Monday, August 15, 2016

The Logic of Christianity 13: Creation is True until Proven False

So, what elements of the Genesis creation account do unbelievers doubt? 1. They doubt that the universe was created by any “god.” (They prefer a non-purposive Big Bang theory, instead.) 2. They doubt that the universe came into existence within the time span indicated by Genesis. (They prefer a much longer time frame than they think Genesis supplies.) 3. They doubt that the order of the elements of the universe coming into existence is correctly indicated in Genesis. (Specifically, they object to the timing of the appearance in Genesis of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.) 4. They doubt that any “god” was active in the progressive expansion of life forms. (They prefer a non-purposive “evolutionary” model instead.) 5. They doubt that man was made “in the image” of any god. (They prefer a behaviorist view of man: that like all other animals, man behaves in predictable, non-creative ways.) 6. They doubt that Adam was a specific distinct creation. (They prefer an evolutionary model of the development of man/Homo sapiens: from Neanderthal or Heidelberg man.)
My book Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World tackles all of these issues. It approaches the “creation” issues from the premise that Walt Disney and his company did not seem to flinch at the notion of holding both a Scientific Realist position and a Christian Realist position, simultaneously. Furthermore, I demonstrate that—apart from their removal of God from the picture—Scientific Realists can be easily accommodated within the interpretive possibilities in the Bible. It is possible for a Scientific Realist to be simultaneously a Christian Realist, if s/he follows the gauntlet I laid down. In short, if the Scientific Realist accepts the “presumption” that the Bible is true unless and until proven false, s/he can and will continue, simultaneously, to be a Christian Realist.
On page 4 of Disneology, I point out: “Disney was a huge fan of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is the president who receives the greatest attention in the ‘Hall of Presidents’ at the Magic Kingdom . . . . Lincoln asserts that all men are ‘created’ equal. He identifies the Declaration of Independence as the ‘truth.’ . . . Mention of the ‘creator’ in the Declaration of Independence is reiterated in the ‘American Adventure’ in EPCOT.” Yet, on page 5, I continue: “The ‘Universe of Energy’ attraction at EPCOT presents the origins of the universe from a wholly god-less perspective. The perspective of physics informs riders that originally, there was a ‘big bang’ in which a great amount of energy was converted into huge supplies of mass. . . . The perspective of Geology (the study of the Earth) then takes over. This originally very hot planet was a fiery, molten, and gaseous mixture. The gasses surrounded the planet until the planet cooled; then, water condensed onto the surface of the earth and became the seas. (Not too many years ago . . . WDW had corroborated these views of physics and geology in a preshow to ‘The Living Seas’ exhibit. Again, no mention of a creator was to be found.) The perspective of Evolutionary Biology is/was presented in both the Energy and Seas shows, as plant life is followed by water life, then amphibian life, etc.”
THE EVOLUTION ISSUE. Many followers of my blog have anticipated one of my next links in the Logic of Christianity series by revisiting my earlier blogpost: Disneology #8: What About Evolution? That specific post, written and published years ago, has enjoyed a major resurgence in hits in the past month or so. I begin that post (and its corresponding Chapter in my book Disneology, p. 55) with the following comment: “The most stressful and emotionally divisive debate between scientists and theologians is over the issue of evolution.” For those who are not inclined to accept any semblance of evolution, those who believe that any evolutionary explanation of biological existence is counter to the Bible, I offer the following encouragement (p. 57):
“Believers in gradual evolution have been hoping that the study of fossils (paleontology) will yield scientific evidence of the various transitional stages of development each genus and species went through as it evolved. They are searching for ‘missing links.’ The website ( reports: ‘Stephen J. Gould, America's most famous evolutionist . . . stated, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary . . . textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism. I wish only to point out that it was never seen in the rocks.”’”
Nevertheless, for those who would dismiss the Bible because they are persuaded by the evolutionary argument, I submitted also the following (pp. 57-58): “Genesis 1:11 indicates ‘how’ God made plants. He SPOKE to the land: ‘Let the land produce vegetation.’ Genesis 1:12 confirms: ‘The land produced vegetation.’ One way of viewing this phenomenon is to say that God delegated to land the capacity for producing plant life. . . . In a somewhat similar manner (but with a curious departure in the way it is phrased), in Genesis 1:20, God SPOKE to the waters: ‘Let the waters teem with living creatures.’ . . . Water animal life was the first level of animal life. . . . In Genesis 1:24, we return to a formula similar to the formula for making plants. God SPOKE to the land: ‘Let the land produce living creatures.’ If God delegated to land the capacity for producing plant life, and then (later) the capacity for producing living creatures, it may be that once God created elemental animal life (in the waters), the land was given the capacity for developing that animal life. In other words, there appears to be some room for a somewhat theologically-based evolution/gradualism theory.”
THE HUMAN ISSUE. Genesis, however, does NOT say that God SPOKE humans into existence. On pages 58-59 of Disneology, I observe: “Genesis 1:27 states: ‘God created man in his own image . . . male and female created He them.’ Genesis 2:7 adds the detail that God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life before man became a living being. . . . The term ‘create’ is used by Genesis only in terms of creating the ‘heavens and the earth’ in 1:1 . . . creating ‘the great creatures of the sea and every living’ thing in the sea in 1:21 (the beginning of animal life), and God creating ‘man in his own image’ in 1:27. . . . [A]ll creation seems to have been accomplished by God ‘speaking,’ with the lone exception of the creation of Adam.”
To the matter of what it means to be in the “image of God,” I devote several chapters of Disneology (Chapters 10-15). My observations on the senses in which man is unique from all other animals are not the musings of a theologian; rather, they are the observations of a Twentieth Century (agnostic) genius in the field of Communication, Kenneth Burke. Burke asserts that the human is the symbol-using (symbol-making) animal. Skeptics are hard-pressed to find any other animal species that “creates” or “makes” its own communication, as does the human. Since God, in Genesis, also creates/makes, human communication is effectively an image of God. Burke asserts that since the human is the only animal capable of using the hortatory negative (Thou shalt not!), and since the hortatory negative is the basis of morality, the human is “moralized” by the negative. Morality makes the human into the image of God. Burke asserts that the human is the “tool-making, tool-using” animal. Other animals may use tools that are found in nature or created by man, but humans (using symbolicity) actually make and use their own tools. They are, thus, separated from their natural condition by instruments of their own making. This “creative” nature is, again, the image of God. Burke asserts that human are goaded by a “spirit of hierarchy.” His use of the word “spirit” here is akin to his use of “symbol-making.” While other animals have natural, instinctive, hierarchies (back-biting for wolves, pecking order for chickens, etc.), humans symbolically create zillions of hierarchies. This creative function, along with the hierarchal element evident in all creation, makes humans the image of God. Burke asserts that the human is “rotten with perfection.” He is not saying that the human is, by any means, perfect—just that he has an innate notion of what perfection means in many situations. This is also the image of God. The Dedication of my book Implicit Rhetoric: Kenneth Burke’s Extension of Aristotle’s Concept of Entelechy reads: “To God, the Ultimate Symbol-User.”
THE HOMO SAPIENS/NEANDERTHAL ISSUE According to the Smithsonian Institute website, human evolution researchers/paleoanthropologists admit that they still do not know “Who was our direct evolutionary ancestor? Was it Homo heidelbergensis, like many paleoanthropologists think, or another species? . . . [or] How much interbreeding occured between our species and Homo neanderthalensis?” In other words, it is clear that Homo sapiens is a separate “species,” originating thousands, not millions, of years ago. That some interbreeding between the Homo sapiens and the (older and extinct species) Neanderthals occurred is accepted by paleoanthropologists: According to Charles Q. Choi, “Why Neanderthals Likely Fathered Few Kids with Modern Humans,” Live Science []: “Humans today often carry around a small chunk of DNA from Neanderthals, suggesting we interbred with our closest known extinct relatives at some point in our history. So why isn't there more Neanderthal DNA in modern humans? Turns out, the Y chromosome may have been key in keeping the two lineages apart by creating conditions that might often have led to miscarriages if or when the two got together, researchers now say.” The very point that the two species were separate species and that interbreeding was a rare and difficult possibility suggest that Homo sapiens was a distinct creation. But what about the Bible and God making man “in His own image”? Doesn’t the very existence of Neanderthal, Heidelberg, Floresiensis, Erectus, Rudolfensis, and Habilis fossils disprove that notion? In my forthcoming book Angels and Demons: The Personification of Communication, I address the issue of the marriages in Genesis 6 between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of man,” drawing on the suggested interbreeding between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, while at the same time considering the Hebrew language: “Genesis 1:26 quotes God: ‘Let us make man INTO our image.’ The Hebrew consonant (ב) that I have translated ‘into’ is typically translated ‘in.’ Nevertheless, ‘into’ is a perfectly legitimate translation. . . . Due to the . . . fossil record that seems to provide evidence of the existence of a non-symbol-using version of man that predates the symbol-using variety, a translation of ‘into’ . . . could accommodate such evidence. In other words, a possibility exists that God originally made a man . . . who did not have symbol-using capacities. He could not speak a language, make tools, paint pictures on cave walls, etc. Then, at some point, God made the same type of being WITH symbol-using capacities (i.e., with His image: He created Adam). . . . The sons of God, in this scenario, would be the offspring of Adam—those who were created ‘with’ [or ‘made into’] God’s image, and hence, could be thought of as his ‘sons.’ The daughters of men, in this scenario, would be the female offspring of the purely ‘animal’ man, the Neanderthals or some such. . . . What would happen if one bred a very intelligent (. . . son of God) man with a very physically adapted (. . . daughter of man) woman? Would their offspring not have the capability of being ‘heroes’ and ‘men of name?’” My point is not that one must accept the preceding explanation/interpretation, but only that the Hebrew text is capable of one or more interpretations that could accommodate the views of paleoanthropologists. THE BIBLE IS TRUE, UNLESS AND UNTIL IT IS PROVEN FALSE.
THE BIG BANG ISSUE In Disneology (pp. 31-34), I point out: “’Big Bang,’ Einstein’s E=MC², Aristotle’s HULĒ, Disney’s Universe of Energy, and Kenneth Burke’s Logology all converge. . . . According to Einstein, Mass (or Aristotle’s HULĒ) can be changed into Energy, and vice versa. Einstein explains his theory of relativity, as follows: ‘It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing -- a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind. Furthermore, the equation E is equal to m c-squared, in which energy is put equal to mass, multiplied by the square of the velocity of light, showed that very small amounts of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy and vice versa. The mass and energy were in fact equivalent, according to the formula mentioned above. This was demonstrated by Cockcroft and Walton in 1932, experimentally.’ . . . The Big Bang theory of the origins of the universe is based on the notion that ‘in the beginning’ there was a huge conversion of Energy into Mass—a Big Bang. But what was the source of this tremendous supply of Energy? Theological answer: God. Even more specifically, for John, the energy present in the spoken Word of God. . . . This view . . . supplies an important answer for adherents of the Big Bang Theory that physics . . . [does] not supply—the source of the tremendous supply of Energy that was converted into Mass.”
THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE ISSUE In Disneology (pp. 25-28), I comment: “Certainly, it is possible to interpret the Genesis account of creation as stating that the entire universe and its inhabitants (up to and including humans) were completely created in six twenty-four hour periods, just a few thousand years ago. This translation is possible because the word ‘day’ (YOM, in the Hebrew) most frequently refers to ‘one twenty-four hour period. . . . unless the term day/YOM can mean something other than a twenty-four hour period.’ . . . In addition to the twenty-four hour denotation, the word YOM also, at times, simply means ‘light,’ as opposed to ‘darkness’(Genesis 1:5). YOM also refers to time periods other than the twenty-four hour variety. In the first chapter of Genesis, God created man—both male and female—and gave them instructions to multiply and fill the Earth, all in one YOM (Day Six). In the second chapter, there is an expanded discussion of several steps in this process. First, God creates Adam, a male, and instructs him to keep the Garden of Eden, to name the animals, to refrain from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, etc. Then, God . . . brings a deep sleep upon him, removes a rib from his side, fashions it into a female (Eve), and brings her to Adam. Later (when Adam and Eve are not together), a serpent successfully induces Eve to eat from the Tree, and Eve subsequently successfully tempts Adam to do so. They invent clothing and hide from God. God discovers them and interrogates them. They are cast from the Garden of Eden and FINALLY told to be fruitful and multiply in the Earth. These are quite a few events to have all been completed in one twenty-four hour period. Nevertheless, Genesis 5:1-2 confirms that Adam and Eve were created in a YOM. Consider another example of YOM lasting longer than twenty-four hours. In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that “in the day you eat” from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you shall surely die. Since (according to Genesis 5:8) Adam lived 930 years, the YOM in which he ate and died appears to be quite long. In fact, this nearly-one-thousand-year-long YOM appears to be close to the famous formula found in Psalm 90:4: ‘For a thousand years are in [God’s] eyes as a YOM . . . .’ Changing the Hebrew word YOM/day to the Greek term HEMERA/day, Second Peter 3:8 declares: ‘One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. . . . A third example of YOM lasting longer than twenty-four hours is found in Genesis 2:4. This verse seems to suggest that ALL of creation—heavens, Earth, plants, animals, and humans—occurred in a single YOM. Even those who suggest that God created all things in 144 hours are hesitant to assert that it all happened within 24 hours. While sound Biblical scholarship certainly permits the interpretation that the heavens and Earth and all varieties of inhabitants were formed in 144 hours, this is not the ONLY possible interpretation . . . . Furthermore, the first word of the Bible has [possibly] been mistranslated.’ The first word of the Bible in the original language of Hebrew is BERESHIT. It is almost always translated: ‘In the beginning.’ There is, however, a problem with that translation. The problem lies in the fact that the term BERESHIT is a Hebrew ‘construct’ form. This means that the term ‘Beginning’ should be connected with another noun by the word ‘of.’ The second word of Genesis is NOT, however, a noun; it is the word BARA’, a verb, translated as ‘He created.’ . . . It [also] is quite permissible [by changing vowel pointings] . . . to read BARA’ as a noun (or Gerund): ‘the creating.’ This is how the translation of Genesis 1:1-2 might, thus, read: ‘In the Beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the Earth, the Earth was formless and void.’ If the translation just offered is true, we do not know for certain exactly where the Genesis creation account begins. What is the exact point in the beginning of creating that the first day described in Genesis actually begins? It’s somewhere in the beginning, but the Earth is apparently already in existence, albeit in a formless and chaotic state. Of course, this is not the ONLY possible translation/interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2, but NEITHER is the translation: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.’”
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE SUN ISSUE I note, on page 43 of Disneology: “The order of Creation in Genesis mirrors the order of the origins of the universe as depicted by science in Disney’s Epcot exhibits.” Nevertheless, some take issue with the introduction by Genesis of the Sun, Moon and stars on Day Four. This, they assert is out of order in the origin of the universe. I point out (pp. 45-46): “The Bible does not say plants were ‘created’ before the sun, moon, and stars. The term ‘create’ is used by Genesis only in terms of creating the ‘heavens and the earth’ in 1:1 (which seems to imply [in the term ‘heavens’] that the Sun, Moon, and stars were already created by Day One), creating ‘the great creatures of the sea and every living’ thing in the sea in 1:21 (the beginning of animal life), and God creating ‘man in his own image’ in 1:27. The Bible only implies that on the 4th day, the sun, moon, and stars were made visible in the firmament, to divide day from night. On the implication of ‘visibility’ in Day 4, what else could lights dividing day from night, being markers for seasons, days, and years, and shedding light upon the earth be? This chronological issue of when the Sun, Moon, and stars came into being seems to be the only serious objection non-believers cite regarding the order of creation in the first chapter of Genesis. Disney’s exhibits provide a visual tour of prehistory: The big bang happens, the earth is hot, there is light (from the hot magma and volcanoes) and the ‘waters’ are so hot, they are nothing but vapors surrounding the earth so dense that no light from sun-moon-stars is visible, the earth starts to cool, water vapors begin to condense and gather into seas, vegetation begins, and finally the condensation is so thorough the sun-moon-stars are visible from the surface of the earth. The point I am making has to do with the fact that, at some time prior to the sun-moon-stars becoming visible from the surface of the earth, the earth’s waters were in a gaseous form, hovering above the land surfaces. We know that these water vapors, if they were suspended above the surface of the Earth in gaseous form would be impenetrable by sunlight since we can see that, after they condensed and became the sea, we need only go below the surface of the sea a few thousand feet before we encounter absolute darkness.” The now-discontinued Disney pre-show film of the Living Seas (replicating the order described by physicists) shows this exact order—with vegetation beginning to grow PRIOR TO the emergence of the visibility of sun, moon, and stars. For further reading on creation issues, I refer you to my book Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World.
Creation issues are extremely important for Christian Realists. If even the Ten Commandments assert that God created, and with all of the theology in both testaments predicated on the Genesis account of Creation and Adam and Eve, how could any Christian dismiss these issues as unimportant? Along with issues of the end of time in Revelation and the New Testament mini-apocalypses, and with questions about the reliability of the Gospel accounts, Creation issues are the front lines of the war. With regard to creation issues (and to the other issues), the Bible is true until proven false.

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