I thought I would post a few items for the average man to engage someone lightly about Genesis. Here I want to focus on larger, easier to defend positions and will also throw in some minutia for the person who is curious about the issue as well. I will give a short reply and then get into details on a few of them as well. In conversations there should be an easy – minimalist – exchange that is easy to communicate.
Firstly, the most basic thing one can say about Genesis is that its authors intended it to come across as literal. James Barr, Oriel Professor of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture, Oxford University, England, in a letter to David C.C. Watson (23 April 1984), stated the following:
The following is an extract from a letter written in 1984 by Professor James Barr, who was at the time Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford. Professor Barr said,
“Probably, so far as l know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the ‘days’ of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”
Thus, according to the Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, Tim is completely deceived in his wish to read Genesis figuratively. Let it be emphasized that according to professor Barr, virtually every professor at a world-class universities believes Gen. 1-11 are intended to convey the six 24 hour day creation and universality of Noah’s flood. (Planet Preterist)
Barr, despite not believing Genesis’ literal sense, does however, understand what the Hebrew so clearly taught. It was only the perceived need to harmonize the Bible with the alleged [evolutionary] age of the earth which led people to think anything different of the easy reading of Genesis—it was nothing to do with the text itself.
So the memory points can look like this:
• One of the leading Hebrew professors of our day; • From Oxford University; • Who did not believe in the literalness of Genesis; • Teaches that the language and cultural times; • Demand a literal reading of the text; • Whether you agree with the outcome of that reading or not.
Simple enough. If one kinda’ remembers these points they can communicate the text’s meaning in a way that shows that insertion of long ages is a newer phenomena, not something warranted by the text itself. Here is an opening of a debate between a theistic evolutionist and a young earth creationist that makes clear the theological implications of anything but the Biblical position (the entire debate can be found here):
While theistic evolution is almost at complete odds with the Gospel message, we should understand that the union between man-and-God is the acceptance of Jesus, not these particulars.
There have been great men of God who have been theistic evolutionists… this does not mean we have to be. (See video to the right, and I wish to thank Darren for keeping the tendency to judge unrighteously in check).
Another important aspect of this whole thing is the idea that there are different genres in Scripture such as narratives, letters or epistles, parables, book of wisdom, hyperbole, poetry, and the like. In the technical book, Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, Vol. 2, a professor of language from our Masters College here in our valley, points out that the structure of Genesis demands a reading that is in the historical narrative genre. Here is the graph from that chapter:
(One may wish to read my “Hermeneutics” presentation I gave at church.) A great layman introduction to the technical information in the above mentioned book which is mostly science driven, except for the chapter written by professor Steven W. Boyd, is the book, Thousands not Billions: Challenging the Icon of Evolution, Questioning the Age of the Earth. Of course, if you engage on this level at Starbucks, you may get the next response of whether you agree with God choosing genocide in the Old Testament since you choose the literal nature of the Bible. While one should have responses to this in their quiver… this is not the topic at hand. I will give some resources at the end to help answer all this. However, one needn’t go too much beyond this dealing with the text. Faith is involved, and this faith gives us an objective knowledge of reality:
…fundamentally, the way we know Christianity to be true is by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit. Now what do I mean by that? I mean that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premise in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy Spirit will imply the apprehension of certain truths of the Christian religion, such as “God exists,” “I am condemned by God,” “I am reconciled to God,” “Christ lives in me,” and so forth; that such an experience Provides one not only with a subjective assurance of Christianity’s truth, but with objective knowledge of that truth; and that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for him who attends fully to it.
William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008], 43
It is this assurance [the witness of the Holy Spirit] we have that validates the Scriptures and what they mean to teach. (See also p. 178.)
Now, on to TIME — old versus young universe positions. I know people can get frustrated in conversation in regards to these ideas. My tactic I use is merely to try and get the skeptic to admit a principle in regards to the universe. That is, time dialation. Here are some great examples.
Nuclear clocks at sea level are the most accurate time to set time to. Why? Here is a great example to explain why.
During the 1970s it was realized that gravitational time dilation caused the second produced by each atomic clock to differ depending on its altitude. A uniform second was produced by correcting the output of each atomic clock to mean sea level (the rotating geoid), lengthening the second by about 1×10−10. This correction was applied at the beginning of 1977 and formalized in 1980. In relativistic terms, the SI second is defined as the proper time on the rotating geoid.
Consider a pair of brothers, identical twins. One gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into deep space. The other stays on Earth. When the traveling twin returns home, he discovers he’s younger than his brother. This is Einstein’s Twin Paradox, and although it sounds strange, it is absolutely true. ~ NASA
So time is relative just from earth to our orbit. Similarly, what about theoretical forces such as black-holes?
…Although your watch as seen by you would not change its ticking rate, just as in special relativity (if you know anything about that), someone else would see a different ticking rate on your watch than the usual, and you would see their watch to be ticking at a different than normal rate. For example, if you were to station yourself just outside a black hole, while you would find your own watch ticking at the normal rate, you would see the watch of a friend at great distance from the hole to be ticking at a much faster rate than yours. That friend would see his own watch ticking at a normal rate, but see your watch to be ticking at a much slower rate. Thus if you stayed just outside the black hole for a while, then went back to join your friend, you would find that the friend had aged more than you had during your separation. (Time Dilation; also, Virginia Tech Q&A)
You can see that gravitational forces (and velocity) affect age… not just our age but how our perception of age and an actual age throughout the universe may be a bit different than we suppose. The point is to get the objector to admit to this principle and then merely say, “listen, I am no physicist, but from these simple examples I can see that age in the universe may be more relative than either you or I can imagine. However, I would much rather talk about how the Judeo-Christian Scriptures is getting right in regards to a beginning of time.” That’s it. Some quick examples to get your objector to see that science is proving that the appearance of age may be drastically different than what you and he may know.
• Nuclear clocks at sea level are most accurate; • Age differences between twins on earth and in orbit; • Between friends, one on earth and one falling into a black hole; • Point out that there may be more to age than what we know.
Also, while much of science is based on the absoluteness of the speed of light, scientists have long speculated that there are things in the universe that move faster than the prescribed light. There is finally a laboratory experiment proving such a feat and it has been published so other scientists can go over it with a fine-tooth comb to see if there are any mistakes in the study.
The team has published its work so other scientists can determine if the approach contains any mistakes.
If it does not, one of the pillars of modern science will come tumbling down.
Antonio Ereditato added “words of caution” to his Cern presentation because of the “potentially great impact on physics” of the result.
The speed of light is widely held to be the Universe’s ultimate speed limit, and much of modern physics – as laid out in part by Albert Einstein in his theory of special relativity – depends on the idea that nothing can exceed it.
Thousands of experiments have been undertaken to measure it ever more precisely, and no result has ever spotted a particle breaking the limit.
“We tried to find all possible explanations for this,” the report’s author Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration told BBC News on Thursday evening.
“We wanted to find a mistake – trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects – and we didn’t. ….(BBC NEWS)
So even the “light years” you hear spoken of may also be relative – only time will tell.
Reasons why speed of light may not be the fastest game in town or was constant:
A 2008 quantum physics experiment also performed by Nicolas Gisin and his colleagues in Geneva, Switzerland has determined that in any hypothetical nonlocal hidden-variables theory the speed of the quantum non-local connection (what Einstein called spooky action at a distance) is at least 10,000 times the speed of light.
Salart; Baas; Branciard; Gisin; Zbinden (2008). “Testing spooky action at a distance”. Nature 454 (7206): 861–864.
For the first time, astronomers have distinguished individual stars in a galaxy in the Virgo cluster and measured their distance from Earth. Observations of the galaxy NGC 4571, made with a new high-resolution camera, support the notion that objects in the universe may lie about half as far away as previously thought. If so, the cosmos as a whole may be smaller than believed.
Robert D. McClure of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia, and his colleagues conducted their study at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea. They photographed NGC 4571, obtaining sharp enough resolution to distinguish bright individual stars from groups of fainter stars. By comparing the brightness of the luminous stars with that of Milky Way stars in the same class and at a known distance from Earth, they deduced that NGC 4571 lies 50 million light-years from Earth.
Because astronomers often use the distance to Virgo as a yardstick for assessing the distance of objects farther out in the universe, the new finding indicates that such objects may lie much closer to Earth, McClure says. Since an object’s distance serves as an indicator of its age, a smaller cosmos would seem to suggest that the universe is younger than the estimated 10 to 20 billion years. On the other hand, scientists have clearly established an age of 15 billion years for some ancient star groups in the Milky Way.
The high-resolution camera attached to the Mauna Kea telescope uses adaptive optics to correct for the image-distorting effects of Earth’s atmosphere (SN: 6/8/91, p.358), yielding an image about five times as sharp as those produced by most other ground-based telescopes, McClure says.
…A simple interpretation of the large value of the Hubble Constant, as calculated from HST observations, implies an age of about 12 billion years for a low-density universe, and 8 billion years for a high-density universe. However, either value highlights a long-standing dilemma…. ~ HubbleSite (NASA)
But this brings a verse to mind, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). I think the Apostle was passing on something he may have encountered at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9). But to say the early thinkers (like the Apostles) did not know about God being outside of the time-space continuum is clearly shown to be false by the verse in 2 Peter. While the earth was once thought to be the center of the universe, and many skeptics deride the significant nature Christianity gives the earth and emphasize the insignificant place of the earth in our vast universe — recalling Carl Sagan’s “pale blue dot” quote. However, because of the building blocks of science and the best known shape of the universe, has caused a 4th dimension to be postulated. While we of course operate in three-dimensions, the fourth dimension is postulated as this (a great layman definition is to follow):
….The common view among cosmologists is that the universe is a four dimensional Riemannian manifold whose spatial part of the metric is increasing over time. This is interpreted as an expansion of the universe.
Imagine you are at a random spot on a spotted balloon, when someone inflates the balloon you’ll see the spots moving away from you, so it would seem you are at the center of the expansion. Furthermore, the further away the spots are the faster they move away from you. This is also true for the universe: the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it moves away from us.
Further imagine that you are a creature that only exists in two dimensions. That is, you have width and depth, but no height. So living on the surface of the balloon, you cannot see the shape of the balloon itself. If you went for a walk in a straight line, you would actually go around the balloon and end up where you started, despite not being aware that you were traveling in a circle.
The theory goes that the three dimensions of our universe that we can see are like the two dimensions of the surface of the balloon, which wraps around on itself in another dimension, so that if we traveled through space in a straight line, we would eventually return to our starting point. The fourth dimension is time and String theory holds the universe exists right up to ten dimensions.
One consequence of this idea is that the universe therefore has no edge (just like there is no edge to the surface of a balloon) and therefore no center. Thus for any location in space, it would appear that that location is at the center of the expansion of the universe….
If we were really at the center of the universe, this would support the idea that the Earth occupies a “special place” in the universe, which would support the biblical idea of creation, even though the Bible does not claim that the Earth is physically in the center of the universe. So many scientists find the idea that it only looks like we are at the center of the universe an attractive one.
Here is Dr. Russell Humphrey’s talking about the public’s misconception of the Big-Bang:
In the big bang’s mathematical model of the beginning, space itself would expand outward with the ball of hot matter, and the matter would completely fill space at all times. There would never be a large empty part. In the most favored version of the big bang, if you traveled very fast in any given direction, you would arrive back at your starting point without ever encountering a large region of empty space. That makes it impossible to define a boundary around the matter, so the matter could have no center of mass. With no unique center for gravity to point to, there would be no black hole at the beginning.
Knowing their theory is very difficult to visualize, big bang experts don’t try hard to correct the public’s “island universe” misconception. But occasionally they do make brief comments, such as, “This [picture of the big bang] is wrong . . . there is no center and edge.” (ICR)
This creates the perfect setting for what scientists say is a truthism. Wherever you are you are at the center of the universe. Not only earth… but you. So if you were to travel 5-billion light years away from earth, you are still at the center of the universe. Why? Because of the shape the universe is in and the folding of the space-time-continuum in on itself. Here is a great layman picture of what we are talking about and how the universe most probably looks/acts:
This is significant, because you, me, and others are at the center of God’s plan and focus. We are of most importance to God’s love and passion and He is a jealous God. He wishes none to be lost, loving us more so than even His concern shown for the sparrow falling from a nest.
(Video added Oct 7th, 2021)
Three presentations by Dr. Humphreys can be found here, in them he talks about: helium diffusion, starlight & time, quantized red shift, center of the universe, and gravitational wells.
This expansion of the cosmos, which young-agers say happened MORE quickly than old-earth creationist (OEC), has a lot to do with measured time and why a physicist can say that the universe is 14-billion years old. Dr. Russell Humphrey’s explains this a bit more here (above). IN the above linked presentation Dr. Humphrey’s deals with some of the bad presumptions made by the Big-Bang theory, for instance, matter always existing. But if you take his theories and combine them with current knowledge, we come pretty close to some solid facts supporting the Biblical aspect to the Big-Bang. So not only are we at the center of the universe… but very possibly at the real center of the universe – or close to. Or, the initial creative moment of the universe, as Humphrey’s points out in the above [#2] presentation.
So you could bullet point this for memory purposes thus:
• The universe has no center as you would understand a “point” being; • It is analogous to a balloon expanding as one fills it with air; • It would be possible to leave earth traveling in a straight you could return to earth; • This wrapping around of space is called “the fourth dimension;” • It causes the center to be from the perspective of the person it involves.
Another neat aspect of where science has led us is to the understanding that the Hebraic Scriptures, unlike every other religious text/holy book out there, is that the Bible alone seems to predict what only now the evidence of what science is showing us. Lee Strobel does a great job in relaying the evidence that we live in a finite cosmos and not an infinite one in his discussion with Dr. William Lane Craig (updated with J. Warner Wallace):
When Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity in 1915 and started applying it to the universe as a whole, he was shocked to discover it didn’t allow for a static universe. According to his equations, the universe should either be exploding or imploding. In order to make the universe static, he had to fudge his equations by putting in a facto that would hold the universe steady.
In the 1920’s, the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgium astronomer George Lemaitre were able to develop models based on Einstein’s theory. They predicted the universe was expanding. Of course, this meant that if you went backward in time, the universe would go back to a single origin before which it didn’t exist. Astronomer Fred Hoyle derisively called this the Big Bang — and the name stuck! [Later in his career, Fred Hoyle confirmed the expansion through work on the second most plentiful element in the universe, helium.]
Starting in the 1920’s, scientists began to find empirical evidence that supported these purely mathematical models.
LET US TAKE A QUICK BREAK from this excerpt to fill in some information from another excerpt, and then we will continue:
As mathematicians explored the theoretical evidence, astronomers began to make observations confirming the expansion of the universe. Vesto Slipher, an American astronomer working at the Lowell Observatory. in Flagstaff, Arizona, spent nearly ten years perfecting his understanding of spectrograph readings. His observations revealed something remarkable. If a distant object was moving toward Earth, its observable spectrograph colors shifted toward the blue end of the spectrum. If a distant object was moving away from Earth, its colors shifted toward the red end of the spectrum.
Slipher identified several nebulae and observed a redshift in their spectrographic colors. If these nebulae were moving away from our galaxy (and one another), as Slipher observed, they must have once been tightly clustered together. In 1914, he offered these findings at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, proposing them as evidence the universe was expanding.
A graduate student named Edwin Hubble seas in attendance and realized the implications of Slipher’s work. Hubble later began working at the Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles. Using the Hooker telescope, he eventually proved Slipher’s nebulae were actually galaxies beyond the Milky Way composed of billions of stars. By 1929, Hubble published findings of his own, verifying Slipher’s observations and demonstrating the speed at which a star or galaxy moves away from us increases with its distance from Earth. This once again confirmed the expansion of the universe.
For instance, in 1929, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the light coming to us from distant galaxies appears redder than it should be, and this is a universal feature of galaxies in all parts of the sky. Hubble explained this red shift as being due to the fact that the galaxies are moving away from us. He concluded that the universe is literally flying apart at enormous velocities. Hubble’s astronomical observations were the first empirical confirmation of the predictions by Friedman and Lemaitre.
Then in the 1940’s, George Gamow predicted that if the Big Bang really happened, then the background temperature of the universe should be just a few degrees above absolute zero. He said this would be a relic from a very early stage of the universe. Sure enough, in 1965, two scientists accidentally discovered the universe’s background radiation — and it was only about 3.7 degrees above absolute zero. There’s no explanation for this apart from the fact that it is a vestige of a very early and a very dense state of the universe, which was predicted by the Big Bang model.
The third main piece of the evidence for the Big Bang is the origin of light elements. Heavy elements, like carbon and iron, are synthesized in the interior of stars and then exploded through supernova into space. But the very, very light elements, like deuterium and helium, cannot have been synthesized in the interior of the stars, because you would need an even more powerful furnace to create them. These elements must have been forged in the furnace of the Big Bang itself at temperatures that were billions of degrees. There’s no other explanation.
So predictions about the Big Bang have been consistently verified by the scientific data. Moreover, they have been corroborated by the failure of every attempt to falsify them by alternative models. Unquestionably, the Big Bang model has impressive scientific credentials… Up to this time, it was taken for granted that the universe as a whole was a static, eternally existing object…. At the time an agnostic, American astronomer Robert Jastrow was forced to concede that although details may differ, “the essential element in the astronomical and Biblical accounts of Genesis is the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy”…. Einstein admitted the idea of the expanding universe “irritates me” (presumably, said one prominent scientist, “because of its theological implications”)
Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Towards God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 105-106, 112;
J. Warner Wallace, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2015), 32-33.
This should be put in bullet points for easy memorization:
Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity in 1915;
Around the same time evidence of an expanding universe was being presented to the American Astronomical Society by Vesto Slipher;
In the 1920s using Einstein’s theory, a Russian mathematician (Alexander Friedman) and the Belgium astronomer (George Lemaitre) predicted the universe was expanding;
In 1929, Hubble discovered evidence confirming earlier work on the Red-Light shift showing that galaxies are moving away from us;
In the 1940’s, George Gamow predicted a particular temperature to the universe if the Big Bang happened;
In 1965, two scientists (Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson) discovered the universe’s background radiation — and it was only about 3.7 degrees above absolute zero.
God is truly amazing! Now, the above explained “Big-Bang” as accepted by most evolutionary scientists assumes the eternal state of matter. The theists in the above example reject this, just an aside.