Are all scientific findings true and unchangeable?
Genesis and modern cosmology, the nature and ordering of the Universe – are they congruent? Certainly, the Bible makes no claims to scientific accuracy, yet it contains astronomical references, as well as metaphors and similes explaining God’s creation. How should we understand the language? Some people attempt to take all of the Bible literally, including the poetic imagery. Contemporary scientists rightly laugh at such approaches. But what of the language that is straight-forward, prose, or prophetic-oracle that isn’t poetic? Does it harmonize with what we know today? To what degree must modern science’s work of forensic analysis—studying evidence from the past with no ability to carry out actual, reproducible experiments necessary to be called true science—include sources like the Bible to make sense of earth’s origins?
Genesis 1-2 (again!)
Some scholars seek to set Genesis in its historic context by comparing it mainly with other origin accounts from Mesopotamia or surrounding regions. It’s not hard to find similarities to some of these, but the differences are profound. In these chapters, Yahweh God is a creative, orderly being, outside of time, who only makes good (or very good) things. There is no fighting among members of a pantheon of gods, which spills over to earth and spawns humans as servants for the divinities. Rather, people are a special act of hands-on, home-made creation by a gracious, personal Being, set in a place of rich, fertile beauty, incredible living diversity, and wealth of gold. Restrictions are few, freedom is high. Relationship is valued. The story is valued for both is simultaneous simplicity yet profundity. Occam’s Razor certainly finds application here.
How should Christians handle ancient creation stories that have similarities and differences with the Biblical accounts? Is there a place, beyond curiosity, for them in faith or apologetics (defense of a certain faith perspective)?
The Fine Tuning Argument (FTA) states that the universe generally, and the earth specifically, only allows life because it exists within a very narrow set of physical parameters. It could not sustain life if even one variable of the universe were off by so much as a fraction of a fraction. If the earth were just a bit closer to or further from the Sun in its orbit, if gravity were only slightly heavier, or if water froze at just a degree more, or ionic bonds were a tad weaker, etc., there could be no life. In fact, the habitable zone for life in terms of nearness to a star with outer solar-system planets protecting it from asteroid bombardment is so narrow, and the conditions for a single planet to also have the right chemical mix to grow life, means the chances of finding another earth, even in the vastness of space, is exceptionally small, say some astrophysicists. While that may be a bit depressing, the good news is that there is one, and we’re on it!
How much evidence should it take to convince someone that we’re not here by chance, that only an intelligent designer could create the types and styles of matter around us, and also give consciousness, that is the ability to give meaning to information?
Much could be discussed from these chapters, but several points should be made. First, the stories of Genesis 4 that aren’t highlighted in the quarterly are actually fundamental to much that comes later. The story of Cain and Able will be alluded to in Revelation, as will the mark. As Genesis begins the Bible, Revelation shows that history will repeat itself as the Great Controversy concludes. Second, the quarterly seems to be on quite a crusade to justify a literal creation, and to accept the absolute historicity of scripture; perhaps the authors sense this is the single, largest lesson from Genesis that must be taught and conceded by the church and those outside. While it is certainly important (moreso among academic circles, it seems), the amount of space the lesson dedicates must therefore exclude many other important lessons which might actually give evidence for the inspiration of Scripture, of God’s mighty acts, and man’s needed moral response.
The genealogies that trace Cain’s and Seth’s lineages form the first of many Biblical family lists. While these appear to be actual bloodlines, not lines based on character or Godliness, it is often held that the two lines demonstrate the faithful (Seth) and the apostate (Cain). Jesus will often speak of either children of God or of Satan, that there are only two lines. (see John 8:44).
The genealogical records before the flood and immediately after give evidence of a seamless family line with nothing missing. However, other genealogies in the Bible are missing people, sometimes perhaps intentionally (see Matthew 1 and his groupings of 14 names compared to Luke 3, and the rest of the O.T. genealogies).
Why might it be significant to theology if there are gaps in the pre- or post-flood family lists? How does it affect faith if there are actually no gaps? Can we be sure either way?
There can be no question that if the flood was the actual event listed in Scripture, there should be significant evidence of such a catastrophe throughout the geologic strata. That is exactly what we find. Every one of the top layers of earth’s crust is sedimentary rock laid down in such a way that it immediately covered huge amounts of living organisms, some larger than we’ve ever seen alive today. Only huge amounts of water could have done such a thing, all across the earth, and at one time. There is much we do not know about that event (or maybe multiple events including the dividing of earth in the days of Peleg), but water there had to be, and LOTS of it!
Apart from Scripture, scientists are left to speculate. With how many theories have come and gone, there is still much to be proposed. Perhaps someday the two will see eye-to-eye!