Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bible study - Simon and John the Creationist

Today our subject in the Peth Bible study group led by Simon, our Bible teacher, was the date of the creation of the world.

John the Creationist was a brilliant young student of Physics in the University of Western Australia. He had his much used laptop on the table beside the Bible to get accurate references from the Creation Ministries International website and other reliable sources about his brand of Christianity. Some of us also had our laptops but Lisa stood out with her new Samsung Galaxy tablet computer with the English Bible loaded into it.

Discussion on creation
Simon: "The Gospel of John tells us that Lord Jesus promised that Holy Spirit would come and lead us to all truth. Lisa, please read to us aloud John 16:12-15."

Lisa: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.However when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine; therefore I said that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you."

(Lisa was using the 21st Century King James Version and not everybody liked her modernity.)

Simon: "This is a wonderful promise. But it does not say that we have all truth in Holy Spirit. Christian, can you tell us what exactly it says?"

Christian: "It says verbatim He will guide you into all truth".

Simon: "There is a big difference between knowing all truth and been guided into all truth."

We all nodded in our minds, there indeed is a difference. I was thinking, how this affects our attitudes towards knowledge and also our behaviour among fellow believers and those who do not believe like we do.

Simon: "John, I have something to say to you."

John: "Teacher, please say!"

Simon: "You err because you do not know the Bible. You know modern natural sciences and are well versed in the Theory of Relativity and understand what is time-space continuum but you do not know the holy Scriptures."

John: "This is a serious accusation, Teacher. Please explain to me what you mean for I do read the Bible every day and remember many verses by heart already since my childhood."

Simon: "In the Scriptures it is written "In the beginning God created heaven and earth". You are curious and want to know when was the Beginning. To find it out you do the following reckoning: God created the world in one week. God created Adam and set him in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had children from whom all humans upon Earth originate. The Bible gives us genealogies that reach from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Jesus of Nazareth."

John: "This is true".

Simon: "You reason that because it is possible to calculate backwards from Jesus the date of Adam and Eve by adding the generations and from the life spans Bible gives to the ancients you say that God created the universe around the year 4000 before Christ."

John: "This is true and I believe that the Bible is telling the truth for God does not lie."

Simon: "Amen. God does not lie."

We all ten added our amens to this with John the Creationist.

Simon: "By coupling the Seven Days of Creation with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden Archbishop James Ussher proposed an exact date and time for creation. Mark, could you please use your laptop and give us the exact date of Creation by Ussher?"

Mark (after a quick Google search):  "The night preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC."

Simon: "Archbishop Ussher's chronology was added to the Authorized King James Version of the Bible. However, he was not the first one to calculate the date of Creation. The People of God, the Jews, use a religious calendar that counts the years from the Creation. Ann, please tell us what year is now according to the Jewish calendar."

Ann: "Today's Haaretz online is dated Wednesday, February 22, 2012 Shvat 29, 5772. So now is year 5722 after the Creation of the world."

Simon: "Yes. According to the Jewish calendar we reach the year 6000 in another 278 years."

John: "Dear Teacher, tell me why you say that I do not know Bible well? All what you have said now is true and I believe this to be Divine revelation."

Simon: "You have not studied the Bible and do not know that there is not one story of Creation but two. The first story of creation is a complete narrative of the Seven Days of Creation. God creates the word from nothing, nihil, and rests on the seventh day after all is done. Including the creation of humans, man and woman. This story is in Genesis 1:1 - 2:3.

Lisa, please read to us aloud Genesis 2:1-4 where is the join. The second story of Creation begins with the Hebrew expression toldot - which KJV translates with the word generations."

Lisa: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens"

Simon: "Thank you, Lisa. According to the Document Hypothesis of the Pentateuch first suggested by the German scholar Julius Wellhausen, the two stories of Creation come to the Books of Moses from two different sources. The first one from what is commonly called Priestly source (P) and the second one from the source called Jahwist (J). The two stories at the beginning of the Bible are completely different."

John: "But Teacher, do you seriously believe what the godless scientists are writing about the Holy Bible? Do you want us to know the lies these enemies of faith are writing? Surely, as the Bible says, the Books of Moses were written by Moses and not collected from a multitude of sources. What blasphemy!"

Simon: "John the Creationist! As I told you, you do not know the holy Bible as it is written and as Holy Ghost has seen wise to give it to humanity through the people of Israel.

For this reason you err, as our Lord told to the Sadducees asking Him about the contents of the Book of Moses that they used to argue against His teaching Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. This is written in Matthew 22:29."

John: "There are many learned teachers of the Bible who have shown that the Document Theory is not correct."

Simon: "This is true that there is serious scientific debate about the structure of the Books of Moses and about their literary history.

What I want you to do, and do it carefully John the Creationist, is to see if Wellhausen was right in saying that there are two different narratives about the creation of the world and that their contents are totally different.

See by yourself if this is true or not regardless of what explanation you or others give to such differences."

John: "I will do that in the name of truth."

Simon: "May the Holy Spirit guide you to all truth!

For if there are two different stories you cannot couple the Seven Days of Creation and the Garden of Eden stories in the Bible in order to give a date in human years when God created the world."


  1. John: "Hold on right there, Teacher! What you just uttered seems to me a clear case of non sequitur.

    You see, if in court there are two witnesses, the one telling that the defendant was with him from noon to evening the day when the murder happened, the other that he was with the defendant the same day from dawn till noon, so that there are two narratives from two witnesses, neither one claiming to have seen the defendant all day long, nevertheless the judge is right when concluding that, according to the testimonies delivered to the court, there was no time, from dawn to dusk, for the defendant to have been able to commit the crime he was accused of committing, so he is to be declared innocent and let walk out of court as a free man.

    If, on the other hand, the judge were to deem there was no alibi because the stories about the morning and about the afternoon were different, we would take him as either stupid or evil (or both), a bad judge anyway.

    The same is true also generally: there is no reason whatsoever, why one could not gather information from different sources to gain a wholesome picture of the occurrence of some consequent events, and their total duration. And I didn't even need any concept of Divine Inspiration of Holy Scriptures to be able to figure out that!"

  2. This is logically true what you say about the two witnesses. But they are relating to the same sequence of events and alibis.

    Actually, Bible scholars do not talk only about two Creation stories from the Priestly and Jahwist source but also about remnants of a third one scattered in Psalms, Job and elsewhere.

    This third one is in the Ancient Near Eastern tradition of a major battle between God and the forces of Chaos in the beginning.

  3. The Seven Days of Creation is a complete cycle from the beginning to the Seventh Day when God rests from His work. I think it is almost scientific, nature is being created and also man and woman who together are the image of God. It is rather cold and factual almost like a modern scientific text book telling "so" but not giving any real meaning to humans.

    The story of Garden of Eden takes us to the misty morning of humanity and apparently has strong connections to the Sumerian myth of Ninhursag and Enki. It is not "scientific" but rather "existential" and studies in a very powerful way the place of man in the Creation and the relationship with God.

  4. I would like also to point out as an Archaeologist that the 4000 BC is not an empty number.

    We do not know why but at around this time begins a major rise of human cultures and civilizations, first exactly where Bible points - the land of Sinear, Sumer.

  5. All of this is very interesting, but what should this have to do with John the creationist having missed something? What is the problem with having several versions telling about the beginning, and someone (Moses?) editing the sources into one book?

    John could even say that the first one was directly written by God (for there were no people to see the events), and the second one could well be originally from the viewpoint of Adam.

  6. Creationism is a wide subject and I think it has much positive in it.

    Young Earth Creationism is a very narrow subject and I think it has nothing positive about it.

    "Young Earth creationism (YEC) is the religious belief that the Universe, Earth, and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of the Abrahamic God during a relatively short period, sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago.

    Its primary adherents are Christians and Jews who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking what they regard to be a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative as a basis for their beliefs" [wikipedia]

  7. I don't fully understand how does your last comment contribute to the discussion, but never mind.

    I'll take an example from real life to show how a creationist who is specialized in science would response to exegetical objections. Todd Charles Wood made his Ph.D. on biochemistry at the university of Virginia, and he is currently a professor at Bryan College, an evangelical christian college. He is also the president of Baraminology Study Group, a group of scientists studying biology from a creationist perspective. Recently the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought and Practice sponsored a Genesis symposium, with five well qualified Old Testament scholars with differing views. You can read Todd Woods' report of the symposium at his blog:

  8. Thank you, Otto, for this link to the blog site of Todd Wood where he talks about their Genesis symposium.

  9. After studying these texts it seems to me that Todd Wood shows more interest on what those people think about Genesis than what is actually written in the Bible.

    Todd clearly focuses on how to fit the correct understanding of the age of the world to the Scriptures.

  10. Mikko: I can't say for sure about Todd's interests, but for me it seems like he is trying to understand other viewpoints and also trying to make them understandable to the readers. I think it would be fairly obvious in this situation to write more about the views than about scripture. I also think he is very interested on the scripture, and this can be seen when he writes about Jesus or Paul.

  11. "Todd clearly focuses on how to fit the correct understanding of the age of the world to the Scriptures."