Thanks for your message. I assume you are responding to my post, "Re: Info or good sources for backing up an Old Earth Interp."
As is my usual practice, I am posting my response to my blog CED and copying to you this paragraph only.
----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 12:22 AM
Subject: My beef with YECs and OECs
>I have trouble with a young earth theory, even though I naively accepted it as a literal, biblical fact for many years.
>Many of the assertions made by YEC's (no pun intended) have turned out to be long disproved myths still perpetuated by popular ignorance. These weak attempts to force myth as reality are reminiscent of the Church trying to force an earth-centric universe and an immaculate heavens despite evidence by Galileo to the contrary.
You sound like you are naively accepting "long disproved myths still perpetuated by popular ignorance." As Arthur Koestler pointed out, "Galileo," contrary to "rationalist mythography" (my emphasis), "made no contribution to theoretical astronomy ... did not prove the truth of the Copernican system ... was not tortured by the Inquisition, did not languish in its dungeons, did not say 'eppur si muove'; and he was not a martyr of science" :
"The personality of Galileo, as it emerges from works of popular science, has even less relation to historic fact than Canon Koppernigk's [Copernicus]. In his particular case, however, this is not caused by a benevolent indifference towards the individual as distinct from his achievement, but by more partisan motives. In works with a theological bias, he appears as the nigger in the woodpile; in rationalist mythography, as the Maid of Orleans of Science, the St George who slew the dragon of the Inquisition. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the fame of this outstanding genius rests mostly on discoveries he never made, and on feats he never performed. Contrary to statements in even recent outlines of science, Galileo did not invent the telescope; nor the microscope; nor the thermometer; nor the pendulum clock. He did not discover the law of inertia; nor the parallelogram of forces or motions; nor the sun spots. He made no contribution to theoretical astronomy; he did not throw down weights from the leaning tower of Pisa, and did not prove the truth of the Copernican system. He was not tortured by the Inquisition, did not languish in its dungeons, did not say 'eppur si muove'; and he was not a martyr of science." (Koestler, A., "The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe", , Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1972, reprint, p.358).
And the "Church" (my emphasis) never tried "to force an earth-centric universe and an immaculate heavens despite evidence by Galileo to the contrary." John Calvin, of the Protestant Reformed wing of the Christian Church, commenting on Genesis 1:6,16 in 1554, before Galileo (1564-1642) was even born, but presumably referring to the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (1473-1543) , wrote positively of the latter, "He who would learn astronomy ... let him go elsewhere ... nor [is]this science to be condemned ... For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known":
"[Genesis 1:] 6. Let there be a firmament ... Moses describes the special use of this expanse, `to divide the waters from the waters,' from which words arises a great difficulty. For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. ... 16. The greater light. ... Moses wrote in a popular style things which, without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand ; but astronomers investigate with great labour whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God." (Calvin, J., "A Commentary on Genesis," , King, J., transl., 1847, Banner of Truth: London, 1965, reprint, pp.78-79, 86. Emphasis original).
Even the Roman Catholic wing of the Christian Church did not simply try "to force an earth-centric universe and an immaculate heavens despite evidence by Galileo to the contrary." As Koestler documents, Galileo's scientific case for heliocentricism was then not compelling and he alienated by his arrogance those who might have been sympathetic to his cause:
"But to understand the reactions of the small, academic world in his own country, we must also take into account the subjective effect of Galileo's personality. ... Galileo had a rare gift of provoking enmity ... Without this personal background, the controversy which followed the publication of the Sidereus Nuncius [Star Messenger] would remain incomprehensible. For the subject of the quarrel was not the significance of the Jupiter satellites, but their existence - which some of Italy's most illustrious scholars flatly denied. ... In the month following the publication of the Star Messenger, on the evenings of 24 and 25 April 1610, a memorable party was held in a house in Bologna, where Galileo was invited to demonstrate the Jupiter moons in his spy-glass. Not one among the numerous and illustrious guests declared himself convinced of their existence. Father Clavius, the leading mathematician in Rome, equally failed to see them; Cremonini, teacher of philosophy at Padua, refused even to look into the telescope; so did his colleague Libri. ... These men may have been partially blinded by passion and prejudice, but they were not quite as stupid as it may seem. Galileo's telescope was the best available, but it was still a clumsy instrument without fixed mountings, and with a visual field so small that, as somebody has said, `the marvel is not so much that he found Jupiter's moons, but that he was able to find Jupiter itself'. The tube needed skill and experience in handling, which none of the others possessed. Sometimes, a fixed star appeared in duplicate. Moreover, Galileo himself was unable to explain why and how the thing worked; and the Sidereus Nuncius was conspicuously silent on this essential point. Thus it was not entirely unreasonable to suspect that the blurred dots which appeared to the strained and watering eye pressed to the spectacle-sized lens, might be optical illusions in the atmosphere, or somehow produced by the mysterious gadget itself. ... The whole controversy about optical illusions, haloes, reflections from luminous clouds, and about the unreliability of testimonies, inevitably reminds one of a similar controversy three hundred years later: the flying saucers. Here, too, emotion and, prejudice combined with technical difficulties against clear-cut conclusions. And here, too, it was not unreasonable for self-respecting scholars to refuse to look at the photographic `evidence' for fear of making fools of themselves. ... The Jupiter moons were no less threatening to the outlook on the world of sober scholars in 1610, than, say, extra-sensory perception was in 1950. Thus, while the poets were celebrating Galileo's discoveries which had become the talk of the world, the scholars in his own country were, with very few exceptions, hostile or sceptical." (Koestler, Ibid., pp.373-375)
>However, there are some things about Genesis chapter one that presently prevent me from accepting the idea that the days of creation are large epochs of time. For instance, the sun, moon and stars weren't created until the "day" after God formed vegetation. I can't imagine plants surviving even a month without light. If they thrived on the light created in day one, what was this light's source? And how can a single planet precede the birth of its companion galaxy and untold galaxies by eons?
As I said in that previous post, the "Literary Framework interpretation ... is ... the position I hold" and quoted from "leading conservative evangelical theologian ... J.I. Packer" that the "framework view, sometimes called the literary hypothesis" is in his "judgement" (and mine), "the only viable one":
"There are four opinions, basically, about the seven days. The first is the literalist hypothesis which maintains that what we are reading about is twenty-four-hour days by our clocks; what we are being told in Genesis 1 is that the whole world came to be formed within what we would recognize as a working week. The hypothesis assumes that what we have in Genesis is descriptive prose, of newspaper type. The second view is that each of the days of the creation is an allegorical figure. What each of the references to the evening and the morning represent is a geological epoch, a very, very long period of time, hundreds of thousands of years at least. There has been much effort in this century by those who have understood the days this way to try and show that the order of things in Genesis 1 corresponds to the best scientific account that can be given of how specific items emerged and took their place in the order of the world. A witty Roman Catholic writer described this method of understanding as an attempt to raise Moses' credit by giving him a B.Sc. Those who take this 'concordist' view, as it is called, assume that part of the purpose of Genesis 1 was to give us scientific information about the stages by which things came to be. Third is what is called the revelation day theory, which takes the six evenings and mornings as signifying that creation was revealed in a story with six instalments, each instalment being given to the inspired writer on a separate day. After the first instalment had been given, the writer said there was evening and there was morning. That is a way of saying that God gave him the next bit of the story the next day. Fourth there is the so-called framework view, sometimes called the literary hypothesis. This view says that the six days, evening and morning, are part of what we may call a prose poem, that is a total pictorial presentation of the fact of creation in the form of a story of a week's work. Without going into the details of argument about these different views, let me tell you straightaway that in my judgement this fourth view is the only viable one. Why? Because in this account light appears on the first day while God only makes the sun and the moon and the stars on the fourth day. That fact alone, it seems to me, shows that what we have here is not anything that can be called science, but rather an imaginative pattern of order replacing chaos ..." (Packer, J.I., "Honouring the Written Word of God: The Collected Shorter Writings of James I. Packer," Vol. 3, Paternoster Press: Carlisle UK, 1999, p.179).
>PS Although there are references to the mountains being "eternal" and "ancient," I believe these are relative terms that have no biblical bite as far as suggesting the earth is old. A few thousand years can be considered "ancient" history. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/
You are welcome to your opinion, which I disagree with. As I said in that previous post, after considering:
"Ps 90:4 `For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night";
"Hab 3:6 `He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal';
"Gen 49:26: `Your father's blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills.'; and
"Deut 33:15:`with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills;"
I concluded that "... this is Biblical evidence that, to the extent that the ancient Hebrews thought of the age of the Earth, it is possible (if not probable) that they thought of it qualitatively (as opposed to our quantitatively) as second only in eternity to God" (my emphasis).
>As you must know from geology, mountains are not "everlasting," but are progressively disintegrating from forces of erosion. Granted, some mountains can be continually pushed up from pressures in the mantle, but that's not guaranteed. The islands of Hawaii are a good example of land masses created by pressure and lava but have drifted beyond their source of origin.
You are missing my point above about "qualitatively (as opposed to our quantitatively)." The fact is that the ancient Hebrew Bible writers, when they actually wrote about the age of the Earth, used words like "ancient", "age-old" and "everlasting" of it.
>I find it hard to rely on the bible for definitive scientific evidence. According to the bible, the sun moves around the earth, mountains exist forever and fetuses "leap for joy" in the 6th month of development. I could just as easily determine reality from following my mother around with a pen and notebook waiting for her to say something metaphorically interesting to establish a geo or astrological belief about reality.
No one (except maybe a Middle-East archaeologist) relies "on the bible for definitive scientific evidence." But then the Bible doesn't claim to provide "definitive scientific evidence" (especially since the word "scientific" probably did not exist until the mid-19th century). The Bible's claim for itself is that it is "God-breathed" for the purpose of making one "wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" and "for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work":
2 Tim 3:15-17. 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I note by the way that you have "bible" in lowercase. That may be just poor English usage (being a proper noun, the name of a person, place or thing, "Bible" should be capitalised), or it may be unconscious anti-Christian `body language'. In the latter case you would have a vested interest in construing the Bible to be as wrong as possible. But as the late evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm observed, "No system of knowledge can be learned without some sympathy or kindly feeling toward the system":
"Mistakes peculiar to scientists. Just as there are certain mistakes that a theologian is susceptible to there are ones that the scientist is just as susceptible to in the relationship of theology to science. The first of these mistakes is to have an anti-religious attitude. No system of knowledge can be learned without some sympathy or kindly feeling toward the system-something pointed out long ago by Augustine but never fully appreciated by educators or epistemologists. Dogmatists study science as well as theology. The evangelical indicates that man is a spiritual rebel and his spirit of rebellion is reflected in all his activities. Unregenerate man opposes the doctrines of creation, sin, redemption, and eschatology. A man may be religious and yet anti-Christian. Opposition to Christianity at the level of science is in many instances simply localized or vocalized opposition to Christianity in general. Therefore anti-Christian man takes pleasure in making the gap between science and Christianity as wide as he can make it, and will heartlessly ridicule any efforts at reconciliation. In this instance, the gap between science and Christianity is in reality the gap between faith and unbelief." (Ramm, B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture,"  Paternoster: Exeter UK, 1967, reprint, p.38. Emphasis original) .
>Although I don't think those biblical cases are proof to invalidate the authority of scriptures, I believe they were just relative perspectives of man and sometimes emotionally or metaphorically accented speech.
This sounds to me like you could be "damning with faint praise" the "scriptures" (also in lowercase). The Bible's own claim for itself is that it is "all" God-breathed (see above), albeit in and through the "relative perspectives of man and sometimes emotionally or metaphorically accented speech," and that it therefore has the "authority" of God behind it.
Jesus said that "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master" (Mat 10:24), and therefore the bottom line for a consistent Christian is, as evangelical Anglican theologian John W. Wenham pointed out, "If ... our Lord taught that the Scriptures were of divine authorship, he will then be faced with the grave choice either of accepting the Old Testament in toto as true and authoritative, or else of rejecting His authority as a wholly dependable teacher":
"Before embarking upon the subject it seems necessary to say something about the writer's personal standpoint, and the vexed problem of historical objectivity. I shall try to the utmost of my powers to deal with this subject objectively; but I fully realize that this a matter of the utmost difficulty for anyone who professes to be a Christian. However scrupulously he may try to isolate his study from all extraneous considerations, the Christian knows perfectly well that his conclusions are likely to carry with them far- reaching implications. If, for instance, he finds that the traditional Christian view is right, and that our Lord taught that the Scriptures were of divine authorship, he will then be faced with the grave choice either of accepting the Old Testament in toto as true and authoritative, or else of rejecting His authority as a wholly dependable teacher. The clarification of the one issue will lead to the sharper definition of another. He will be forced to ask himself in what sense he attributes authority to the One in whom he believes. If, on the other hand, he should find that Christ taught some view other than that traditionally ascribed to Him, it will still have the profoundest bearing upon his thought and life. For there lies a whole world of theological difference between a view of Scripture that requires divine authorship and all views that require something less. There lies a whole world of devotional difference between the attitude of entire submission to the teaching of Scripture and an attitude of critical judgment." (Wenham, J.W., "Our Lord's View of the Old Testament," , Inter-Varsity Fellowship: London, Second Edition, 1964, pp.5-6. Emphasis original).
Your "According to the bible, the sun moves around the earth, mountains exist forever and fetuses "leap for joy" in the 6th month of development" sounds to me more like "an attitude of critical judgment" than "the attitude of entire submission to the teaching of Scripture." No Christian that I am aware of in my ~40 years a Christian, thought that the Bible teaches that "the sun moves around the earth, mountains exist forever and fetuses" generally "leap for joy" in the 6th month of development" (Lk 1:39-45). So, if you really think that is what the Bible teaches, then quite frankly I would regard you as an "anti-Christian man" who "takes pleasure in making the gap between science and Christianity as wide as he can make it."
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 5:25-27. 25When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 26And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.