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For 150 years Christians have fought like wet cats against the theory of evolution. But it’s been a futile “culture war” whose only victims are our own.

The other side doesn’t really lose anyone in the fray. They may have an intellectual or political stake, or have some ego investment in who wins each engagement, but beyond that, what’s for an “evolutionist” to lose should we persuade some of them to believe in God, even to become Christians? Few, if any, even give up their beliefs in science and evolution. The proof is in the thousands upon thousands of scientists who are Christians, but are relatively untroubled by the “great satan”, the theory/concept of evolution. The proof is in my own life. Losing my faith in evolution merely opened me up to gain faith in God. And the hope of eternity. But should I now lose my Faith in God because of …

When we lose a child, when one of our sons or daughters, or any of the millions of adult Christians, when one is persuaded that evolution is probably true we tend to really lose them! We have set this war up such that they are rarely able to believe in both God and evolution. Why is this so? Because we have done it again, we have put God in a box, defined Him by some preconceived beliefs of who and what He is, and how He created this universe (which we can never really know). It is something we’ve done with several paradigm shifts in science, no better example than the Galileo affair.

We have, for at least 150 years, insisted that we know just how God created life on this earth, all based upon a translation of Genesis that was put in print by a committee of scholars some four centuries ago! And the most amazing (or “sad” is a better word) part of this is, is that there is nothing in Genesis that actually tells us HOW the various parts of His creation came into being. We are merely told that He commanded they do come into being. That He was the author and designer of it all, and that Jesus was the one who actually executed his Father’s will (John 1:3)!

No, we have not been like Bereans in our practices. We have not, every day, reexamined the scriptures to see if we understand them rightly, and if what others (not just Paul) tell us that other testament, nature itself, might tell us about Him. We have not taken the precept of Romans 1: 18-20 to heart. Like the church of centuries past, we ignore the testimony of the natural creation and cling to ideas and interpretations of scriptures that date to times when no one had more than an inkling of the true extent and nature of the creation. Times before telescopes and microscopes, before we’d dug into our planet or escaped its gravity. Before science could reveal to us other possibilities for the interpretation of the simple ancient language and lexicon of the Hebrew. Times before we could, utilizing all the intellectual and cultural powers that God gave us, discover the fuller truth of Romans 1:18-20, discover how study of His creation could reveal the mysteries and deeper truths buried in the expanse of His immense universe, and the depths of the earth, and shadows of time in His scale.

Do you think Romans 1:18-20 was meant more for the lonely shepherd or wandering prophet of 100 AD, or for the scientists and theologians of 2000 AD? Which of them could most likely best discern “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature … from what has been made (by Him)”?* I tell you the truth, many, if not most, of those scientists (about 40% of all scientists, and more among physicists and astronomers) have become believers because they have learned through science. I am convinced that the Romans 1 verse was really meant for this generation (if not my grandfathers!).
[*Source text: NIV]

Everything I have said here I know as truth by way of my own experience. I was once a scientist and taught evolution and evolutionary principles to my college students in a variety of subjects and applications. And I confess, to my great sorrow, I always tried to proselytize the young Christians. With all too much success.

There came a time when the zealotry of the “Evolutionists” turned me against them. There were too many unsolved problems with data and techniques, for me, to substantiate their claims for the theory, and I began to doubt. God took that as an opportunity to lead me to himself. Still a scientist, I soon insisted with equal (Berean-like) vigor that the Bible be tested and verified as the foundation of my faith. I could not see myself defining God for myself, as some are wont to do, but felt that it was vital the Bible remain the first and foremost source of our knowledge of God. As such, I was following the theory of inerrancy.

That lead to a crisis of faith. I could not reconcile Genesis 1 & 2, the Creation Account, with what I knew from my scientific knowledge and experience. Like many others of similar training and education that I knew, I tried ignoring those first chapters of the Bible. Which did not help me have confidence in the rest of the book! And that, I have found, is what happens to many a Christian. Stumbled from the beginning, the rest is very much put into doubt.

God took care of that, for me. I was “blessed” with an illness that sidelined me for several years, and I took the opportunity (and leading of the Spirit) to look into what the Hebrew language of the Scripture might really say. I spent two years conducting what I can only describe as a forensic investigation and analysis of Genesis, chapters 1 & 2 and a bit more. And I wrote a book on the process through which. I discovered just how unfounded our stand in this 150 year-old cultural war with evolution is.

Genesis does not describe creation but provides a historical outline of creation. Its more like an introductory chapter, or table of contents for a text book on creation. It gives us just a brief overview of the subject. In its time, that was enough. But in our time, we need more. And we get it! Like so much of the Bible, it prophesies. It tells us something that only we could appreciate. Only we can test and verify. Here’s the point: someone 3500 years ago could not possibly know or comprehend in any way what we know now in this time. If you read what I have shown the Hebrew texts can be understood to say, you can see that God did not bother to tell us the “how” of His creation (truth is, no one really thinks any of us are capable ever knowing or understanding that) but instead shows us that He was there, that He has seen it all, that He knew how the universe and the earth and life would proceed to develop in the future. Into our days. In that way, He turns Genesis into a testimony to the truth of Him and provides, Just as Romans says, another rock upon which we can found our beliefs!

Science has progressed much in the last decade or two. And I have come around to seriously considering the possibility that “evolution” is real. Almost all the gaps in the fossil record, which I once saw a woefully incomplete and woefully over-stated, have been filled. And genetic and anatomical evidence has shown the means and ways evolutionary processes could work. And I have come to realize that God, as the Author and Designer of all the laws of this material, dynamic entity we call “creation”, may well have chosen to utilize a process we call evolution. We know He did not create a plastic terrarium that merely cycles through time with nothing new, or nothing changing. We know that. And the creation clearly shows that He loves and enjoys endless change and variation, both in the cosmos and the web of life on this planet. No two roses are exactly the same. Who would want them to be? And every day we might find an entirely new blossom appear. Its part of what makes our rose garden exciting. And I am sure that we are only emulating Him. Sharing in His nature. So what better way to provide an endless supply of delightful variety and surprises than evolution?

At least I am sure God is not afraid of such a process. No more than the inventor of kaleidoscopes or lava lamps or disco balls would be afraid of them. So why are we? God is not diminished, nor is He bound by what we once thought about Him. We are the ones who must grow, and avoid giving our children such horrific choices, or ultimatums: evolution or God!

Before Hebrews 1 … Was Psalm 102 !

Posted in: Bible & Science by admin on July 09, 2009

After writing my previous, as luck would have it, my daily reading took me to Psalm 102 and there, to my surprise, was what was probably the Scriptural source for Paul’s words in Hebrews 1:10-12. Psalm 102 reads:

25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.
Psalms 102:25-27 (NKJV)

FYI, I’m currently working my 5th or 6th “Read the Bible in a Year” plan. And for at least ten years I’ve always been on high alert for verses that describe the creation, and creating the creation, and can give me clues to understand science, and God, and show a skeptical people how the Bible and science are (in the terms of Romans 1:18) both testaments to God as the author of creation. Yet I didn’t remember that one! See why we should never stop reading?

So I came across Psalm 102 and was really surprised to read the Hebrews 1 verse I’d just written about. Pleasantly surprised, I might add. Anyway, I want to preempt a couple of questions someone might ask, realizing that Paul might have been quoting a scripture rather than expressing his own unique revelation, and whether that affects my original point. It doesn’t. In fact, it makes my point even more something to be appreciated. Here’s why:

First: whether Paul got his knowledge about the things of the universe being but short-lived and ephemeral by hearing or reading makes no difference. Indeed, Jesus himself describes reading and comprehending a scripture, as well as hearing Him say something and comprehending, as “hearing”. And one can only comprehend/hear anything God says if the Holy Spirit has allowed or aided us in the hearing. Paul, by whichever means, still knew, and trusted in that knowledge enough to teach it as fact, even to an audience that should have been as skeptical as he, since they also believed that God and all his works were permanent, unchanging, eternal. And, none of them – surely – had no idea whatsoever what the “heavens” really are.

Second: My main point, my reason for bringing our attention to that verse, was that this is totally revelatory knowledge that “the heavens” are only temporary and cyclical – that is, that the heavenly bodies, planets and stars and nebulae, and so on, each have a distinct lifetime and fit into a recycling system, a creative process in itself embedded in the far greater timescape of the universe; that stars and nebulae and even galaxies all come to an end, like garments. And in God’s created order of the universe, all are discarded (recycled, actually) and new ones made and put in place to live out their own “lives” – for our viewing, says the Bible. That should not have been known 2000 years ago. Even modern science has only recently, by hard work and great technology, come to know it. But here, with Psalm 102, we’ve gone back at least another 500 years! The Bible didn’t get the scoop on our sciences by 2000 years – it beat them to the knowledge by at least 2500 years! Paul was, at least, repeating a 500 year old revelation.

And my point? That the Bible tells us many things, big things, that only the Author of the Bible could possibly know, and have told to the scribes who recorded them for our times, some two or three thousand years later. And that is a testimony, which no one can refute, that whoever Authored the Scriptures either knew the history of the universe, or created it.

Hebrews 1 – Quite a Scientific Revelation!

Posted in: Bible & Science by admin on July 04, 2009

We don’t need to go to Genesis to get some powerful testimony about the Creation, and find more evidence for the translation and interpretation of Genesis which we offer here, and scientific support for the Biblical account of creation. We can go to Hebrews, Chapter 1.

As in John, we are told that the Son, whom we call Jesus, was the actual creator, that He made the Universe: “…and through the Son he created the universe.” Heb 1:2, (NLT)

In my book* I compared this manifestation of the Trinity to the way Microsoft creates software: God the Father is the creative genius, the Intelligence, the Designer and Authority behind the creation, setting forth the nature and shape and rules/laws of operation of our universe, and the Son as the one who did His bidding, who actually executed and carried out the creation. At Microsoft Bill Gates sets out how he wants his product to look and work, tells his engineers what he wants and is fully confident they will execute his words, and create Windows 7 (within the limits of human capacity and foibles, of course).*

As we’ve pointed out so many times before, this declaration that there was a beginning, that the universe has not been here eternally but came into being, and for some reason took on a very intelligent, and orderly, and lawful design, was not something science believed or accepted until this last century. Indeed, the beginning, which scientists call/designate the “Big Bang” was a very contentious “theory” for many years, mostly because it allowed there was a point of creation, and most reasonably a creating power and creative order/plan which atheists had all but denied with their claim the universe was eternal, having no beginning or origins. The Bible, therefore, knew something science had to discover.

Hebrews also tells us that it is by God’s design, the laws of physics and astronomy He has ordained for this universe, and the efficacy of Jesus, that this universe stays, continues to exist, and will continue as long as he is faithful to the father (and so we rest easily, right?): “… he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.” Heb 1:3 (NLT)

This is something scientists are still uncertain about. Einstein was so convinced that the universe was stable and certain to go on forever that he amended his own mathematics and theory of relativity because his formulas found too many scenarios in which the universe could/would end in either an awfully slow explosion or inevitable implosion (back into the point – “singularity” – of the orginating Big Bang). But soon astronomers discovered the universe is expanding in what appears to be an ever-accelerating expansion (that slow explosion Einstein first foresaw but could not believe). And they are still trying to figure that out. It makes everything ridiculous: a perfectly designed, beautifully designed universe simply wasting itself away into useless nothingness. To cope with such apparant inanity (they might find comfort in understanding God and having faith that Jesus will not let that happen, but…) the scientists are always coming up with new ideas. They are usually pretty wild and hardly “scientific” or reasonable theories, like multiverses or multi-“greater places than space” that can create ever more and ever new universes. But that’s not all that bad. At least the scientists, in the process, only prove to themselves is just how unique, and intelligently designed THIS universe really is. And without God doing just as the Scripture says, how it shouldn’t exist!

But here’s where Hebrews really says something that may seem a rather little point, but really is a huge, prescient observation that scientists have only been discovering and studying in recent times:

You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
11 They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
Heb 1:10-12 (NKJV)

Or as the NIV says it, “They will wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed.

Here we have a text written two thousand years ago, by a very nonscientist person, who has no idea of what this planet, or the stars and galaxies are, but should, if anything, given his beliefs about God – and like most scientists before Einstein – assume they are fixed and eternal. Yet here he is, still, writing that they are not! Paul writes that the stars and galaxies (the heavens) are just like a garment. They have a limited “lifetime”. They will each come to an end, wear out like a garment will, and then be discarded and replaced with a new garment! “They will be changed“!

Scientists were at first upset to discover that stars and planets, etc., come and go, that they serve their time and then are ended, to be replaced (recycled) into new ones, to adorn God’s heavens with even greater glory! But today one of the biggest tasks of astronomers and physicists is to observe and describe, and hope to figure out those very “life cycles” of the things in the heavens. Until we could study them with our telescopes and satellites, we pretty much thought just the way Paul should have, that they are absolutely fixed, eternal parts of the universe, those twinkling lights that have been there in the skies forever. But Paul had the word, the knowledge of a greater wisdom, and told us otherwise!

* Hey Mom, What About Dinosaurs?

The Hubble Telescope is getting its upgrade! I couldn’t be more delighted over anything NASA has done. I am far more enamored of the Hubble than the “Space Station”, which I find interesting but mostly an expensive and distracting waste of resources – resources that could have been better spent on real and significant science projects and space exploration.

The Hubble is a gift that just keeps on giving. There’s hardly a soul alive who hasn’t enjoyed, marveled, and been deeply encouraged by its testimony to the awesomeness of God’s whole creation. Christians are not alone in believing that the universe, with its billions of galaxies, with their billions of suns, and their billions of planets, (and tell me why not “billions of other forms of life” – which obviously delight God, if we are to take earth’s as an example) are too perfectly … well, perfectly made to not be the product and artistry of a supremely intelligent design. We Christians just have a name and a 3500 year-old description of the Designer and essentially how He went about it (read my book!).

The Hubble has probably done more to expand all our understanding and appreciation of the WHOLE creation, and more to bring scientists – especially those in physics, astronomy, and cosmology – to a believe in God, and more to open our eyes and minds to the glory of it all, and more to fuel our scientific knowledge and understanding, than any other scientific device or tool.

Much of the new vision, perspectives, and knowledge the Hubble has brought has reached straight into our common understandings of Scriptures. The description of the creation in Genesis 1 & 2 notwithstanding (read my book!), we’ve all had to revise our interpretations and understanding of many things. Who hasn’t gained a far better, and probably far “bigger” and more picturesque sense of “the heavens”? The earth? The stars? The moon? The sun? The place earth actually occupies in relationship to the sun and moon and stars? The “lights” that are for the telling of dates and times? The size and nature of the realm in which God, the angels, and our own resurrected selves might have to spend our eternity in? Time? “The light”? To point out a few.

There are some deeper things in our theology and understanding of God which Hubble has also opened to us (“since what may be known about God is plain to them, for God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood by what has been made…”, Romans 1:19,20 NIV). For instance:

I wrote an article on “Like Luther”, another blog, that gives a quick explanation how the theories of Relativity and of Quantum Physics, which the Hubble has been of great benefit in developing and validating, that show us exactly how the doctrines of God’s absolute sovereignty and our free will can not only coexist, but may show us just how God works.

The Hubble has also shown us that not only is the universe actually expanding, from what we can see, but gives me a clear and confident understanding of the several scriptures telling us that God, in the beginning, “stretched forth the universe”. In fact, it answers for me what the Big Bang most probably was! And, I have come to a theory of (and will soon write extensively about) just what the mysterious “dark energy” is, that so puzzles scientists, and what the so-long-debated future of the universe is.

These are just a few of the things that make me love (LOVE!) the Hubble. I am so thankful NASA put the current upgrade back in the program, and only pray that God enables and protects those astronauts who have undertaken such a risky endeavor.

For some folks, belief in the Bible, and its assertion that God created everything, is solid and unshakable. Their faith is not troubled by the rest of the world’s doubts or theories of evolution questioning the Bible’s authenticity or accuracy. They just believe, untroubled even by the lesser question of whether we live on a “young earth” or old, whether God accomplished His whole work in just a few days, as our clock would tick it off, or took a few millions or billions of years, as our sciences claim.

A recent poll by Christianity Today, counting mostly Christians we can assume, tells an interesting story. The question is, “What best describes your view of the origins of creation?”

10% Young-earth Creationism

Those who subscribe to YEC can only be very “Bible-believing” Christians. They accept the traditional Genesis creation account, uncritically and uncompromisingly. That is the only place one could possibly find that description of the origins of us and our universe, and it requires a staunch and rock-solid faith to hang on to it in this day and age.

10% Old-earth creationism

These folks are compromising a bit. They’re accepting some of what our modern sciences have to say about the age of the earth and universe and, perhaps, the evolutionary outline of life’s origins. They can be pretty staunch in their belief in Biblical authority, even inerrancy, if they decide that, (1) there is probably a big gap in time between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis1, and (2) the “days” of the six days in Genesis are not 24-hour days, but another perfectly legitimate translation of the Hebrew word yowm, such as epoch, era, or long time.

10% Theistic evolution

Theists are not necessarily even Christians, or are Christians because they respect and admire Jesus and/or many Biblical teachings and values, or are Jews and other faiths, or are persuaded by modern criticism and science that the Bible (at least Genesis 1 & 2) are only fiction, but are still convinced by science, other religions, or whatever, to believe in a god, or Intelligent Design, etc.

62% Naturalistic evolution

There’s the real headline story. Most Christians have pretty much decided the creation account is not believable or reasonable, and have been well-persuaded by the plethora of modern sciences, and the plethora of Bible criticism. This group probably includes a large proportion of folks who believe the Bible is (1) good, (2) a reliable source of values, and (3) in Jesus. In other words, they’ve lost confidence in the Old Testament, but probably not the New. And a few may have reasoned or discerned that evolution and God-as-Creator are not antithetical.

But most of those, in that 62%, have lost a certain degree of confidence in the Bible as truly “God’s own word”, or an inerrant representation of it, because what they now believe is NOT to be found in the Bible as they have ever read it. It is strictly a creation of modern minds, adapting or reconciling the Genesis assertion that God is the Creator, to modern sciences (and culture, academia, etc.) beliefs and teaching. So just like theists, they can only have a much less absolute trust and belief in the Bible.

I know all of those people (as types, of course) pretty well. I have, at some time or another, been one of a similar mind with each, as I worked out my own beliefs, having begun an atheist scientist and college teacher busy trying to cleanse young Christian minds of their beliefs, to a very Bible-believing good friend of Jesus, lover of God. And as I made my way to where I am now, I’ve seen just how tough it is to believe in the God of the Bible, and get the most out of all that the Bible holds in store for us, not to mention defend my belief and testimony against detractors and critics, with what Genesis seems to say.

I finally reached a point where I couldn’t stand it any more. I had to know what (or which) to believe. I had to reconcile my evangelical leanings, and pastors’ and friends’ faith, with Genesis. I had to decide if I was going to be able to have a full faith and confidence in the Bible, or also reach some compromise, some accommodation that omitted the creation account – and by implication – a few other passages that didn’t necessarily sit well with me and my intellect.

I thought, at first, I could find some other version, some other translation that would be less “ridiculous” in my mind. Many versions later I began to realize that those two chapters never varied, at least in no substantive manner. They simply repeated the first, and most popular translation, the KJV, which was a translation by a committee of scholars and academics in 1611! 1611!

Science hardly existed. No one knew there ever was such a thing as dinosaurs. Genes. Galaxies. Atoms. Plate tectonics. Even evolution! So whatever God might really have said about those sorts of things would go right over their heads. There weren’t even words for such, let alone ideas or concepts. I knew about all those things, but they didn’t. So I decided to go back to the Hebrew and do it all again. Re-translate.

When I started I soon discovered an even more problematic fact: that scribe was in far worse shape than even the King James scholars. Hebrew was a simple language built around some very different ways of categorizing and describing things. It had a very small lexicon. It was more a mnemonic device than written language, mostly to facilitate consistent telling, verbal transmission, of His words! I spent two years doing what I did. But the help and guidance of God’s own spirit, and all I’d learned in my eclectic academic and scientific history, served me well. And the interpretation I finished liberated me. I had started it ready to become a theist, or loose and liberal follower of Christianity. The Bible was too big, too much, too daunting, anyway. But no more.

I found that the Bible is only a brief and sparse outline. More like chapter and verse titles than textbook. But, with a careful forensic approach, the clues and evidence of every word, the time line and the descriptions of difficult pictures the Lord must have given the scribe to give him the facts, reveals an incredible record. It gives an outline of creation that not only matches well what modern scientists believe is the history of creation, but – given it was written 3500 years ago – is downright prophetic. Almost ten years after my first labors, science isn’t deviating, but moving into ever better accord with the Bible’s creation account!

So. If you are among the 62%, especially, read my book, or at least check out the finished translation of Genesis 1 & 2. You can even keep your belief in evolution!

What Do You Expect?

Posted in: Bible & Science,What We're About by admin on March 01, 2009

What we think about the Bible, and what we get out of reading it, is largely dependent on expectations other people have instilled in us.

For instance, it’s commonly said the Bible is not a science text. That’s true. It’s also commonly said the Bible is not about science, or scientific things, but only things “spiritual” or “religious”, so we should not compare or evaluate one in terms of the other because they are about two different realities, one “natural” and one “supernatural”. That’s not true.

Much of what the Bible talks about, and tells us about, is that very same reality science is about. Social sciences and physical sciences! And while you might think that that stuff about God in the Bible is not at all what science is about, you need to look a bit closer at some of what physics and cosmology and astronomy are getting into nowadays. Small wonder so many scientists, especially in those sciences, believe in God, and are practicing Christians or Jews.

The Bible itself tells us that it is but one testimony about the truth and nature of God, and what He requires of us. The other, it says, is the creation itself. The Bible tells us that mankind’s study of the creation, the natural physical reality of the universe, is but another way to discover and understand God. And science, for most of it’s history, was almost universally thought of, by both scientists and churchmen, as just that. The schism, the development of the “culture war” between science and Christianity, began primarily over both sides’ misunderstanding of evolution and what it meant.

Even today many (myself included) do not think that the theory and established tenets of evolution need at all be a contradiction of the Bible, of Genesis, or belief in God or a Divine Creator. That said, from a Biblical point of view, science is just another way of  “reading” about God, of discovering the truth and nature of God, and what He requires of us (i.e. what it takes to survive and prosper inside His creation). Some scientists, like some theologians, may try to use their endeavors to refute God and the Bible, and think that what they know about nature and natural processes, do refute the Bible. They are so wrong, but even then they are giving tacit acknowledgment that science and the Bible are both dealing with the same subject matter.

The first chapter of Romans makes exactly that point:

Romans 1:18-20. For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

That is, even if one never heard of God, or the Bible, or anything of any Judeo-Christian religion, one should still know there is a God, and what He is like, and even that He requires righteous behavior of us. That we have no excuse, not anyone, for disrespecting our earth, or life, or our neighbors. That probably works for most people.

So scientists, searching farther and deeper into the “text and testimony” that nature offers about the truth and nature of God, and how we must behave if we are to survive and prosper in via the laws and principles of the natural creation, are doing much the same thing that biblical scholars and theologians are doing. They are looking for the same truths, the same principles and laws, in that same objective “reality” in which we exist!

In a sense, scientists are like forensic and engineering experts trying to understand how, say, a car is made and built in order to understand what it is and how it works in order get the best out of it. Theologians are more into reading the manual provided by the manufacturer in order to do the same.

Sometimes just reading the manual is the best way to meet our needs, even in scientific things. That’s especially true if we have not yet developed a scientific understanding of the subject. Like, if you have no engineers or factory technicians around, you better use the owner’s manual to work on your car. The Bible, many a Christian likes to say, is like an owner’s manual, written by the original manufacturer of the earth and life, for the folks who owned the 1500 BC model. It was very practical. Like Chilton’s manuals for cars, written to help you keep your car working, The Bible  was a relatively untheoretical set of recipes and directions for keeping your life running … then. For instance, consider the “manual’s” instructions on how to deal with a corpse:

Num 19:14-21
14 ‘This is the law when a man dies in a tent: All who come into the tent and all who are in the tent shall be unclean seven days;
15 ‘and every open vessel, which has no cover fastened on it, is unclean.
16 ‘Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
17 ‘And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel.
18 ‘A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.
19 ‘The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.
20 ‘But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.
21 ‘It shall be a perpetual statute for them. He who sprinkles the water of purification shall wash his clothes; and he who touches the water of purification shall be unclean until evening.

(Note: “running water” is essentially fresh water; “sprinkle” would be better rendered “douse”; “washing” of clothing refers to major laundering, by thrashing or stomping on it in water)

Now, some people are offended by a passage like this, objecting to God “commanding” a bunch of onerous rules. Well, do you think a Chilton’s book on fixing your Ford is any less imperious? Are you offended because it doesn’t say, “If you’d like, tighten the bolts that hold the A-frame of the front wheel to the vehicle frame”? Hey, it’s your life at stake here! And if you’ll look closely, the rules in this “manufacturer’s manual” regarding corpses are pretty much equivalent to our modern scientific hazmat procedures.

The Hebrew scribe (Moses?) was surely completely unaware of germs and viruses and the hazards of exposure to dead bodies. No such scientific knowledge existed then. So the benefits of that reality were given him by another process, several thousand years before science could lead my government to prescribe hazmat rules for me to follow to protect myself and my community.

I read Numbers 19 years ago. Probably at least two times. But I didn’t really get it at all until a few months ago when a man committed suicide in an apartment building I run. He shot himself in the head while lying in his bed. The city medical examiner removed the corpse, but left the bloody bed and furniture and carpet there.

The man’s brother came up from Mexico to take care of the body and estate. He simply covered the messy bed with a blanket and slept on it! While I might have been a bit off-put by the gore, to him it was pretty practical. And I assume he was ignorant of Numbers 19. So was I. But our law required I call a hazmat company to clean and sterilize the apartment before I could begin to restore it for renting again. Talking to the workers in their spacesuit-like garb, I was advised how risky it had been for me to even go in earlier to clean out some of the junk.

When I recently reread Numbers 19, I immediately recognized the scientific sense and wisdom captured there. In this case the same truth of nature, of God’s creation, was involved. Two approaches, same result, though one of the approaches to knowledge got there at least 3000 plus years sooner. Lucky them!

As this blog goes on, this is going to be a theme repeated many times. The creation account of Genesis 1 and 2 is about all the same stuff modern science is about now. When science started some centuries ago the scientists, the fathers of science we revere today, knew that. Believing that the creation was the handiwork and design and esthetics of the Creator, they were excited that they would both get to know and understand the way the stuff was designed and created and made to work, as well as the mind and heart of the Creator. Many scientists still do. And, I’m happy to say, so do many Christians, especially the scientists among them.

The idea that the record, or description, of creation in Genesis 1 & 2 is any less likely to be a reasonable record or explanation, appropriate to someone living 3500 years ago is naive at best. It’s somewhat justifiable, I suppose, to think that because it was written so long ago, so long before any knowledge of, let alone science or language referring to, or descriptive of, such things as the planet, or galaxies, or space-time, or atoms and genes, etc., it would not really have any real meat or substance in it. Most people, I think, think of it, with its curious, more or less picturesque and poetic language, as most likely a fluff piece with no objective scientific reality or underpinnings. No relevence. No comparability with what we know today. But that’s not true!

Just like the hazmat instructions of Numbers 19, the Creation Account of Genesis 1 & 2 is serious, and talking about the very same reality that science is about. The problem is the language. It needs a better rendition, in terms and language of today, with relevence and comparability to the jargon and theory that we all have acquired from modern science. It needs translating. And modern science, having dug so deeply and discovered so much about the history and processes of creation, is actually a big help in the art and forensics of translating that 3500 year-old, “for the general public” text!

So what do you expect? Stick around and follow what goes on here. We will translate and analyse and interpret Genesis 1 and 2, even some of 3. And more. Other verses that help us understand Genesis, and the creation by God, as the Bible tells it, and even as science tells it! We will look at, and translate and interpret things that science discovers, or theorizes about, or has to say, from both the Biblical and scientific perspectives. I think I can promise you that what you’ll learn, no matter what you expect, will pretty much blow you away!

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