Saturday, January 16, 2010

Genesis & Dr Scott Clark

(This post follows up from the post The Framework Hypothesis & Church Unity)
I received the following comment, from Dr. Scott Clark, on a previous post. I much appreciate Dr. Clark's willingness to dialogue, since I think it worthwhile to discuss the Framework (or Analogical) View. My reply being somewhat lengthy, I decided instead to start this new post.

Hi John,

1. Even E J Young, who advocated something like the Framework in the 40s and then criticized it in the '60s admitted that the first three days could not have been solar days since there was no sun. That doesn't seem like a remarkable observation.

2. Absent the sun we can't talk meaningfully about 6-24 creation. Who knows what the nature of days is without a sun? I don't and I doubt the Israelites did and I doubt that Scripture encourages us to speculate about what happened.

3. Some of us who wrote the letter adhere to the FI and some to an Analogical View. Hence the conjunction. We were simply calling for toleration of a view that does not contradict our standards or affect the system of doctrine contained therein (in distinction from some modern formulations of covenant theology which do either contradict the standards explicitly or implicitly).

4. Once more, to assume that a non-6-24 view implies or teaches that the creation days were non-historical is a petitio principii. There's nothing about either the FI or the Analogical view that implies that the days were not historical. It merely takes an agnostic view (as I do) or it says that the length/nature of the days is indeterminate. Once God says, "let there be" in some sense "history" begins. Strictly, as I understand things, time exists from the point at which there is some way to measure it (e.g., the sun). I'm not a scientist, so I may be wrong about these things but I can't see how the days cannot be "historical" but it is a history that we cannot describe in much more detail than we have from Scripture simply because of the absence of data. I suspect that absence of data is intentional and it's an exegetical mistake to try to make the text answer questions it wasn't given to answer.

This quest to make the text answer questions it doesn't mean to or to impose ecclesiastical policy (e.g., "we must hold 6-24 creation") on such a basis is what I call QIRC in my book, Recovering the Reformed Confession.
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Hi Scott.

Thanks for your response.

1. Actually, I agree with much of what you say regarding 6-24 creation. However, I think you are largely attacking a straw man. It seems clear to me that Scripture teaches: (1) the Genesis days are defined as periods of light and darkness (Gen.1:5) and (2) Days 4-7 are solar days (Gen.1:16-18). I would have no great concern if you were to argue, like Herman Bavinck, perhaps, that solar days may have been of longer duration before the Fall or Flood.

2. On the other hand, in your earlier post you said your view is close to that of Dr.Robert Godfrey. But Dr. Godfrey says “the days and week of Genesis 1 are presented to us as a real week of 24 hour days” (God’s pattern for creation, p.85). So, Godfrey, and presumably yourself, seem to concur that the Bible does present 6-24 creation.

3. From my perspective, it is not clear that Framework or Analogical Views differ significantly. They both seem extremely vague when it comes to describing what the creation "days" actually are and what the word “historical” really means. What does seem clear is that they deny Genesis says anything of historical or scientific significance about either the sequence or duration of the creation events.  Indeed, it seems to me that these views entail that Genesis 1 says absolutely nothing of historical or scientific significance other than that God made everything. Please correct me if this not so.

The problem, as I see it, is not that we are asking questions the text cannot answer but, rather, that you are questioning the content of what the text presents. The problem is not one of adding to Scripture but, on the contrary, of subtracting from it.

4. I find your exegetical basis for such denial very weak. The only ground you gave was the claim that Gen.2:4 says creation occurred in a day. Godfrey uses the same argument (twice even: p.81 and p.90). Yet, as both you and Godfrey surely know, this argument is entirely spurious (see my critique). This is hardly serious scholarship. Other exegetical arguments commonly stated against the traditional view are little better.

5. Why, then, should we doubt that creation occurred as Gen.1 presents it? The real motive seems obvious: modern science. In your 2001 letter you strongly deny this. You write “Kline’s viewpoint is driven by his redemptive-historical...method of interpretation, not a desire to placate the arrogance of modern autonomous science. To imply something else borders on slander”.

But listen to what Kline himself said:
“Surely natural revelation concerning the sequence of developments in the universe…and the sequence of appearance of the various orders of life…would require the exegete to incline to a not exclusively chronological interpretation of the creation week” (1958, WTJ 20:146-157)

To rebut the literalistic interpretation of the Genesis creation week propounded by young earth theorists is a central concern of this article…The conclusion is that as far as the time frame is concerned, with respect to both the duration and sequence of events, the scientist is left free of biblical constraints in hypothesizing about origins.”
“…I regard the widespread insistence on a young earth to be a deplorable disservice to the cause of biblical truth.” (1996, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 48:2-15).

Given such words, one might be excused for wondering: was Kline interested primarily in honestly exegeting Genesis--or in deconstructing it so that the scientist is left free of "biblical constraints"?

Does Dr. Godfrey differ from Kline? Godfrey begins his book by thanking Kline for his encouragement (p.11) and concludes it by linking defenders of the traditional view of Genesis with "anti-intellectualism" and denouncing creation science as a "pseudo-science" (p.91).

6. If adherents of Framework/Analogical just want tolerance and are really agnostic about the actual nature of the creation days, as they claim, why such hostility against adherents of the traditional view? Shouldn't they at least be open to the possibility that the traditional view is the one God intended? Why should taking the Bible at face value earn me the epithet of  "anti-intellectual pseudo-scientist"?

7. Why do I make a fuss about Genesis 1? Because much more is at stake than just the creation days. It involves introducing a new epistemology and hermeneutic that place unwarranted priority on secular science, at the expense of Biblical inerrancy and authority. It undercuts the historicity of the rest of Gen.1-11. For example, an historical Adam and his fall are very plausible given the traditional reading of Genesis 1; they become untenable once one accepts secular chronology. For more details read my article The cost of an old earth.

8. In short, we should be consistent in working out a worldview based on the sovereignty of God and the primacy of His Word. This entails, among other things, that we judge science in the light of Scripture, rather than vice versa.

9 comments:

  1. Just from an unlearned wretch, I cannot accept the position Dr. Scott puts forever here simply because mankind started on the sixth day and has known only a 24 hour day cycle.

    Using my simple logic, it would seem to me by giving man the ability to name everything, He would certainly have made that distinction known to Adam being made by Dr. Clark or Mr. Young and then it would have been passed along to the days of Moses?

    We do have reference to a six day creation and a seventh day rest. Seems to me we would have an extremely phenomenol apparition of three days and three days and then one day of rest?

    Just doing the math doesn't add up to me. And for what it is worth, didn't God set up a lunar, 29 plus day count during the time of Moses that the Jews rely upon even to this day counting backwards to great exacting detail in following that legal way? Having done that isn't He fixing the cycle numerically as it was and is even for Him to follow by holding them accountable to it??

    Having said that, in any event, the quality and depth of knowledge in here is tremendous and quite refreshing at a minimum!

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  2. Indeed. If we look at every New Creation in the Bible, we see that God acts very rapidly and "miraculously" to do things that will take place more slowly and "ordinarily" in the age to come. To take but two illustrations: At the beginning of the Prophetic Era, both Elijah and Elisha raise dead children to live. What follows is the death and resurrection of Israel and Judah. Similarly, at Pentecost and for a time thereafter we have language miracles. What follows is God's authorization to take the Bible into every language, slowly and with Spirit-guided effort. Hence, what we see in Genesis 1 is exactly what any informed Biblical theologian would expect to see: rapid and 'miraculous" establishment of a world/cosmos that would develop more slowly thereafter.

    James B. Jordan

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  3. To me the whole objection that there was no sun for the first few days adds nothing to the argument whatsoever. What is clear is that there was morning and evening from day one, and that when the sun was created, it "stepped in" to that already existing pattern. Meaning that the days prior to the creation of the sun were the same length as the days after. There is no biblical reason whatsoever to think otherwise; it is only desperation to hold on to the pseudoscience of evolution that requires one grasp for such things.

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  4. A.S. Kulikovsky, in his new book "Creation, Fall and Restoration - A Biblical Theology of Creation" (Mentor, 2009), critiques the LF view, by quoting from E.J. Young's work as follows (p.97):

    "... it is questionable whether serious exegesis of Genesis one would in itself lead anyone to adopt a non-chronological view of the days for simple reason that everything in the text militates against it."

    And again (p.127,128):
    “That the heavenly bodies are made on the fourth day and that the earth had received light from a source other than the sun is not a naïve conception, but it is a plain and sober statement of the truth.”

    These two quotes are taken from 'Studies in Genesis One', p.95, 100 (Baker, 1964).

    It seems to me that there is a difference between Kline/Godfrey/Clark's view on the one hand, and Young's (and maybe also Kuyper, Bavinck's) view on the days of Genesis 1, where the first view (FH) see the day's as in some sense 'historical' but not chronological, while the latter theologians see the days as real days, historical and chronological, but not the same as days 4 to 6 (because the light source has changed at from day 4 and onwards).

    If we believe in John 2:1-11 (for example), why not Gen.1:3 in relation to 1:14-18, especially in the light of John 1:1-3 and Col.1:16,17 ?

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  5. Hi James

    Welcome to my blog. Thanks for your input. I much appreciate your book "Creation in six days: A defence of the traditional reading of Genesis One" (1999, Canon), which contains an excellent critique of the Framework/Analogical views.

    Greetings and welcome also to Natamlic, Tim Gallant, and Berto. You all make valid points.
    Berto, thanks for alerting us to the recent book of Kulikovski, "Ctreation, Fall, and Restoration", which sounds like a worthwhile read.

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  6. Thanks for this post. I am always supicious that modern science drives the exegesis of Gen. 1-2 instead of the text itself. To me it is an issue of presuppositional Biblical authority vs. the presuppositional authority of secular science.

    Scott C

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  7. In order not to confuse: Berto, Slabbert and Pro Regno is the same person. Berto is short for Slabbert, and 'Pro Regno' is the name of my blog.

    About Kulikovsky: I knew nothing about him until I got his book. His book is on a high theological-scientific academic level and not on the "anti-intellectual pseudo-science" level, whatever that may mean.

    He focusses on hermeneutical and interpretation issues surrounding the Text, and therefore it is an importance source to look at, and see if the 'pseudo science' label is indeed true or not.

    His website could be found here: http://hermeneutics.kulikovskyonline.net/hermeneutics/hermeneutics.htm

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  8. Thanks for defending the truth. It is refreshing to see someone else who defends the inerrancy of Scripture against the onslaught of so called science.

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  9. While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. 34They put him in custody, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. 35Yahweh said to Moses, "The man shall surely be put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside of the camp." 36All the congregation brought him outside of the camp, and stoned him to death with stones; as Yahweh commanded Moses.
    http://worldebible.com/numbers/15.htm

    "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9You shall labor six days, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; 11for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.
    http://worldebible.com/exodus/20.htm

    Hmmmmn We have a pretty miserable God who is willing to condemn men to death - just because He claims to have made the world in six days and then demands we rest on the seventh - or die !

    When that bloke stands before the Judgement Seat - can you imagine the furore when he points out that God took a lot longer than He claimed !

    or did He .... !

    FrPhil

    frphil@westnet.com.au
    Kelmscott FRC WA

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