Category Archives: ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony

Seeing Evolution Through New Covenant Eyes

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of conducting a 90-minute radio show with New Covenant Eyes Church (Ft. Meyers, Florida) staff Alan Bondar and Bob Lucas.  (It can also be downloaded directly.)  Since New Covenant Eyes Church is a thoroughly preterist congregation, the opportunity was absolutely well-timed considering I had that weekend just revamped my Creation of an Evolutionist blog into its current format with the intention of discussing my journey from premillennial eschatology to preterism.

It was an eye-opening experience for me because I was interacting with some of my preterist brethren who hadn’t yet been exposed to the concept of evolutionary creationism.  In fact, the congregation is much more familiar with covenant creation, as detailed in the book Beyond Creation Science:  New Covenant Creation from Genesis to Revelation by Timothy P. Martin and Jeffrey L. Vaughn (Whitehall, Montana: Apocalyptic Vision Press, 2007), a publication with which I was involved quite intimately during my transition away from young-earth creationism. (Instead of being theistic evolutionists, Martin and Vaughn are merely old-earth creationists and, taking cues from 19th-century biblical scholar Milton Terry, propose that Genesis 1 is apocalyptic literature that finds its primary prophetic fulfillment in the book of Revelation.  According to covenant creation, Genesis 1 is not an ancient Hebrew account of material creation that uses mythological language, as I believe, but rather a purely literary account, with anchors in what is thought to be actual human history, of God’s original covenant with man, filled with symbolism intended to find one-for-one correspondence with various elements in the New Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry.)

I must admit, it is a challenge to explain to someone why it is that I, as an evolutionary creationist, believe Genesis 1 to be a material creation account (vice purely functional/teleological a la John Walton) at the same time that I reject the foundational, pre-modern scientific cosmology that pervades the Hebrew account.  The “secret” to my approach, as I explained in a pre-broadcast discussion with Alan, is the fine balance of intellectually rejecting Genesis 1’s ancient Hebrew cosmology and respecting the literary genre in which Genesis 1 was written and the ancient Near Eastern worldview with which the account is infused.  With this literary appreciation in hand, it becomes an academic exercise in separating the infinitely more valuable theological message of Genesis 1 and the fallible literary vessel in which the theology finds itself.  We are, in essence, to avoid keeping new wine (theology) in old wine skins (ancient cultural paradigm) for too long, or else the wine skin may burst and you find yourself spending valuable time and money trying to remove the wine stains from the plush carpet that is our faith.  It is better, then, to store new wine (theology) in new wine skins (modern cosmology), to adopt new techniques of applying our theology within modern scientific paradigms, and allowing our theology to expand and reform along with new scientific discoveries, all the while keeping Jesus Christ at the center.

As a result of this interview, I’ve decided to create a new Q&A page that will address what I believe Genesis 1-3 to be teaching.  Therefore, I invite my readers (both old and new) to submit questions about Genesis 1-3 for inclusion into a permanent Q&A page, answers for which I will provide over the course of time.  Even if you agree with my approach to Genesis 1, I still invite you to submit questions that you struggled to answer during your own scientifico-theological journey.

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Filed under ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony, eschatology, evolutionary creationism, preterism, protology

Dr. John Walton & Genesis 1

Instead of summarizing Dr. John Walton’s treatment of Genesis 1, I figured I’d post Walton’s own hour-long online presentation. If no one has the patience to watch this outstanding flash presentation, let me know and I’ll sum up some of his best take-aways . . .

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Filed under ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony, protology

Retreating to My YEComfort Zone

Continued from “In the Beginning . . .”

“You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is: Never get involved in a land war in Asia! And only slightly less well known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! HA HA HA HA HA—”

In arguing with my Catholic-evolutionist-engineer major roommate, I was Vizzini.

“Never go in against a Young-Earth Creationist when biblical literalism is on the line! HA HA HA HA HA—”

I’ve never asked him, but I think that my roommate had very little exposure to YEC apologetics. More often than not, he acted quizzical every time I waxed apologetic on a “literal” interpretation of Genesis. His much more scientific mind would bring up some interesting counter-arguments:

ME: The Second Law of Thermodynamics!
ROOMMATE: You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.

And how about this one:

ME: I mean, what are the three terrors of an Old Universe? One, the Big Bang—no problem. There’s a popping sound preceding it; we can avoid that. Two, the Geologic Column, which I was clever enough to discover what it doesn’t really look like, so in the future we can avoid that too.
ROOMMATE: Mike, what about the S.B.S.T.L.Y.D.T.G.S’s
?
ME: Stars Beyond Six Thousand Light Years’ Distant That Go Supernova? I don’t think they exist.

Seriously, I fell somewhere in between the first two of Gordon J. Glover’s three options for understanding passages of Scripture that reflect ancient Near Eastern cosmogony (more on ANE cosmogony later):

(1) take these verses as literal scientific truth and vigorously defend this model of the universe against all rival theories based on extra-Biblical knowledge; or (2) take these verses as non-literal and reinterpret them in conformity with modern astronomy . . . (Glover, p. 87)

I was probably much closer to #1. Thank God my roommate wasn’t as “biblically literate” as I was, or else I could have been pushed into geocentrism! Of course neither of us was familiar with the third option:

(3) understand these verses as giving us a literal, but non-scientific, view of the universe based on the popular cosmology of the age that committed them to writing. (Glover, p. 87)

Confronted with some quite valid arguments against a YEC interpretation of Genesis, I felt more inclined to defend my interpretation of Scripture rather than admit to something in direct contradiction to it. If it took me out of the mainstream, so be it. Into my YEComfort zone I went. Thus, for the remainder of my college days and into my post-college Navy career, I maintained a solid YEC position.

CYPHER:  You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist.  I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious.  After nine years, you know what I realize?  [Takes a bite of steak]  Ignorance is bliss.

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Filed under ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogony, old-earth creationism, protology, young-earth creationism