Andrews University is excited to announce and congratulate our colleague, Tiffany Summerscales, professor of physics, for her part in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory(LIGO) Scientific Collaboration recognized today with a Nobel Prize in Physics for its discoveries of gravitational waves.Read More
The book The Reformation and the Remnant: The Reformers Speak to Today’s Church, penned by a lawyer-turned-theologian currently serving as a professor of church history at the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews University, seeks to address a cluster of contemporary Adventist issues both from the perspective of Protestant Reformation history and a focus on ideological positioning so far as various convictions in the contemporary church are concerned. References to “liberals,” “fundamentalists,” and “centrists” abound throughout the book with regard to different ideas and their alleged place on contemporary Adventism’s spectrum of thought.Read More
In this article, I have tried to present the actual mechanism that drives evolution. I have glossed over many scientific arguments and new developments such as epigenetics, but I have written the analogy this way because biology textbooks still teach that natural selection, acting on mutations produced by an unguided process, are responsible for the diversity of life on earth.Read More
On July 6 the Fundamental Beliefs (FB) Committee of the General Conference, led by Artur Stele and Angel Rodriguez, moved to revise Adventist fundamental beliefs 6 and 8 on creation and the great controversy.Read More
An outright hand-wave dismissal of theistic evolution would be unfair to those in our church that sincerely believe that a compromise is possible. Indeed, it is only fair to give the matter a proper treatise and confront the issue face-to-face. For this reason, this article seeks to provide rational and theological arguments that show the incompatible partnership of theistic evolution and Adventism and why any attempt to prove the contrary is futile and damaging.Read More
Seventh-day Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson forcefully asserted that life has existed on the Earth for only a few thousand years, not millions of years, as he opened an educators conference in Utah on Friday, and he said teachers who believe otherwise should not call themselves Seventh-day Adventists or work in Church-operated schools.
On Tuesday night, popular TV show host Bill Nye the Science Guy and biblical creationist Ken Ham (President of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis) squared off in a public debate on the topic of creationism vs. evolution. (As of today, you can watch a full video of the debate here.) I say “squared off,” but in reality, the debaters were actually very cordial, and to their credit, focused on attacking the arguments of the other person rather than resorting to personal insults.Read More
The Advent Movement was designed to be a cavalry. It was to be fast-moving, hard-hitting, and always on the offensive, taking the three angel's messages to the entire world and calling the remnant out of Babylon. Many of you are like me, you enlisted in this apocalyptic army, summoned by a love for truth and by catching the vision of that great controversy. You responded to the call. And so our spiritual careers are encircled by spiritual warfare (2 Cor. 10:4). We must fight the good fight and be alert for the enemy is prowling around looking to destroy people (1 Timothy 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8).Read More
In "Outline of proposed theories for Genesis 1:1-2", we looked at the five major interpretations of Genesis 1:1,2. Seventh-day Adventists have historically understood these verses as the Young Earth-No Gap position. The Seventh-Day Adventist Encyclopedia sums this position up by stating: “on the first day of the Creation week . . . He [God] brought into existence the matter that composed the earth and that He proceeded immediately with the work of the six days.” Keeping this in mind, we will see if the Young-earth, No Gap interpretation is a valid one.
I. "In the beginning"
The first question to answer is in the beginning of what? Is the word “beginning” in reference to a specific time or event that is knowable in Scripture? Is “beginning” an intangible time eons ago? Or does it refer to the “absolute beginning” of the world, or universe?
“In the beginning" (Hebrew- re’sheet) has four basic meanings. They are:
- Chief (chief place, chief leader), Leader (President, Prince, Ruler),
- Principle (of anything), Best (Best of its kind),
- Head (of man or beast), Top (of mountain, peak highest place, summit),
- First (at first, first place, first part), Beginning (primary motion from rest), commence
The definition that fits the context the best is number four. This meaning defines the initiation of a process or first part of something; whereas the first three describe qualities or positions of something, someone, etc. Genesis 1:1 could have been written “at the first God created,” “at the start God created,” or “at the commencement God created . . .," etc. Re’sheet does not have the meaning of “in time(s) past,” “in ancient time,” “in past ages,” etc. If Moses had wanted to use a Hebrew word that refers to a time before creation week, he had the choice of using: 1 ) Ri’shown--former, formerly, before, aforetime, old time, foremost; 2 ) Gohlahm--ancient time, anciently, of old; 3 ) Shilshowm--idiom for 'in times past', times past, past, beforetime. Because Moses did not use any of these words, and because re’sheet doesn’t carry the lexical meaning of “ages past,” “in times past,” etc., we can know Moses was trying to convey a specific time that is knowable to us. A point of interest in this discussion is the Good News Translation of Gen. 1:1-,“In the beginning, when God created the universe.” In our next article we will see that “heaven” and “earth” do not refer to the creation of the universe, “time,” etc. In summary, “beginning” (re’sheet) has a lexical meaning of a point in time or first part of something that is knowable. It does not denote a point in time followed by a gap or space (primary motion from rest implies the motion continues without stopping). It also doesn’t designate between an “absolute beginning” (whatever this means) and “beginning.”
Comparative ConsiderationsRe’sheet is used 51 times in the Old Testament. A comparative word study is in harmony with the definitions given above. In Scripture, re’sheet defines the starting point of a process, time period or first part of something. For example:
- Beginning or First part of a kingdom, reign, year, nations,
- Beginning or First part of yearly produce, livestock, offerings. . (dough, corn, sheep, offerings, wine),
- Beginning or First part of moral or physical attributes (wisdom, sin, strife, strength, might),
- Beginning or First part of a thing, man, etc. (in contrast to “the end”- Is. 46:10).
The Old Testament reveals that re’sheet is not used as a nebulous or unknowable word. Rather, it delineates a specific point of time that can be measured or understood from the context or other passages. The context of Genesis one is the “filling“ and “forming” of the earth and heavens. Therefore, “beginning” is directly related to the subsequent actions of God in Genesis one and two.
Grammatical Considerations Grammatically, the opening word bere’sheeth (a form of re‘sheet) is in the “absolute state”and the opening phrase is an independent clause. (For detailed discussion of the grammatical, syntactical and stylistic considerations of Genesis 1:1,2, please see Gerhard Hasel's “Recent Translations of Genesis 1:1,” The Bible Translator 22, 1971). Verse one is not dependent on verse two, but rather two (and three) are dependent on verse one. Some modern translations have misdiagnosed this, and begin with the phrase “when in the beginning” (NJV, NEB, NAB, CEB, NRSV). These versions imply that the “beginning” is something that happened long before verse two. Dr. Hasel has shown that bere’sheeth should be translated “In the beginning” and that it “has the support of word studies, grammar, Masoretic pointing and accentuation.” If Moses wanted to say the “heavens and earth” began ages ago (Active-Gap Theory- occurring after verse 1), he would have used the construct state and the first phrase would have been a “Dependent clause” (“when in the beginning . . .”). As we will note in the Syntactical Considerations, verses two and three also begin with the linking word “and” (“AND the earth was without form . . . AND God said, ‘Let there . . .’”). This unifies the first three verses together in time- which rules out the Passive-Gap Theory (which proponents say happened after verse 2).
“Heavens and the earth were finished”-
Genesis 2:1 says, “thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.”
When the Hebrew word “finished” (kalah) is used in the O.T., it references a process (building, construction, numbering, prophecy, etc.) that continues uninterrupted from its commencement. In other words, the word “finished” stands in opposition to “beginning” like book ends of a process that once started, progresses until finished with no gaps or lulls. In reality, this is the summary statement of the creation account, not Genesis 1:1.
“Generations of the heavens and the earth”
Genesis 2:4 says- “these are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created....” The Hebrew word for “generation” (toh-l’dohth) has the meaning of: a genealogy, family history or lineage, family connected by birth, successive generations, etc. The Bible uses this word with family lineages, in which the line goes back, unbroken until the beginning. Examples of this are Jesus' lineage in Luke 3, and the generations of Adam in Genesis 5. Dr. Richard Davidson comments, “The chronogenealogies of Gen 5 and 11 have indicators that they are be taken as complete genealogies without gap[s] . . . tight interlocking features make it virtually impossible to argue that there are significant generational gaps.” In a similar way, the chronogenealogy of Genesis 1 contains interlocking features (“evening and morning . . . first day“) that vitiate gaps or spaces. In the Old Testament, the first generation of a genealogy is followed directly and contiguously with the second. To be consistent, the first generation (of “heaven and earth”) would be followed consecutively and contiguously with the events and days of creation. Therefore, once the heaven and earth are created (Gen. 1:1), their “family line” would continue with the next “generation” following directly.
The syntax of Genesis 1:2 contains “three noun clauses, which all describe the state of existing contemporaneously with the action expressed in Genesis 1:1. In other words, verse two describes the state of the earth during the time when the activity of verse one was ended and that of verse three began.” (emphasis mine) In Hebrew, verse two begins with the word “and” (Hb.- waw), and it is in the copulative form. According to Dr. Hasel, when “the noun [is] in an emphatic position followed by the verb [it] leads to a meaning that may be rendered- 'And (as far as) the earth (is concerned it) was . . .'" Hebrew scholar D. Kidner concurs that verse two is connected to one, “By all normal usage the [second] verse is an expansion of the statement just made, and its own two halves are concurrent.” What this means is that there is no gap (of time) between verse one and two; verse two is simply a description of the earth created in verse one. Verse three also begins with the word “and” (waw- copulative), so that “just as verse 2 is connected to verse 1, so also there is a link between verses 2 and 3.” Dr. Hasel concludes his remarks on the syntax by stating- “The author of the first verse of the Bible expresses the idea that ‘in the beginning’ . . . God created ‘heaven and earth‘. . . this created world was in a condition described in verse 2. Next God transformed this condition into the one presently existing.” (emphasis mine) This is confirmed by another exegete- “Genesis 1:3 begins with another conjunction, so we know it is part of the continuing action. . .
Stylistically, Genesis 1 is characterized by the consistent use of short sentences: “And God saw that . . . was good” (1;4,10,12,18,25,31);’ and there was evening and there was morning, . . . Day one” (1:5,8,13,19,23,31). The implication of this stylistic uniqueness militates against a syntactical construction of verses 1-3 that makes these verses into a long and complicated sentence structure.” Verse one contains a single short phrase and “verse 2 consists of three noun clauses.” Therefore, the brevity of the phrases in verses one and two are consistent with the rest of the chapter, belonging to a “series of characteristically short sentences.” While verses one and two may not begin with the distinctive “and God saw,” or “and God said,” etc., they still have the same short cadence.
One argument against Genesis 1:1,2 being included in the creation week, is the formula- “And God said . . . Day one,” “And God said . . . Day two,” etc. The contention is that all the days begin with “And God said,” and conclude with “day one,” “day two,” etc., therefore verses 1,2 are not “within that framework”. There are several reasons why Genesis 1:1,2 don’t fall within this pattern, and why we shouldn’t insist on this “formula” as applying:
- Verse 1 gives us a reference point (“beginning“)- so that we know WHEN God speaks (v. 3). If verse one began- “And God said. . .”- we would not know at what point in time He began His work.
- Verse 3 begins with “and”- which links verse 3 with verse 2. Verse 1 doesn’t start with “and,” since it is not continuing an activity- it is initiating one.
- The “planting of a garden” (2:8), the creation of a “mist” to water the ground (2:6), etc.- do not fall within the “formula” of chapter one- since they are within the complementary chapter 2.
- Ps. 33:6 says the “heavens” were made by the “word of the Lord.” As for the earth- they were made “by the word of God” (Heb. 11:3). These verses show us that God spoke the “heavens and the earth” into existence. Therefore, the alleged “formula”- “God said. . .” was still followed, even if we don’t know this from Genesis 1. (more on this in the next article)
- God “covered the earth with the deep” (Ps. 104:6) and “strengthened the fountains of the deep” (Pr. 8:28). The “deep” (including the “waters”) was created in a way not expressed in Genesis 1.
- The following were not specified within the “pattern” of “and God said. . . Day one”- yet were created during the first week: 1) The “springs of the sea” (Job 38:16), 2) commanding “the morning” (Job 38:12), 3) Causing “the dayspring” (Job 38:12), 4) “forming the mountains” (Amos 4:13), 5) “creating the wind” (Amos 4:13), 6) “builds spheres in the heaven. . . arch of the earth” (Amos 9:6, A.R.V.), 7) calling for “the waters of the sea” (Amos 9:6), 8) forming “the light, and darkness” (Is. 45:7), etc. These and other passages show that we should not limit our understanding of creation to the alleged “pattern” of Genesis one- “and God said. . . Day one, etc.”.
In light of the lexical, grammatical, syntactical, contextual, comparative and stylistic information, the evidence points to the creation of “heaven and earth” at the “beginning” of the first day of the creation week. The above findings confute the idea that Genesis 1:1 refers to an “absolute beginning,” “ancient beginning,” “primordial beginning,” etc. The focus of Genesis one and two is the creation week, therefore “beginning” (re’sheet) is directly linked (in space and time) and related to the information that follows.
Lexical Considerations The word “created” (bara) in Genesis 1:1 has two primary meanings: 1 ) To create, bring into existence, bring forth, cause to exist (that which had no existence), produce into being, and 2 ) to form, to build or fashion, to shape, to engrave, cut out, etc. The meaning that is in harmony with the context is number one, since the “earth was without form and void” (verse 2). The “shaping,” “building” and “forming” would take place on days two through six. It was the creative act of “causing to exist” that which had not previously existed, that Genesis 1:1 is referring to--creatio ex nihilo.
“Created” (bara) and “made” (asah) The fourth commandment has been used to support God creating the “heavens and the earth” on the first day of creation. It reads, “for in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Ex. 20:11). The passage seems to affirm that God “made” the heaven and the earth DURING the “six days” of creation. Critics of this understanding assert that since the word “made” (asah) is different that the word “created” (bara) in Genesis 1:1they cannot be conflated. However, this fails to take into consideration the nuanced differences and similarities between these two words. In Gen. 2:3, “God created (bara) AND made (asah)” the heavens and the earth. Therefore, bara (“created”) and asah (“made”) are used in harmony with each other.
Like bara, asah has two general meanings: 1 ) To make out of pre-existent matter, to form- fashion, modeled, fabricated, etc.; and 2 ) A General word, to perform an act--doing, acting, working, do mightily, bring about, etc. Some lexicographers state it this way, “asah” is a “very general word- like ‘do’ and ‘make’ in English.” In the fourth commandment, God is referring to ALL His created works involving the earth and heavens. Therefore, He uses a word that applies to His activity in general. God “molded” and “formed” man, and animals (Gen. 2:7,19) out of pre-existing material, but He “created” other things (Light, trees, etc.) by His word. Therefore, “asah” does not stand in tension to “Bara.“ Rather, was the best general word God could have used to include those things created from nothing, AND those from pre-existing material (man and animals).
From our brief survey, we have seen that the evidence points towards the creation of the “heaven and the earth” on the first day of creation. At this point we can summarize the following: 1 ) “Beginning” (re’sheet) is a knowable point of time at the first day of creation, 2 ) God created the world out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo) in the recent past on the first day of creation, 3 ) this understanding is in harmony with the fourth commandment which includes “heaven, earth, sea and all that is in them,” 4 ) the popular geologic dating results are not in harmony with the Biblical record, so they must be revised to correlate with Scripture. In the next article, we will look at the three elements that God created in the “beginning” of the first day (verse 2)- “heaven,” “earth” and “water” (including “the deep”). In the final article we look at why any of this is relevant.
 “Creation” in the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, ed. Don F. Neufield, 35
 The specific Hebrew form of resheet used in Genesis 1:1 is B’resheet
 Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon
 Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, William Duncan, English-Hebrew Lex.
 Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary
 Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon
 William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary
 Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Thomas R. Brown, Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon
 William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon
 Thomas R. Brown, Lexicon
 Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, Josiah Willard Gibbs
 W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon, Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon
 Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon
 William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon
 William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary
 Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon
 Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon, Thomas R. Brown, Lexicon, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon
 John Parkhurst, Hebrew Lexicon
 John Parkhurst, Hebrew Lexicon
 Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon, John Parkhurst, Hebrew Lexicon
 Thomas R. Brown, Lexicon
 William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon
 “in the beginning” does not refer to the “beginning of the universe,” the “beginning of time,” etc. A thorough refutation of this idea can be found in Ferdinand Regalado’s article- “The Creation account in Genesis 1: Our world only or the Universe?” (Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 13/2, Autumn 2002) http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=54&journal=1&type=pdf
 The Institute for Creation Research has written- “No other cosmogony, whether in ancient paganism or modern naturalism, even mentions the absolute origin of the universe. . . the concept of the special creation of the universe of space and time itself is found nowhere in all religion or philosophy, ancient or modern, except here in Genesis 1:1. . . this verse records the creation of space (“the heaven”), of time (“in the beginning”), and of matter (“the earth”) . . .”
 Gen. 10:10; Jer. 26:1; 27:1; 28:1; 49:34; Deu. 11:12; Nu. 24:20
 Nu. 15:20, 21; Neh. 10:37; Deu. 18:4; 1 Sam. 2:29; 2 Ch. 31:5
 Pr. 1:7; Mic. 1:13; Pr. 17:14
 Gen. 49:3; Deut. 21:17; Ps. 111:10; 78:51; 105:36, Jer. 49:35
 Job 8:7; Job 42:12; Ecc. 7:8; Prov. 8:22
 Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.
Dr. Hasel notes: “Moses could not have used any other construction to denote the first word as in the absolute state, but he could have opted for a different construction to indicate the construct state. . . [the] Vulgate, Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus, Targum Onkelos- All place the first word of the Bible in the absolute state- - and an independent main clause. . . [furthermore] The Masoretes (who supplied the Hebrew text with vowels and accents, Placed the first word in Genesis with a disjunctive accent tiphha- construing it as an absolute.
 Ex. 39:32- Tent of the Congregation 2 Chr. 4:11- Huram finished the work that he was to
Ex. 40:33- Moses finished the work 2 Chron. 7:11- Solomon finished the house of the Lord
1 Ki. 6:9- So he built the house and finished it Dan. 12:7- all these things shall be finished
1 Ki. 7:22- so was the work of the pillars finished
 William Wallace Duncan, Hebrew and English Lexicon
 Edward Mitchell and Benjamin Davies, Complete Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, Josiah Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Jastrow, Hebrew-Aramaic-English Dictionary
 Edward Mitchell and Benjamin Davies, Complete Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon
 Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon
 Other genealogies would also include: Gen. 6:9- the generations of Noah, Gen. 10:1- the generations of the sons of Noah, Gen. 11:10- the generations of Shem, Gen. 11:27- the generations of Terah, Gen. 25:19- the generations of Isaac, Ex. 6:19- Levi, according to their generations, Nu. 3:1- the generations of Aaron, Ru. 4:18- the generations of Pharez, etc.
 Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.
 Hasel, “Recent Translations of Genesis 1:1,” The Bible Translator 22, 1971
 Hasel, Ministry, Bible Translator, Op. Cit.
 N.H. Ridderbos, “Genesis 1:1-2,” (Oudtestamentische Studien 12, 1958), 231
 D. Kidner, Genesis, p. 44
 Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.
 Hasel, Bible Translator, Op. Cit.
“And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light‘. . . every thought is begun with a conjunction, so we know that all of this is part of the continuing action.”
 Hasel, Ministry, Op.Cit.
 Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.
 Hasel, Bible Translator, Op. Cit.
 Quoted in E.G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 414
 Quoted in E.G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 414
 John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon; William Roy, Ibid, Mitchell & Davies, Ibid; Brown-Driver-Briggs, Ibid
 Thomas Brown, Hebrew Lexicon
 William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary
 William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary
 John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 John Parkhurst, Ibid; William Osborn, Ibid; Josiah Gibbs, Ibid; Brown-Driver-Briggs, Ibid; Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon
 William Roy, Ibid; Mitchell & Davies, Ibid; William Duncan, Ibid; Brown-Driver-Briggs, Ibid
 Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon; Jastrow, Hebrew-Aramaic-English Dictionary
 Josiah Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon; William Duncan, Hebrew-English Lexicon; William Duncan, Ibid; Jastrow, Ibid
 John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon; W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon
 William Roy, Hebrew-English Critical Dictionary; W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon
 William Osborn, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 Jastrow, Hebrew-Aramaic-English Dictionary
 W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon; John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 William Roy, Hebrew-English Critical Dictionary; John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon; Josiah Gibbs, Lexicon
 Brown- Driver- Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 Brown- Driver- Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon
 John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon
Some people certainly seem to have more faith than others. The famed British theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking caused a stir once again this week as he made a presentation at the California Institute of Technology.
Individuals anxious to hear him began lining up 12 hours before his lecture was scheduled to begin, the line growing to more than a quarter-mile long. A second auditorium was arranged with a video feed, but still there was not enough room for the throngs that wanted entrance. One man was observed to be offering $1,000 for a ticket, to no avail. A huge jumbotron was set up outside on the lawn, where an estimated 1,000 listeners clambered for a view.
And what did Hawking have to say? The main point of the presentation seemed to be his continued insistence that the universe came into existence without the help of God. He joked about God’s supposed power and omnipresence. He ridiculed contemporary religion’s approach to science, citing Pope John Paul II’s insistence that creation was a holy event, and beyond the scope of observational science. “I was glad not to be thrown into an inquisition,” Hawking joked.
For someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of God, Hawking certainly does bring him into the discussion surprisingly often. As I have read Hawking’s materials, and noted his frequent pejorative references to the idea of God, I’ve been struck with how his conception of God differs so drastically from mine.
To be absolutely frank, I would have to admit that the God that he has rejected, I reject as well. I think if I were to ask him to describe the God that he doesn’t believe in, he would be surprised to learn that a Christian pastor doesn’t believe in that God either. Even in Tuesday’s presentation he poked fun at the idea of an eternally present God with the quip, “What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?”
Unfortunately for Hawkins and many others, their perceptions of God are based upon the imperfect representations that we as Christians have made of him. We claim to be disciples of Jesus, but too often our own spirit and attitudes and ways of treating others are nothing like his.
Through the centuries, traditions and doctrines, sometimes borrowed from pagan philosophies and superstitious deities, have supplanted the Bible’s clear revelation of the character of God, until thinking men and women are led to reject these caricatures, thinking they are rejecting God. But back to Hawking’s theoretical question: Was God whiling away his pre-creation eternity scheming the demise of his detractors or doubters?
Quite to the contrary. If Hawking would only learn about God from the Bible, the written word of God, and from the life of Jesus, the incarnate Word sent to reveal God to mankind, he would not be asking such foolish questions. In fact, the Bible does not present the picture of a God who in the beginning was selfishly scheming to punish those who might doubt or even reject his existence. The God revealed in the Bible foresaw the plight of humanity fallen in sin and proactively planned to save mankind even at a tremendous cost to himself. Rather than being the egocentric God that Hawking’s question presumes, defensive of himself and punitive towards those who don’t appreciate him, the Bible reveals instead a God who unselfishly loved, and unselfishly gave. And who planned to do this if necessary even before the world was created.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)
Referring to Jesus, John the revelator calls him the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) Not that Jesus actually died before the world was founded, but the decision was made in the heart of God that even should man rebel, God would save mankind at any cost to himself. Rather than scheming the demise of Stephen Hawking (and you and me, for all have sinned and gone contrary to the ways of unselfish love), God was selflessly planning to save mankind at any cost to himself, even to the point of giving his only son to perish in our place (John 3:16).
Does it take faith to believe in such a God? Certainly. But it’s not faith without evidence. There are good reasons to consider the Bible trustworthy, dependable. There is striking evidence in favor of intelligent design. And most of all, the evidence of divine power to work changes in my own heart and in the lives of others strengthens belief in my God and his word. I believe that you and I are here today because a loving God intentionally and intelligently created us (John 1:1-3) and still sustains us (Colossians 1:16, 17).
But it also takes faith to believe in other theories of origins. Hawking’s preferred view of why we are here, as he explained Tuesday evening, involves what’s known as M-theory. It posits that the big bang not only created the universe — it created multiple universes, increasing the odds of a universe being capable of sustaining life. The problem is that the likelihood of an unexplainable event creating multiple universes seems less likely than that of it creating only one. This theory is an admission of the improbability of life coming about on its own through naturalistic means, and in order to increase those odds it assumes even more faith in the accomplishments of the big bang. It’s simply a transference of improbability to an event they make no claim to understand anyway. It’s like they’ve been confronted with the fact that an explosion in a print shop is not likely to form a fully accurate dictionary, and responded with the theory that the explosion must have created many, many dictionaries, increasing the odds of one entry in one of them being accurate.
Some people certainly seem to have more faith than others.
“In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the earth.”
These ten words have been called “majestic,” “great,” “magnificent,” “sublime,” “profound,” etc. Theologians have recognized them as “straightforward,” “simple,” “clear” and “unmistakable.” One scholar described Genesis 1:1 as a “plain statement that even a child can easily understand.“ Underneath the smoke of these adjectives, however, lies a heterodox of interpretations that belie their simplicity. The current Quarterly for 2013 discusses some of these theories. This article will briefly outline the major theories proposed for Genesis 1:1, 2.
I. Active Gap Theory (Ruin-Reconstruction)
Some see Genesis 1:1 as referring back to the creation of the physical world and all life on it to a moment of time long before the seven days of creation. They believe that a subsequent “appalling cataclysm obliterated every trace of life upon it and reduced its surface to a state that might be described as ‘without form, and void in verse two.’” This “Gap” or “Space” of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 has been referred to as the “Active Gap” or “Ruin-Reconstruction Theory.” Proponents of this theory assert that during this gap, “Satan was ruler of the earth which was peopled by a race of ‘men’ without any souls. Eventually, Satan, who dwelled in a garden of Eden composed of minerals (Ezekiel 28), rebelled by desiring to become like God (Isaiah 14). Because of Satan’s fall, sin entered the universe and brought on the earth God’s judgment in the form of a flood (indicated by the water of Genesis 1:2), and then a global ice-age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed. All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date from this ‘Lucifer’s flood’ and do not bear any genetic relationship with the plants, animals and fossils living upon the earth today.” In general these gap theorists are “opposed to evolution, but do not believe in a recent origin of all things.” The gap theorist assumes the proposition that God reshaped the earth and re-created all life in six literal days after ‘Lucifer’s flood,’ hence the name ‘ruin-reconstruction.’”
Bible commentaries written before the Theory of Uniformitarianism and the scientific revolution of the early 1800s, are silent about the “Ruin-Reconstruction” theory. The man most responsible for it’s origin is Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a famous Scottish theologian. Chalmers and William Buckland (1784-1856) proposed:
Millions of millions of years may have occupied the indefinite interval, between the beginning in which God created the heavens and the earth and the evening or commencement of the first day of the Mosaic narrative... The condition [of the earth and waters] is also described as a state of confusion and emptiness (tohu va bohu), words which are usually interpreted by the vague Greek term chaos, which may be geologically considered designating the wreck and ruins of a former world.
As modified by George H. Pember (1837-1910), this view came to be widely disseminated in the older editions of the Scofield Reference Bible. It was probably the dominant view among evangelicals until the 1960s. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, and The Newberry Reference Bible also helped to foment the “Active Gap Theory.” Contemporary supporters of this theory include: Harry Rimmer, (Modern Science and the Genesis Record, 1937), George DeHoff (Why We Believe the Bible 1944), Benny Hinn, John Hagee (asserts that “the earth was created and flooded before the six days of creation in which mankind appeared”), and Billy Graham.
II. Passive Gap Theory (Restitution Creationism--Creatio ex materia)
The “Passive Gap Theory” understands “Genesis 1:1 as a reference to the creation of the universe, including the earth in its raw state, billions of years ago. Contrary to the Ruin-Restoration theory of the early Scofield Bible, only non-fossil bearing rocks are billions of years old.” Thus, the six days of creation (verse 3 onwards) start “sometime after the Earth was ‘without form and void.’ This allows an indefinite ‘gap’ of time to be inserted after the original creation of the universe, but prior to the six days of creation--when present biological species and humanity were created. Gap theorists can therefore agree with the scientific consensus regarding the age of the Earth and universe, while maintaining a literal interpretation of the biblical text.”
According to theologian Aurther Custance, the historical antecedents of the “Passive Gap Theory” extend back to the Jewish commentators of the Midrash and Targum of Onkelos. This understanding was more clearly and forcefully articulated by the 11th century Flemish Catholic theologian, Hugo St. Victor. Hugo’s understanding was that the disordered state of the earth “was only awaiting the ordering hand of God to make it into a Cosmos.” Thirteenth century Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274) reiterated this view when he wrote his Summa Theologiae: "it seems better to maintain (the view) that the creation [of the “heaven and the earth”] was prior to any of the days (literally, before any day)." 16th century French Jesuit theologian Dionysius Petavius (1583-1652), wrote: "The question of 'How great an interval there was ', it is not possible except by inspiration to attain knowledge of." Catholic philosopher Benedict Pereira wrote:
Even though before the first day, the heavens and the elements were made subsequent to the substance (ie., basic essence of creative activity) nevertheless they were not perfected and completely furnished until the period of the six days: for then was given to them (their) furnishing, (their) fulfillment (filling up), and (their) completion. However, just how long that darkened state of the world lasted, ie., whether it lasted more than one day or less than one day, this is not clear to me . . .
The “Passive Gap Theory” first gained prominence during the Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation. Although the antecedents of this Theory might be traced to ancient Jewish writings--it was the Catholic scholars who first solidified and actively promoted it. The current Catechism reflects this understanding:
'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' Creation . . . did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created “in a state of journeying” (in statu vitae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it...
During the 19th century, the “Passive Gap Theory” made its way into the thinking of the Protestant theologians. Hebrew Professor E.B. Pusey of the late 1800s, dismissed the “Ruin-Restoration” geologic theory, but embraced the “Passive Gap Theory.” He concluded: “'in the beginning God created . . .’ what intervened between ‘in the beginning’ and the remodeling of our habitation does not concern us. . . . It was not my business to enter upon the claims of geology.” Theologians who promoted this view include: German Orientalist, Julius Wheelhouse (1844-1918), E. Konig (1882), John Nelson Darby (1800–1882), Dutch theologian G. Aalders, A. Heidel, B.S. Childs, D. Kidner, E.J. Young, E. Maly and G. Henton Davies. Some Contemporary theologians who appear to have adopted this position are: Apologist Dr. John Ankerberg, philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig, Bible scholar Dr. Norman Geisler, radio personality Hank Hanegraaff, apologist Greg Koukl, etc.
III. Summary Statement Theory
Another understanding of Genesis 1:1 is that it is a “Summary statement,” “Heading” “superscript,” or “Title.” Dr. Waltke, a Reformed evangelical professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, asserts that Genesis 1:1 is a summary verse of the rest of the chapter-- not simply the first event in the chapter. He writes:
In the beginning. The daring claim of verse 1, which encapsulates the entire narrative, invites the reader into the story. Its claim and invitation is that in the beginning God completed perfectly this entire cosmos. ‘Beginning’ refers to the entire created event, not something before the six days nor a part of the first day. (Note: This is a relative beginning. As verse 2 seems to indicate, there is a pre-Genesis time and space.) Although some have argued that 1:1 functions as merely the first event of creation, rather than a summary of the whole account, the grammar makes that interpretation improbable.
One explanation of this theory proposes that the Hebrew language uses headings or “announcements” of events that follow them. A narrative that tells something that happened in the past can use verbs in the wayyigtol sense. One scholar describes it this way:
They are used to announce broadly sequential events. If an author wishes to provide background information relevant to the story, he will typically do so in an introduction using mainly verbs in the perfect or weqetal tenses. That’s exactly what we find in Moses’ Creation account in Genesis 1. The result is that Day 1 begins in verse 3 with the first wayyiqtol verb wayyomer elohim (And God said); the same way Days 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 begin. This also means that verses 1 and 2 record events that happened prior to Creation Day 1 and speak of the conditions in Creation at the time the first Day begins.
Among the scholars who have adopted this position are: German theologian Hermann Strack (1848-1922), German Old Testament scholar Herman Gunkel (1862-1932), Lutheran theologian Otto Procksch, Walther Zimmerli (1907-1983), Old Testament theologian Gerhard von Rad (1901-1971), Old Testament scholar Walther Eichrodt (1890-1978), H.A. Brongers, U. Cassuto, Old Testament scholar W.H. Schmidt, German Lutheran O.T. scholar Claus Westermann (1909-2000), New Testament theologian, Herman Nicolaas Ridderbos (1909-2007).
IV. Young-Earth Theory (No Gap- Creation of Universe and Earth on the First Day)
Another theory of Genesis 1:1, 2 holds that God created the universe, matter, heavens, angels (including Lucifer) in verse 1, and then immediately went on to form and fill the earth in six literal days. This view is propagated by the Institute for Creation Research and Answers-in-Genesis Organization. They propose that verse 1 is part of the first day of the creation week, and that everything was brought into being--including angels, God’s abode, time, energy, etc. Before this, only God existed. The approximate time of this creation took place between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago. Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb Jr. are the main proponents of this theory. This became the foundation of a new generation of young Earth creationist thinkers, who organized themselves around Morris' Institute for Creation Research. Sister organizations such as the Creation Research Society have sought to re-interpret geological formations within this young Earth creationist viewpoint.
V. Young-Earth Theory (No Gap--Creation of “Local Heaven” and Earth on 1st day)
This theory differs from the previous one, in that it limits the creation to the raw materials for the earth and the local heavens (including the solar system and local “heavens“) on the first day. In other words, God created the unfilled, unformed (Hebrew--tohu va bohu) earth (including the “deep”) and local galactic and solar heavens at the beginning of the first day of the creation week. O.T. theologian Gerhard Pfandl explains:
This view, held by Luther and Calvin and many Christians since, understands Genesis 1:1 to be part of the first day of the Creation week. Thus verse two describes the condition of the earth immediately after the creation of ‘heaven and earth’ (our planetary system) and before the creation of light. The fourth commandment says, ‘In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them’ (Ex. 20:11; 31:17). According to the traditional Creation theory, the phrase ‘all that is in them’ includes the raw material of the heavens and the earth.
This view does not speak of the creation of the entire universe in Genesis 1:1. Dr. Gerhard Hasel notes that: “verse 1 does not seem to speak of the creation of the entire universe in its totality, but of the [earth] and its surrounding heavenly sphere.” F. Regalado commented:
“When we closely examine Gen. 1, especially such words as ‘in the beginning’ and ‘heaven and earth,’ contextually and linguistically, we can say that the creation narrative is talking only about our world and is silent about the creation of the entire universe . . . .”
Commentator Adam Clarke asserted that “Genesis 1:1 is interpreted “in a more restricted sense to mean the solar system.” Old Testament scholar William Shea echoed this when he wrote: “Genesis 1:1 is even further restricted to the earth and the atmospheric heaven surrounding it.” He also challenges the idea that Genesis 1:1 refers to the universe:
An examination of the occurrences [where ‘heaven and earth’ is used in the Creation account] shows that the word ‘heavens’ does not focus upon the universe, but rather upon the atmospheric heavens that surround this earth . . . Thus the focus of the use of the phrase ‘heavens and the earth’ in Genesis 1 is upon this earth, not the universe . . . This shows the geocentric emphasis of this Creation account.
This Young Earth theory seems to have had roots in ancient Judaism--the commentary on Genesis by Ibn Ezra (c. 1089–1164). Jose ben Halafta in 160 AD, dates the creation of the world to 3751 BC while the later Seder Olam Zutta to 4339 BC. The Hebrew Calendar has traditionally since the 4th century AD by Hillel II dated the creation to 3761 B.C. Early Christians include Eusebius, Jerome, Hippolytus of Rome, etc. Protestants included Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Melanchthon, Martin Luther, Andreas Helwig, etc. The Seventh-Day Adventist Encyclopedia states: “SDAs have always affirmed belief in creation ex nihilo--that God was not indebted to previously existing matter when He brought the earth into existence. They have generally taken it for granted that it was on the first day of Creation week that He brought into existence the matter that composed the earth and that He proceeded immediately with the work of the six days.”
What difference does it make how we interpret Genesis 1:1, 2? A few points to keep in mind regarding an accurate understanding include: 1 ) Whether or not the world was created from nothing (creatio ex nihilo), 2 ) What the word “Beginning” means--the “beginning of time,” “beginning of the earth,” the “absolute beginning“, etc., 3 ) When were “heaven,” “earth,” “water” created?, 4 ) Is it consistent with other actions of God in Scripture- that He would make an “unfinished” world for millions of years, and come back to complete it later? If so--why? 5 ) Did God really make “the heaven, earth, sea and all that is in them” in six days as the Fourth Commandment declares?, 6 ) There are no other “gaps” in the creation account--if this is the exception, wouldn’t the text make it clear there is a “gap“?, 7 ) Does the dating of geologic formations and strata affect the reading of the text? In the next article, we will see if Genesis 1:1, 2 sheds any light on the meaning of these “Ten Grand Words.”
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) For those who trust in the written record of the Scripture, this verse contains the essence of our belief in the way the world formed. God chose to reveal aspects of creation in His Word that we take at face value because we have faith that what the Bible says is true. Special creation, finished in seven days, cannot be proven empirically because the entire concept revolves around a God bringing forth life and matter, and belief in God always requires faith. Does evolution require belief? One of the psychological advantages employed by evolutionists (including Darwin himself) is to say they base their theories on science and on facts that can be tested and analyzed. They ridicule creationists as ignorant fools trusting in an unconfirmed God. They maintain they can prove everything they say without resorting to belief in the Divine. Is this true, or do they need as much (or more) faith in non-provable assumptions?
In the Beginning For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:9)
According to evolutionists, life began when certain chemicals joined according to the theory of spontaneous generation, in which life arises out of inactive matter. Experiments undertaken in the 1950's to replicate the origins of life are often cited as proof, but they used false environmental conditions (oxygen-free atmosphere; no natural ultraviolet radiation) and still were unsuccessful in generating cell life.(1) Never has life been assembled in the laboratory; thus the entire foundation for evolution is defended as follows:
One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are--as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.(2)
Cells are the basic elements of life, yet the more we learn of them the more complex they appear. When Darwin first proposed his theory he offered this falsification test:
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.(3)
Modern research on the structure of cells has revealed an answer to his test. One evolutionist discovered:
As biochemists have begun to examine apparently simple structures like cilia and flagella, they have discovered staggering complexity, with dozens or even hundreds of precisely tailored parts.... As the number of required parts increases, the difficulty of gradually putting the system together skyrockets, and the likelihood of indirect scenarios plummets.(4)
Micro-evolution vs. Macro-evolution
From these extraordinary beginnings life evolved from stage to higher stage until humans finally arrived. But an important distinction must be made that is often forgotten. There are two definitions of evolution that consist of quite different principles. The first can be called micro-evolution and involves changes of color, structure, and behavior caused by external pressures from isolation, climatic change, and other species. The second is macro-evolution and involves the major changes from one class of species to another, such as from fish to amphibians and from reptiles to mammals. This also includes major changes that would result in new families like the development of feline and canine families from some common ancestor. These two very different concepts are often blurred together by evolutionists and misunderstood by creationists. Please note that I am using the original—and correct—definitions for these terms as they were historically understood. Recent attempts have been made by some to change these terms to hide the issues that they expose.
Micro-evolution is occurring all around us in every species of life. Species with extensive ranges show little variety as their gene pool is large and intermingles regularly. But animals and plants on islands or in isolated habitats are different from similar species elsewhere. These differences can be minor (unusual colors; flowers with more stamens), or major (flightless birds; carnivorous caterpillars). In North America, the Mountain Lion is split into populations that no longer connect. Those in Florida have been isolated long enough to be considered as a subspecies that has distinctive behaviors and characteristics from the widespread form found throughout the western states. The two subspecies could still breed together if they ever met now, but if their isolation continues long enough they would eventually be incapable of interbreeding and would thus become separate species. An example of the latter is the two species of Gray Squirrel, Eastern and Western.
Built into all life is the ability to adjust slightly through successive generations to meet the demands of the surroundings they inhabit. Without this there could be no colonization of new areas or survival when unexpected changes occur. It is crucial to note though, that all such changes occur within the strict confines of the same kind of organism. In other words, rattlesnakes develop into different species of rattlesnakes and orchids into different species of orchids. For thousands of years we have bred domestic animals into a bewildering plethora of forms, but never has a dog become anything other than a dog, even though the shapes and personalities nearly defy comparison.
Macro-evolution takes the next step and says that at some point the dog will become something entirely different. It will become a new form of life that will someday change again and eventually be so distinct that no obvious resemblance is detectable between its ancestral form and itself. This is supposed to account for the massive differences between turtles, jellyfish, and humans, and indeed between every life form, since animals and plants come from common ancestors. Supposedly macro-evolution produced everything alive today, but it doesn't seem to be occurring now. It has never been documented in the wild or in the lab.
What mechanism could account for the incredible progression from algae to armadillos? The answer given is natural selection, by which successful adaptation survives and poor adaptation becomes extinct. Evolutionists give natural selection amazing qualities, including a nearly conscious power to propel evolution forward:
Natural selection converts randomness into direction and blind chance into apparent purpose. It operates with the aid of time to produce improvements in the machinery of living, and in the process generates results of a more than astronomical improbability which could have been achieved in no other way.(5)
This places inestimable importance upon natural selection as the key force behind all the variety and specialization of life. Without it evolutionists have no explanation for how things are, so we must examine it carefully.
Every species' offspring has differing traits since no two organisms are identical. If a specific trait helps an individual survive, then it is usually passed on to its offspring. If a trait does the opposite, then an individual has a greater chance of dying and not passing on that trait. As generations proceed the individuals that survive are the ones best suited for that particular habitat. This is especially true when a species is thrust into a new habitat such as landing on an island. Nearly every island in the South Pacific has its own species of gecko, each adapted to survive there. So natural selection can explain micro-evolution. But what about macro-evolution?
If natural selection can produce entirely new life forms, then it should be testable under controlled conditions. But a century of fruit fly studies have not produced anything other than fruit flies with the minor variations of micro-evolution. As for natural conditions, Darwin knew there was trouble when he stated:
There are two or three million species on earth. A sufficient field one might think for observation; but it must be said today that in spite of all the evidence of trained observers, not one change of the species to another is on record.(6)
Since we cannot find living transitional forms, the fossil record is studied to find the links needed between each class because they must be there for macro-evolution to be true. But they are not there. All the fossils found have been members of established classes and the transitional forms needed have not appeared. One fossil reptile was thought to be an answer, but it has more problems than solutions:
(Archaeopteryx) was a small...flying animal with hollow bones and feathers usually described by paleontologists as a dinosaur on the way to becoming a bird. Most ornithologists, however, disagree.(7)
Archaeopteryx is no more a link between reptiles and birds than Pterodactyls (flying, furred reptiles) are links to bats, or Plesiosaurs (swimming, flippered reptiles) are links to dolphins. They share common traits as do many unrelated animals. The search for the "missing links" continues.
There is a theory that macro-evolution is caused by sudden mutations (leading to such humorous conclusions as one day a dinosaur laid an egg and when it hatched, out flew a bird). A prominent evolutionist states:
Obviously...such a process (multiple, simultaneous mutations) has played no part whatever in evolution.(8)
With all these problems, and many more, we ascertain that natural selection could not result in macro-evolution and so the following conclusion is reached (by the same evolutionist):
It might be argued that the theory (of natural selection) is quite unsubstantiated and has status only as a speculation.(9)
Envoy Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. (Hebrews 11:3)
The genius of Darwin was discovering on the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere the principles of micro-evolution. The hubris of Darwin was inventing without evidence the principles of macro-evolution. The duplicity of Darwin was combining the two and calling them both by the blanket term evolution. The grave error of the Church was to oppose everything Darwin said as heresy. Supporters of evolution could then club the church into humiliation with countless examples of micro-evolution in action, and then slip in macro-evolution as the same thing. The church couldn't tell the difference and made claims as inaccurate as the evolutionists', forever damaging their credibility on this issue. Ever since, evolutionists have made the case of science refuting blind faith but the truth is that one form of error was replaced by a different form. To this day, scientists cite examples of micro-evolution adaptation and use them as "proof" of macro-evolution, without ever using those terms.
What we believe we must not pretend to know. Is evolution a belief? Evidence is not proof, as the same bit of evidence can have multiple explanations. Evidence for evolution has always stopped short of proof and is interpretable in a creation framework. Evidence for creation also exists, such as polonium halos in granite,(10) the "mitochondrial Eve,"(11) and the shallow sedimentation of the ocean floor.(12) But creation cannot be proved either. So we are left with two models of the world. Both require faith in different forces, on the one hand God and His controlling hand, and on the other chance and the biochemical predestination of natural selection. The mathematical chances of life existing have been calculated repeatedly and they always show astronomical impossibilities needed. Life's beginnings and its development cause perpetual dilemmas for evolutionists, who have endless theories to explain but no proof to confirm. In essence, evolution has become its own religion in which its disciples trust in miracles contrived by human intellect. And why do they struggle so persistently to maintain an unproved hypothesis?
Because we have a prior commitment to materialism. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.(13)
We are left with the question of what we hold as our authority. Do we believe in the Bible as the written Word of God, or do we place human intellect above it. (See Proverbs 3:5) If the latter, than my opinion is as good as yours or the next person's and eventually we find there are billions of chaotic voices all saying something different. (Welcome to the peace and joy of post-modernism, where 2 plus 2 can equal 5.) There is either one clear Voice or the cacophony of the intelligentsia; either implicit confidence in the vagaries of human reason or complete assurance that God did as He said. Given these options, which worldview really requires more faith?
- Javor, "The Origin of Life", Liberty, Sep./Oct., 1993
- Wald, Scientific American, Aug., 1954
- Darwin, On the Origin of Species
- Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, Free Press, New York, 1996
- Huxley, Evolution in Action, pp. 54-55
- Darwin, Life and Letters, Vol. 3, p. 25
- Behler, Wildlife Conservation, July/Aug., 1993
- Simpson, The Major Features of Evolution, p. 96
- Ibid., pp. 118-119
- Gentry, Creation's Tiny Mystery, Earth Science Associates, 1988
- Science, January 2, 1998
- Nevins, "Evolution: the Ocean Says No!", Ministry, March, 1977
- Lewontin, quoted in Freedom Alert, Summer, 2000
For the last four years, La Sierra science professors have been legally restricted from teaching Seventh-day Adventist beliefs in their classrooms, according to a recently discovered bond document that President Randal Wisbey and Vice President for Financial Administration David Geriguis signed in August 2008. The tax-exempt revenue bonds totaled over 24 million, but the bonds used to refinance the new Thaine B. Price Science Complex were about $17 million. By signing, Wisbey and Geriguis agreed the complex would not be used for sectarian instruction, devotional activities, religious worship or to be connected with any programs of any school or department of divinity:
The Corporation covenants and agrees that no portion of the proceeds of the Bonds will be used (1) to finance or refinance any facility, place or building used or to be used for sectarian instruction or study or as a place for devotional activities or religious worship or in connection with any part of the programs of any school or department of divinity.... (Page D-32)
Page 27 of the bond document says these restrictions will last "for the duration of the useful life of the project financed with the proceeds of the Bonds."
Knowing the terms of the bond might explain Wisbey's reaction to the joint statement published in the Adventist Review October 2011 by six biology faculty and four board members "to affirm and incorporate the church's position on creation at the classroom instruction level." Wisbey condemned the joint statement under the pretense the statement creators had not recognized normal and established governance protocols. However, La Sierra administration was aware of the joint statement prior to its publication. The Associate Provost for General Education and Academic Support at La Sierra Barbara Favorito edited it.
The board later dismissed three of the four board members whose names were on the joint statement, and a few months later Lee Greer was fired.
Because of the actions of a few men, La Sierra University is caught in a covenant agreement, which prohibits it from promoting Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. The consequences of breaking the bond agreement are dealing with a potential lawsuit and/or having to pay the bond principle immediately.
Page 27 Prohibited Use Covenant
Page D-32 Prohibited Use Covenant
It was April 14, 1912, a moonless, cold night in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Frederick Fleet stared out at the dark horizon from the crow's nest of Titanic, the new, luxurious, state-of-the-art ocean liner of the White Star line. Fleet had come on lookout duty at 10:00 p.m. and was scheduled to go off duty at midnight, in just over 20 minutes. His watch had been uneventful. Fleet and his watch partner, Reginald Lee, had been told to keep an eye out for ice. Despite repeated warnings of icebergs in the area, Titanic raced through the smooth, calm water at 22 ½ knots (about 26 m.p.h.), nearly her top cruising speed. The extraordinary calmness of the sea that night worked against Fleet and Lee, because waves breaking against the base of an iceberg were often the night lookout's first indication of the berg. As Fleet peered ahead into the night, he suddenly noticed a dark shape, even darker than the calm ocean water. Every second, it grew larger and closer. Fleet rang his bell three times to signal danger ahead, and telephoned down to the bridge. “What did you see?” asked the voice on the other end. “Iceberg, right ahead!” shouted Fleet.
First Officer William McMaster Murdoch was in command on the bridge, Titanic's Captain, Edward J. Smith, having gone to bed for the night. Murdoch ordered the helmsman to execute a sharp left turn, and signaled engineering to stop the engines. For several long seconds, Titanic bore down on the iceberg with no apparent change of course, but at the last moment she veered left of the floating mountain. It was too late, however, to avoid contact. The iceberg scraped along Titanic's starboard side for about three hundred feet, punching holes below the waterline. Murdoch then ordered the helmsman to turn right, which enabled the stern-ward two-thirds of Titanic's starboard side to slip past the iceberg without further contact. Then he ordered the 15 bulkhead doors closed, to create 16 “watertight” compartments.
Most passengers experienced the scrape as nothing more than a moderate vibration of the ship; a few went out to play with the ice that had crumbled down onto Titanic's deck. On the bridge, they thought they'd dodged a bullet, but below decks a different story was unfolding. Water was gushing into five of the 16 sealed compartments, the five closest to the bow. Captain Smith consulted the ship's architect, Thomas Andrews, who informed Smith that Titanic was designed to stay afloat with four of the forward watertight compartments flooded, but not five. That the ship would sink was a mathematical certainty. Andrews thought it would sink in perhaps 60 to 90 minutes, but Titanic managed to stay afloat for 2 hours and 40 minutes. There weren't enough lifeboats, and several were launched half full. Of the more than 2,200 souls on board, only 710 survived.
Many experts believe that Will Murdoch's best option would have been to steer directly for the iceberg and ram it. The collision would have fully stopped Titanic in about two seconds, and every person on the ship would have been jarred and tossed forward by the abrupt deceleration. It would have crushed the ship's bow and flooded one or two of the forward watertight compartments; several dozen crew members who were bunked in the bow of the ship would have been killed by the impact or drowned by the flooding, but Titanic would probably have stayed afloat. In 1879, a previous state-of-the-art British ocean liner, SS Arizona, smashed prow first into an iceberg, but did not sink, was able to limp to port, and remained in service of one form or another until 1927.
About nine years prior to the Titanic disaster, Ellen White was grappling with the subtle pantheistic statements and assertions in John Harvey Kellogg's book, The Living Temple. She received a remarkable vision:
Shortly before I sent out the testimonies regarding the efforts of the enemy to undermine the foundation of our faith through the dissemination of seductive theories, I had read an incident about a ship in a fog meeting an iceberg. For several nights I slept but little. I seemed to be bowed down as a cart beneath sheaves. One night a scene was clearly presented before me. A vessel was upon the waters, in a heavy fog. Suddenly the lookout cried, "Iceberg just ahead!" There, towering high above the ship, was a gigantic iceberg. An authoritative voice cried out, "Meet it!" There was not a moment's hesitation. It was a time for instant action. The engineer put on full steam, and the man at the wheel steered the ship straight into the iceberg. With a crash she struck the ice. There was a fearful shock, and the iceberg broke into many pieces, falling with a noise like thunder to the deck. The passengers were violently shaken by the force of the collisions, but no lives were lost. The vessel was injured, but not beyond repair. She rebounded from the contact, trembling from stem to stern, like a living creature. Then she moved forward on her way.
Well I knew the meaning of this representation. I had my orders. I had heard the words, like a voice from our Captain, "Meet it!" I knew what my duty was, and that there was not a moment to lose. The time for decided action had come. I must without delay obey the command, "Meet it!"
That night I was up at one o'clock, writing as fast as my hand could pass over the paper. For the next few days I worked early and late, preparing for our people the instruction given me regarding the errors that were coming in among us.
The pantheistic statements in Living Temple were subtle, and often closely paralleled statements Ellen White had made in answering the deistic argument that God created the world but then left it to fend for itself. Kellogg had drifted into error, but had stayed close enough to Scriptural modes of expression that the brethren were genuinely unsure of whether he had in fact erred.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church today faces a heresy that is not subtle, nor anywhere close to the biblical world view. The heresy is Darwinism, the rejection of the biblical creation doctrine and its replacement with the idea that we evolved by natural processes over the course of hundreds of millions of years. Over the past decade, the church has begun to realize the extent to which this false doctrine has seeped in among us; the faith-science conferences of 2002-2004 were an acknowledgment that many teachers and other thought leaders have embraced some form of Darwinism.
That Darwinism is incompatible with Christianity should be obvious to all. Take away the creation, and every other doctrine tumbles like a line of dominoes. Darwinism makes nonsense of the core Gospel teaching. If there was no perfect creation, there could be no fall into sin; if no Fall, then no explanation for the suffering and death we see around us. If there was no Fall, there is not need of a Redeemer. If there was no first Adam, there is no need of a second Adam to succeed where the first failed. The Biblical view of redemption as reconciliation and ransom from the consequences of Adam’s fall has to be jettisoned. In the place of the story of a ‘Fall’ has come the story of an ascent. “Sin” becomes an outmoded explanatory concept to be replaced by sociobiology and evolutionary psychology.
Darwinism also makes nonsense of the Eschaton. If God was incapable of creating the world in six days, as He said He did, then He is incapable of instantly resurrecting and glorifying the dead of all the ages, and remaking the world. If there was no literal Eden, there can be no Eden restored. In a 2009 sermon, Jan Paulsen said of the resurrection of the dead and the world made new:
All of these belong to the world of miracles. They are displays of God's unfathomable creative power. Those who have problems with the creative powers of God, or a God of creation, they have a problem so huge they don't know what to do with it, because they have no future, they have no --- everything that lies in God's future is miraculous.
Beyond the problems caused to core Gospel and end-time issues, Darwinism destroys the reason for existence of the SDA Church, which is to call Christian believers back to worship on the Biblical Sabbath, the day that God hallowed at the creation. The only universal rationale for keeping the Sabbath is that God created the world in six days and rested on the Sabbath Day. (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11) If that's not true, there's no reason to keep the Sabbath. Without the Sabbath truth, we don't have anything unique or interesting to add to prophetic interpretation; the Sabbath truth is foundational to our interpretation of Bible prophecy, particularly our interpretation of the Three Angels Messages of Revelation 14. Darwinism also fatally undermines the prophetic authority of our founding prophet, who was fully invested in the biblical doctrine of creation, and repeatedly warned of the falsity of evolutionism and long-ages geology.
Taking away the biblical doctrine of creation destroys Christianity as an internally coherent system of doctrines and beliefs. If Seventh-day Adventists compromise on this issue, not only have we lost the only universal rationale for our signature doctrine of Sabbath-keeping, we've given away everything else, as well, every advance in biblical understanding and prophetic interpretation we've made over the denominations that preceded us. We will coast for a few generations on tradition and habit, but we'll soon disappear into the depths.
A century ago on the bridge of Titanic, Will Murdoch's first instinct was to try to avoid a violent collision that would shake up everyone on the ship. But it was too late to steer clear, and trying to skirt the iceberg sealed Titanic's doom. Today, our leaders in the SDA Church seem to want somehow to skirt the looming threat of Darwinism in our ranks, but it is too late. A collision cannot be avoided, and the best thing we can do is to brace for impact, and meet it head on.