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Friday, June 22, 2018

Seriously... WTH?! - Part 1

In this episode I begin my long overdue treatment of the theological position known as Annihilationism or Conditional Immortality (Conditionalism). Part one of this series deals primarily with hermeneutical, verbal, and textual issues related to the case made by major proponents of the view.

Enjoy the show!

Major Sources:
For Conditionalism -
Rethinking Hell: Readings in Evangelical Conditionalism, ed. by Date, Stump, Anderson, and Grice
The Fire that Consumes by Fudge
Papers avail on request

Against Conditionalism -
Hell Under Fire ed. by Morgan and Peterson
"On Banishing the Lake of Fire," in The Gagging of God by Carson
Papers avail on request

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Freed Byte - Bad News Bears?

In honor of Father's Day tomorrow, here is an episode on male pattern baldness. Well... something like that.

So did Elisha really call out two she-bears to maul a bunch of little children because they laughed at him being bald? Let's find out.

Enjoy the show!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tyler's Collected Works on Genesis 1 and YEC

Several people have asked for a link to all of my work on Genesis 1. Here is a post that I will continue to update as I produce more articles and episodes on the topic.

For a general summary of you my view - see HERE.

1. My paper, "Flipping the Script: A Historical-Grammatical and Polemical Reading of Genesis 1"

Audio version of the paper:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

2. Podcast Episode response to YEC Jonathan Sarfati on the Literary Framework Model

3. Podcast Episode further explaining the Literary Framework Model

4. Debate with YEC Jason Mullet on Genesis 1

5. Debate Recap of debate with YEC Jason Mullet on Genesis 1

6. Article responding to common YEC arguments

7. Article giving rejoinders to Steve Schramm's objections to my response to common YEC arguments.  - Part 1

8. Article giving rejoinders to Steve Schramm's objections to my response to common YEC arguments.  - Part 2

9. Genesis 1 as Temple Text

10. YEC Arguments - TurretinFan Strikes Back

11. Some Recommendations for my YEC Interlocutors

Rejoinders to a YEC Response

First, I would like to thank Steve Schramm for the engagement with one of my articles dealing with issues surrounding Young Earth Creationism and Genesis 1:1-2:3 and how they are commonly discussed in Christian debates. His article was one of the first substantive engagements with any of my work on Genesis 1 from the YEC side that sought to actually engage with concepts and arguments. Steve's article, while pointed was overall charitable and thorough and throughout, and Steve himself appears to at least desire to give the most accurate treatment of my views possible. While I will show where he does at times misunderstand my view or argument, I do not think it is every intentional or due to any lack of effort to give the most fair treatment possible. Sadly disclaimers like this (and like the one the lead Steve’s article) should not be necessary but given the often contentious nature of these debates, I find it necessary to praise the virtues that Steve exhibits and pray more YEC’s would follow suit.

The article that Steve is responding to is my article entitled “Responses to Common YEC Arguments.” This article was meant to be a quick, almost bullet point style list of some of the more common YEC arguments for their view. It was not meant to be exhaustive and was part of a general series of Genesis 1:1-2:3 that I was producing on the Freed Thinker Podcast. Some of the confusion from Steve’s article could have been cleared up by reviewing the entire corpus of my work on this issue.

Steve appears to like to get up into the details and so do I. This means that his response to my article was extensive and my rejoinder will be as well. As I told Steve, this exchange is going to get wordy. But as I like to say, brevity may be the soul of wit, but verbosity is the soul of getting one’s point the hell across. And Steve and I both seem to like making our points clear.

To that effect, I would like to start with a distinction that I think is helpful. This is the distinction between Young Earth Creationism (YEC) which is the view that the earth is young, usually dated somewhere between 6,000-12,000 years old, and the position of a Calendar Day (or Literal Day) view of Genesis 1. This is a concordist view holds that the creation account in Genesis presents an actual successive series of 7 24-hour says in which God created all things. This distinction is helpful as one may hold to one without necessarily holding to the other and yet the term “YEC” is commonly conflated with the Calendar Day view. 99% of the time a person who holds to one will almost certainly hold to the other, but we should keep these concepts distinct as we will see, arguments for one may not qualify as arguments for the other. The same for objections against them.

Steve starts his article by basically saying that while I profess to take no view on the are of the earth, that the earth does have an age. He spends quite some time on this point (well at least devotes a relatively large amount of space to it for an online blog post). Since he spends so much time on this, I would be remiss if I did not address it at all, but if I’m being honest, I found this section to be of little value. Why? Because it is trivially true that the earth does have an age. I agree. Of course it does. The earth has existed for a specific time. However, the reason I said I have no dog in this fight is because I think the age of the earth is utterly irrelevant to the Bible and Christianity. Since my view of Genesis 1 is that it is a highly stylized literary framework used to form a polemical temple text against the gods of Egypt (a possibly later cultures as well given one’s view of redactional activity), it means that the first creation account is simply not giving us a diachronic or literal presentation of material creation. The age of the earth, then becomes a trivial question (in terms of Biblical Christianity) in the same realm as how many moons orbit Jupiter and how species of bees there are. If my understanding of Genesis 1 is correct, then the earth could be 6,000, 10,000, 1 million or 4.5 billion years old and that would be a scientific question alone, not a Biblical one. Scientifically, it would interesting to be sure, but nothing to get into heated Bible debates over that often end in anathemas.

Steve grants this point when he writes, “With that in mind, strictly speaking, there are only two options. And the reality is that one can affirm the views that Tyler holds about the authorial intent of Genesis and hold either YEC, OEC, or TE.” This is correct. Since these matters of material origins are not spoken of in Genesis, according to my view, then the text is not determinative between the views. However, Steve adds, “…in my view, there are pretty insurmountable Scriptural issues in accepting old-age chronology.” The reason for this, he says, is that because my view does not address these issues, then my comments have “zilch to do with the age of the earth.” Here the distinction I made previously will not be vitally important as will understanding the intent of the article I originally wrote. This article is dealing with YEC arguments used in an attempt to prove that the earth is young and that the Bible teaches that – thus part of the problem that I am driving at is precisely the conflation of the two theories of YEC and Calendar Day. In addition, I’m offering objections to these arguments, not making arguments or presenting evidence of my own. This means that I’m not attempting to make a positive case for my view of Genesis 1 but rather am showing why the arguments put forth by those in the YEC camp (typified usually by those at groups like Answers in Genesis and fail to demonstrate what they would like them to.

Steve followed the same numbering pattern of my original article and I will continue to do the same.

1. OEC’s are intimidated by secular scientists and so they reject what they know the text says.

Here Steve simply protests that he is not aware of any such arguments put forward by any proponents of YEC. This could be refuted a million times over anecdotally by anyone who rejects YEC in their churches, blogs, in online forums, facebook groups, etc. However, we can go beyond this. While I could give numerous examples such as my debate with my friend Jason Mullet available on my podcast, a talk given by Gary North on the Framework model, but I can do better. He seems to pull a lot of his citations from AiG and mentions Jason Lisle. This has actually been one of my major and repeated complaints against Dr. Lisle – that he accuses people who deny YEC as being intimidated and influenced by “secular science.” He does so in this lecture entitled “Creation-Evangelism” (a title that should be wildly problematic to any who think Christ alone saves and that one’s view of creationism has taken far too much attention away from that effort already), as well as in this article where he responds to Norman Geisler on similar issues, in which he writes, “It could well be that many Christians are reluctant to accept the literal words of Genesis because they are intimidated by secular scientists. ‘The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.’ (Proverbs 29:25).” I could give countless more examples from Lisle, Ham (and his affiliates), Sarfati, Comfort, Morris and so forth, but let this suffice to get Steve started down the line. Now, most people who reject YEC will not directly encounter the thought leaders of the YEC movement but people who mass consume their work and often uncritically parrot what they hear. The thought that the reason someone would reject YEC is because they have been duped into believing the secularlist lie of evolution is so pervasive an experience to any outside the YEC camp, that I have a very hard time thinking that Steve is entirely unaware of it. While the sins of the minions may not always go back to the braintrust, surely in the case of YEC, this manner of rhetoric has been publically, repeatedly, and loudly championed throughout the years. Anyone who denies YEC is considered a “liberal” and is suspected (or flat out accused) of giving of inspiration and inerrancy.

Even the quote from Jeanson which Steve provides is problematic. It assumes that non-Christians are wrong on the age of the earth, and because of Romans 1, this is because of spiritual reasons. Thus when we helpless babes go through public schools, we are of course doctrinated into this “non-Christian” view. Well stop the boat. Imagine if Genesis 1 isnt telling us that the world is young and as such it is not the Biblical or “Christian position” that the earth is young. What then? What if the earth is in fact old and  the YEC is simply mistaken? Are the “non-Christians” then right because of their spiritual blindness? I mean surely that would not be a position that Steve would affirm even if Jeanson might.

Jeanson then goes on to say that many of us are just ignorant of literature. We do not read enough. Specifically, Jeanson is concerned that they do not read enough of what the AiG folks have written. He writes, “…they are clueless about anything scholarly that we’ve written. I’ll ask them, “Name the last young earth creationist scholarly book you’ve read.” The response: “I don’t know.” Have you read Coming to Grips with Genesis? No. Have you read Earth’s Catastrophic Past? No. So why don’t more people accept this? Because they’re totally ignorant of what we’ve printed. And they don’t want to consider it.”

Numerous flags on the field. First, there is not much “scholarly” material coming out of AiG. Usually it is people working well outside of their fields (if they have advanced degrees at all), none of it to my knowledge is peer reviewed, and they are not working in academic institutions in the discipline about which they are writing. This often amounts to little more than non-experts writing in an echo chamber. Jeanson mentions as an example Coming to Grips with Genesis was written by Terry Mortenson who has a PhD in the history of Geology. What makes him an Old Testament “scholar” is beyond me. Now, this does not mean that what they write is false, but merely that if the folks at AiG would like to be viewed as scholarly, they should publish along scholarly guidelines. This kind of rhetorical bait and switch actually makes them look less reputable, not more.

In addition, it’s not a compelling kind of argument because it is so easily falsifiable by many of us who have read their publications (for me I’ve read much of their treatment of Biblical texts but I care very little to read the science because it’s outside of my discipline and irrelevant to the scriptural texts) or the argument could cut both ways. If you could say that a view is problematic due to the ignorance of opposing views by the adherents, fueled by their lack of research into the publications by the opposing views, we could easily find even more examples among YECs that have not read the most academic and scholarly work put out by OECs, TEs, Day-Age views, Framework views, etc. In fact, the most common response I have gotten to my paper dealing with Genesis 1 from YECs, is ardent refusal to even read it because its “liberal and accepts science over the Bible.” Anyone who has read the paper knows it is nothing of the sort, but I think more people have positively refused to read it than have read it, at least in part. So if Jeanson, and by extension Steve, think that that is a good criticism of YEC, then that scalpel cuts far deeper backwards.

In fact, Steve himself seems to not even be able to hide  this overall tendency in himself. He cannot refrain from making this comment: “For example, I have personally had numerous interactions with Christians who are now convinced the earth and universe are billions of years old, but who admitted that they used to hold to a young age view based on the text. What changed? The Bible hasn’t!”

For Steve, why have these people changed their views? Well they have capitulated to the  changing science is clearly the inference he wants us to draw. The problem is that if someone thinks that they were wrong about Genesis 1 being a literal and scientific account, then they may be able to go and look at the scientific evidence outside of the YEC echo chamber. Or, maybe they have something like their own Copernican revolution where they are so convinced by the evidence for the Old Earth that they hold it more strongly than they do their belief that Genesis 1 teaches a young earth and so they move to things like Gap Theory or Day-Age or non-concordist views like mine. Notice that Steve can here only give the singular option that it is changing science as opposed to the unchangeable word of God that must be to blame. This kind of framing of the issue is indicative of the issue that I was addressing in the first question.

While much more can be said, I think most of my comments would suffice to answer the rest of Steve’s comments here regarding the rhetorical point, except that he seems to think that when I mention “YEC literalism” that I am referring to some kind of “hyper-literalism,” which simply is not the case. While I think it is too literal beyond what the text demands (or allows), I do not think that YEC’s are all guilty of hyper-literalism on par with people thinking that Jesus was literally a wooden door.

He points out that much of my view is based on the work of John Walton, which is true enough. Steve seems to think that a valid objection is that other OT scholars disagree with Walton, such as John Oswalt. Yes. Scholars disagree on the meaning and interpretation of Genesis 1 and the ANE backgrounds. Once again, this point is so trivially true that I’m not sure what the point is. I could equally point out the numerous scholars who object to Oswalt’s views of Genesis 1. In fact, the great irony is that Steve himself would almost certainly object to Oswalt’s own views since he takes Genesis 1 to be historic fact presented in POETRY and ALLUSION. He flat out rejects that it is historical narrative.

He them says that I use “rhetorically-charged” terms like “glass like dome called a firmament” and “literal pillars” but that I don’t allow my readers the chance to evaluate the difference between narrative and poetic language or somehow assume the hyper-literalist view of YEC. Here, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do I expect my readers to be responsible and go read the texts, but this also has the problem of many YECs – non-literal when it is convenient to do so. The glass like dome firmament is found in Genesis 1. Steve needs to decide what to do with that. We know from history and from other texts in the Bible that the firmament is viewed like a solid molten glass dome that keeps the waters above from the waters below and in which the heavenly bodies move across  the sky. Steve would need to show that either we are wrong in how we assess the views of ANE cosmology, or that the Bible means something out by it without giving any indication that it means something else by it, or, as appears to be his strategy here, to say it is symbolism. Well there are two problems. Why is the firmament in Gen 1 symbolic but nothing else is and what tells him that (besides the need to escape the objection which would be entirely ad hoc) and if it is symbolic, what is it symbolic for? This is the same for the pillars found in nearly all other creation accounts in Psalms, Job, the prophets and elsewhere. Imagine that they are all poetic and symbolic, what is symbolic of? And is that any better?

2. If you just take the plain meaning of the text, it clearly means 6 literal solar days.

Let’s again start by stating the intention of my answer which I gave in the article. In this case it is that the YEC cannot simply beg the question of what they find the “plain meaning” to be. Many of us simply do not think the plain meaning that they think is plain, to be very, well… plain. In fact, many of us find that when we try and read the plain, literal meaning (often with a concordist assumption), that it raises more problems than not. Thus, the thrust of my response what that when they call it “the plain meaning” it is similar to when one Christian view among many calls themselves “the Biblical view.” It’s so condescending and question begging as to be borderline dishonest.

He wants us to keep two things in mind. That I appear to assume some current scientific understanding and that I’m trying to separate Genesis 1 from a “plain meaning” hermeneutic of the entire Bible. We will see why both of these fail as criticisms.

I’m going to bullet point these out since we are now going on 3 layers of blog posts to get the objections and rejoinders. It will be my objection, Steve’s protestation, then my rejoinder.

Me: How is there morning and evening without no sun?
o Steve: You only need a light source, not necessarily the sun.
Me: In Day 4 God says that the sun was the basis for a day. If God defines a day as needing the sun, who is Steve to disagree?
o Steve: God created a light first.
Me: Incorrect. The Hebrew is very clear that God separated the definite articled “the Light” from “the Darkness.” These are not abstractions or “a light” on day one and “another light” on day four. This is referring to a single concept – THE light that shines upon the earth, marking out daytime. This is an exegetical point nearly all YECs miss because they need to posit TWO light sources to make their literal Calendar Day view map on to the text in any meaningful way.

Me: Is this supernatural light “good” and if so why did God scrap it and replace it just a few days later with the sun?”
o Steve: I’m not aware of any recent creationist who claims the first light was supernatural.
Me: the supernatural thesis (which includes the light imitating from God or from some singular light abstraction maintained by God) is honestly one of the only answers I ever hear from current YECs to be consistent. Some have tried to argue that it could be light generally around the universe but then that would not answer the issue of the daylight on the first day above since for that we would need a fixed, relatively close singular light source and not just all the ultraviolet light in the universe for example. So what we get is that this is a temporary light that lasted 3 days as the majority view.
o Steve: What’s wrong with it being supernatural?
Me: Nothing. I agree, creation is a supernatural process. I never said supernatural wasn’t allowed (though in Gen 2:4 God himself says he uses natural processes). But this doesn’t answer how God could make it, call it good, then replace it by the sun 3 days later.
o Steve: But that’s just the plain meaning
Me: Yeah. And that is a problem since that is a tension for the plain meaning that is not clearly resolvable.
o Steve: There are numerous options for what the light could be. It could be God was light.
Me: no. It was created. God is not.
o Steve: Light could have been a form of energy.
Me: Sure. But why create it for this purpose, call it good, then replace it by something else to serve the same purpose?
o Steve: God could have “attached” the light to the sun.
Me: I have no idea what that even means. Plus, besides the myriad of conceptual problems that would have (light without a source – see the supernatural view above which he says no one affirms but ironically 2 out of 3 of his options are that view), it also doesn’t solve the objection about why God would create it for this purpose, call it good, then replace it by something else to serve the same purpose?
o Steve: These are no more speculative for the origins of the sun than naturalistic ones.
Me: I never said that it wasn’t but I could also easily disagree on my view. Steve is inventing whole cloth ideas of material origins not in the Bible while scientific views of the origin of the stars are potentially empirically verifiable. Which shouldn’t matter if Genesis 1 is not a competing narrative in material details (which I don’t think it is).
o Steve: It doesn’t make sense to side with naturalists on some points and not others.
Me: I’m not actually didn’t make that case, but it shouldn’t matter either. I side with naturalists on the benefits of brushing my teeth but not on their view of moral foundations. This seems like an argument from guilt by association.
Me: must I side with Christians against naturalists on everything about origins even if I think the Christians are getting something wrong?

Me: “How are there days [sic] when God says that the whole purpose of the sun and moon and stars was for the purpose of marking out days and seasons in Day 4?”
o Steve – Because evening and morning had taken place.
Me: This begs the question of the Calendar Day view and assumes the very answer trying to be given.
o Steve – the Hebrew of Gen 1:5 could be rendered “and the evening and the morning were day one.”
Me: without going into boring details… that would be HIGHLY unlikely to the Hebrew.
o Steve – God intends to communicate what the readers could understand… and that would be literal days.
Again, this would simply be to beg the question of the plain and clear meaning of the passage. Myself and others have argued that this would be almost instantly recognizable to the ANE readers as a temple text. So what was plain to them is probably not what is “plain” to us reading it as scientifically minded moderns.
o Steve – a day is possible with no sun, signs and seasons so any light source and rotation will do.
Me: First see above about the light source. Without that answer nailed down, this one cannot get off the ground. Plus, the issue again is that God said that the whole purpose of the sun was precisely to establish days. Imagine that I argued that marriage existed before Adam and Eve and said “sure God expressly created Adam and Eve to establish marriage… but he had marriage around before that.” Steve would roll his eyes at me. And yet that is the argument being made here.

Me: ”The light and the darkness are separated on Day 1 but then God creates the sun and the moon for the purpose of separating the light and the darkness on Day 4. But if that had already happened on Day 1, then what light and darkness are being separated on Day 4? Did they fuse back together at some time?”
o Steve – well then the Scripture would say God separated some light from some darkness twice.
Me: Yeah. That’s the problem. And see my comment above how this is not general light in Day 1 and specific light (sun light) in Day 2. This is the definite articled specific daytime making light from the definite articled darkness of night time on both days. On day 1 and day 4 God separated the same light and darkness. This leads to the problem of God’s creative activity being undone sometime on Day 2 or 3.
o Steve – it could be general light and not the light on the earth.
Me: Not only are you then going to have the issues of numerous of my questions above about the nature of the light and the God ordained role of the sun as the marker of days, but now also the hermeneutic would have to be inconsistent. Whereas the existence of “morning and evening” is taken to be a marker of literal solar days, it now must itself be symbolic since there would be no morning and evening. Even if the rotation was 24 hours (though the measure of time would now be arbitrary), it would not be marked by mornings and evenings. In fact, from the phenomenological vantage point on the face of the earth (an assumption nearly ubiquitous among YECs) there would be absolutely no way to tell the passage of time or rotation of the earth since there would be no luminaries in the sky to mark it. So now Steve and the YEC would be stuck with “morning and evening” being both literal and symbolic in the same way at the same time. A contradiction if there ever was one.

Me: ”How is it literal days if plants are created on day 3 but we are told in Genesis 2 that no plants had grown because it had not yet rained and man was not yet created to work the earth? Could they not survive the 3 days without water until man was created?”
o Steve: This isnt a problem if Gen 2 isnt a new creation account, but a “zooming in.”
Me: I know that is typically the view of YECs and that is precisely the problem. It is a problem on THAT zooming in view because they would then ostensibly be referring to the same time line. But in one case plants come before man, in another, man before plants. So which is it? Zooming in doenst resolve the issues that come from a diachronic view.
o Steve: Kruger gives arguments in his paper about why Gen 2:5 is talking about a specific type of plants.
I’m familiar with Kruger’s work on this and would have my criticisms of his argument. But for space, since Steve does not list them then I feel no need to do that work for him. Simply saying that someone has given some kind of response somewhere else cannot suffice as a response to my objection.

Steve wraps up this section by reasserting that it is the “plain and clear meaning of the text if it’s proper exegesis-and not eiesgesis-we intent to accomplish.” Yet from what I’ve seen, the issue is not a matter of exegesis and eisegesis. In fact that seems far to myopic. For even if one of us is wrong, surely we are both trying to handle the text exegetically. In fact, he hasn’t shown any way that I am eisegeting the text since all of my observations and questions have been based on the context, language, grammar, and vocabulary of the text itself. Nowhere have I appealed to anything like the “order of creation as agreed upon by the majority of scientists” like he claims.

3. Genesis is literal history and not allegory.

For space and our own sanity, I’m going to very quickly summarize Steve’s comments and why they simply fail to address my comments. Steve agrees with me that there are numerous other creation accounts that are poetic in nature. He then basically asserts the same statement in the original and poses the same false dichotomy of either literal history or allegory. Here he seems to miss my two main points of response in this section.

First, my main observation is that there are poetic sections that are historical in nature. That is, they are historical poems but which do not tell the history in a straight forward diachronic manner. This is clear and obvious evidence that the disjunction between “literal history” and “allegory” is just a false dichotomy. There are more options than that. Steve concedes this but then just says just because that is the case, does not mean it is the case in Genesis (though he still confuses non-literal with “allegory” and thinks it is allegory being infused with history in those cases which is false). Well that’s just trivially true. I would be dumb if that was my argument. My point in saying this was that the YEC cannot make the argument that BECAUSE it is not allegory that it is therefore literal history. Steve might not make that argument but many YECs do.

Second, my point was that YECs cannot simply ASSERT that Gen 1 is a literal historical narrative. That is a positive claim that must be demonstrated. It cannot be assumed. There are features of historical narrative and poetic narrative and temple texts and such that establish the genre of literature it is. Literal Historical Narrative is doubtful even a clearly identifiable genre in the ANE (and we should think in terms of theological history or theological reportage, but I think with certain qualification I can grant the kind of genre he is getting at). Because it would be the extreme minority exception, and not the rule, it cannot be treated like some kind of default genre for any narrative. Like it is literal history unless proven otherwise.

So Steve is right. It is different than the creation accounts in Psalm 104 and Job 38. But then again Job 38 and Psalm 104 are ALSO different genres from each other. One is Poetry and one is Epic – both are poetic but they are not the same genre. Ironically, if you’ll remember, one of Steve’s own expert witnesses that he appealed to in order to contradict the work of Walton was Oswalt who holds that Genesis 3 is a poetic narrative (very much like an epic or a cosmogonic myth minus the ANE mythical elements).

He appeals to Steve Boyd, an OT Hebraist (who for some reason is now trying his hand at radioisotopes…) and his paper dealing with some kind of statistical analysis of genre. While the statement seems clear and scientific giving a 99.999 probability with a 99.5% confidence level, no argument was given by Steve to support this. I am somewhat familiar with this study and ones like it and find it methodologically WILDLY problematic on par with the statistical studies of Pauline lexicography used by critical scholars to excise half of the Pauline corpus from authenticity. It also smacks of the kind of secret decoders of hidden messages in the Bible. Statistical… but absurd nonetheless. My recommendation is that when someone comes trumpeting flashing statistics for near certainty when it comes to things like literary genre… gird your loins because youre most likely being taken for a ride.

I’d like to give Steve the benefit of the doubt that he has read Boyd’s paper “Statistical Determination of Genre in Biblical Hebrew: Evidence for an Historical Reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3” but the quote he gives is also from the abstract and there is no actual argument given. For now it sits as more simple assertion. No evidence has been given that Gen 1:1-2:3 is literal historical narrative. None. And yet Steve feels confident in writing, “Therefore, we recent creationists argue with good reason that Genesis 1 should be taken as a straightforward, natural account of real history.” Well… why? Based on what evidence?

4. Jesus took Genesis literally and so should we.
Here, once again Steve is just misconstruing my argument. I never said that a YEC claims that Jesus takes every word of Genesis literally. I said the issue was that it treats Genesis as ONE Genre in total.

He then says that Jesus took Genesis “naturally.” Well once again, like “literal” or “plain and clear,” when left undefined this kind of language just becomes a wax nose to mean “they read it however I read it.” And yes, Jesus does reference events that happen. I believe in a historical creation, Adam and Eve, and a fall, and a flood and so forth. None of that has any relevance to the genre of Gen 1:1-2:3.

I’m not sure how to respond much to this section since Steve’s comments, with all due resepect, are just a kind of “nuh uh” rhetoric. They add no arguments, no evidence, no exegesis. The problem is clear. Those like Lisle that want to appeals to Jesus language about “from the beginning” have a huge amount of work to do since those passages are demonstrably about the creation of humans and not from the very moment of creation since humans were not created from the very moment of creation. There is simply no time reference to how long after the moment of creation it was until humans came along. It’s just not in the text. And I provided parallel uses of such language that simply CANNOT mean that. So it is incumbent on them to demonstrate it. Steve made no such effort and so at this point my criticism in the original argument seems relatively untouched.

He tries to use a Disneyland example which fails simply because it is not analogous. It is not that I’m trying to overliteralize the use of time, it is that NO time is given. It would be more like if someone said, “I’ve wanted to go to Disneyland since the day I was born!” Unlike the “4 years ago” example that he tries, this kind of hyperbole is clearly NOT meant to be take literally but at the same time it does not give us a concrete time reference either for when the person started wanted to go. So too Jesus’ statement about “from the beginning.” Well we know Adam and Eve and the murderous act of Satan didn’t happen at the beginning moment of creation. But the language doesn’t tell us when it did happen. This is a hyperbolic/idiomatic way of just speaking of the beginning of the Biblical narrative when humans come in. In the Bible, where does the creation of man as male and female and the fall happen? In the beginning. Steve’s analogy just isnt analogous and thus doesn’t address my argument and he does not exegetical work to bolster his claims.

Steve’s final argument is based on a kind of “whats good for the goose” kind of reasoning. He here anticipates what will be coming in his second article in response where he deals with my position on the relationship of Gen 1 and Ex. 20. There I argue that whatever Moses meant in Gen 1 he will mean in Ex. 20. Steve wants to then say that whatever Jesus means by “since the beginning” in one context, he will mean in the other. There are two MAJOR problems with this.

First, Exodus one is directly and expressly BUILDING on the meaning found in Genesis 1. That means Moses would be self-consciously and purposefully using the same concept between the two passages. This is simply not the same in the incidental use of similar phrases in different contexts in different books. Jesus could very well use the idiom differently in different contexts (in fact it would be rather easy to come up with numerous examples where this is precisely the case). So Steve is simply outside of his exegetical warrant to use that kind of argument here.

Second, if Steve were familiar with my whole body of work and my comments in debates and such, then he would know that I absolutely think that the author of Genesis was using a calendar week as a paradigm for the creation. I have no problem with that. The issue is whether or not it is a concordist, diachronic literal account of creation or if it is a literary framework used to present a cosmogonic temple text that satirizes the gods of Egypt. The calendar days are, in my view, simply analogical concept hooks that the author uses to tell his story of the inauguration of God’s temple on earth in supremacy over the gods of the nations. When pressed into a literal historical diachronic narrative, it clearly and demonstrably falls apart (besides not fitting with the ANE literary context anyway). But I’m not a Day-Age theorist or a Gap theorist or any form of OEC. You aren’t going to hear arguments from me that Yom on days 1-6 means long periods of time. That simply isnt my view.

So, after all this effort, Steve has missed the big picture. Showing that Moses is using a calendar week is not going to do much to affect or change my reading of Genesis 1. He would need to address and defend the concordist, diachronic and literalistic aspects of the YEC. And remember, I’m not here concerned with the age of the earth because in my view, that has absolutely nothing to do with what is taught in the text.

Let’s see how Part 2 of Steve’s response comes together. Hopefully much stronger and improved over Part 1.

PART 2 of my response.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Noetic Affects and Effects of Sin and Grace

In this episode I present my paper dealing with the Noetic Affects and Effects of Sin and Grace and explore the ramifications of sin for the breakdown of what Brunner called the “I-Thou” paradigm. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Listen in and you will!

Enjoy the show! 

For the full text of this paper including footnotes, citations, and bibliography please visit: