It is amazing how sometimes completely unrelated books or topics collide and connect. I have been reading two books lately; one is Signature in the Cell about the Intelligent Design argument. This has also lead me to some tangential reading about the age of the universe. I have also been reading The Spanish Brothers, which is about two brothers that discover the gospel (Protestantism, that is) during the time of the Spanish Inquisition and essentially become heretics in the view of mother church.
There is, of course, a split between those that believe the days of creation described in Genesis are literal 24-hour and those that believe they are more like “ages.” I’m not trying to make an extended argument here, but I believe in an old earth. I have read about plenty of middle age scientists (Newton, Kepler, etc) who believed God gave us senses to discover our world, and we have discovered it is old. I plan to blog about my reasons later, but here is a scripture that has made me consider Genesis does not support the literal interpretation of Genesis.
Gen 2:4: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.”
How many days of creation? A literal six days or a literal one day? I have found that “day” here is the same hebrew word used in Genesis 1. The word for day, yom, is used in the Bible to refer to 12-hour, 24-hour or a longer period of time. Gen 2:4 demonstrates that there is enough ambiguity that the discusion is far from straightforward. (Here and here are more about the days of Genesis…)
What connected this topic to the Spanish Inquisition in my thoughts was the way people who believe in young earth tend to treat other Christians who do not believe in this literally. Perhaps old earthers do the same, I am not sure. This is only my impression. Answers in Genesis tells us that if we do not believe in literal days, we undermine the whole Bible. The attitude is that “if you do not believe in six literal days, you do not believe in the Bible.” Essentially, I get the impression they are implying you are a heretic.
(I get the same impression from “Full Gospel” churches, by the way. By calling their church “full,” they imply your are less if you do not agree with them and their interpretation of speaking in tongues as proof of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. People don’t say you are less, and there may be a measure of “let people believe what they want,” but in essence they treat others as heretics.)
There was a part in The Spanish Brothers where some relatives had found out about Carlos being a Lutheran heretic, and they treated him like he had the plague. He was considered far worse than any murderer. The motivation of the church is that it will have no disagreement, and you will suffer if you disagree. Who really wants to suffer, or in this case, argue? S0 we keep our mouths shut. And I have, at times, felt that pressure to just keep my mouth shut.
And so, one of my goals for 2012 is to get solid on my understanding of the Intelligent Design question. I also want to finally get solid on my thoughts and information on the young earth, old earth discussion. I don’t want to do this to be combative or divisive, but it is time for me to look critically at the facts, the reasons for argument, and to decide what I believe.