“Lyell is most firmly convinced that he has shaken the faith in the Deluge far more efficiently by never having said a word against the Bible than if he had acted otherwise.” Darwin (1)
The gap theory, the ruin-reconstruction theory, the literary framework theory, they all have at least one thing in common. None of them would have seen the light of day if Charles Lyell had not successfully imprinted his imagination on 19th century geology. That the purpose of his geology was to undermine the revelation of Scripture is shown by Darwin’s quote above and that he wasn’t honest in his interpretation of the geological evidence is not just my opinion, but that of a leading evolutionary paleontologist named S.J. Gould from the Chicago Museum of Natural History.
“in fact the catastrophists were much more empirically minded than Lyell. The geological record does seem to record catastrophes: rocks are fractured and contorted; whole faunas are wiped out….To circumvent this literal appearance, Lyell imposed his imagination upon the evidence.”(2)
Charles Lyell, a lawyer, was the first to successfully sell the idea that the geological record demanded millions of years to form, although others had suggested this ancient pagan idea before. As Darwin’s theory was opposed by the leading scientists of the day like Pasteur and Kelvin, so was Lyell opposed by leading geologists. As Darwin’s theory was overwhelmingly and a little too quickly embraced by the Church, so was Lyell’s. One has to wonder why the Church of the 19th century was so anxious to receive scientific theories by men who wanted to destroy the credibility of the Bible. Radio metric dating had not been conceived of yet, and the vast majority of the earths geology had not been studied, even in a superficial way. The geological evidence which had been studied, as Gould suggested, had much that seemed to contradict Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian views.
It couldn’t have been a desire to avoid appearing foolish and unsophisticated in the eyes of men, could it? There was nothing in geology then or now that demands we turn away from a straight forward interpretation of Genesis 1. And if we are going to be honest, there is very little in Scripture to support the literary gymnastics used by our imaginative clerics and scholars. Even more importantly, why do we read Scripture? To know what it actually says or to try to make it conform to the wisdom of men?
We can discover what it actually says or we can falsely maintain it’s credibility in mens eyes by reading their 20th century expectations into it. Personally I prefer the former to the latter even if or perhaps because Scripture often flies in the face of twentieth century wisdom.
“Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” 1 Cor.1: 21
The most popular of these modern views of Genesis is the literary framework theory. This view isn’t without some credible points but even if everything it musters for support from the text were true, it falls apart at the problem of death before Adam and his subsequent sin. A good overview of the problems and contradictions of the theory by Kulikovsky, as well as an exhaustive refutation by McCabe can be found at; http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers#/topic/creation-compromises
Kulikovsky and McCabe both point out that this particular interpretation of scripture was first introduced in 1924 by Arie Noordzig. It gained more credibility with Ridderbos’ Is There a Conflict Between Genesis 1 and Natural Science?, and then was further popularized by Meredith Kline. Ridderbos’s title question gives the story behind his motivation, and my answer to the question would be, yes, there is a conflict between the Genesis creation story and that of Charlie Darwin and Charles Lyell. A massive one as big as the divide between atheism and Biblical theism. But since both of them (Lyell and Darwin) were in love with their own intellects and more interested in refuting Scripture then following the evidence where it leads, who cares? Charles Lyells geology and Darwins biology are the basis and intellectual support for the Atheist’s creation story. Only the foolishness of man would try pry bar such theories into the Scripture and that we try is not to our credit.
“In England, It was (Lyells) geology and the theory of evolution that changed us from a Christian to a pagan nation.” (3)
Just a few points which I find interesting are the use of light on the first day being confused with the creation of the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day, and the cessation of the work of creation on the seventh day being confused with an unending sabbath day with God ceasing from all work.
I’ve always seen Gods creation of light without the sun as a refutation of the very popular worship of the sun in the time period of Moses. Sun worship was huge in Egypt and in northern Europe and in the Americas among the Incas, the Mayans, the Aztecs and the Toltecs just to name a few. For God to create light without sun shouldn’t be problematic for believers because Revelation 22:5 and 21:23 inform us that in the restoration,
” The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is the lamp thereof.” and, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.”
As for Gods resting from work on the seventh day being anything more than his cessation of creation work is refuted by Jesus telling us in John 5:17 that,” My father is working until now and I am working.” If His cessation of work on the seventh day refers to His creative work during the previous days of the week, it not only makes sense but correlates well with what we know about the Laws of Conservation. No more matter or energy are being created according to the first two laws of thermal dynamics. Moses could not have known those laws four thousand years ago, but he repeated what God told him and thus failed to violate what we would discover thousands of years later.
It is possible that God is a little smarter than Meredith Kline or our other brilliant scholars who are working so hard to “save” the bible from being discredited by the wisdom of men. Was it really 6 consecutive days and then a rest from creation work on the seventh? Look at verse 11 in Exodus chapter 20;
“For in six days God made the heavens and the earth, the seas, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.”
There are a lot of other problems in making Genesis merely topical and non-consecutive by categorizing its narrative as a product of a literary device. Gen 1: 29 tells us that all animal life was vegetarian and verse 31 that everything was good before mans rebellion and sin. How does frame-work deal with this? How many millions of years to you insert into the picture before animals became predators? How many creatures died of violence, cancer, tumors and the like, all found in the fossil record, before Adam was finally created, rebelled and died? There may be some gaps in the genealogies of Genesis from Adam on, but millions of years? If man has been around for millions of years, how do you relate that to the incredible genetic closeness of all the various people in the world today? Surely if men have lived separately from each other for so many millenia, there should be more disparity between the Peoples. And finally how do you get millions of years of death before sin? Romans 5:12 says clearly that by one man sin entered the world and death by sin, and this is repeated elsewhere in scripture as well as the fact that this curse was passed on to all creation at the time of the fall….in the beginning.
The beauty of the biblical narrative is in its simplicity. At the end of the first week, everything is pronounced good. There is no death or pain or suffering and all animal life is vegetarian. Man rebels against God by eating the forbidden fruit and death enters the world along with the curse and its thorns and briars and toil. Jesus Christ, the second Adam dies for the sins of Adam and his progeny, breaking the strength of the curse and in the fullness of time restoring all things and we will live in a new heaven and earth in which there is no more death or suffering. In between these two creation periods are the years of our present dilemma, much trouble, toil, pain and trauma….the curse.
If these modern interpretations are accurate and essential, how did so many Christian commentators miss this for two millenia and the writers of the Talmud too? I wouldn’t waste a lot of time on this one, but if you’re really interested , going to the link I gave would be a good start. I would rather glory in the uniqueness of the Torah or Tanach, compared to writings which just demonstrate the weakness and foolishness of men.
Have a great New Year and hope you enjoyed Christmas
(1) Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, 1967, p. 387
(2) S. J. Gould,” Catastrophes and the Steady State Earth”, Natural History, 84, Feb. 75