Thanks for your message. As is I usually do when I receive a private message on a creation, evolution or design topic,
I am responding to my blog, CreationEvolutionDesign, after removing your private identifying information.
----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2007 4:41 AM
Subject: Enjoyed your blog
>Btw, the "six days" creation issue is often one of the first things non-theistic science folk offer in discussion.
Quite frankly, in my experience of 40+ years a Christian, I can only remember one person ever raising "the `six days' creation issue" with me in person, as a reason why they don't accept Christianity. He was a retired geologist who had worked in the coal industry, who could not accept that the Earth was ~6,000 years old. I told him that I (and most Christians I knew) interpreted the days of Genesis 1 non-literally (see below).
Even in my ~11 years (1994-2005) debating Creation vs Evolution on the Internet, "the `six days' creation issue" was rarely raised by non-Christians, as a reason to not accept Christianity. I assume that is because most non-Christians are aware that many (if not most) Christians take the days of Genesis 1 non-literally.
Indeed, Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse and evolutionary geneticist H. Allen Orr have respectively criticised leading atheist Darwinist Richard Dawkins for his failure to acknowledge in his writings that "at least since the time of Saint Augustine (400 A.D.) Christians have been interpreting the seven days of creation metaphorically" and "Augustine rejected biblical literalism in the early fifth century":
"Also, I myself share just about every bit of Dawkins's nonbelief. ... It is true that Darwinism conflicts with the Book of Genesis taken literally, but at least since the time of Saint Augustine (400 A.D.) Christians have been interpreting the seven days of creation metaphorically. I would like to see Dawkins take Christianity as seriously as he undoubtedly expects Christianity to take Darwinism. I would also like to see him spell out fully the arguments as to the incompatibility of science (Darwinism especially) and religion (Christianity especially). So long as his understanding of Christianity remains at the sophomoric level, Dawkins does not deserve full attention." (Ruse, M.E., "Through a Glass, Darkly." Review of "A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2003)
"Despite my admiration for much of Dawkins's work, I'm afraid that I'm among those scientists who must part company with him here. Indeed, The God Delusion seems to me badly flawed. Though I once labeled Dawkins a professional atheist, I'm forced, after reading his new book, to conclude he's actually more an amateur. ... The most disappointing feature of The God Delusion is Dawkins's failure to engage religious thought in any serious way. ... The result is The God Delusion, a book that never squarely faces its opponents. You will find no serious examination of Christian or Jewish theology in Dawkins's book (does he know Augustine rejected biblical literalism in the early fifth century?)." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)
>Here is a line of reasoning I tend to respond with that tends to shake or annoy them and open the door for larger conversation. Curious if you'd met anyone else with the interpretation:
>Q: "If the universe is billions of years old, scientifically speaking, how can it have been created in six days?"
>My A: "Clearly relativistic physics suggests that two frames of reference could exist such that time for one observer is six days, while the other observer experiences billions of years. True that the observer who experienced six days would need to be traveling near light speed, but we are generally talking about an entity which takes credit for inventing light. Can he not go his own speed limit?"
This sounds similar to Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder relativistic "time dilation" theory. If so, while it might have some value to "open the door for larger conversation," the facts is, as I posted on to my blog on 04-Nov-06, Schroeder's claim is false that "In terms of days and years and millennia, this stretching of the cosmic perception of time by a factor of a million million, the division of fifteen billion years by a million million reduces those fifteen billion years to six days":
"Since biblical time takes hold with the appearance of matter, the biblical clock starts at bohu, that instant just after the big bang when stable matter as we know it formed from energy. The age of all matter in the universe dates back to bohu, the moment of quark confinement. We know the temperature and hence the frequency of radiation energy in the universe at quark confinement. It is not a value extrapolated or estimated from conditions in the distant past or far out in space. It is measured right here on Earth in the most advanced physics laboratories and corresponds to a temperature approximately a million million times hotter than the current 3°K black of space. That radiant energy had a frequency a million million times greater than the radiation of today's cosmic background radiation. The radiation from that moment of quark confinement has been stretched a million-millionfold. Its redshift, z, as observed today is 1012. That stretching of the light waves has slowed the frequency of the cosmic clock-expanded the perceived time between ticks of that clock-by a million million. ... To measure the age of the universe, we look back in time. From our perspective using Earth-based clocks running at a rate determined by the conditions of today's Earth, we measure a fifteen-billion-year age. And that is correct for our local view. The Bible adopts this Earthly perspective, but only for times after Adam. The Bible's clock before Adam is not a clock tied to any one location. It is a clock that looks forward in time from the creation, encompassing the entire universe, a universal clock tuned to the cosmic radiation at the moment when matter formed. That cosmic timepiece, as observed today, ticks a million million times more slowly than at its inception. The million millionfold stretching of radiation since bohu caused that million-million-to-one ratio in this perception of time. This cosmic clock records the passage of one minute while we on Earth experience a million million minutes. The dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 120 million years, as measured by our perception of time. Those clocks are set by the decay of radioactive nuclides here on Earth and they are correct for our earthly system. But to know the cosmic time we must divide earth time by a million million. At this million-million-to-one ratio those 120 million Earth years lasted a mere hour.What does all this mean for the age of the universe? In terms of days and years and millennia, this stretching of the cosmic perception of time by a factor of a million million, the division of fifteen billion years by a million million reduces those fifteen billion years to six days!" (Schroeder, G.L., "The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom," Broadway Books: New York NY, 1998, pp.57-58. Emphasis original)
That is because 15,000,000,000 years x 365 (ignoring that the solar day was meaningless when there was as yet no Sun or Earth and that the length of both the solar year and day would have changed considerably, e.g. "The original length of one day, when the Earth was new about 4.5 billion years ago, was about six hours .... It was 21.9 hours 620 million years ago"):
"The Earth's day has increased in length over time. The original length of one day, when the Earth was new about 4.5 billion years ago, was about six hours as determined by computer simulation. It was 21.9 hours 620 million years ago as recorded by rhythmites (alternating layers in sandstone). This phenomenon is due to tides raised by the Moon which slow Earth's rotation. Because of the way the second is defined, the mean length of a day is now about 86,400.002 seconds, and is increasing by about 1.7 milliseconds per century (an average over the last 2700 years). " ("Day," Wikipedia).
that makes 5,475,000,000,000 = 5.475 x 1012 days. Dividing that "by a million million" or 1012 = 5.475 days, which is not "six days" and in fact is nearer to five days.
And it only gets even worse for Schroeder's theory if the current best estimate of the age of the Universe of "13.7 billion ... years" is used :
"The age of the universe from the time of the Big Bang, according to current information provided by NASA's WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe), is estimated to be about 13.7 billion (13.7 × 109) years, with a margin of error of about 1 % (± 200 million years)." ("Age of the universe," Wikipedia)
because then the number of days since the Big Bang is 13.7 billion x 365 = 5,000,500,000,000, which when divided by 1012 is 5.0005 days, which again is nearer to five days, not "six days". So both ways, Schroeder's theory fails!
Now you may not be referring to Schroeder's theory but are just making the point that "two frames of reference could exist such that time for one observer is six days, while the other observer experiences billions of years" (my emphasis). If so, it is empirically vacuous and therefore of no use in reconciling a literal interpretation of the six days of Genesis 1 with the scientifically determined age of the Universe, because the latter is not a vague "billions of years old" but is in fact "about 13.7 billion years" old.
That is, the question should be, "If the universe is" 13.7 "billions of years old, how can it have been created in six" literal 24-hour "days?" And then if one is claiming that the answer to that question is to be found in the "frames of reference" of "relativistic physics," one would have to answer it specifically as follows:
"relativistic physics suggests that two frames of reference" did "exist such that time for one observer" was six" literal 24-hour "days, while the other observer" did "experience ..." 13.7 "billions of years".
But then, it would have the same problem that Schroeder's time-dilation theory had. As soon as specific numbers are plugged into it, so that it is making an empirically testable claim that can be checked against the real world, then it fails!
A suggested better approach, if "non-theistic science folk offer in discussion" the "`six days' creation issue" is to point, as my "What I believe about Creation, Evolution and Design"topic on "Genesis 1" does, that there are in fact a number of interpretative approaches to Genesis 1, including "Literalist, Gap theory, Day-age, Proclaimed days, Revealed days and Literary Framework":
"Genesis 1. Of the various main interpretative approaches to Genesis 1, including: Literalist, Gap theory, Day-age, Proclaimed days, Revealed days and Literary Framework; I consider the latter Literary Framework interpretation to be the best fit of the data of the text itself and the evidence from nature (general revelation). See my post of 31-Aug-06 for more details."
And as it says above, I personally consider the "Literary Framework interpretation to be the best fit of the data of the text itself and the evidence from nature (general revelation)."
The reason is, as I have also posted previously, on 22-Apr-07 (and before that on 31-Aug-06), I agree with the leading conservative evangelical theologian, J.I. Packer, that of the "four opinions, basically, about the seven days," "the so-called framework view, sometimes called the literary hypothesis ... is the only viable one. ... Because ... light appears on the first day while God only makes the sun and the moon and the stars on the fourth day" and "That fact alone ... shows that what we have here is not anything that can be called science, but rather an imaginative pattern of order replacing chaos" (my emphasis):
"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).
Thanks and same to you. Hope this has helped.
Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
Exodus 34:1-4,27-28. 1The LORD said to Moses, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain." 4So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. ... 27Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." 28Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant-the Ten Commandments.