Around the web 9/14/2013

LETS MAKE A DEAL? — A lot of atheists like of Richard Dawkins; many others find him to be an embarrassment (here and here). A lot of Christians like ____________; many others find him to be an embarrassment. Rachel Held Evans suggests that both Christians and atheists stop using silly statements from the other side as representative of that side:

As tempting as it is to classify Dawkins’ views as representative of all atheists, I can’t bring myself to do it. I can’t bring myself to do it because I know just how frustrating and unfair it is when atheists point to the most extreme, vitriolic voices within Christianity and proclaim that they are representative of the whole. So, atheists, I say we make a deal: How about we Christians agree not to throw this latest Richard Dawkins thing in your face and you atheists agree not to throw the next Pat Robertson thing in ours?

I want (and often achieve) respectful dialog with atheists. The problem is that there are plenty of atheists out there who listen to Richard Dawkins (and end up sounding like comment #8 in my post on the cosmological argument) , just as there are plenty of Christians out there who listen to silly, unbiblical statements from ____________.

A better solution would be to continue to critique the belligerent and often middle-schoolish arguments of some of the “new atheists” but to not lump all atheists in with them.

FORGIVENESS FOR ATHEISTS? — Pope Francis also wants respectful dialog with atheists: Pope Francis tells atheists to ‘obey their conscience.’  What’s missing from the Pope’s statement on forgiveness for atheists? Jesus. That is why I’m a Protestant.

VOYAGER 1 OUT OF SOLAR SYSTEM? — I guess it is hard to say what really defines the edge of the solar system, but NASA scientists think Voyager 1 has finally crossed the line (CNN — Voyager 1 becomes first human-made object to leave solar system). It is past the Kuiper belt (sort of a second asteroid belt out past Neptune), but nowhere near being past the hypothetical Oort cloud.

One of the most amazing things is that we can detect signals from the Voyager probes as they approach 20 billion kilometers away from Earth. Here’s the description of the signal from the NASA/JPL Voyager page:

The sensitivity of our deep-space tracking antennas located around the world is truly amazing. The antennas must capture Voyager information from a signal so weak that the power striking the antenna is only 10 exponent -16 watts (1 part in 10 quadrillion). A modern-day electronic digital watch operates at a power level 20 billion times greater than this feeble level.

GEO WRESTLING – I missed this when it was posted, but better late than never. J.W. Wartick summarizes a debate between Gregg Davidson (old-Earth Christian geologist) and Andrew Snelling (YEC geologist for Answers in Genesis) — Gregg Davidson vs. Andrew Snelling on the Age of the Earth. The debate occurred at the November 2012 meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Snelling is probably the world’s leading YEC geologist, and is better at his geology than most YECs, but he is still trying to fit the square peg of YEC flood geology into the round hole of geological reality. I discussed his arguments for flood geology a few years ago: Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis.

DID THE ASTRO-FROG CROAK? — Probably. CNN’s report on Rocket frog takes a flying leap tells the story.

STEALTHY SKYSCRAPER? — Is building an invisible skyscraper near a busy international airport really a good idea? Read about it at World’s first ‘invisible’ tower.

Grace and Peace

GeoScriptures — Genesis 2:2-3 — God’s rest and the age of the Earth

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. — Genesis 2:2-3 (ESV)

How should we understand the six days of creation in Genesis 1:1-2:3? Some insist that the only way to interpret the passage is what is called the “calendar day” view, in which God created the entire universe in six literal, consecutive days roughly 6,000 years ago. Others hold that the days can be understood in some other way, either as indefinite periods of time—the “day-age interpretation”—or as literary devices which are not meant to be taken literally, as in the “framework interpretation.”

In order to evaluate these interpretations, one must take a close look at what the passage actually says. Take, for example, the seventh day, in which God rested from his work of creation. People rest because they get tired. God, on the other hand, rested on the seventh day because he was done. I get worn out on a long hike in the mountains. God was able to create the entire universe without the slightest diminishment of his strength. As the prophet Isaiah wrote to God’s weary people:

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah 40:28 (NIV)

It is clear that God’s rest on Day 7 was not like our rest. It was similar to our rest—such as Sabbath rest or nightly rest—in that God ceased from his work. But it was different from our rest in that there was no reason whatsoever why God needed to stop, other than the fact that he had accomplished what he set out to do. We humans get to the point where we must rest, even though our work is not yet complete. God’s rest, then, is similar (or analogous) to our rest, but not identical.

There are at least three of these analogies in the opening passage of Genesis:

  • God’s rest is similar to, but not identical to, our rest.
  • God’s work is similar to, but not identical to, our work.
  • God’s speech is similar to, but not identical to, our speech.

This insight leads to what is called the “analogical days” interpretation of Genesis 1. Just as God’s rest is not the same as our rest, God’s work is not the same as our work, and God’s speech is not the same as our speech, it is quite reasonable to consider that perhaps

  • God’s day is similar to, but not identical to, our day.

More could be said in support of the analogical days interpretation, but for now I have simply presented the basics of this position. Please note that this is not “reading science into the Bible.” I have simply looked closely at the passage and observed that it is possible that God’s day might not be the same as an Earth day.

Grace and Peace


It is not just Christian young-Earth creationists (YECs) who insist that the only way to interpret Genesis is “6000-year old Earth.” Atheists and skeptics usually agree with the YECs on this one. Unfortunately, the bad apologetics of young-Earth creationism makes it easier for these skeptics to reject Christianity.

A good summary of various interpretations of Genesis can be found in the Report of the Creation Study Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination which holds firmly to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.

An important advocate of the analogical days interpretation is C. John Collins of Covenant Theological Seminary. His books include Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary.

The analogical days interpretation is age-neutral. The Earth could be 6000 years old, it could be billions of years old. In this viewpoint, Genesis simply is not about the age of the Earth.

The analogical days interpretation is also not necessarily “competition” for the other interpretations I mentioned. For example, I think the analogical interpretation flows nicely out of the text of Genesis, while the day-age interpretation does not. That does not mean that the day-age interpretation is incorrect; it just may be that the analogical days interpretation gives a solid biblical foundation which is complementary to the scientific insights of the day-age interpretation.