Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Pushing the Boundaries

October 29, 2009

Is anybody else out there a bit weary of medical researchers playing God?  Every few months it seems there is some story that brings us one step closer to an Orwellian nightmare.

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Learn the Lessons of History

February 16, 2009

One of the reasons I have remained unconvinced of the global warming disaster scenarios is that this latest global warming trend is only one more in a long line of failed doomsday predictions. 

As George Will documents, during the 1970’s the concern among many scientists was that the earth was cooling rapidly and was on the brink of a new ice age.  This claim was not only a false one, it is diametrically opposed to the one we are hearing today. 

So what shall we conclude?  No doubt there are many today who would argue that science has progressed so much that we should believe scientists now, recognizing that their inferior techniques and judgments misled them thirty years ago.  But the problem with that view is that the scientists back in the 1970’s would have said the same thing about those who preceded them, and thirty or forty years from now scientists will say the same about our current scientists.  Failed hypotheses, miscalculations, and changing paradigms define the field of science today.  We are constantly progressing, but as we do so we are constantly rethinking what we thought we knew before.  And the ones who come out looking like fools again and again and again, without exception, are the doomsday prophets.

Darwinism as Anti-Theology

February 13, 2009

I realize that I am a day late in putting up this post.  Yesterday was Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, but I was traveling all day, so blogging was not on my mind. 

I am writing to address something that I perceive to be troubling in theology today: a growing adherence, even among otherwise orthodox believers, to the theory of macroevolution.  Those who deny macroevolution are considered out of touch with reality these days (apparently because it is utterly ridiculous to believe that God could have created species separately), and, as always, a number of Christians have been quick to embrace a popular idea in an attempt to synthesize it with the faith and thereby commend the faith to its cultured despisers. 

The problem with this strategy, as I perceive it, is that when you synthesize Darwinism with Christianity you end up with neither.  One of the tenets of Darwinism is that evolution happens by an undirected process.  By definition, Darwinian evolution excludes any notion of design on the part of an intelligent mind.  It excludes God from the outset.  Any attempted synthesis between Darwinism and Christianity on this point empties Darwinism of its defining characteristic: evolution by a process of undirected natural (as opposed to divine) selection.

If we as Christians accept Darwinism in an attempt to save face before the intellectual establishment, we don’t realize how pathetic we look.  We’re trying to ape unbelievers because we perceive their message to be more credible than our own, and yet we do not realize how utterly incompatible the two messages are, leaving us with a kind of Darwinism that is really nothing of sort.

Global Warming Apocalyptic Messianism

January 18, 2009

According to at least one scientist, President Obama has four years to save the world.  Apparently, this scientist can pinpoint with precision the date when global warming will be too far gone to correct, and it just so happens that it coincides with the end of Obama’s first term.  Wow, aren’t we lucky that we elected someone who promised to slow the rise of the oceans just in the nick of time?

I think the biggest problem I have with global warming propaganda is that its view of man is way overestimated.  Neither Barack Obama nor any other mere human being has the power to change the earth’s climate, period.  He does, however, have some power to establish unwise policies in an attempt to change the climate that will intensify this economic disaster and increase the burden of energy costs on the poor.  You should have seen my heating bill last month, and this month (with its record low temperatures in the middle of this “warming” catastrophe!) it will be worse.  If President Obama bankrupts the coal industry, as he promised to do, then those heating bills will skyrocket, and the Democrats will have to exchange their poster child elderly widow who must choose between buying food or medicine for a new poster child elderly widow who can buy neither food nor medicine because the cost of heating her home took it all.  And I imagine they’ll figure out a way to blame Bush for that too.

Barack Obama is not the Messiah.  No, really, he’s not.  Prepare yourself for that disappointing reality.

At Last!

January 1, 2009

A voice for sanity in the climate change debate.

Go See It

May 10, 2008

Yesterday I saw Ben Stein’s movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  If it is playing at a theatre near you, you really must go see it.  It is informative, entertaining, challenging, even moving. 

The film is a documentary about the Intelligent Design movement and its marginalization from the academic establishment.  Stein interviews a number of accomplished scholars who are linked in various ways to the ID movement, most of whom have either lost their jobs or have been disciplined in some way by their schools or the watchdog groups that dedicate themselves to making sure ID never gets off the ground. 

Stein also interviews a number of Darwinians on the opposing side, including the most radical and vocal of them all, Richard Dawkins.  The interviews are truly eye-opening.  They expose the Darwinian agenda for what it really is: a religion unto itself.  Stein himself does not preach in this film.  He never says whether or not he believes in God (though I’m sure that he does).  The point of the film is simply to show that the scientific establishment has determined arbitrarily that certain answers to difficult questions are impermissible, no matter what the evidence says.

The most important part of the film, in my view, is the way it traces out the worldview connections inherent in this discussion.  Scientists who say that the only explanations permissible in biological studies are those that claim that life exists and develops under an undirected process (rather than by a process directed by intelligence) are not making a scientific claim; they are making a metaphysical one.  They are pretending that mere observation of the scientific evidence qualifies them to be philosophers and set the ground rules for inquiry from the start.  They naively believe that they approach the evidence from a neutral perspective and that they derive their atheistic worldview as a result of an unbiased evaluation of the world.  But the truth is, no one is a neutral observer.  No one can interpret evidence apart from the framework of an overarching worldview.  And what this film exposes is that you can hold to a worldview that automatically eliminates certain metaphysical claims (i.e., an appeal to intelligence as crucial to the origin of life), or you can broaden your horizon and allow various viewpoints to compete by offering rival interpretations of the evidence.  Science is supposed to be about free inquiry, but the Darwinian establishment will have none of it.

The worldview connections inherent in one’s approach to the question about the origin of life and the species run all the way to the deepest questions of life.  Stein investigates the connections between Darwin and Hitler, arguing not that Darwinism is a sufficient condition for Nazism (for there are many Darwinists who are not Nazis), but that it is a necessary one.  In my view, every once in a while a person comes along who is able to see more clearly the ramifications of rejecting a belief in God than most any other atheist has ever seen.  Nietzsche was one such person.  Hitler was another.  These kinds of people are dangerous, for they are able to trace atheism to its logical, ethical conclusions.  Most atheists, as human beings made in God’s image themselves, don’t ever reach that point.  By God’s restraining grace, they are never able to go that far in denying their own humanity.  But Hitler did it.  He applied Darwinism to the human race, and he decided that, so long as we give care and aid in the survival of the weakest in our society, we hinder our own evolutionary development.  In the animal kingdom, the rights of the weak are not protected.  They die off, as they should.  Therefore, we should eliminate the weak for the good of the human race as a whole.  If God is not the giver and taker of life, then dictators and doctors will be.  (In the U.S., Planned Parenthood was born out of a similar philosophy). 

Go see the film.  It will be well worth your time and money.

Science as an Act of Faith

October 16, 2007

It’s seems like a pair of Lukes are the ones who have taken the most interest in my science posts.  In the midst of my conversation with Luke S. (below on part 5 of the creationism series), I said, “Science itself is an act of faith.”  Luke A. then asked me to give a justification of that claim.  That is the purpose of this post, which I am now typing between sips of Kool-Aid.*

First, let me mention the titles of two books.  I am not mentioning them because I want anyone to go out and read them (I certainly haven’t), but only because the titles say a lot.  Immanuel Kant published a book entitled Religion within the Bounds of Reason or something to that effect.  The title says a lot about Kant’s approach to religion: it must be subsumed under autonomous human reason.  In recent times, Nicholas Wolterstorff (I think it was him) wrote a book entitled Reason within the Bounds of Religion.  In other words, human reason must be subsumed under faith, not vice versa.  I haven’t read either book, but the titles do say a lot about the worldviews behind them.

I have, however, read G. K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy.  That is where my comment about science comes from.  Chesterton says something to this effect: “Reason itself is an act of faith.”  If reason is an act of faith, then science must likewise be an act of faith, because science presupposes reason as its primary tool.

So now I must justify the claim.  First, it is important to look back over the history of science.  Where did modern science arise?  It arose in the Christian West.  It did not arise among Hindus or Buddhists or Muslims or any group of people who did not believe that the created world reveals something of God to us.  In order for a person to approach the scientific task, that person has to have a number of presuppositions in place.  Here are some of the presuppositions one must have in order to reach conclusions based on the scientific method:

1. There is a real world out there outside of myself (contra idealism, contra many Eastern religions). 

2. My senses are reliable.  My perceptions are not distorted to the point that I have lost touch with the real world.

3. My ability to make inferences on things like causality is likewise reliable.  In other words, my brain functions such to allow me to make true conclusions about the external world.  Therefore, my brain must not be subject to blind forces of deterministic chance such that all of my reasoning could be attributed to nothing more than random molecules banging around in my head.

4. Other people have minds.

5. While we may come to different conclusions, I must assume that other people have the same basic sensory percpetions, which are also reliable for the purpose of putting them in touch with the real world.  Their reasoning processes likewise must be given some level of credibility. 

6. The world exhibits patterns of uniformity such that, based on a good number of observations, one may reason from particular events to general conclusions.

There could probably be more presuppositions listed.  Hindus would never come to these conclusions.  Hindus deny the reality of the world.  Atheism probably never could have given rise to science.  Atheists have no basis on which to accept the above presuppositions.  Philosophers have long debated whether we can accept the things I listed above.  Kant denied that we could know the world as it truly is, but he did believe that all people have the same mental equipment (concepts) that enable them to make sense of the data that they encounter (percepts).  The only way he could ground this assumption about the uniformity of our mental equipment was his belief in God (Kant was a deist).  Hume’s thought-experiments about causality indicate that science rests on a large number of unproven assumptions which, if jettisoned, would render the scientific enterprise completely meaningless.

Because science presupposes the six things listed above (as well as other presuppositions), science itself cannot prove these things.  It must accept them on faith.  My contention is that only a belief in God can provide a foundation for belief in those presuppositions.  If there is no God who has revealed information to me about himself and the world he created, then how can I be sure that other people have minds?  How can I be sure that what I perceive about the real world actually puts me in touch with the real world?  How can I trust my reasoning ability?  It is only by presupposing that God has made me in his image and has placed me (as part of the human race) over his creation, with all of the proper mental equipment that is needed to carry out that task, that I can even begin to do science in the first place.  If we are nothing but the products of blind, evolutionary determinism, then we have no ground for our scientific claims.  It is no accident that Christianity gave rise to modern science.  Science is an act of faith. 

Let me finish this post with an illustration that I got from Ronald Nash’s book Life’s Ultimate Questions (I think he got it from someone else).  Imagine you are on a train.  As you look out the window, you notice that on a green hillside a number of rocks are arranged in a pattern that spells out a message: “Welcome to London.”  You have to decide how those rocks came to be in that arrangement.  Either an intelligent agent arranged them for the purpose of communicating a message, or they came into that arrangement by random, naturalistic processes. 

Let’s say you opt for the former: intelligent design.  Then you would be justified in thinking that you actually were entering London.  But what if you opted for the latter: naturalistic processes?  Would you be justified in thinking that the train really was pulling into London?  If there is no intelligence behind the message, then there is no link between what the message says and objective reality.  Therefore, you would be a fool to conclude that a random arrangement of rocks actually told you something about the geographical location of your train. 

Modern science is in the same predicament.  Scientists rely on their own abilities to perceive and understand the world, just like the train passenger relies on the rocks to tell him where he is.  And yet, naturalistic scientists believe that their own abilities were not given to them by an intelligent Creator but rather are the result of blind chance.  Naturalistic scientists are like the passenger on the train seeing the rock formation, believing that it was random, and yet concluding that it provides reliable information about where they are.  Without faith in a Creator, an intelligent designer who gave us the mental equipment to know this world in the first place, science has no foundation. 

*Not really, we don’t keep Kool-Aid at our house.

Summing up on Creationism and Science

October 3, 2007

After writing my last post on this subject, I thought up a quick way to express my approach to scientific questions surrounding the age of the earth.  Here it is, in one sentence:

Because the act of creation was a miracle, the origin of the universe cannot be measured according to the same laws that are used to measure phenomena in the natural order of things as they exist now.

Think about that for a second.  What is a miracle?  I define a miracle as an extraordinary intervention of God that pertains to creation and quite often violates natural, scientific regularities (or laws, if that is your preferred term).  I say miracles “quite often” violate scientific laws because they do not necessarily do so in all cases.  The locust plague on the Egyptians was a miracle, but there is no reason to suppose that it violated any natural laws.  God simply providentially ensured that an extraordinarily large number of locusts would be gathered together on the land of Egypt at one time.  It is, of course, possible that God created these locusts ex nihilo and then sent them to Egypt, thereby including a law-violating component to the miracle, but Ockham’s Razor would lead us to the former conclusion that God providentially orchestrated natural phenomena to produce an extraordinary event within the ordered system of laws that he ordained over creation.  Nevertheless, we know that God’s extraordinary interventions quite often ignore natural laws and therefore would not be subject to the same kind of scientific scrutiny that regular events would be subject to (I have repeatedly mentioned Jesus’ turning the water into wine, which is only one of a host of examples I could cite). 

Was creation a miracle?  Surely every Christian would agree that it was.  Is it reasonable to suppose that it was a miracle that bypassed natural laws?  Everywhere the Bible claims that God created by the power of his Word alone, and that to me suggests clearly that creation was a miracle that occurred outside natural processes.  In fact, the creation of this world would have involved at the same time the ordering of the world under the scientific laws that govern it.  Therefore, even the laws themselves were “created” at that time as well. 

I conclude, therefore, that if we approach creation as a miracle, we should actually approach it as a miracle, meaning that it is something that God must interpret for us, not something we can claim to understand apart from his revelation.  I am not advocating the complete overthrow of science.  Science has an important role to play in our understanding of the world as it now exists and operates.  But I do not believe autonomous human reason alone can discover how it all began.  It is much better to trust what God has told us about his own miracles.  It is high time for science to get a dose of humility before God.

A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 5

September 28, 2007

So far I have dealt with theological and exegetical issues related to the Bible’s teaching on creation.  But even after all of this a nagging point remains: why does the earth, according to scientific evidence, look so much older than 6,000 years?  Doesn’t this invalidate young earth creationism?

A moment’s reflection will reveal that this is not necessarily the case.  If the Genesis account tells us the basic facts about how the earth was created, then what would we expect to find when investigating this question scientifically?  We would expect the earth to look old because God’s creative work bypasses natural processes and gets to the end result in a short amount of time.  God created Adam from the dust of the earth.  He did not unite a sperm cell with an egg and take the embryo through various stages of development, on into childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  He created Adam, an adult man, in an instant.  Bypassing the natural processes, God created a man who looked old but in actuality was not.  I imagine that if you were standing in the Garden of Eden on that day and you cut down a tree, the trunk would have rings, which we know today are indications of how many years the tree has existed.  But of course, in that unique case the rings would not be indications of time that had passed but rather indications of the power of God to call into being that which does not exist. 

Take the light of distant stars, for example.  We know that some stars in our visual range are so far away from us that it would have taken the light from these stars much, much longer than 6,000 years to reach us.  Normally, this would be an indication that the light must have started its journey much longer than 6,000 years ago, thereby proving that the stars have existed for an amount of time much longer than 6,000 years.  But if we follow the pattern of creation laid out in Genesis 1-2, then we would expect the appearance of age in a young universe.  In fact, if God created light on Day 1 and the heavenly bodies on Day 4 (as Genesis claims), then we already have evidence in place that light existed indepently of the heavenly bodies in the first place, thereby invalidating the claim that it had to begin its journey from the stars in question.

The bottom line is that creation is a miracle, and miracles do not yield results that can be traced back according to natural laws.  Of course, the biggest objection to this claim is that I am special pleading, presupposing my interpretation of the Bible and imposing that on the scientific task.  I am not calling for true science but only for the kind that will validate my views.  I appreciate that objection, and I understand it.  But I think, given our situation in this world under God’s authority, we have no other choice.  The only alternative is to let autonomous human reason decide these questions for us.  I don’t trust autonomous human reason.  I believe it is in rebellion against God and incapable of understanding his ways.  Revelation must be allowed in this discussion.

Imagine two scientists present at the wedding of Cana in John 2.  One scientist is a believer in Jesus Christ, and the other is not.  After Jesus turns the water into wine, both scientists examine samples of the wine under a microscope.  The unbelieving scientist says, “This wine must be many decades old.  It shows signs of significant aging.”  The believing scientist says, “This wine was created a few minutes ago, even though it gives the appearance of being much older.”  The unbelieving scientist then gets upset and says, “You’re not doing real science.  You’re not letting the facts speak for themselves.”  To that the believing scientist replies, “I know the Person, and he interprets the facts for me.  If I truly believe he is God in the flesh, why should I disregard what he has said and done when looking at the facts?” 

Christians should do science from an explicitly Christian perspective, seeking to take their directions from what God has already told us.  If God tells us that he creates in a short time what would normally take ages to develop naturally, why should we doubt him?  Yes, I am privileging the Christian worldview here.  I don’t intend this discussion to appeal to unbelievers much at all (that would be another discussion for another time).  But given the Christian worldview, why is it so hard to bring science under the authority of Scripture and in line with our broader theology? 

I believe the presupposition that the earth will look much older than it is must be allowed a seat at the table in this discussion.  Young earth creationism must not be forced to defend a claim that it doesn’t make, namely, that the earth looks young from a scientific perspective.  To say that would be to deny the manner of God’s creative power as it has been revealed to us. 

One more presupposition that belongs on the table is the worldwide flood of Noah.  Most scientists do not work as though it is a factor in their investigations.  But think about it: such a catastrophic event doubtless would have had major geological ramifications.  The upheaval involved would have been something beyond our imagination.  In addition, such a major event would have carried with it the aftershocks of countless smaller catastrophes that also would have played a role in altering the conditions of the earth.  A good question to ask when viewing the scientific evidence is this: is the present the key to the past?  In other words, should we presuppose the uniformity of geological change?  Most scientists believe we should.  I disagree because the Bible implies that we shouldn’t.  Young earth creationism claims that the earth not only looks older than it is, but also that the worldwide flood described in Genesis 6-9 was a catastrophic event that has not and will not be repeated.  Geological change happened rapidly and catastrophically rather than slowly and steadily. 

Obviously, I have avoided specific scientific questions here for three reasons: (1) there are too many to know where to begin and how to limit the discussion; (2) I am not competent enough to discuss them at length; I am a theologian, not a scientist, and I recognize that trying to talk like a scientist will only expose my inadequacies in this area; (3) others have treated these at length; see especially Answers in Genesis.  My purpose here has been to argue for a certain approach to science, one that is fully conversant with theology and exegesis, on the part of Christians. 

To sum up this series, I believe that young earth creationism coheres better than any other view with the total Christian worldview package.

(1) Theologically, the Christian worldview demands a historical Fall, which in turn demands a historical Adam.  In addition, it strongly suggests that the curse, which came as a result of the first sin, is responsible for death among humans and in the animal kingdom, as well as major alterations pertaining to the earth’s condition.

(2) Exegetically, the Gap theory, the Day-Age view, and the literary framework view of Genesis 1:1-2:3 all face serious difficulties.  The best way to read this account is as a poetic, but nevertheless historical version of events.

(3) Scientifically, we should not expect young earth creationism to prove a claim that it does not make, namely, that the earth will show evidence of being 6,000 years old.  If we allow it to stand in its own integrity, with the two major presuppositions in place about God’s creative work bypassing natural processes and the impact of a global flood, we can account for a good bit of what scientists have observed. 

Of course, we still see through a glass darkly.  I am quite sure that no scientific perspective will ever be able to claim a complete understanding of everything.  Questions will still remain.  Uncertainties will persist.  But that’s part of what it means to live in a world created by a God whose thoughts are higher than ours and whose ways are past finding out (of course, I don’t mean that in all respects, but certainly in some respects).  We shouldn’t expect it to be any different.

A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 4

September 18, 2007

So far I have appealed mostly to passages in the book of Romans to make theological points about the age of the earth, but now my task is to deal with the text of Genesis 1:1-2:3 itself.  I will approach this by listing the various interpretations of the passage and showing why the literal interpretation of young earth creationism fits the totality of the evidence the best.

(1) The Gap Theory: Some approach this passage more or less in a literal manner, but they still opt for an old earth view by positing a gap of millions, perhaps billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  Why, Gap Theorists ask, is the earth “without form and void” in verse 2?  According to them, it is because the Satanic fall occurred at some point between verses 1 and 2 and disrupted the order of God’s good creation, which had existed for a very long time.  The biblical creation account (Genesis 1:2-2:3), therefore, refers to God’s reorganization of the earth that he had actually created millions or billions of years before.

Few hold to this position anymore, and for good reason.  It hangs a truckload of data on silence.  It appears to be self-contradictory, because how could an original creation exist for billions of years without the sun, which wasn’t created until verse 16?  It does not make sense of the flow of the text, which clearly reads like a summary (v. 1) followed by a detailed account (vv. 2ff.), a writing style that happens quite often in Scripture.  The Gap Theory will not do.

(2) The “Day-Age” view: According to this view, the Hebrew word yom (“day”) does not indicate a regular day but rather a lengthy period that accounts for the millions, or even billions of years that the earth has existed.  Day-Age proponents argue that the word yom may be used flexibly, much like we use the word “day” in different ways.  For example, I might say, “In Calvin’s day it was much more common for people to be executed for heretical teachings than it is in our day.”  Obviously, I don’t mean a twenty-four hour period by the word “day” in that sentence.  I mean something like “age.”  Day-Age proponents further argue that this reading harmonizes the Genesis account with modern science.

I reject the Day-Age view because, while yom may certainly be used in various ways, context must decide its usage in every instance.  This passage clearly has regular days in view.  I know of no other examples where the word “day” can be used in a numbered sequence (“first day,” “second day,” etc.) where the meaning of “day” is not a regular day.  But that is precisely what happens in this text.  Furthermore, the repeated formula of “evening and morning” clearly indicates that a normal day is in view.  One might object that “evening and morning” do not constitute a twenty-four hour period but rather just the span of time from evening to morning, but that would be to read the passage woodenly, not literally.  The phrase “evening and morning” is simply a metonymy for the whole day, much like a person in our time might say “sun-up to sundown.”  We must not press language beyond its intention.  The Day-Age view falters on the way the word “day” is actually used in this passage.

(3) The Literary Framework view: Some argue that Genesis 1:1-2:3 is a literary description of creation, not a historical description.  On this reading, the word “day” retains its normal usage, with the understanding that the author has no intention of giving a step-by-step account of how creation actually occurred.  In reality, the world was probably created more or less the way scientists believe.  The repetitious nature of the account and its symmetrical proportions (with days 1 and 4 corresponding, days 2 and 5 corresponding, and days 3 and 6 corresponding, climaxing with day 7) indicate that the author is giving a poetic impression, not a scientific description.  The narrative was written to counter other ancient near eastern creation myths.  It seems to be deliberately shaped around the Jewish practice of the Sabbath, which is another indication that its purpose is not to describe history.

Of all the views, this one has the most to commend it if the literal view is rejected.  The passage does indeed have a number of poetic elements.  However, it is not Hebrew poetry.  If Genesis 1:1-2:3 were placed in the book of Psalms, it would stick out like a sore thumb.  It has certainly been crafted into a literary masterpiece, but it does not strictly follow the conventions of Hebrew poetry (namely, parallel line couplets).  The Masoretes did not recognize it as poetry, because they gave it accent marks consistent with prose.  It stands at the beginning of a book that clearly is not a collection of poetry but rather a historical narrative.  Other historical accounts show evidence of high literary craftsmanship.  Bruce Waltke (who does not agree with my view of Genesis 1:1-2:3, I will admit) has shown that the account of the flood in Genesis 6:9-9:19 is one giant chiasm, and yet that does not prove that it is not a historical account.  The Gospels show similar signs of literary craftsmanship, but they too intend to give us theologically interpreted history.  The literary marks of Genesis 1:1-2:3 do not prove that it is not a historical account.

The same may be said for the claim that it is a polemic against rival creation myths.  I think that is probably true, but I don’t see how that proves anything.  To my mind, the best kind of polemical account would be one that represents what really happened.  As for the account’s relationship to the Sabbath, this actually represents the strongest argument for a literal interpretation of the passage.  Exodus 20:8, 11 reads as follows:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. . . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

One may argue that the Sabbath practice gave rise to the creation account, but one would be doing so against the explicit declaration of Scripture.  I don’t know what else to make of Exodus 20:11 than that God gave the Sabbath command on the basis of the work he did in creation, a command that wouldn’t make much sense if God did not actually create everything in six days.  One of the foundational principles of biblical interpretation (for those with a high view of biblical authority) is that Scripture is its own best interpreter.  If we let Scripture interpret Scripture, I don’t see how we can avoid the conclusion that the earth was created in six days. 

Plus, the “literary framework view” suffers from the theological problems that I outlined in previous posts about death (at least in the animal kingdom) prior to the Fall.  For these several reasons, I judge it to be inadequate.

That leaves us with a more or less literal understanding of Genesis 1:1-2:3.  No, it is not a strictly scientific account.  It uses literary conventions, figures of speech, phenomenological language, etc., but it does spell out a clear process and timeline by which God created the heavens and the earth.  Some object that this reading is nonsensical, for how could “days” be reckoned prior to the creation of the sun, around which the earth orbits?  While that is a good point (we count days based on revolutions of the earth as it is drawn by the sun’s gravity), I don’t think the concept of time itself necessarily depends on the movements of the earth.  In other words, time exists regardless of where you are and how you are moving.  Of course, I realize that modern physics has shown that space and time form a continuum (something I am not competent to discuss in detail), but I don’t know that that would change very much in this case.  If the days were not exactly twenty-four hours, I don’t see that as a problem for my view, so long as they were lengths of time close enough to approximate a day.  This is how John Feinberg argues in his book No One Like Him

 But what about the objection that light could not exist on Day 1 prior to the creation of the sun on Day 4?  I understand that objection, but I don’t find it too hard to imagine that God could create light to exist on its own, only later to be channeled to a definite source that would, from that time on, replenish it.  And if we believe that God did it that way, then it may even help us with some of the scientific objections to young earth creationism.  But more on that later.