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Genesis, Science and History. John Oates October 20, 2014. “1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” – Psalm 19:1-2.

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genesis science and history

Genesis, Science and History

John Oates

October 20, 2014

what this class is about

“1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” – Psalm 19:1-2

“20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” – Rom 1:20

1For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;

and they were unable from the good things that are seen to

know him who exists,

nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his

work …

5For from the greatness and beauty of created things

comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.

– Wisdom of Solomon 13:1, 5

What this Class is About
  • What this class is NOT about
    • This class is not an attempt to prove that God exists through science or reasoning
    • Several books take this approach by highlighting
      • Archaeological discoveries proving the accuracy of the Bible
      • Dietary laws of the Jews
      • Apparent design in nature
    • Thesis:
      • God has so designed the universe that you will not find explicit evidence in nature for his existence
      • He has never desired mere intellectual belief, never sought that kind of faith: “The demons believe in God, and shudder.”
  • What this class IS about
    • Understand what the author is trying to communicate
    • Show that there is no fundamental inconsistency between science and the Bible
    • All apparent inconsistencies arise from either
      • Incorrect “scientific” assumptions
      • Incorrect Biblical interpretations
    • Many traditional Biblical interpretations are inconsistent with science
outline of topics to be covered

“Yes, this is what I am saying. Adam and Eve were probably cave people!”

Douglas Jacoby

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence – it biases the judgment.” – Sherlock Holmes

Outline of Topics to be Covered
  • 1) Introduction
  • 2) Creation, the Age of the Earth and the Big Bang
  • In Search of Adam
    • 3) The Hominid Fossil Record
    • 4) The Human Diaspora
    • 5) Adam, Lost and Found
  • 6) The Flood
  • 7) Evolution
  • 8) The Origin of Life and Intelligent Design
overview for tonight
Overview for Tonight
  • Importance of reconciling the Bible with science
  • The history of the conflict between science and the religion
  • The Bible must be correctly interpreted
  • Scientism
  • Most issues of Science and the Bible are not essential points of doctrine
    • Believing in the resurrection is an essential point of doctrine
    • Believing the earth to be 4.5 billion years old rather than created in six days around 4004 B.C. is not
  • Yet in some cases scientifically-minded people have been driven away from the church for rejecting traditional interpretations
    • We need to know what beliefs do and do not contradict the Bible
      • A 4.5 billion year old earth does not contradict the Bible
      • Believing humans to be merely biological machines does contradicts the Bible
      • Does evolution contradict the Bible?
      • What about the naturalistic origin of life?
      • What should we believe about the Flood, miracles, the Big Bang, …
  • Bible directives
    • “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” – 1 Peter 3:15
    • “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” – 2 Tim 2:15

“So many of Jesus’ present-day disciples find themselves ashamed, fearful that they have no answers to the questions – and even jeers – of an ‘unbelieving generation’ (Mark 9:19)” – DJ pg. 10

  • Scientific education – What should we teach our kids?
    • Many of our kids will lose their faith between their freshman and senior years in college (James Leuba, 1916)
    • Scientific ideas taught in schools, if not well-addressed, can be a serious stumbling block to our children, if not ourselves
    • Alan Hayward: “But it is quite another matter for recent-creationists to argue that the astronomers, the astrophysicists, the nuclear physicists, the geologists, the geochemists and the geophysicists are all on the wrong track, too! When they have had the time to ponder the implications, how many educated young people will accept such a sweeping dismissal of so large a part of science? And what will happen when they finally turn and reject it? Is there not a danger that many of them will swing to the other extreme and reject the Bible altogether?”
    • If we fail to handle this correctly our kids may brand us as simpletons and find reason to ignore Christ
  • Our own faith
    • Some of us undoubtedly are insecure regarding some of the apparent inconsistencies between the Biblical and scientific teachings
overview for tonight1
Overview for Tonight
  • Importance of reconciling the Bible with science
  • The history of the conflict between science and the religion
  • The Bible must be correctly interpreted
  • Scientism
conflict between science and religion
Conflict Between Science and Religion
  • The “war” between Science and Religion
    • John William Draper: History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science, 1875
    • Andrew Dickson White: A History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom, 1896
    • That Science and Religion have always been at war is contentious
      • Nevertheless, everyone acknowledges that the current relationship is accurately described by war
flat versus round earth
Flat Versus Round Earth
  • Did man from his earliest day believe that the Earth was flat?
  • Early Greek philosophers knew the world was round
    • Aristotle (~350 BC) reasoned that the earth was spherical since only a sphere would cast a circular shadow on the moon regardless of geometry
    • Combining astronomical observations with geometry the early Greek philosophers calculated
      • The earth’s diameter, with high accuracy
      • The distance from the earth to moon, more or less correctly
      • The distance from the earth to the sun (less accurately)
  • By 1492 it was generally agreed that the world is round, at least by the educated classes

Eratosthenes (ca. 276 - 194 BC)

flat versus round earth1

Charles K. Johnson, president of the International Flat Earth Research Society

Flat Versus Round Earth
  • Several of the early church fathers believed that the earth is flat based on a literal reading of the Bible
    • Cosmas Indicopleustes (547 AD)
    • Lactantius (245-325 AD)
  • Flat-earth scriptures:
    • “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” – Psa 104:5
    • “He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.” – Job 9:6
    • “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, …” – Rev 7:1
  • The Flat-Earth Society is still alive today
    • Their beliefs again based on a literal reading of the Bible
  • The Bible does not say that the earth is flat – the early church fathers misinterpreted poetical passages as literal
    • “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” – Job 38:12-13
the ancient s view of the cosmos
The Ancient’s View of the Cosmos

“He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” – Isa 40:22

the antipodes

Augustine of Hippo

The Antipodes
  • Augustine (~400 AD)
    • “But as to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, that is on no ground credible. … For Scripture, which proves the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, gives no false information; and it is too absurd to say, that some men might have taken ship and traversed the whole wide ocean, and crossed from this side of the world to the other, and that thus even the inhabitants of that distant region are descended from that one first man. (City of God, XVI.9).”
  • Augustine’s deductions
    • Verses like Acts 17:26 – “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth” – indicate that all men are derived from Adam
    • Given, therefore, that the antipodes where unreachable from Eden, if they exist, they must be uninhabited
  • Augustine used the scriptures to support the view that there were no people on the opposite side of the earth, yet at that time the Mayan and Teotihuacan (Mexico) cultures were fully established
  • Alan Hayward (Creation and Evolution):
    • “Augustine, of course, believed that he was demolishing bad science with Scriptures. In fact, he was unsuccessfully opposing good science with his own incorrect deductions from Scripture – a mistake which has been repeated all through history”

nicolaus copernicus

Ptolemaic System





Copernican System

Statue of Aristarchus at Aristoteles University in Thessaloniki, Greece

Nicolaus Copernicus
  • Copernicus published De Revolutionibus in 1543, supporting the idea that the earth rotates every 24 hours and that it orbits the sun every year
    • He immediately came under attack from both Catholics and Protestants
    • “People give ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the Earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon … This fool Copernicus wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth.” – Martin Luther
  • Passages Luther and his contemporaries used include
    • "So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, …" – Joshua 10:13
    • “In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” – Psalm 19:4-6
    • "The Earth is firmly fixed; it shall not be moved" – Psalm 104:5
  • Just like Augustine, Luther misinterpreted the scriptures, ridiculing those who held the truth
    • “and it is too absurd to say …” – Augustine
    • “This fool Copernicus …” – Luther
galileo galilei

“Galileo Galilei vs. the Church,” Robin Jordan

Galileo Galilei

Giordano Bruno

Galileo Galilei
  • Galileo Galilei became persuaded of, and championed, the heliocentric solar system
    • In 1610 he discovered 4 moons orbiting Jupiter, now known as the Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto
    • He also found that Venus was a planet, with phases like the moon
  • In 1616 Pope Paul V notified Galileo in writing to “not hold or defend” the Copernican theory
    • Under the Copernican theory man and the earth were no longer at the center of the Universe
  • In 1632 Galileo published his Dialogue on the Great World Systems, The Ptolemaic and Copernican
  • Immediately the wrath of the catholic church fell on Galileo
    • He was summoned to Rome to appear before the Inquisition
    • The church produced a written memo, purportedly given to Galileo in 1616 indicating that he “not hold nor defend nor teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing …” the Copernican theory
    • He was sentenced to recant his views under a charge of heresy and then placed under house arrest
    • Compared to Giordano Bruno Galileo got off easy – Bruno had been burned at the stake as a heretic in 1600
  • The Dialogue was added to the index of banned books where it remained until 1832
from conflict to all out war

Sir Charles Lyell

James Ussher

John Scopes

Charles Darwin

Henry Morris

Scopes trial transcript of Darrow questioning Bryan

Phillip E. Johnson

From Conflict to all-out War
  • In 1650 Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) arrived at a date 4004 BC for creation, 2349 for the Flood
  • By the mid-1800s the Uniformitarianism of James Hutton (1726-1797) and Charles Lyell (1797-1875) became the universally accepted geological theory
  • In the second half of the 19th century various interpretations of the creation days were proposed to reconcile the Genesis account with geology
  • In 1859 Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published the Origin of the Species
  • By the beginning of the 20th century evolution was accepted almost universally by scientists and churchmen alike
  • The beginning of Fundamentalism is marked by the publication of The Fundamentals in 1909
  • At this same time a strong anti-evolutionist movement was mounting in the United States
  • The Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925 propelled the Science-Religion conflict to the forefront of the public’s attention worldwide
  • “Creation Science” took root in the early part of the 20th century, but had little support until the publication of Henry Morris’ “The Genesis Flood” in 1961
  • Throughout the second half the 20th century numerous court and school-board battles were fought over the Evolution vs. Creationism
  • In 1964 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the CMB radiation and measured its temperature – the first experimental confirmation of the Big Bang theory
  • The Intelligent Design movement began with the publication of Darwin on Trial, by Phillip Johnson, 1991
what can we learn from the conflict
What can we learn from the conflict?
  • The Bible has been misused
    • to support a flat earth
    • to preclude people on the opposite side of the earth
    • to support a geocentric solar system
  • Conclusions
    • The Bible has been REPEATEDLY misinterpreted
    • Caution must be exercised in interpreting the Bible
    • The conflict has become increasingly acrimonious with time
overview for tonight2
Overview for Tonight
  • Importance of reconciling the Bible with science
  • The history of the conflict between science and the religion
  • The Bible must be correctly interpreted
  • Scientism
the bible must be correctly interpreted
The Bible Must Be Correctly Interpreted
  • Examples where the Bible must be interpreted
    • “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” – Gen 2:2
    • “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” – Gen 3:14
  • How should we read the Bible?
    • Literally? At face value? Seriously?
    • There is no simple answer, except to earnestly seek after the truth using
      • all the resources and
      • all the faculties that God has given us
  • God has always intended that we use our minds in reading the Bible
    • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” – Mat 22:37
    • Jesus’ parables (Mat 13:13) and the Proverbs (2:1-5) were apparently design to make people search for the meaning
    • Many Old Testament passages, while historical, were also allegorical (Col 2:17, Heb 8:5, 1Cor 2:10)
the bible must be correctly interpreted1
The Bible Must Be Correctly Interpreted
  • We must recognize the genre and artistic methods being employed
    • The genre is sometimes apocalyptic
    • Biblical language is poetical or allegorical
    • The scriptures are sometimes phenomenological
  • The Bible often speaks in hyperbole
    • “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies” – Psalm 58:3
    • “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, …” – Col 1:23
    • “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” – Mat 5:29
the bible must be correctly interpreted2

“Exploding the Myth -- Some Reflections on Science and Christian Belief,” Allan Day

Ken Ham, Executive Director, Answers in Genesis

“Science and Biblical Interpretation,” Allan Day

“Science and Christian Faith -- Conceptions and Misconceptions,” Allan Day

“Science and the Bible -- Are They Incompatible,” Ernest Lucas

The Bible Must Be Correctly Interpreted
  • Ken Ham
    • “For me to accept an old age (billions of years) for the earth is to accept that fallible man’s fallible methods are in authority over God’s infallible Word. I can’t do that!”
  • Derek Kidner
    • “We are asserting our own infallibility, not that of the scriptures, when we refuse to collate our factual answers with those of independent inquiry.”
  • Suggestion for Biblical interpretation in the light of extra-Biblical knowledge
    • Does the Bible really exclude evolution?
    • What about a local rather than global flood?
    • Suggestions:
      • If we can find a reasonable interpretation of the Scriptures that accommodates the scientific observations, the problem is solved
        • If not we have a paradox – that’s ok
      • If scientific evidence is stacked against a literal reading to such a great extent that the only alternatives are
        • (a) science must be correct, or
        • (b) God must intentionally be deceiving us
      • then the conclusion must be that science is correct
disputable matters
Disputable Matters
  • Biblical injunctions
    • “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” – Rom 14:1
    • “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” – Phil 3:15
    • “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” – Prov 19:2
    • “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” – Prov 11:2
    • “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” – Prov 18:17
    • “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” – Rom 14:19
overview for tonight3
Overview for Tonight
  • Importance of reconciling the Bible with science
  • The history of the conflict between science and the religion
  • The Bible must be correctly interpreted
  • Scientism
scientism naturalism

Richard Dawkins

William Provine

Steven Weinberg

Scientism / Naturalism
  • William Provine
    • “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly.
      • 1) No gods worth having exist;
      • 2) no life after death exists;
      • 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists;
      • 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and
      • 5) human free will is nonexistent.”
  • Steven Weinberg
    • “As far as we have been able to discover the laws of nature, they are impersonal, with no hint of a divine plan or any special status for human beings”
  • Richard Dawkins
    • “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
scientism naturalism1
Scientism / Naturalism
  • There is nothing outside of the physical world
    • Moral ideas are nothing more than societal rules that man has found convenient for the smooth operation of society
    • We are all merely biological machines
    • We have no free will and we are not responsible for our actions
    • There is no absolute good and evil
    • There is no purpose for what happens in the universe
    • Miracles do not happen and never have happened
  • There is nothing special about man
    • Man is no different from the animals
    • Man does not have either a soul or a spirit
    • At death we simply cease to exist
  • “God” is a concept invented by ignorant man who did not know better
scientism naturalism2

William Newsome

“Science and Faith - A Personal View,” William Newsome

“Life of faith, life of science,” William Newsome

Matt Cartmill

Michael Ruse

Scientism / Naturalism
  • The core assumption of science is that effects are due to causes, and that by repeatedly reproducing the causes we can repeatedly reproduce the effect.
  • A second common assumption made by scientists is that there is nothing outside of the natural world, and therefore the only way to gain knowledge is through scientific investigation
  • William Newsome, Professor of Neurobiology at Stanford University
    • “Conflict arises when the additional assumption is introduced that the scientific process is the only reliable way to acquire truth that is meaningful and universal. This radically materialist proposition is, of course, fundamentally incompatible with most traditional forms of religious belief and practice. At one fell swoop, it dismisses the existence of God, the possibility of divine revelation to humanity, any notion of universal grounding for right action (ethics), or any possibility that humanity can participate in a reality that transcends itself—none of which is testable by scientific method or required for understanding the mechanics of nature.”
  • Matt Cartmill, president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Discover magazine, 1998
    • “Many scientists are atheists or agnostics who want to believe that the natural world they study is all there is, and being only human, they try to persuade themselves that science gives them the grounds for that belief … It’s an honorable belief, but it isn’t a research finding.”
  • Michael Ruse, philosopher-historian, himself a Darwinist, calls this Naturalism “a religion”
  • Importance
    • We must not shut the doors of the church to the scientifically-minded or the atheist
    • We need to know what beliefs do and do not contradict the Bible
    • Many of our kids will lose their faith between their freshman and senior years in college
  • Conflict between science and religion
    • The conflict dates back at least to the 4th century AD
    • It continues to this day, the conflict becoming increasingly acrimonious
    • Scientists have become alienated with prospects of outreach limited
  • The Bible must be interpreted
    • The genre of the writings need to be understood
    • Literary devices need to be identified
    • There is no simple rule of interpretation
  • Are science and religion fundamentally at odds? What is the source of the conflict?
    • On the part of the religious, the Bible has been often misinterpreted
    • On the part of scientists, the assumption of naturalism is misrepresented as science
creation the age of the earth and the big bang
Creation, the Age of the Earth and the Big Bang
  • Is the Earth merely 6000 years old?
    • Does the Bible really indicate a young Earth?
    • What was the original intent of the author(s)?
  • How do scientists determine the age of the Earth?
    • What is the evidence for an old earth?
    • Is radiometric dating reliable?
  • What are the supposed evidences for a young Earth?
  • What is the Evidence for the Big Bang?
  • Can the Bible be reconciled with a 13.6 billion year old universe?
    • Does the order of events recorded in Genesis 1 agree with science?
    • How have the seven days of creation been variously interpreted?
  • Do Genesis 1 and 2 represent two contradictory creation accounts?