That "Loaded" Questionnaire
||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Wayne Jackson, M.A.
INTRODUCTION: THE HISTORY OF THIS INQUIRY
(by Bert Thompson)
In March 1983, I received a two-page letter, dated March 14, from Jack P. Lewis, professor, Harding Graduate School of Religion, and Chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee of the Board of Directors, Christian Student Center, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi. The letter read, in part, as follows.
The Christian Student Center adjacent to the campus of the University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, has for a number of years presented an annual lectureship in which a speaker dealt with a question confronting university students in the course of their academic life. We feel that we have had a series of outstanding programs.
For our program of February 3,4, and 5, 1984, we would like to have a symposium on “Origins” in which various speakers would present their viewpoints. We have a few tentative agreements for participation. The following is an invitation list, not an acceptance list. We thought you would like to see the whole proposal. The Chairperson, Theme Speaker, and Moderator will be Dr. Jack Wood Sears, Harding University.
“The Limitations of Science,” Dr. Douglas Shields, University of Mississippi
“An Exegesis of Genesis 1 and 2,” Dr. Clyde Woods, Freed-Hardeman College
“Scientific Creationism,” Dr. Bert Thompson, Alabama Christian School of Religion
“Theistic Evolution,” Dr. Niel [sic] Buffalo [sic], University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas
“An Argument for Antiquity and Classical Geology,” John Clayton, South Bend, Indiana
“Understanding Genesis 1-11 in the Light of Restoration Principles,” Dr. Don England, Harding University
We do not intend that there be debate or cross-examination among the speakers. We would like a positive, non-debate setting.... As chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee of the Board of Directors of the Center, I have been asked to issue invitations to participants.... We believe that this will be a very enlightening and helpful symposium. We hope that you will find it possible to participate. I will look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience.
On March 21, I wrote Dr. Lewis, acknowledging his letter and declining his invitation to participate in the Oxford lectureship. I explained my decision in light of the following information.
First, Dr. Lewis’ letter stated plainly that there would be no “debate or cross-examination among the speakers,” and that the situation would consist of a “positive, non-debate setting.” I found this format unacceptable, because several of the men on the program were well known for their false teachings on the creation account. Neal Buffaloe, for example, is the co-author of the booklet, Creationism and Evolution (1981), which advocates the position that Genesis 1-11 is not to be taken historically and literally, and that theistic evolution is perfectly acceptable. I had written a thorough review and refutation of the booklet in the April/May/June 1981 issue of Sound Doctrine published by the Alabama Christian School of Religion (see Thompson, 1981, 6:11-12).
Another of the suggested speakers was John N. Clayton of South Bend, Indiana. Mr. Clayton’s positions on the biblical account of creation are well known, and fully documented. He is the inventor and chief proponent of the Modified Gap Theory, and has advocated numerous other compromises of the creation account (see Jackson and Thompson, 1992). Donald England and Jack Wood Sears of Harding University are both on record in regard to their unorthodox views of Genesis. Dr. England is the author of the so-called Non-World View, which states that Christians err when they assign any world view to the Genesis text. In addition, he has defended the Multiple-Gap Theory, and has criticized the view that the creative days of God were literal, 24-hour periods (see England, 1972, 1983). Dr. Sears has defended the Day-Age Theory and similar concepts, and like Buffaloe, Clayton, and England, advocates the view that Bible allows for an ancient Earth. In fact, just eight months from the arrival of Dr. Lewis’ letter, I would be debating Dr. Sears in Denton, Texas, on these very points.
In my response to Dr. Lewis’ letter, I explained that I could not conscientiously participate on a program—in a “non-debate” setting—with speakers known to teach this kind of error. However, I also stated that I wished to give the Religious Affairs Committee, and the Board of Directors of the Christian Student Center at Oxford, the benefit of the doubt, and hope that they simply were unaware of the erroneous teachings of these men when they issued their invitations. Therefore, in order to provide documentation for both the Committee and the Board to see, I enclosed copies of the articles, reviews, etc., which dealt with these issues. Furthermore, I asked Dr. Lewis for a reply concerning these matters.
On March 25, Dr. Lewis sent a 3-sentence letter to me, thanking me for my prompt reply to the invitation, stating that he would refer my letter to the Board of Directors, and offering his best wishes. Since then, I have received no further correspondence from Dr. Lewis or any member of the Committee or Board.
THE SEARS-THOMPSON DEBATE
During the dates of November 13-18, 1983, the Annual Denton Lectureship was held at the Pearl Street Church of Christ in Denton, Texas. Each afternoon, a “discussion forum” occurred, during which speakers holding opposite views on a subject met in a debate setting to discuss these views.
On Monday, November 14, in public debate, I met Jack Wood Sears, then-chairman of the department of biology at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas on the topic: “The biblical account of creation allows for a very ancient Earth.” Dr. Sears affirmed the proposition; I denied it, and affirmed the proposition: “God created the Universe and all that is in it in six literal days of approximately 24 hours each; He did not employ a system requiring vast periods or long ages of time to bring the material Universe to its present state.” Manuscripts of each speaker’s material were prepared, and appear in the official lectureship book, Studies in Hebrews (see McClish, 1983, pp. 405-434). [NOTE: Audio and video tapes of the debate are available from Apologetics Press.]
During the course of this debate, I made several important points regarding the use in the Old Testament of various Hebrew words associated with the creation and/or time elements, including such words as yom [day] and bara and asah [used in regard to “creating” or “making”]. Dr. Sears, though completely unable to give any instances in Old Testament usage that negated my points, nevertheless said that he disputed my conclusions. Then, during his rejoinder, Dr. Sears made the following statements concerning the points I had raised regarding the 24-hour days of Genesis 1:
By the way, if you’d like some more information about this, we are collecting—a colleague of mine and I—are collecting answers to a questionnaire that we’ve sent out to outstanding Hebrew scholars both in the church and out of the church in this country and in Europe, in this country and in foreign places, and we have yet to find one that will maintain that this has to be a twenty-four hour day. And these are conservative scholars; these are not radicals. This will be given in a lectureship the first week in February at the University of Mississippi in Oxford at the University Christian Student Center by my colleague who is at this time preparing a manuscript on this. I’ll not go further because I do not want to jeopardize his manuscript or his problem there. [This quotation was transcribed directly from the debate tapes.]
It is this questionnaire, and the Oxford, Mississippi lectureship to which Dr. Sears alluded in his Denton speech, that we now wish to discuss at length.
The lectureship at the University of Mississippi Christian Student Center in Oxford was held during the dates of February 3-4, 1984. The listing of speakers as given above, however, was somewhat altered. The Magnolia Messenger, published by Magnolia Bible College in Kosciusko, Mississippi (January 1984), listed in an advertisement for the lectureship the following speakers and assignments:
“A Scientific Proof for the Existence of God,” Dr. Douglas Shields
“General Evolution and the Fossils,” Dr. Jack Wood Sears
“An Exegesis of Genesis 1,” Dr. Clyde Woods
“Understanding Genesis 1 & 2 in View of Restoration Principles,” Dr. Donald England
The general theme and title of the sixteenth annual University Christian Student Center lectureship at Oxford was “Creation, Science, and Faith.”
Dr. Sears, in his statement at Denton alluding to a “questionnaire...sent to outstanding Hebrew scholars,” made mention of the fact that he and “a colleague” were sending a questionnaire to various individuals, and preparing a manuscript regarding the compiled results of that questionnaire. The “colleague” to whom Dr. Sears referred is Donald England, also of Harding University. The “manuscript” to which Dr. Sears referred was, in fact, the presentation that Dr. England was to make at the Oxford lectureship.
Hugo McCord, professor emeritus of Bible and biblical languages, Oklahoma Christian College, and a Hebrew scholar in his own right, received one of these questionnaires, along with a cover letter on Harding University stationery, signed by both Sears and England. Dr. McCord, upon seeing the nature of the questionnaire, answered it, but chose in addition to “dissect” it, separating each question from the ones before and after, and placing his comments in the appropriate places. Dr. McCord graciously sent us both a copy of the questionnaire, and his response to it. On seeing the material, we contacted another Hebrew scholar and professor, to see if he, too, had received the questionnaire. He had. But, as Wayne Jackson relates in the next section, the professor refused to answer it because of the bias built into the questions—bias that practically required a preconditioned response. This article is devoted to an examination of that questionnaire.
THAT “LOADED” QUESTIONNAIRE
(by Wayne Jackson)
Jack Wood Sears is a professor of biology at Harding University. Donald England is a distinguished professor of chemistry at the same institution. Both of these gentlemen are Christians, and each has written books in defense of the Bible. Their writings have not been without merit, and we salute every word of truth that has issued from their pens. We believe, however, that in one area in particular, both of these men have seriously compromised biblical teaching.
Both Sears and England allow for the possible harmonization of biblical chronology with evolutionary chronology. It must be understood, of course, that from the evolutionary vantage point, “time” is crucial. Every evolutionist will painfully concede that unless he is granted vast eons of time, there is utterly no possibility that macroevolution (i.e., change across phylogenetic boundaries) has occurred. George Wald, Nobel laureate of Harvard, expressed it like this: “Time is the hero of the plot.... Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, and the probable becomes virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles” (1979, p. 294).
But it must be stressed that “time” is not a creator. Impotence times billions of years is still impotence. A.E. Wilder-Smith, renowned United Nations scientist of Switzerland, thus affirmed:
...the postulation of huge time spans by Darwinists to allow for the “creative” activity of chance and natural selection to get to work, does not really help to solve the problem in the least. ...it is not time itself which is our problem in connection with origins, but rather the infinitely more important matter of the source of the “planning energy” behind archebiopoiesis and order in our universe. This means that the mechanism of evolution postulated by Darwinians cannot really be influenced by the allowing of huge time spans, which they regard as the conditio sine qua non for their ideas (1975, p. 147; see also Thompson, 1977, pp. 91-103).
Though Sears and England oppose organic evolution, it is certain that both have been influenced by, and have yielded ground to, it, especially in the area of geochronology. England has written that: “Inasmuch as Scripture does not state how old the earth is or how long life has existed on earth, one is free to accept, if he wishes, the conclusions of science” (1983, p. 155). Sears, in his book, Conflict and Harmony in Science and the Bible, opposed the idea that the genealogical/chronological data of the Bible can be used to determine a relative age for the Earth and mankind (1969, pp. 17-20).
The problem is this: some who have been trained in various scientific disciplines are quite weak in their knowledge of biblical matters. Unfortunately, their scientific training has colored their view of biblical truth. Beyond that, however, it is deplorable that men sometimes will attempt to “manipulate” the evidence in order to buttress their cherished theories. And, if we may kindly say so, that is precisely what Sears and England have attempted to do via this questionnaire.
In late October of 1983, Sears and England submitted a questionnaire to a number of Bible scholars, inquiring about certain portions of the Scriptures dealing with creation. Though the professors claimed that they were merely soliciting answers in “the spirit of the restoration plea” so as to “respect the silence of the Scriptures,” a careful examination of the questionnaire reveals that the real purpose was to gather support for the professors’ well-known views that the Genesis record of origins is not necessarily opposed to the time scale postulated by evolutionists.
The form contained ten questions, along with some brief preliminary comments. Each of the questions contained a “YES” [ ] or “NO” [ ] space to be checked. But here is a significant factor: the questions were carefully worded in an attempt to purposely produce a “NO” answer—in other words, the questionnaire was “loaded.” Note the following quotation from the cover letter (dated October 25, 1983) written by Sears and England, and accompanying the questionnaire.
We recognize that a simple “yes” or “no” may not be possible for some of the questions; however, we would appreciate such a short answer if possible. If you feel that it is necessary to check “yes” for any question, we would like for you to supply additional information such as an explanatory comment or a literature reference (emp. added).
As you survey the questions in the subsequent portion of this article, you will see that they are hardly the epitome of objectivity. One Bible professor with whom we communicated, as Dr. Thompson already has mentioned, also was asked to fill out the questionnaire, but declined to do so because of its obvious bias. That should tell the reader something. The “questionnaire” was prefaced with the following statements.
It is believed by many that the Bible teaches an “instantaneous creation.” However, we would like to know if a careful scholarly exegesis of certain words or expressions mandates such a conclusion to the exclusion of “creation by some sort of process” that may have involved some perceptable [sic] time lapse. The first four questions address this problem.
Then follows the first question.
Does the use of the Hebrew word asah or bara in Genesis one preclude or exclude some sort of process?
Several things may be observed about this question. First, it is designed to be answered “No,” and thus to suggest subtly that Genesis 1 will allow for some sort of developmental “process” as opposed to a rapid creation. Second, to my knowledge, no competent scholar has claimed that asah [“made,” (1:16)] and bara [“created,” (1:1)] have any intrinsic implications relative to “time.” This is a straw man. Third, there are, however, contextual indications, both in Genesis 1 and in passages elsewhere, which suggest rapid action in contrast to a protracted developmental process. For example, professor Raymond Surburg has noted:
The wording of the Genesis account seems to indicate a short time for the creative acts described. To illustrate, in Genesis 1:11 God literally commands, “Earth, sprout sprouts!” Immediately v. 12 records the prompt response to the command—“The earth caused the plants to go out.” The Genesis account nowhere even hints that eons or periods of time are involved. Instantaneous action seems to be what the writer stresses (1959, p. 60).
Moreover, of Paul’s statement concerning the human body—“But now hath God set the members of each one of them in the body, even as it hath pleased him” (1 Corinthians 12:18)—Greek scholar W.E. Vine observed:
The tenses of both verbs are the aorist or point tenses and should be translated “set” and “it pleased” (instead of the perfect tenses, “hath set”and “it hath pleased”) and this marks the formation of the human body in all its parts as a creative act at a single point in time, and contradicts the evolutionary theory of a gradual development from infinitesimal microcosms (1951 p. 173).
But suppose the question above had been worded like this: “Does the use of the Hebrew words asah and bara in Genesis one suggest a developmental process?” The answer most certainly would have to be “NO,” but this would hardly have been the response desired by the two professors!
Finally, it might be asked—what influences motivated the professors to frame the foregoing question, laying the groundwork for some kind of developmental process that allows for “indefinite periods of time” in Genesis 1?
Is the Hebrew word asah or bara time limiting; that is, does the use of either of these words demand instantaneous creation? By “instantaneous” is intended “no perceptable [sic] time lapse.”
This question is irrelevant. No one has argued that a rapid creation, within six literal, consecutive days, is demonstrated merely by the use of asah or bara. But again, let us reverse the matter. “Are the Hebrew words asah and bara time-expanding; that is, does the use of either of these words demand vast eons of time?” The answer, of course, would be a resounding, “NO.” But that would not have left the same impression as the question asked by the professors.
Does the Hebrew word asah or bara require an ex nihilo [out of nothing] conclusion?
Once more the professors are fighting figments of their own imaginations. Sound scholarship does not contend that ex nihilo creation is inherent in these Hebrew verbs. What we do contend is this: contextual considerations in Genesis one and in other biblical references, argue for an ex nihilo creation! Gesenius, the father of modern Hebrew lexicography, wrote:
That the first v. of Genesis teaches that the original creation of the world in its rude, chaotic state was from nothing, while in the remainder of the chapter, the elaboration and distribution of matter thus created is taught, the connection of the whole section shows sufficiently clearly (as quoted by Pearson, 1953, 11:22).
Noted scholar, C.F. Keil, declared that when bara is in the Qal (Kal) stem in Hebrew, as in Genesis 1:1,
...it always means to create, and is only applied to a divine creation, the production of that which had no existence before. It is never joined with an accusative of material, although it does not exclude a preexistent material unconditionally, but is used for the creation of man (ver. 27, ch. v. 1,2), and of everything new that God creates, whether in the kingdom of nature (Num. xvi.30) or that of grace (Ex. xxxiv.10; Ps. li.10, etc.). In this verse, however, the existence of any primeval material is precluded by the object created—“the heavens and the earth” (1971, 1:47, emp. added).
Oswald T. Allis stated that a creation ex nihilo “is clearly implied” in Genesis 1:1 (1951, p. 9), and Edward J. Young wrote: “If in Genesis 1:1 Moses desired to express the thought of absolute creation there was no more suitable word in the Hebrew language at his disposal [than bara—WJ]” (1964, p. 7). Again, one wonders what attitude prompted the foregoing question from the two professors.
Hebrews 11:3 appears to represent ex nihilo creation. However, does a careful exegesis of Hebrews 11:3 require an ex nihilo conclusion?
Hugo McCord gave the following answer to the question:
Hebrews 11:3 states that the worlds were framed by God’s word (rhemati theou), and that God’s word did not frame them out of appearing things (ek phainomenon). Logically the inference remains that his word could have created the worlds out of non-appearing things. But that option is so tenuous, and imaginable reason says that Hebrews 11:3 teaches an ex nihilo creation. God can create (bara) something from existing materials (Isa. 65:18), but none is mentioned in Genesis 1:1 nor in Hebrews 11:3. Apparently he wanted us to understand a creation out of nothing. If that was not his intention, his word has misled millions of readers. Compare: “By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. For he spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psa. 33:6,9).
[NOTE: Quotations from Dr. McCord’s response to the professors’ questionnaire are reproduced from the written copy he sent to Apologetics Press.]
Of Hebrews 11:3, F.F. Bruce observed: “The visible, material universe came into being by pure creation—out of nothing. It was not fashioned from preexistent material, as most pagan cosmogonies taught” (1972, p. 125).
Once more, one cannot but wonder what prompted this question, the obvious design of which was to cast doubt on an ex nihilo emphasis in Hebrews 11:3. The following comment from Leon Morris may shed some light on the matter: “The suggestion that there is here [Hebrews 11:3—WJ] a reference to the formless void of Genesis 1:2 out of which the present creation was evolved has little to support it” (1960, p. 172). Surely Sears and England were not suggesting this—were they? But the questionnaire continues:
Both of us believe that Genesis records a factual yet not exhaustive account of creation events. We believe that the days of Genesis one were twenty-four-hour days, but we largely believe this from the general impression gained by reading the text. However, we wish to know if this conclusion is mandated by scripture. We would appreciate your response to these questions. Please note our emphasis on “principle of Hebrew grammar or exegesis.”
Before considering the next series of questions, some comments are in order. First, the preceding paragraph is misleading. Though the professors declare their belief in twenty-four-hour creation days, the subsequent questions are designed to reflect upon the credibility of this view. Second, one should consider the implications involved in admitting that the “general impression” of Genesis 1 argues for twenty-four-hour days, while at the same time hinting that principles of grammar and exegesis may suggest otherwise. Was the inspired writer incapable of making the issue clear? The questions continue.
Are there any principles of Hebrew grammar or exegesis governing the interpretation of the Hebrew text which demand that yom [day] of Genesis one be understood as a twenty-four-hour day to the exclusion of all other interpretations?
No conservative scholar contends that there is a grammatical rule that dictates a specific length of time in yom. Why address arguments that have not been made, unless one wants to prejudice the issue. Dr. McCord exploded the question when he responded:
Nothing in the word yom specifies its length. However, an exegesis (including grammar, syntax, and context) of yom in its eleven occurrences in Genesis one shows the word has two meanings:
about a 12 hour period in 1:5, where it is the opposite of darkness; 1:14,16,18, where it is the opposite of night;
a 24 hour period in 1:5, where its length is defined as a combination of evening and morning; 1:14, where it is in the context of signs, seasons, days, and years; 1:8,13,19,23,31, where again, repeated five times, its length is defined as a combination of morning and evening. An exegetical principle mandates that normal, literal meanings must be understood unless the context indicates an abnormal significance. Nothing in Genesis one points to an abnormal meaning. To this the professors agree when they say that “the general impression gained by reading the text” is “that the days of Genesis one were twenty-four [hour] days.”
Yes, we are aware of the fact that the term “day” is used occasionally in the Bible in a figurative sense. But that is not the issue. The issue is: What does the biblical evidence indicate concerning the use of the term “day” in the creation week? The term “baptism” is sometimes used figuratively. In Mark 10:38 the Lord employed that word for His impending suffering. Does the fact that “baptism” may be used symbolically for suffering argue that such is a possibility in Acts 2:38? What about this question: Is there any rule of Greek grammar which would mandate that the baptism of Acts 2:38 is to be in “water”? No. But would the gentlemen from Searcy allow other options? If not, why not?
Is there a principle of Hebrew grammar or exegesis governing the interpretation of the Hebrew text which demands that yom be interpreted as a twenty-four-hour day if it is preceded by the definite article?
I am fairly familiar with the literature on the subject, yet I cannot recall ever reading an argument for twenty-four-hour creation days based upon article usage.
Is there a principle of Hebrew grammar or exegesis governing the interpretation of the Hebrew text which demands that yom be interpreted as a twenty-four-hour day if it is accompanied by a cardinal number?
The point that creationists have made on this matter is not one of grammar; it is one of consistent usage, and that does relate to exegesis. Dr. McCord correctly replied: “The length of yom is not determined by the accompaniment of a number, either cardinal or ordinal. However, in over 100 citations (as, cardinals, Gen. 1:5; 7:4; ordinals, Gen. 7:11; 8:4), no exception has been found.” Let the professors try this question: “Can you cite at least one example from the Pentateuch where yom, accompanied by a numeral, clearly indicates an indefinite period of time?” Why were not questions of this nature included in the survey? I think the answer is obvious.
Assuming the creation days of Genesis one were twenty-four-hour days, is there a principle of Hebrew grammar or a rule of exegesis that demands the conclusion that each of the six creation days were [sic] consecutive, that is, no time could have elapsed to separate day one from day two, day two from day three, etc.?
This question solicits support for the notion advanced by Donald England in A Christian View of Origins: “The days of Genesis 1 could easily have been twenty-four-hour days and the earth still date to antiquity, provided that indefinite periods of time separated the six creation days” (1972, p. 110). [The reader might ask where the professor got the idea that the Earth can “date to great antiquity.”] Likely Dr. McCord did not receive high marks when he responded: “The Hebrew text, if a time lapse between days occurred, could have spoken to that effect, but it does not. Any attempt to inject time lapses between days is not from exegesis but eisegesis.”
A point that advocates of this “time-lapse-between-days” theory might ponder is found in Numbers 7. After the Tabernacle was set up, the head princes of the twelve tribes brought offerings for the altar’s dedication. Oblations were offered on “the first day” (12), “the second day” (18), “the third day” (24), and so on through “the twelfth day (78).” Assuming that these “days” were twenty-four-hour days, is there any rule of Hebrew grammar demanding the conclusion that each of these twelve days was consecutive-that is, no time could have elapsed to separate day one from day two, etc.? Of course there is no “rule” of grammar that would preclude such, but only a bizarre notion foreign to the context would ever suggest it!
Is there a principle of Hebrew grammar or a rule of exegesis which would preclude the possibility of an indefinite time lapse between verses one and two or between verses two and three of Genesis chapter one?
This question opens the door to the possibility of the Gap Theory—a concept that came into vogue about a century ago as a means of harmonizing the Bible with evolutionary time scales. We will not consume space at this point in refuting this totally baseless theory. Professor W.W. Fields, in his book, Unformed and Unfilled (1976), has completely demolished the Gap Theory. Allis likewise rendered a death-blow to this concept in his excellent volume, God Spake by Moses (1951, see his Appendix). In this connection, Allis makes a very important observation: “To allow science to become the interpreter of the Bible and to force upon it meanings which it clearly does not and cannot have is to undermine its supreme authority as the Word of God” (p. 158). In short, there is neither grammatical nor exegetical substance to the Gap Theory.
Many tend to conclude, from recorded Biblical genealogies, that the earth and life on earth is [sic] relatively recent; that is, less than 10,000 years. In your judgment, was it ever the intent of Hebrew genealogies to enable one today employing scholarly exegesis of the text to calculate the age of the earth or the age of life on the earth?
The purpose of this question, of course, is to suggest that the genealogical and chronological data in the Bible are without value in determining the relative ages of the Earth and mankind. To this we respond in several ways.
First, there is the matter of Scripture “intent.” It is claimed that the Bible is silent on the topic of Earth and human ages (see England, 1983, p. 156), and thus it was not the “intent” of the divine writers to discuss the ages of Earth and man. Dr. McCord, with penetrating logic, replied: “It was not the intent of Paul in Romans 6:3,4 to negate sprinkling (a practice unheard of until A.D. 253), but since such a malpractice has developed, it is valid to use Romans 6:3,4 to set forth the proper action of baptism.” He went on to observe that genealogical sources in the Bible also limit humanity’s life span upon the Earth, and so the Scriptures are not silent on this issue!
Consider this parallel example. In Genesis 30:32ff., we read of Jacob’s bargain with Laban concerning the “ring-streaked and spotted” sheep. I don’t suppose anyone would claim that it was the “intent” of Moses to discuss genetics, yet both Sears and England contend that this passage has “prescientific” genetic implications (see: Sears, 1969, p. 21; England, 1983, p. 145). Why can there not be similar biblical implications that deal with Earth/man ages?
Second, what are the actual genealogical and chronological indicators of the Bible? Consider the following facts. Luke’s Gospel (3:23-28) lists the record of Christ’s genealogy all the way back to Adam (the first man—1 Corinthians 15:45). There are seventy-five generations from Jesus back to the commencement of humanity. Fifty-five of these—from Christ to Abraham—consume but a mere 2,000 years (see Douglas, 1974, p. 213). How many years of human history do you suppose can be squeezed into those remaining twenty generations (even if one allows for the longevity of the patriarchs and some minor gaps in the genealogical lists)? One thing is certain—the three to four million years currently postulated by evolutionary anthropologists (and those sympathetic with them) will not fit! The Bible clearly implies a relative age limitation for humanity; there are reasonable “time” indications that can be drawn from the genealogies (see Jackson, 1976, p. 42).
Additionally, if Scripture is silent about the relative ages of the Earth and man, and one is free, therefore, to accept the conclusions of “science,” as England alleges, then numerous Bible passages are thrown into a state of absolute confusion. Evolutionary “science” contends that the Earth is some 4.6 billion years old, while man is but a stripling of approximately 3.6 million years old (a recent evolutionary estimate). This would suggest that man is only about 1/1250th of the age of the Earth. If we let the entire sum of Earth history, from its beginning to the present, be illustrated by a twenty-four-hour day, man had his origin about one minute and nine seconds ago! No wonder evolutionists are fond of referring to man as a “Johnny-come-lately!”
But what does this time-scale do to such Bible passages as the following: (a) Adam and Eve were made male and female “in the beginning,” which, as Jack P. Lewis has correctly shown, “should be understood in the sense of ‘from the beginning of creation’ (cf. Romans 1:20; 2 Peter 3:4)” (1978, p. 416). That, of course, is exactly what Mark’s Gospel says (Mark 10:6). (b) Paul argued that man’s unbelief is inexcusable since God’s existence has been humanly perceived in His handiwork “since the creation of the world” (Romans 1:20). (c) Christ placed the first family back near the “foundation of the world” (Luke 11:45-52).
In conclusion, we must again register a strong protest at what this loaded questionnaire seeks to accomplish, as well as the implications it contains. It does not reflect benevolently upon its authors’ scholastic objectivity or their regard for the plain testimony of the Holy Scriptures. Rather, it is a graphic commentary on what happens when men attempt to strain the Word of God through ever-changing “science.” As the inspired James might say, “My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (3:10).
Allis, Oswald T. (1951), God Spake By Moses (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Bruce, F.F. (1972), Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Buffaloe, Neal and N. Patrick Murray (1981), Creationism and Evolution (Little Rock, AR: The Bookmark).
Douglas, J.D., ed. (1974), The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
England, Donald (1972), A Christian View of Origins (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
England, Donald (1983), A Scientist Examines Faith and Evidence (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Fields, Weston W. (1976), Unformed and Unfilled (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Jackson, Wayne (1976), “Biblical Geneologies and Human History,” Christian Courier, 11:2-3, March.
Jackson, Wayne and Bert Thompson (1992), In the Shadow of Darwin: A Review of the Teachings of John N. Clayton (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Keil, C.F. (1971 reprint), The Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Lewis, Jack P. (1978), “From the Beginning It Was Not So...,” Your Marriage Can Be Great, ed. Thomas B. Warren (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
McClish, Dub, ed. (1983), Studies in Hebrews (Denton, TX: Pearl Street Church of Christ).
Morris, Leon (1960), The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Pearson, A.T. (1953), “An Exegetical Study of Genesis 1:1-3,” Bethel Seminary Quarterly, 11:22, November.
Scofield, Cyrus I., ed. (1917), Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press).
Sears, Jack Wood (1969), Conflict and Harmony in Science and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Surburg, Raymond (1959), “In the Beginning God Created,” Darwin, Evolution, and Creation, ed. P.A. Zimmerman (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).
Thompson, Bert (1977), Theistic Evolution (Shreveport, LA: Lambert).
Thompson, Bert (1981), “We Told You Where Belief in Evolution Would Lead—Now See for Yourself,” Sound Doctrine, 6:11-12. April/May/June.
Vine, W.E. (1951), First Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Wald, George (1979), “The Origin of Life,” Writing About Science, ed. M.E. Bowen and J.A. Mazzeo (New York: Oxford University Press). [NOTE: This is a reprint of Dr. Wald’s article, which appeared originally in Scientific American, August 1954.]
Wilder-Smith, A.E. (1975), Man’s Origin: Man's Destiny (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship).
Young, Edward J. (1964), Studies in Genesis One (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed).