Tim Keller on creation and evolution

Many thanks to Chris E, who (in a comment on a previous post) linked to a superb essay by Tim Keller on Creation, Evolution and Christian Laypeople (PDF) – one of the best things I have read on the subject of evolution and Christian faith. Indeed, I agree pretty much with every word of it, and if you want a far more eloquent exposition of my position than I could ever manage – read this.

Dr Keller begins by observing that “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and creationists such as Ken Ham “seem to have arrived at a consensus” on one “truism”:

that if you are an orthodox Christian with a high view of the authority of the Bible, you cannot believe in evolution in any form at all.

However, Dr Keller observes that many question this premise, and argue that we do not have to choose between “an anti-science religion or an anti-religious science”.

The overall result is to leave many laypeople confused and uncertain, especially since those arguing for the incompability of evolution and Christian faith are often the loudest and most strident voices on both sides of the debate. He therefore addresses three questions that laypeople have concerning evolution and Christianity:

  • If God used evolution to create, then we can’t take Genesis 1 literally, and if we can’t do that, why take any other part of the Bible literally?
  • If biological evolution is true, does that mean that we are just animals driven by our genes, and everything about us can be explained by natural selection?
  • If biological evolution is true and there was no historical Adam and Eve how can we know where sin and suffering came from?

Keller gives the following answer to the first of these:

The way to respect the authority of the Biblical writers is to take them as they want to be taken. Sometimes they want to be taken literally, sometimes they don’t. We must listen to them, not impose our thinking and agenda on them.

He argues that Genesis 1 is “exalted prose narrative” rather than either poetry or straightforward prose, and endorses Meredith Kline’s argument that Genesis 2:5 (“because it had not rained”) implies a non-literal reading of Genesis 1. Hence:

Genesis 1 does not teach that God made the world in six twenty-four hour days. Of course, it doesn’t teach evolution either, because it doesn’t address the actual processes by which God created human life. However, it does not preclude the possibility of the earth being extremely old. We arrive at this conclusion not because we want to make room for any particular scientific view of things, but because we are trying to be true to the text, listening as carefully as we can to the meaning of the inspired author.

I hope to look at Dr Keller’s answers to the other questions in succeeding posts.

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37 Responses to Tim Keller on creation and evolution

  1. Kevin says:

    Tim Keller hopes to sail a compromise course between two positions, but he is shy of some of the issues in trying to do this. Take this persuasive quote from Ken Ham, for instances:

    “The reason that I believe that the six days of creation in Genesis 1 were ordinary days of creation is because there are certain rules in regard to the Hebrew language just as there are rules in regard to English. Any word has two or more meanings dependent upon context. For instance, we could say, in English, “back in my fathers day”, which means back in my father’s time, “during the day”, which means the daylight portion of a day, or “three days”, which means three 24-hour periods of time. But context determines meaning. Whenever the word ‘day’ is used with a number – over four-hundred times in fact – in the Old Testament, it always means an ordinary day. Whenever the phrase ‘evening and morning’ occurs, it always means an ordinary day; and whenever the word ‘evening’ or ‘morning’ occurs with the word ‘day’ it means an ordinary day; and whenever the word ‘night’ occurs with the word ‘day’ it means an ordinary day. If you read Genesis 1, you have ‘evening’, ‘morning’, ‘number’ and ‘night’ qualifying the first usage of the word ‘day’, and then for each of the other days of creation in Genesis 1 you have ‘evening’, ‘morning’ and ‘number’ for each of those days; which means, obviously, from the perspective of the Hebrew language, they’re an ordinary day.”

  2. Phil Walker says:

    Kevin: how long was the seventh day?

  3. John H says:

    Kevin: Phil has raised the point I was going to mention. There are clues in the text (see also the point re Genesis 2:5) that indicate a non-literal reading of the “days”. The problem with comparing the use of the term “day” in Genesis 1 with uses elsewhere in the Bible is that Genesis 1 is unique in its style.

    In the end, if asked who I have more confidence in as an interpreter of Scripture – Tim Keller (or Meredith Kline or Henri Blocher) or Ken Ham – I’m going to go with Keller et al.

  4. I think what Pr Keller is trying to do apologetically in his particular pastoral context is quite understandable, and as a pastor I would concur with him as to the nature and intensity of lay-people’s questioning as regards creation and evolution, but he will have to do better to convince me that the author of Genesis 1 doesn’t intend to describe creation as taking place in six ordinary days (Genesis 2 notwithstanding, but in the interests of brevity I won’t go into that here).

    While I can’t subscribe to the tenets of creation science, I can’t get away from the force of the text either.
    Granted, this is not straight-forward narrative, it is ‘exalted’ prose (Barth may not have been too far from the truth when he called it ‘saga’, but I would not want that ascription of genre to allow us to too easily escape the question of historical truth), but all the indicators in the text itself and in the rest of the Biblical canon compel me to read it as Hebrew narrative that is meant to be taken literally.

    To paraphrase a 19th C. liberal scholar who did not believe in 6 day creation (sorry, don’t have the reference to hand), if ‘day’ in Genesis One doesn’t mean an ordinary day, then all Biblical language is likely to dissolve before our eyes and escape interpretation.

  5. Kevin says:

    Is Exodus 20 “exalted prose narrative” as well? Because it’s going to have to be for us to square Keller’s circle; and if chapter 20 of Exodus has to be “exalted prose narrative”, then why not the rest of Exodus? And if Exodus can’t be trusted as history, what else do we start to doubt as well? Do you see where this gets us?

    Because we have a big problem with verses 8 through 11 of Exodus 20. They make a direct comparison between the Lord’s weekly pattern of work and rest with ours. If the Genesis 1 days aren’t literal days, then the whole Exodus 20:8-11 comparison loses its comparative power, and is a meaningless argument.

  6. joel hunter says:

    It seems reasonable to assume that there is no univocity of meaning for ‘day’, even within Genesis 1 (as Phil has intimated). However, as sympathetic as I am to the framework interpretation, I don’t think it’s necessary to equivocate at the fine-grained level of vocabulary and grammar. Let ‘day’ mean ordinary day, ok fine.

    Now I haven’t read the full essay, but on first blush, Keller’s treatment as you’ve presented it here seems to muddle matters. For example, after pointing out that Genesis 1 doesn’t speak to creation’s length of time, he then says: “However, it does not preclude the possibility of the earth being extremely old.” Well, right, but the whole point of the framework interpretation (I thought) is to show that questions like “Given Genesis 1, could the earth be extremely old?” have no currency. It’s like asking “Given Jonah, could he have survived on the seafood smorgasbord that the big fish swallowed?” No theoretic inferences regarding the human habitability of whale gullets follow from the text. For questions which admit of empirical determination, the premisses of Genesis 1 constitute a null set. They support any quantity of time, which is the same thing as saying they support no conclusion at all on the matter. In the quote from Keller, however, an interlocutor might reasonably ask, “Well does it preclude the possibility of the earth being one second old?” Answer: no, it doesn’t.

    I suspect that Keller instinctively muddles the connection between Genesis 1 and natural history because he’s trying to lay a claim on the confessional territory of the PCA in particular (and perhaps “conservative” evangelicalism in general) for the orthodoxy of his views on creation. These groups for the most part do not recognize distinctions (much less a separation) between Genesis and natural history; Keller knows he’s invading territory with views that destabilize the historicity of Genesis 1 (although plenty of–maybe most–folks holding the framework hypothesis affirm the historicity of Genesis).

    I think the advantage to Keller of fuzzing the distinctions between the Bible and natural history is apparent in the plausibility of claims like the passage you emphasized:

    We arrive at this conclusion not because we want to make room for any particular scientific view of things, but because we are trying to be true to the text (…)

    I don’t think so. I don’t think he would have written his essay were it not for the demonstrated truths from physics, geology and biology. The case must be made for something like this thesis: “history teaches us that it is illicit to deduce claims of natural science from the Bible.”

  7. Ross says:

    It is patently obvious that literal 24-hour days are meant by the Hebrew words used, and also required by logic.
    Plants were made the third day, insects on the sixth. How did certain specialised plants continue to exist through ages without their insect partners? Insects such as bees, wasps, butterflies and moths could not have existed without nectar bearing plants, NOR COULD THESE PLANTS HAVE EXISTED WITHOUT THE INSECTS. Without insects to pollinise them they could not bear seed.

  8. John H says:

    Joel: Good point. The point about the length of the seventh day is that it supports a symbolic reading of Genesis 1 as a whole (framework reading) rather than just of the word “day” (day-age reading). Within the context of Genesis 1, “day” may well mean “day”, but taken as a whole it is not a linear, real-time narrative of creation. (Which also addresses Ross’s point re pollinisation. That’s a problem for day-age interpretations, not for framework interpretations.)

    As for the influence of science: it is true that it probably wouldn’t have occurred to people to go back and re-examine Genesis in this way had it not been for scientific discoveries that contradicted traditional interpretations. (Equally it wouldn’t have occurred to people to make a literalist reading of Genesis 1 a non-negotiable dogma of the faith other than in reaction to those scientific discoveries.)

    The question is whether the text supports the interpretation arrived at once we go back to it. See also texts apparently teaching geocentrism: only the scientific rejection of geocentrism led to their being reexamined, but upon doing so most people concluded that the text itself supported a symbolic reading.

    (Of course, all this is very over-simplified. I don’t mean to suggest that interpretation of texts can ever take place in some purist hermeneutically-sealed atmosphere, free from external influence…)

  9. joel hunter says:

    “Equally it wouldn’t have occurred to people to make a literalist reading of Genesis 1 a non-negotiable dogma of the faith other than in reaction to those scientific discoveries.”

    True that.

    “See also texts apparently teaching geocentrism: only the scientific rejection of geocentrism led to their being reexamined, but upon doing so most people concluded that the text itself supported a symbolic reading.”

    ::hands in pockets, whistling tunelessly, looking up at the sky:: Don’t know the first thing about that, I’m sure. 😉

    Looking forward to the posts in this series…

  10. John H says:

    Joel: Well, yes, that example was indeed just plucked from the air entirely at random… 😉

  11. Pingback: Confessing Evangelical » Evolution and other stories

  12. Steve says:

    Unfortunately, Mr. Keller’s perspective is based upon a false premise: that the scientific evidence in support of the theory of evolution is overwhelming. News Flash, Mr. Keller: IT’S NOT!! Think about this, for example: if the TOE was true, the world should be full of creatures in the process of evolving. In reality, THERE IS NOT A SINGLE ONE! Believe me, if there was, we would all know about it.

    Mr. Keller, like so many other Christian leaders, seem completely oblilvious to the fact that the primary purpose of the TOE, its raison d’etre, is: TO EXPLAIN HOW THE WORLD CAME INTO BEING WITHOUT ANY SUPERNATURAL INTERVENTION – without God, in other words.

    In his esssay Mr. K. states, ” … there are many who question the premise that science and faith are irreconcilable.” The debate between creationists and evolutionists is NOT between “science and faith.” It is btween HISTORICAL science and faith. There is a very great difference between “science” and “historical science.” The second is entirely speculative and tests to verify it cannot be repeated, as they can be with applied science.

    In harmony with others that think like him, Mr. Keller’s beliefs about the Genesis Flood are also rather murky.
    This Flood ALONE provides more than enough evidence to completely debunk the TOE.

    Open your eyes, Mr. Keller. The theory of evolution is a blasphemous LIE.

  13. joel hunter says:

    Steve, why are you addressing your remarks to Tim Keller? It’s not his blog. It’s John’s.

    So it’s not my blog either, but if it were, I’d play the Jensen card: I dismiss your claims out of hand. They do not rise to a level of intelligibility that requires refutation. Now I am no expert in biology. I’d quite gladly own the label of dilettante. But the fact of evolution is (and has been for some time) as fully established as the fact of the sphericity of the earth and the historicity of the Holocaust. Someone can deny both of those facts to their heart’s content, but that doesn’t mean they merit further investigation or refutation. They do not because they oppose common sense and empirical demonstration. I say this to you because there are pastoral reasons that a shepherd–in this case Tim Keller–can best protect his flock by stating plainly that one thinks the position you’ve taken is not only wrong but ridiculous. This is what I was aiming at in the conclusion to my first comment in this thread: I own this conviction about evolution intellectually and am seeking how to integrate the truth of physical and natural history with redemptive history. That they do integrate I have not doubt, for truth is absolute and unitary.

  14. Rick Ritchie says:

    I liked the Keller piece. It seems to hold to the same kind of mixed genre idea that I think I see in Genesis.

    I also enjoyed the link to “the Jensen card.” The comments on that post were worth following. I think there has to be a distinction in people’s minds between how science as a discipline lets in information and how we as individuals do so. We’re allowed to be quirky in a way that a science department or a professional journal cannot be. We don’t have to worry about everything being peer-reviewed. But we also recognize personal limits. We can’t read everything on every subject. When I find friends falling into beliefs that I find unusual, I usually do engage, but I find I need to limit how much time I invest in the subject. I may not be so quick to say to a friend that his view doesn’t merit any investigation on my part. But I may request that he direct me to the most convincing argument he has, and then try to focus on that.

  15. Pingback: Confessing Evangelical » (How) would you Adam and Eve it?

  16. Steve says:

    Joel … Please excuse the incorrect address of my remarks.

    You state that, “the fact of evolution is (and has been for some time) as fully established as the fact of the sphericity of the earth and the historicity of the Holocaust.” As I said previously, “if the TOE was true, the world should be full of creatures in the process of evolving. In reality, THERE IS NOT A SINGLE ONE!” I stand by my claim. Refuting it is very simple: provide a SINGLE example of a creature in the process of evolving.

    I’ll be waiting for your evidence.

  17. Xan says:

    Steve,

    Can you describe what an “evolving creature” would be? Of course the answer is that evolution doesn’t happen within a single creature, it happens from generation to generation. But I’m curious what kind of answer you expect to see. Any creature must be able to survive on its own merits, so whatever traits it has are either vestigial, or are in use here and now to help it survive. They may also lead to something else.

    You say that the Flood destroys “TOE”. I find that the most literal Flood-ers are the ones who actually must have the strongest belief in evolution. Typically they resort to saying that the inhabitants of the Ark were only “kinds” (in order that everything can fit on the boat), which then branched out into everything that we see now. In order for this to happen in a few thousand years, evolution must be orders of magnitude more potent than the biologists predict.

  18. Steve says:

    Xan

    You asked me to “describe what an “evolving creature would be?” That certainly is a legitimate request. First of all, I am well aware that if evolution is true, the steps in the evolutionary process would be very gradual. Nevertheless, since this process theoretically caused every single creature that has ever existed, both animal and plant, and, furthermore, is currently as active as it has ever been (I don’t hear any evolutionists claiming that the process has ended,or even slowed), there should be a great number of creatures that are demonstrably in the process of evolving. I would think that a little thought should make the appearance of such creatures rather obvious: a brand new feature beginning to appear on some creature, for example. After all, if evolution is true, this is precisely what must take place -countless billions,if not trillions, of times (an example from the past would be the supposed evolution of birds from reptiles … if this was true, at some point in this evolution there must have been a “reptile” with very rudimentary “wings” – things that would not yet be recognizable as wings, but would definitely be an addition to the “reptile”).

    To claim that such creatures do not currently exist because evolution is a very slow process that takes place over many millions of years is not a legitimate defense, for if evolution was actually true there should ALWAYS be creatures, a great many of them, in fact, that are in the process of evolving, both at any time in the past and in the present. The fact that there are not ANY is a very serious blow to the entire theory.

  19. re:
    “Think about this, for example: if the TOE was true, the world should be full of creatures in the process of evolving. In reality, THERE IS NOT A SINGLE ONE! Believe me, if there was, we would all know about it.”

    individuals do not evolve, populations do.
    all populations of living creations are evolving over time.

    much of the problems from this debate stem from a serious misunderstanding of the science of evolutionary theory, whether is is deliberate lies or just ignorance, there is no way of telling, but it is nonsense like the above that permeate the discussion from the YEC viewpoint.

  20. re:
    “To claim that such creatures do not currently exist because evolution is a very slow process that takes place over many millions of years is not a legitimate defense, for if evolution was actually true there should ALWAYS be creatures, a great many of them, in fact, that are in the process of evolving, both at any time in the past and in the present. The fact that there are not ANY is a very serious blow to the entire theory.”

    assuming you are interested in the science of the issues, the most accessible book that i am aware of, that answers these questions is about Darwin’s Finches (The beak of the finch: a story of evolution in our time By Jonathan Weiner). What you can see from their data is a multi-year adaptation of various bird populations on different islands to the change in average seed size, which is itself a change brought about by rainfall differences over time.

    The change in the various alleles for beak size(for example) and in average seed size, in different populations is exactly what evolution is. the populations of finches and the plants they feed upon are evolving, we can see it over a 20 year period.

  21. Steve says:

    Responding to Richard …

    You said that “individuals do not evolve, populations do.
    all populations of living creations are evolving over time.”

    All populations are made up of INDIVIDUAL CREATURES – and it is these individual creatures that supposedly evolve.

    Your comment re: mine, “whether is is deliberate lies or just ignorance, there is no way of telling, but it is nonsense like the above that permeate the discussion from the YEC viewpoint” is so tiresome and so typical of YEC opponents. Can’t you come up with something a little more elucidating?

    Re: Darwin’s finches: at the end of the process one thing is abundantly clear: all of the finches were still finches. They had not evolved into anything else (just like fruit flies and the peppered moth). Dogs exhibit a great deal more variety than finches but no one claims that this variety demonstrates evolution in the canine species.

  22. re:
    Re: Darwin’s finches: at the end of the process one thing is abundantly clear: all of the finches were still finches. They had not evolved into anything else (just like fruit flies and the peppered moth). Dogs exhibit a great deal more variety than finches but no one claims that this variety demonstrates evolution in the canine species.

    of course they are still finches.
    in the same way that you are a homo sapiens, and a great ape, and a primate, and a mammal, a tetrapod, a vertebrate, etc. etc. it’s called a nested hierarchy and is typical of any process, like evolution that only uses what is available at hand. this versus the kind of structures designed by human beings which swap modules between lineages. as when a ford designer puts wings on his car where he got the idea from an Oldsmobile.

    evolution is the changing allele frequency in a population over time.
    usually some small subpopulation.

    no, individuals do not evolve, only populations do. individuals do not (normally) change genotype over time. the only time evolution takes place is between generations, as the offspring have a different genotype from their parents.

    if you think individuals evolve then you do not understand evolutionary theory. it’s that simple.

  23. re:
    You said that “individuals do not evolve, populations do.
    all populations of living creations are evolving over time.”

    All populations are made up of INDIVIDUAL CREATURES – and it is these individual creatures that supposedly evolve.

    there is a discussion in the field about what is the fundamental unit that natural selection operates on, a question of levels. whether NS operates primarily on genes, or individuals or populations. however there is no discussion about the what level evolution occurs at–at the level of populations. individuals do not evolve. please, read a decent reference on the definition of evolution so that you understand what it is.

    “From a genetic viewpoint, evolution is a generation-to-generation change in the frequencies of alleles within a population that shares a common gene pool.[79] A population is a localized group of individuals belonging to the same species.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

  24. Steve says:

    Richard, are you actually claiming that individuals in a population do NOT evolve, but the group that they belong to does evolve – Or, put another way, that a population evolves without any changes occurring within the individuals within that population?

  25. Xan says:

    Evolution is a change between generations. You can’t have a chance between generations within an individual.

    Anybody who thinks an individual can evolve on its own has serious conceptual mix-ups.

  26. re:
    are you actually claiming that individuals in a population do NOT evolve, but the group that they belong to does evolve – Or, put another way, that a population evolves without any changes occurring within the individuals within that population?

    evolution occurs at the population level. it does not apply to individuals. it is a change in allele frequency. you basically have the same genome that you were born with (yes i know what epigenetics is). what changes is the alleles between the generations, you have roughly 150 single point mutations that makes you different from your parents. (along with recombination) this does not mean you are evolved from you parents, this is folk science not the real thing.

    populations evolve due to changes in allele frequency of its members. this can happen due to emigration or immigration, it is not specifically due to mutations in gametes. so yes, evolution can occur without changes occurring within the individuals within that population.

    “Migration into or out of a population can change allele frequencies, as well as introducing genetic variation into a population. Immigration may add new genetic material to the established gene pool of a population.”
    from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

  27. Steve says:

    Xan, you say that, “Anybody who thinks an individual can evolve on its own has serious conceptual mix-ups.”

    Do you actually think that I believe that a single individual within a population evolves into a new creature – as opposed to a series of individual members contributing to this process as a result of a great number of very small changes over a very long period of time?

    If you answer this question in the affirmative, I’m afraid it is time for me to move on from this blog … which, in fact, it is. I will leave with a quotation from the Duke of Argyle from the middle of the 19th century. Ironically, this man was a friend of Charles Darwin:

    “To accept as a truth that which is not a truth, or to fail in distinguishing the sense in which it is not true, is an evil having consequences which are indeed incalculable. There are some subjects in which one mistake of this kind will poison all the wells of truth and affect with fatal error the whole circle of our thoughts.”

    Good-bye and God bless you all.

    Steve

  28. Xan says:

    Yes, I do, Steve, because you said “All populations are made up of INDIVIDUAL CREATURES – and it is these individual creatures that supposedly evolve.”

    Much of your conversation is devoted to pointing out the lack of an individual in the process of evolving.

  29. Steve says:

    Xan … I said good-bye, but I thought that your response deserved a response.

    Re: my comment that you quoted above … You apparently thought that I was saying that (according to the TOE) a single individual creature in a population evolves into a different one – like, a SPECIFIC reptile evolves into a bird. OF COURSE I didn’t mean that. This particular evolution took millions of years!

    I was simply pointing out that in every step along the evolutionary path, whether the one in which a bird (supposedly!) evolved from a reptile, or any other, there are countless individual creatures that contribute to the process. In the reptile to bird evolution, for example, there might be many thousand, or million, of contributors.
    Furthermore, at various steps along the way there should be individuals that are obviously IN THE PROCESS of evolving. Think about it; it is only logical.

    It is these “transitional forms” that I was focusing upon. In that each one of these individuals is contributing to the evolutionary process, they are all evolving. My point is that, unless evolution is no longer taking place, there should be a great number of such forms alive today … some that exhibit only barely perceptible changes, but others that are very obviously in a transitional phase.

    Like I said earlier, the fact that NO such creatures exist deals a very harsh blow to the entire theory of evolution.

  30. evolution occurs at the level of populations.
    natural selection apparently can occur at several levels(at least), the levels of genes, of individuals, of various subpopulations, and at the species level.

    all individuals are essentially transitional between their ancestors and their descendants. you have mutations unique to you, roughly 100. your brother has 100 himself, many the same as yours a few different ones. your son inherits some of these from you, your nephew inherits some from your brother, plus each boy gets a dose of his own.

    now you can plot these mutations, and build a nested hierarchical clade showing these changes, when you do so, it will be obvious that you are intermediate between you father can your son, as your brother is between your common father and his son. this is simply because each son shares some of his father’s unique mutations and does not share his uncle’s unique ones at all. each man is transitional between his father and his own son, but not between his father and his nephew.

    every individual is a transitional form, between his ancestors and his descendants. this is the essential take home message of nested hierarchies.

  31. Tom R says:

    Strengthening Ken Ham’s case is the fact that second-millennium-BC[E] Hebrew had a perfectly good word meaning “zoologico-geological epoch tens or even hundreds of millions of years in duration” – and yet Moses, composing Genesis, deliberately CHOSE not to use it.

  32. John H says:

    Tom: My Hebrew being a little – shall we say rusty? – I can’t quite work out if you’re kidding or not. 😉

    However, taken as a serious point: “day” means “day” is also the position of the framework interpretation (my post rather muddied this point, as I think Keller does). Within the context of the overall passage, “day” means “literal 24-hour period”. The question is whether the passage /as a whole/ is presenting a literal, linear account of “what happened, as it happened”, or arranging events within a non-linear, non-literal framework for some other reason.

  33. Tom R says:

    My experience with the “It says ‘day’, ergo it means ’24 hour day’, that settles it” crowd is that if one scrolls down their websites a little further, one will soon find a plea to cut the Old Testament authors some slack for classing bats as birds, or whales as fish… for heaven’s sake, these bods weren’t 20th-century scientists, you can’t hold them to that standard of precision!

  34. J. Random Hermeneut says:

    …cutting slack for classing bats as birds, or whales as fish…

    Going further, into, you know actual theological interpretation the texts — this preoccupation with “inerrant divine account of mechanical origins” misses a literary thematic point about the whole classification system of the creatures. It’s not biological classification at all! Broadly speaking, they are grouped according to the realm which they inhabit within the three-fold of waters – earth – and sky. That is why “birds” and “fish” are created on the same day, prior to the land creatures. They both emerge from the “waters” (and where are they, well there’s some down here in the fishy realm and some up there above the firmament in the birdy realm. Animals, by contrast derive from the land.

    Genesis is more concerned with the architecture of the physical realm than its origins. The architecture and the relationship of the creatures to their allotted realms, for example, is the whole backdrop for subsequent notions of purity/impurity in a cosmos subject to “chattat”. This concentration on architecture is very important for understanding the theology of the Tabernacle and its typological connections in Torah and, especially, subsequent second-temple Judaism’s development of Temple theology.

  35. J. Random Hermeneut says:

    As for origins – the central dichotomy between Creator and creatures is obviously fundamental. And that everything in nature, contra paganism, is relegated to the mundane, rather than the divine realm. Though one is certainly meant to puzzle about the curious status of “humanity” ha-adam in 1.26-27, this sort of quasi-intermediary position unique among the creatures….

  36. Jean says:

    “I find that the most literal Flood-ers are the ones who actually must have the strongest belief in evolution. Typically they resort to saying that the inhabitants of the Ark were only “kinds” (in order that everything can fit on the boat), which then branched out into everything that we see now. In order for this to happen in a few thousand years, evolution must be orders of magnitude more potent than the biologists predict.”

    As with many English words, evolution has multiple meanings. Change in populations over time? Both creationists and evolutionists believe this. We do see it and it is not just the result of chance random process. (Goggle search homologous recombination, gene conversion, NHEJ, etc. – impressively designed.) Creatures with limbs can have the size/shape adjusted somewhat (daschunds); creature with pigment can have genetic changes that adjust pigment levels (investigate the basis for red hair in humans). No problem here except the evolutionists have had to admit that it occurs faster than they had originally thought – because we’ve seen it.

    Since Genesis says God created animals according to their kinds and mankind separate from the animals, it makes sense that this is true. God would know. It is barriers between kinds (fish to frog) for which there is no scientific basis to believe it is true. No truly plausible genetic steps, no well accepted fossil evidence, only philosophy. It can be traced back to the philosophy that the Bible cannot be true history.

    Now, why is it that some are willing to accept the opinions of scientists as the final authority on history? Could it be the idol of scientism, the belief that science is the ultimate source of answers, even to questions like why am I here?

  37. Robert Waite says:

    AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!

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