Thursday, October 6, 2011

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Do you think a young earth perspective is a credible interpretation of the early Genesis narrative and the world?


reneamac said...

Sure. Both positions have their issues and inconsistencies, scientifically and theologically questions go unanswered or remain unsatisfactorily answered; though it does seem some proponents of YE are more stubborn than most old earthers about admitting them; and that's not helpful; doesn't contribute in a healthy way to the dialogue. Not that some OE proponents don't also do their fair share of unhelpful things.

At any rate, I have little issue with the idea that God could have created the Earth in a mature state like he did Adam and Eve, and presumably everything else. At the same time, I have little issue with the idea that he could have created the world over millions of years with intermittent bursts of creation along the way such as the "Cambrian Explosion."

I really don't see how it matters much. Science is an important informer, and it's foolish to ignore it; but it's equally foolish to unduly acquiesces too, to place Scripture as informer under the umbrella of Science as informer. I think it's important to hold on to what we think we know at this point in time--both about the Bible and science--somewhat loosely. It's important to remember that we're always going to be wrong about somethings, and that we'll never---thank God---be able to explain God completely by either means. (I'm not suggesting you're doing this, but this is often what I see people on both sides of this issue (and others like it) doing.)

I certainly don't see it as a "hill worth dying on." Unfortunately, too many Christians don't see it that way, and unbelievers just see Christians bickering at each other, or giving one another the cold shoulder, or regarding one another with snide, patronizing contempt... again.

Greg said...

Thanks. These are wise words and for the most part I agree with your direction.

In the second paragraph you seem to want to stay open to either YE or OE. While I think it's admirable to try to maintain an openness on issues where this is feasible, I'm not sure there is much going for God creating the earth in a mature state. No question that he could have, but we are looking at text and world, for information that he did, and this seems to be lacking. And here, I suggest, is where it matters.

Holding both the Bible and science somewhat loosely is important, as you helpfully point out. Sometimes the scientific informer is going to lead the way, but other times the biblical informer will do this, depending on what is being observed and discussed. Yet, there is some scientific and biblical data that has traction that will tighten up the relation and distinction in ways that will challenge us to modify certain interpretations that may have been previously held.

True, the epistemological privilege of not knowing God completely should factor in to our configuration of confidence and humility, though it is often missing, especially in current debates.

Not sure. Maybe it is a hill worth dying on?? But surely not at the expense of loving a brother or sister in Christ and all people.

carter said...

You're just baiting me, right? My daughter is into YE and it worries me. I think she is desperate to hold onto her faith, thinking that if YE is not correct, then Scripture is not correct. I am trying to show her that the issue is not so simple, but that she needs to open up to a new way of how to read and comprehend scripture. I certainly don't want her to think I am condescending.

The danger, it appears to me, is that YEers may very jetison their entire faith.

God the Creator is, after all, the Lord of scientific knowledge.

Greg said...

Thanks. Well, yes.

Good point. It does seem that some YE folk will throw it all away if this picture ends up being faulty. The suggestion that some of our interpretations of the Bible may have to go by the wayside can be very threatening, yet it need not be, if a better interpretation is the result. But this is a delicate matter that requires dialogue - dismantling and rebuilding is a painful, though necessary process, for us all.

carter said...

Greg: I can't avoid misbehavior. You know I was just teasing. Your three articles were most helpful, if not a bit too erudite for my rudimentary vocabulary.

As to the delicacy of the matter: gentleness seems to be absent in most discussions. I pray it becomes the norm. You are so right.

Thank you for this blog.

Greg said...

Yes, I figured.

By the way, at some point the articles will be translated into less erudite language and turned into a book.

I'm appreciative of you and your encouragement.

Ben A said...

Although I'm quite open to old earth ideas, I feel that I know the young earth arguments much better.

Theologically YE creationists take issue with the idea that God would create death (which comes with millions of years and natural selection) before sin entered the world (supposedly through Adam).

Evidentially, YE apologists attack purported missing links, discredit carbon dating, and claim “junk DNA” & vestigial structures to be far from useless.

What are the shut-down evidences for an old earth view?

I wish to know both sides of an argument. But I also find the passion and confidence with which learned individuals hold opposite views quite discouraging at times -for it seems to evidence a very limited ability for us to know truth.

Nita said...

Hi Folks! I can't see any reason to favor evangelical fundamentalists who stick to a fanatic reading of the Bible, like fanatic Talibans who insist on making a case for Islamic fanaticism, anti-scientific, anti-Western pluralism and debate... So I really can't see how YE folks can make sense of the Hebrew text or modern science. A few links to ongoing discussions in cosmology, evolution and faith might be helpful:

Timeline of Big Bang

accelerating universe (hot topic for 2011 Nobel)

Schroeder on ID

Greg said...

Thanks. I think it's worth looking at a website like Biologos for resources.

Good idea to try to look at different points of view on an issue, but on some matters we may have to go with what seems to carry the most weight at a particular time. This should not prevent us from knowing truth on these matters - of course knowing and truth have to be clarified. Holding opposite views, at least on certain issues, will be problematic, but this won't stop people from doing it. Yet, if everyone agreed, I don't think this would necessarily give us irrefutable proof, it that's what we're looking for.

Greg said...

Thanks. Fundamentalism dies hard - blindness seems to lead to more blindness, rather than to sight.

We desperately need a light to the nations that illumines the landscape of life. Otherwise, fundamentalists and fanatics propagate their darkness on a shrouded horizon, blocking out a vision of the sunrise.

Sisyphos said...

Hi Ben

I agree. It sometimes is daunting to see people having studied for decades and stil disagreeing. Derrida and Gadamer had a discussion once and if I remember rightly Gadamer said in the end that for him it is one of the saddest experience in his life that he and Derrida couldnt reach agreement.
But sometimes when I feel lost I ask myself: What is the alternative? To not reflect? Well, we wont escape opinions (although we might be able to suspend judgement in some issues) so we might rather continue to seek answers and truth. Let's roll up the rock. See, again, I know the same feelings of discouragement and sometimes I am not able to get myself up. Sometimes those words I wrote to you dont mena anything to me but sometimes they do. Now they do.
By the way: who knows if the most rigid ones wont actually gain more insight?

Anonymous said...

The Genesis narrative? Sure. The world? No. What's untenable though is many of the OEC theories which attempts to reconcile the two. - Josh

Greg said...

Thanks. If I'm reading you right, I agree.

Reconciling OE and the Genesis narrative is not something that is done with much credibility, or sometimes it is not even done at all, as the two - world and text - are kept in separate compartments, and all is then assumed to be okay. But tension remains.

We need some fresh ways of interpretation that are able to highlight relation and distinction - world and text - without compromising the informing capacity of either.

A longtime friend and biology prof and I, have just had our third journal article published on this topic, and we're presently working on a fourth. These will soon be translated from academic to general reader category and published in a book.