Friday, November 02, 2007

But... what about the dinosaurs?

video- Walking In Your Footsteps by The Police

I am a Christian. I am a blogger. I am someone who grapples with life's larger questions on a moment to moment basis. In cruising around the Internet and monitoring the ongoing debate between Christians of differing theological interpretations and Christians and scientists and/or Christians and atheists there is one persistent question that just keeps popping up. How old is the earth? some Christian literalists seem to believe that if they don't do the math just a certain way and give in to the notion that the earth is only about 4-6 thousand years old that they are somehow being heretical... disrespecting God and rejecting his Holy Word, the Bible.

Well, I tell you right now that I am a Christian who believes the Bible and I find the notion that the earth is less than ten thousand years old... well... not very believable. To be fair, I don't necessarily believe that the earth as we know it is hundreds of millions of years old either.

As for the Christian "literalists", the literalism seems to be one of convenience... after all the Bible also says to love your enemies and those whom may not agree with you. I know very few Christians who pay much attention to that passage- let alone do intellectual gymnastics to realize and/or internalize it in their everyday lives. "Conservative" and liberal Christians do not even speak civilly to one another for the most part let alone to unbelievers and the lost. I digress.

I don't think that the account of origins as it is given in Genesis is meant to be an encyclopedia like telling of exactly what, when and how things began. Neither is it a totally figurative allegory. The plain fact of the matter is that it only tells us about God as Creator and the original purposes and intentions for mankind. It also tells about the entry of evil into the world and sets the stage for the battle of evermore between the Spirit of Truth and the Father of Lies.
You can take those items to the bank. As far as the exact chronology or timeline... who knows?
Anyone that claims they do know is mightily conceited. The bible does NOT give us that information.

Science gives us a spotty, incomplete and often biased opinion on these matters as well. The academic system works a lot like the media, organized religion or any other institution... anomalous evidence and/or dissenting opinion is squelched as much as possible in the interests of the corporate survival of the institution. Objectivity and truth often take a back seat to the god of money and agenda.

Let me just say this by way of offering my own thoughts on how old the earth might be. I have been to a place where on a raggedy, rocky knoll in Utah, near the Dinosaur National Monument there is a giant fossilized squid. My rational mind tells me that this as well as the rest of the fossil record and all the fossil fuels under the ground did not form in 6,000 years or less. In fact, I find such an idea absurd. I could be wrong of course. Yet, I find this idea almost as absurd as the idea that all the harmony, complexity, order, life and intelligence in the cosmos just happened by sheer mathematical chance and accident... but not quite. If one then insists that life and such came from God- this of course leads to the question of where God came from if there be such a thing. Once again, no man can really answer questions like that. I suppose theorizing on it is a worthy enough enterprise.

But, a lot of people... indigenous people Like Native Americans and/or Christians un-indoctrinated or unaffected by the western mindset and the desire to categorize, master and explain everything surrender questions and desires concerning exactly when, where and why. Instead they worry themselves with another question... perhaps the only one that really matters after all...HOW or WHAT is the right way to live... or what is one's proper relationship to all things? I stand with those who grapple mostly with that question. Now, as a Christian let me say this... those answers can be found in Christ and I believe nowhere else. That is the only reason I am still a Christian. Believe me I know what a monumental task it is to try and convince someone of this if they do not first accept the Bible as a reliable source of information. The truth is no person can ever talk somebody into something they do not want to be true. Real understanding of these matters comes by spiritual means... in fact they are considered as a gift.
Again... if one does not allow for spiritual reality, then there is no sense trying to speak spiritual language to one who does not or will not hear it.

Well... I started writing this with but one question to pose and then got into the stream of consciousness. Anyway.... how old do you think the earth is? Maybe the better question is... does it really matter to how you will live your life?


Scott Starr said...

By the way... I saw The Police play on this tour and consider it to be one of the very best musical performances I EVER saw. It was brilliant. this is one of my favorite songs of all times.

Scott Starr said...

On e-mail I was asked:

"Well, what about the dinosaurs? I was expecting a discussion about that."


I wonder what the Bible means when it says that the earth was without form and void and then right after it says that it says the Spirit of God was moving across the face of the waters. Evidently there was water... and I would suppose that it was at the very least a proto planet and was roughly spherical. So what does without form and void mean? Here's the First Chapter of Genesis:

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

(So these first two verses... is it saying he first created the heavens and the earth without form and in darkness and then proceeded to make light and everything else afterwards? Or is it saying he created the Heavens and earth and then it proceeds to tell you the order of how it was done? If its the former you have a formless earth that is all or mostly all water and/or ice and an empty heavens before you have light, day and night on the earth and then "life" to populate earth. Is it possible that the limitations of language and translation have this all mixed up and somewhere in there you can account for pre-historic life and maybe even some evolving before man is introduced?)

3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Some folks are confounded by what it means to be created in the "image" of a God that we are later told is Spirit, invisible, without form and niether man nor woman. This is most often explained by linking being in his image to the concept of dominion which i recently wrote about at this link: The Misuse of "Radah" (dominion)

So, my general position on the dinosaurs and how they fit into the creation vs. evolution scheme is that nobody really knows and its not as important as figuring out HOW to live in right relationship to God and creation and fellow man.

Scott Starr said...

What do you think?

Scott Starr said...

Here is the response to my response on e-mail:

"10/4 on the dinosaurs it doesn't matter. But God being God may have tried several different life forms before he settled on what we know and think we understand or see.

Man being formed in the image of God, is a puzzle. But we weren't supposed to know the answer to every question some things God held back for himself. If you read the questions he asked Job when Job questioned God clearly indicates there are things that man will not comprehend and answers that only God will know.

But it is still fun to ponder as long as it doesn't become a barrier."

To that, I, S.S., say Mr. Adam and Ms. Eve may well have been built somewhat more ruggedly and maybe even with more hair... being barfoot and naked and all. I reckon Eden still had stuff that would hurt to step on and the sun would still burn the skin if they were just like us. Also, we have no idea how long they were in the Garden befor the fall and how long they lived afterwards while the earth was being populated- evidently by their own progeny reproducing with each other?