What Happened?

The doctrine of creation in six literal days is foundational to the Christian faith. God the Creator of all things has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of Creation. He made “the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1), and all living things upon the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day of creation week. The first man and woman were made in the image of God, as the crowning work of creation, and given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11154
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Author’s Note: The comments expressed below are in no way directed personally to Mr. Youssry Guirguis. These should be seen as a critical reflection directed at the structure of the Church, related to Adventist education and the Sabbath school lesson.

The recent Sabbath School lesson: God’s Eternal Covenant Promise is a repeat of previous lessons on the subject of covenant. The first lesson (What Happened) is a reaffirmation of the doctrines of the Church, particularly creation.

The legalists and literalists must be happy. The lesson builds a pedestal of moral superiority that we are the Church of truth because we are creationists. I even heard a well-known Colombian pastor on You Tube, an icon of the Sabbath school lesson commentator, (commenting on the first lesson) say that we should not allow our children to play with toy dinosaurs because that amounts to supporting evolutionism.

Personally, it does not seem pedagogically correct that every so often we go through Sabbath school recycling the same subjects over and over again. What happened in Eden; the basic concepts of the pact; the everlasting covenant; children of promise; the seed of Abraham; the covenant at Sinai, the law of the covenant, the sign, the new covenant, the sanctuary, the faith and life of the new covenant are the topics of this lesson.

Of course. These themes are important, however the emphasis should not be on constant orthodox or ultra-Orthodox repetition.

I think that somewhere in the leadership of the Church it is thought that faith in the Church is weak and that it must be repeated over and over again so that it is learned, strengthened and doctrines are not forgotten. We look like Jews from the Netflix series SHTISEL.

The Conflict arises because the issues are discussed in a proselytizing way and there are no new developments. The lesson is a “copy and paste” of previous lessons, with the occasional cosmetic change.

It is certainly inconceivable to think that there are no theologians in the Church capable of elaborating Sabbath school lesson themes in an innovative, thoughtful, provocative and critical way, with the postmodern generations of the 21st century in mind.

What a difference it would have made if that first lesson had discussed the responsibility as the People of God that we have to conserve and care for creation, nature, animals, flora, fauna.

However, this is not deeply and widely discussed because sadly in Christian Adventism we talk and talk endlessly about creation and yet we do very little about the destruction of that very nature.

Ironically, evolutionists have shown more willingness and militancy in preserving creation.

They are closer to the heart of God!

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Have you ever seen some of the scientific programs dealing with the cosmos and the various feats that have placed men on the moon, and now, visual reports of the Martian probes. Even the ones showing archeological discoveries of ancient fossils and the timelines involved which includes the dinosaurs… Aren’t these worth some discussion?

You seem to just brush aside the science that can send a tiny “golf cart” to a distant planet, land it safely, and control its movements by signals travelling through space - with precision. Not the same as creating the entire universe, or any part of it; but given the tools Adam had when he emerged from his cozy garden, you have to admit this lump of clay God called the “image” of himself, has proven to figure things out pretty accurately - with some bumps along the way, admittedly.

This kind of progress in science doesn’t happen without some pretty accurate calculations; yet we are asked to base our world view on ancient poetry, and dismiss the obvious fact that as the image of God, we were also meant to use the brains that came with that package. Studying the cosmos around us, I think there is room for discussion. As a friend once said, “Science tells us what and how (how the heavens go); religion tells us why.”

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I came here to say basically the same thing. I’d only add that the regular hand-waving of certain evangelicals to say something to the effect of “science can’t say anything about the past, we weren’t there” really needs to stop. It’s a silly argument to anyone who considers it for a moment.

Do we throw up our hands in a courtroom because despite the mountains of evidence pointing to a culprit and their specific historical actions “we weren’t there?” Science is observational AND inferential. It is always so. We make observations in the present and use them to infer predictions about the future, or about similar events in different contexts, etc. The past is no less amenable to scientific investigation than anything else. Heck, we literally have photographic images from two seconds after the big bang! Talk about observational evidence, you can even observe evidence for cosmic expansion in the static of your tv.

We never have certainty, of course, science is a constantly evolving project that gives us provisional rather than ultimate knowledge. Our theories about the past history of our planet and species are based on observations and inferences, just like every other theory or model. There are limits to science, of course. I regularly point out that it can say nothing about values, for instance. But telling us what is likely true about the cosmos around us, its past and future? That is exactly what science does best. If we are to dismiss the findings of this very, very successful method of finding knowledge, I really hope it’s for a better reason than “we don’t like what it tells us because it might mean we were wrong. We can’t be wrong, so this can’t be true.”

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The Bible also literally says that the earth has been placed upon pillars.
It took the church 300 years to “discover” the fact that these texts were symbolic and metaphorical.

Perhaps in another 200 years or so the church will drop this 7-literal-24-hour-days creation nonsense and accept the symbolism and metaphor of the two Genesis creation narratives. But for now, ignorance continues to reign supreme.

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what always gets me about this question is how people who deny a miraculous 7-day fiat creation can embrace, on any level, a risen christ and saviour, who after-all should be dead, buried and decomposed for thousands of yrs if today’s science is to be resolutely believed…

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It’s because God left us with mountains of evidence about the earth’s past (including the literal mountains). We deny the literal truth of 1 Samuel 2:8 because God left us evidence that the earth is not set on pillars. We deny the literal truth of Daniel 4:11 because God left us evidence that the earth is a sphere and that there is no “end of the whole earth”. God left us evidence about how solar systems and galaxies form. God left us evidence of the age of the earth in the fossil record.

Now it is possible that God created the earth in seven literal 24-hour days, and then scrambled the evidence to make it look like the earth was around for millions of years and that life was gradually created. It’s possible that there was a literal 40 day worldwide flood some 5,000 years ago, and that God then scrambled the geological record to remove all evidence of such a flood and to replace it with evidence of an ice age some 50,000 years ago. It’s possible that God planted into the geological record evidence of the various mass-extinction events just to mess with us. It’s possible that the earth existed before the stars, that God placed the stars in the heavens on the 4th day, and decided to make it look like the stars originated from a big bang some billions of years ago, just to mess with us.

It’s also possible that God created the earth and everything in it in 1969 when I was born, but that he created it with the whole back-story that we observe today (complete with literature and physical evidence about this made-up earth’s history), just to mess with me and make me think that the earth has been around for a long long time. It’s possible - not likely - but possible.

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but a miraculous event would necessarily circumvent these indicators, all of which we are assuming, and cannot prove, always transpired at the rate we’re see now…that would be why we call it miraculous…

and we cannot prove that words and phrases like “pillars”, “four corners of the earth”, “four winds of heaven”, etc., weren’t intentional metaphors and figures of speech in the minds of the bible writers who used them…after-all, people today use words and phrases like “santa claus”, “sun rise”, “once in a blue moon”, “the world’s a stage”, etc., without necessarily indicating any kind of literal belief…

but i repeat: how do we embrace a risen christ and saviour when science tells us that a resurrection from the dead is impossible…how can we believe in eternal life when science tells us this cannot be…why do we believe in god when science hasn’t confirmed his existence, and when science has in fact assured us that his creation, which he claims, doesn’t need him…

maybe we all need to confess that our professed faith is a figment of our collective imagination and live like animals, or at least tribal cultures in a jungle, without any concern for others…maybe our focus on issues like global warming is a waste of time, and maybe we should pollute and contribute to pollution as much as we feel like because we’ll all die, and never need to deal with the consequences of our actions…

for that matter, maybe we need to all just kill ourselves and get it over with since it’s all going to happen anyway…

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Jeremy,
Let’s see. Do you really believe that the luminous heavenly bodies are merely lights God put up there to tell us when various celebrations would occur. Or that God punished trillions of snakes because a “subtle” ancestor–or Satan convinced A&E that they wouldn’t die the day they ate the “apple”. Or that ever since Gen 3, snakes survive on on a diet of pure dust . Or that Jesus had a whole tribe of lascivious brothers who came down to earth and sired giants who are much smarter than purebred humans?

Or that God manipulated a pharaoh’s mind so He would kill thousands of beloved sons. Worse yet, God is represented as gloating that many of them were only-begotten. How sad.

The Bible is spoiled by believers’ mistaken understanding its nature–and who wrote it.

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no doubt, but you’re still not answering the question: why should we believe in a risen christ, which is scientifically impossible, if we can’t bring ourselves to believe in a miraculous fiat creation, which science tells us didn’t happen…

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In Romans 8:20-21 Paul talks about the glorious liberty of the children of God, and creation that was subjected to futility, when created humanity was subjected to this futility, unable to discern, or resist deception.

Humanity was placed on this planet where evil already exists, therefore in Genesis 2:18 God said “ it is no good for Man to be alone, (to be separated branch), I will make him a helper” this helper was not to be Eve but Jesus the Messiah.

Word “alone” H905 in Strong’s concordance also means “branch of a tree” in John 15:5 we have the words of our Helper Jesus “ I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “

The word “helper” in Gen 2:18 H5828 is never used in the Bible for human helper, always for God as helper.

In Gen 2:21-23 God branches off Eve from Adam, and in the body of Eve is the seed of the incarnate Messiah, the “seed of the women”.

The fall of Humanity is inevitable, Eve is the mother of humanity in its fallen state, and mother of the embodied Messiah.

Gen 2:25 begins with the human condition of defencelessness against deception, followed by the clothing of Man in the atoning coat of skins in Gen 3:21.

This atoning coat of skins is given to Esau and Jacob, and to Joseph, it symbolises redemption by grace of both Christians and Jews.

The Hebrew Le vad, Le bad can mean branching off, in Strong’s Concordance: “From H909; properly separation; by implication a part of the body, branch of a tree, bar for carrying;”

We can say Eve was branched off Adam, as ribs are branches of the human spine, true?

Children are branches of their parents, Adam was also a branching off of our Father in heaven, as is written: Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In Gen 2:18 there is a play on the meanings “alone” and “branched off”.

Eve was branched off Adam to be “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh”.

She is not called helper, the word ‛êzer is only ever used for G-d as Helper, never for Man as helper, in Gen 2:20 no Helper was found for Adam in all creation, so also Eve is not the primary Helper for Man.

There does not seem to be any sense in God’s requiring obedience for the sake of obedience! Maybe God knew that His children would question His character and He gave them the opportunity to express their trust in Him and not accept the lies from Satan, but rejecting God’s truthfulness with their behavior Adam and Eve told the whole universe that God lies and therefore cannot be trusted thus rejecting the image of God in them and beginning a separation from the Source of Life! God has been doing everything to show us that He is telling the truth even to come as Jesus to show that if we separate from Him we will die and it is not He who will destroy us!

It depends on which science we’re accessing. Quantum science provides numerous possibilities for the resurrection of Jesus.

We forget that science is merely using the scientific relationships God established. We call them scientific laws. These are observations and calculations they are manmade by men with brains that God gave them. They don’t have to be Seventh-day Adventists to be guided by God, - by virtue of being His creation.

When it comes to Jesus’ resurrection (appropriate discussion today), we read that Jesus wasn’t “normal”, walking through walls etc. and finally disappearing into a cloud. I have always thought of that as another dimension. God only knows at this point. This does not make it less miraculous since God made the laws we haven’t discovered and maybe never will.

The physical world should be decipherable to us, unless everything is a “miracle”, in which case we can’t rely on the sun coming up in the east and gravity working in the same way every day. The same calculations, so far, that describe how the universe works, also lets us visit the moon and now Mars. Who knows what reality is. We’re only scratching the surface≥

When it come to reality - don’t believe everything you see. Physicist, Michio Kaku describes his visit to the “Japanese Tea Garden” when he was 5-6. It had a pool of carp. He wondered, even then, what the fish knew about him, standing there watching them. He thought, if he pulled a fish out of the water what the other fish would have made of it. That doesn’t happen in their universe. They know nothing about ours. Then, when he would place the fish back in the water, it would have been a “miracle” (if they had brains to discern all this). He writes, describing the fate of the carp:

Living their entire lives in the shallow pond…the nature of my world beyond their comprehension. I was intrigued that I could sit only a few inches from the carp, yet, be separated from them by an immense chasm. The carp and I spent our lives in two distinct universes, never entering each other’s world, yet were separated by only the thinnest barrier, the water’s surface.

You live in a world of that touches people’s souls. There’s no concrete reason why music should, being only the vibration of strings etc. but on some incalculable level it does and changes our perceptions, and perception is everything.

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Because the NT claims eyewitnesses to the risen Christ. The women, the apostles, the five hundred, and Paul himself.

No eyewitness is claimed concerning the creation. It is Hebrew poetry, directed as a polemic towards the creation accounts of neighboring peoples. It was not, nor can be manipulated, as literal, modern science. It is a misunderstanding and misuse of the biblical text… once again, in its context.

Frank

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nice try, guys, but nothing you’re saying cuts the mustard implied in the question…first of all, and especially if our universe really is non-Boolean, the indeterminism inherent in quantum theory can as readily explain an instant creation of substance out of nothing as an instant resurrection of life out of non-life, or death…in effect, these processes are perfectly analogous, even when quantum considerations aren’t implemented…and second of all, the witness measurement element, implicit in quantum mechanics, was as present at creation as it was after the event of the resurrection…in fact it is the case that the witnesses present at creation witnessed creation as it unfolded, whereas the witnesses associated with the resurrection didn’t witness the resurrection, at all: they merely witnessed the result of the resurrection…the witnesses to creation, of course, include the members of the trinity, the “morning stars” and “sons of god”, Job 38:7, not to mention adam and eve, who were witnesses to the sanctification of the seventh-day sabbath, which is part of creation…

but in addition, we have the “more sure word of prophecy”, which peter places in terms of importance and reliability above the testimony of eye witnesses,2Pet 1:16-19, and in which two prophets, moses and egw, reveal to us the creation, and one prophet, egw, reveals to us the resurrection…

the mustard in the question i posed to pierre-paul (a biblical name if there ever was one) and harry touches on the validity of our profession of faith…according to jesus, if we can’t believe a fiat creation, we aren’t believing the gospel, no matter what we think we’re believing, Jn 5:47:

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”

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Sirje, that is an inspired thought!

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The Greek translates better, “The prophetic word made more sure…” What made it more sure was the risen Christ. The telescope is backwards.

Additionally, we’re speaking of human witnesses, the only ones that we can go by, and who were the biblical authors. None of them were present at creation. Some of them claim to have witnessed the risen messiah.

Frank

Common, Jeremy… You need to lay down your robe and gavel. Even you don’t believe everything the Bible says - literally. How many times do we need to go through this… Do we need to rehash the fact that we can believe God created the universe without believing a 6, literal day, creation?

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I learned from a previous Spectrum article that last quarter’s SS quarterly on Isaiah were word for word from a quarterly many years ago. Apparently we’ve got the same problem here. Dr. Hasel, whose work is used as the basis for the current quarterly passed away almost 30 years ago. Why on earth is there nothing new employed? Further, what are Clifford Goldstein and his staff doing, since these quarterlies are simply being re-published?

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the greek in the first part of 2 Pet 1:19 reads as:

kai echomen bebaioteron ton prophetikon logon

this translates literally as:

And we have more sure the prophetic word

the KJV, as well as the ESV and NIV, has it right…but even using your version choice, the entire passage is assuring believers that their religion is real, and that it is based not only on reliable eye witness accounts, but the gift of prophecy - a supernatural agency above the fallibility of humans…the ensuing context in fact dwells on the gift of prophecy, removing any doubt that the KJV/ESV/NIV versions are correct in their interpretation of v.19…in v.21, peter bolsters the prophetic gift by emphasizing its divine component…

and no-one disputes that the risen christ is likely in peter’s mind, energizing his message…but the reality is, he doesn’t refer to the resurrection in this passage…in fact he frames what he’s saying, in addition to the message he’s already given to his audience, in terms of the second coming, not the resurrection…

well, i’m not the one linking a belief in the words of moses to faith in the gospel…there is evidence that the jews in jesus’ day took the moses account literally, and this is the backdrop jesus is speaking in…jesus is literally saying, among other things, that the faith that it takes to believe a fiat creation outlined in Genesis is the faith that it takes to believe the gospel…

i think this pretty much closes the door on anything other than a literal fiat creation, at least for people who believe the gospel…

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