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Vibrant Dance 2: Panel Discussion 3: Questions for Each Speaker About the Implications of Their Perspective

{RJW Note:  The third panel discussion was interaction based on the previous session, again moderated by Craig Blaising (CB). The panel members were:  TB(eall), JD(uncan), WK(aiser), JR(eynolds), BW(altke), JW(alton). Also Genesis 1 and 2 are abbreviated as G1 and G2 respectively. Again, this post will be in the form of a pseudo-transcript. It was also announced at the end of this session that there WILL be a Vibrant Dance 3 entitled, Created in the image of God: relationship between the brain and mind. No date has been set at this point.}

CB:  Do you see Adam & Eve as historical?

JR:  Yes. Both the Old and New Testaments say so. However, taking them as prototypes, while a bad move, would not kill Christianity, but it is not the way to go.

TB:  ABSOLUTELY. It is a grave problem for the faith if there is no historical Adam.

JW:  Adam’s presence in the genealogies present him as historical, yet the first couple are more importantly archetypal, but they can be simultaneously and without conflict archetypal and historical.

JD:  Yes, based on the New Testament and Genesis 1-3. We need to not find back ways around the text when run into scientific problems.

BW:  Yes. He sees Adam as the first human who had an awareness of God, and thus the need to worship, and an awareness of right and wrong, yet was not up to resisting the adversaries. He’s open to the idea there is more to the story about early humans than is explicitly given in the text. (e.g., Cain’s wife and those who wanted to kill him)

WK:  Yes. Genetics is the hardest challenge so far, but the interpretation of data is too early, and there will be interim problems, but it will shake out finally.

CB:  G2 tells of forming Adam from dust—how do you interpret this passage in a more literary sense?

JW:  It is not a statement of chemistry, but archetypal—represents our mortality.

BW:  It is not a scientific statement, but a superhistorical one—representing all of humanity as well as specifically referring to Adam & Eve. In our dominion, we take care of the animals, not them of us. It’s easier to say God created the heavens and earth than it is to say He created me, but he did both.

JW:  Isn’t the verb used (like a potter forming clay) representing a material thing? But passage in Ezekiel shows a usage of nonmaterial forms, therefore, it is plausible to interpret the passage in a more literary sense.

TB:  Wants to respond

CB:  We’ll ask a couple more questions to see if it is needed.

TB: “Oh, it’s needed.”

CB:  Some have a more literary view and others more material.

JW:  He is not trying to promote/present an evolutionary or protohominid view, just looking at what the text is demanding.

TB:  If we play this too far, we won’t need a Christ resurrection. Adam was created as a full-fledged human being, which makes him unique, and we don’t want to go far from that.

CB:  Everyone says Adam & Eve existed and were created by God. Would you consider your interpretation of G1 a literal interpretation? Do you think someone could hold to your interpretation and be a young earth creationist?

JW:  “Literal” is as frustrating as the word “myth”—yes, it is literal in the sense that you are getting the author’s intent as written to the best of your ability. Yes you can be a young earth creationist because this view doesn’t have anything to do with age of earth.

JR:  Are you referring to the entire Biblical text or G1-11?

JW:  Sure, the entire Bible can be used as evidence towards age if you want.

BW:  The passage in G2 is both literary and historical, but it is not telling us about our biochemistry, so we can remain open to the possibility of evolutionary development, but not hold to it. He thinks the text is open to that. He classifies G1 as literature that deals with real history, but does so creatively. We tend to ignore the plot that is building towards the 10 Commandments (and on to Christ). Also, it is a symbol that God took this chaos and ends with cosmos, and will do the same for history. He agrees that G1-2 is also a material creation, and that a young earth creationist can hold his view.

TB:  Then how do you handle Ex 20:11? {For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.}

BW: That is my greatest weakness. However, in G2 it says He completed His work, but Exodus is an anthropomorphism.

CB:  WK, you said earlier that you use ancient near east (ANE) literature, and JW showed a picture of dome of sky—is that what you think G1 is teaching? When you read G1 in a more literal way, does it teach that kind of dome? Is that different than the atmosphere?

WK:  Interpretation is a return to the man who stands in the council of God, not speaking of his own interpretation or dream. We don’t take interpretation from the Septuagint. One reason not to take it straightforwardly is that we don’t know the exact translation of the word racchia. {the word in Genesis often translated as ‘firmament’} He is concerned that we are going backward by denying scientific evidence in the Bible and will disagree with BW.

BW:  Words have meaning within the historical world, and in other places there are pictures that correspond to the meaning of racchia, understanding it to be firm. The reason we have trouble in the university is that we push Genesis in ways it isn’t meant to be pushed. It’s there to teach us theology, not science. The Bible is a product of its age and represents its world. But our scientific heritage has hampered our understanding of it. We need to be trying to save our students from losing their faith in the academy because of these overreaches with interpretations of Genesis and the Bible in general.

CB:  Does a literal interpretation of G1 require a dome?

TB:  No—interstellar space is what it represents. BW takes it too far. The Bible is not a science textbook. Dust of the ground is not explicitly dust, and neither does it refer to evolutionary creation/decay. Interpretation is not really dependent on ANE understanding.

CB:  What about the waters above?

TB: Not sure what it means. Waiting for more data.

JR:  The Bible was written to two audiences. It had to have timeless element, so has to assume mutually contradictory cosmogonies to give a consistent cosmology. So, it uses imagery from several places using their terms correctly. The Bible doesn’t just contain just one cosmology:  it has both ANE and Hellenistic cosmologies to appeal to all audiences.

CB:  to JD first—What about animal death before fall:  could there be or was there? If not, why not? Is it because the animals were naturally immortal or why?

JD:  There was not animal death before the fall. This is determined from text, based on the nature of goodness of God—this is the main problem for old earth creationists. The Bible deals with the issue of sin and death as a clear cause and effect.

BW:  Part of the problem is the presence of blanks and gaps in the account. This is a blank, an omission, rather than a gap that was deliberate. The story is about Adam and his choice to eat from the tree of death rather than tree of life. We were not created immortal. We’re trying to make Bible do more than it’s intending to do.

CB:  JD you are referring to Romans 5:12, which is talking about human death. Is ALL death caused by the Fall? Just saying there is animal death before Fall doesn’t help you get to an evolutionary world view.

JW:  does believe animal death before fall, and Romans 5 only refers to human death. “Goodness” is based on an increase in order. Creation before the Fall was functional but without sin, so animal death possible. God did not eliminate all disorder yet. Levels of order are given in the text. Thus, animal death is a remaining chaos, but creation is still good.

TB:  agrees with BW that the text doesn’t give an indication about the topic of animal death, but Romans chapters 5 and 8 may hint that animal death is a result of the Fall, but it is still not definitive {chaos still has sway over parts of creation—fall increased chaos beyond God’s original allowance}. There is the possibility that a mosquito could have died before the Fall but not a human.

WK:  In the good Garden of Eden, there is still the serpent who is not good, therefore the question remains and is never answered about how it got left in the story.

JR:  There are many issues behind the question. The Bible says that at the very least, a certain kind of death is found in the Fall, but it is not necessarily related to animal/hominid death, but it seems unlikely for higher animal pain/death before the Fall. Is there is a problem with gratuitous pain in a pre-Fall creation?—Yes, a big problem.

WK:  Were there Venus fly traps before the Fall? What did animals eat pre-Fall? Did plants die as animals ate them? These are big questions, so we need to have humility.

CB:  Summarize:  the nature of these questions point in the direction of carefully handling the text. Various sides are arguing over these issues. So what does it mean in Romans 8 when Creation groans? Why build a Garden if the whole earth is good? Are animals in the Garden also outside of it? What about the idea of trees of life? Is there only one, and only in the Garden? Did all animals eat from it or did they have immortality inherently? If their immortality is inherent, why them and not us? These issues arise from holes in the explanation from the text, and they are interesting, but difficult.
Day 13 Praise:  While not literally a praise, I realize that I am extraordinarily grateful that He chose to create me, and to create me self aware. What a deep existential thought to ponder, including the ability to ponder it!


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