Seven Days That Divide the World

The Beginning According to Genesis and Science

John C. Lennox, Zondervan, 2011

Introduction

p11 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

p11 "The biblical announcement of the fact of creation was as timelessly clear as it was magnificently appropriate."

p11 "However .. when it comes to the timing and means of creation controversy about this matter is at an all-time high"

p13 "The topic is clearly a potential minefield."

p13ff Outlines book content.

1. But does it move? A lesson from history.

Telling of the Galileo story from history

p16 Scriptures for fixed Earth

p17 Scriptures for movable Sun

p17 Luther's negative reaction.

p18 Calvin's negative reaction.

2. But does it move? A lesson about scripture.

p22 Affirms the priority of a natural understanding of scripture

p23 Defends the use of metaphor in the communication of truth.

p24 Deeper meaning of Jesus' rising and ascension, even though our perspective of going up from the Earth would be very different from those who saw it. Use of "literal" as "reading as intended"

p28 Takes on Gould and NOMA

p29 Calvin's quote in which he encouraged investigation, Ps 111:2 on Cavendish Laboratory by Newton.

p30 More on Calvin

p30 Augustine's "phenomenological language"

p31 Augustine's Reserve

p32 "In connection with the motion of the Earth, we accept Augustine's advice because we can now see that, although the Bible texts could be understood to support a fixed Earth, there is a reasonable alternative interpretation of those texts that makes far more sense in light of our greater understanding of how the solar system operates."

p35 "The Galileo incident teaches us that we should be humble enough to distinguish between what the Bible says and our interpretation of it."

p35 He points out that Galileo was not only up against the church but also the long-standing discipleship to Aristotle, who supported the fixed Earth.

3. But is it old? The days of creation.

p40 "Creationist" now usually is taken to be YEC

p40 Luther and Calvin were definitely YEC

p40 Even in ancient times, not all were YEC - examples Philo, Justyn Martyr, Clement

p42 Augustine, Irenaeus, Origen

p44 Main views of Genesis days

  • The 24-hour view: The days are seven 24-hour days, of one earth week, about six thousand years ago.
  • The day-age view: The days are in chronological order, each representing a period of time of unspecified length.
  • The framework view: The days exhibit a logical, rather than a chronological order.

p46 The days of forming and filling

DAY
FORMING
FILLING
DAY
1
Light
Luminaries
4
2
Sky/Seas
Sea creatures/Winged creatures
5
3
Seas/dry land/vegetation
Land animals/humans
6

p46 Discusses fact that parallelism is not exact, but a remarkable part of the narrative.

p46 Mentions "cosmic temple view" that he discusses in more detail in Appendix B.

p48-49 General understanding of Genesis narrative, common to most. Mentions "bara" creation as referring only to God's creation.

p49 Discussion of "yom" and other issues of interpreting the words.

p52 In section "The Nature of the Creation Week", he separates the initial creation act of Gen 1:1-2 from the six days that follow it.

p53 He concludes from this that "quite apart from any scientific considerations, the text of Gen 1:1, in separating the beginning from day 1, leaves the age of the universe indeterminate."

p55 Discusses days of divine fiat, and on p56 mentions Alan Hayward, whom Ben Smith uses as a part of his proclamation days approach. A quote from Hayward.

p58 C John Collins and the "analogical days view".

p58 "No major doctrine of scripture is affected by whether one believes the days are analogical days . ." There are lots of folks that would disagree with that - particularly AIG and CMI.

p58 The problematic fourth day - which YECs interpret to mean that the Sun was made on the fourth day.

p59 "sun, moon and stars appeared as distinguishable lights in the sky when the cloud cover that had concealed them dissipated." Refers to Hugh Ross in The Genesis Question.

p59 Also good discussion of C John Collins approach to the tenses of the words, implying past tense for the "made" at the time of the appointing of roles.

p60 Common objection that all this seems "contrived to make scripture subservient to science since no one would have arrived at these sophisticated interpretations in the ancient world."

p62 Quotes Nelson and Reynolds from pg 73 of "Three Views of Creation and Evolution." where they, from a young-earth perspective, concede the reasonableness of old-earth evidence.

p62 "The major thrust of my argument so far, then, is that there is a way of understanding Genesis 1 that does not compromise the authority and primacy of Scripture and that, at the same time, takes into account our increased knowledge of the universe, as Scripture itself suggests we should (Rom. 1:19-20)."

4. Human beings: a special creation?

p67 Interesting initial discussion using Gen 1:27 and then Matt 19:4-6 to emphasize God's sanctification of marriage. Contrasts this with a quote of Peter Singer, who dismisses any special value for humans, and John Gray who calls it "Christianity's cardinal error ..". General introduction of evolution's role in this popular devaluing of humans

p70 Lays out his view of special creation in some detail. This view is of course diametrically opposed to that of Singer and Gray.

"We have already noted that the yawning gulf between inorganic and organic matter is underlined in Genesis by the fact that on day 3 God spoke twice. This feature also characterizes day 6, when God also speaks more than once: the first time to say "Let the earth bring forth living creatures .. " and the second, "Let us make man .."

"This, surely deliberate, repetition is a clear indicator that, according to Genesis, you cross neither the gulf between nonlife and life nor the gulf between animals and human beings by unguided natural processes. God has to speak his creative Word in both instances."

p71 Begins several pages of a strong argument against the position of biologist Denis Alexander who sees Adam and Eve as two among a large number of neolithic farmers. This is particularly in a book "Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?" In the process Lennox places himself in opposition to the evolutionary development of man.

p74 His testament of faith in the special creation of man. "For the Christian, another consideration bears on this question of the uniqueness of human beings. The central claim of Christianity is, 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us' (John 1:4). God coded himself into humanity. He became a man. There is no question as to this being the central supernatural event in history - a direct action of God of unfathomable significance."

"In light of the miracle of the incarnation, I find no difficulty in believing that the human race itself began - indeed had to begin - with a supernatural intervention."

p74 Discusses Ussher's chronology with doubts about the reliability of genealogical dating.

p75 Takes on "Death before Adam's sin" Quotes Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through only one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned .."

"This is clearly a serious issue with profound implications for the doctrine of salvation, since, as has often been pointed out, if Paul is wrong in his diagnosis of the origin of sin and death, how can we expect him to be right regarding its solution?"

p75-78 Brief development of ideas of man as a moral being, with a relationship with God.

p78 Returns to Romans 5:12 to consider more detail:

  • Death passed upon human beings, does not say death passed upon all living things.
  • Humans are moral beings, other life not.

p79 Romans 8:20-21 discussion. Death for plants, corruption of plants.

p81 1 Timothy 6:16 "[God] alone has immortality" discusses whether Adam had intrinsic immortality, or life was sustained by tree of life. Whoa! These discussions are way beyond me.

p82 Continues discussion of animal death. Discussion of the nature of satan. Argues against mythological view. Whew!

p83 Brings up problem of pain and on 84 quotes C. S. Lewis from "The Problem of Pain" on the role of satan.

p85 These last few pages have blown me away - I just don't know what to think about these ideas. But I do think I understand what's at stake, and he makes a good statement of it on p85.

"The question of the origin of humans - are we made in the image of God, or thrown up on the sea of the possible random permutations of matter without any ultimate significance? - if of major importance for our concept of our human identity; and it is therefore not surprising that ferocious efforts are being made to minimize the difference between humans and animals on the one hand, and the difference between humans and machines on the other. Such efforts are driven, at least in part, by the secular conviction that naturalism must in the end triumph over theism by its reductionist arguments in removing the last vestige of God from his creation. Human beings must in the end be proved to be nothing but physics and chemistry." --pretty scary.

p86 Makes strong assertion that the Darwinian model is not the only alternative to young-earth creationism and refers to God's Undertaker and also to his Appendix E.

p86 Looking for a way forward, he suggests 4 considerations"

  1. The current scientific evidence for an ancient earth.
  2. Honest admission of scientific evidence and common cause against naturalism. Nelson and Reynolds from pg 73 of "Three Views of Creation and Evolution."
  3. Scripture does not require a young earth interpretation
  4. We don't know everything. Humility is appropriate for both scientists and Christians

p87 Asserts that he doesn't wish to imply that the only reason for looking at Genesis is to establish its relationship to science, hence Ch 5.

5. The message of Genesis 1

p91 "Genesis is foundational for the rest of the Bible" because it "lays down the basis of a biblical worldview."

Outline of sections:

  • God exists
  • God is the eternal Creator
  • God is distinct from his creation
  • God is personal
  • God is a fellowship
  • God has a goal in creation
  • God creates by his word
  • God is the source of light
  • God exists
    p92 Biblical worldview begins with God, atheist worldview begins with the universe.
  • God is the eternal Creator
  • God is distinct from his creation
  • God is personal
  • God is a fellowship
  • God has a goal in creation
  • God creates by his word
  • God is the source of light

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Appendix A: A brief backgroud to Genesis

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Appendix B: The Cosmic Temple View

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Appendix C: The beginning according to Genesis and science

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Appendix D: Two accounts of creation?

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Appendix E: Theistic evolution and the God of the gaps

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Windows of Creation
Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
Reasonable faith
  Reasonable Faith Go Back