The Surrogate Mother Hypothesis NEW!
Old Earth Evidence I: Annual layers, by Don Stoner
Old Earth Evidence II: Starlight, by Don Stoner
Appearance of Age?, by Stephen Schroeder
Death Before the Fall, by Don Stoner
God's Word or Science?, by Don Stoner
Should Truth be Second Priority? by Don Stoner
Is Light Slowing Down? by Don Stoner
Integrity, by Chuck Smith Jr.
Good Enough for Paul the Apostle, by Don Stoner
Joshua's Long Day and the NASA Computers, by Robert Newman
Old-Earth Creationist Organizations:
Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, P.O. Box 423, Hatfield, PA 19440-0423.
Reasons to Believe, P.O. Box 5978, Pasadena, CA 91117, (818) 335-1480.
Christianity and Science Resource Center
Newman, Robert, Herman J. Eckelmann Jr., Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, Hatfield Pennsylvania, C. 1977.
Numbers, Ronald L., The Creationists, The Evolution of Scientific Creationism, University of California Press, Berkeley, C. 1992
Ross, Hugh, Creation and Time, Navpress, PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80935, C. 1994.
Stoner, Don W., A New Look at an Old Earth, Harvest House Publishers, C. 1997.
Van Till, Howard J., Davis A. Young and Clarence Menninga, Science Held Hostage, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove Illinois 60515, C. 1988.
Wonderly, Daniel, God's Time-Records in Ancient Sediments, Crystal Press, Flint Michigan, C. 1977, (available through Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Inst.)
Youngblood, Ronald, The Genesis Debate, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan, C. 1986.
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God created his universe with many built in ways of knowing its age. There are many natural processes which keep an actual count of passing years. The first of these we learn about, often as children, is that we can tell how old a tree is by counting its annual rings.
It is easy to understand why this works. When a tree grows, it adds wood to its outside layer just under the bark. Trees do most of their growing in the spring and summer and sit dormantly through the winter. This means that wood is added to the outside of the tree in spurts once a year. These annual growth spurts are visible as rings in the grain of the wood. By examining these rings, we can see many things such as which years had what sort of weather and during which years fires occurred.
Some trees live for very long periods of time; Bristlecone pine trees, which grow in the White Mountains of California, live for many thousands of years. One lived over 5000 years before it was, unfortunately, cut down in 1964. Now 5000 years is not the age of the earth; it is merely the age of one tree in California. Obviously, the soil and rocks which were under that tree are even older.
Like trees, sediments which accumulate in the bottoms of lakes also keep a yearly record of time. Different seasons create different types of sediments. In spring and summer, they are rich in calcium carbonate (limestone) which dissolves in the water from melting winter snow. The rest of the year, sediments are rich in organic material. This creates visible annual layers which stack up year after year.
The Green River Formation, of Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, is made of sediments from a huge fresh water lake which once occupied that location. It contains more than four million annual layers. This means that the lake existed for millions of years before it disappeared. This is still not the age of the earth; it is only the length of time one particular lake existed. Once again, the rocks which lie under these layers, including all of the dinosaur fossils and all of the layers in the Grand Canyon, must be older yet.
There are many other examples we could examine. God has left a great deal of detailed and consistent evidence for the age of His creation. Scientists who study this evidence don't just think God's creation is old, they know it is old.
Adapted from: A New Look at an
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God's word is the truth; and As God's Word explains, His creation also
speaks the truth:
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." Psalms 19:1, 2.It would seem that God's universe requires a literal reading just like His Bible does. Still, many Christians fail to accept the literal reading of God's heavens. God's invisible qualifies, such as His unfathomable timelessness, are written all over His heavens. The Bible even tells us to expect the heavens to reflect God's eternal nature:
"God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made." Romans 1:20, Emphasis mine.The universe is very old - about ten or twenty billion years old. When atheistic scientists read the heavens, they see this agelessness even when they fail to see something as obvious as the creation's need for a creator. It would seem that, of all people, it should be the Christians who would be able to see this shadow of God's eternal nature proclaimed in His heavens.
It is usually accepted that the heavens are extremely large. We all have some concept of how large the Earth must be; but it is difficult to fathom the 238,854 mile distance to the Moon. Still, relatively speaking, the moon is very close to us; the Sun is a staggering 92,900,000 miles away from us. This is just as well; every second it unleashes trillions of times as much energy as the Hiroshima bomb. Even at our tremendous distance, a person can still get "burned by the Sun."
The Sun is very far from us; but the Sun, Moon, Earth and all the other planets sit together in a little group all alone by themselves in a giant sea of empty space. The stars are not even close to them. In fact, the entire distance between the Earth and the Sun would completely disappear if it were viewed from even the closest star. And the closest star would scarcely appear distinct from the Sun if it were viewed from even the closest of galaxies. (A galaxy is a cluster of millions or even billions of stars). And individual galaxies are virtually lost in the sea of the universe's superclusters. (Superclusters are large clusters made up of smaller clusters - which, in turn, each contain hundreds or thousands of individual galaxies.) But the universe is even larger than a supercluster!
As will be shown, the mere fact that such distant stars can be seen proves that they were there a very long time ago. Light travels very rapidly - 186,282 miles in a single second; but even at that speed, light has to have been traveling for more than two million years to reach us from even our closest neighboring spiral galaxy which is located in the constellation Andromeda and identified simply as "M31." M31 is that far away from us!
If M31 were younger than two million years, light from it would not have had time to reach us; this means we would not even know there was an M31 galaxy. The light would still be in space rushing toward us. But the light has already arrived here from M31 and we do see it. So how old is M31? Anyone who suggests that it is less than two million years old is disregarding the evidence. The only literal reading of God's universe is that we see M31 because light has traveled from it to us, and that takes time.
M31 is far away; but compared to other things in God's universe, it is relatively close. Light from objects, which are greatly more distant, shows that the universe is older still; light takes more than 300 million years to reach us from the Coma-Al367 supercluster and many billions of years to reach us from the most distant quasars.
In spite of this evidence, there are still creationists who teach that God created the universe about ten thousand years ago. Some propose that light must have been created in transit between the distant stars and us. Supposedly, the light we see in the night sky was created to give the false appearance of those stars but did not actually ever come from them. Those stars themselves do not really even need to be there at all. Indeed, according to this explanation, it is believed that exploding stars, such as the supernova observed on February 23, 1987, never existed! This particular supernova was 160,000 light-years away from us; even the light from the flash which testified of the star's final death would have been created in transit. Any light which this star's debris emitted during the last ten thousand years will remain in transit for the next 150,000 years.
This false representation is not the sort of thing we should suspect God of doing. It's too much like telling a lie; and God doesn't lie (Num. 23:19, Heb. 6:17,18, Titus 1:2). It simply cannot be allowed that God would bear this kind of false witness. If we had never really seen the depths of the heavens but only a contrived image of them, God would not be telling us that they declare His glory (Psalm 19:1). It is certain that "liar" is not one of God's invisible attributes. It is therefore certain that nowhere can "liar" be seen or understood from the things which have been made in the way that Paul assures us that God's invisible attributes can be (Romans 1:20).
A non-literal meaning should never be forced on the heavens if the literal reading is consistent with all of the evidence. This is especially true if the non-literal interpretation carries the consequence that God bears a false witness in His creation. The same rules which help us interpret God's Bible must apply to His creation as well.
Adapted from: A New Look at an
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Since the Bible seems to imply the earth is six thousand years old, why couldn't God have made everything look like it was here all the Time? When He spoke it into existence it would have appeared to have age. He had to start somewhere. Couldn't Adam have been created as a fully formed young man of say twenty or thirty years old? Why limit God?
Only a couple of years ago these questions were my own. It is a little ironic to me that I am answering them now in our mail. I am very grateful to Don Stoner for his patience and effort to provide me with the information I was missing.
You might be thinking like I did, that if the earth is as old as the scientists say it is, it strongly supports evolution and atheism. Don't worry. It doesn't.
There are a number of provable arguments that dispense with Darwinian evolution. Contact us for more information. We also hope to include an article in this news letter on the subject soon.
My reasoning for the appearance of age, before I met Don, went something like this. According to Bishop Usher the world was created in the year 4004 BC. He arrived at this by adding up the ages in the Biblical genealogies. I resolved the resulting conflict between his dates and the scientific evidence I had by arguing that God very reasonably included rings in the trees in the Garden of Eden and gave Adam and Eve belly buttons because God spoke everything into existence in operating condition, something like turning on the TV.
This argument was sufficient for me. It even explained to my satisfaction the problems of stellar distances.
Confident of God's power to create the universe in a moment if He pleased, I could face any opposition. Right? Wrong! What should be done when one is faced with truth (new evidence) that does not fit with one's present understanding of truth? Pr. 18:13, 17.
When I attended Don Stoner's science classes at my church I was forced to examine evidence of several human-like animals that predated Adam by considerably more than five days. My first move was to attempt to explain them as unusual or diseased humans. That didn't work because it was quickly demonstrated that these finds, hundreds of them, were scattered across Europe and Asia! They were not just a few isolated freaks. Next I decided to admit the fact that they existed and argue that they did not predate Adam. I cited the "well known problems" with dating these finds. Horror of horrors, this defense did not hold up for long either. Don was able to explain in great detail and to my satisfaction how carbon-14 and potassium-argon dating work, including some of their strengths and weaknesses. He demonstrated specific errors and explained their significance. Having been shown, I knew where the problems occurred and guess what? I also knew when these dating methods worked.
At that point I had a serious problem. I spent the next six months considering my dilemma, occasionally asking questions and reading. After absorbing it all, it was still easy for me to believe that God had the power to create the universe in an instant if he wanted to and it could have appeared to have existed for some time. The problem was that it was impossible to for me to believe He would confuse me by planting evidence of complex life that never really existed. I was going to have to accept the evidence as indicative of the way God did it or adjust my concept of God to that of a god who was deliberately deceiving me. I knew God to be a God of Truth. It must be a real record of how He did it!
The potency of the Gospel is its Truth. If we embrace error we destroy its effectiveness. If you would like to find out if these things are so, please contact us to get direction to specific information.
Send E-mail to Stephen Schroeder
Dear Dr. Morris,
During the year preceeding publication of "The Wolf and the Lamb" (1994), I had repeatedly challenged the I.C.R., and Henry Morris in particular, to produce even one valid argument which proves the earth must be young. Although they always declined my challenge, the September 1994 issue of Acts & Facts, publicly named me among its opposition. This needs to be resolved. In that article, "The Wolf and the Lamb," the young-earth interpretation of Genesis 1 was supported with the argument that animal death cannot have preceded Adam's sin. The argument contains serious errors which this article will explain.
Although the reasons why I disagree with the I.C.R.'s arguments are found on pages 47-50 of my book, A New Look at an Old Earth, and although their article quoted from this same section, they chose not to make their readers aware of the relevant Scriptural arguments. In fact, what they did say was, "Thus, progressive creationists see no theological or Biblical problems with having animal death prior to human sin ..." Although true, this is only part of the truth; it left their readers with the false impression that we old-earth creationists merely fail to see their Scriptural argument when in fact we have studied it closely and have found errors in it.
I present my argument here for all young-earth creationists to critically evaluate. If readers can find fault with it, I request that they identify the specific errors, so those errors can be corrected. If they find none, then a commitment to truth demands acknowledgement of this. I will start with a brief description of the problem which the scientific evidence presents; then I will present the Scriptural answer.
The Scientific Problem
Although old-earth creationists, like myself, do not accept naturalistic evolutionary explanations for God's miraculous creations, we do accept the scientific dating evidence. According to this evidence, the dinosaurs became extinct more than sixty million years before man was created. This means they must have died before Adam's fall. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence that many creatures, from before the time of men, ate other animals. (For example, the fossilized skeletal remains exist of a large fish, from long before man appeared, which had swallowed whole a smaller fish of a different species.) The evidence says there was animal death before Adam.
The Scriptural Answer
Although this evidence disagrees with the I.C.R.'s particular interpretation
of God's creation before the fall, it is not in disagreement with Scripture
itself. Scripture gives no reason why animals couldn't have died before Adam's
sin. Adam was told that he would die as a result of his own sin (Genesis 2:17);
Paul points out that men who lived between Adam and Moses also died as a result
of Adam's sin (Romans 5:12-14); but nowhere does the Bible say that animals lost
immortality as a consequence of human sin. (Nor does the Bible say that animals
ever possessed immortality.) This can be seen by carefully examining the
Scriptures cited in defense of the I.C.R.'s position:
"... just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men , because all sinned." - Romans 5:12, Emphasis mine.This tells us that human death entered through Adam's sin but says nothing specifically about animal or plant death. This verse does not say all death entered the world through sin any more than Genesis says Eve gave birth to animals as well as men: "Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living ." - Genesis 3:20, Emphasis mine.
Clearly "all the living" refers only to humans. Insisting on the very most literal reading of Scripture often violates simple common sense. Although Paul tells us "death" came through Adam's sin, it is unreasonable to insist that he meant "all death" by this. In fact, he specifically restricted the extent to "all men." Although the I.C.R. holds that animals were immortal before Adam sinned, they must at least believe that, until then, carnivores ate plants in the same manner that, "the lion will eat straw like the ox," during the millennium (Isaiah 11:7). Even so, there must have been some form of death before Adam's fall. At the very least, some parts of plants must have "died" to feed those animals. It is therefore plain that at least some form of plant death was in the world before Adam sinned. It follows that when Paul said that death entered through sin, he could not possibly have meant all death. God's original creation was indeed "very good" (Genesis 1:31); but apparently this phrase was not intended to exclude death and decay (digestion, for example).
An even stronger case can be made from the one man who lived and died after Adam, yet was not under the curse of sin and death at all; Jesus was that exception. He could be a sacrifice for our sins because He was not guilty of sin; neither was He under its curse (Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5). Even the men who lived between Adam and Moses - those who had broken no law since Moses had not yet given the law - were under the curse of sin and owed the same price which Adam had to pay (Romans 5:14). Only a man who had no sin, original or personal, could escape. Although "all men" inherited Adam's original fallen nature, Jesus escaped this curse because He had no human father, although He did have a human mother. Adam's sin nature, with its inevitable consequence, was not passed on to Jesus, as it was to everyone else, because He was not entirely connected to Adam's lineage.
This means there is no possible way that animals could have inherited Adam's sin nature; they are not connected to Adam's bloodline in any way whatsoever. Therefore, they cannot be included with us in our fallen state. This may be why they could be used for the Old Testament sacrifices: they were innocent. If present-day animals are not under the curse of Adam's sin, but they still die physically, it follows that animal mortality is not a result of Adam's sin. Animals would be dying today whether or not Adam had actually sinned. Ancient animals, which preceded Adam's fall, would also have died. This difference between Adam and the animals - that he might not have died while they would have in any case - was probably a result of Adam having been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) while the animals were not.
"The Wolf and the Lamb," also cited Romans 8:19-22 as evidence that Adam's sin brought animal death. We agree "the whole creation" groans and is subject to the bondage of corruption; but what does the phrase "The whole creation" mean? We again encounter the same problem as we did with Genesis 3:20. (Quoted above.) We know that angels are created beings, but it is clear that they are exceptions here as they are not under the bondage of corruption. Therefore, we know that the phrase "the whole creation" must not include angels - even though they are created beings. Because there could be other exceptions, the I.C.R. is unjustified in insisting that animals must be included here.
I should also comment on the article's mention of Genesis 3:17 which says God cursed the ground for Adam's sake. Whether or not animals were involved in the curse of the "ground," it is certain from context that plants were. In spite of this, we know plants died before that curse; it did not even initiate plant death. This verse gives us even less reason to suspect that animal death might have been initiated at that time.
In conclusion, this argument which has been selected to represent the I.C.R.'s position, like any young-earth argument, fails when closely examined. Although the old-earth creationist's position carries the consequence that animal death must have preceded Adam's sin, this argument does not eliminate the old-earth position as a possibility. There is no valid Biblical reason why animals could not have died before Adam's fall; nor is there any valid Biblical reason why the earth could not be old. I repeat my challenge that there are no valid young-earth arguments - not even one. God's creation really is old.
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It is a common misconception that those who believe in a young earth, conform their beliefs to God's Word, the Bible, while those who believe in an old earth do not. Old earth creationists, it is presumed, rely instead on the evidence contained in God's creation. As will be seen, the truth appears to be quite different from this.
It can easily be seen that many young-earth creationists are willing to ignore evidence from God's creation when it contradicts their claims about the earth's age. When a young-earth creationist claims that 70% of the scientific evidence points to a young earth and 30% to an old earth, he is not disturbed by the remaining 30% because he considers scientific evidence from God's creation to be less than authoritative; this is why he is willing to ignore that 30%.
What is not usually realized it that young-earth creationists also appear to be willing to ignore evidence from God's written Word when it contradicts their claims about the age of the earth! This can be seen if we apply the Apostle Paul's advice in First Thessalonians 5:21, 22 and carefully examine those claims:
1) The Use of a Number With the Word Day.
Young-earth creationists claim to have many reasons why the "days" in
Genesis 1 must be 24-hour periods. For example, they claim that the use of a
number with the word "day" forces the twenty-four-hour interpretation. But God's
Word shows us that this claim is simply false; the use of a number appended to
the word "day" can refer to a greater-than-twenty-four-hour period. In Zechariah
14:7, the number "one" used with the word "day" refers to a daylight period of
"But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night; but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light." - KJV. Emphasis ours, italics theirs.This is a description of the new Jerusalem in which there will be no night. It is difficult to misunderstand this verse because the same prophetic event is described in detail in Revelation 22:5. Notice that in this verse, the one single "day" (period of daylight) is understood to last for a very long (indefinite) period of time. Here the phrase "one day" and back in Genesis 1:5 the phrase "the first day" are both translated from the exact same Hebrew phrase "yom echad," literally "day one." Obviously the use of a number with the Hebrew word for "day" does not prove that the day in question was twenty-four hours in length.
A person whose beliefs are constrained by the Word of God cannot claim that the use of a number with the word "day" must force that day to be twenty-four-hours long. Please notice that there are several other words used in this verse ("night," "evening," and "light") which similarly cannot be claimed, by their context, to shorten the intended length of that day.
2) The Use of Evening and Morning Together
Young-earth creationists also claim that the use of the Hebrew expression "evening and morning" forces the twenty-four-hour meaning. When we examine Scripture, we see that this argument is also false. "Evening" and "morning" occur together as a phrase many places in the Bible. The first few examples, outside of the creation account, are Exodus 18:13, 14; 27:21; and Leviticus 24:3. In these places, context shows the expression means "continuously, day after day."
If we say in English that a convenience store is open "twenty-four hours" or "day and night," we do not mean that it will close after a single 24-hour day has passed; what we mean is that it is open "continuously, day after day." The same is true where evening and morning occur together in God's Word. In Exodus 18:13, Moses is wearing himself out because he judges the people "morning till evening." When we read this passage, we understand that this means he is doing it day after day. In Exodus 27:21, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord "evening till morning;" again we understand this to mean continually. Leviticus 24:3 and many other verses show us the same thing.
Rather than limiting a time period to one which ceases after twenty-four hours, God's Word shows us that "evening and morning" can imply a period which goes on indefinitely. A person who constrains his beliefs with God's Word will not use this argument either. In fact, this argument is so far off base that we begin to wonder how young-earth creationists ever selected it in the first place; it certainly wasn't from actually examining the usage of the words "evening" and "morning" in the Scriptures.
3) Our Work Week and God's in Exodus 20
As a third example, young-earth creationists often claim that the
"days" in Genesis must have been 24-hour periods because of the passage in
Exodus 20:9-11 where our work week is explained. In Exodus, God gives the reason
for our six days of work to one day of rest schedule:
"Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, ... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day."Because our days are twenty-four-hour days and because they are modeled after God's, it is assumed that God's days must have been twenty-four-hour ones also. But, this is not all the Bible has to say about the subject; the other information must also be taken into account.
God's Word warns us that many things in the Bible are merely shadows of
greater heavenly truths - in fact, it specifically warns us that Sabbath
days are such shadows. We see this in Colossians 2:16, 17 and Hebrews 8:5:
"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." - Colossians 2:16,17.It is never very safe to make absolute conclusions about the true length of an object by merely looking at its shadow. We can see from other Scripture that this warning applies to work weeks. Leviticus 25:3, 4 tells us:
"They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven." - Hebrews 8:5.
"For six years sow your fields, ... But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, ..."It is clear that the Sabbath rest for our fields is also a shadow of God's work week; but it does not follow that God's "days" were 365 days long. Likewise it does not really follow from our work week that God's "days" were twenty-four hours long.
God's work week has cast shadows of two different lengths, six days and six years. Clearly nothing absolute can be determined about the length of God's week from the length of our week or from that of our fields. We must remember that God's week is not a shadow of ours but that ours is a shadow of His.
A person who allows his beliefs to be constrained by the evidence which God's Word supplies cannot honestly suggest any of the preceding arguments. Only those who are ignorant of the evidence are able to use them.
Young-earth creationists are often unwilling to allow their beliefs to be constrained by the scientific evidence which God's creation supplies. This, they assert, is because God's Word carries more authority. But it would seem from the three preceding examples that they haven't really allowed their beliefs to be constrained by the evidence which God's Word supplies either.
If the young-earth creationists have not constructed their beliefs from the evidence which God's creation supplies; and since they don't appear to have derived their arguments from a careful study of God's written Word either, the question arises, "Where did they get their arguments?" A very surprising answer to this question can be found in The Creationists, the Evolution of Scientific Creationism, By Ronald Numbers, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, C. 1992, or in A New Look at an Old Earth, By Don Stoner, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR 97402, C. 1997.
To be valid, a position must be constrained by both God's Word and by His creation. Genesis must be read in it's full context, including the real meanings of the original Hebrew words and the physical context which God's creation supplies. As a careful study will reveal, the actual evidence is not split 70% / 30% between the two positions; it is 100% in support of an old earth. There is not a single valid argument to the contrary. When everything is considered, the only possible conclusion is the earth is very old.
We repeat our challenge that there are no valid young-earth arguments; whether Scriptural or scientific, young earth arguments always contain errors. We challenge anyone who disagrees to present even a single valid argument which proves the earth must be young or that the "days" in Genesis must be twenty-four hours in length. We still have not seen any such argument.
Alternately, if no young-earth organization or individual can produce even a single valid Scriptural argument which is properly constrained by the evidence supplied in God's Word, then we request that they, at the very least, stop charging old-earth creationists with disregarding God's Word. If there is fault to be found here, it lies with the young-earth creationist, not the old-earth creationist.
Adapted from: A New Look at an
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Because our newsletter endorses an old-earth understanding of Genesis, many of our readers have expressed concern that we have been guilty of compromise. This concern has been frequently raised, so we will examine it here in some detail.
Avoiding compromise is certainly a worthy goal; but our primary goal needs to be seeking God's truth itself. Surprisingly, these two goals occasionally appear to be at odds with each other. Although the pure truth leaves no room for compromise, it can still be perceived as a compromise by someone whose position is in error - even slightly.
An example may explain this better: We believe that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Our friend Joe, who is slightly in error, believes water freezes at 31 degrees. Another friend, Moe, believes water's freezing point is 50 degrees. Joe's error is not as large as Moe's, but both are still errors. The problem occurs when Joe examines our position: He perceives us as having compromised with Moe. Joe believes that to avoid compromise we should conform our belief to his. But the goal of sticking to the truth (without compromising it) tells us we shouldn't.
Obviously, avoiding compromise cannot be used as a guide. It can lead us away from the truth as easily as toward it. We will not have this problem if we seek the truth directly.
Another concern expressed is the need to maintain unity in the body of Christ; but unity does not provide a reliable guide either. Unity can lead everyone to the same error as easily as to the truth. In our example, conforming to Joe's belief might increase unity; but the cost is too high. John 4:24 tells us that, "God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." If unity or any other goal leads us away from the truth, it also leads us away from the true worship of God.
For these reasons, we encourage readers to concentrate on whether or not a teaching is the truth. Our reasoning and arguments ought to be directed at making this distinction; we should not waste undue effort in pursuing less productive goals. This is why our newsletter is concerned with sorting "truth" from "error" rather than "compromise" from "non-compromise" or any other secondary issue. If we seek the truth first, and do not worry about any false appearance of compromise, then we will nevertheless avoid compromise where it really counts.
Perhaps this idea was better presented by an imaginary devil named
Screwtape in C.S. Lewis's book, The Screwtape Letters. These letters contain
advice to a lower-ranking devil named Wormwood who has been assigned to lead one
particular human astray:
"It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; ... But what with the daily press, radio, television and other such weapons we have largely altered that. ... He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily 'true' or 'false,' but as 'academic' or practical,' 'outworn' or 'contemporary,' 'conventional' or 'ruthless.' ... Don't waste time trying to make him think materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous - that it is the philosophy of the future." - Letter I.Whether the old-earth understanding of Genesis is perceived as "academic," "practical," "outworn," or "compromising" is not our concern. We are convinced it is the "truth." We again assert that there are no valid young-earth arguments; and invite readers to challenge our position. We only request that arguments concentrate on trying to demonstrate that our position is "untrue." Let's put truth first and let the other issues take care of themselves.
"The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and makebelieve into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue." - Letter XIV.
Recently, the suggestion has been made that it is better to have a right attitude than to have the truth. To this we respond (borrowing from James 2:18), show me your right attitude, apart from your willingness to submit to God's truth, and we will show you our right attitude by our submission to God's truth.
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The March 1995 issue of Chuck Missler's newsletter, Personal Update, presented the theory that the speed of light might have been faster in years past. If true, this theory would explain several problems which prove difficult for young earthers such as how light from very distant stars is visible and why radioactive dating yields such old dates. Let's take a closer look at this theory.
The Historic Evidence
Missler's March 1994 article first attempted to support light slowdown using historic measurements. To lead off, Ole (or Olaus) Roemer's 1675-1676 determination of light speed was presented as 307,600 +/- 5400 km/sec. The article drew attention to the small uncertainty margin (less than 2%) implying that light must have been at least slightly faster in 1676 than at present.
Now in the present day of space flights and quartz digital watches, a 2% error doesn't flag our attention as being unrealistically precise; but back in 1676, it is remarkable that Roemer was anywhere close. To come this close to the presently accepted value of light speed, his actual time measurements would have needed to be more accurate than .001 percent. To appreciate this, we will set the stage a little.
To get his result, Roemer combined data from forty measurements of elapsed time between eclipses of Jupiter's moon Io at different times during the year. Unfortunately, most of Roemer's instruments and records were destroyed in 1728; but he probably had a state-of-the-art pendulum clock equipped with the new "minute hand" and the long "seconds pendulum" (both features just invented in 1670). We will also assume Roemer's telescope allowed him to determine the exact instant when the tiny moon Io passed into Jupiter's shadow. This is no small feat since Io looks like a dot and it takes more than 3 minutes from the moment it begins to enter the shadow till it has completely entered.
Given this setting, let's assume Roemer somehow determined that Io's
eclipses were 152943.00 seconds apart (about 1.770 days) at one time of the
year, and were 152913.38 seconds apart 6 months later. The difference between
these two measurements is only 29.62 seconds. This would give us 370,600 km/sec
for the speed of light (see calculation below). We are obviously assuming better
precision here than Roemer could possibly have attained in reality.
The Mathematics:Roemer could not possibly have been this precise; his measurements would have included realistic errors. If we assume the real times to be 152943.39 and 152913.00 seconds (allowing less than half a one-second pendulum swing of difference over a 1.77 day period - total error about 1 part in 200,000), then the result would be 299800 km/sec - the presently accepted speed of light.
Light speed=2pi * r * t/a * 2/d
2pi=6.2832 (2 times pi)
r=149600000 km (the distance between the sun and the earth)
t=1.770 days (the average time between Io's eclipses)
a=365.25 days (the length of a year)
d=29.62 sec (the difference between the two measurements)
(* means multiply)
6.2832 * 149600000 * 1.770/365.25 * 2/29.62 = 307600 kn/sec
Presently accepted light speed:Temperature variation would have presented another problem to Roemer. If temperature changed by just 2 degrees Fahrenheit between the two measurements, which had to be six months apart while the earth moved to the opposite side of the sun (different seasons), the length of an iron pendulum would change enough to cause a full second worth of error. Most other materials (e.g. brass, copper, zinc) would be even worse than iron. It is difficult to maintain this level of temperature stability.
6.2832 * 149600000 * 1.770/365.25 * 2/30.39 = 299800 kn/sec
Obviously the +/- 5400 error bands which were suggested in the March 1995 article reflect overzealous young earthism rather than a real analysis of the difficulties Roemer faced. Furthermore, the number which Missler presented as Roemer's (307600 km/sec) is not the one you will find in an encyclopedia or textbook. (It appears that Missler accidentally printed an average of many "Roemer-type" determinations.) Instead of being 2% faster than the presently accepted speed of light, Roemer's actual number appears to have been more than 20% slower. All things considered, what is amazing is that Roemer was able to come anywhere near the present value - not that he arrived at a slightly different result.
Similar inspection of other historic light-speed measurements reveals that they are all within acceptable range of the presently accepted value. The apparent change in light speed does not seem to result from any actual change, but from the reduction of measuring error with time.
Why the downward trend?
There is still the interesting question of why most of the historic measurements of light speed approach the correct value more or less from one side. If measuring error were truly random, measurements ought to be too slow about as often as they are too fast. The answer is that measuring error is not random. There is an old joke that a lost possession will always be found in the last place you look for it. The same effect influences scientific accuracy. If a scientist suspects his measurement is in error, he will hunt for problems until his measurement matches his expectations; then, having found the "correct' answer, he stops looking for more mistakes. If scientists once thought that light was slightly faster than it actually is, it is no surprise they might have overlooked a few mistakes which suited their expectations. Fortunately, scientific advances eventually brought better measurements - bringing results closer to the truth.
Tree Rings and Radiocarbon
Instead of trying to analyze tiny differences which are buried by normal experimental error, we need some obvious evidence which will either confirm or refute this theory. If the speed of light was really 10 million times faster prior to 3000 B.C., there ought. to be some pretty obvious evidence for it. No such evidence exists. In fact, the evidence tells us light's speed has been constant.
If the speed of light had greatly decreased, and if radioactive decay rates were directly linked to the speed of light, as Missler claimed, then radiocarbon dates for very old wood ought to appear extremely old. It is well known that trees almost always add one growth ring each year. This means the real age of a small sample of wood, taken from one ring of a living tree, can be accurately determined by counting rings between that ring and the bark. Because each ring will have a slightly different carbon-14 date, this means carbon-14 dates can actually be audited as far back as tree rings can be counted.
Some trees live for very long periods of time. Bristlecone pine trees, which grow in the White Mountains of California, live for many thousands of years. One lived over 5000 years before it was cut down in 1964. This tree was a young "sapling" back in 3000 B.C. It was living and adding rings back when carbon-14 decay rates are claimed to have been 10 million times faster. This means that God's creation contains a year-by-year record of exactly what has happened with carbon-14 in the past.
What has been found is that wood grown in 3000 B.C. carbon-14 dates a few hundred years too young. This error is within normal limits, considering the probable variations in atmospheric carbon-14 over the years; but it is nothing like what should have been the case if light had really been 10 million firms faster in 3000 B.C. It's not even in the right direction. This shows that the speed of light was not faster at that time; young-earth creatonists must look for another explanation for light from distant stars and for old radiation dates.
A Spiritual Application
God uses His creation in many ways to teach us about Himself. He often
teaches us spiritual truth through metaphors which, although they are mere
shadows of spiritual truth, have been chosen from nature with extreme care.
Their physical characteristics reflect the spiritual truths to which they relate
in great detail (or perhaps the physical characteristics were designed with the
spiritual truth's in mind). For example, God sometimes calls us "sheep." When we
study real sheep in detail, we learn more about ourselves than we even care to
know. In the words of a modem-day shepherd:
"It is no mere whim on God's part to call us sheep. Our behavior patterns and life habits are so much like that of sheep it is well nigh embarrassing." - A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, C. 1970, W. Phillip Keller, Zondervan, G.R., Mich., p. 74.Once we accept the fact that light's speed does not change, we are in a better position to appreciate God's use of "light" as a metaphor in scripture. Truth and righteousness do not change from century to century but are forever the same. It appears that Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), may have been speaking more graphically than many realize when He called Himself the "light' of the world (John 8:12).
For more information: A New Look
at an Old Earth
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This average (307,600) and its accompanying "formal uncertainty" (+/- 5400 - much smaller than the "real" or "total" uncertainty) is found in a paper titled The Atomic Constants, Light, and Time, by Trevor Norman and Barry Setterfield, Flinders University of South Australia, August, 1987, p. 11. This paper was prepared for Lambert T. Dolphin who was cited as a contributor to Missler's article.
"I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity." - 1 Chronicles 29:17I shifted in my seat, wishing there was a more visible Christian than myself in my biology class. Someone had asked our teacher to explain the origin of ethnic diversity. He deferred to evolution, "People adapting to different climates and conditions over time evolved distinctive, and perhaps protective, features. However, some religious people have a different explanation for the existence of black people. Perhaps Smith can explain that to us." Then, looking at me, he waited.
Mr. Haily wasn't baiting me, but providing an opportunity for a fair hearing of an alternative explanation for the existence of different races. As teachers go, he was pretty tolerant and good natured. I had looked forward to his class because he was also my track coach. I admired him, but hated the assumed tension between his scientific world view and my Christian faith. Not meaning any harm, he had given me a grim task. I was appointed spokesperson for an ignorant and crude notion based on a twisted interpretation of the Bible. This placed me in an uncomfortable position which required the admission that at times some pretty stupid believers have done violence to other people in the name of God.
"There are Christians," I began, "who teach that black skin was God's curse on a young man named Cain." Quickly adding a disclaimer I emphasized, "But those are Hillbilly morons. I don't know any Christian who believes that, and I don't believe it." What a miserable and embarrassing predicament for a high school student. There was no way--I knew of--to come out of this clean. I was on the spot to inform the class of a racist doctrine at a time when racism was highly unpopular. And this is only one of many similar classroom discussions.
When educated non-believers reflect on religion and science, they generally assume creationists are natural heirs of the Scopes trial and a host of irrational arguments that fail to refute the cold realities of the scientific evidence that favors evolution. Defending a creationist position requires a lot of explaining regarding what we don't believe as well as what we believe. But a greater dilemma concerns students with a Christian upbringing who are sent into classrooms ill-prepared for their exposure to naturalistic science--that is, the attempt to understand the universe and functions of objects within it as if no God existed. The problem for these students, is the caricature of science drawn for them in their religious training, leaves them helpless against the rigors of a rational and very convincing hard science . Where do they draw the line? Sometimes the only thing we remember from church is a well-meaning evangelist who one time said, "I believe in God, not science." Given this either/or choice, the prestige and rational appeal of science is often likely to win.
Growing up in Sunday School, our impressionable, young minds were filled with pictures of God creating the earth in six days--as we understood a day, i.e., a twenty-four time period. And why not? God can do anything. We were led to believe this was the clear teaching of Scripture, and that God wrapped up the whole project 6,000 years ago. I remember hearing that an usher (or a man named Ussher) had worked the mathematics of Old Testament genealogies, so that the dating was scientifically accurate. We were also warned about evolution and the ridiculous lies people embrace when they refuse to believe in God. "Don't let those science teachers make a monkey out of you!" we were warned. But the teachers and professors I encountered were not trying to make monkeys of us, and for the most part, they were neither evil nor stupid. They didn't persecute Christians or attack Scripture. But they did make a lot of sense.
Unfortunately, the implication of my early Christian education was that a fundamental tension existed between science--which was controlled by atheists trying to disprove God's existence--and us Christians who had the responsibility of defending the truth. Like many other Christian youth, I thought I had to choose between science and God. The problem, as I came to conceive it, was that science strove to make sense of the universe, whereas God demanded my absolute faith in a particular interpretation of Scripture even when it appeared to be unscientific. And if there was any conflict between our interpretation of Scripture and science, well, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Ro. 3:4).
My reaction to evolution was probably normal, given my upbringing. There was simply no way life could emerge from inorganic materials apart from outside intervention, no matter how long the primordial soup was cooking on the cosmic stove. Even to this day I have never encountered a compelling, scientific argument for biogenesis. On the other hand, the evidence for a much older--much, much older--universe as well as the presence of human existence, even human cultures, prior to ten thousand years ago, began to trouble me. Bear in mind, in high school my understanding of orthodox Christianity demanded faith in a young universe, and the only reason evolutionists taught a billions-of-years-old universe was to accommodate their evolutionary theories. Without scientific information to raise a real defense against an old earth, I retreated behind familiar Christian slogans that I read in popular articles. But I was still troubled, and the root of my concern had to do with integrity.
Who Says the Earth Is Young?
I've spoken with many Christians who believe the Bible teaches the universe was created within the last ten thousand years, and humans were created within six days of the moment God said, "Let there be light." Some believers are well informed on these issues--from only one point of view. In other words, Christian apologists are not always careful to accurately portray opposing views, so our education on the subject isn't as thorough as might be desired. Many Christians are simply unaware of the issues involved in the debate. On the extreme end of this position are the believers who say things like, "The devil put fossils in rocks to deceive biologists," or "Geology? My pastor explained all that away in a sermon one time. I don't remember what he said, but it was good. Anyone who believes in that stuff has to be crazy."
When I asked informed Christians about the discrepancy between the apparent age of the earth (including a time when dinosaurs existed) and the young-earth interpretation of Genesis, I was introduced to the Day-age and Gap Theories. I was reminded that in God's sight a thousand years was like a day (Ps. 90:4; 2 Pe. 3:8). However, even with these extended days (of a thousand years) we still fall far short of the tremendous age suggested by the evidence. I also found the gap theory problematic in that, first of all, no real clue is given that God intended for us to assume a gap between the first two verses of Genesis. Secondly, the proof-texts offered to support this theory are taken out of context and irrelevant to the first chapter of Genesis (i.e., Is. 45:18; Je. 4:23-25). Third, even with a gap allowing for an indefinite period of time for the universe to age, you still aren't able to accommodate the existence of human culture prior to 6,000 years ago.
Few evangelicals realize how parochial the belief in a young universe is when compared to the church across time and space. Insistence on a young earth has not been universally held by orthodox believers through the centuries. Even today, few European evangelicals have ever concerned themselves with disproving scientific evidence for a billions-of-years-old earth, because it doesn't conflict with their interpretation of Scripture. I was taught that people who believed in the literal interpretation of Scripture could understand the first chapter of Genesis in only one way, but some of my heroes--like Francis Schaeffer, who suggested that biblical genealogies are incomplete and inadequate for trying to determine a date for creation--were literalists, but accepted the evidence of science for an old universe. In fact, the many godly and intelligent people who find themselves at home with scientific evidence for an old earth, seem much more at peace with the whole issue than the ranting, uptight Christians who fume over this issue.
My religious upbringing was, in some ways, much different than the environment of our home. My dad has always had an avid interest in science--especially astronomy. But I sat under many Sunday School teachers who implied that any questioning of their interpretation of Genesis chapter one, was a lack of faith in the Bible and rebellion against God. Unfortunately, they had plenty of Bible commentators to corroborate. It was modernism (or liberalism), to accept scientific evidence for an old earth. So a host of Christian youth have fidgeted uncomfortably in their chairs as biology, physiology, and physics professors present the consensus of modern science as it applies to the age of our universe. When Christian children are put into the pressure cooker of the classroom, and the heat is turned up in such a way that the naive education they received in Sunday School seriously conflicts with what they are hearing from their teacher, faith in Scripture is often the loser. Science teachers seem, not only better informed, but more sophisticated than the well-meaning, but poorly trained volunteers in children's ministry.
Robert Wright, when describing his interview with socio-biologist Edward O. Wilson, said, "Like E. O. Wilson, I was brought up a Southern Baptist. Like him, I encountered the theory of evolution as a teenager. Like him, I was bowled over by its power and beauty. Like his religious faith, mine did not survive this encounter with science in good shape." This is a tragic situation. Why do teenagers in high school science classes feel they have to abandon their faith in favor of naturalistic science? It's because of the either/or stance of many religious educators who are convinced they have the one right way of interpreting the Bible, and who also discourage openness to discussion of how science might possibly conflict with their view. Christian youth must be encouraged to bring their questions and doubts out into the open so they can receive intelligent help from doctors and scientists within the Christian community. If they feel their church has placed a ban on all such inquiry, or has no answers for the tough questions, they will naturally be drawn to the people outside the church who seem to have the answers, and their church will appear outdated and naively superstitious. The issue at stake is not the particular view of Scripture we adopt or what we believe about science, but our integrity when we approach these matters. If a scientific discovery makes one of our interpretations of the Bible untenable, then integrity demands that we take an honest look at the situation and be open to a more accurate understanding of the facts.
The issue is not whether God could have created the universe 6,000 years ago in six, twenty-four hour days, but whether the Book of Genesis demands this type of interpretation and whether the evidence of our universe supports it. The question is, which interpretation of the evidence available to us today best explains the facts, and which interpretation of Scripture is most reasonable given the scientific data? If Christians believed the earth was the center of the universe until Galileo argued otherwise--though his arguments weren't widely accepted in his lifetime--, should we be willing to revise what we think the Bible says about our universe if more evidence comes to the surface? I have discovered something about what fundamentalist Christians like to call the plain truth of God's word. In the words of Chuck Kraft, "The Bible is inspired, but our interpretations are not." Sometimes we have great difficulty separating our human interpretation from God's eternal word, and so we identify the two as if they were one-in-the-same. If someone demands that we accept their interpretation of Scripture, then they become the final authority for our lives and usurp the place of Scripture.
Here is the challenge Christians need to face; if research, performed in the most excellent fashion and under the most favorable conditions, yields a view of the universe that conflicts with what we think the Bible says about our universe, how will we react? Will we immediately say, "The Bible is true, so whoever performed this research is either deceived or a deceiver?" Or will we say, "Well, we better re-examine the evidence and see if it bears out under close scrutiny and over time, and if so, re-examine our Bibles to see if our interpretation is correct?" What are we to make of a religion that suppresses scientific research and discovery because it may conflict with our understanding of Scripture? Too often, the arguments for a young earth sound less honest when dealing with the evidence than simply accepting the apparent age of the earth. But Christians should be the first to want to know more about our universe, because, when all is said and done, this is still "our Father's world."
How far should our revisions of biblical interpretation go? They should go until we are standing on the bedrock of what the Bible actually says and demands. It seems to me we should be able to stand up to the challenge posed by skeptic Carl Sagan. He said, "I hold that belief systems that cannot survive scrutiny are probably not worth having." Is it the insecurity some believers feel about their faith that makes them unwilling to see and acknowledge the evidence?
By no means should Christians immediately jump on every new discovery and theory. The scientific community is blessed with skeptics who know that it takes time to test and prove new theories. The term paradigm shift was coined by Thomas Kuhn to address the upheaval that goes on in science as one theory overturns a former theory. In fact, this is the real danger. We cannot afford to bind our faith to one view of science, so if that view is proven to be incorrect, our entire faith falls apart. One of the great weaknesses of theological liberalism--like that of Rudolph Bultmann--is that it rested on an older version of science and psychology. The most potent attacks on Bultmann's theology--which could have been better informed by the physics of the Twentieth Century--came from physicists like Werner Schaffs and psychologists like Carl Jung. In some areas of science and biblical interpretation, we have to stay light on our feet.
By no means should Christians capitulate any cardinal doctrine on the basis of someone's theory of science or history. We need to distinguish arguments which are philosophical--or even scientific speculation--from those which are based in hard science. When dealing with philosophy, we need to use the tools of philosophy. When dealing with science, we use the tools of science. If someone should claim that Christ could not have been virgin-born because it defies the laws of science, we need to investigate the real nature of their argument and deal with it accordingly. The beliefs of the Christian church that have stood the test of time and are contained in our creeds (i.e., Apostolic and Nicene), are universally agreed on by all believers who embrace a literal interpretation of the Bible. They are drawn from historical events that were faithfully recorded in the Bible. The meaning of those events has been divinely revealed and explicated by the Christian church. In this sense, the basic doctrines of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the virgin birth, and the Church do not share common ground with science and are beyond the scope of experimentation, except for each individual who is willing to "come and see" (Jn. 1:46).
Again, I want to insist that the God of the Bible is the Creator of the universe, so Christians don't have to deny, twist, fear, or ignore the discoveries of science--they will never diminish God's glory in the slightest degree. The closer science brings us to the truth of our universe, the better it will enable us to understand our Creator and His word. If we find weaknesses in our interpretation of Scripture, we should thank the person who has shown them to us. We don't need to throw scientific claims into some kind of inquisition that tortures the truth to make it fit our interpretation. Our goal is to know the Bible better.
God's inspired word recorded in the Bible, apart from human interpretations, does not demand a recently-created universe. We can still interpret the Bible literally and embrace it as God-breathed and accept the apparent evidence that the world has been around for billions of years. Of course, you don't have to accept the cosmology of astrophysics, or the old-earth interpretation of Scripture, but you have to allow for other Christians to disagree with your position. It is possible to do so with integrity and in the spirit of Christian love and unity.
Have We Compromised?
A mistake which young-earth Christians repeatedly make regarding those who accept the scientific evidence for an old universe--or even the Big Bang--is that they must also be evolutionists. For example, in The Genesis Record , Henry Morris said, "The geological age system is essentially synonymous with the evolutionary system. ... Historically, as well as logically, acceptance of the geological age system is inevitably followed, sooner or later, by acceptance of the evolutionary system." Since I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Morris, I am sure he has strong reasons for his opinion, but I am also certain that his opinion is not entirely correct. Extending the existence of the universe to fifteen or twenty billion years does not improve the case for biogenesis or the jumps that have to be made within the fossil records and species of animals to get from one form of life to another. The inherent problems remain the same.
Old-earth Christians are not less likely to believe in the inspiration of Scripture. They are not skeptical of the Bible, but of certain people who pose as teachers of the Bible--and their skepticism is warranted (1 Ti. 1:7). In fact, a high view of Scripture demands the best possible interpretation, a willingness to look at all the facts, and a refusal to embrace unenlightened systems of interpretation (1 Th. 5:21-22). On the other hand, old-earth believers don't champion every scientific discovery, but are very concerned with how such discoveries are made and how they will be applied. The hard questions of bio-ethics temper their endorsement of scientific progress.
The Need for Integrity
What does it mean to have integrity when it comes to science and faith? Let me illustrate by way of a negative example. In October, 1992, biology professor Dean Kenyon was brought into a meeting with the department chairman of San Francisco State University. Professor Kenyon had broken one of the unwritten rules of the office of the biology department because he believes there is scientific evidence of intelligent design in the universe. He was ordered to stop teaching this view in his biology 100 classes immediately. Later, Professor Kenyon was prohibited from teaching his introductory biology course, and accused of teaching religion instead of science. Dean Kenyon claims that he never taught religion, and that the discussions were strictly based on science in which he presented the standard presentation of evolution, followed by his own doubts that emerged when searching for evidence to support it.
In 1993 the Academic Freedom Committee that served the university investigated Kenyon's case and presented a report that ruled in Dr. Kenyon's favor. But the revealing fact about the biology department is that they still refused to let him teach his Bio 100 class. Though Dr. Kenyon had been exonerated, they still held to their ban on his classes. In December of that year, the faculty senate voted that Professor Kenyon should be reinstated in his classes and later that month the biology department gave in, and he was permitted to return to his lectures. Dean Kenyon has been a pioneer in the field of bio-physics, and his credentials are outstanding, but because he questions the naturalistic assumptions of evolution, and, from a scientific point of view, is concerned about weaknesses in the evolutionary theory, his colleagues attempted to excommunicate him from introductory classes in biology. His scientific view challenged the dogma of the "belief system" (to borrow from Sagan's example) of the bureaucratic science department. Doesn't it appear, in this case, that the office of biology lacked integrity in their approach to Professor Kenyon's teaching? We are not doing good science if we suppress valid points of view that differ from our own.
When someone wants to present a fair analysis and criticism of a current theory (or doctrine), but they are censored, ridiculed, or persecuted, those attempting to stifle open discussion lack integrity. You see, it doesn't matter if we are referring to naive positivism in the scientific community or narrow-minded dogmatism in the religious community, both are equally dishonest in the suppression of opposing points of view. If we attack caricatures of the opposition and fail to credit their valid arguments, we lack integrity.
Another negative example of integrity is the case of Harry Rimmer--founder of a one-man operation he called the Research Science Bureau--whose bogus story of Joshua's missing day is still circulated among Christians, howbeit in an up-dated version. He traveled the nation arguing for the trustworthiness of biblical literalism. Rimmer's use of pseudo-scientific "facts" is addressed by Edward Davis in the December 1991 issue of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. In his article, Davis tracks a story Rimmer told and published of a modern-day Jonah. Rimmer treated the story as a real event, but Davis demonstrates how it was nothing but a hoax at best, and was never documented--and never happened. Ultimately, Rimmer did not help to prove the possibility of the biblical Jonah and his adventure with a great fish, but undermined the credibility of Christian witness. When we abandon integrity, we shoot ourselves in the foot, and do nothing to further the cause of Christ. To falsify information or use undocumented claims to establish biblical authority, weakens the real case for Christianity.
Integrity means a willingness to ask hard questions, and to accept reasonable answers. Integrity means to take a position on the side that provides the best explanation of the evidence. It is a willingness to subject our biblical interpretations to close scrutiny, while maintaining a faith in God capable of surviving revisions in our understanding of scripture. Integrity is an acknowledgment that now "we know in part" and our understanding of God and His universe is at best "but a poor reflection as in a mirror" (1 Co. 13:9, 12), so that we keep an open mind, and adopt a teachable attitude. Many Christians who reject the seventh-day legalism, soul-sleep, and other unsound doctrines of the Seventh-Day Adventist church, have swallowed a biblical interpretation of Genesis chapter one that was derived primarily from Seventh-Day advocates. We can practice integrity if we admit their interpretation is just one of several that are open to faithful students of scripture.
Integrity means withholding judgment until all the evidence is presented and fairly considered. It means we don't study science only to find pieces of evidence to fortify our previous interpretations of scripture. It means when we read Genesis we are concerned with how this information was meant to be received by its original audience, and whether it was intended to be science. Believers who are unwilling to admit to scientific evidence lack integrity. Believers who make no attempt--or only a weak and uncontested attempt--to answer the challenges of science, but continue to reject whatever threatens their biblical interpretation, lack integrity. Believers who demand that everyone else buys into their interpretation of Genesis, regardless of the evidence of science or the teaching of historic leaders within the Christian community, lack integrity.
Every school day, Christian children and youth are exposed to scientific and naturalistic world views and philosophies. They have enough pressure on them to conform without having to carry the added burden of a questionable interpretation of scripture that makes Christians appear foolish and naive in a world of high-tech, scientific achievement. We not only set them up for undue hardship, but for the risk of misrepresenting Jesus Christ as well as what it means to be a Christian. When we give non-believers the impression that no rational or thinking person could be a Christian, we have misrepresented the faith. There may be hard truths to digest regarding God's method of salvation through the cross of Jesus, but given our place in history and culture, our basic view of the world should pretty well match the view of most intelligent people who share that world with us.
Chuck Smith Jr. is the pastor of Calvary Chapel of Capistrano Beach
Link to Calvary Chapel of Capo Beach
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There is an old joke, still making the rounds, which goes, "If the King James Bible was good enough for Paul the Apostle, it's good enough for me." The King James Version of the Bible is admittedly an excellent translation; in fact it was the best English translation of its day. But however good the K.J.V. is, it is obviously not the Bible Paul the Apostle used; neither the English language nor the New Testament canon existed in Paul's day (and then there are Paul's letters themselves). The Bible normally used by the early Christians was the Septuagint (also called the seventy or LXX); it was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures.
As Christians today often praise the King James translation, likewise the Jews once honored the LXX. In fact, the Jewish writer Philo considered the LXX to be inspired. According to one ancient document, the first five books of the LXX were the work of 72 translators, 6 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, all working in separate cells, and each translating the whole. As the account goes, in the end all of their versions were identical. Whether or not this account is historically accurate, it illustrates the high respect the Jews once held for the LXX. It was essentially the "Authorized Version" of the Scriptures for Greek speaking Jews until about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
But by that time, something had happened which changed this; the promised Messiah had appeared on the scene. His immediate followers, the Greek-speaking first century Christians, also held the LXX in very high regard. Like the Jews, they attached some degree of divine inspiration to it. They used the LXX, not the Hebrew texts, in their defense and propagation of the Christian faith. When they quoted the prophecies which had predicted the Messiah, it was from the LXX, not the Hebrew.
From the evidence, it appears that the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees responded, not by accepting their Messiah, but by dropping the LXX from use. The version which had once been held in highest esteem was suddenly regarded as an evil work. Before the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem, there were still many slightly different variations of the Hebrew Old Testament in use. This is because any popular work, the LXX included, existed in different variations back when all copies were made by hand; copying errors were simply unavoidable. It appears that, at this time, the Jews began to pick through the different Hebrew variations and put together what they considered to be the "best" edition of the text. Most other variations of the Hebrew text were then allowed to disappear. (The process could have been as innocent as failing to copy them as they wore out).
Following AD 70, it became increasingly difficult to find Hebrew manuscripts which did not meet with Jewish approval. The alternate variations which did not disappear include the Samaritan Pentateuch, which was preserved outside Jewish circles, and the lost and forgotten (since about 70 A.D.) Dead Sea Scrolls.
The early Christians continued to use the LXX for the first few hundred years of the Church age; then Latin became the dominant language. The first Latin translations were made from the LXX, not from Hebrew manuscripts. The Greek Church did not ever drop the LXX, but still uses it to this day.
Back to the Hebrew
Then in the year AD 382, Pope Damasus commissioned Eusebius Hieronymus, better known as St. Jerome, to produce a better Latin translation of the Bible. Jerome began the job using the LXX as his source text; but he later decided that it would be better to go directly to the Hebrew text from which the LXX was originally translated. In this way he hoped to avoid one layer of translation error. This was no small undertaking since Jerome, although he was the leading biblical language scholar of his day, had almost no support; he was thought to be the only Christian scholar in the West who had sufficient knowledge of Hebrew to accomplish this translation.
Working essentially alone, without the aid of lexicons or grammars, Jerome translated the entire Old Testament from what he believed to be the original Hebrew. Unfortunately, the only Hebrew text available by this time was not exactly the "original"; it was, of course, the one in the care and keeping of the Scribes, Pharisees and Rabbis. To make matters worse, some help in translation must have come from Jewish sources as well.
Original languages are normally expected to be more accurate than translations made from them; but because the Jews were motivated to find evidence that Jesus was not their Messiah, this may not quite have been true of their "approved" Hebrew text. In this case the LXX might be more true to the real original Hebrew than the surviving Jewish "original" Hebrew text is. As will be shown, evidence from the surviving fragments of Hebrew text from the Dead Sea Scrolls appears to add support to this possibility.
In any case, Jerome translated the entire Old Testament from the Jewish Hebrew text. Not surprisingly, Jerome's translation differed in many places from the Old Latin version (translated from the LXX) to which the Church had become accustomed; as a result, it was not readily accepted. For one lively example, his use of the Latin for "ivy" (hedera) instead of "gourd" (cucurbita), in Jonah 4:6, actually caused a riot in one North African church.
For a more serious example, Jerome's translation greatly bothered Saint Augustine. Augustine believed that, "seventy united witnesses spoke with more authority than one, even if that one was as learned as Jerome" (catching some of the flavor of their disagreement). In an AD 403 letter to Jerome, Augustine expressed a strong desire that Jerome should do his translation from the LXX instead of the Hebrew text, fearing a consequent split between the Greek and Latin churches. Jerome responded at length to Augustine, defending his work - which he went on to complete in AD 405.
Jerome's work was not accepted immediately, but came to be accepted over time. By the eighth century, and with some compromises to the Old Latin, it had become the Latin Vulgate ("editio vulgata" or "common version") - the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic Church. Following its acceptance, the Church essentially ignored the Greek and Hebrew languages for hundreds of years.
With more recent times came renewed interest in original languages. Following Jerome's lead, most new translations were done from the Masoretic text (as the Jewish Hebrew text had, by this time, come to be called), and not from the LXX. The LXX had fallen from favor in the western world: first with the Jews, next with the Roman Catholic Church, and then with the Protestant Churches as they appeared. At present, the LXX is considered by most Christians to be merely a secondary text, being more of historic than textual significance. Few would be willing to give up their K.J.V., N.A.S. or N.I.V. Old Testaments (all translated from the Masoretic text) in favor of a translation from the LXX.
Have we Made a Mistake?
The question must be asked, "Were we right in abandoning the LXX, or have we made a mistake?" Maybe it's time for us to take another look at our modern Old Testaments and compare their merits with those of the LXX. Here are a few places where our modern Bibles differ from the LXX:
Hebrews 1:6 says, "And again, when he bringeth his first begotten into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Where does the author of Hebrews find this admonition that the angles of God should worship the first begotten? The early Christians found Old Testament support for these words in Deut. 32:43 of their LXX; we have none in our modern Old Testaments. Which is correct, the LXX or the Jewish Masoretic text? A discovery of a fragment of a Hebrew manuscript of Deuteronomy in cave four of Qumran (one of the Dead Sea Scrolls) confirms that this LXX reading was based on an actual ancient Hebrew document and was not an accidental addition made by the LXX translators. It appears that the Pharisees may have stopped copying all manuscripts which contained the critical lines (and consequently, dropped those lines from our modern Bibles as well). In this case, it appears, it might be better to use the LXX than our modern Bibles.
When Luke quotes the genealogies in the 3rd chapter of his Gospel, we find differences between them and the genealogies found in Genesis 5 and 11 of our modern Old Testaments. This is because Luke copied his genealogies from his Old Testament which was, of course, a LXX. Hebrew texts representing both the LXX and Masoretic variations have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Which version is the more accurate? Perhaps Luke's authority breaks the tie here. He had personally spent time with Jesus and could easily have had some insight concerning which source to quote.
In Acts 15:16-17, James defends the work of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles by quoting from the prophets (specifically from Amos 9:11,12). When we compare the words of James with Amos, as found in our modern Old Testaments, we might get the impression that James cannot quote scripture very accurately; the key word "Gentiles" is not found at all. But, of course, James was quoting the LXX, not the Masoretic text.
In many cases the LXX has been borne out by the Hebrew found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in many cases the Masoretic text is not. We begin to get the impression that the Jews, after rejecting their Messiah, may not have been such careful custodians of the Old Testament as we have been led to believe.
Even if the King James Bible wasn't really the Bible Paul the Apostle carried, it is still a very good English translation. To those of us who are accustomed to its archaic language, its faults are few and far between. But faults do exist and many of them appear to be the indirect work of the Scribes, Pharisees and Rabbis. The Septuagint, by contrast, really was the Bible used by the New Testament writers (especially by Luke and the author of Hebrews).
Consider how the LXX might influence the translation of Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." The LXX uses a Greek word for "virgin" which can only mean "virgin." By comparison, the Masoretic text uses a word which can also mean "young maiden." A translator who considers the LXX to be authoritative does not need to make any concessions to the liberal "possibilities" concerning the translation of this verse. (There still remains the question of which interpretation best fits the surrounding context.)
On the down side, it appears that Goliath of Gath may have been only about six-foot-eight (I Sam. 17:4). This is the height given by the LXX and confirmed by the Samuel "a" text from Qumran's cave four. Goliath appears to have "grown" to his modern nine-foot-eight-inch height under the care of the Scribes, Pharisees and Rabbis. More specifically, it looks like an exhausted scribe accidentally copied the "six" from the nearby phrase "six hundred" (verse 7) into the phrase "four cubits"; the two are close together in the text and have very similar spellings in the Hebrew (hundred="meah", cubits="ammah"). The evidence suggests that this scribal error may have happened sometime between the transcription of the Qumran texts and the time of the Latin translation by Jerome.
This loss in height may be painful to some Christians; but it does not have any real substance. Six-eight and fleshed out like a warrior is a very literal "giant" to any man considering single combat. Six-eight would have been even more impressive considering the probable nutritional level and consequent average height of the Israelites about 3000 years ago. It would have been more impressive still to a young shepherd boy like David. The literal truth of the Bible is not genuinely challenged by this minor adjustment.
Even so, Goliath's two-cubit loss is still upsetting - particularly since it challenges an old comfortable belief; but if a six-foot-eight Goliath was good enough for Paul the Apostle, then maybe it ought to be good enough for the rest of us as well. At one time we didn't have any trouble believing in a nine-foot Goliath; now that the evidence tells us otherwise, we shouldn't have any trouble believing in one who was "merely" six-eight. It's not as if this new understanding stretches our credibility past the breaking point. There is simply nothing impossible about Goliath being six-eight. So why does it bother us so much?
The loss of stability in what we are expected to believe is what is unsettling to us; but we must remember that the Truth itself never changed. In fact there are Christians who never made the same mistake we did; Goliath has never ceased to be six-foot-eight to the Greek Church. The Truth is the same forever whether or not we as individuals, or even as an English-speaking people, ever get it right. We would like to believe that our favorite English translations are every bit as inspired as the original writings were; but apparently this is not the case. The translators of the K.J.V. certainly never claimed such a high level of inspiration for themselves.
Even so, we don't really need to run out and replace all our modern translations with translations from the LXX; the LXX is not a perfect reflection of the original biblical text either. The LXX, like any ancient manuscript, exists in many slightly different versions due to copying errors. Also, it is merely a translation and therefore cannot exactly reflect the original. Rejecting the King James and blindly accepting the LXX is not the solution. What is needed is the caution recommended in 1 Thess. 5:21, "Test everything." There is no workable substitute for careful testing and study.
God is certainly able to preserve His word; and it is even likely that He has actually chosen to. But we must realize that this does not mean that our relatively modern K.J.V. is always correct and the LXX, used for nearly two thousand years by the Greek Church, is simply wrong.
The Truth never changes; but we are not always as well informed as we would like to believe. We Christians must be flexible enough to change our positions when we discover we have made mistakes. We may not be comfortable with Truth which is different from what we were taught as children; but then we have no promise that the Truth is something which we will always be comfortable with. In any case, when differences come to light, we, not the Truth, must change.
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In recent years various versions of the following story have appeared
in newspapers and magazines all over the U.S. and even beyond:
The Space Program and the BibleNaturally, many Christians are excited about the story, but others are asking "is it really true?" Such a question may sound like a lack of faith to some, but without rejecting the biblical accounts, an attempt to investigate this story is just obedience to the apostle's commands "Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good' (1 Thess 5:21) and "Whatsoever things are true ... think on these things' (Php 4:8). So let us ask, "Is the story true?"
(Yellville, AR, Mountain Echo, 26 Mar 70)
Did you know that the space program is busy proving that what has been called "myth" in the Bible is true? Mr. Harold Hill, president of the Curtis Engine Company in Baltimore, MD, and a consultant in the space program related the following development:
"I think one of the most amazing things that God has for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Greenbelt, MD. They were checking the position of the sun, moon and planets out in space where they would be 100 years and 1000 years from now. We have to know this so we don't send a satellite up and have it bump into something later on in its orbits. We have to lay out the orbit in terms of the life of the satellite, and where the planets will be so the whole thing will not bog down! They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong, either in the 'info' fed into it, or with the results as compared to the standards. They called in the service department to check it out and they said 'it's perfect.' The IBM head of operations said 'What's wrong?' 'Well, we have found that there is a day missing in space in elapsed time.' They scratched their heads and tore their heir. There was no answer.
"One religious follow in the team said, 'You know, One time I was in Sunday School and they talked about the sun standing still.' They didn't believe him, but they didn't have any other answer so they said, 'Show us.' So he got a Bible and went back to the book of Joshua where they found a pretty ridiculous statement for anybody who has 'common sense.' There they found the Lord saying to Joshua, 'Fear them not, I have delivered them into your hand, there shall not a man of them stand before thee.' Joshua was concerned because he was surrounded by the enemy and, if darkness fell, they would overpower him. So Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still! That's right! The sun stood still and the moon stayed... and hastened not to go down a whole day!' Well, they checked the computers, going back into the time it was written and found it was close but not close enough. The elapsed time that was missing back in Joshua's day was 23 hours and 20 minutes - not a whole day. They read the Bible and there it said 'about (approximately) a day.'
These little words in the Bible are important. But they were still in trouble because, if you cannot account for 40 minutes, you'll be in trouble 1000 years from now. Forty minutes had to be found because it can be multiplied many times over in orbits. Well this religious fellow also remembered somewhere in the Bible it said the sun went backwards. The spacemen told him he was out of his mind. But they got out the book and they read these words in 2 Kings 20: Hezekiah, on his death-bed, was visited by the prophet Isaiah, who told him that he was going to die. Hezekiah did not believe him and asked for a sign as proof. Isaiah said, 'Do you want the sun to go ahead ten degrees?' Hezekiah said, 'it is nothing for the sun to go ahead ten degrees, but let the shadow return backwards ten degrees.' Isaiah spoke to the Lord and the Lord brought the shadow ten degrees backward! Ten degrees is exactly 40 minutes! 23 hours and 20 minutes in Joshua, plus 40 minutes in 2 Kings make the missing day in the universe.'
Isn't that amazing! Our God is rubbing their noses in his TRUTH. That's right.
William Willoughby, the religion editor of the Washington, DC Evening Star and an evangelical who is seeking to have creation taught in the public schools, wrote an article on the NASA computer story in his "Washington Perspective" column of August 8, 1970. He had contacted NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center at Greenbelt MD and was told that no one there knew of any such event having occurred. So many people have written NASA about the story that they have printed up a special form-letter to answer them.
Willoughby also contacted Harold Hill in Baltimore. Hill sticks to his story, which he claims to have on good authority, but he says he cannot locate his documentation.
These facts by themselves cast something of a shadow on the story, but the doubt increases when certain details of the story itself are examined. Mention is made of "a day missing in space in elapsed time," but nothing is said about how this day was discovered, except that a computer found it. But computers cannot do any calculations that humans cannot do, nor do they "know" anything that we don't. Their real advantages are speed and accuracy.
To detect a day missing in elapsed time, it would be necessary to have a known fixed-point in time before the day that is missing. Moreover, the above story suggests that the scientists found not only that exactly one day was missing, but that 23 hours, 20 minutes of it was lost in the time of Joshua (not after 1250 BC; many conservative scholars put it back around 1400 BC) and the remaining 40 minutes was lost in the time of Hezekiah (about 700 BC). So in this case, we need two flxed-points: one before the time of Joshua and another between the times of Joshua and Hezekiah. These fixed-points must be known with an accuracy of a few minutes both by astronomical calculation and contemporary historical records in order to detect the discrepancy.
The only method I know of which could produce such accuracy would be observations of eclipses of the sun, since these are total only along narrow paths and only last for a few minutes at any specific locality. But the earliest datable eclipse of the sun occurred in the year 1217 BC, after the time of Joshua (See the article "Eclipse" in the 1970 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica). In any case, ancient eclipse observations are not given with an accuracy of a few minutes even by local time, so confirmation of Joshua's long day by science seems to be impossible at present. This strongly suggests that the computer story is a hoax.
In addition, the main features of this story are older than either NASA
or electronic computers! In his Harmony of Science and Scripture , published
1936, Harry Rimmer recounts the following Story (pp 281-282):
There is a book by Prof C. A. Totten of Yale, written in 1690, which establishes the case beyond the shadow of a doubt. The condensed account of his book, briefly summarized is as follows:Comparing this account with the NASA computer story, notice that both include the same three numbers: a whole day missing overall; 23 hours and 20 minutes lost at the time of Joshua; and 40 minutes at the time of Hezekiah. Here too, we have a dramatic (but rather different) story of how a skeptic is brought to see the truth of Scripture. In addition, there is a reference made to a book by a C. A. Totten, which dates back to 1890.
Professor Totten wrote of a fellow-professor, an accomplished astronomer, who made the strange discovery that the earth was twenty-four hours out of schedule! That is to say, there had been twenty-four hours lost out of time. In discussing this point with his follow-professor, Professor Totten challenged this man to investigate the question of the inspiration of the Bible. He said, "You do not believe the Bible to be the word of God, and I do. Now here is a fine opportunity to prove whether or not the Bible is inspired. You begin to read at the very beginning and read as far as need be, and see if the Bible cannot account for your missing time."
The astronomer accepted the challenge and began to read. Some time later, when the two men chanced to meet on the campus, Professor Totten asked his friend if he had proved the question to his satisfaction. His colleague replied, "I believe I have definitely proved that the Bible is not the word of God. In the tenth chapter of Joshua, I found the missing twenty-four hours accounted for. Then I went back and checked up on my figures, and found that at the time of Joshua there were only twenty-three hours and twenty minutes lost. If the Bible made a mistake of forty minutes, it is not the Book of God!"
Professor Totten said, "You are right in part at least. But does the Bible say that a whole day was lost at the time of Joshua?" So they looked and saw that the text said, "about the space of a whole day."
The word "about" changed the whole situation, and the astronomer took up his reading again. He read on until he came to the thirty-eighth chapter of the prophet Isaiah. In this chapter, Isaiah has left us the thrilling story of the king Hezekiah, who was sick unto death. In response to his prayer, God promised to add fifteen more years to his life. To confirm the truth of His promise, God offered a sign. He said, "Go out in the court and look at the sundial of Ahaz. I will make the shadow on the sundial back up ten degrees!" Isaiah recounts that the king looked, and while he looked, the shadow turned backward ten degrees, by which ten degrees it had already gone down! This settles the case, for ten degrees on the sundial is forty minutes on the face of the clock! So the accuracy of the Book was established to the satisfaction of this exacting critic.
Charles Adiel Lewis Totten is listed in Who Was Who in America (1:1247). He was a professor of military science at Yale from 1889 to 1892, when he resigned to spend more time on his religious studies. He was a British Israelist, believing that the Anglo-Saxons were the lost tribes of Israel, and an Adventist, who predicted the reign of Antichrist would occur in the seven-year period 1892-99. Among his many writings is Joshua's Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz, published in 1890. After some exertion and considerable frustration, I succeeded in locating a copy of the third revised edition, published in 1891. Since then, the work has been reprinted by Destiny Publishers of Merrimac, Massachusetts.
Reading Totten's book brought another shock - the dramatic story of a skeptic convinced does not appear! Instead, Totten himself, a non-skeptic all along, seeks to show that a total of 24 hours are missing from past time, of which 23 hours, 20 minutes were lost in Joshua's day, and 40 minutes at the time of Hezekiah.
Totten does not actually reproduce the calculations by which he seeks to prove his case, but merely gives the results. On pages 39, 59 and 61 of the edition I consulted, the fact emerges that Totten is using an assumed date of creation - the autumnal equinox, September 22, 4000 BC (p 61) - as the known fixed point before the long day of Joshua! Taking the first day of creation to be a Sunday by his understanding of Scripture, and finding that by calculating back from the present, September 22, 4000 BC would fall on a Monday, he concludes: "... it can come so by no possible mathematics without the interpolation or 'intercalation' of exactly 24 hours" (p 59).
Totten's presentation tends to obscure his method of discovery. It looks like he really started with this 24 hours missing, then decided from the ten degrees mentioned in the Hezekiah incident to assign 40 minutes to that event (since the sun moves about 10 degrees in 40 minutes), leaving 23 hours, 20 minutes to Joshua. But Totten has mentioned no fixed-point between the times of Joshua and Hezekiah, and therefore he has no way of showing, Independent of the Biblical material, that just such a division of the total time is to be made. Totten's work, then, does not give any independent support to the scripture accounts.
Totten does tell us where he got his date of creation. It was calculated by the British Chronological Association. This group, headed up by Premier Chronologist Jabez Bunting Dimbleby, used to publish an almanac entitled All Past Time, in which they claimed to be able to account for every day since creation. Examining their almanac, for 1885, it appears that they established their chronology by adding up the numbers given in the received text of the Old Testament, using a liberal supply of speculation regarding ancient methods of keeping the lunar and solar calendars aligned. The whole work is rather technical, but a few minutes reading convinced me that their method of interpreting Scripture is often arbitrary. In the light of archeology, few conservative Christians would now accept 4000 BC as the date of creation, even among those who believe the earth is much younger than geologists are willing to concede. But Totten's whole scheme depends entirely on knowing the exact day of creation.
In summary, Totten's work has no foundation independent of the Bible, and it is questionable whether he has properly understood Scripture in regard to his fixed-point, the date of creation. Sometime between Totten's work in 1890 and Rimmer's in 1936, the results were put in the form of a dramatic story in which Totten becomes a bystander and a skeptical astronomer the calculator. Since 1936, the story has apparently been updated by the additions of "space age" features, including NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center scientists to replace the lone astronomer, and computers to speed up the tedious calculations.
Does this story have any lessons for us as Christens? I think so. We would all like to see skeptics turn to Christ and it is sometimes a temptation for us to "bend" the truth a little to make a stronger argument. After all, the end (eternal life for someone) justifies the means (a little lie), doesn't it? No, it doesn't! This is trying to do God's work using Satan's tactics!
In the long run, when God allows the truth to come to light, such lies only give unbelievers modem examples by which to claim that the Bible writers were guilty of the same things. Our attempt to "help" God thus becomes an argument for unbelief. Instead, Christians should have such zeal for the truth that unbelievers will come to see that we really have it. We should rebuke the Rimmers and the Hills and others who have passed on these stories. They (and we) should be careful in checking sources, especially for materials which are favorable to our position. And certainly we should not be inventing stories to make Christianity look good! There are excellent evidences for the truth of Christianity, so that those who choose to reject it will have no good answer in the day of judgment Let us be active helping people see this while they can still turn to Jesus Christ.
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