I think I have spent enough time reading in the last month or so to be able to add a bit more to our discussion. I appreciate the opportunity to bounce a few things off someone whose opinions I respect. I am going to make statements without “wax” and let you respond as directly as you wish. I am still considering both sides at this point.
I understand death before fall to be a natural part of animal life. I understand human death after the fall to be “spiritual” and also physical death for man probably started on that day and concluding at the time of Adams death.
Of course this view of animal death puts me at odds with some, but not at odds with scripture, as I understand it. I am quite confident that the Romans passage applies very clearly just to man. I don’t see why soul-creatures would be included in that verse.
I don’t agree that the new heaven will be a repeat of the garden or the earth before sin. Part of that is based on me leaning towards carnivorous predators before the fall. The verse in Genesis 2 referring to plants for food is tricky but not conclusive. It doesn’t state explicitly that animals don’t predate. There are a number of verses in the Bible that speak of God providing animals with prey and being pleased with it. I don’t believe sin cursed behavior would ever meet God’s approval. Also, the Hebrew names for Lions, eagles, and many others are based on carnivorous traits. Not a conclusive evidence, but interesting since Adam named them. The biggest thing I am willing to say is Biblical sound is that in Genesis 1-2 yom refers to long periods of time instead of just 12 or 24 hour days. The arguments are well known, of course, but I am convinced that the text allows for a literal reading using age instead of day. Looking at day 3 provides some clues as God causes the ground to bring forth plants that bear seed “reproduction” and fruit. Both processes require more than 24 hours. Of course day 6 seems to provide clues as well with the many events and Adams response when introduced to Eve. “At long last” Of course day seven is still going on and adds to the possibility. I am not saying any of these are conclusive evidences, but I feel they “open the door” for a credible case being made for day-age literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2. I would be glad to consider more evidences for and against that view.
Along with the open door I believe to be present with regard to interpretation along these lines, I am encouraged by historical conservative Christians that are proponents of old earth creationism. C H Spurgeon is the latest that I have read. He saw no issues theologically or scripturally with that view. The list of others is actually quite extensive and some predate Darwin and the influence that he has had on the argument.
(By the way, I view as unbiblical and unsupportable scientifically theistic evolution and naturalistic evolution. I also can not accept rapid specialization proposed by many YEC. Many of them say that a handful of “kinds” of animals are responsible for the current 4-5 million species we see on earth today. It represents orders of magnitude more rapid “change” then nontheists even propose.) I believe the Bible teaches and good science supports specific creation for all but the slightest variations.
An argument I would propose last is that of scientific evidences. While occasionally a finding will crop up that YEC latch onto as “proof” of a young universe, I believe that most of them can be explained fairly easily. As I consider the “big picture” of creation, I am drawn to that fact that it appears to be old. One could spend a lifetime debating specific examples, but I would like to point out one brief example.
God is truthful and tells us that mankind can learn about his works by looking at creation. This brief statement makes many uses of “appearance of age” examples unsatisfactory to me. Let’s consider starlight. I am fairly confident of distances in space. Measured with several independent methods which agree to a high degree, they seem to be at least within orders of magnitude of the actual distances. Now let us consider a star 1 billion light years away which we see die. If creation was 10000 years ago, the star never existed. (arguments about infinite speed of light also change things like radioactive decay rates which would fry us all) If God wanted to show us things that didn’t really happen, He could, but I find it against His stated character to believe He would.
If you would like to read more of what I have been considering, there are a few old earth creationist websites which are interesting. Reasons to Believe has a pretty comprehensive cosmology. They are fallible, but seem to have a pretty solid scientific base. One of their books, A Matter of Days, by Hugh Ross is geared towards the young-earth-creationism verses old-earth-creationism debate. I am not saying it would convince you, or that it should, but it would give you a pretty good idea of the old earth creationist thinking.
I will pray that God gives you wisdom to respond to my “report.” I truly want the Truth to convince me and put the issues at peace.
I am certainly sympathetic to being in a place where you do not want to state a clear position. Since you expressed some worry that I might be upset by your conclusions, let me say that I try to keep my views in categories, with Christ as the center, essential doctrines like the authority of Scripture and substitutional atonement as the next level, followed by important doctrines, and then things that belong to the realm more of lesser teachings, many of which involve speculation or opinions. I trust I would be civil to all, but I couldn’t really find fellowship as a brother with anyone who wasn’t with me on the issue of Christ. The essential teachings I would not give up, though I would be willing to argue with one who disagreed to try to help such a person. Other things, even important doctrines, I am perfectly happy to count others as brothers and sisters if we agree on Christ but not on these. Certainly once one goes beyond that to less important doctrines and opinions, I think we should all be able to just sit down and discuss these over tea or coffee and not think it a big deal. I hold many unusual opinions, and am not about to get angry at anyone for doing the same, or for holding a less unusual position than myself.
I appreciate your openness in sharing your views, and enjoy the privilege of being one to bounce them off of. Perhaps we should get together in person sometime to talk. It would be great to see you again.
I would lean against this view (that animal death is a natural part of animal life,) but admit that it is a possibility that they did die before the fall. Really it is scientifically that I see no reason for man’s fall to introduce death into the animal creation. Philosophically, and considering what I understand to be God’s way of setting up authority, everything would point to animal death having been caused by man’s fall and being a natural result of that. Adam had the authority to decide life or death for all his offspring. If these were put under his control, certainly the animal creation was as well. If he had chosen God’s way rather than Satan’s, it would make sense that the animal creation would have reflected that choice, just as the human world does.
I would agree that it is a pretty weak argument to use the Romans verse as proof. Death entering into world, which in Greek means the system, order, or arrangement, would be just as true referring to it entering into men exclusively as entering into both men and animals. This does not mean that men are meant exclusively, but certainly they were meant primarily. If animals are included, it is in a secondary capacity. But I don’t think you can really prove or disprove that from that verse.
I would agree that the new heaven and new earth (which should not be skipped…) is an advance on the garden or earth before sin. I believe that the kingdom of God on earth before that will be a continuation, if you will, from what the intention was before the fall. But even then, things will not be exactly the same as they would have been, but everything will appear much different because of all that has come in between. I do know that Isaiah 65:25 says regarding the animal kingdom then (as is clearly indicated by the context), “’They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’ says the LORD.” I believe the “holy mountain” refers to the kingdom of God, as mountains are used symbolically for governments. Luke 1:33 states that “of His kingdom there will be no end.” I would take that to mean no borders, that is, that it will cover the entire earth (though I do not deny its lasting duration, either.) Besides, I cannot think of anything more foolish than the idea that a wolf and a lamb will be walking along in perfect harmony on God’s holy mountain, when suddenly they cross the border off that mountain, and the wolf springs on the lamb. So I do think that the dog-eat-dog system of nature will not exist in the kingdom. That said, it does not say that animals will not die, just that they will not hurt or destroy.
That said, I don’t think it fits Biblically to put carnivorous predators before the fall. Genesis 1: 29-30 states: “29 And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.” Thus, it was not just to man, but to all the animals, that God gave herbs, seeds, and fruit as food. This appears to be part of the reason why God could say in verse 31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” I cannot help but think of the “not goodness” of what I am seeing whenever I watch a nature show and see the violence and death that goes on in the animal creation. While it is not clearly stated, this seems to have only been reversed at the flood (not the fall,) for it was there that God stated, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” (Genesis 9:3) This is only specifically stated for man, not the animals, but in light of Genesis 1:29-30, and no statement to the contrary until here, this is the most logical place to put a change for the animals as well. Even if one imagines the change at the fall, the words of Genesis 1:29-30 seem conclusive on this issue regarding before the fall.
That said, you are right that Genesis 1:29-30 does not specifically state that animals (or man for that matter) cannot eat meat (flesh,) but that said, when you consider these verses in the context of each other, there can be little question of the intention of what is being said. What can Genesis 9:3 be but a negation and change of Genesis 1:29-30 regarding man, and if this is the case, what can Genesis 1:29-30 be but a statement regarding the same thing for animals at that time as was true for man until Genesis 9:3? These verses help interpret each other, and that does much, I think, to lock in the interpretation. That is the best way to settle most controversial questions, I think: let the Bible interpret Itself.
I would see multiple problems with assuming ages instead of days as the meaning of yom in Genesis 1-2. Biblically, the literal days of the creation week are assumed when introducing the Sabbath day. You can see this in Exodus 20:8-11.
8. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10. but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
The parallel here is impossible to miss. The LORD worked six days and rested the seventh, therefore the Israelites should work six days and rest the seventh. The justification for the Sabbath day here is the creation week. If the creation week was not actually a week, the justification for the Sabbath day evaporates. The LORD surely does not mean that the Israelites are to work for six ages, and then rest the seventh.
The same is true in Exodus 31:12-17.
12. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13. “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”
The Israelites are to emulate the LORD by resting on the seventh day, just as the LORD rested on the seventh day. If the creation week is not literal, then the parallel is destroyed, and the justification for the Sabbath, the sign between the LORD and the sons of Israel, is negated.
It seems to me you present a problem easily explained regarding day three while ignoring much larger problems introduced if this is not a literal day. The designation of “herb that yields seed” and “fruit tree that yields fruit” need not imply that they actually did so on the first day they were created, but only that the LORD made them to do this, which certainly He must have when He designed them. They must have been designed with their reproductive capabilities intact and ready to produce, even if they did not do so on the first day. They need not have yielded on the first day, but only have had the potential to yield in due season.
That said, the making of plants on day three presents many difficulties if this “day” is actually a long age. For example, we then have the plants made a full age before the sun and heavenly bodies are made! We don’t know what form the “day” and “night” took for the first three days, but it seems clear that only on day 4 were these solidified into the sun and other heavenly bodies as we have them. Yet if the plants lived and thrived for an age without the sun, how did they do so, and why then was the switch even necessary? But a single day without the sun seems to present little problem…the plants often have to go a day with no sunlight when the weather is bad. Then, there is the fact that the plants, many of which are pollinated by various insects, would have had to survive ages with no insects at all. Even if one includes insects among the “birds,” which seems questionable, the plants had to survive two ages with no insects to pollinate them, which does not really work.
I will freely admit that there appears to be far too much for Adam to have done on a single day on day six. I would tend to think that Adam, as originally created, was created containing both male and female characteristics, capable of self-reproduction. This is not something seen elsewhere among the “higher” orders of animals, but certainly is not unheard of among the “lower” orders of animals. And considering that man is unique in many other ways, it does not seem impossible. Most of the rabbis tended to teach this in olden days, so it is not just my own wild idea…not that the rabbis were right in everything, by any means! If this was not the case, clearly the LORD “deciding” on the creation of Eve (or Isha, “Woman,” as she was called at first,) was just a charade, since reproduction would have been impossible without her creation.
The word for “rib” is never elsewhere translated “rib,” but rather things like “side” or “chamber.” If it was the female “side” (or even the “chamber” of the womb) that the LORD took out of Adam, not a “rib,” then the creation of male and female on day one may have been contained in the single individual Adam, and the creation of the woman Isha may have been some days afterwards, as Genesis 2 seems to suggest.
Moreover, the creation of trees for the garden and animals for Adam to name “out of the ground” seems to be a special creation just for the purpose of bringing each animal to Adam for him to name, not the general creation of all the animals on day 6.
The words they have translated “at long last!” in whatever version you were using are both words capable of many and varied meanings, and are translated in so many different ways that it is hard to hang much on them. It seems to me that the translators who make it out this way are more remembering the Sunday school story they were told as children than they are considering the actual text. The Sunday school story is that Adam was looking among all the animals for a partner and going away disappointed when he didn’t find one, and then when he saw Eve (Isha) he was all excited that here was a partner for him at last. Yet the Bible narrative suggests no such thing. Adam seems perfectly happy with his condition, as far as the text tells us. The idea of Adam not being good alone and of making a partner for him are credited entirely to the LORD. It seems to have been completely his idea, though Adam was certainly delighted with it. Adam only knew himself being with the LORD, and probably had no thought of any other condition until it was presented to him. I have often made this argument when trying to prove that marriage was God’s idea, not man’s, though I have never applied it to this topic before.
Having said that these words of Adam are difficult of translation, I would make them out to be something like “Now this time.” The meaning of the second word seems to be along the lines of “this time” as opposed to previous times. The most sensible explanation to me seems to be in the light of the fact that Adam had been presented with animal after animal as the LORD was having him name them. Yet none of those animals were bone of his bone or flesh of his flesh. Yet this time, when he is presented with the one he names “Isha,” the Woman, he sees one who is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. So the only implication I see in these words is that he is comparing her to all the animals that had been presented to him previously. This seems like an obvious comparison, from his perspective, and fits perfectly with the remainder of what he said. The idea that he had been waiting or looking a long time for one like Isha seems to be an idea read into the passage by the translators, perhaps, like I said, from the Sunday school stories they remember.
Out of all the ideas you have presented, I don’t think any of them are quite so untenable as your suggestion that we are still in day seven, the “day of rest.” The Lord says in John 5:17, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” His point seems to be that His work was too important to stop doing it, even on the Sabbath day! His Father certainly does not stop His work on the Sabbath day, and Christ did not either. I do not believe that the LORD has rested for a single day, or perhaps even a single moment, since sin and death entered the world of man, and probably not since the fall of Satan. (I would tend to think that the fall of Satan was almost immediately followed by the fall of man. That one of the first things Satan did after the fall was try to corrupt man. I also speculate that jealousy at the creation of man may have been one of the reasons Satan fell in the first place. But I will readily admit these are only my own guesses on the matter.)
If there is anything that does not characterize God’s work in this world, it is rest. Certainly, the Lord was not resting when He died on the cross for our sins. His constant battle and contest with Satan is not restful. I would tend to think that creation, as mighty as it seems to us, is of far less concern to the Lord than the moral battle and redemptive work that He is now engaged in. I would also tend to think that the work of changing a man from darkness to light is more difficult than creating light in the first place. I believe the implication of Ephesians 1:19-20 is that it takes the same kind of power it took to raise Christ from the dead to raise belief in the heart of a sinner. Until the battle is won and the new heavens and new earth is come, I do not believe that God will be resting.
I personally don’t see the day-age idea as being viable. Yet I will admit I don’t see anything philosophically damaging to theology in the mere idea that the earth might be older than 6,000 to 8,000 years. It is when one starts bringing in things like theistic evolution that I start seeing more serious problems. Yet what does start a warning bell for me is when one starts having hundreds or thousands of generations of dying animals in a world God created as yet unmarred by sin. It seems kind of strange to me that something that God considers so foreign and such a punishment when inflicted on mankind would be just the natural way He created things for the animal kingdom. If one goes beyond this to having carnivorous animals for thousands of generations before mankind, thus making the dog-eat-dog nature of the animal kingdom be God’s “perfect” way of making things, I find it quite unacceptable. God’s creation should always reflect His nature, and this does not seem to at all. Why should a God Who claims to support things like self-sacrifice and love for those weaker than oneself create a world which reflects the exact opposite? This makes much more sense as the outcome of sin entering the world of animalkind than it does as God’s original plan.
As for great men of earlier times having no problem with old earth ideas, I think that one might also point out that the full philosophical implications of some of these ideas had not fully considered at that time. The philosophical implications of evolution become clearer and clearer all the time as we observe them around us. Of course, just the old earth idea does not share all these implications, but my point is that the men of times past like Spurgeon were speaking at a time when this idea was new and not fully developed. Moreover, he was a minister, not a scientist, nor a philosopher.
I would agree that either theistic or naturalistic evolution are philosophically opposed to the Biblical worldview. As I said, I have not followed the creation arguments as much lately. I do think that rapid specialization is possible when directed by mankind, such as the breeding of dogs, which has led to startlingly huge variations. Yet it is harder to postulate when such intelligent direction is not present. I can see the specialization of certain species when a segment of the population is suddenly completely isolated from the rest, such as on an island. Yet to extrapolate this out to all animals seems difficult. To me, God having created several variations on the “cat” theme seems much more likely than saying that housecats, lions, tigers, cheetahs, and all the rest come from a common ancestor. While it may be possible that wolves share ancestors with dogs, if one mixes foxes, coyotes, dingos, and the rest into the mix, it seems very improbable to me.
I have been well aware all the way back to when we discussed this that starlight and the distances of stars from the earth is the argument that is hardest for me to counter scientifically. I know that God made the stars in order to give light on the earth, so they would not fulfill their purpose if their light was merely on the way to earth and yet never made it here. The six days of creation idea would necessitate the light of the stars reaching earth pretty much at the same time that God created them, or else they were not fulfilling the purpose for which they were created. Yet the explanations I have heard up to this time as to how this was accomplished all have problems.
Yet your bringing this up drove me, as I happened to be sitting in my uncle’s study at the time I was writing the above paragraph, to look into this issue for the first time since about 1994. I pulled down a book on his shelves on “Starlight and Time,” and found that since I stopped paying attention to the issue, in fact, just about when I did, a new idea was proposed by creationists which I find very exciting. I will summarize it for you, but please understand I am only summarizing what I understand after a relatively short study.
It basically uses the idea of relativity, which states that time is not constant, but is affected by gravity. You are probably aware that if one were to travel across the event horizon of a black hole, time in the rest of the universe would seem to go faster and faster as one approached, until finally when one reached the event horizon, time would “stop” for you relative to the rest of the universe. When you came out the other side of the event horizon, in what would seem to you passing through it like practically no time at all, an indeterminately large amount of time would have passed in the rest of the universe. The same idea is used to explain starlight. Basically, time was dilated somehow on earth, so that while the heavenly bodies were created in 24 hours earth time, billions of years passed in most of the rest of the galaxy.
The first man to propose the idea of applying relativity to creationist cosmology suggested a white hole near the earth, but this idea seems to predict a “blue shift” in stars near the earth rather than a red shift, which is not observed. Since then, another proposal is that space itself was stretched, and that this would have had the same effect. Wikipedia gives a brief outline of these ideas under “creation cosmology.” I looked at books by both these creationists, and found them very interesting. This seems to be the most sensible answer to the starlight problem yet proposed. Maybe the stars really are billions of years old, and the earth really is only six thousand years old, and yet both were created at the same time, in the beginning. Rather mind boggling.
Anyway, this idea was totally new to me, and I would suggest you look into it. Maybe with an open mind to reconsider the issue? Young Earth Creationists really do have some good arguments, if you will examine what they have to say.
Well, if I read “Reasons to Believe,” maybe we could do a “book exchange.” Would you be willing to read a book I suggest if I read this one?
I hope I’ve had some wisdom, and I pray for it for you as well, my friend. I look forward to the day when God will reveal the truth to all of us, and we who have sought after it will be rewarded. Until that time, may we all learn as grow as much as we can to know and understand the ways of our God.