Guests: Glen Greenwalt and Gordon Johnson
The issue of time and chronology for creation is not treated directly by any one biblical passage or book, but grows from a discussion of several chronological clues in the Bible and various dating methods used in more recent times. We will explore the major aspects of the discussion and reflect on how best to relate biblical with scientific agendas.
Relevant Biblical Passages:
- Chronologies in genealogies and the annals in Kings and Chronicles.
The Issues Surrounding Time
From the Bible, what do we know about time and how? What general sense of time do we have recorded in the biblical books? How do we calculate these things?
Ancient chronologies, while at times complex, have been studied fairly thoroughly in recent years. How do the various major manuscripts of the Old Testament address the question of time if one simply adds up the numbers? The Hebrew Bible would place creation near 4000 BC and the Greek Old Testament (LXX) would add another 1500-2000 years. Others vary somewhat from these, but they all seem to keep things relatively short.
How should we understand and interpret genealogies in the Bible? What time-keeping the most important concern of the genealogies? A major concern? A minor one? A concern at all? What purposes did they serve in terms of lineage, participation in the worship community, ownership and inheritance, social status? An article on genealogies in a recent Bible dictionary might prove helpful here.
From science, what do we know about time and how? What motivates scientists to explore dating methods, to destroy confidence in the Bible or try to find out answers to hard questions? What methods are there and what do they suggest? Are they reliable? Are they useful?
Are there models of creation not tied to the age-old distinction: creation demands a short chronology and evolution demands long periods of time? Are there new ways of viewing the biblical and scientific approaches to time? Are we locked into a totally either/or approach in this matter or are there other options?
What Difference Does it Make?
How would it affect the scientific perspectives to recommend a short period for earth’s/human history?
How would it affect a belief in creation to recommend that the time periods might be longer than we once thought?