Category Archives: Genesis

Has evolution been proved by science?

Creation Fish Wins

(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

That was the heading of a letter to the editor in my local freebie newspaper, The North Lakes Times (northern Brisbane, Australia), August 8, 2012, p. E8: The letter read:

Evolution proved by science

Contrary to Col of Petrie’s comments (Press July 18) there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question.

In fact, the reverse is true. Evolutionary theory is based on science not on belief. Every discovery, bit of evidence and experiment confirm the theory. Mainstream faiths accept this and don’t take the first book of the Bible literally. It is only fundamentalist fringe that seem incapable of accepting scientific fact and seem set on trying to impose their ignorance on the rest of us.

Marcus Toyne, Mango Hill

What is a theory?

This brief explanation of ‘theory’ states: ‘Theories are analytical tools for understanding, explaining, and making predictions about a given subject matter. There are theories in many and varied fields of study, including the arts and sciences’. When applied to evolution, this means that an evolutionary theory is a way of explaining and making predictions about Darwin’s and continuing explanations of evolution in science. Yes, there are theories that are developed, based on facts that have been uncovered.

What was the basic content (in summary) of Darwin’s evolutionary theory? This is one reasonable summary:

Natural selection explained how life evolved from the first simple organisms; how in nature the fittest win out, leaving more offspring with more of their desirable characteristics. This survival of the fittest would, over time, allow a species to change and develop until eventually new species could arise. Given billions of years, natural selection could create, unguided, the diversity of life on Earth.

Dr. Henry Morris wrote, ‘The vanishing case for evolution’, in which he stated:

Evolutionary belief is a remarkable and largely unexplained phenomenon. It is a belief held by most intellectuals all over the world, despite the fact that there is no real scientific evidence for it at all. Evolutionists allege that evolution is a proved scientific fact, based on a multitude of scientific proofs, but they are unable to document even one of these supposed proofs!

Morris cited David Kits who stated that ‘Evolution, at least in the sense that Darwin speaks of it, cannot be detected within the lifetime of a single observer’.

What are the holes in the argument in Toyne’s letter to the editor?

  • He confuses theory and fact. Evolution is a theory. Some could even say that there is insufficient evidence for it to be called a theory and that it is nothing more than an hypothesis. Facts may point to the need to develop a theory, but we must not confuse facts with a theory. A theory is a proposed explanation; it is not a statement of facts.
  • If evolution is based on science and not belief, why does this ‘belief’ continue when the transition species are just as non-existent as they were when Darwin announced his theory 150 years’ ago?
  • He gives this false statement, ‘Every discovery, bit of evidence and experiment confirm the theory’. What are the facts concerning transition species? We’ll briefly examine this below.
  • ‘Mainstream faiths’ are not defined, but I expect he is referring to theological liberalism in mainline denominations. This is using the logical fallacy of ‘appeal to authority’. Rational discussion is handicapped when people resort to the use of logical fallacies.
  • He uses a genetic logical fallacy by diverting attention to the ‘fundamentalist fringe’ and rejecting it because of its origin. He should be addressing the issue and not associating it with a group of which he apparently does not approve.
  • If mainstream faiths do not read the book of Genesis literally, this is not an argument for whether literal or otherwise should be used. A short letter just gives opportunity for him to make assertions without defending his claims. Therefore, his views are open to challenge, as I’m doing briefly here.

What are the facts about transition species?[1]

Charles Darwin knew about 1.5 centuries ago when he developed his theory of evolution that the fossil record did not demonstrate what he tried to predict in his theory. He wrote:

Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. (Darwin 1902:413, ch 9 link; also in ch 10).

What was the situation in the late 20th century? The late Dr Colin Patterson, senior palaeontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote the book, Evolution. In reply to a questioner who asked why he had not included any pictures of transitional forms, he wrote:

I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them …. I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.[2]

The renowned evolutionist, the late Stephen Jay Gould, formerly of Harvard University, wrote:

The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution (Gould in Smith 1982:140).

And Gould also wrote:

“New species almost always appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no intermediate links to ancestors in older rocks of the same region” (1977:12).

‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils’ (1977:14).

‘I regard the failure to find a clear ‘vector of progress’ in life’s history as the most puzzling fact of the fossil record’ (Gould 1984, link).

A letter of reply to the North Lakes Times

This is my letter of reply to this newspaper, dated 8 August 2012:[3]

Letters-to-the-editor
North Lakes Times

Dear editor,

Marcus Toyne (North Lakes Times, Aug 8) seems to have confused theory and fact with his statement that ‘there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question’. Evolution is a theory and its problem with finding transition species to agree with the theory is as bad now as in Darwin’s day, 1.5 centuries ago.

There are major facts that question the evolutionary theory. Darwin said that every stratum of geological formation should be full of intermediate links. They weren’t there in Darwin’s day and are still not.

Dr Colin Patterson, former palaeontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote that ‘there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument’.

Former leading evolutionist of Harvard Uni, the late Stephen Jay Gould, wrote that the absence of fossil evidence for intermediatry stages ‘has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution’.

As for Toyne’s view that mainstream faiths ‘don’t take the first book of the Bible literally’, this is a red herring. ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ and then statements of what was created on day 1, day 2, etc., are literal ways of stating God’s creation of our magnificent universe, according to Genesis 1.

Spencer Gear
North Lakes

Was the newspaper so adventurous as to print this letter? At least the paper did print a significant part of the above letter for which I’m grateful. How much of this letter do you think that the North Lakes Times printed? Here is what appeared in the paper on August 15, 2012, page E10.

Evolution theory ‘lacks facts’

Marcus Toyne (Pine Rivers Press, August 8) seems to have confused theory and fact when saying “there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question”.

Evolution is a theory and its problem with finding transition species to agree with the theory is as bad now as in Darwin’s day, 150 years ago. Darwin said that every stratum of geological formation should be full of intermediate links. They weren’t there in Darwin’s day and are still not.

Former leading evolutionist of Harvard University, the late Stephen Jay Gould, wrote the absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages “has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution”.

As for Toyne’s view that mainstream faiths “don’t take the first book of the Bible literally”, is a red herring. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and then statements of what was created on day one and so on are literal ways of stating God’s creation of the universe, according to Genesis 1.

Spencer Gear, North Lakes

Two further letters in the North Lakes Times

On August 29, 2012, p. E8, The North Lakes Times published two further letters responding to my letter (above). The large heading in the newspaper was, ‘Evolution: Genesis v scientists’. There were 2 responses to me. One was by the author to which I responded, Marcus Toyne of Mango Hill. His main emphases were:

  • Scientific theory explains facts;
  • Theories provide the framework for understanding how we share a common ancestor with other apes through evolution.
  • There are transition fossils that scientists find regularly but they don’t label them as such.
  • The second version in Genesis 2 contradicts parts of chapter 1.
  • Some do not consider the biblical creation story to be literal as a description of origins.

My reply to Mr. Toyne

On 3 September 2012, I sent this latter to the North Lakes Times to respond to some of Mr Toyne’s issues:

Marcus Toyne (NLT, 29 Aug) takes me to task over evolution as a theory and how Genesis 2 “contradicts part of the first (chapter of Gen.)”. Contrary to Marcus, a scientific theory doesn’t explain facts. It explains scientific observations and must be open to be falsifiable. The theory of evolution deals with unique events of the origin of life, including intelligence. These events are unrepeatable and cannot be subjected to the same kind of experimental investigation of a regular scientific theory.

He claimed scientists regularly find transition fossils but gave not one example. Not one! Dr Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote in 1981 that evolution was “positively anti-knowledge” and that “all my life I had been duped into taking evolution as revealed truth” [in Taylor 1984:393]. Evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, wrote that the basic theory of evolution “is in many instances hardly more than a postulate and its application raises numerous questions in almost every concrete case” [in Taylor 1984:393].  A postulate is a supposition that is assumed without proof. These scientific specialists are not as certain as Marcus.

So Genesis 2 contradicts chapter 1? But Marcus gave zero examples. This makes his a red herring kind of argument. However, the JEPD theorists have proposed this for many years and it has been refuted over and over. Ch 2 does not present a complete creation story or the time sequence of ch 1.

If anyone misses the nature of a key word in the first 5 words of Genesis 1, there will be misleading information promoted. Those words are, “In the beginning GOD created”. If one does not understand the omnipotent Yahweh God who created (Hebrew bara = out of nothing) the universe, the one who parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass over on dry land and drowned the pursuing Egyptians, and the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, then one will misunderstand the mighty acts of God in creating the universe.

Another letter opposing my position

Phil Gilbank’s response included these elements:

  • A theory is a collected theory of facts that explains observed phenomena.
  • The theory of evolution by natural selection is fact that is explained by the scientific facts.
  • The book of Genesis is a myth.
  • How does Spencer explain the anomaly in Genesis 1 that green vegetation was created on day 3 and there was no sun until day 4.

How should I respond?

I sent a letter on 3 September 2012 to The North Lakes Times:

So “the book of Genesis is a myth”, says Phil Gilbank (NLT, Aug 29). That’s his assertion that reveals one of his presuppositions. He provided no evidence. The wayyiqtol narrative structure of the Genesis creation accounts shows that the author wanted the readers to understand the account as happening in history.

There is evidence to show that Adam and Eve were real people. Genesis 1-2 presents them as actual human beings and it narrates the events of their lives as history. Have a guess what? They gave birth to literal children who produced similarly (Gen. 4:1, 25; 5:1ff). Later Old Testament genealogies placed Adam at the top of the list (see 1 Chronicles 1:1).

In the New Testament, Adam is placed at the beginning of Jesus’ literal ancestors (Luke 3:38). Jesus Christ himself referred to Adam and Eve as the first literal “male and female” indicating that their physical union was the basis of marriage (Matthew 19:4).

Phil thinks there is an anomaly between God creating vegetation on day 3 with no sun until day 4. Is Phil assuming days as representing millions of years? Whenever the Hebrew yom (day) is used with a numeral, it refers to a literal 24-hour period. Hebrew scholars, Keil & Delitzsch, stated that the days of creation, using the interchange of light and darkness, “must be regarded not as periods of time of incalculable duration, or years or thousands of years, but as simple earthly days” (n.d.:51).

By the way, the sun is not the only source of light. Phil will continue to have an issue with God’s creation of the universe as long as he retains the false view of Genesis being myth (not an uncommon theory) and failure to understand the nature of the omnipotent Lord God Almighty who created the heavens and the earth.

What is the meaning of ‘wayyiqtol narrative structure’ in the Hebrew language?

‘The most predominant verbal form in Biblical Hebrew narrative prose is WAYYIQTOL (41% of the total clauses in the texts and 79.2% of the total clauses in the narrative portion of the texts analyzed).  The use of this form in uninterrupted syntactical chains consistently implies sequentiality of action in the narrative’ (Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Vol 5, 2004-2005).

Another put it this way: ‘Biblical Hebrew narrative usually employs verbal forms referring to the past, the variety of which is due not to an indication of tense, but rather aspect and narrative organization. Narrative sequence is mostly achieved by wayyiqtol clauses, which appear to be dominant in this genre, while boundaries of paragraphs and off-line information are usually achieved by non-wayyiqtol clauses’ (review of Roy L Heller 2004, Narrative Structure and Discourse Constellations, The Free Library).

See the article, ‘Are there two creation accounts?’ (Tekton). See also, ‘Alleged biblical contradictions – creation stories’ (CreationWiki); ‘Are there two creation accounts in Genesis’ (Wayne Jackson). See my own very brief article, ‘Are there two creation stories in Genesis?

References

Darwin C R 1902, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (online), 6th ed. London: John Murray,available at: http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-origin-of-species-6th-edition/index.html (Accessed 8 August 2012).

Gould, S J 1977. Evolution’s erratic pace, Natural History 86, May, 12-16.

Gould, S J 1984. The Ediacaran experiment, Natural History 93(2):14–23, February. available at: http://www.sjgarchive.org/library/text/b16/p0298.htm (Accessed 8 August 2012).

Keil, C F & Delitzsch, F n.d. Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch, vol 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Smith, J S (ed) 1982. Evolution now: a century after Darwin. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.

Taylor, I T 1984. In the minds of men: Darwin and the new world order. Toronto: TFE Publishing.

Notes


[1] I am indebted to this author for some of the following citations: Johathan Safarti’s article, ‘Refuting evolution’, Creation Ministries International, available at: http://creation.com/refuting-evolution-chapter-3-the-links-are-missing (Accessed 8 August 2012).

[2] C. Patterson, letter to Luther D. Sunderland, 10 April 1979, as published in Darwin’s Enigma (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 4th ed. 1988), p. 89.

[3] The email was sent to: letters@northlakestimes.com.au.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

Buttons 4 Buttons 4

Are there two creation stories in Genesis?

clip_image002

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

It is a common view promoted by liberal theology and sceptics that there are two creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2. Here are a few examples:

  • In the Skeptics Annotated Bible, they outline, ‘The two contradictory creation accounts’;
  • Arthur Weiser: ‘It is evident that the Pentateuch cannot be the continuous work of a single author. This is shown by the existence of two differing accounts (doublets) of the same event: thus e.g. the story of the creation in Gen. 1 and 2:4ff’,,[1]
  • The Wikipedia article on the ‘Genesis creation narrative’ states that ‘The opening of [Genesis] verse 2:4 provides a “bridge” connecting the two accounts of the creation narrative’.

At the popular level, I encountered this view on a www forum, Christian Fellowship Forum. Jim Parker replied to me:

You seem to be rejecting out of hand, without consideration, the possibility that there could be more than one version of the creation and flood stories among these ancient people. That flies in the face of the existence of a variety of creation and flood stories among the ancient Mesopotamian people.[2]

I replied: Noah’s flood and the Gilgamesh epic have been answered over and over, but you trot it out again.[3]

Kermit: << There is only one creation story >>[4]
Jim: My Bible has two. One begins with: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1)
The other one begins with:  This [is] the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and [there was] no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. (Gen 2:4 -6)
Kermit: <<There is …only 1 flood story.>>
Jim: There are two. I already posted the facts. If you don’t want to know then that is your choice.

Spencer:[5] Can’t you see what you did? You confused your view that there are two creation stories with two flood stories.
Genesis 2 does not present a different creation account to the one in Genesis 1. Genesis 2 presupposes God’s completed work of creation from Genesis 1. What we have in Gen. 2:1-3 is the logical conclusion of carrying on the information from Genesis 1, using the same vocabulary and style as was used in chapter 1.

What Genesis 2 does is lay out the completion of God’s primary work done in Genesis 1 with the sanctity of the 7th day conferred as a memorial of what God had created.

Then Genesis 2:4 sums up the sequence of what had been surveyed previously with the words, “These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made heaven and earth”.

Since Moses (yes, author Moses) had now finished the overall survey of the subject, what does the author do? He then develops in detail one important feature, the creation of human beings.

It is Kenneth Kitchen who writes in Ancient Orient (p. 117):

“Genesis 1 mentions the creation of man as the last of a series, and without any details, whereas in Genesis 2 man is the center of interest and more specific details are given about him and his setting. Failure to recognize the complementary nature of the subject-distinction between a skeleton outline of all creation on the one hand and the immediate environment on the other, borders on obscurantism”.[6]

How do you like that description of what you have tried to do with trying to convince us of two creation accounts – obscurantism?

You have provided the argumentation of the historical-critical method and your presupposition comes gushing forth.

Conclusion

There is a reasonable contextual explanation for affirming that Genesis 1 and 2 form the fabric of one creation account and not two.

I recommend the article by Wayne Jackson, Apologetics Press, “Are there two creation accounts in Genesis?’ The straightforward biblical answer to the question, if one follows the Genesis text, is, NO! There is only ONE creation account in the Book of Genesis.

Notes:


[1] In Wayne Jackson, ‘Are there two creation accounts in Genesis?’, Apologetics Press, available at: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1131 (Accessed 9 June 2012).

[2] Christian Fellowship Forum, Contentious Brethren, ‘Dawkins won’t debate creationists’, #41, 5 June 12, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=40&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=121081 (Accessed 6 June 2012).

[3] Ibid., ozspen, #49.

[4] Ibid., FatherJimParker, #45.

[5] Ibid., ozspen #51. The following information is from Gleason L. Archer 1982. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Regency Reference Library (Zondervan Publishing House), pp. 68-69.

[6] Ibid., p. 69.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 October 2015.

designBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-sma

The myth that the Genesis record is based on mythology

Moses in the bulrushes by johnny_automatic - a drawing of the baby Moses in the bulrushes from a pre-1920s program from the Library of Cnngress

Alleged myth: Moses in the bulrushes

(Courtesy: Open Clip Art Library)

By Spencer D Gear

It is not uncommon to hear statements like this to try to associate the Genesis record with mythology:

The Bible begins by simply plagiarizing ancient Babylonian myths. They weren’t anything new or divinely inspired….. Genesis 2 doesn’t coincide with the other parts that were clearly taken from Babylonian myth. It was purely Hebrew. Whether it was inspired or just plain made up is the disagreement![1]

Another statement of this ilk, came from Peter Bycroft, writing in The Australian newspaper. He was reflecting on the Australian Anglican church, which secular humanists like the most. Then in discussing the decline in interest in the Christian story in Australia, he stated:

For some, this “awakening” of Australians reflects, in part, the progress of archeological, cultural and historical research that is defining the Bible as essentially a book hybridised by well-meaning authors from previous mythologies, built on half-truths, Bronze Age fables and inaccurately referenced historical events.[2]

These claims are often made in association with the Enuma Elish (EE) which is a Mesopotamian or Babylonian myth about creation that described a struggle between order and chaos in the cosmos. It has been described as “a myth of the cycle of seasons”. The EE name comes from its opening words which are recited on the fourth day of the ancient Babylonian New Year’s festival. You can read a copy of the EE at: “Enuma Elish: ‘When on high’”, by Dennis Bratcher.

Bratcher explains that the story exists in a number of forms from the Babylonian area and his translation is from

“Akkadian, an old Babylonian dialect, and features Marduk, the patron deity of the city of Babylon. A similar earlier version in ancient Sumerian has Anu, Enil and Ninurta as the heroes, suggesting that this version was adapted to justify the religious practices in the cult of Marduk in Babylon”.

This version of EE had been estimated to have been written about the 12th century BC in cuneiform[3] on seven clay tablets. The tablets were found in the mid 19th century in the ruins of the palace of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh. They were first published by George Smith in 1876 as The Chaldean Genesis.

Because there are parallels with the Genesis account, some have contended that the Genesis record adapted the Babylonian accounts/myths/story. Because of the nature of the authority of Scripture, some have maintained that there are no parallels with this Babylonian account. However, there are some parallels between the two accounts and some considerable differences. Bratcher states:

There are simply too many similarities between the accounts to deny any relationship between the accounts. There are significant differences as well that should not be ignored. Yet there is little doubt that the Sumerian versions of the story predate the biblical account by several hundred years. Rather than opting for either extreme of complete dependence or no contact whatever, it is best to see the Genesis narratives as freely using the metaphors and symbolism drawn from a common cultural pool to assert their own theology about God

Archaeologist, Alfred J. Hoerth (1998:187), explains that while the sequence of creative acts is similar in Genesis and the Babylonian account (firmament, dry land, celestial luminaries, humans) and both stories commence in a watery chaos and end with God or gods at rest. He says that ‘the similarities are not meaningful; they can be explained as expected coincidences in two works on the same theme’. While he rightly states that archaeology cannot excavate the remains of creation, texts such as EE reveal what these ancient cultures had to say about creation events. He explains that while the biblical account of creation is not as complete as many would like it to be,

it owes nothing to other ancient cultures or their myths. The complete Enuma Elish reveals many dissimilarities with Genesis. The omnipotent God in Genesis is very unlike the frightened, feuding, and foul gods of the epic. Necessarily there are similarities, but the Genesis account shows no dependence. The fledgling Hebrew nation should have been thankful when God brought them out from the “bewildering variety” of opinions on their origin and, through Moses, told the story as it happened. Viewed only as a creation story, Genesis is unique, but viewed in comparison with these other stories, Genesis is lucid and complete.

For another statement on how unlikely it would be for Genesis to be based on the Babylonian myth, see, ‘Does the Genesis creation account come from the Babylonian Enuma Elish?’, CARM. Its view is that,

Knowing the issues of the differences, the monotheistic and polytheistic natures, the obvious influence from the Mesopotamian region, and the unsettled dating of the recording, it is safe to conclude that it is highly unlikely that Moses borrowed or was influenced by the Enuma Elish.  Genesis is far different in nature than any of the ancient Near Eastern creation myths and therefore must not be considered among that fold.

The view of Genesis being based on a Babylonian myth has been refuted over and over by competent OT scholars but it is pushed rather frequently on the www.[4] Of course there will be theological liberals and sceptics who want to promote this view, as they have a very low view of Scripture.

Here is the conclusion by Gary Brantley, “Pagan mythology and the Bible”, at Apologetics Press:

We need not deny that some similarities exist between pagan and Hebrew literature. But, these similarities do not imply that pagan mythical texts directly influenced biblical writers. The literary quality of biblical poetry argues against such dependence. To illustrate, scholars have identified at least one pagan modification of a Hebrew Psalm (an Egyptian adaptation of Psalm 20, dating to ca. 125 B.C.), whose literary quality is far inferior to the original. This Egyptian document (written on papyri) was discovered sometime before the turn of the century. Egyptian philologists soon identified the script as demotic—a cursive kind of hieroglyphic writing which came into use around 650 B.C. For years, however, its contents remained an enigma to experts.

Progress in deciphering the text occurred in 1940 when Professor Raymond Bowman and Egyptologist George R. Hughes discovered that, though the text was written in demotic script, the actual language was Aramaic. The Egyptian document contains Jewish words such as YHWH (i.e., Yahweh) and ‘adonay, but it also mentions an assortment of pagan gods (e.g., Horus, Sahar, Mar, and Baal). These features, and its familiarity of language and composition to Psalm 20, indicate that it was adapted from the Hebrew Psalm. The text, however, is riddled with scribal errors of such nature that indicate the scribe did not understand what he transcribed (see Shanks, 1985). Such is not characteristic of biblical poetry. Its literary quality, according to some scholars, is far superior to that of pagan stock (see Wheeler, 1992). This certainly would be one indication of its originality.

Further, along with its distinguished literary quality, the Bible’s ethical and spiritual concepts are unparalleled by pagan sacred literature. For instance, the gods of pagan myths are guilty of degenerate behavior of all sorts; the true God is infinite in purity. Practitioners of pagan religions constantly worked to pacify their angry gods; worshipers of Yahweh, Who was quick to forgive, received undeserved blessings from His gracious hands (Psalm 32:1-5). Thus, the similarities between biblical and pagan literature are eclipsed by the enormous differences. Actually, there is no better indicator of the Bible’s inspiration than to put it side by side with its pagan counterparts. Such comparative literary analyses bolster our conviction that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Tony L. Shetter has written, “Genesis 1-2 In Light Of Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths” to refute this view. His conclusion is that

the author/redactor(s) of the Genesis creation accounts share certain concepts of the makeup of the world with other ancient Near Eastern cultures. However, it is especially with Egypt’s worldview that the author/redactor(s) are familiar. Evidence for this lies in the many allusions to Egyptian creation motifs throughout the Genesis creation accounts. But, rather than being a case of direct borrowing, they demythologize the Egyptian concepts and form a polemic against the Egyptian gods. Thus, they elevate Yahweh-Elohim as the one true God, who is transcendent and who is all powerful. He speaks his desire and it comes to pass. He does not require the assistance of other gods to perform the acts of creation. He alone possesses the power and means necessary to effect the creation of the world. This paper has compiled a list of the more significant parallels between Egyptian cosmology and the Genesis creation accounts, and has shown that Egyptian cosmology and the Genesis creation accounts share more affinity with one another than the Genesis creation accounts share with Babylonian cosmology.

The article, “Is Genesis stolen from Babylonian myths?” by Tekton Education and Apologetics Ministry, refutes this view.

Our summary conclusion: The views of EE proponents simply do not correspond with the data – and thus it is not surprising that most borrowing-proponents have sought their parallels elsewhere. (For more on those other stories, see the series here by the Christian ThinkTank.)

A better conclusion is that while there may be parallels with early mythology, parallels do not equate to the biblical text plagiarising Babylonian or Egyptian mythology. While there may be convergences with Babylonian mythology, the radical differences are too great to promote a view that the Genesis record, for example, was built on mythology.

The Genesis record promotes Yahweh-Elohim as the one true, transcendent and all-powerful almighty God of creation and of His people. This is very dissimilar to the gods represented in the Babylonian epic.

This leads to the obvious question of the nature of the OT. What was Jesus’ view of the OT? He spoke of the events, including miracles, and people of the OT as historically factual. We see this in how Jesus affirmed the authenticity of the destruction of Sodom including the death of Lot’s wife (Luke 17:29-32). The manna fell from heaven (John 6:31) according to Jesus. Who was Daniel? Jesus affirmed him as a genuine prophet (Matthew 24:15). Jesus confirmed the validity and historicity of Jonah and the whale. (Matthew 12:39-40). Jesus spoke of those who were created male and female in the creation account (see Matthew 19:4-6).

Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Jesus directed us to the OT, asking, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God?” (Matthew 22:31).

When 2 Tim. 3:16 as “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (ESV), he was referring to the OT as the NT canon was not yet formed.

References

Hoerth, Alfred J 1998. Archaeology and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Notes


[1] KhaosTheory #11, a post on Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, “Understanding the Bible”, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7640465-2/#post60032437. My response, OzSpen, is at #17, and includes the material that refutes this plagiarism of the Babylonian mythological view.

[2] Peter Bycroft 2011. Sometimes love, even if a gift from Jesus, is not good enough. The Australian, 25 June. Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/sometimes-love-even-as-a-gift-from-jesus-is-not-good-enough/story-e6frg8nf-1226080049755 (Accessed 19 March 2012).

[3] ‘One of the earliest forms of writing, cuneiform was (probably) invented in Uruk, Mesopotamia around 3000 BC. The word is from the Latin, meaning “wedge shaped”; we don’t know what the script was actually called by its users. The symbols are formed from wedge-shaped objects pressed into soft clay tablets which are then fired (accidentally or intentionally), “Cuneiform”, Archaeology. Available at: http://archaeology.about.com/od/cterms/g/cuneiform.htm (Accessed 15 March 2012).

[4] Another example is the Religious Tolerance site and the article, ‘Comparing two creation stories: From Genesis and Babylonian pagan sources’ (Accessed 15 March 2012).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 October 2015.

Blue-MetalBlue-MetalBlue-MetalBlue-MetalBlue-Metal

Whytehouse designs

JEDP Documentary Hypothesis refuted

(Diagram of Documentary Hypothesis, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

RefCath[1], who said he is Catholic and Reformed, responded to one of my posts on the topic of “the Documentary Hypothesis” (DH) on Christian Forums. He wrote:

the DH is an hypothesis attempting to explain the development of the biblical text taking into account specific textual phenomena. For example, in Genesis 6-9 there does seem to be two stories having been combined. However, the traditional DH has been challenged and indeed very few biblical scholars adhere to it. Whybray offers a substantial critique of the DH however his solution is radical, like John Van Seters. Personally I’d go with Christoph Levin or David Carr. Farewell to the Yahwist?: The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent European Interpretation is an excellent read.

This is my response (I’m OzSpen):

This JEDP overview and brief refutation makes some valid points against the JEDP Hypothesis, “The J.E.D.P. Theory: An Explanation and Refutation” by Brian Davis of Xenos Fellowship.[2] JEDP is designed by those who want to deny the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and I will not support such a view.

I have a higher view of Jesus Christ than the JEDP folks seem to have, in my support of Mosaic authorship. Mr Miller wrote on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch:

Livingstone summarizes the external evidence in PCE: 218-219:

“The term ‘the book of Moses,’ found in II Chronicles 25:4; 35:12; Ezra 3:2; 6:18; and Nehemiah 8:1; 13:1, surely included the Book of Genesis and also testifies to a belief in Israelite circles in the fifth century B.C. that all five of the books were the work of Moses. Ben Sira (Ecclus. 24:23), Philo, Josephus, and the authors of the Gospels held that Moses was intimately related to the Pentateuch. Philo and Josephus even explicitly said that Moses wrote Deuteronomy 34:5-12. Other writers of the New Testament tie the Pentateuch to Moses. The Jewish Talmud asserts that whoever denied Mosaic authorship would be excluded from Paradise.”

To this may be added the explicit statements of Jesus:

  •  Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matt 8.4)
  •  For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother,’ and, `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ (Mark 7.10)
  •  “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. (Mark 10.5)
  • Now about the dead rising — have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Mark 12.26)
  •  “He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16.31)
  •  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24.44)
  •  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 5 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3.14-15)
  •  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5.46f)
  •  Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” (John 7.19)
  •  Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7.21ff)

Thus, the external evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of Mosaic authorship of the core substance (and most of the form) of the Pentateuch.

We have seen that the internal evidence for the antiquity of the Pentateuchal materials is exceedingly abundant, and that the external witness to Mosaic authority is virtually unanimous and very early. The main residual challenges to Mosaic authorship are in supposed historical inaccuracies (e.g. domestication of the camel), which I cannot go into now, but will later. The vast array of KNOWN historical points of validation, however, should engender a sense of humility in us, before judging this surprisingly accurate text as being in error!

Mr Miller was responding to an objector in ‘Was the Pentateuch “adulterated” by later additions?“’

Notes:


[1] #48, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7619203-5/ (Accessed 1 January 2012).

[2] When I updated this current writing on 29 February 2020, this article still available online. However, to access it one needs a free log-in.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:29 February 2020.

6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small6pointGold-small

Juno spacecraft, God and a ‘debt’ crisis

By Spencer D Gear

Could this be an application of Psalm 2:4,”He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (ESV)?

This report from Fox News of 5 August 2011, “NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Blasts Off on Mission to Jupiter” stated:

Once at Jupiter, Juno will study the huge planet from orbit for one Earth year, helping scientists better understand how and when Jupiter came to be. Such information could shed light on planet formation processes and the evolution of our solar system, researchers said.

“We’re getting the ingredients of Jupiter,” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, of the Southwestern Research Institute in San Antonio, told reporters Wednesday (Aug. 3). “We’re going to understand what the structure is like inside — how is it built — and that’ll kind of give us guidance as to what happened in that early time that eventually led to us”….

And it’s unclear exactly how — and where — Jupiter formed. The $1.1 billion Juno mission was designed to investigate these and other mysteries…. Juno will measure the water content of Jupiter’s thick, swirling atmosphere to gain insights about the planet’s birth.

Another report was so brazen as to state that this is a goal of the Juno program: “Key to Origin of the Solar System to be Probed by Jupiter”.

And the Juno mission costs $1.1 billion. I think that this is permission enough to speak of a ‘debt’ crisis that is bigger than just spending money and the USA government being 14 trillion dollars in debt nationally.

When scientists think that a rocket mission to Jupiter will try to “shed light on planet formation processes and the evolution of our solar system” and “to gain insights about the planet’s birth”, what are they saying about God’s creative reality, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)? This seems to be an insufficient statement for these scientists who are wanting to examine the evolutionary processes that led to the formation of Jupiter. Because evolution is the presupposition, they don’t need any theistic explanation.

Why not leave the explanation with the simple way that God put it? “In the beginning, God created….” (Genesis 1:1)? But who or what is God? In defining God, why can’t we start with a definition like this? God is the uncaused Cause of everything else that exists and He has no potential for non-existence. God simply exists, pure and simple (Geisler 2003:32). This kind of definition is a logical conclusion from the cosmological argument for God’s existence.

God is pure actuality and exists independently of everything else, e.g. “In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1). As Geisler puts it, God is the Being who existed prior to and independently of everything else and God gives existence to everything else that was created (2003:31) as in His creating every living and moving thing (Gen. 1:21).

The idea of God being “pure existence” comes from passages such as Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” and Jesus’ affirmation of this in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I am” (ESV).

This God of all creation who controls the universe, surely must “laugh” at NASA’s attempts to probe the beginning of Jupiter’s birth with the Juno spacecraft.

Here is the ‘debt’ crisis, as I see it, as stated by NASA in “Juno: Unlocking Jupiter’s mysteries”. It stated: “Juno will improve our understanding of our solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter“.

These scientists of NASA, if the Fox News and NASA reports are correct, want to search for the formation of the planet Jupiter and the origin of the solar system – without God. This is a classic example of the secular humanistic assumptions of evolution driving scientific discovery, without the knowledge of God. The end result will be a human inspired result without the perfect knowledge of God, hence the ‘debt’ of human opinion versus God’s knowledge.

Notes:

Geisler, Norman 2003. Systematic Theology, Vol 2. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:  9 October 2015.

designBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-sma

Whytehouse Graphics

Alleged discrepancies between Genesis 1 and 2

By Spencer D Gear

A self-proclaimed atheist has made these allegations against the Bible on Christian Forums:

Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:26-27 Trees came before Adam.
Genesis 2:4-9 Trees came after Adam.

Genesis 1:20-21 and 26-27 Birds were created before Adam.
Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Birds were created after Adam.

Genesis 1:24-27 Animals were created before Adam.
Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Animals were created after Adam.

Genesis 1:26-27 Adam and Eve were created at the same time.
Genesis 2:7 and 2:21-22 Adam was created first, woman sometime later.

How do you answer these accusations? If you have struggles with alleged discrepancies or contradictions in the Bible, I encourage you to obtain one of the books available to answer some of the arguments against some portions of the Bible, dealing with alleged discrepancies. I use three of them:

1. Gleason L. Archer 1982. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

2. Norman Geisler & Thomas Howe 1992. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

3. Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce and Manfred T. Brauch 1996. Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

In dealing with some of the issues of the apparent contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2, Gleason L. Archer wrote:

Doesn’t Genesis 2 present a different creation order than Genesis 1?

Genesis 2 does not present a creation account at all but presupposes the completion of God’s work of creation as set forth in chapter 1. The first three verses of Genesis 2 simply carry the narrative of chapter 1 to its final and logical conclusion, using the same vocabulary and style as employed in the previous chapter. It sets forth the completion of the whole primal work of creation and the special sanctity conferred on the seventh day as a symbol and memorial of God’s creative work. Verse 4 then sums up the whole sequence that has just been surveyed by saying, `These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made heaven and earth.’

Having finished the overall survey of the subject, the author then develops in detail one important feature that has already been mentioned: the creation of man. Kenneth Kitchen says,

`Genesis 1 mentions the creation of man as the last of a series, and without any details, whereas in Genesis 2 man is the center of interest and more specific details are given about him and his setting. Failure to recognize the complementary nature of the subject-distinction between a skeleton outline of all creation on the one hand, and the concentration in detail on man and his immediate environment on the other, borders on obscurantism’ (Ancient Orient, p. 117)….

As we examine the remainder of Genesis 2, we find that it concerns itself with a description of the ideal setting that God prepared for Adam and Eve to begin their life in, walking in loving fellowship with Him as responsive and obedient children. Verses 5-6 describe the original condition of the ‘earth,’ or ‘land,’ in the general region of the Garden of Eden before it had sprouted verdure under the special watering system the Lord used for its development. Verse 7 introduces Adam as a newly fashioned occupant for whom Eden was prepared. Verse 8 records how he was placed there to observe and enjoy the beauty and richness of his surroundings. Verses 9-14 describe the various kinds of trees and the lush vegetation sustained by the abundant waters of the rivers that flowed out of Eden to the lower regions beyond its borders. Verse 15 indicates the absorbing activity that Adam had assigned to him as keeper and warden of this great natural preserve.

From the survey of the first fifteen verses of chapter 2, it becomes quite apparent that this was never intended to be a general creation narrative. Search all the cosmogonies of the ancient civilizations of the Near East, and you will never find among them a single creation account that omits all mention of the formation of sun, moon, and stars or ocean or seas-none of which are referred to in Genesis 2. It is therefore quite obvious that Genesis 1 is the only creation account to be found in the Hebrew Scripture and that it is already presupposed as the background of Genesis 2. Even the animals are not referred to until Adam is assigned the task of examining them carefully, one by one, in order to decide on an appropriate name for each species or bird and beast that was brought before him (vv. 18-20). But before this phase of Adam’s experience begins, he is brought into covenant relationship with God, who grants him permission to eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden except one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (vv. 16-17). Verse 18 then shows how Yahweh proceeded to fill Adam’s foreseen need of companionship-first by the fellowship with the animals and birds (vv. 19-20), then, after that proves to be unsatisfying, by the companionship of a wife, who is fashioned from the bone that was closest to Adam’s heart (vv. 21-22). The chapter closes with a vivid portrayal of Adam’s joyous acceptance of his new helpmate and his unreserved commitment to her in love.

The structure of Genesis 2 stands in clear contrast to every creation account known to comparative literature. It was never intended to be a creation account at all, except insofar as it related the circumstances of man’s creation as a child of God, fashioned in His image, infused with His breath of life, and brought into an intimate personal relationship with the Lord Himself. Quite clearly, then, chapter 2 is built on the foundation of chapter 1 and represents no different tradition than the first chapter or discrepant account of the order of creation” (Archer 1982, pp.68-69).

E. J. Young has written that Genesis 2 was not intended to be chronological:

 

“It should be noted that there are no contradictions between [Genesis] chapters 1 and 2…. According to chapter 2 the order of creation is said to be man (v. 7), vegetation (v. 9), animals (v. 19), woman (v. 21f.). But in answer to this it should be noted that the order of statement is not chronological. Can we seriously think that the writer intended us to understand that God formed man (v. 7) before there was any place to put him? To insist upon a chronological order in chapter 2 is to place a construction upon the writer’s words that was never intended. In reality, chapter 2 declares nothing regarding the relative priority of man and vegetation. Nor does chapter 2 teach the creation of man before the animals. Here again, the chronological order is not stressed. The chapter has described the formation of Eden and the placing of man in the garden. It now speaks more particularly of man’s condition, showing his need of a help meet for himself, and that such a help meet was not found among the animals. Verse 1 may rightly be paraphrased, `and the LORD GOD having formed out of the ground every beast of the field, and every fowl of heaven, brought them unto the man.'” (E. J. Young 1949. An Introduction to the Old Testament. London: Tyndale Press, p. 55).

The theological liberals love to play up the “contradictions” between Genesis 1 and 2.  The above explanations provide some ammunition to demonstrate that there are no confirmed discrepancies between Genesis 1 and 2.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:  8 June 2015.

designBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-smadesignBlue-sma