Monday, May 28, 2012

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Rodney King is famous for asking “Can we all get along?” during the 1992 LA riots in response to the acquittal of his attackers. Dissension on the days of Genesis One and the age of the Earth has a long history, but an easy solution. YES WE CAN get along! YES = Young Earth Science.

Theologian Herman Bavinck (d. 1921) opposed Darwinism, but was very confused when he contrasted his views with Orthodox Protestants who take Genesis as Historical Narrative (OPGHN, “opgane”).  Writing in 1909 in Our Reasonable Faith, Bavinck said:

Scripture speaks very definitely of days [of Creation Week] which are reckoned by the measurement of night and morning and which lie at the basis of the distribution of the days of the week in Israel and its festive calendar. Nevertheless Scripture itself contains data which oblige us to think of these days of Genesis as different from our ordinary units as determined by the revolutions of the earth [emphasis added].
ctually, the work week is compared to Creation Week (Ex. 20:11, Ex. 31:15-17).  A seven day week is dominant among all cultures, not just the Jews.  A number of scholars have held to Creation In Six Days (CISD) [1]:
Old Earth Fallacies (OEF) deny a true exegesis of Genesis per James Barr (d. 2006), Hebrew Professor at the University of Oxford:  “… the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the idea that creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience.” Bavinck continues:

the first three days (Gen. 1:3-13) must have been very unlike ours. For our twenty-four hour days are effected by the revolutions of the earth on its axis, and by the correspondingly different relationship to the sun which accompanies the revolutions. But those first three days could not have been constituted in that way. It is true that the distinction between them was marked by the appearance and disappearance of light. But the Book of Genesis itself tells us that sun and moon and stars were not formed until the fourth day [emphasis added].
Bavinck seems to forget that in the future the sun will no longer be needed (Rev. 21:23, 22:5) – this is not a problem for CISD.  The Lord could easily have created the photons going in the proper direction before Sol was created on Day Four. Bavinck has issues with the sixth day:

… everything which according to Genesis 1 and 2 took place on the sixth day can hardly be crowded into the pale of such a day as we now know the length of days to be. For on that day according to Scripture there occurred the creation of the animals (Gen. 1:24-25), the creation of Adam (Gen. 1:26 and 2:7), the planting of the garden (Gen. 2:8-14), the giving of the probationary command (Gen. 2:16-17), the leading of the animals to Adam and his naming them (Gen. 2:18-20), and the sleep of Adam and the creation of Eve (Gen. 2:21-23).

Not so - creation of the animals may have happened at once.  Adam may have been made in minutes.  Adam named the “cattle, birds of the air, and every beast of the field” (Ge 2:20), not ALL the animals.  In 1995, Sean Shannon of Canada recited Hamlet's soliloquy `To be or not to be' at a speed of 655 words per minute.  Adam would have had no difficulty naming the animals of Eden.  William Twisse, prime leader of the Westminster Assembly, said Adam completed this task before noon. [2]

The Sumerian King List has an explanation that fits with YES. Geologist Davis Young, who once held to an non-effective global flood, is a perfect example of the slippery slope syndrome regarding Genesis. Drop Genesis and you may eventually deny Adam and Eve's historical existence.
A number of creation presenters are very popular on the web, but an initial study might start with the following:

Joel Kontinen, MA in Translation Studies and a BA in Bible and Theology, also provides great evidence supporting YES.  Some give this challenge, “If you can prove Young Earth Science (YES), Organics-to-Opera evolution is vanquished.” YES We Can!
That is, Adam became the father of Seth when Adam was 130 years old (Ge 5:3). Enoch was the seventh from Adam, so there are NO GAPS (Jude 14).  Methuselah may mean “When he is dead, it shall be sent” => Methuselah died in the year the Flood began.  So we just sum the years to get the time from Creation (since Adam was created on Day Six) to the Global Flood:
Thus, from Creation to Noah’s Catastrophe was 1656 years. Both Genesis and Josephus agree that Abraham was born 290 years after the Flood. [3] Abraham could have compared his genealogy with Shem, who was still alive in his time. Abraham is generally considered to be living around 2000 BC.  So our favorite planet has been here around six millennia (Y6K).

Does the Bible speak to the age-of-the-earth issue?  YES! "Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure’ "(Is. 46:10). "Mortals have a limited life span. You’ve already decided how long we’ll live - you set the boundary and no one can cross it" (Job 14:5, Msg).

God’s sovereignty implies YES.  The King of the Cosmos has a plan and things happen for a purpose at a certain time! Methuselah lived 969 years – when he died the Flood came.  Abraham predicted that the bondage of the Jews would last 400 years and must wait for the “iniquity of the Amorites [to be] complete” (Ge 15:13-16). Daniel foretold the exact time of Messiah’s coming (Dan. 9:25).  Jesus warned of the time of the Temple’s destruction (Mk 13:1-4, 30). 
In his scifi Foundation series, Isaac Asimov introduces the idea of psychohistory – the future can actually be predicted far in advance based on average human tendencies.  Empires rise and they fall with interludes of low civilization, but these events happen at a certain time and for a reason.  That’s fiction, but the FACT is that given God’s original plan, it would take about four thousand years for the Savior to arrive (Gal. 4:4).

1) “The 24-Hour View” by Ligon Duncan & David Hall in The Genesis Debate ed. by David Hagopian (Crux Press, Mission Viejo, CA, 2001), pp. 47-52.
2) Ibid., p. 53.
3) Refuting Compromise by Jonathan Sarfati (Master Books, 2004), p. 291.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meat Anyone?

The New York Times recently had a contest to write a short essay supporting the ethics of meat consumption.  The winner was Jay Bost, whose goal is a Ph.D. in tropical plant and soil science.  As a former vegan, his defense was rather anemic (lack of protein?).

Bost seems to come from a Darwinian framework:  “… death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form.”

Some brothers and sisters have strong convictions regarding eating vegetables exclusively, but we should not judge each other on such issues (Rom. 14:1-4, Col. 2:16).

Here was my entry to this contest:

Meat is a superb source of iron, B12 and protein.  Total vegans have a very difficult time finding B12 and face a serious risk of anemia. [1] 

If we follow the philosophy of omniculturalism, that is the view that all cultures contain the true and beautiful, then we can learn wisdom on this controversy. Most civilizations of the world have practiced eating meat or animal by-products (milk, eggs, lard etc.) since ancient times. [2]

In Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth, philosopher Mortimer Adler (d. 2001) concludes that we must find truth in one of these prominent faiths:  Judaism, Christianity or Islam. [3]  Adler was the co-author of How To Read A Book and the editor of the Great Books of the Western World (52 vols.).

Islam allows the eating of meat:

O you who have attained to faith!  Be true to your covenants!  Lawful to you is [the flesh of] every beast that feeds on plants, save what is mentioned to you [hereinafter]: but you are not allowed to hunt while you are in a state of pilgrimage.  Behold, God ordains in accordance with his will (Qur’an 5:1).

In all that has been revealed unto me, I do not find anything forbidden to eat, if one wants to eat thereof, unless it be carrion, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine for that, behold, is loathsome or a sinful offering over which any name other than God's has been invoked.  But if one is driven by necessity neither coveting it nor exceeding his immediate need then [know that], behold, thy Sustainer is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace (Qur’an 6:145). [4]

Christianity teaches that meat consumption is okay:

Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without any question of conscience.  The whole earth and all that is in it belongs to the Lord (1. Cor. 10:25, 26, Philips).

So they ate [fish and bread] and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments.  Now those who had eaten were about four thousand …  (Mk. 8:8, 9, NKJV).

Judaism gives us the foundational reason for eating meat when God spoke to Noah after the Great Flood:

Every living creature - birds, animals, fish - will fall under your spell and be afraid of you.  You’re responsible for them.  All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else.  Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it - don’t eat that (Gen. 9:2-4, Message).

So, according to the morality of the three major revealed religions, meat eating is ethical.

If something cataclysmic does happen in 2012 and the current economic system collapses, then as a last resort, Fido is our chow and Fluffy is our supper.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
Will you be our snack tonight?
Could we smile as we eat thee?
Should I cook a lamb for three?

1) VitaminB12
2) Vegetarianism
3) Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth by Mortimer Adler, (Simon and Schuster, 1992), pp. 104-109
4) quoted in “Is Vegetarianism Un-Islamic?” by Richard Foltz