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Genesis genealogies, old-earth creationism, and the Big Debate

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  • Robert Bowman
    Jeff, You wrote:
    Message 1 of 102 , Sep 30 9:54 PM

      You wrote:

      << The structure in all other biblical genealogies leaves room for some
      gaps, but the structure of Gen. 5 and 11 appears not to.  Each should be
      interpreted according. >>

      I have already explained why the structure of Genesis 5 and 11 does “leave
      room for some gaps.” The logic of my argument has run something like this:

      a. Gaps are possible.
      b. Evidence of gaps exists.
      c. Therefore, gaps are likely.

      To establish (a), all I need to do is show that any apparent proofs that
      there are no gaps fall short of actual proof. I think I have done this. The
      one proof that you have mentioned of no gaps is the fact that the
      genealogies give the age of each patriarch when he “begat” the next
      individual in the chain. To refute this, I have shown why this does not
      necessarily refer to a father begetting his immediate son; I have pointed
      out evidence in the genealogies that distinguish immediate sons from others
      in the genealogies; and I have given a plausible explanation for the
      inclusion of this information in the genealogies. What more could be needed?

      To establish (b), I have pointed to internal evidences from the genealogies
      themselves (the evidence of literary arrangement and selectivity) as well as
      the external evidence of historical inquiry (some of which you acknowledge
      as a difficulty for your view).

      You wrote:

      << Suppose that my interpretation happened to give, say, 6,000 years between
      flood and Abram.  Wouldn't you accept it then?  I think the extrinsic
      concerns are driving your interpretation.  The most natural interpretation
      is no gaps. >>

      The most “natural” interpretation, or at least what many people think is the
      most natural interpretation, is often wrong. Besides, I think the most
      natural interpretation of the Genesis genealogies is that they are not
      intended to tell us how many years passed from the Flood to Abram (or from
      Adam to Abram).

      If interpreting the genealogies as having no gaps happened to coincide with
      a reasonable estimate of the actual time that passed from the first to the
      last generation named, then, of course, I would conclude that the genealogy
      evidently has no gaps, or at least few if any gaps. The fact that I expect a
      sound interpretation of the biblical text to cohere with the physical and
      historical facts does not embarrass me in the least.

      When Joshua 10:12-13 refers to both the sun and the moon stopping in the
      sky, this implies if taken literally that both the sun and the moon are
      normally moving around the earth. It just so happens that this is literally
      true of the moon but not of the earth. So I conclude that the statement can
      be literally true of the moon but not of the earth. Does this mean that
      “extrinsic concerns” are “driving” my interpretation? Putting it that way
      would be prejudicial. What drives my interpretation is my desire to do full
      justice to both the internal evidence of the text and the external evidence
      of the facts of nature and history. In this instance, I assume you will
      agree with me. That’s why I asked my third question (see further below).
      Where you have decided to accept external evidences as overturning certain
      literal, “natural” interpretations of the Bible, you use the same
      hermeneutical approach that I do.

      You wrote:

      << I don't know enough about ancient history to be certain that there is no
      possibility of a flood in 2500 B.C.  But lets suppose it is out of the
      question.  Then I would accept your interpretation as the best one
      available, but recognizing that it is not the most natural interpretation of
      the text itself (apart from extrinsic considerations).  Similarly, suppose
      it is certain that the earth is millions or even billions or years old. 
      Then I would accept that the days in Gen. 1 are ages, or perhaps a
      "framwork" literary interpretation, but recognizing that the literal 24-hour
      day interpretation is the most natural. >>

      I’m happy to hear this, since once again it shows that we agree on the basic
      hermeneutical issue. At least, I *think* we do. Later in your post, I become
      unsure; see below.

      Regarding my reasons for thinking the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 have
      gaps, I had said that you “dismissed” them. You replied:

      << I'm not just dismissing what you have said.  I've stated my reasons for
      thinking that the no-gap interpretation is the most natural.  I suppose I
      could talk about some of the points you've raised that I haven't addressed,
      e.g., the number of names on the lists in Gen 4 vs. 5, similarities of
      names, patterns, etc. >>

      These are precisely the points that you said were “weak” and that I wanted
      you to address. You continued:

      << But I'm still entitled to my opinion. >>

      Of course you are! No one suggested otherwise.

      You wrote:

      << Like the rest of Genesis, I think the genealogies are intended to be
      taken literally. >>

      The issue is what one means by “literally.” I think we can interpret
      Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus “literally” without denying that it has gaps,
      as long as what we mean by “literally” is sound grammatical-historical
      interpretation. In that sense, I take the genealogies in Genesis
      “literally,” too.

      You wrote:

      << The things you point to can be explained in other ways without resorting
      to a literary/non-historical interpretation.  Gen. 5 doesn't "feel" to me
      like a poem or something other than straightforward history. >>

      “Literary” is not the same thing as “non-historical.” I have never denied
      that the genealogies are historically accurate. Nor did I characterize the
      genealogies as anything “like a poem.” I simply asserted that they have
      gaps, which all or nearly all genealogies in the Bible have.

      You wrote:

      << If the ages of the fathers when their sons were born were not given I'd
      have a lot less trouble viewing the genealogies somewhat like Matthew,
      accurate, but not necessarily complete, opting for literary symmetry over
      completeness, etc. >>

      You wouldn’t accept it if someone described your interpretation of Matthew’s
      genealogy as non-historical and poetic, would you? If not, why are you
      characterizing my view of the Genesis genealogies in that way?

      You wrote:

      << But the ages are there, and for a reason.  My comment that your reasons
      are weak is my conclusion, based on a good deal of analysis, not just a bare
      dismissal.  Don't take it personally. >>

      I’m not taking it personally. I’m simply pointing out that you have yet to
      *show* how any of this analysis refutes the arguments I presented. If you
      don’t wish to do so, that’s your decision. You are free to think what you
      want and to address what you want.

      I asked:

      “3. So I can understand your approach to biblical interpretation in matters
      like this one, please tell me how you would explain why the Bible does not
      teach that the sun (normally) moves, though God supernaturally stopped it on
      one occasion (Josh. 10:12-13; Eccl. 1:5), while the earth stands still and
      never moves (Ps. 104:5; 119:90; Ecc. 1:4).”

      You replied:

      << I'd take the sun standing still and phenomenal.  That is how it appeared
      to the author and/or the witnesses.  We would use similar expressions today
      to describe such an event even knowing more than the author of Joshua knew
      about the solar system.  Same with poetic statements about the earth being
      firm or unmoved.  Those are no problem.  I don't take a hyper-literal
      approach. >>

      Is it not true, though, that “extrinsic concerns” are “driving” your choice
      to construe these statements non-literally?

      You wrote:
      << Suppose there were some texts that could be interpreted as supporting a
      geocentric system.  Those texts, though, were also amenable to alternative
      interpretations (that they were figures of speech, not meant to address the
      structure of our system, phenomenal, etc.).  While the science was in doubt,
      I'd take the view that the texts are equivocal.  (If Galileo turns our to be
      right based on further observation, then our prior interpretation of those
      texts must have been wrong).  As the science became more clear, I'd move
      over to the correct interpretation.  I'd try to avoid reading my
      presuppositions into the text. >>

      I worry, then, that you would have opposed Galileo during his lifetime.
      After all, you could have claimed that most astronomers disagreed with
      Galileo (they did during his lifetime) and that the images seen through the
      telescope fell short of removing all doubt (which was true, since so many

      You wrote:

      << But I'm not sure that this approach woudl apply across the board.  There
      is a big difference between observational facts, like the earth being a near
      globe and revolving around the sun, etc. and much more speculative putative
      verities of science (like biological evolution, the big bang, 14.5 billion
      year old universe, etc.).  I don't think we're anywhere near being sure
      enough about the age of the universe or evolution to warrant opting for a
      very unnatural interpretation of Gen. 1.  And I doubt we'll ever be in that
      position by the nature of the case (since science can't observe the big bang
      or the billions of years in the same way it can observe the earth revolving
      around the sun). >>

      I didn’t bring up these issues here, but since you did, I will address them
      briefly. When you look through a telescope with the proper filter at the
      sun, you are directly observing the sun as it was eight minutes previously.
      When you look at Pluto, you are directly observing it as it was over five
      hours ago. When you look at the nearest star (other than the sun), you are
      directly observing it as it was four years ago.

      Now, our own Milky Way galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. We
      know this from direct observation. We have also observed enough of the
      galaxy to know that it takes the relatively flat spiral shape with which we
      are all familiar (and that is similar to other galaxies that we can see
      through very powerful telescopes). We can observe, and we know this must be
      so, that the stars are fairly well spread out at distances similar to those
      in our region (that is, stars typically are a couple of light-years or more
      away from each other). And we know that our own sun sits toward the outer
      edge of the galaxy. From this information alone, we can deduce what
      astronomers observe to be the case, namely, that the stars farthest away
      from us in our own galaxy (let alone in other galaxies) are more than
      100,000 light-years away. That means that when we look at stars at the far
      side of the galaxy, we are directly observing them as they were 100,000
      years or more ago.

      Is this the same thing as directly observing the big bang itself, or knowing
      from direct observation that the universe is 14.5 billion years old? No. But
      it is the same thing, in principle, as directly observing that the earth and
      the other planets move around the sun in elliptical orbits. And what we
      directly observe as to the stars even in our own galaxy flatly contradicts
      the belief that the earth is only six thousand years old.

      You wrote:
      << Another consideration is how clear the teaching of scripture is on the
      point in question.  If there were just one or two vague, ambiguous or
      equivocal verses in the bible about God having created the universe, it
      would be much less of a problem to interpret those verses in a way that is
      consistent with current scientific consensus (allowing for the possibility
      that the consensus could change).  But instead we have a lot of verses,
      Jesus quoting from Gen. 2, etc., so the weight of the science would have to
      be much more to force a possible but non-natural interpretation. >>

      We “have a lot of verses” that show that God created the world, that he
      created humans in his image, and so forth. We do not have even one verse
      that says that God created the world six thousand years ago. That is an
      inference from a few passages in Genesis 1-11 and one or two later
      references to the “six days.” The church in Galileo’s day had more biblical
      passages that seemed to support more explicitly a geocentric system than
      young-earth creationists have to support a thousands-of-years old creation.

      You wrote:

      << I don't think my arguments re Gen. 11 are really the same as or on a par
      with arguments for an earth-centered system based on a couple of equivocal
      poetic verses.  There is a lot more reason to take Gen. 11 literally, based
      on the internal structure.  Some very intelligent people have come to the
      same basic conclusion re the age of the earth, based on the text (including
      Luther, Melanthon, Newton, Ussher, Wesley etc.).  Saying that the passage in
      Joshua supports a geocentric system is just silly.  But interpreting the
      genealogies as providing a chronology of the earth is not. >>

      I have not questioned the intelligence of those Christians; I have not
      questioned anyone’s intelligence. But at least one of those same men thought
      that the Bible taught geocentrism. Luther, most famously, ridiculed
      Copernicus. So, intelligent Christians can be seriously mistaken in such

      Nor have I suggested that your view of the genealogies is silly. I simply
      disagree with it.

      You wrote:
      << Part of what is driving your interpretation of the genaologies is your
      view that there were cities occupied since 8,000 BC continuously.  I'd be a
      lot more sceptical about that, since the dating schemes, using C14,
      comparisons of pottery schards, etc., have a lot of room for presuppositions
      that could be wrong, guesswork, etc. >>

      Let’s face it: if the evidence supports human beings living on the earth
      before about 4200 BC, we have to conclude that the genealogies have gaps
      (assuming we stick with the ages given in the Hebrew text). One can quibble
      with the dating methods only so much. I sympathize with you; in college (at
      a secular university), I wrote papers defending the young-earth position,
      including one that tried to poke holes in the dating methods. But the fact
      is that the general shape of the conventional ages for the different periods
      of human history is well established. Scientists have at their disposal a
      variety of methods for measuring geochronology and human prehistory.
      Scientists correlate carbon-14, dendrochronology, and other methods with one
      another and find them confirming the overall picture of human beings living
      on earth for well over ten thousand years. Again, I once disputed the
      validity of these dating methods, just as you do, but eventually I
      understood that the criticisms I was repeating from young-earth advocates
      like Morris and Gish simply do not hold up.

      You wrote:
      << Part of what is driving people like Hugh Ross to opt for a local flood
      and day-ages in gen. 1 is the supposed verities of science, but much of the
      science in question is highly speculative, not observational.  Meanwhile the
      texts he is re-interpreting are quite clear (e.g., Moses'
      almost obsessive reiteration re universality of the flood, Peter's and
      Jesus' references that clearly assume a worldwide cataclysm, etc.).  I think
      Ross probably is putting science (speculative science) above scripture. >>

      You’re expanding the discussion far beyond our original topic of the
      genealogies. I have already given you an example of the observational basis
      for the old-age view of creation. And I would remind you that even renowned
      young-earth creationists like Henry Morris have acknowledged gaps in the
      genealogies. Hugh Ross is doing exactly what you do when faced with passages
      that seem to teach geocentrism: rethink their meaning. You can disagree with
      his conclusions, but he is not putting science above Scripture.

      You wrote:

      << Some of his conclusions are even based on the very most speculative
      theories (like string theory).  I think it is silly, and wrong, to attempt
      to re-interpret the doctrine of the trinity or God on the basis of
      such farout speculations. It is likely to lead to serious error.  (William
      Lane Criag has pointed out that Ross' doctrine of God based on string theory
      is heterodox).  I understand that there have been some direct discussions at
      ETS involving Craig and Ross, my source telling me that it was evident that
      Ross was placing science above scripture.  I've looked at one of Ross' book,
      and Sarfati's polemic, and found the latter far more convincing. >>

      I have known Hugh Ross for twenty years. Your source is mistaken. Hugh views
      the facts of nature and the teachings of Scripture as both fully reliable
      sources of information. He rejects the view that science should take
      precedence over the Bible.

      Where Scripture is ambiguous or open to more than one interpretation, and
      the evidence from nature or history is very strongly against the more
      “literalistic” interpretation, I will go with the interpretation that
      coheres with the physical facts. Earlier in your post, you said you agreed
      with this approach. I understand that you don’t see or accept the scientific
      or historical evidence against a 6,000-year-old creation. That doesn’t mean
      that those of us who do find such evidence are putting science over the
      Bible. For example, I reject evolutionism, even though most scientists
      accept it. Hugh Ross, likewise, rejects evolutionism, and he focuses his
      efforts on defending creation against naturalism.

      As for Hugh’s explanation of the doctrine of the Trinity, you are confusing
      an analogy with a doctrine. Hugh’s doctrine of the Trinity is orthodox. His
      analogy or theoretical construct for understanding the doctrine can be
      interpreted in a heterodox way, as I have personally told him. This was
      essentially Bill Craig’s point as well, as I recall. Hugh is sensitive to
      this concern. I do not think you would be attacking his explanation of the
      Trinity as “silly” if it were not for his old-earth creationism.

      In Christ's service,

      Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
      Center for Biblical Apologetics
      Online: http://www.biblicalapologetics.net
    • Jeff Koenig
      Jer. 31:35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so
      Message 102 of 102 , Nov 1, 2004

        Jer. 31:35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: 36 "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever."

        Jer. 33: 20 "Thus says the LORD, 'If you can break My covenant for the day, and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time,

        21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers.

        22 'As the host of heaven cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.'"

        23 And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,

        24 "Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the LORD chose, He has rejected them'? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight.

        25 "Thus says the LORD, 'If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established,

        26 then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.'"


        I think these verses 31:35-36, 33:25 should be read together and with Gen 1. 


        In v. 25, I think the "covenant" for day and night refers to God's decree re the continuial day/night cycle.  It is a fixed pattern.  I'm not certain exactly what the "fixed patterns of heaven and earth" means.  I'm not convinced it refers to the laws of nature in general.  It could simply be restating the first part of the verse, without much change in meaning.  If so, then the day/night cycle is the same as the fixed pattern of heaven and earth (sun rising/day, moon and stars rising/night).  The point is that this order is fixed, the cycle and pattern continues unchanged by God's decree.  So He is saying, in effect, if the fixed day-night cycle/pattern should cease, then I would reject Israel, but it won't cease and so I won't reject Israel.

        The reference in jer. 31 is similar.  He gave the sun for light by day, the "fixed order" of the moon and the stars by night.  He causes the sun to rise, giving light in the day, and at night he governs the rising and setting of the moon and the stars.  If this "fixed order" should end, then Israel will cease to exist as a nation, but it  won't cease, and so Israel will continue to exist.


        I checked the hebrew word translated fixed pattern/order.  it is


        hQ'xu (chuqqah) (349d)


        something prescribed, an enactment, statute


        fem. of 2706


        appointed(1), customs(5), due(1), fixed order(m)(1), fixed patterns(m)(1), ordinance(5), ordinances(1), statute(25), statutes(62), statutory(2).

        In mosty cases, it just refers to God's revealed statutes/ordinances.  In only a few cases does it refer to fixed patterns/order.  The usages in Jer. 38:33 and Jer. 5:24 are the only ones close to this.

        The word translated "by day" or "for the day" or "for day" is (yomam), which is close to yom/day in Gen.1.


        you say "its pretty hard to reason from Scriptures, and everything else
        God designed, and conclude that day cant e interpreted as day in
        Genesis 1."

        This is garbled ("e" means "be" I presume), but you seem to be agreeing with me that day in Gen. 1 can mean a 24-hour day.  Others are contending that they can't, in part, because the stars were created on day 4, and it would take long ages for the light from them to reach earth to serve any purpose there.  They are saying that "laws" of nature preclude such an order to the creation.  I'm only arguing that whatever the current "fixed" laws of nature may be should not be viewed as a constraint on God's initial creative activities, which established those laws and the rest of the universe.  If the bible indicates that God created the world in six days, and the stars on the fourth, and implies that the stars were shining in the sky soon after, then I think he could have done it, regardless of the current fixed pattern of nature.

        The "light in transit" idea is just that if the stars were created on day four, and visible immediately, then perhaps God created the light from the stars, streaming to earth (photons, whatever) at the same time, so that the stars appeared in the sky immediately, rather than there having to be a long delay till the light reached the earth.  Some have said it would be deceptive for God to have done that, since it would give people the misimpression that the light actually travelled from the stars over millions of years, and that the stars were at least that old, when in fact the light was created at the same time as the stars, and the stars aren't that old.

        You say we know pretty well that light and matter were created at the same time, presumably as part of the big bang theory.  But I'm not sure that is consistent with gen 1, which speaks of the creation of the universe in vs. 1, including the earth and waters on the surface of the earth (v. 2), and "then" (after some short time) God created light (v. 3).  I'm not certain that the stuff created in v. 1 included light, which according to v. 3 was added to the initial creation (part of a six day process of filling the empty world and fitting for habitation by man). 

        I'm just arguing that creation in six literal days, with stars being created on the fourth day, is possible.  You advert to things we know about relativity and galaxies, etc., to suggest something is impossible.  Again, I don't see why the current fixed patterns would limit God's mode of acting in the initial creation.  In any event, I was only suggesting a list of possible explanations, not asserting that they would be in perfect accord with the current patterns of nature. 

        I've also floated another possibility, that the stars were created on day one, not day four, and that on day four God just caused them to start functioning in a certain way (for signs).  This is Sailhamer's interpretation:

        The second step is a consideration of the syntax of v.14 (see Notes). When the syntax of v.14 is compared to that of the creation of the expanse in v.6, the two verses have a quite different sense. The syntax of v.6 suggests that when God said, "Let there be an expanse," he was, in fact, creating an expanse where there was none previously ("creation out of nothing"). So clearly the author intended to say that God created the expanse on the first day. In v.14, however, the syntax is different, though the translations are often similar in English. In v.14 God does not say, "Let there be lights … to separate," as if there were no lights before this command and afterward the lights were created. Rather the Hebrew text reads, "And God said, "Let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate.'" In other words, unlike the syntax of v.6, in v.14 God's command assumes that the lights were already in the expanse and that in response to his command they were given a purpose, "to separate the day from the night" and "to mark seasons and days and years." If the difference between the syntax of v.6 (the use of hayah alone) and v.14 (hayah + l infinitive; cf. GKC, 114h) is significant, then it suggests that the author did not understand his account of the fourth day as an account of the creation of the lights; but, on the contrary, the narrative assumes that the heavenly lights have been created already "in the beginning."

        If that is correct, then there is no problem to solve about the time it would have taken light to travel to earth on day four.  But, it might just push the problem back to the first day.

        I don't know enough about thorium in the stars to tell whether that means the starts are a certain age.  I don't consider scientific interpretation of data to be on a par with Scripture.  The interpretation of such data, and speculation about how old stars are based on such interpretation, could be wrong.  I think the bible is clear that the universe was created in six days, and that it was not billions of years ago.  The data you refer to is not a message written in a foreign language.  It is not a revelation from God saying, e.g., "this start is 14 billion years old."  It is just data, to be interpreted, correctly or not.  I'm not going to accept such interpretations when they contradict what appears to be the clear teaching of scripture.  The evidence is not unequivocal for an old universe.  There is other contrary evidence.  For me, the issue comes down to interpretation of the bible, not scientific evidence.  Assuming the thorium data you refer to correct, the interpretation could be wrong.  That would not be God deceiving us (making us think the universe is older than it really is); it would just be a misinterpretation of data.


        -----Original Message-----
        From: astrophysicsbaybee [mailto:LithiumH2O@...]
        Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2004 10:22 AM
        To: biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [biblicalapologetics] Re: Starlight Travel Time. Was: Genesis genealogies, old-earth creationism, and the Big Debate

        I felt I must share.

             The "fixed patterns" in Jeremiah 33:25 is what it says it is,
        the fixed patterns. The modern laws of nature that are expressed in
        mathematical form is what has been developed by scientists to explain
        those fixed patterns. The law of gravitation (i should call it theory
        but eh) applied to stars and other such things describe, to a great
        degree of accuracy, whats going on up there. Im actually convinced
        that these "fixed patterns" set up by God are described by the laws
        of nature that weve developed over the past few hundred years.
             In that same verse you mentioned the day and night bit might
        hint at solar/lunar cycles, or other things. I think it might refer
        to the idea of day and night, like 24 hours. The reason i think so is
        because (to me at least) it seems like God is pointing out obvious
        things. "If day and night isnt the way i set it up to be, and I wasnt
        the One who set up the universe the way it is, ... then i would
        reject so and so" (paraphrased of course). I did a word study to make
        sure what im saying is what im saying. The definition for the word
        day here is different than the definition for day in Gen. 1. That
        should be verified though.

             Neither Genesis, nor Jeremiah give a time when the laws of
        nature are set into motion (unless im missing something). I strongly
        believe God left that to the scientist to have fun with. Now, our
        primary responsibilty is to uphold Gods word (mainly Gospel), but
        when God leaves details out of His word, i believe its fair to start
        reasoning apart from Scripture (since it chooses to remain silent)
        that God designed things a certain way based on the huge clues he
        left us with (the heavens and the earth). We dont exactly know HOW
        God designed the universe when we look at Genesis 1 (mechanism), but
        when we begin to search the heavens and the earth, we realize that
        things are different than we may have interpretted, and this causes
        people discomfort. People keep mentioning that the laws of nature
        that scientists come up with tie down the hands of God. Why would
        anyone think that? They merely explain how wonderfully Gods hands
        moved about the universe, at least thats the way i see it.
             Given more research (theological and scientific) and given more
        time, we might find out what the universe was like. But from the
        looks of things right now, from how accurate our models say they are,
        and how beautifully they predict the way nature is behaving (thus
        far), its pretty hard to reason from Scriptures, and everything else
        God designed, and conclude that day cant e interpreted as day in
        Genesis 1.

        Jeff, you said:

             "The problem is creation of stars so far away that light from
        them would not reach the earth for a long time, when the text
        suggests that the light from them was available right them.  There
        are multiple possible explanations, creation of the light in transit,
        stretching of the distance between the stars and earth after they
        were created, a miracle, etc"
             When we have theories that are so well verified, why speculate
        and assume creation of light in transit and other such things? What
        does that even mean? We know (pretty confidently) that light and
        matter were created together, and that matter decayed into light
        (actually just in the nick of time to have us here, or else the
        universe would be too cool for us to exist). And the stretching of
        space between stars and earth is described by cosmology so well, its
        the reason why light from stars "red-shift" when they get to us
        (verified by relativity theory). If the universe expanded so fast so
        as to prevent light from reaching us, that would mean one of two
        things (maybe more), but neither is good: 1) the universe (and
        everything but the Solar System) expanded at or near the speed of
        light (direct violation of almost everything we know about
        relativity, galaxies, stars, you name it) 2) there would be far too
        great an enegry density in the universe, and wed be torn apart by now
        (i think its called the Big Chill followed by the Big Rip, not
        entirely precise). (I really hope someone is verifying what im
        saying, not that i think im wrong in what im saying, but just
        because). Possibility 1 isnt true because there are stars nearby,
        theres matter nearby, etc..., and possibility 2 is obviously not the

        You also said:

             "Maybe if there were a tag in the sky that said "all this stuff
        is billions of years old" when in fact it was created in six days, we
        could say God was deceiving people.  But there is no such tag."

             This might seem funny but i beg to differ. That tag you speak
        of, its there. Its called radioactive thorium and its located in
        stars. Its date is written in the tag, its just in a different
        language. I believe it was this year January (i dont know for sure)
        that astronomers dated some high red-shift pulsars (really old,
        really far away stars) with thorium (which is found to be more
        accurate than dating with uranium) and the age of the stars turned
        out to be on the order of 10 billion years old (if memory serves me
        well). Now is that God having a sense of humor or what? God would not
        deceive us. And like i said earlier, if God doesnt explicitly tell us
        what happened (processes), i think were free to reason and decipher
        that language that stars speak in. Sound fair?


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