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ISBN/ASIN : 0970224508
Manufacturer : Global Publishing Services|
Release data : 24 November, 2000
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The Framework Theory Rules!
In disussing this book I would like to highlight some points from each of the major viewpoints:
For the YEC group they did absolutely NOTHING to interact with science. They simply said that scientific theories are fallible and changing and left it at that. They offered not one shred of scientific evidence for their view or interaction at all with what the Day-Age group said about the age of the earth. Secondly, their major argument for their viewpoint is that most of the interpreters of the Bible in Church history have espoused their viewpoint. Unfortunately they don't carry this to it's logical conclusion: namely most of the interpreters of the Bible in history also-espoused geocentrism, so why don't they? The fact is that most of the Bible's historic interpreters also espoused: baptismal regeneration, apostolic succession, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, synergy, prayer for the dead, etc. So why do the YEC team feel free to pick and choose what interpretations from Church history that they agree with especially considering that as Protestants they are out of touch with SO MANY of the Church's historical teachings. As such their major argument backfires.
Now for the day-age team. While they were able to deal with science much better than the YEC team, I got the feeling that their interpretation was driven not so much by exegesis of the text as by scientific evidence. The fact is that the refrain "and morning and evening were the first day" or second day, or third, etc. establishes that the days of creation are infact normal solar days, not ages. Furthermore, the luminaries on day 4 are said to be CREATED on day 4, not merely to become visible as the day-age team would have you believe. Further, as was pointed out the appearance of birds and plants in the fossil record simply does not match up with order of Gen. 1. As such the day-age interpretation is also heavily flawed.
Finally we come to the Framework team. This is by far the best interpretation because:
1. It can take obvious meaning of the words "and morning and evening were the first day" literally.
2. It doesn't have to rely on trying to get the word day to mean age or any kind of complex argument to do so.
3. It recognizes the OBVIOUS poetic nature of the narrative i.e. Gen. 1 is not a chronological account of the creation but a poetic framework in which the events of creation are arranged. Basically the 7 days of creation are a literary framework in which literal events are ordered topically. This is obvious in that the events of Days 1 and 4 match up, Days 2 and 5 match up and Days 3 and 6 match. There are two parrallel triads capped off by the 7th day. So basically the world was not literally created in 7 days, but the 7 day creation week is a literary device used to recount the acts of God in creation.
4. As such the Bible really has NOTHING to say about the age of the earth or the precise order of the creation and therefore causes NO PROBLEMS with science whatsoever.
5. It causes no theological problems.
In short, while the day-age and YEC views suffer both theologically and scientifically, the framework view has NEITHER of the above and can be seen solely on the basis of the text itself without any outside considerations (unlike the day-age theory which is primarily driven by science).
All hail the Framework Theory!
In getting two Young-Earth proponents to debate their ideas in a civilized format with proponents of other views, the editors of this volume have more than earned their 5 stars (I'd give them six if six were an option). Young Earth'ers are vociferous dogmatics who routinely castigate other believers as heretics for not subscribing wholeheartedly to their particular interpretation of Genesis - in arranging for a fair debate between Young Earth creationists and other scholars, this book reveals how Biblically hollow and unsatisfying Y.E. arguments really are. I was literally shocked to the point of revulsion at how weak YEC theories are - all the YEC team did was assert that ALL prescientific Biblical commentators (Calvin, Luther, various church fathers) believed that the Earth was 6,000 years old and that anyone with another view was a liberal-compromiser with evil "science." The YEC team's assertation that all pre-1800 Christians believed in a young earth was quickly shown to be false (although the YECs refused to accept the truthfulness of the Old Earth team's quotes!), and the YEC team was unable or unwilling to interact with or deal with the scientific evidence or the Biblical evidence. I came away from the YEC essays with a profound feeling of disgust at how so many Christians can be seduced by this blatantly false ideology.
But the book does one better: rather than casting the debate as strictly old earth vs. young earth, the book gets to the heart of the problem: how is the Bible rightly interpreted? Proponents of the Framework theory point out that the Bible is a literary account of creation, not a scientific one, and debates about how old the earth is may be scientifically interesting, but they simply aren't Biblically relevant. The Bible doesn't tell us how old the Earth is - it tells us that God created us in his image to love and know him, and man is lost because of disobedience.
I was raised, like many, to believe in Creation Science, but immediately I was unconfortmable with the position. The old-earth or "Day-Age" theory appealed to me, but I never felt that theory was 100% right. I am not a scientist, and I cannot debate the fine points of geology or chemistry. I do, however, have a degree in literature and an advanced degree in Writing. When I applied the techniques of my own discpline to Genesis, I arrived at the Framework view. The Genesis story has plain symbolic elements (e.g., the Snake), and from a literary standpoint, it's a parable. It is not against a "literal" interpretation of the Bible to say that a portion of the Bible with obvious symbolic elements is, well, symbolic. Even the most literalistic among us routinely recognizes this quality in other portions of Scripture, and even within Genesis 1 itself. (Relatively few people will argue that man really fell simply due to a talking snake...particularly since the Bible later informs us that the Snake was a symbol of Satan.) I'm glad that my insight was not an aberration, and that this view point is in the ascendency. I greatly respect Hugh Ross and other old earth creationists, but even their reasonable attempts to reconcile a literalistic reading of Genesis with modern cosmology, while a vast improvement over YEC theories, aren't really faithful to the Bible's own character. I work with engineers, and I know that scientific people are often very literal in their mindset and aren't the best people to interpret a poetic text. English majors are the ones who really have the goods on Genesis 1, and debates on the earth's age belong wholly outside any discussion about the meaning of Genesis 1.
Beneficial for understanding the differences
The Genesis Debate allows 3 pairs of scholarly authors to present (and dialog on) the 3 most widespread evangelical interpretations of the creation days. The presented views are the 24-Hour (young earth created in 144 consecutive hours), Day-Age (old earth created over 6 extended periods of time), and Framework (Genesis 1 is a literary expression of actual non-sequential creation events at some unknown time in history). The book format allowed each team to present their view, the other 2 teams respond to that presentation, and then the view presenter responds to the responses. This back and forth format was better than many similar multi-view books.
Norman Geisler gives a very wise forward to the book. He states that "the creation-day debate is not over the inspiration of the Bible, but over it's interpretation...no one holding any of the views should be charged with unorthodoxy for the position he espouses in this volume...the Church needs to shift its focus to the real enemy - evolutionism - not to other forms of creationism that remain true to the historicity of the events recorded in Genesis". I think all believers involved in these discussions would be wise to heed Dr. Geislers advice and lower the intensity and frequency of their attacking of one another.
The 24-Hour view based their arguments primarily on tradition. They went to great lengths to show how most interpreters in the early history of the church (pre-1800) held a view similar to theirs. They also presented a bible overview of various verses that speak of creation. The main weaknesses (pointed out by the other scholars) of their presentation is that tradition has been wrong in the history of the church. While tradition is important, if evangelicals/protestants thought it was the ultimate authority then the reformation would never have occurred. The second weakness of their presentation was that their Bible overview had virtually nothing that contradicted the other two views. The verses basically all supported the concept that God performed special creation (something the other two views agree with).
The Day-Age view based most of their arguments on how well scientific discoveries correlate with the sequence of events in Genesis 1. The science presented was very convincing. Unfortunately, neither of the other 2 teams had the knowledge or inclination to dialog on any of those issues (other than a few feeble attempts to instill doubt in the scientific evidence). Perhaps another book where the 24-hour vs. Day-Age view, focussing primarily on scientific evidence, would be good. Another major facet of this presentation was to show how various Hebrew words have multiple meanings (e.g. yom - 24-hours, daylight period, or unknown period of time). There was some good dialog, especially between the Framework and Day-Age teams, on these lexical type issues.
The Framework view (surprising to myself) was actually the most interesting. They went into great depth of exegesis on Genesis 1 and several other creation related passages. Though I'd not seriously studied this view before, I found myself more persuaded by their presentation than either of the other two (though I wasn't convinced, I was persuaded to consider this a viable and legitimate option). Interestingly, Framework holders can believe in either a young earth or an old earth, since (as they interpret) the issue of "when" in creation really isn't covered in the text.
Overall, this was a good book. I wouldn't recommend it to someone new to this topic (as some level of previous knowledge is required to follow parts of the presentations), but for someone wanting to expand their understanding of the issues and read a relatively polite dialog on an often heated issue this is about the best book I've come across.