Tag Archives: Young-Earth Creationism

A Meditation on Psalm 104

Psalm 104 is a tribute to God’s creation: But along the way, does it also help to resolve a great debate among Christians, as to the age of the earth?

As a young follower of Jesus in college, one of my favorite Scripture songs came from Psalm 104:

I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.

Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 104:33-35 KJV)

I would help to lead my small Pentecostal church in worship with this song. It truly was a sweet time of prayer and praise, every time we lifted up our voices to glorify His Name.

Most evangelical churches today no longer sing such simple Scripture songs, taken directly from the words of the King James Version of the Bible. As the classic cadence of the King James Version gives way to the plethora of newer, often tribal, translations, we tend to miss the joy of simply rehearsing the words of Scripture together, preferring songs that are only loosely based on translations of the Bible, from what we hear on KLove radio, or from Australia’s Hillsong, or California’s Bethel Church. If there was one advantage of having the King James Version of the Bible, as the primary translation for all English speaking Christians, it was having the ability to memorize Scripture in one voice, among a wide collection of believers, particularly through the vehicle of song.

As my church has been reading through the entire Book of Psalms this summer, I thought I would write a meditation on this great psalm, as a whole. Psalm 104 stands out as a classic, not simply because it rings in my memory from a once-popular Scripture chorus, but because it addresses so many key doctrines of the faith.

 

Psalm 104: A Creation Psalm

Old Testament scholars will tell you that Psalm 104 is a creation psalm, a song that celebrates God’s miracle of creating and ordering the world. When many Christians read their Bibles, they tend to drill down on the first few chapters of Genesis, as telling the whole, complete story of creation.

Nothing can be further from the truth. The Bible has dozens of passages that speak of creation, and a number of these passages are found in the psalms, including Psalms 8, 19, 29, and 148.

Much of Psalm 104 gives praise to God, as Creator, making it clear that the universe owes its very existence to the sovereign purposes of the Lord. Who is this Creator? None other than the God of Israel. But you will also find some nuggets here that might give an indication of exactly what God did, in the act of creation. See what you think.

 

Is Science and the Bible in Conflict With One Another? Or is the “Conflict” Imaginary?

For example, consider the first two verses:

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent. (Psalm 104:1-2 ESV)

In the 1920s and 1930s, most astronomers adopted the steady state theory of cosmology, which essentially argued for an eternal universe, with no beginning and no end. God seemed completely out of the picture.

But when Edwin Hubble first observed the continuous expansion of the universe, which was then confirmed by the discovery of cosmic microwave radiation in 1964, the steady state model collapsed, being taken over by the “Big Bang Theory.” The Big Bang, though not a scientific proof for the existence of a creator, is fully consistent with the biblical teaching that there indeed was a beginning…. and if a beginning, therefore a Beginner!

Moreover, the literary image of “stretching out the heavens like a tent” perfectly matches Hubble’s description of a continuously expanding universe. Now, I am not saying that the psalm writer in any way knowingly predicted the discovery of the Big Bang, a few dozen centuries earlier than the scientists did. The ancient Israelite author probably just used the imagery of a stretched-out tent, a familiar part of Hebrew life, to describe what he saw in the sky. Nevertheless, if we consider the Bible to be inspired by God, it should not surprise us to find the psalm writer giving us an exact description of the expansion of the universe, consistent with yet-unknown Big Bang cosmology.

I think of it as a kind of “easter egg,” a hidden feature in the Bible, put there by God, meant to encourage Christians many centuries later, beset by the persistent atheism of the secularizing culture around us. God already knew about the Big Bang, centuries before the scientists did. Why? Because He created the universe!

Many of my fellow believers, who are Young Earth Creationists, object at this point, as Big Bang cosmology requires a universe to be about 13.799 billion years old, orders of magnitude older than the 6,000 to 10,000 years required by the Young Earth model. But this particular objection, despite whatever else might be attractive about Young Earth Creationism, has always puzzled me. For the same language about the “stretching out [of] the heavens” is repeated at least ten more times throughout the Bible (Job 9:8; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; Zechariah 12:1).

Is this just a coincidence? Does the Bible just happen to be lucky, and get it right, so many times?

Or does it make more sense to think that God knew exactly what He was doing when He inspired the Word of God to be written?

I do not know about you, but I am more persuaded by the latter.

 

What is Psalm 104 Trying to Tell Us? How God Did Things, or Who God Is?

Some may insist at this point and say that we should not look to the Bible to get our science. Those critics have a good point to make. For if you were to take verse 5 out of context, as many Christians did for about 1500 years, you would never pass your high school science classes!

He set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it should never be moved.

A non-movable earth? Galileo saw the problem here, when he sought to favor the Copernican theory that the earth indeed moves around the sun, as opposed to the older geocentric model, that posited a sun moving around a fixed earth. I do not know of a single Christian today, except for a handful of naysayers in the deep, dark corners of the Internet (these people are real folks!), who would still champion the geocentric model of the solar system!

But the language of this verse is not concerning the earth’s physical location. Rather the foundation of the earth is upon the Word of God (see verse 7 below: “At your rebuke, [the waters] fled“). This verse 5 speaks of God’s power to sustain the universe, which He created to be secure, by the surety of God’s Word. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 ESV).

Just as we have confidence in God as Creator, so we also have confidence in God as our Redeemer, through Christ. Those who put their trust in Christ are building their life on the strong foundation.

This theme of confidence in God is repeated throughout the psalm, as the birds have their dwelling places (v. 12-13, 17) and the wild goats and badgers have a home among the mountain rocks (v. 18).

The psalmist even announces the security and comfort of the Lord, for a land-based, Jewish community that was terrified by the depths of the sea:

Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it (Psalm 104:25-26).

Tales of the great sea monsters, like the Leviathan, are not a threat. Instead, they are playful in God’s world!

Some see the Leviathan as a real creature, even suggesting that the Leviathan was a type of sea dinosaur, present with the humans, at creation. As I have written before, Christians may speculate as to the identity of this Leviathan, but such speculation can take us far away from the message of the text. The reason for mentioning Leviathan could be a lot simpler than that, thus defusing the objections of the skeptics. Many Bible scholars view the ancient Leviathan as a symbol of cosmic disorder, not be interpreted literally.

Jesus walked on water, in the Gospels, to demonstrate His mastery over creation. It should not surprise us then, that Psalm 104 tells us that we are not to be threatened by the sea monsters, as they are merely playful in the sea.

Thinking too hard about the identity of Leviathan can easily distract us from the main message of Psalm 104. We may gain some insight into exactly what God did in Creation, but such exploration should not cloud our vision from getting the bigger picture. God is a God of order, and not disorder. That is the point that the psalm writer wants to drive home. Psalm 104 is really not so much about how God created the universe, but rather, about the character of God: who God is.

 

A Reference to Creation, or Sneaking in a Reference to Noah’s Flood?

Still, there are some who resist in thinking Psalm 104 to be a hymn fully dedicated to praise the Lord as Creator. For example, in the following portion of the psalm, whereby God spoke His Word (“rebuke,” in verse 7), to separate the waters, some see this as a description of the aftermath of Noah’s flood.

You covered [the earth] with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled;
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
    to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.(Psalm 104:6-9)
.

In these verses we have a description of a world covered by water at the outset. Then God separates the waters, then making a pledge to never again cover the surface of the earth with water. No matter what you think about “global climate change,” we have a promise here that the oceans will never rise enough to completely wipe out the earth’s land masses!

Those who advocate for a description of Noah’s flood here go on and contend that the psalm writer jumps around in time, to describe different events in the history of the world, apart from Creation. But while we can see how the psalm writer anachronistically speaks of “ships” in verse 26, that surely did not exist at Creation (yet note the present verb tense, as opposed to the past tense, in these verses), it is quite a stretch to contend that the writer is just jumping around to describe various events of world history, aside from Creation.

Are verses 6-9 really about the aftermath of Noah’s flood, where God calls judgment down upon the people of Noah’s generation?

There are some problems with this view. First, there is a mention of judgment in this psalm, but only towards the end of the text (“Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more,” verse 35). We are reminded that the God of Creation is also a God of Judgment. This is surely true.

But to read the theme of judgment, as with God’s judgment in the days of Noah, back into the earlier part of the psalm, seems very out of place.  Instead, the separation of the waters harkens back to the very Creation event, as described in the very first chapter of Genesis, and not the Flood story:

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so..(Genesis 1:-6-7 ESV).

In fact, you find some interesting parallels between the days of Creation, back in Genesis 1, and Psalm 104 (taken from the ESV Study Bible):

  • Day 1: Psalm 104:2a. Light.
  • Day 2: Psalm 104:2b-4. The “expanse” divides the waters
  • Day 3: Psalm 104:5-13. Land and water distinct (including our verses 6-9). Verses 14-18. Vegetation and trees.
  • Day 4: Psalm 104:19-24. Light-bearers as time-keepers.
  • Day 5: Psalm 104:25-26. Sea creatures.
  • Day 6: Psalm 104:21-24. Land animals and man. Verses 27-30: Food for all creatures.

You will notice the permanent boundary setting between the land and the waters takes place before the entrance of the sun and moon, as lights that help to mark the seasons and tell time:

He made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting (Psalm 104:19 ESV).

Given everything we read here in Psalm 104, it is difficult to conclude that the earth will ever completely flood again with water, which pretty much rules out a global flood in the days of Noah…. which proponents of the “Noah’s-flood-in-Psalm-104” view wish to eagerly defend. Whatever Noah’s flood was, to insist on a global flood event, as opposed to a more local event, would introduce a convoluted way of reading the Scriptural text that need not exist.

Critics of the “local” flood view contend that after Noah’s flood, God promised not to flood the entire globe again, citing Genesis 9:11:

I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth (ESV).

However, the Hebrew word translated as “earth” here can have multiple meanings. It could mean the entire planet, but it could also mean simply “land.” Few people bother to read later in the passage for additional clarity:

And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. ( Genesis 9:15b ESV).

The “all flesh” that was destroyed in Noah’s day need not encompass the entire planet. The purpose of the flood was to wipe out “all flesh,” not to envelope the entire globe with water. Compare this with Psalm 104:9, which permanently fixes the boundary between the created land and the water, which appears to be global. There is no need to be dogmatic here, but because of this biblical data, I lean toward a less complicated reading of the passage.

 

Provision For Food For Meat-Eating Animals, At Creation

Likewise, the presence of animals at creation, that are made to devour other living animals, pretty much rules out the hypothesis that there was no animal death before the Fall of humanity, according to Psalm 104. At least, there is no dogmatic requirement to insist that there was no animal death before Adam’s Fall.

Recall that Psalm 104 speaks mainly of the act of creation, along the lines of Genesis 1, without touching upon later events, such as the Fall of humanity in Genesis 3:

The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God. (Psalm 104:21 ESV)
.

If it has ever troubled you as to why God might have created lions with teeth, by which they can eat their animal prey, then spend some time in Psalm 104. The idea of animal death and suffering, prior to the Fall of humanity, does not appear to be of any concern to the psalmist.

 

Connecting Psalm 104 More Broadly to the Great Themes of the Bible

However, Psalm 104 does more than just proclaim the doctrine of creation. Other critical doctrines of the faith are brought to light as well. In addition to seeing that the God as Creator is also the God as the coming Judge, we also see the God who will come, through the Second Coming of Christ, to make all things right.

The New Testament quite frequently recalls the language of Daniel 13:7, that of the Son of Man, who comes “with the clouds of heaven,” as anticipating a time when Jesus will return to fully restore his creation:

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. (Mark 13:26 ESV).

Where do we see this allusion to the restoration of all of things, through the Second Coming of Christ?

He makes the clouds his chariot;
    he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
    his ministers a flaming fire (Psalm 104:3-4 ESV).

The one who creates all things will return to restore all things. Which brings us full circle back to the final stanza of Psalm 104:

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke! (Psalm 104:31-32 ESV)
.

This is a God to be worshipped. This is a God who knows what He is doing. This is a God who reveals Himself in Nature. This is the God of Creation.

What a better way to close out the psalm, by meditating on the Lord of all Creation:

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord (Psalm 104:34 KJV).
  • …………………………….

Here is what the Scripture song from the 1980s sounds like, and below that is a more contemporary version by the Israeli Yamma Ensemble, sung in ancient Hebrew. Crank this last video up, particularly after the 1 minute mark, because it is pretty cool:

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Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design: A Book Review

If I had to pick one book that concisely gives an overview of the controversy over human origins, Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design would be it. Part of Zondervan’s Counterpoint series, this book manages to pull together four of the leading Christian thinkers, about science and faith issues, to have them dialogue with one another in a spirit of charity and mutual respect (…for the most part).

I have been looking forward to this book for some time, as the writers are the most visible representatives of their respective positions in the evangelical Christian world today. Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum and Kentucky’s Ark Encounter, defends a Young Earth Creationist position. Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe, defends an Old Earth Creationist position. Deborah Haarsma, president of Biologos, defends an Evolutionary Creationist position. Stephen C. Meyer, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, defends an Intelligent Design position. Each contributor wrote an essay for the book, and the other three contributors wrote a response to that essay, followed by a rejoinder, by the original essayist.

There is simply no other book resource available today that gathers these differing points of view together in one volume, on this difficult topic. That, in and of itself, is a major accomplishment. A verse in Proverbs makes the point: The first to state his case seems right, until another comes and cross-examines him (Proverbs 18:17 CSB). Sadly, many Christians only hear one point of view, failing to consider other perspectives, leading to mistrust of other believers who might see things somewhat differently.

This is not to say all points of view are correct. They are not. There is but one truth. But it is difficult to properly uphold the truth, if you have not taken the time to consider other biblically responsible options. Proverbs suggests that we should hear one another out before making a firm judgment. Continue reading


Can Science Tell Us Nothing Reliable About The Past?… (Only the Bible Can Do That?)

True followers of Jesus trust God’s special revelation, the Bible. But can they also trust God’s natural revelation, as an independent witness to history, as understood by science?

History cannot be deduced by science, only explained by it.” So reads a promotional ad for the anniversary showing of the film Is Genesis History?, featuring Del Tackett, creator of “The Truth Project.”

A common apologetic argument today, for some Christians, insists that science can not tell us anything reliable about the past. Instead, we must look to the Bible for God’s revelation of history, and not to science, for answers concerning the age of the earth, and human origins.

For those unaware of other alternatives, this might at first seem reasonable. This approach seeks to honor and defend the Bible as God’s Word. After all, the Bible is under attack in our culture, and if modern science is to blame, we need good reasons to refute such godlessness. Christian parents are rightly concerned about worldly influences on their kids, and so the message of Is Genesis History?, hopes to stem the tide against encroaching unbelief.

But is this apologetic argument consistent with what Scripture itself teaches? Is science not to be trusted, when it comes to our knowledge of the past, and our ability to reconstruct natural history? Does science, with respect to the past, only function to explain history, as revealed by the Bible? Let me give you two biblical reasons why the usefulness of this apologetic has difficulties.

First, the concept of fixed laws of nature, transcending present, future, and the past, is actually grounded in the Bible. For example, God ties his everlasting, constant commitment to His people, with the very laws of nature that He created, as He said thousands of years ago:

” Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.“(Jeremiah 33:25-26 ESV)

The fixed laws of nature, that transcend time and undergird the practice of modern science, are reliable. Why? Because God is reliable to keep His covenant with His people. He gave us Jesus, a descendant of Jacob and David, as our King and Savior, through the nation of Israel. He has proven Himself reliable by continuing to build His covenant people over many, many, many generations, even today.

True, we can not travel back in a time-machine to observe previous events. But if the Bible teaches that God’s fixed laws of nature are trustworthy, would it not be reasonable to assume that events from the past should be consistent with what we observe today? Here are a few examples, demonstrating that we are constantly looking to science as a means of understanding the past.

When astronomers see distant starlight coming in from outer space, they are seeing light that was generated millions of light years ago. Unless one is willing to accept some untested hypothesis of millions-of-years old light being generated in midstream, or of light that travels at different speeds in different directions, or to suggest some other, hitherto unknown law of physics, it is extremely difficult to conclude that the universe is somehow less than 10,000 years old.

When archaeologists are digging for evidence, they are looking at layers of soil that correspond to ages in the past, as clues to understanding that past. Dendrochronologists measure tree rings as a means of understanding past events. Forensic scientists analyze DNA and other criminal evidence, from long ago, in order to solve cold cases. Most scientists, whether they be non-Christians or Christians, practice their craft today, with the hope that they can reasonably create a convincing historical narrative. But if you inherently distrust science, as a tool for reconstructing history, then science will have limited value for you.

Second, the Apostle Paul taught that pagans, who have no Law of Moses, effectively, no Bible, are without excuse when it comes to having a knowledge of God, as revealed in creation.

” For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”(Roman 1:19-20 ESV)

Paul is quite confident that by examining creation, even in looking at the evidence for the original creation event in the past, we are given a reliable testimony as to who this Creator really is. If the pagan, or anyone else, fails to recognize this, it is no fault of God’s. It is due to our failure to acknowledge what God has revealed in nature.

Paul is giving the first century, biblically-illiterate pagan, as well as anyone living today, no escape route, whereby someone could plead, “Well, if only I had something like the Bible, a written Word from God, to tell me the real history of the universe, then I would know for sure that there is a Creator.

Read the whole passage, Romans 1:18-2:29, to get the whole context, and tell me if you think Paul is saying anything differently. Then read Romans 10:14-18, where Paul recites the same theme, yet again, where even if someone has not heard the Word of special revelation, they still have the witness of natural revelation, as when Paul quotes from Psalm 19:4. In other words, Paul appears to be teaching that natural revelation, which is the domain where science operates, bears a witness to the truth of God, independent of, but nevertheless, consistent with, special revelation, the domain of where we study the Holy Scriptures.

Granted, if natural revelation, as we study it through the disciplines of the sciences, can not tell us anything reliable about the past, then yes, this apologetic argument, popular among Young Earth Creationists, makes good sense: You then only need to read the Bible in order to find out the real history of the universe (assuming the Bible is being correctly interpreted). Science only comes in, after the fact, to explain the details of that history. What more could be commendable to the Christian?

However, just be aware of the implications. This line of reasoning is built on a philosophical presupposition as to how we are to understand God’s revelation in nature, and it has some problems. First, it goes against the grain of how most scientists, including non-believers and believers in Christ, across all sorts of disciplines, daily practice their craft. Secondly, it also chafes against several passages in the Bible, noted above. You tell me: Should a Christian follow a philosophical presupposition, where scientific evidence about the past, on its own, is irrelevant, and ironically, its biblical basis is shaky?

On the positive side, a Young Earth Creationist will have confidence in the Bible, as God’s special revelation. Even an Old Earth Creationist, can say “Amen” to that.

But when it comes to God’s natural revelation, all bets are off: Is God’s revelation in nature to be trusted? A Young Earth Creationist can never be completely sure.

Just something to think about.

 

Have you ever heard of this philosophical presupposition before, that “history cannot be deduced by science, only explained by it?” Well, a Christian DVD making the rounds today, that many of my homeschooling friends like,  Is Genesis History?, popularizes this very idea. The film will also be in theaters, February 22, 2018. You also hear it in statements like this: “You can not trust carbon dating! The Big Bang is really just a ‘big bust!‘” If you do decide to see the film, you might want to also think about some of the alternative Christian views profiled here on Veracity, that the movie does not discuss. Explore this and other topics above, by clicking on the links, or read other articles on Veracity, by going to the search box on the blog, type in something like “creation,” or “creationism,” and click go!

 


Genesis: Paradise Lost, the Big Bang, … and Dogs Who Eat Homework

Some Christian friends of mine are all abuzz about Genesis: Paradise Lost, a new movie being shown in select theaters across America, November 13 and 16, 2017. Should Christians go see this film? (SEE MY DISCLAIMER at the bottom of the post, updated AFTER I first published this post).

In a promotional video for the movie, Dr. Charles Jackson, a professor of Creation Science at Liberty University, explains that the Big Bang Theory, of how the universe expanded from a single point, some 13 billion years ago, is part of a secular mythology, at odds with the Bible. As Dr. Jackson goes onto say, “there are all of these ‘dog ate my homework’ stories” that “atheist evolution theory” proposes to explain how stars were formed, in the wake of the Big Bang. Jackson argues that such explanations are “impossible” and “can not happen.”

The conclusion? Christians should reject Big Bang cosmology. Instead, they should embrace a Young Earth proposal, that the universe was created only some 6,000 years ago, based on a particular interpretation of the Bible. The film’s primary concern is to help Christians have a greater confidence in their Bibles, and to win those who have doubts, to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, which are critically important aims, that all believers can boldly affirm.  Genesis: Paradise Lost is endorsed by Answers in Genesis, the apologetics organization behind the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, located in Kentucky. Just based on this brief presentation, without any further knowledge, Dr. Jackson’s argument might sound fairly compelling.

But is what Dr. Jackson saying true?

Does Big Bang cosmology really contradict the Bible? It seems like the modern scientific consensus agrees with the Big Bang. If the Bible is out of step with the Big Bang, what does that mean?

What if, indeed, the opposite were the case? What if the Bible, written a few thousand years before scientists in the 20th century confirmed the evidence, aligns with the Big Bang? What if the Bible, accurately describes the scientifically-observed expansion of the universe? What is the likelihood of ancient, pre-modern Israelite prophets, perfectly articulating the precise nature of the universe, in a manner that exactly coincides with what modern scientists, have only recently seen in nature?

As I blogged about several months ago, Dr. Hugh Ross, of the apologetics ministry, Reasons to Believe, makes this very case.  Dr. Ross goes onto explain that the Big Bang was actually a fine-tuned expansion of the universe, and not a chaotic explosion.

But here is the kicker.

Dr. Ross makes the stunning claim that the Bible anticipates the discovery of the Big Bang by several thousands of years. Here is a quick sample of some of these Bible verses: Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zechariah 12:1. Look them up at BibleGateway.com, where ancient Israelite prophets wrote about how God “stretched out the heavens,” a description consistent with modern Big Bang cosmology.

Is this merely a coincidence? Do Christians need to come up with other “dog ate my homework” stories, to explain features like this in the Bible, or are there better explanations that exist? Think about it.

Should a Christian go see Genesis: Paradise Lost? Sure, consider the evidence that the film presents, as Dr. Jackson does raise some good questions, and the film makers have a genuine, rightly-motivated interest, in presenting the Gospel message to non-believers. Amen to that! But do yourself a favor, and also consider a different viewpoint, from another Christian perspective.

Or better yet, read and study what the Bible itself says, and then come to your own conclusion.

As Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

Below is the Dr. Charles Jackson clip, from the Genesis: Paradise Lost film, being used to promote the movie, then followed by an 8-minute presentation by Jeff Zweerink, an astronomer with Reasons To Believe , explaining what the Bible has to say about the Big Bang. Zweerink is part of the scholar team, along with Hugh Ross, at Reasons to Believe. Genesis: Paradise Lost should not be confused with an earlier film this year, Is Genesis History?, by Del Tackett and Thomas Purifoy, Jr. The earlier film has pretty much the same message, but the outdoor cinematography in Is Genesis History?, is spectacular, whereas Genesis: Paradise Lost relies more on 3D computer-generated graphics.

UPDATE (November 11, 2017): Though I published the above post a few days ago, I just learned something about “Doctor” Charles Jackson. Yes, Charles Jackson does have a doctorate. This is true. However, it is not in any particular science field. Rather, he earned his doctorate in the field of education, from the University of Virginia (UVA). He is not a practicing scientist, but rather he is a grade school science educator. This type of sleight of hand is not outright deception, but it is not entirely truthful either. At least, Is Genesis History? featured credentialed PhD-level scientists, having done doctoral work in their specific scientific field. Genesis: Paradise Lost relies on experts, that lack the level of expertise, as comparatively found in Is Genesis History?.  Eric Hovind, the producer of the latest film, should be embarrassed. Let the viewer of the film beware!!

 


Perfect Solar Eclipses . . . (and the Wobbly Table of Young Earth Apologetics)

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 brought a few hundred, enthusiastic observers to a viewing party at the College of William and Mary. I really want to see a total solar eclipse, next time, in 2024!!

Living in Williamsburg, Virginia, I was given the privilege of seeing a partial solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, along with many other Americans. But as several of my friends all said, who made the trek down to South Carolina, to witness the totality of the Great American Eclipse of 2017, the difference between witnessing a partial eclipse versus a total eclipse is tremendous. Some have said it is like the difference between getting a negative report on a pregnancy test versus getting a positive report on a pregnancy test.

Inhabitants of the planet earth have the incredibly unique opportunity to observe perfect solar eclipses, that have enabled the rapid advancement of modern science. In a perfect solar eclipse, like the one that crossed America in August, 2017, the disc of the moon perfectly and exactly covers the disc of the sun in the sky, for just a few minutes. This unique phenomenon led to one of the greatest scientific discoveries, nearly one hundred years ago.

Albert Einstein was a fairly unknown figure, in 1916, when he published his theory of general relativity. The reigning theory of cosmology at the time suggested that there was no beginning to the physical universe, an idea that contradicts the teaching of the Bible, that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Einstein’s theory would indicate that there indeed was a beginning, and that this made sense scientifically. To prove his theory, Einstein predicted that you could make measurements during a perfect solar eclipse, to demonstrate that the gravitational influence of the sun bends the rays of light emanating from distant stars.

A colleague of mine brought a colander to the eclipse viewing party, where you can make out dozens of crescents from the partial eclipse (click on image to expand, to get a closer look).

In May 1919, British physicist, Sir Arthur Eddington, led an expedition to Brazil to observe a total solar eclipse. Eddington’s observations confirmed that the predictions made by Einstein were 100% correct. Albert Einstein became a household name after that discovery. This eventually led to the contemporary understanding of Big Bang cosmology, with its emphasis on a specific, unique beginning of the universe, in alignment with what the Bible teaches.

This discovery would have been impossible without perfect solar eclipses, that enabled Eddington, and other physicists after him, to make precise measurements that could test Einstein’s theory. There are four basic conditions that need to be met in order to have a perfect solar eclipse:

  • (1) The moon’s size relative to the sun’s size has to match exactly.
  • (2) The moon’s distance from the Earth relative to the sun’s distance from the Earth.
  • (3) The earth’s distance from the sun.
  • (4) Humans had to come into being at the precise time in history, to be able to observe perfect solar eclipses.

Christian astronomer Hugh Ross notes the low probability of all of these factors coming together. In a recent interview for the Christian Broadcasting Network, Ross said, “The sun is 400 times farther away from us than the moon. But the sun is 400 times bigger. So that’s why you get a perfect solar eclipse.” Yet despite the extreme low probability, some atheistic astronomers believe that the exact combination of all of these factors is merely a “coincidence.”

Taking the view of these atheistic astronomers is close to believing that you can win a multi-million dollar lottery rather easily. As a Christian, I believe that it is far more reasonable to consider the possibility that the God of the Bible, in His providential way, made the exact conditions possible for us to observe perfect solar eclipses, thus enabling the remarkable growth of modern technology, in the 21st century. The existence of these four, exactly precise conditions, helped to me worship God as Creator, as I witnessed August’s solar eclipse, even a few hundred miles from where the path of totality occurred.

Looking for a napkin to prop up that short table leg? You might be better off with a different, more sturdy table.

Strangely however, some Christians seem content to have a wobble in their thinking on this topic. Consider this: Have you ever been out to a restaurant, where the table wobbles on the floor? It can be a rather annoying experience.

You fumble around for a book of matches, or a napkin, to place under the short table leg, trying to even the table out. You hope that you are not flipping your dining companion’s plate, as they try to eat their meal, when you lean over your side of the table to eat yours.

Now consider that fourth, basic condition necessary to be able to have perfect solar eclipses: Humans had to come into being at the precise time in history, to be able to observe perfect solar eclipses.  This is really important as the distance of the moon to the earth is increasing by 3.82 centimeters per year. As astronomer Hugh Ross notes again, there is a “300 million year” window for us to be able to observe perfect solar eclipses.

Prior to that 300 million year window, the moon would be too close to the earth, such that the disc of the moon would greatly exceed the disc size of the sun, thus making the exact measurements made by Sir Arthur Eddington difficult to obtain. After that 300 million year window, humans would not be able to even see a total solar eclipse, since the disc of the moon would be much smaller than the disc size of the sun. In other words, humans needed to appear on earth at exactly the right time in the 13 billion year history of the universe, which is a low probability event (unless you believe in a God of providence!).1

However, if the universe is less than 6,000 years old, as many of my Young Earth Creationist friends insist, you are effectively shortening the leg of the four-legged table of this argument, for demonstrating God’s providential action in the history of the universe. From a Young Earth point of view, the window for viewing a perfect solar eclipse far exceeds the time-span of the life of the universe, at least up to this point in time. In other words, we are not really living in any particularly unique period of time to be able to view perfect solar eclipses, at all! From that angle, the appearance of humans in earth history is no big deal, when it comes to viewing perfect solar eclipses.

Do you see how that table wobbles now?

True, if the universe is less than 6,000 years old, you still have the other three legs of the argument, that support the idea of the uniqueness of having perfect solar eclipses, in God’s created universe. So, I can not completely dismiss a 6,000 year old universe, as at least a theoretical possibility.

But I am still left with a short leg, on the fourth leg of the argument, and that leaves me with a rather wobbly table.

When your matchbooks, napkins, or your car keys fail to prop up that wobbly table in the restaurant, most people would probably just give up and ask for another table at the restaurant. Sadly, there are many people who grew up with a belief in Young Earth Creationism, as the one and only possible option for the Christian, and when some realize that their “table” is rather wobbly, more than a few have left the “restaurant” of orthodox Christian faith altogether, to go to a completely different “restaurant,” if you follow my analogy.

What a needless tragedy!!

As I have argued elsewhere on Veracity, belief in a Young Earth remains at least a theoretical possibility, and I respect that. But if the evidence from modern science, that has thus far concluded that the universe is 13 billion years old, creates in us a sense of incredible awe and wonder, at how God uniquely put us in the exact, precise time in earth history, to be able to view perfect solar eclipses, and enjoy the majesty of God, why would we reject that?

Notes:

1. There are other factors that make the current moment in universal history so unique, with respect to observing perfect solar eclipses, such as the interference of supernova, in making observations during total solar eclipses, and the existence of telescope technology, that enabled folks like Sir Arthur Eddington, to make his observations. If you do the math, you will see what I mean. 


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