Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Creation Day

When teaching our children to count, we do not start by teaching them Peano’s Axioms (e.g. that for every integer n there is an integer n+1) or their logical consequences. It would be kind of silly to do so. We simply teach them the sequence, 1•2•3•4•..., and they learn. We don’t teach our children the difference between ordinal and cardinal numbers before we start teaching them arithmetic manipulation. Neither do we require our children to know the difference between rational and irrational numbers before learning their multiplication tables, or to articulate the definition and use of a conjunction before teaching them their alphabet, or how to read.. And all of these statements are intuitively obviously reasonable.

Now the question. Does this mean that we are withholding information from our kids, that we’re lying to them? Not at all. To the contrary, it means that we are being good teachers by communicating to our children the truth to the extent they can comprehend and make sense of the same. It would be a poor teacher who did otherwise. And if, at some later time, our children learn that there are in fact an infinite number of numbers between 1 and 2, it does not mean that we lied to our children when we taught them that 2 comes next.

I bring this up because someone recently asked me if I believed in a literal 6-day creation, or if I believed that the world was billions of years old. I have been asked many times if I find any conflict between being a scientist and a theologian. In a word, no. And let me emphasize the point by stating this up front. In my experience, anyone, be they scientist or theologian, who believes the two fields are mutually exclusive, or are even in conflict, understands as little of their own field as the other.

I know this sounds harsh, but read on. It gets harsher. Clearly those scientists who would remove the Creator from creation are heretical. We don’t need to discuss that point further. What I instead want to show you is that many, albeit well-intentioned, theologians also err in their heartfelt desire to defend God and His Word, and in their fervor tread dangerously close (far too close for my own comfort) to heresy.

Let me begin by first making plain one point. First and foremost, I believe the Bible. This is a statement, not of empirical knowledge, but of faith. Note that there are no qualifiers attached to my statement. I did not say that I believe the Bible within reason, or as long as it doesn’t contradict science. To the contrary, if the Bible makes an assertion that seems to contradict scientific knowledge, then I believe scripture and doubt science.

But do you know that I’ve never, not even once, found a case where scientific knowledge actually contradicts scripture. I’ve seen plenty of examples where secular belief contradicts scripture, but never scientific knowledge. Consider two examples from the book of Job.

The book of Job describes something called behemoth (Job 40: 15 - 24). The description is an uncannily accurate description of one of the large sauropoda (dinosaurs). But accepted scientific truth asserts that men and dinosaurs were separated by 65 million years. For no reason, save this, many theologians abandon scripture, choosing instead to go out of their way to adopt untenable positions such as calling behemoth an elephant. I’ve seen elephants. I’ve ridden an elephant. Elephants are nothing like the behemoth described in Job. So I will choose not to believe that scripture is errant in its description of behemoth. I will choose not to believe that scripture is a lie and instead will doubt the secular assertion that dinosaurs and man were separated by 65 million years.

Is my position really so untenable? Why do scientists believe that dinosaurs and man never coexisted? Because of the fossil record. I do not want to go into a discourse on the K-T layer or the accuracy of dating fossils. The fact is that I accept the scientific evidence that the K-T layer represents a date of 65 million years ago, and that it represents a cataclysmic event (an asteroid impact). Moreover, we have never found a fossil of a dinosaur from after this event. But does that mean that none existed?

We have never found a fossil of a kangaroo from the most recent 65 million years. Does it follow then that they haven’t existed for all that time? We have no fossil record of cows from the most recent 65 million years, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t eat part of one yesterday. We have no fossil record, at all, of most of the species we know to exist, but they do exist nonetheless.

To my knowledge, no one has ever done the math. What is the probability that any given individual will, if left to chance, ever form a fossil? If we know that number, then we can estimate the total population necessary in order to reasonably expect any fossil evidence to exist. Conversely, if no fossil evidence of dinosaurs exists for the most recent 65 million years, that only indicates that too few of them existed to produce a fossil record. It does not mean that none existed, and moreover it does not mean that we have no evidence of their existence.

Here is where many scientists err, on two points. They assume that if the population was so small it would necessarily have become extinct long before man showed up. But the population/food supply model (also called the predator/prey model) of chaos theory disputes that assumption quite nicely, especially in conjunction with the asteroid impact 65 million years ago. This model predicts that drastically reduced but stable populations could have easily existed ever since. And finally, when the more secular scientists insist that we have no evidence, they mean that they do not wish to believe the evidence that does exist, namely the book of Job.

But enough about behemoth. Consider the leviathan (Job 41). Job describes leviathan as being literally, a fire-breathing dragon. But rather than believe scripture, how many theologians try to say that leviathan is some sort of crocodilian? As before, with the elephant, I have personal experience with crocodilians. I grew up on a bayou in southwest Louisiana. I’ve handled alligators. I’ve caught them (with hooks I might add; see Job 41: 2), and I’ve laid hands on them alive. Diametric to the warning of Job 41: 8, given the opportunity I will certainly do so again. Why? Because they’re delicious, which goes directly to Job 41: 6. I and my friends have most certainly made a feast of alligator. So I can in no way subscribe to the compromise of scripture which would call leviathan a crocodilian. Again, I will choose not to believe that scripture is a lie.

Unlike in the case of behemoth, I have no empirical physical evidence to support the existence of fire-breathing dragons. Neither do I have any mathematical models to suggest that they could have existed. But that doesn’t mean I have no evidence of their past existence. That they exist in the lore of cultures isolated from each other by both time and geography supports the possibility that they might have existed. Moreover, who would believe that an insect could light up the night sky if they’d never seen a firefly? Are the physics and chemistry of fire so much greater than illumination that biology could not support such processes? I would remind you that the mouth is only the sweeter end of the same gastrointestinal tract which produces emissions (albeit at the other end) which, but for want of a spark, are indeed flammable. But all reasoning aside, the only evidence I need to believe that fire-breathing dragons existed is that scripture says they did.

So does this mean that I believe in a literal six day, 144-hour, creation? I do not. If you do that’s fine. But I would caution you to be careful. I’ve already shown two examples where theologians are just a bit too quick to accept that scripture, which is to say God’s Word, is errant. This is a case where errant theologians actually step right up to the threshold of heresy.

If one believes in a literal six day creation week, that’s okay as long as you do so based on faith alone. If your position is that the Bible says that God created the world in six days and that’s that, great. You can never go wrong by accepting God’s Word on faith alone. Abraham accepted God at His Word, on faith alone, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 4: 3; Galatians 3: 6).

But all empirical evidence suggests that the Earth is billions of years old, and that the Universe is approximately 1032 years old. Does this mean that God lied to us when He said that He created the world in 6 days? When you learned that there were indeed an infinite number of numbers between 1 and 2, did you conclude that your mother lied when she told you that 2 came next?

The fact is that there are aspects of the Genesis account of creation which describe what science has come to understand, things that Moses could not have known, with uncanny perfection. Theologians bristle at the phrase "Big Bang Theory," yet I could find no more succinct a description of the very same than the phrase "And God said, ‘Light be.’ And light was" (Genesis 1: 3).

It is perhaps the greatest of ironies that so many theologians bristle at the word "evolution." The very name "Genesis," is taken from Genesis 2: 4, "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth ...." The word translated "generations," from which the name Genesis is derived, in Hebrew is ;&9-&; (tav-vav-lamed-resh-vav-tav, right to left), and it means, not the origin, but all of the intervening time. In other words, Genesis 2: 4 asserts that the passage describes, not merely the beginning of the world, but how it became what it became. Conversely, Darwin’s now-famous theory was originally entitled, "The Origin of Species." It dealt specifically with the question of how a new species might originate. Do you see the irony? A more accurate use of language would have theologians defending the scriptural book of Evolutions from the attacks of the secular Darwinian theory of Genesis.

But I digress. On the question of the literal 6-day creation, what does scripture actually say? It says, "... and the evening and the morning were the first day" (Genesis 1: 5b). The Hebrew word translated "day" is .&* (yud-vav-mem sofit, right to left), and is pronounced yom. You may recognize it from the Holy Day Yom Kippur. But yom means more than just "day" as in a 24 hour period. It means a period of time. It could mean a 24 hour period, or it could mean any other finite period of time. The crux of yom is that it denotes a period of time with a definite beginning and a definite end, not that the two were necessarily 24 hours apart. Note that Genesis 1: 5 also tells us that He called the light day (yom), and the darkness night, right before it tells us that the evening (night time) and the morning (daytime) were the first day (yom). We are therefore forced to conclude that the word yom means something more than a 24 hour period, or that scripture just contradicted itself. Clearly the word yom means "day" more like we use it when we say "every dog has his day," than when we say "Tuesday is one day."

But there are some who would insist that a creation day, an evening and a morning, was literally 24 hours (even though there was no sunset or sunrise until the fourth creation day). And as I said before, if you believe this because this is how God described it, sobeit. You do not err for trusting God. But many are not satisfied to take God at His Word. Just as there are many who are quick to compromise scripture regarding behemoth and leviathan, to make God’s Word a lie, there are also many who would make God a liar in an effort to reconcile their interpretation of scripture with scientific knowledge.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the "New Earth Theory." In pertinent part, it proffers the suggestion that God created the world "with the appearance of age." In other words, according to the New Earth Theory God would have created everything that exists, pretty much as it exists today, about 10,000 years ago, in six literal days (144 hours), and then fixed everything to make it look like it was billions of years old.

This is why I say be careful. In order to believe as I do, it is only necessary to believe, without reading more into scripture than was written, that God, being the good teacher that He is, describes as accurately as possible the things He wanted us to learn within the limits of our ability to understand and make sense of the same. But those who subscribe to the New Earth Theory must believe that God went out of His way to deceive people. And any theology that casts God in the role of deceiver is heretical, plain and simple.

Job 40: 15 - 24    Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength [is] in his loins, and his force [is] in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones [are as] strong pieces of brass; his bones [are] like bars of iron. He [is] the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach [unto him]. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him [with] their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, [and] hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: [his] nose pierceth through snares.

Job 41    Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord [which] thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft [words] unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as [with] a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not [one] be cast down even at the sight of him? None [is so] fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? Who hath prevented me, that I should repay [him? whatsoever is] under the whole heaven is mine. I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. Who can discover the face of his garment? [or] who can come [to him] with his double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth [are] terrible round about. [His] scales [are his] pride, shut up together [as with] a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes [are] like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, [and] sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as [out] of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether [millstone]. When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves. The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, [and] brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. Sharp stones [are] under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; [one] would think the deep [to be] hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high [things]: he [is] a king over all the children of pride.

Romans 4: 3    For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Galatians 3: 6    Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Genesis 1: 3    And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 2: 4    These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Genesis 1: 5    And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.