. “Answers to Common Questions about Creation.” The Resurgence. 2010. http://theresurgence.com/2006/07/03/answers-to-common-questions-about-creation (accessed 10 30, 2010).

Secular Humanism’s Inadequate Creation Myth (part II)

The secular humanist’s insistence on naturalism also poses a problem when it comes to cosmology. That the natural world had an ultimate beginning has now been firmly established by the big bang cosmology. Yet for naturalism to be coherent, the universe should be static and eternal.[1] Because our space time reality is contingent, the principle of sufficient reason or the scientific method would lead one to look for a sufficient cause. An infinite regress is irrational. Thus, a self-existent necessary first cause is clearly the best explanation. The only possible alternatives are irrational appeals to self-creation or that something comes into being without a cause. Unfortunately, this is exactly where secular humanism arrives. The famously brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawking, has recently argued, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”[2] In other words, to create itself, the universe had to exist, before it existed. This is nonsense. Fortunately for theists, the law of non-contradiction is still a necessary corollary for real science. It seems far more reasonable to assert that that which caused nature is indeed supernatural.

Secular humanists are particularly entrenched when it comes to the sacred cow of Darwinism. There are very good scientific reasons to doubt Darwinian orthodoxy but the majority of humanists are practiced in this debate.  It might be wise to address a more ultimate question like the origin of life. Evolution cannot explain the origin of life and Darwin never really tried. There can be no Darwinian evolution without reproducing life and to date there are no feasible theories as to how this occurred. But even if we grant evolution, it does not equate to naturalism. There are many theistic evolutionists like human genome project director, Francis Collins, who argue that the evolutionary process itself is evidence of God’s design. For instance, William Paley’s classic argument from a watch to watchmaker still holds. Far from being a defeater, evolutionary theory leads one to believe that we have found a self-replicating watch that makes improvements on itself in response to its environment.[3] That demands not only a skillful design but one with foresight. When viewed through this lens, evolution actually refutes naturalism. This effectively demonstrates that naturalism and scientism are inadequate.


[1]Geisler and Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004,72.

[2] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design. (New York: Bantam  Books, 2010), 14.

[3] Dinesh D’Souza. What’s So Great About Christianity. (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007), 98 .

Stephen Hawking’s Descent Into Futility

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlondinow’s latest book The Grand Design has astounded the philosophical community by making the audacious claim that “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.” [i] Dr. William Lane Craig begs to differ, please refer to this.

Demise of philosophy aside, Hawking necessarily robs its grave as his book is a case in point, material reductionist philosophical treatise – not hard science.  He sets forth the preposterous idea that the mere existence of the law of gravity allows that the universe could spontaneously create itself out of nothing. He argues that the entire universe is the product of an arbitrary quantum fluctuation, an unintentional cosmic coincidence that has no spiritual significance.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”  [i]

Ok let me get this straight… In other words, to create itself, the universe had to exist, before it existed.  Now that is futile thinking! I guess Hawking’s Grand Design is actually no design… but how grand is that? Yet he still must acknowledge that we find an astonishingly well suited set of conditions for life. This transcends credulity and he knows it.  To explain away the inconceivable precision design we encounter. Hawking asserts,

But just as Darwin and Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without intervention by a supreme being, the multiverse concept can explain the fine-tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the universe for our benefit.[ii]

Multiple universes? Where did they come from?

“Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can.”[iii]

Wow! This sounds like magic!  Wait a minute… seriously, how can “nothing” fluctuate?  Nothing literally means “no thing” and it can not do anything. But Hawking believes that nothing did something which made everything. That is futile thinking. For many more detailed rebuttal’s please follow this link as this has been demonstrated as nonsense on a number of levels.

Even his research partner Sir Roger Penrose, who won the Wolf prize for physics with Hawking for their paper which proved that time had a beginning, has spoken out against his unwarranted atheistic assertions. It seems as if a famously brilliant scientist is exhibiting embarrassingly futile thinking. I think I know why…

I have been reading A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy which is a book about the attributes of God and how many modern Christians have lost the proper sense of God’s awesome majesty. I highly recommend it and hope that you might read it, as the above hyperlink links to a free electronic copy. In light of Hawking’s nonsense, a few sections really stood out to me. So much so, I feel compelled to post them. First, Tozer speaks to the fact that modern man has lost his proper sense of awe and wonder for creation. Remarking on how much,

Still we do not know. Secularism, materialism, and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies. We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper “mystery.”  [iv]

I think this indeed the case. One’s belief in God is inextricably related to one’s sense of awe and wonder with creation. The arrogance of some scientists is rather astounding considering that we actually know so very little. Tozer’s words “that we still do not know what it is” were penned decades ago. Has science proved him wrong? Hasn’t science now unlocked reality? Actually quite the opposite, in fact, we have actually learned that we know a lot less than we thought we did in 1961. David Spergel leader of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe space mission reveals,

“From our experiments, the periodic table which comprises the atoms or normal matter that are said to make up the entire universe actually covers only 4.5 percent of the whole,” lead theorist Spergel said. “Students are learning just a tiny part of the universe from their textbooks. It would be dark matter and dark energy that comprise the next 22 percent and 73.5 percent of the universe.”[v]

As Dr John Lennox so astutely rebutted Hawking,  “What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine.” [vi] Dr. Lennox is indeed correct and this is where my current reading of Tozer connected serendipitously. I had just heard Lennox’s rebuttal when I read this section by Tozer:

One cannot long read the Scriptures sympathetically without noticing the radical
disparity between the outlook of men of the Bible and that of modern men. We are
today suffering from a secularized mentality. Where the sacred writers saw God, we see
the laws of nature. Their world was fully populated; ours is all but empty. Their world
was alive and personal; ours is impersonal and dead. God ruled their world; ours is
ruled by the laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God.

And what are these laws of nature that have displaced God in the minds of millions?
Law has two meanings. One is all external rule enforced by authority, such as the
common rule against robbery and assault. The word is also used to denote the uniform
way things act in the universe, but this second use of the word is erroneous. What we
see in nature is simply the paths God’s power and wisdom take through creation.
Properly these are phenomena, not laws, but we call them laws by analogy with the
arbitrary laws of society.

Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern
somewhere and fixes it as a “law.” The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation
enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of
God’s behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Upon it the scientist
rests his faith and from there he goes on to achieve great and useful things in such fields
as those of navigation, chemistry, agriculture, and the medical arts. [vii]

When I consider Lennox’s observation of the category error coupled with Tozer’s prescient theological analysis. I think Hawking’s descent comes into sharp focus. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking invoked God and the “mind of God” as an overarching rationality governing the Universe. How can we account for an otherwise brilliant man’s descent into self-refuting nonsense? The Old Testament is crystal clear on atheism (Ps. 53:1). But Romans chapter one actually prescribes specific consequences that aptly characterize Hawking’s latest effort,

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Futile thinking indeed…


[i] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design. New York: Bantam Books, 2010, 14.

[ii] Hawking, Design, 259.

[iii] Hawking, Design, 281.

[iv] Tozer, A.W. “The Knowledge of the Holy.” 1961. http://www.heavendwellers.com/hdt_knowledge_of_the_holy.htm (accessed 10 6, 2010). p. 14-15.

[v] Serinah Ho, “Scientists uncover secrets of universe” http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?we_cat=4&art_id=103438&sid=29804544&con_type=1&d_str=20101004&fc=10 (accessed 10-5-2010)

[vi]John Lennox, ”Stephen Hawking is Wrong” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1308599/Stephen-Hawking-wrong-You-explain-universe-God.html#ixzz11UzsPVRd (accessed 10-5-2010)

[vii] Tozer, Knowledge, p.47-48


Creation is a Scientific Fact

I finally got around to editing my 4 part you tube series into a 45 minute documentary format. This is the series that helped knock some of the intellectual sheen off of being an atheist on you tube.  In my experience most of the pseudo-atheists that prop up their agnosticism (posturing as atheism) by positing scientific consensus on things like Darwinism retreat to donning aluminum haberdashery when confronted with the evidence from physics. Sorry fellas, time and space had a beginning and there’s no evidence for atheism.

It is free for download here: Creation is a Scientific Fact from Logos Apologia on Vimeo.  I encourage you to share it widely. Atheism is not the intellectual high ground that its proponents pretend it to be.

Everything that begins to exist has a cause.The universe began to exist. Therefore the universe has a cause.

Why couldn’t natural forces have produced the universe? Because there was no nature and there were no natural forces ontologically prior to the Big Bang—nature itself was created at the Big Bang. That means the cause of the universe must be something beyond nature—something we would call supernatural. It also means that the supernatural cause of the universe must at least be:

•spaceless because it created space
•timeless because it created time
•immaterial because it created matter
•powerful because it created out of nothing
•intelligent because the creation event and the universe was precisely designed
•personal because it made a choice to convert a state of nothing into something (impersonal forces dont make choices).

Turek & Geisler. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist. CrosswayBooks; 2004.

I really like Turek and Geilser’s book!