Creation

The Early Narratives of Genesis

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(About this series)

CHAPTER VI: THE EARLY NARRATIVES OF GENESIS

BY PROFESSOR JAMES ORR, D. D., UNITED FREE CHURCH COLLEGE, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND

By the early narratives of Genesis are to be understood the first eleven chapters of the book—those which precede the times of Abraham. These chapters present peculiarities of their own, and I confine attention to them, although the critical treatment applied to them is not confined to these chapters, but extends throughout the whole Book of Genesis, the Book of Exodus, and the later history with much the same result in reducing them to legend. Read more about The Early Narratives of Genesis

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Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 2

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Read Part 1.

Dawkins Argument #2

There are of course gaps in the fossil record. In the case of the Turbellaria, a large, flourishing and beautiful group of free-living flatworms, the fossil record is one big gap—there are no fossils—and not even a Young Earth Creationist thinks they were created yesterday. But although there are gaps in the fossil record, it is a very telling fact that not a single fossil has ever been found in the wrong place in the time sequence. To paraphrase JBS Haldane, not a single fossil rabbit has ever been found in the Precambrian.1

Wingnut Response #2

Dawkins’ argument is an abbreviation of an argument that appears in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, and it is not a scientific argument at all. Rather, it is a logical one. Creationists have critiqued evolutionary theory in part because of gaps in the fossil record, concluding that if evolution were in fact happening there would be a fairly steady fossil record—a predictable trail of bread crumbs, if you will. But there isn’t such regularity. Dawkins admits this inconsistency, but he downplays its significance by emphasizing another fossil anomaly: the absence of a substantial fossil record for the (4000 varieties of) turbellarian flatworms. Read more about Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 2

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Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 1

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I appreciate Dr. Richard Dawkins’ impassioned arguments against creationism, as he challenges his listeners and readers to think through their positions and to offer sound reasons for their conclusions. My focus here is not to argue against his atheism, but is to answer his arguments that creationism is not a plausible understanding of our origin history. Sadly, it appears that Dawkins won’t be debating any creationists in the near future, as he is reluctant to give “wingnuts the oxygen of publicity and the respectability of being seen on a platform with a real scientist, anywhere.”1 Nonetheless Dawkins, in the context of discussing the Ken Ham, Bill Nye debate on creationism, offers five points of candid and insightful advice to “anyone who, for one reason or another finds him/herself debating one of those idiots.” In this series I, Wingnut, consider Dawkins’ five-pronged critique of creationism.

Dawkins Argument #1

Physical scientists (such as Bill Nye) should play to their strengths in physical science and call the wingnut out on the age of fossils, and cosmological evidence on the age of the universe. Radiometric dating of rocks is solid, irrefutable science. The agreement between different isotopes with overlapping time spans is so strong, it is impossible for anyone to wriggle out of the conclusion that the world is billions of years old, not thousands. Astronomical evidence of the expanding universe agrees. Read more about Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 1

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Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 3)

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Originally published in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ) 2013. Used by permission. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

The 6,000-year-earth position may be questioned on the grounds of logical, hermeneutical, text-critical, and intertextual tensions. Anomalies in the biblical story line and extrabiblical historical records provide additional evidence.

Anomalies in the Biblical Story Line

The life story of Noah seems oddly truncated and his death out of place if there are no gaps in Genesis 11. When we come to the end of the ninth chapter of Genesis, we find the standard epitaph, “then Noah died.” But if the chronogenealogist is correct, Noah did not die until Abraham was 58 years old.1 Of course, it is possible to suggest that Noah had moved away and was quite forgotten by the time Abraham was on the scene, but the finality of Genesis 9:29 seems quite out of sequence if Noah didn’t die until the end of chapter 11. A natural reading of the early chapters of Genesis strongly suggests that the Noah story ended a long time before the Abraham story began.

Similarly, when Abraham entered into the land of promise, he entered into a land of well-established cities and local governments (Gen 15:19–21),2 not a land of fellow-pioneers migrating in the aftermath of the recent Babel incident (which by the chronogenealogist’s reckoning might have taken place as recently as 27 years earlier).3 One cannot escape the hermeneutical “feel” that the story speaks of greater antiquity than this. Read more about Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 3)

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Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 2)

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Originally published in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ) 2013. Used by permission. Read Part 1.

The 6000-year-earth position may be questioned on several grounds, some more substantial than others. I would like to suggest, though, that while all of the arguments developed below are load-bearing, the intertextual-exegetical arguments take pride of place in the ensuing material.

Logical Tensions

The 6000-year-old-earth model rests, at least in part, on a slippery slope argument: “Conceding a few extra centuries today means that the camel’s nose is in the tent, resulting inevitably in the acceptance of billions of years tomorrow.” Before proceeding, I cordially concede that slippery slope arguments are sometimes dismissed too readily for their logical fallacy. While in their most unqualified form slippery slope arguments are fallacious, it does not follow that it is wrong to sound the alarm about slippery slopes—some slopes, after all, are a bit precarious. But apart from demonstration and quantification, slippery slope arguments tend to degenerate quickly into arguments ad hysteria. The hypothesis that modest departure from a 6000-year-old earth position points necessarily to uniformitarianism and theological compromise may be true. But without some sort of evidence (e.g., syllogistic, historical, or statistical demonstration), the hypothesis is nothing more than pure speculation, or worse, slander. In point of fact, there are a great many exceptions to this slippery slope argument. Read more about Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 2)

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Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 1)

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Originally published in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ) 2013. Used by permission.

The young-earth creationist community is in the midst of an identity crisis relative to the age of the earth. Some within the community aggressively defend a strict 6,000-year-old creation and chafe even at minimal deviation on this point. For these, a rigid terminus a quo for the age of the universe is the simplest and best arbiter for establishing one’s young-earth creationist credentials. Conceding even a slightly older universe is for this group equal to (1) discarding or at the very least compromising biblical inerrancy1 and (2) granting philosophical independence to the sciences, whether astronomy, geology, biology, or archeology.2

This rigidity has not always existed in the young-earth community. John Whitcomb, patriarch of young-earth creationism and co-author of the groundbreaking work The Genesis Flood, defended a span of 3,000 to 5,000 years between the Flood and Abraham, offering a probable date for the original creation of between 6,700 B.C. and 8,700 B.C.3 Read more about Why a Commitment to Inerrancy Does Not Demand a Strictly 6,000-Year-Old Earth: One Young Earther's Plea for Realism (Part 1)

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