Who is being divisive about creation?
A review of Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2011
The title of John Lennox’s Seven Days that Divide the World presumes something about the creation/evolution debate that not many would contest—it can be an issue that divides Christians. It’s not an uncommon theme for a book to propose that a certain topic causes too much division among people who otherwise have a lot of reasons to be aligned with each other, and to propose a solution that all parties should be able to agree upon.
Lennox seems to have the qualifications to be such an arbiter, at least at first glance. He claims to be a Christian who has spent his life “actively engaged in science” (p. 13). His love of Scripture and science leads him to believe that “there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and the correct interpretation of the scientific data” (p. 13).
Science and Scripture—but which should be reinterpreted?
In Chapter 1, Lennox uses the examples of Copernicus and Galileo in the usual mythical way to show how the church has wrongly pitted science and Scripture against each other, and suggests none too subtly that creationists are doing the same thing with the controversy about the age of the earth. Enough has been written in creationist literature about this that it is not necessary to cover it here.1 It will suffice to say that the major opposition to Galileo came from the Aristotelian scientific establishment, and not from the church—but to be fair, Lennox does mention the academic resistance as well.
Nothing in Genesis 1 itself (nor in the broader context of Scripture) requires the days to be metaphorical, or even indicates that they might be.
The point Lennox tries to make is that as science advanced, we found ways to interpret Scripture which harmonize with our modern understanding of the earth’s position in the solar system; perhaps there is such a way to harmonize the creation days with a long-age timescale. But the two are rather different. First, the major texts that were used to defend a geocentric solar system were poetic; poetry conveys truth using vivid imagery more often than by using straightforward language. For instance, when David prays “hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8) he does not mean to imply that God has feathers. In the same way, saying “Yes, the world is established, it shall never be moved” (Psalm 93:1) in the context isn’t saying that the world literally doesn’t move—we can tell from the next line: “Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting” (93:2) that the Psalmist is telling us about God’s reign. Furthermore, we can tell from Psalm 16:8, “I shall not be moved”, using the same Hebrew verb (מוֹט môt)—it’s not teaching that the Psalmist is in a strait-jacket. This is therefore a reductio AD absurdum of the whole argument.
But the young-earth timescale of creation comes primarily from historical narrative passages, which normally communicate via plain, factual language. And there is no reason to believe that Moses is speaking in metaphors when he talks about the six days of creation and God’s rest on the seventh day, either within the passage itself, or in the interpretation of that passage in the rest of Scripture (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11).
How should we understand Scripture?
Lennox helpfully points out: “The first obvious, yet important thing to say about the Bible is that it is literature” (p. 21). He goes on to say that literature should normally be interpreted by its plain meaning when informed by its historical, cultural, and linguistic context, and uses the Gospel as an instance where the plain meaning is meant by Scripture:
“The cross of Christ is not primarily a metaphor. It involved an actual death. The resurrection was not primarily [sic] an allegory. It was a physical event: a ‘standing up again’ of a body that had died” (p. 22).
He goes on to talk about how to identify metaphor, and uses as an example everyone recognizes as metaphor the sentence, “The car was flying down the road” (p. 23). But the words in the sentence themselves require that there be some figure of speech involved. Cars do not fly; they roll along the ground. If it was flying for any significant amount of time, it would not be a car (at least as we normally define it), and it would not be going ‘down’ the road because it would be above it.
Photo: Tova Teitelbaum
Figure 1. Scripture, like any communication using language, has a finite number of valid interpretations.
This is not a helpful example, however, because nothing in Genesis 1 itself (nor in the broader context of Scripture) requires the days to be metaphorical, or even indicates that they might be. That the creation days are so often interpreted literally by Hebrew specialists (both believers and unbelievers) is perhaps an indication that any metaphorical sense of the days is more obscure than Lennox’s example would suggest.2
Lennox seems to treat Scripture and science equally, and it is unclear how he decides to go with Scripture regarding the (scientifically ‘impossible’) Resurrection but with ‘science’ on the timescale of the universe. He seems to make the common error of believing that science in and of itself can ‘tell’ us anything. It does not, at least not in propositional statements that can be said to be true or false. To get from data to propositional statement, one must interpret the evidence within pre-existing frameworks, which may be flawed to any extent. But Scripture does communicate in propositional statements, which by nature means that the extent to which any part of it may be ‘reinterpreted’ without simply declaring that it is wrong is very limited.
What does Genesis tell us?
“‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (Gen. 1:1) and ‘God created man in his own image’ (Gen. 1:27) are statements about the objective physical universe and the status of human beings, with very far-reaching implications for our understanding of the world and ourselves” (p. 28).
But he also argues that “the Bible was not written in advanced contemporary scientific language” (p. 29). This brings out a bit of a straw man—no-one argues that the Bible primarily intends to communicate science; rather, it’s a historical document. He argues that the way God inspired Scripture made it accessible to everyone (p. 30).
A literal six days—and an old earth?
Lennox goes through Jewish and church history to find some examples of people who took the creation days as other than literal to attempt to give a precedent for a metaphorical interpretation of Creation Week, though he admits “the understanding of the days of Genesis as twenty-four-hour days seems to have been the dominant view for many centuries” (p. 42).3
He gives the usual pitch about the word ‘day’ having many possible meanings, and then launches into his proposal for interpreting Genesis 1’s creation week. He proposes: the initial creation did not take place on Day 1, but was a long time before that (p. 53). He further offers that the author of Genesis
“ … did not intend us to think of the first six days as a single earth week, but rather as a sequence of six creation days; that is, days of normal length (with evenings and mornings as the text says) in which God acted to create something new, but days that might well have been separated from one another by unspecified periods of time” (p. 54).
At this point, there is a certain sort of impasse, because in a more technical work, one would expect Lennox to go on to prove exegetically that his interpretation was plausible based on the structure of the Hebrew text and the verb forms used, and so on. But this is not a technical work, and it may be unfair to expect this sort of sophistication in a little book which makes no pretensions of being a scholarly volume. So it must suffice to say that Lennox gives no evidence for this interpretation, let alone argument that it is superior to a literal understanding of the Creation Week, and therefore it may be dismissed with as little argumentation as he gives evidence. Suffice it to say, if it were right, then logically the days of our working week could also have long periods between them, since Exodus 20:8–11 makes an explicit connection between the working week and day of rest with Creation Week.
No solution for death before the Fall
Lennox says that his theory
Photo: Didier Descouens
Figure 2. Lennox does not offer a convincing solution for death before the Fall.
“ … would expect to find what geologists tell us we do find—fossil evidence revealing the sudden appearance of new levels of complexity, followed by periods during which there was no more creation (in the sense of God speaking to inaugurate something new)” (p. 55).
But the fossil record is precisely the problem in a long-age interpretation. Biblical creationists resist any long-age interpretations because the evidence for billions of years of Earth’s history is said to be preserved in the rock record. But those rock layers contain fossils of animals that died of sickness, cancers, and predation, as well as thorny plants. A plain interpretation of Scripture puts all predation and the existence of thorns after the Fall, requiring us to place the formation of the rock record after the Fall, as mostly the result of the global Flood in Noah’s day.
Lennox argues that Scripture says that Adam’s sin resulted in human death and was not necessarily the cause of animal death:
“That makes sense. Humans are moral beings, and human death is the ultimate wages of moral transgression. We do not think of plants and animals in terms of moral categories. We do not accuse the lion of sinning when it kills an antelope or even a human being. Paul’s deliberate and careful statement would appear to leave open the question of death at levels other than human” (p. 78).
But perhaps an overly narrow focus on Romans 5 is misleading here. The lion killing the antelope would appear to be other than God’s ‘very good’ design, as God originally gave all animals vegetation for food (Genesis 1:30) and when God describes the new heavens and earth he will create in Isaiah 65, one thing that distinguishes the new creation is that carnivores like lions and wolves will be herbivorous. So using a ‘wider lens’ clearly depicts the pre-Fall creation as without carnivory.4
Does the timescale matter for Christian doctrine?
“No major doctrine of Scripture is affected by whether one believes that the days are analogical days or that each day is a long period of time inaugurated by God speaking, or whether one believes that each of the days is a normal day in which God spoke, followed by a long period of putting into effect the information contained in what God said on that particular day” (p. 58).
The doctrine of Scripture itself is very much affected by how we interpret Genesis.
But the doctrine of Scripture itself is very much affected by how we interpret Genesis. Is it a falsifiable text (in other words, is there a point where we can call it true or false in any meaningful sense regarding what it tells us about historical matters), or is it jelly to be molded to fit with any conceivable model of origins (in which case it ceases to communicate meaningfully at all)?
Furthermore, a God who creates a perfect world and calls it ‘very good’ at the end of the process is very different from a God who creates over long periods of time during which things are dying and killing each other, and billions of years later looks at what is by now a worldwide fossil graveyard and calls that very good.5
Third, creation is theocentric, in that God’s creation of the world primarily brings glory to Himself. But it is also anthropocentric in that God’s creation is depicted in such a way that a major goal was to give humans a suitable home. But in a long-age timescale, it is difficult to see creation as meaningfully anthropocentric at all when humanity would have only existed during the last few milliseconds on that timescale, and the majority of animals to have ever existed would have already come and gone long before. Jesus Himself confirmed this anthropocentricity when He explicitly said that God created mankind male and female “from the beginning of creation” (Mark 10:6–9, citing Genesis 1:27 and 2:24), not billions of years after the beginning.6
These are just three examples of how one’s interpretation of the creation days is important for theology; and more could easily be added if space allowed.
Lack of interaction with major creationist works
When one is trying to establish a new interpretation, it is customary to show how it is superior to the existing interpretations, and part of that is interacting with existing literature. But the only young-earth creationist writing he cites is a chapter from Three Views of Creation and Evolution by Nelson and Reynolds. But neither is well known in the creation community as leading young-earth creationists (in contrast to the other positions represented by leading proponents), nor do they provide a reasonable representation of creationist views.7 For instance, Lennox quotes them as saying:
“In our opinion, old earth creationism combines a less natural textual reading with a much more plausible scientific vision … . At the moment this would seem the more rational position to adopt” (p. 62).
One struggles to think of a major proponent of biblical creation who would make such a vast concession. Indeed, there are many creation geologists who believe that the young-earth position is more rational, because if the rock record is actually largely a record of the global Flood, then one of the major ‘evidences’ for long ages is removed. Using such a weak young-earth creationist as representative of the entire group seems out of character with the rest of Lennox’s book, and is difficult to explain without attributing either less-than-honest intentions or irresponsible ignorance of the views he is arguing against (and the rest of the book makes one disinclined to go either route).
Lennox believes that Adam is the literal ancestor of all human beings, and has the same objection to pre-Fall human death that creationists would:
“How, for example, could the sin of the chosen farmer, Adam, cause the death of those humans who had lived before him? Surely it is crucial to the theology of salvation that Adam was the first actual member of a human race physically distinct from all creatures that preceded him?” (p. 73).
He goes on to say:
“In light of the miracle of the incarnation, I find no difficulty in believing that the human race itself began—indeed, had to begin—with a supernatural intervention. Science cannot rule out that possibility either. What science can tell about human beings, though, is what it can tell us about the universe: that they also had a beginning. What the incarnation tells us is that human beings are unique—they are so created that God himself could become one” (p. 74).
So Lennox has no problem accepting the supernatural origin of human beings, the supernatural incarnation, or the supernatural Resurrection—all of which are scientifically ‘impossible’—for theological reasons. But he jettisons the timescale because he believes science demands it. If one is going to embrace the Bible’s teaching on origins and eschew the secular scientific consensus, why not do it wholeheartedly? As it is, it seems rather inconsistent, and one struggles to discern how Lennox chooses his positions.
Creation is divisive, and any convincing argument for a position will come down on one side or the other.
Also, Lennox seems unaware that there are undoubted Homo sapiens fossils, ‘dated’—by methods Lennox implicitly accepts—at 195,000 years old.8 This is far older than Adam could possibly be,9 even allowing for the most elastic stretching of the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies.10 This consideration alone should be enough to alert Lennox that his system must collapse.
Is the message of Genesis 1 solely theological?
In Chapter 5, Lennox gives a list of things that we are taught about God in Genesis 1: God exists, He is the eternal Creator, He is distinct from His creation, He has a goal in creation, He creates by His Word, and He is the source of light. He also discussed the goodness of creation and the Sabbath. There is nothing objectionable per se in this chapter—but none of these points make any sense unless one believes something else about God; that He reveals Himself in His acts through history, as recorded in inspired Scripture. A God who has a goal in creation, but took billions of years to get to the goal, would raise questions—why did He take so long, and why did He use such destructive processes to get there? The sort of Creator who would call millions of years of animal death and suffering ‘very good’ is also problematic.
Half of the chapters of Lennox’s book are appendices. The first gives ‘A Brief Background to Genesis’, which is a general overview like one might find in a study Bible or basic textbook, and there’s very little to object to. The next appendix refutes John Walton’s ‘Cosmic Temple’ view, and biblical creationists would agree with this part.11 The third appendix is “The Beginning to Genesis and Science” and gives the usual compromising support to the big bang idea. The fourth argues against the idea that there are two accounts of creation, and the fifth argues against certain theistic evolutionary ideas, and the notion that invoking a Creator God is always a ‘God of the Gaps’ argument. Space does not permit in-depth coverage of these appendices.
Lennox writes sincerely, and seems to have a sincere love of Scripture and science. But he mistakenly believes that his compromise results in a coherent reading of Scripture. But Seven Days that Divide the World is ultimately unsatisfying precisely because creation is divisive, and any convincing argument for a position will come down on one side or the other. Lennox does not fall under any of the established categories, and his book is not long or in-depth enough to even mount a sufficient argument for key portions of it. For this reason, Seven Days that Divide the World does not seem like a book that will change anyone’s mind about the creation/evolution debate.
- For instance, see Schirrmacher, T., The Gailieo affair: history of heroic hagiography? J. Creation 14(1):91–100, 2000; Sarfati, J., Galileo Quadricentennial: Myth vs fact, Creation 31(1):49–51, 2009. Return to text.
- For instance, Oxford Hebrew Professor James Barr said: “probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writers of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers that: a. creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience … .” Letter to David C.C. Watson, 23 April 1984. Return to text.
- For a discussion of the young-earth views of most Church Fathers, see Sarfati, J., Refuting Compromise, chapter 3, 2nd ed., Creation Book Publishers, Atlanta, GA, 2011. Return to text.
- Gurney, R.J.M., The carnivorous nature and suffering of animals, J. Creation 18(3): 70–75, 2004. Return to text.
- For a summary, see Cosner, L. and Bates, G., Did God create over billions of years? And why is it important? 6 October 2011. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Jesus on the age of the earth, Creation 34(2):51–54, 2012. Return to text.
- See Kulikovsky, A.S., A balanced treatment? A review of Three Views on Creation and Evolution, J. Creation 14(1):23–27, 2000. Return to text.
- McDougall, I., Brown, F.H. and Fleagle, J.G., Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia, Nature 433(7027):733–736, 17 February 2005. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., The Fall: a cosmic catastrophe: Hugh Ross’s blunders on plant death in the Bible, J. Creation 19(3):60–64, 2005. Return to text.
- Not that they can be stretched, since they are strict chronologies. See Freeman, T., The Genesis 5 and 11 fluidity question, J. Creation 19(2):83–90, 2005,; Sarfati, J., Biblical chronogenealogies, J. Creation 17(3):14–18, 2003; Cosner, L., Can Christians believe dogmatically that the earth is 6,000 years old?, 19 December 2009. Return to text.
- See Statham, D., Dubious and dangerous exposition: A review of The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, by John H. Walton, J. Creation 24(3):24–26, 2010. Return to text.
Thankyou for your review of this book. It is one I have been eagerly awaiting. In 2012 our church did a sermon series on Genesis 1-11 and this book was promoted to the congregation in an effort to harmonise the views of the predominately theistic evolutionary congregation and the handful of YEC's. Whilst Lennox seems very sincere in his intention to marry 'science' and 'religion' anyone who has looked into the Creation/evolution debate would instantly see the glaringly obvious holes in Lennox's arguments. His debates against leading atheists (accessible on uTube) are always intelligent and engaging however I've always been frustrated by his silence and lack of engagement when the debate turns to the question of origins and the age of the universe.
A few extra points Lita didn't address, presumably for brevity, I've raised below.
With regard to the quote in Lita's review from p.58 of Lennox's book, surely he realises that the order of events and their practical out working don't fit with the evolutionary story and are also scientifically unfeasible (eg. plants before sun so how would they photosynthesise, plants before insects so how would they pollinate?)
On p.71 he seems to be advocating for non-human hominids but then dismantles one scenario. I would have liked to see how he thinks our supposed evolution from the apes fits the Biblical narrative.
On p.78 he claims that we don't accuse the lion of sinning when it kills a human being. Yet in Genesis 9:5 God declares that He will demand an accounting from every animal for the taking of a human life. His insistence that death only came to humans at the fall neglects the assertion in Romans 8:19-22 that all of creation was affected by Adam's sin.
Overall I found Lennox's lack of engagement with the real issues frustrating.
Hi CMI, thank you for your review, by Lita Cosner, of Lennox's book, Seven Days that Divide the World. I find it more and more frustrating when Christians miss the mark when they read any of the scriptures and then apply modern day secular science in their interpretation. I would have thought that if any part of the Bible was considered as inaccurate or as perpetrating a myth, it would bring the rest of this great book into question. For those who believe that modern scientific knowledge makes a plain reading of Genesis obsolete, I find them to be very egotistic in believing that they now know more than God. Do they not think that God knew infintessimally more than mankind will ever know, well before he began creation? CMI's articles, especially on carbon 14 and the recent posting on population growth rates, must surely make people stop and think about the validity of long age belief. I feel that the problem with today's church, is their need to feel relevant in the world outside of the Bible, this brings doubt and eventually unbelief. It is the easy way out to try and fit in with popular belief. The pathway to eternity is narrow and like those in Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress", who chose the easy way, disaster is looming.
When I look around my environment and see so many pieces of evidence which point to a global flood and a young earth, consistent with the historical teaching in the bible, I recieve great satisfaction and peace in the knowledge that My creator God is so powerful and that His word is true. Keep up the good work, my prayers are with you. Geoff K.
The account of creation in Genesis is God speaking through Moses. Since it is God that is speaking, then that should be both the beginning and the end of the argument.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." Revelation 22:13 (and in Isaiah 44:6; 48:12, 13)
Human reason, which is corrupted, inconsistent, weak and unstable...
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool. Proverbs 28:26
...should humble itself when God is speaking, and not depart from the plain meaning of his word in order to plug up holes in its knowlege, and thereby only causing confusion through inconsistencies and false conclusions.
Science and philosophy cannot have authority over God's word, since (a) without God they would not exist anyway, and (b) they still have to be conducted via faulty, weak, corrupted-by-sin human reasoning/logic, as highlighted by the following verse:
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9
This re Bro Lennox is very disappointing for me. I have enjoyed one or two of his books and he has done a great work in Russia etc in the gospel. I happen to fellowship with Open Brethren and found out that he was such himself which gives us an affinity. Recently I found him with great delight on the internet in debates with the likes of Clement Dawkins (not his adopted name Richard please;it's too good a name ). I was disappointed in what he said about telling children about hell but didn't listen as carefully as you brethren have to do. I fear that what you say today is correct but hope that he gets to study carefully true Creation Science. That's a little strange that he doesn't refer to Dr Morris, Dr Sarfati et al.. You men must maintain your integrity too. Satan will be attacking you. We, if humble know more than our teachers with their PHD's because as Psalm 119 :99 to 101 (or so ) says. and that is because God's Word (fit for a wayfaring man even if a fool) is our basis of knowledge whatever the latest "assured findings of science." I have an affinity with Dr Sarfati too because he's a Wellingtonian and so was my Mother, a godly woman with at least four of her 8 children having become missionaries. It's a shame that you had to deal with mistakes of a dear brother like Dr Lennox but truth is divisive and open rebuke is better than secret love. Jesus said, "I will build my church." And He's doing it even in secular Japan. My sons reported many hundreds of Japanese people attending Christmas gospel meetings recently and big numbers making professions. One son told me of a place in China where recently a man was healed of congenital blindness resulting in untold numbers finding Christ. And few of these will have much trouble with evolution etc..
Nice work, Lita. I enjoyed the absurdum, too. :-)
I find Lennox's comments unbelievable, to tell us what the author of Genesis meant as though he knows exclusively. This for me is the problem with compromisers, their arguments seem to come exclusively from themselves.
I'm afraid that fundamentally, people like this seem to be ignorant about science itself, and what it tells us. As you alluded to, there is a fundamental difference between facts or operational science and historical science as mentioned often at CMI, and correctly.
People think the pressure is on them to accept all and everything secular science tells them, because they are under the mistaken assumption that they have to accept the so called "facts" of science.
My example is this - everyone knows life will not come from none-life, even the Urey/Miller experiment only shown the very rudimentary building blocks as racemic. BUT - they BELIEVE a primordial world existed. They BELIEVE the earth used to be a completely different planet with NONE of the present climatic conditions. They BELIEVE in a primordial sludge. They BELIEVE in a form of life that was un-evolved, thereby assuming evolution.
Until people educate themselves to the degree that they can understand and discern these crucial differences, they are prone to go in circles, believing they must do a hack job on Genesis. I myself remember, as we all do, that in our youth we were compelled to accept evolution based on our ignorance.
A genuine knowledge leads to God, because He is true - that is the wonderful thing, that there is no requirement to reject what He has said or how He has said it, unless secular science is your god.
This is a good article, and very helpdful review of this book. As always I'm delighted to read Lita Cosner's excellent writing. I was especially satisfied to see the connection made between the Mosaic institution of the Sabbath (the practice of which of course pre-dated Moses, just as all the moral commandments summarised in the Ten), and the creation week, to demonstrate the incongruity of his proposal.
I'm not sure if I would have gone so far as to call it new, though. Essentially it's a variation of the Day-Age theory that seems to tip the hat to Gould's punctuated equilibrium theory.
I thought the argument against his "solution" to death and suffering before the Fall could have been strengthened a bit more by reference to the established doctrine of man's headship over the creation. A bit of explanation and a few Scripture references would have been quite good here (e.g. Gen. 1:26; Psalm 8:4-8; Rom. 8:19-22; Gen. 3:17-19; 5:29, etc).
And this would tie in the relevance to the Gospel. If Adam was not given dominion over the creation, then why should the curse fall on it? And this explains why the second Adam has this dominion (Heb. 2:6-9), so that He redeems it from the dominion of the prince of this world (Satan; John 12:31; Eph. 2:2; Eph. 6:12; Rev. 12:9; 20:2) to whom Adam had subjected himself along with the entire human race and the creation, of which the preservation of the world through the Ark was a picture.
But your reference to Isaiah 65 was quite sufficient, and I suppose, this is always the way with an organisation which is broadly inclusive of various theological views (apart from a limited number fundamentals). I guess this is why the connection is never made between maintaining a historical reading of Genesis and the practice of ordaining women.
I wonder if Lennox sees the irony of his believing a number of things stated or implied in Genesis 1, but denies that the basis for these beliefs is credible. So he believes God created, but denies God's self-disclosure about his work in creation. This is the only information we have about God's activity in creating, yet, denied, it ceases to have the content that supports Lennox's contention. I can only conclude that his belief in God's being creator is either a 'rote' belief, or one that he holds in spite of the lack of substantiating information. It's like believing that people can levitate, but that no actual person has levitated.
It really gets tiresome seeing people trying to reconcile the Bible with a modern pseudoscience (evolutionism) that's easily recognized as such, no matter how popular it may be. Why don't they go on and try to reconcile it with, say, geocentrism while they're at it? It would be just as constructive!
The tragedy is that well-meaning Christians such as Lennox try to harmonise light with darkness, Biblical truth with “doctrines of demons”, science with God-denying pseudo-science.
To me the saddest comment of the whole review was:
‘His love of Scripture and science leads him to believe that “there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and the correct interpretation of the scientific data” ’
OF COURSE there is harmony between Scripture and science. Correct interpretation of the scientific data shows “molecules to man” Evolution to be impossible, and therefore agrees with correct interpretation of Scripture that it didn’t happen!
My hearty "amen" for your following remarks: "But the doctrine of Scripture itself is very much affected by how we interpret Genesis. Is it a falsifiable text (in other words, is there a point where we can call it true or false in any meaningful sense regarding what it tells us about historical matters), or is it jelly to be molded to fit with any conceivable model of origins (in which case it ceases to communicate meaningfully at all)?" I note that "Genesis" here could, as I'm sure you're already aware, be replaced with references to a host of other quite plain Scripture passages contemporary Christians often think it permissible to reinterpret using jelly mold hermeneutics.
Thank you for this helpful review.
I had not read John Lennox's book but I am now suspecting some people in my church have been reading it - one young person recently commenting that she rejected evolution but appreciated what John Lennox had to say about Creation.
Add to that someone else in my church, who I have had higher hopes for, recently making a statement "The lion eats the antelope because it was created that way" and it suggests to me that it was a direct 'lift' from John Lennox's book.
I later quietly pointed out to that brother the inconsistency of that view with Gen 1:30 but, sadly, there was no real engagement or acknowledgement. That is the real hurt in all this - silence, avoidance, non-engagement.
There are many who will not engage with a brother who holds to the Biblical presentation of the order of creation yet they actively submit to the authority of those who reinterpret the Word of God on this subject. Alienation, it hurts!
Thanks for the review Lita, although I am now wishing I had seen this before I purchased the book :(
But I guess it is important to keep in touch with the literature that is being promoted - Lennox is certainly a popular author, and my past experiences were that he does write engagingly, hence why I grabbed the book.
At least now I can approach the book forewarned...Praise God for his timely intervention!
Lita mentions the parallel description of the creation week and its direct derivative, the six day working week and Sabbath day of rest, in the context of Exodus 20:8-11. It seems clear that some who profess biblical faith make too light of the record here. Even if the creation account of Genesis was thought doubtful in detail or historicity, the written testimony of the Ten Commandments should be grounds for absolute assurance about the actual seven days of the creation week. After all, these words were actually written in stone by the finger of God (Ex 31:18). They were the work of God, and the writing was the engraved writing of God (Ex 32:16). Not only that, but God wrote the same testimony twice (Ex 34:1, Deut 10:4). This testimony has endured in history, right down to its present day influence of western Law.
Also, the apostle Paul in 2Cor 3:3 compares the tangible revelatory work of God in two ultimate biblical realities. God has written a letter from Christ in the hearts of each believer, the glorious message of a new creation (2Cor 5:17) written with the Spirit of the living God. Before this, Paul says, God wrote a letter from Christ, including the facts of his creation week, which he engraved in letters on tablets of stone (2Cor 3:7). Paul goes on to relate the historic circumstance of Moses at the giving of these Ten Commandments, clearly affirming the accounts of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
It seems that truth within the old covenant can be hidden from any minds and hearts, so we need to constantly turn to the Lord in Christ to see him (2Cor 3:14-16). May we, through God’s mercy, not loose heart. May we today thus reflect God’s glory and not distort the Word of God, but set forth the truth of our Creator and Redeemer plainly (2Cor 4:1-2).
Under the heading "How should we understand Scripture?" Lita states "Lennox seems to treat Scripture and science equally, and it is unclear how he decides to go with Scripture regarding the (scientifically ‘impossible’) Resurrection but with ‘science’ on the timescale of the universe."
This to my mind is sufficient to state the core of the problem here.
God states "‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (Gen. 1:1)" Irrespective of how much time was required, God claims to have created something out of nothing together with lots of space in between. Either God lies or He does not. If one beliefs that God is also the Truth, in trinity, it does realy not matter how much time He needed, it is sufficient to belief that it took Him only 6 literal days. The statement is either false or not.
I think hats of to Lita by stating in simple language, complex implications and correctly highlights the logic falacy of tweaking the Bible (God's Word) to suit any old idea. If your idea does not fit into the Bible, quit panelbeating the Bible, it has fatal consequences.
Thanks again to you all for your efforts and consistent point of view, it greatly assist others to do so too.
I understand that we as Christians are to seek for unity, but I am floundering in my search for Christians who know when to bring division - or even more shockingly, to find Christians who even admit that we need to do so at times. Unity is a goal of ours, but not with everyone or at all cost. Some times love brings correction, and sometimes the Word of God brings division - this was the work of Christ and it was carried on by his apostles. Why did so many Christians suddenly start following the world's idea that love is all accepting and doesn't make people uncomfortable?
I think that when we're asking the question "is this an issue to fight over?" we really have to look at the issues that the NT authors were willing to draw the line and say, "These aren't Christian beliefs, these aren't Christian behaviors." Also, when one sees the Gospel big picture of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration, that helps us to see what doctrines are the most important for maintaining that intact.
Thanks for being willing to draw the line. I find your thoughts at CMI well established to the `big picture' of the Gospel message and the Word of God as a whole. (And great job on using the big picture to help interpret the `smaller').