A question for accommodationalists

I know that C would love to know you are praying for her. She is in no danger of losing her faith–if anything I think her faith is stronger than mine. As I said, this post was made to point out a big flaw in the accommodationalist view and in the approach we take to our brothers and sister who believe YEC. Do we want to turn them into atheists? The reality is they hold to the need for historicity in scripture like I do. And they are correct in the need for historicity and accommodationalism is wrong on that point.

Thank you for the link to his answer. It was as I feared, an apology for the Bible being wrong when Davidson writes:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Note the claim is in its usefulness and authority in correcting and training in spiritual matters. Correcting misunderstandings about nature is never claimed.

Davidson seems incapable of drawing the proper conclusion here. Especially in light of these verses, which are good for correcting spiritual misunderstanding as he says:

Numbers 23:19

"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

1 Samuel 15:29

“Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”

Hebrews 6:18

so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

This gets right to the heart of why YECs and I an non-yec, won’t accept accommodationalism. It makes God a liar about nature. No, the verse Davidson quotes doesn’t claim correction in natural phenomenon, I can agree with that, but when God says anything it better be true—and like it or not, the only person speaking in Genesis 1 is GOD!!!

Under normal interpretations of Genesis 1, God is spinning quite a tall tale that is utterly false. So do people on Biologos believe God lies or not?

Mervin, you took me to say precisely the opposite of what I actually said.

I trust that you and I agree that God is a God of actual, reality-matching truth. If God is only permitted to divulge that unvarnished truth straight-up (no translation, no interpretation, none of that dreaded accommodation that you so-despise - just literal truth straight up) then it will almost certainly look like gibberish that is beyond all of us from any age.

Sigh, what a straw man I meet over and over throughout the years. I have repeatedly said, that God can simplify but what he says must be true. He could have said “out of the slime came life.” He did say Earth bring forth living creatures, which I believe is mediate creation and a simple statement of truth–I have repeatedly said and said in this threat that yall act as if the goat herders had to have a college education or they couldn’t understand evolution. and you are acting like we have to have God who is incapable of simplifying TRUTH, and thus must engage in propagating falsehoods. I guess all I can say is get real. You can explain to a 5 year old the basics of evolution and earth history. Surely a Neolithic adult goat herder could understand what a 5 year old today can understand. Shoot, when I was six years old I was reading adult astronomy books (no I didn’t understand everything and dad had to help simplify it but my own father, was able to communicate some of those truths to me without telling me that each star is actually a candle hanging in mid air. sheesh This straw man is very very tiresome.

Prodeo, I like that, and it has applications to how we treat YECs and other people some often look down on as intellectually challenged or just plain tree stump dumb. Admit it, we have all thought that of YECs at one time or another, I know I have, and looking back it was a sin to do so.

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Absolutely. While I do have problems with deception in such a creation, there is nothing even non-physical about it.

“Shortly after this triumph, a huge hole was knocked in Boltzmann’s argument by the French mathematical physicist Henri Poincare, who rigorously proved that a finite collection of particles confined to a box and subject to Newton’s laws of motion must always return to its initial state (or at least very close thereto) after a sufficiently long period of time. The state of the gas therefore undergoes “recurrences.” Poincare’s theorem carries the obvious implication that if the entropy of the gas goes up at some stage then it eventually has to come down again so the gas can return to its initial state. Whatever set of molecular motions may increase the entropy, or chaos, of the gas, there must be another set that decreases it. In other words, the behavior of the gas over a long time scale is cyclic. This cyclicity in the state of the gas can be traced to the underlying time symmetry’ in Newton’s laws, which do not distinguish past from future.”
“The length of Poincare’s cycles are truly enormous-roughly 10^N seconds, where N is the number of molecules (about a trillion trillion in 40 liters of air). The age of the universe is a mere 10^17 seconds, so the duration of the cycles is huge, even for a handful of molecules. In the case of a macroscopic system, the length of the Poincare cycles dwarfs all other known time scales. Nevertheless, the cycles are finite in duration so the possibility of an entropy decrease at some stage in the very far future cannot be denied. Boltzmann’s conclusion that entropy can rise only as a result of molecular collisions was therefore shown to be wrong. It was soon to be replaced by a less clear-cut, statistical claim: that the entropy of the gas will very probably rise. Decreases in entropy are possible, as a result of statistical fluctuations. However, the chances of an entropy-decreasing fluctuation fall off very sharply with the size of the fluctuation, implying that large decreases in entropy are exceedingly improbable-but still technically possible. Boltzmann himself went on to suggest that maybe the universe as a whole undergoes Poincare cycles of immense duration, and that the present relatively ordered state of the universe came 'about as a result of a fantastically rare decrease in entropy. For almost all the time, the state of the universe would be very close to equilibrium-Le., the heat-death state. What these ideas suggested is that cosmic heat death was not forever, and resurrection was possible, given long enough.”
“With the discovery of Poincare’s recurrences, the concept of the eternal return became part of scientific discourse, but in a rather different guise from the folklore version. First, the world takes unimaginably long to return to its present state. Second, the cyclicity involved is not an exact periodicity but merely a statistical recurrence. The situation can be envisaged in terms of card shuffling. If a pack of cards arranged in suit and numerical order is shuffled, then it will almost certainly be in a less ordered state after the shuffling process. However, because the pack has only a finite number of states, continued random shuffling must cause any given state to appear and reappear, infinitely often. Simply by chance, the original suit and numerical order will eventually be restored. The state of the cards can be regarded as analogous to the states of the gas, and the shuffling process plays the role of chaotic molecular collisions.”
"The foregoing argument was seized upon by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who concluded that cosmic recurrences robbed human life of any ultimate purpose. The senselessness of endless cycles rendered the universe absurd, he opined. His despairing philosophy of “nihilism” rubbished the concept of progress, whether human or cosmic. Clearly, if the universe is one day to return to its initial state, all progress must eventually be reversed. This conclusion provoked Nietzsche’s most famous aphorism: “God is dead!” " Paul Davies, About Time, (New York: A Touchstone Book, 1996), p. 37-38

The problem with this view is that it means our world could have been created 6 min ago with us having all our memories of a childhood that didn’t happen, a world history that didn’t happen, and a world in which the historical memory of Jesus is lacking an actual Jesus. Such a world has no purpose as Nietzsche pointed out, so if that is the kind of world one wants, have at it. If our world is really this world of Poincare, non of this thread or the issues we debate here are of any value at all.

How does an approach like that work when we get to Job 38–39? Here’s another take on creation, and once again the only person speaking is God. Unlike Genesis 1, the whole thing is presented as God’s speech, not just a few choice quotes in a third-person narrative.

Do you also have high expectations for transcendent scientific accuracy in Job?

I don’t, in either Job or Genesis. I’m not bothered that we now know a fair bit about births of mountain goats, or that many of the rhetorical questions have lost their punch in our own age. I’m okay with God not using this perfect opportunity to blurt out a bunch of scientific trivia that only God could know so that much-later readers could be impressed. When creation is depicted like constructing a building, complete with cornerstone, foundation, plumb lines and doors, I don’t think God is “spinning quite a tall tale that is utterly false.” I’m curious: do you?

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Golems seems to be a polpular word of you, I looked up the definition - Golem, in Jewish folklore, an image endowed with life. The term is used in the Bible (Psalms 139:16) and in Talmudic literature to refer to an embryonic or incomplete substance.

I don’t see what A&E created as adults has anything to do with embryos, but perhaps you can explain the part I missing.

Puppet play, dollmaker? I don’t follow.

I am not YEC because the evidence points into a a different direction, it doesn’t mean it can be excluded. God is the author of living cells, DNA, He can read and judge the minds of 7½ billion people in a split of a second, He can do anything He wants, including the creation of a planet fit for life in seven days looking old.

Fascinating discussion, but I believe one thing about Genesis has been overlooked, as it often is for much of the Old Testament. It’s a Jewish book, written by Jews, inspired by God, for the Israelite nation. So perhaps we should ask what do Jews (for the past 2000 years at least) think about Genesis? Do they think it’s mythical, or factual? Do they think it contains real science or is an accommodation for the goat herders of the ancient times? The answer is interesting - neither. The Jewish religion holds (as do Christians) that the Bible is true, but they also believe that every word of Torah (and to some extent the rest of the OT) requires a very great deal of interpretation to find the truth of what was written. And when I say a great deal, I mean hundreds of volumes of commentary like the Talmud, a commentary on the Biblical text, and commentaries on the Talmud, and commentaries on the commentaries. A LOT of interpretation.

Should Christians adopt that strategy of understanding Genesis? Not in my view. But we should at least acknowledge that the people for whom the book was written (and who wrote it, and whom God inspired to write it) made it very clear that the truth contained in Genesis requires a great deal of interpretation.

My own view is similar to many of those expressed above. Genesis tells its first audience, and later audiences, including us, that God created the world and everything in it. That implies that the world had a beginning. Is that science? It is today, but it wasn’t 70 years ago. And if might not be tomorrow. Did God create every kind of animal the way He created Adam from clay? The text doesn’t even say that; it says He ordered the Earth to bring forth life, which is scientific (in our day) to be easily interpreted as being consistent with what we now know.

My point is that God was sending a message to all people at all times, not just to the ancient goat herders. And that included people living 5000 years in the future, who I expect will know a lot more scientific truths than we do. How do we know that we are not missing all kinds of messages in the Genesis text because they refer to a science that we cannot conceive of? Do we really think we have physics and cosmology and biology all figured out? I don’t.

Let’s accept Genesis for what it is (as I believe the woman who is the subject of this post did), a powerful testimony to the majesty of God the creator, and let’s accept that it is true, and acknowledge that we are unable (without a great deal of interpretation) to define exactly how and why it is the truth. I believe (as part of my faith) that God knows a lot more than we humans do, and that is a fact for all times and places.

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Hi Marshall, always great questions. What I do when I face something like ‘doors’ in that context I don’t throw up my hands and say it is insolvable. I learned in 47 years of looking for oil that when we had a problem and an employee threw up his hands and said it was insolvable, the problem would never be solved because he wouldn’t even try! Can I say I can answer every question? No.

What I do next is go see what the word ‘door’ means to see how the translator chose that particular English word. Clearly this passage is challenging Job’s arrogance and his knowledge. It is also using figurative language, but I still think this figurative language has truth to it,

The words ‘door’ and ‘bar’ are used of the sea, not the earth. I think the passage is asking Job if he knows why the sea water is trapped where it is. The word delet, is translated once as ‘lid’ and ‘bars’ has one definition; a fortress, of the earth as a prison And the word ‘shut up’ means 'hedged in" so the passage could be translated as

  Or who **hedged in** the sea with **a lid**,
  When it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
  9       When I made the cloud the garment thereof,
  And thick darkness a swaddling band for it,
  10       And brake up for it my decreed place,
  And set **a prison** and **lids**,
  11       And said, **Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further:**

** And here shall thy proud waves be stayed?**

Verse 11 really shows the context here. He is asking job what keeps the waters where they are, so the translation should match the context. What is above, is actually true.

Of the foundation of the earth, have you never heard of the earth’s core? As to measuring it, if the earth were bigger, we would have a different atmosphere, and life would not be like it is. Iff the earth were smaller, we would have much less atmosphere and life would be non-existant. Our earth, whenyou look at it from a physics perspective is pretty well suited to mobile life forms. ON a bigger earth the bones must increase by the square of the radius to support gravitational weight. etc. Loads of issues if the earth were not measured properly when God caused it to be formed.

Edited much later to add: 2 of my scientific papers were on the Earth’s gravitational field. The water is capped by the equipotential surface of the gravitational potential. That is why it can’t rise up out of the sea to flood the continents. So, the water is in a prison with gravity holding it from going up too far above the mean sea level. and it is held in prison laterally by the continents. Thus I don’t see anything unscientific about this verse. Here is my paper. I think I have the full pdf on Researchgate

As I pointed out earlier, I think in the miracles thread, what you say is true of modern Judaism. It wasn’t true of ancient Jews, who were over and over told to believe the miracles and what God said.

I’m sure YEC would see you as wrong and just another compromiser of the “Word of God” by stating that the 7 day creation wasn’t literal 24 hour days. Again, what makes PoD different from all other accommodationalist ideas? Your idea is as compromising as other EC point of view. We need to understand that God was communicating truth to an ancient people in an ancient way that they could have understood it. i.e a Yahweh-centered creation story with ANE themes but with YWHW at the center of it and humans being made in His Image.

Correct. But then again, the ancient Jews knew no science, the modern ones do.

They didn’t? Did some believe in an after life and some not? Did they all miss the interpretation that signaled the coming of Jesus? I don’t know a lot about ancient Jews but I’m thinking they had some differences in interpretation between the sects?

Yep that’s the one!

If Adam and Eve were clay or bone images endowed with life, then that would make them golems.

The key questions were… Where did the characters of Adam and Eve come from? Did they come from their own choices growing up or from a doll/golem maker?

God is all powerful. But no this doesn’t mean God can do anything you say by whatever means you care to dictate.

People keep confusing omnipotence with magic, which is frankly a notion that comes from the experience of infancy where you cry and parents do things you don’t understand to make you feel better. Omnipotence is something like having unlimited amount of energy you can give any form you choose, while magic is having a genie in bottle to make your wishes come true. The former means you have to know how to make things work while the latter means having someone more powerful and knowledgeable do things for you. Big difference and it should be obvious which of these applies to God.

This presumes that results are independent of the means, and I think this presumption is false. To be sure , whatever time God experiences is of His own making, and so He can pass whatever amount of time He chooses while billions of years pass on the Earth. But while you may believe that God made billions of living organisms suffer pain and death for no reason but mere whim, I do not. He did it because it was necessary – it is the only reason which makes sense for a God I will ever have any respect for. So… I say your Walt Disney version of seven days can only make a Walt Disney movie and not result in anything real or alive.

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What is the raqia? That is a huge question that has caused great confusion.

Forewarning: this is coming from a creationist perspective.
The raqia had waters above it, as well as below it. The raqia is hard, a spread out solid. Raqia is the earth’s crust. It separated the earth’s surface water from the earth’s subsurface water on the preflood earth. When raqia is used by itself, earth’s surface is what it means. When raqia is followed by “of the heavens” it refers to the sky.
This idea of raqia is discussed here, plus the following 2-3 pages.

They had (and continue to have) differences in interpretation between every individual. The old Jewish joke - take 10 Jews, find 12 opinions. As for the coming of Jesus, who do you think the earliest Christians were? And for the afterlife, yes.

Sigh, if the Bible is so false, why should one believe anything it says about unverifiable topics?

this is the fundamental question I spent years thinking about. It was why I almost became an atheist, because unlike you, apparently, I think if something is false on the verifiable portions, it is likely to be false on the unverifiable portions. That is the problem accommodationalism presents me.

Why would you believe what it says about the unverifiable plan of salvation if it is false in all other areas of science? To me, that is just utterly bizzare.

they did. The sadducees were the ‘liberals’ of Christs time and the Pharisees were the ‘YECS’ of that time. Yes the issue of creation wasn’t a big deal but thee are lots of similarities between the two.

I know of that AiG promulgated idea that there were waters below. The problem is that they know nothing of the physics of structural engineering. Nor do they know of the brittleness of granite rocks or the time it takes to chemically weather granite into quartz sand and shale.

Here is what is proposed by the waters below. the high density crust (2.8 g/cc) is ‘floating’ on low density water. (1 gm /cc) and the water sits on an inner central core not equivalent to our modern core but it is solid all the way down below the water.

Such a situation has to be exactly gravitationally balanced or the thing collapses within days. It wouldn’t last 1636 years or what ever it is from the creation to the flood. The water can flow say at 10 mph and that could empty one side or the other due to gravitational instability causing the core to meet the crust as below.

Now you are going to try to say that this is what caused the collapse and the flood. I would say no it isn’t. Assuming we had a moon as the Bible says, and assuming we had a sun, then the tidal bulge as the earth rotate would crack the brittle floating granite and cause leaks on the first day. and these cracks would break up and cause the flood in a week, so you can’t claim that these are the mists in Eden. see below

Frankly, this is a worse idea than the old vapor canopy idea that my first CRSQ paper proved couldn’t exist. It took 10 years before other youngearther’s agreed, but they did eventually agree. You can find my first article at thislink. Go to page 164.

Edited to add: You are free to believe what you want, to teach what you want and to exercise your religion as you want. Freedom means the freedom to be wrong. If we can’t differ from some supercillioous arrogant people who think they know better than you, then we don’t actually have freedom. So enjoy your freedom even though I think your idea is nuts.

If you look at the Genesis text there are a number of things:

  1. The earth is without shape and empty and darkness is over the deep
  2. God says let there be light and there’s light
  3. God makes the expanse/firmament thing and separates water from water
  4. The water under the firmament is gathered to one place and dry land appears
  5. God commands the land to produce vegetation - plants with seeds and trees bearing fruit
  6. The sun and the moon and stars created
  7. The waters are to swarm with things and the same with the expanse. It also says God made the creatures and he blessed them.
  8. And so on.

The order is terribly wrong at face value. Taking a look at your post on the historical proclamations it seems that you’ve generally gone through various events and found them to be obviously consistent between how you’re interpreting the text and Genesis. Except that they’re not. You can’t have the ‘let there be light clause’ refer to anything even remotely close to the Big Bang because the earth already exists before God says ‘let there be light!’ The spirit is hovering over the waters but the earth doesn’t exist until 8 billion years after the universe began. The sun also wasn’t created after the earth and there were stars long before the sun, earth and even our galaxy. When did fruits come about? Definitely much later than the events I’ve mentioned so far.

At this point we can do a number of things. One thing is that you can aim to try to find ways to re-read the text such that it is consistent with modern science. I think that’s one of the approaches that you personally take and others do similar things like Hugh Ross/Reasons to Believe. But of course, when the Bible says that the Earth brought forth seed-bearing plants before God makes the sun and the moon and the stars, it appears as if you don’t actually think this happened. Now it did eventually happen at some point, so maybe you are aiming to argue that the order of Genesis 1 isn’t scientifically accurate, but the things that it talks about God making are real? Clarity would be helpful for me here if you have time.

However, there is another approach that many take, some in this thread that you find unacceptable.

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