Hebrew Poetry and Verb Counts

This is part of a paper I did for a friend’s class — ENJOY (it is suppose to be a 500-word essay and was for a “multi-cultural children’s literature” class at a secular university):

Jewish poetry is about mankind’s nature, its attempts to reach the heavens and its failure to do just that. This poetry has a rich history and can be found in the religious books of the Old Testament, which give plenty of examples making the connection between selfish and selfless attempts to reach either God or the people. “There is nothing new under the sun” (NIV, 1996, Ecclesiastes 1:9) is such a great insight into man’s surroundings and his* boundaries to act due to his natural surroundings.

“We can learn from history how past generations thought and acted, how they responded to the demands of their time and how they solved their problems. We can learn by analogy, not by example, for our circumstances will always be different than theirs were. The main thing history can teach us is that human actions have consequences and that certain choices, once made, cannot be undone. They foreclose the possibility of making other choices and thus they determine future events” (Gerda et al, 1998, p. 117).

This is what much of Jewish poetry contributes to man, except a caveat is introduced, forgiveness. Whenever either Israel or a specific person made a detrimental choice, repentance and forgiveness was close behind. Children need forgiveness, and Psalms is an exemplary example for the educator to use. When they make choices that once are irreversible or harmful, it is important to show these choices can be made into learning experiences as well as a time to allow those who love them, well, to love them. The above is a mixture of classifications – e.g., hymns, laments songs of trust, and the like (Norton et al, 2001, p. 258) – that show the reader that the truly horrible consequence isn’t falling down, it failing to get up!

Another aspect that has Ancient Jewish poetry in the throes of modern culture is that of the Genesis debate… is it historical narrative or poetry. In other words, is the creation story merely Jewish poetry, or is it considered to be a narrative. Dr. Boyd, professor of Hebrew at Masters College, has put together a statistical model that shows by the use of finite verbs in a particular text if it is or isn’t poetry. There are four finite verb forms in Hebrew: preterite, imperfect, perfect, and waw-perfect (DeYoung et al, 2005, p.160). Compiling these verbs and comparing them to Jewish scripture one can see (see fig. 2 [ed. Vardiman, Snelling, Chaffin, et. al. 2005, p. 653]) which of the verbs are used in classic examples of both poetry and narrative traditions.

While this discussion has no immediate bearing on the scientific community, it does add a tool that can now be tweaked and refined to give a graphic view of what constitutes poetry and narrative in both scripture and ancient Yiddish traditions. Genesis stands out with the above model as more narrative than poetic, the literal interpretation of Genesis is an in house debate within the Jewish and Christian communities (see fig. 9 [ed. Vardiman, Snelling, Chaffin 2005, p.667]).

Another view of this poetic versus narrative tradition imbedded within Jewish culture is viewed side-by-side (see fig. 8 [ed. Vardiman, Snelling, Chaffin 2005, p.662]).

The above graphs are a great way to connect ancient Jewish culture and traditions with today’s youth. It is modern man and his tools looking at ancient man, both history and poetry walking hand-in-hand.


DeYoung, Don (2005). Thousands… Not Billions: Challenging an Icon of Evolution. Green Forest, AZ: Master Books.

Gerda, Lerner 1998. Why History Matters. New York, NY: Oxford University Press (Reprint edition).

NIV (1996). The Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Norton, Donna E. (2001). Multicultural Children’s Literature: Through the Eyes of many Children. Upper Sadle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice-Hall.

Vardiman, Larry; Snelling, Andrew; Chaffin, Eugene (2005), editors. Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Creationist Research Initiative. Volumn II. El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation research; Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society.

The Beginning of Culture

The Forge of Vulcan by Diego Velazquez, (1630). While some commentators have connected

the name of the Roman metalworking god Vulcan with the biblical Tubal-cain, the link is tenuous.

~ The Genesis Account (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2015), 435.

Genesis 4:17-26, The Line of Cain:

(17) Cain was intimate with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. Then Cain became the builder of a city, and he named the city Enoch after his son. (18) Irad was born to Enoch, Irad fathered Mehujael, Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. (19) Lamech took two wives for himself, one named Adah and the other named Zillah. (20) Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of the nomadic herdsmen. (21) His brother was named Jubal; he was the father of all who play the lyre and the flute. (22) Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. Tubal-cain’s sister was Naamah.

(23) Lamech said to his wives:

Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words.
For I killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
(24) If Cain is to be avenged seven times over,
then for Lamech it will be seventy-seven times!

(25) Adam was intimate with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” (26) A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of Yahweh.

The following are a couple commentaries about these verses. The first commentary is sort-of an introduction to these verses that detail the culture emerging in our most ancient civilizations, after the video is a more detailed commentary on Tubal-Cain:

  • Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Ge 4:15–22.

4:17-26 ~ The Line of Cain

4:17. city building. Because the founding of a city is tied so intimately to the founding of a nation or people in the ancient world, stories about the founder and the circumstances surrounding its founding are a part of the basic heritage of the inhabitants. These stories generally include a description of the natural resources which attracted the builder (water supply, grazing and crop land, natural defenses), the special attributes of the builder (unusual strength and/or wisdom) and the guidance of the patron god. Cities were constructed along or near rivers or springs. They served as focal points for trade, culture and religious activity for a much larger region and thus eventually became political centers or city states. The organization required to build them and then to keep their mud-brick and stone walls in repair helped generate the development of assemblies of elders and monarchies to rule them.

4:19. polygamy. The practice of a man marrying more than one wife is known as polygamy. This custom was based on several factors: (1) an imbalance in the number of males and females, (2) the need to produce large numbers of children to work herds and/or fields, (3) the desire to increase the prestige and wealth of a household through multiple marriage contracts and (4) the high rate of death of females in childbirth. Polygamy was most common among pastoral nomadic groups and in rural farming communities, where it was important that every female be attached to a household and be productive. Monarchs also practiced polygamy, primarily as a means of making alliances with powerful families or other nations. In such situations the wives might also end up as hostages if the political relationship soured.

4:20. animal domestication. Raising livestock is the first stage in animal domestication, which involves human control of breeding, food supply and territory. Sheep and goats were the first livestock to be domesticated, with the evidence extending back to the ninth millennium b.c. Larger cattle came a bit later, and evidence for pig domestication begins in the seventh millennium.

4:21. musical instruments. Musical instruments were among the first inventions of early humans. In Egypt the earliest end-blown flutes date to the fourth millennium b.c. A number of harps and lyres as well as a pair of silver flutes were found in the royal cemetery at Ur dating to the early part of the third millennium. Flutes made of bone or pottery date back at least to the fourth millennium. Musical instruments provided entertainment as well as background rhythm for dances and ritual performances, such as processions or cultic dramas. Other than simple percussion instruments (drums and rattles), the most common instruments used in the ancient Near East were harps and lyres. Examples have been found in excavated tombs and painted on the walls of temples and palaces. They are described in literature as a means of soothing the spirit, invoking the gods to speak and providing the cadence for a marching army. Musicians had their own guilds and were highly respected.

4:22. ancient metal technology. As part of the account of the emergence of crafts and technology in the genealogy of Cain, it is appropriate that the origin of metalworking would be mentioned. Assyrian texts mention Tabal and Musku as the early metalworking regions in the Taurus Mountains (of eastern Turkey). Copper tools, weapons and implements began to be smelted and forged in the fourth millennium b.c. Subsequently, alloys of copper, principally bronze, were introduced in the early third millennium as sources of tin were discovered outside the Near East and trade routes expanded to bring them to Egypt and Mesopotamia. Iron, a metal which requires much higher temperatures and skin bellows (portrayed in the Egyptian Beni Hasan tomb paintings) to refine and work, was the last to be introduced, toward the end of the second millennium b.c. Hittite smiths seem to have been the first to exploit it, and then the technology spread east and south. Meteorite iron was cold-forged for centuries prior to its smelting. That would not represent as large an industry as the forging of terrestrial deposits, but it would explain some of the early references to iron prior to the Iron Age.

The following presentation by Dr. Chittick details some advanced technology of ancient man. If man evolved up from an animal as evolutionism teaches, then ancient civilizations should be “primitive.” However, science/archaeology indicates that ancient cultures were technologically advanced, perhaps even rivaling or surpassing our own technical achievements. Here is a quick bio on him:

Dr. Donald E. Chittick received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, and a Bachelor of Science from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. His resume includes the following: Chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences at George Fox University in Oregon, adjunct professor of chemistry at the Institute for Creation Research in California, and Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Puget Sound in Washington, as well as being an active lecturer for thirty years. Chittick is also an active inventor and has received several patents for alternative fuels and “programmed instruction,” i.e. homeschooling. He has a member of the American Chemical Society, and the Creation Research Society.

Here is Jonathan Sarfati’s commentary on Tubal-Cain:

  • Jonathan D. Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, And Scientific Commentary On Genesis 1-11 (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2015), 429-430, 436-438.


4:17b-24—When he [Cain] built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.

And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah

Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;

you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:

I have killed a man for wounding me,

a young man for striking me.

If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,

then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

This section of Genesis is quite brief. But this is a pattern in Genesis: God is working out His Messianic program throughout history, but Genesis first narrates the history of the ‘side branches’ before disposing of them in the narrative. This section disposes of the history of the Cainites before moving on to the Messianic line of Seth. Then in Chapter 10, Genesis explains the history of the Gentile nations before moving on to Terah then his son Abraham, with whom God made a covenant. After this, Genesis 25 provides a brief history of Ishmael’s line before moving on to the covenant line in Isaac. Genesis 36 does the same for Esau’s line before a detailed explanation of the descendants of Jacob, the ancestor of the Messianic nation of Israel.

We also see how this line is involved in worldly pursuits, trying to alleviate the effects of the Curse. In itself, this is not a bad thing, and consistent with the Dominion Mandate (1:28, see Ch. 10). As Kidner says:

A biased account would have ascribed nothing good to Cain. The truth is more complex: God was to make much use of Cainite techniques for his people, from the semi-nomadic discipline itself (20; cf. Heb. 11:9) to the civilized arts and crafts (e.g. Exod. 35:35).

But in this case, the improvements were made apart from God, and merely show that “the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Jesus, Luke 16:8).


The English translation implies that Cain built a city, which would entail that he could defy his punishment of perpetual wandering. However, the Hebrew provides a different impression.

First, the word for ‘city’ is ‘îr (עִ֔יר). In the Bible, this certainly doesn’t mean something like modem London or New York, but can refer to something as small as a protected encampment. Keil and Delitzsch explain that this word “does not necessarily presuppose a large town, but simply an enclosed space with fortified dwellings, in contradistinction to the isolated tents of shepherds.”

Second, the Hebrew verb, wayǝhi bōneh (some Hebrew that did not scan over), which is participial, “he was engaged in building.” So it seems that Cain started the city, but had to wander again, so left it for Enoch to finish. This could be why the city was named after Enoch.


Tubal-cain (4:22a)

The above two brothers had an equally inventive half-brother, via Lamech’s other wife, Zillah. This was Tubal-cain, Hebrew Tubal Qayin (תּוּבַל). He was “the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.” Thus Keil and Delitzsch suggest a reason for the dual name, “Cain, from קָ֫יִן to forge, is probably to be regarded as the surname which Tubal received on account of his inventions.” However, Henry Morris suggests an alternative:

The meaning of his name is uncertain but does seem etymologically to be the progenitor of the Roman god Vulcan.

Indeed, this view has had eminent support. For instance, John Gill elaborated on this idea much more in his monumental commentary series:

And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, … Thought by many to be the same with Vulcan, his name and business agreeing; for the names are near in sound, Tubalcain may easily pass into Vulcan; and who, with the Heathens, was the god of the smiths, and the maker of Jupiter’s thunderbolts, as this was an artificer in iron and brass, as follows: his name is compounded of two words, the latter of which was no doubt put into his name in memory of Cain his great ancestor; [Josephus] says of him, that he exceeded all in strength, and had great skill in military affairs.

An instructor of every artificer in brass and iron; he taught men the way of melting metals, and of making armour and weapons of war, and other instruments, for various uses, out of them; and he seems to be the same with the Chrysor of Sanchoniatho; for he says (w) of them (Agreus and Halieus) were begotten two brothers, the inventors of iron, and of working of it: one of these, called Chrysor, is said to be Hephaestus or Vulcan; and Chrysor, as Bochartus (x) seems rightly to conjecture, is `Choresh-Ur, a worker in fire’; that, by means of fire, melted metals, and cast them into different forms, and for different uses; and one of these words is used in the text of Tubalcain; and so, according to Diodorus Siculus (y), Vulcan signifies fire, and was not only the inventor of fire, but he says he was the inventor of all works in iron, brass, gold, and silver, and of all other things wrought by fire, and of all other uses of fire, both by artificers and all other men, and therefore he was called by all ‘fire’. Clemens of Alexandria ascribes the invention of brass and iron to the Idaeans or priests of Cybele in Cyprus; and so Sophocles in Strabo.

Vulcan was indeed the Roman god of fire and metalwork, often depicted with a blacksmith’s hammering. However, I have my doubts. Latin and Hebrew are from different language families—Indo-European and Semitic. Vulcan was functionally the same as the Greek god of metalworking, ‘Hephaestus’ (Hēphaistos – Ἥφαιστος), and linguistically similar to the Cretan nature and fire god Velchanos. Also, all this is prior to the Flood, so he could not have been the inventor of post-flood metal-working unless that technology was carried on the Ark and preserved through the first several generations. It is more likely that many things were re-invented by the descendants of Noah, even if through memory of the antediluvian world.

The word ‘all’, kol, in this case means ‘all kinds of’, so it means that Tubal-cain invented a wide variety of metal tools. So all these brothers produced useful technology that would make life easier and alleviate effects of the Curse. This is good in itself, and illustrates God’s grace even in the line of the murderer Cain.

But after a parenthetical statement about a sister, we see that the tools were not always used for good. Metal tools, like music, can have both God-honouring and God-defying applications.

I Learned A New “Theological” Term: Baculum (Updated)

Here is my intro to this story via my Facebook page for this site (added to just a tad):

A recent story has caught the attention of many in mainstream culture… but is starting to filter down to the myopic persons (like myself). It is this, that eve was not created from a rib ~ (really, something to do with Adams side — probably involving DNA, like adult stem-cells or something… bottom line is though, WE DON’T KNOW) ~ but from Adams penis bone (or, “baculum”).

I didn’t stutter. I said, Adams penis. While I can only imaging the furor and angry clambering across the gender feminist sub-culture (and smile inwardly at this writhing), I HAD to post on this topic.


Another tidbit I learned from cruising the internet about this story is that an extinct walrus is known to have a 22-inch bacula. (The picture to the above/right is of a four-foot walrus bacula)

Keep dreaming boys!

When I first saw the below story… I thought the professor HAD to be a lib! Why? Because progressives have a tendency to sexualize e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g ~ which is why sex-education starts in kindergarten now. Anyhew, here is the “bulk” of the story via The Blaze:

A professor of the Bible in California has posed the theory that the Adam and Eve narrative in the book of Genesis was mistranslated and that Eve was created not out of Adam’s rib, but his baculum, or penis bone.

Ziony Zevit, a professor of biblical literature and Northwest Semitic languages at American Jewish University in California, recently presented his argument in an article in Biblical Archaeology Review based both on what he believes to be an erroneous translation for the Hebrew word for “rib” and also on the unique anatomy of the human male, one of the few mammals lacking a baculum.

He also pointed to the fact that men and women have the same number of ribs and that men have an even number of ribs, suggesting none are missing….

Using the logic from the story I have read… Adam had two??? But I digress… apparently, literally. However… my amateur musings aside, here is the logic of professor Zevit:

  • A rib seems like an unlikely origin for Eve because male and female humans have the same number of ribs.
  • Ribs also lack “intrinsic generative capacity”, which penises have “in practice, in mythology, and in the popular imagination”.
  • Most mammals – and especially primates – have bacula, humans do not.
  • It is therefore “probable” that Adam’s baculum was removed to make Eve, and not a rib.

(We Just Lost It)

The Hebrew is really just saying “from his side.” That is it. “a “rib” is just a cultural “guess” at what took place, but we really do not know.

So after hanging out at a friends house for his birthday, I mentioned that I think the professor mentioned in the story is liberal. [Plus, as a fan of Dennis Prager… I knew the odds were in my favor. See Prager’s “Explaining Jews, part V: Why are Jews liberal?“] So when I got home, I looked him up. This is his background:

  • University of Southern CA, B.A. 1964
  • University of California, Berkeley, M.A. 1967
  • University of California, Berkeley, Can. Phil. 1970
  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. 1974

Um… Berkeley… in the seventies?


I read an interesting article on Professor Zevit’s piece that I think was helpful. The article is entitled “A Flaccid Interpretation of Eden,” and is by Joseph Ryan Kelly. A very informative piece, I suggest reading it in its entirety.

…Novel interpretations like this one occur from time to time throughout Zevit’s re-reading of the second, third, and fourth chapters of Genesis. He maintains that Eden was a real location in the Armenian highlands somewhere west of Lake Van (Eastern Turkey), the most northern corner of the inhabited world known to ancient Israelites. Adam was not created from dust, light in color, dry, and loosely compacted. God formed him from apar, a “clod” which, like humans, is rich in constitution and ruddy in complexion. Following the transgression of the divine command — or the “oblique instruction,” as Zevit prefers for the grammatical informality of the command — God’s curses transform neither the bodies of the individuals involved nor their environment. Rather, as performative speech acts, they transform somewhat negatively how the serpent, “Hawwa” (Zevit refers to Eve by her Hebrew name), and Adam perceive an element of their lives.

Is Zevit just out to present novel, if philologically and historically sound, interpretations of the Garden of Eden? I asked myself this question with increasing frequency as I found it more and more difficult to hold together in my mind’s eye the picture of Eden Zevit was painting. What themes tie together a far northern location for Eden, creation out of clod, ossifical castration, and curses functioning as performative speech acts? This cacophony of novel (and sometimes not-so-novel) interpretations does not resolve harmoniously — at least not into the familiar narrative of sin and death that characterizes Western culture’s tradition of a fall. Zevit’s narrative becomes clear only near the end of the book. Forget sin and death; this is a story about human nature, the acquisition of knowledge, and ethical self-awareness. A story not about loss, but gain. Not a decline, but a rise.

It is unfortunate that Zevit’s chosen path of discovering what really happened in the Garden of Eden elides other interpretive paths explored in Western culture. He focuses exclusively on philology and historical criticism as tools of discovery, but during the Enlightenment a number of philosophers could not regard as purely sinful humankind’s acquisition of knowledge. They too cast aside notions of a fall. Immanuel Kant, for example, saw humankind’s pursuit as a positive step for the development of humankind, even if human actions introduced evil into the world. The first human couple discovers the freedom that constitutes the foundation of human morality. This freedom and capacity for moral discernment is fundamental to Kant’s deontological moral philosophy centered on the categorical imperative.

Philosophers of the twentieth century continued to acknowledge the merits and necessity of human freedom, although they were less enthusiastic about its implications. The circumstances of their own day — world wars and the threat of mutually assured destruction — made it increasingly difficult to remain generally optimistic about human freedom. What they discover in the Garden of Eden is not the origins of sin but an explanation of human sinfulness. The fall is less an experience in history and more the culmination of the creation of humankind.

Acknowledging that “knowledge is not foolproof,” Zevit’s interpretation otherwise lacks the sobering dimensions of this twentieth century philosophical interpretation. The Garden story is a “positive and optimistic one.” Immediately following the events in the Garden, human knowledge leads to the development of urban centers, pastoral nomadism, musical instruments, forged metal tools, and manufactured materials. Where other scholars tend to see an embedded critique of Mesopotamian civilization, Zevit sees only the human capacity to create knowledge. These implicit elements of critique aside, the flood and the confusion of languages at Babel explicitly reveal a darker side of human freedom. Readers of the biblical text, like philosophers of the twentieth century, are justified in recognizing that human freedom has its tragic consequences.

Has Zevit pulled back the curtain on these early chapters of Genesis? While his use of philology and historical criticism forces us to reconsider interpretations often taken for granted, his approach does not produce confident conclusions. Does God really create Hawwa, Eve, out of Adam’s penile bone? Genesis 2:21 describes God removing one ofAdam’s ribs or ṣelaot. To incorporate this detail into his interpretation, Zevit translates the term ṣela as “lateral bone.” Imagining the baculum as belonging to a category of lateral bones strikes me as a specious argument. But perhaps more pressing is the way this proposed etiology differs from other etiologies involving humans in the Hebrew Bible. Elsewhere, biblical texts use past events to explain cultural institutions or customs.


What Zevit is proposing is altogether different. By removing Adam’s baculum and closing up the flesh, God forever changes physical features of the male anatomy. The eighteenth century French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck thought organisms could transmit to their offspring characteristics they acquire during their lifetime. However interesting Zevit’s Lamarckian interpretation may be, it seems atypical among biblical etiologies, if not anachronistic. Do other etiologies in the Bible betray a belief in the inheritance of acquired traits? One does not readily come to mind. Moreover, it seems counterintuitive that Israelites would have believed one could inherit acquired characteristics given the regularity with which they circumcised male penises. Though not a coup de grâce, this thought raises a pressing question about an already tenuous interpretation.

The challenge of interpreting enigmatic details like this one exemplifies the problem inherent in trusting that the tools of our academic disciplines will guide us to some supposed real meaning of the biblical text. Claims about the authentic meaning of any biblical text function best as a marketing strategy — a means of attracting a broad customer base for discussions about textual and sometimes historical interpretation that may otherwise fail to produce intrigue among the general public.

I appreciate that Zevit has produced a book discouraging scholars and the general public from taking for granted the interpretation of this classic biblical text. However, I question the value of perpetuating the misconception that the object of interpretation is to discover the one real meaning of a text. If a text contained only one truly authentic meaning, it seems reasonable to assume such interpretations would have long since been realized. That scholars like Zevit continue to use the tools of their disciplines to construct different plausible historical interpretations of biblical texts should indicate not the inadequacy of their tools, but rather the inadequacy of such a limited understanding of textual meaning. Despite the interesting insights Zevit derives from his imaginative interpretation of Genesis 2-3 — or rather because of them — we are no closer to discovering what really happened in the Garden of Eden.

BTW, “baculum” (Latin) is part of a fallacy in logic:

Argumentum ad baculum

Argumentum ad baculum is a fallacy in argumentation that is based on an appeal to force. For example, “You better believe what I say because if you don’t, I will beat you up.”

An Ironman Supplement ~ Thin Nothing (UPDATED)

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:

Ver Use 2 Ver Use 3 Ver Use

(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.

See page 515 in RA Nelsonet al.; McCarthy, D D; Malys, S; Levine, J; Guinot, B; Fliegel, H F; Beard, R L; Bartholomew, T R (2000). “The leap second: its history and possible future“. Metrologia 38: 509–529. Bibcode 2001Metro..38..509N. doi:10.1088/0026-1394/38/6/6. (Wiki)

This leads to an interesting “Twin Paradox“:

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.

Virgo Cluster and Time

“The Plum Line is Relative”

Here is an age of the Virgo cluster from a few years back:

But some stars have been observed in the M100 galaxy of the Virgo Cluster, about 100 million light years from the Earth.

Villard, Ray; Freedman, Wendy L. (1994-10-26). “Hubble Space Telescope Measures Precise Distance to the Most Remote Galaxy Yet”. Hubble Site. Retrieved 2007-08-05; see also: http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/virgo.html

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.

This turns ALL physics on its head, by the way!

Virgo images suggest smaller universe – observations of a galaxy in the Virgo cluster indicate that objects in the universe may be half as far away as previously thought.

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)

A recommended Resource: Distant Starlight – A Forum

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.


As you read this, you should keep in mind the previous discussion of gravity and velocity affecting time, especially the watch analogy. (A more technical explanation can be found here: “Our galaxy is the centre of the universe, ‘quantized’ redshifts show.”)

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.

J. Warner Wallace -- Red Light Shift Big-Bang

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.

And here are, for the curious, a great presentation (which I broke up into each assumption for ease of consumption) dealing with dating methods and there problems for dating the earth in long ages:

What Is Radioactive Dating & Its Assumptions?

Evidence 1 Challenging Assumptions In Radioactive Decay Rate

Evidence 2 Challenging Assumptions In Radioactive Decay Rate

Evidence 3 Challenging Assumptions In Radioactive Decay Rate

Evidence 4 Challenging Assumptions In Radioactive Decay Rate

Evidence 5 Challenging Assumptions In Radioactive Decay Rate