If creation is unceasing, how are we to understand Genesis 2:1-3?


#101

@Mike_Gantt

And as a segue way to your next question. I consider Gen 1-11 as history, but not literal history. By this I mean it is based on something that happened, history, but not on the exact date defined in the Bible, Sunday 23 October 4004 BC by Bishop Ussher’s calculation, literal history. I am not disputing that you can take the genealogies and people’s ages and calculate a date. Just that was not the meaning we are supposed to take from the Scripture. If I remember correctly back when this conversation began you gave me the impression that you took all the trappings of literal history that are used in the OT and made the assumption that you were supposed to take everything as literal history. For example taking Genesis 1 as referring to a literal 6 days of creation.

The talking donkey was the only element of the story that was out of the ordinary. The talking serpent is just one of many elements that are out of the ordinary.

I am pretty sure that Jesus was out of sync with Judaism based on the conflicts He had. I am not sure I would agree that Jesus held my view, but I am not aware of any conflict. I believe that Jesus emptied himself during the incarnation and the Holy Spirit provided what he needed to know when he needed it. Paul was very in sync with Judaism but he holds the record for running from Judaism to Christianity. But I don’t believe he received any divine revelation except what he received during his stay in the desert. And this probably didn’t include any updated information on creation.

To be honest I haven’t looked to anybody to see if I could find it. I came up with it by myself, sort of. Somebody somewhere said something to the effect of “If you find your belief contradicts reality you need to change your interpretation.” And this is actually something I have done in my work (engineering not religion) for many years. I don’t place nature or science above scripture and likewise I don’t place my interpretation above nature or science. This is why I encouraged you to address the age of the earth first. Until you can reconcile the actual age of the earth with the age presented by Scripture you will never have a system of interpretation that survives when compared to nature.

My basic assumptions that got me to where I am.

The Bible is inspired in the original autographs.

The process of producing copies of the originals was not inspired, but this isn’t a major problem as textual criticism allows us to recover the content of the originals.

The process of translation is not inspired.

The interpretation of Scripture is not inspired. There are many difficult problems associated with extracting meaning from Scripture. For one I reject any statement that begins, “A plain reading of X says…”

Theology, which derives from your interpretation of Scripture, is certainly not inspired.


(GJDS) #102

@Mike_Gantt

What is your understanding of “unceasing creation” and how does this mess up Genesis 1 and 2?


(Peaceful Science) #103

That is a fair point. In the context of Genesis 1-3, I will explain what I think Genesis 2:1-3 means. In other words, why is it that was included in the story versus left out.

I see a few teachings here.

First, I’ll start by using Scripture to interpret Scripture, on key teaching here of the 7 day cycle that concludes with a day of rest in the Sabbath. The narrative tells us something about God’s behavior, which is in turn supposed to tell us something about our nature as images of Him. The purpose of Genesis 2:1-3, therefore, is to tell us something about our nature and God’s desire manner for of our worship of Him.

From this starting point, it is helpful to see what parallels there are between the 7th day of creation and ceasing to create, and the 7th day of the week and ceasing to work. Here are some things that we see explicitly or implicitly mentioned through Scripture about that:

  1. The purpose of Sabbath was to stay at home together with family and in worship and in community. In the same way, we see God enter the created order in the 7th day, from doing grand things out and about in the cosmos. He takes up residence in the Garden to dwell with Adam and Eve.

  2. This is meant as a blessing to God and man. There is something about our flourishing that happens when we pause from the work of grand things to engage in the relationships of home.

  3. There is a cyclical “seasonality” to the Sabbath rest (remember Ecc.). We are made for work. Technically, Adam and Eve work on day 7. But we are also made for rest. Another way to put this, is that the call to exercise dominion over the earth is to “create worlds (society, art, technology, etc.),” but the call to rest is also to “enter into the worlds we create (to these worlds to create life-giving communities).” But we are also supposed to go back and forth between these things. This also suggests Creatio Continua.

  4. The “total” prohibition of work on Sabbath was not absolute but could be violated for many reasons (e.g. to save a life). This flexibility did not in any way impair the relational/spiritual function of Sabbath. If work = create in this parallel, this suggests that the end of creation was not absolute, but in some rare circumstances it might continue. This to supports the notion of Creatio Continua.

  5. There is a fairly clear quality of healthy human relationships. Functional relationships are often characterized by a give and take of partnership in work (e.g. raising children) where retreat to rest (a date night) is fundamentally important. That back and forth is also that to which this passage speaks. We see this too in our relationship with God, though it is hard to express this in a denomination neutral way.

  6. The statement of rest also is meant to highlight that humans are the pinnacle of creation. On creating us, he feels creation, in the most important senses is completed, because beings capable of reflecting Him in relationship with Him have been made. To call this the solitary purpose of creation seems too restrictive (why then is the galaxy so vast?), but humans do appear to be one “end” of creation. This too is consistent with the notion of God creation a new species now and then (Creatio Continua), because this is not really anything as new or transformative as the entrance of humans into the world.

So I would say that Genesis 2:1-3 is put in the narrative primarily as a message about our nature that is mirrored in God. It lays the foundation for the command of rest, and also teaches something truthful about the human experience. I affirm all those teaching, and I think these teachings are fundamentally more important to everyone (personally, historically, traditionally, early Jewish readers, us today in the Church, etc.) than some sort of precise statement of the mechanisms of creation and its limits.

The good news is that the key parts of this message are reliably extracted from Scripture. That is another sign that we are on the right track, and not substituting a private interpretation for the correct one. This is really the plain reading of the passage.

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Does this deny additional meaning regarding God’s creation in the physical world too? If we take the day-age view of six days, there are some more parallels worth mentioning.

In day-age, days 1 - 6 are unimaginably longer (hundreds of million to billions of years) than day 7 (which is less than 10,000 years at most). Consequently, there is quantitatively and qualitatively, vastly more creating happening in the first six days. In fact, one could argue (using creationist terms) that during the 7th day, it is so short we only see “microevolution”, while the other days we see “macroevolution”. Remember, everyone accepts “microevolution” (e.g. antibiotic resistance) during the 7th day.

So perhaps during the 7th day many of the evolution processes are still at work on biological life, and God can still in principle intervene to create things directly or direct evolution as he wishes. However, because the time scale is so much different, this creation is essentially slowed to a standstill compared to the amount of creation that has happened in prior errors.

In this sense Genesis 2:1-3 is an accurate description of the world we see in the evolutionary account. We will see occasional anomalies and elaborations, but God is not creating totally new and different things very frequently (from the perspective of the narrative) at all any more. This might also be seen as Scriptural justification for why we cannot directly observe some of the large evolutionary changes from the past (e.g. the Cambrian explosion, or abiogenesis, or the evolution of a new phyla from scratch).

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If we take Walton’s view that this applies to a 6-literal day of functional creation in the recent past after long age of material creation, the same spiritual meanings can be extracted. Some of the parallels to the scientific account change, but they are still there.

Notably, one would see the same teachings I’ve enumerated in this account. That is the beauty of Genesis. It is quite ambiguous about the scientific details, but manages to be extremely robust in its teaching. Whether one is YEC, OEC, TE, or ID, there is a massive amount of overlap in our readings of the teachings of Genesis. The focus is on the differences, which creates the illusion that there is massive disagreement that is consequential.

However, the focus should be on the common ground, which is substantial and theologically significant. The robustness and commonality of the theology we all extract from Genesis should reduces fear about differences in how our interpretations interface with Genesis, and remind us that science was never its point in the first place.

Alongside this Creatio Continua is just a caveat to this story that the end of creation on the 7th day is not a total end. God still does things in this world (and wouldn’t you agree?).

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Hope that answers your question. I certainly see teaching in Genesis 2:1-3, quite a bit. The fact that I am not caught up on the concordance to modern science helps with interpretation. I’m free to look for the original intent, and what we see in common. This part of the story isn’t just a weird quirk with no significance except to make evolution harder to accept. Rather, it is a way of telling the story to teach important theology, and I want to understand that theology.


(George Brooks) #104

@Bill_II,

You write:
And this probably didn’t include any updated information on creation.

A very good observation!


(Mike Gantt) #105

You put yourself in an unfortunate position by allowing only for these two possibilities. That is, you are saying God’s word must either be false or else it must expire - neither of which Jesus says is possible (John 10:35 and Matthew 24:35). I cannot take such a position.


(Mike Gantt) #106

@Lynn_Munter, I did appreciate your earlier comment at the time you sent it. I found it thought-provoking, but I also found it difficult to formulate an immediate response…so I appreciate your elaborating here.

This reminded me of Psalm 8, especially the fourth verse. Both you and David seem in awe of the position God has given to human beings. I share that awe.

The balance of your comments also brought to my mind Psalm 115:16.

I can’t get as precise as you seem to get on God’s rest in Genesis 2:1-3 applying only to human beings, but it is clear to me that humans are the capstone of God’s creation and bear His image so that they might rule in the earth as His agents.

I do think we can accept the grant of free will to humans without resorting to Deism because in the delegation of authority to humans as His representatives God does not abdicate His role as Judge and Ruler of all creation. Thus human decisions are subject to the judgments of God.

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall He also reap.” - Gal 6:7

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” - 1 Cor 3:6

Thus is the ongoing interplay between God and man in the creation.

While I view your thoughts on this subject as profound and edifying, I do not, at least not yet, see how they can help resolve the tension I feel between Genesis 2:1-3 and creatio continua.

I cannot understand God’s “resting” in any context other than the one in which it is here presented - that is, the conclusion of God’s preceding foundational creative works (i.e. Gen 1).

All the subsequent scriptural references to this inaugural work that I can think of refer to it in the past, not the present, tense. Thus we see something like “The God who made the world and all things in it…” (as in Acts 17:24) and not “The God who has been and continues to make the world and all things in it…”

God’s judging and ruling activites certainly continue in abundance after Genesis 2:1-3, and His all-important redemptive activities as well (i.e. from the first sin, God began working toward our salvation from it and its effects). And we, of course, see His creative activities, too - as when every new human being is wonderfully woven in the womb of a mother. However, those launching creative acts which produced, among other things, His crowning achievement of human beings, seem to be called conclusive by Genesis 2:1-3 (said conclusion echoed in Exodus 20:11 and 31:17). This seems clearly to be the “rest” of God. And I continue to struggle with how we can say “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” in the light of it.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #107

The above was beautifully spoken, Mike. Your concluding sentence is indeed what Peter attributes to “what the scoffers say”, reprimanding them for it, because they are doubting the power and effectiveness of God’s word. Note that the same passage (2 Peter 3) gives a new abbreviated account of creation and follows it with an admonition to not forget that “a thousand years” and a “day” -these are as the same thing to God. So God’s promise is being kept (even in the present) even if it is not apparent to us on our human time scales. Continuing that thought, I refer to your response to @pevaquark:

You left out a third option … that is to give up trying to turn God’s word into a lesson about creation mechanics at all and instead receive the lessons it offers about God and us and how we relate to each other and to creation.

Blessings, rest, and joyful communion to you on this, our Sabbath morning.


(Mike Gantt) #108

Let me hasten to add, @Mervin_Bitikofer, lest anyone think otherwise, my use of the phrase from 2 Peter was not to suggest that creatio continua is synonymous with that phrase, but merely that the similarity ought to make us even more sober in our study of the subject. I also hasten to remind all that I do not reject creatio continua out of hand; rather, I embrace it…but only up the point where it seems to infringe on meaning staked out by Genesis 2:1-3. Thus I continue my quest to find full compatibility between the two.

Yes, you are affirming the point I was trying to make to @pevaquark. I welcome the addition of your third option, and hope he will, too.

I accept and reciprocate your good wishes…although I suppose we should acknowledge that today has been traditionally called “the Lord’s day,” yesterday having been the more traditional Sabbath. And I rejoice to add that in Christ we should be able to consider His Sabbath eternal - coterminus with His reign!


(Mike Gantt) #109

@Bill_II,

Thanks for your additional clarifying responses. They have given me a much better - though by no means comprehensive - understanding of your view.

My additional understanding, alas, still leaves your view with problems - problems which, as I recall, you believe are non-existent. :slight_smile: I see no point in discussing these “problems” with you, unless it’s a dialogue you really want to pursue. I’ll just be content with the patient explanation of it that you have given me and make a few concluding remarks.

  • I commend you for your independence of thought - the willingness to walk the path that seems right even if it’s less traveled.

  • I also like the assumptions you carry. I would only differ with you on minor aspects of some of them.

  • And, lastly…

Although it may not be immediately apparent, my abandonment of the previous thread and pursuit of this one are, in effect, an adoption of your suggestion - albeit along the lines of creatio continua, the doctrine introduced to me by @Swamidass, and mentioned also by one or more others in the previous thread.

One of the biggest obstacles to an OEC cosmology may be Genesis 2:1-3. That passage is the exclamation point to the sentence that is Genesis 1. As far as I can tell, none of the OEC cosmologies on offer would allow the cessation of foundational creative activity ostensibly - and arguably - declared in that passage. Therefore, if I could get past Genesis 2:1-3 I might could be open to an OEC view - which would then, of course, open the door to a full consideration of evolution.

The length of “day” in Genesis 1 has never been an obstacle to me because the highly lyrical prose of Genesis 1 makes the foreclosing of an indefinite day a questionable decision. It’s always seemed to me that the length of a Genesis 1 “day” cannot be properly decided without also fully considering related matters outside of Genesis 1.

As far as I can tell, all OEC positions are consonant with creatio continua. Thus reconciling, if possible, Genesis 2:1-3 with creatio continua has become for me the critical path to the original question I asked.

As I’ve suggested, your view of biblical history is beyond the pale for me, but you have helped me in other important ways and for that I thank you very much.


(Mike Gantt) #110

My understanding of “unceasing creation” is that it means that God’s creating has never ceased and my understanding of Genesis 2:1-3 is that God’s creative activity did cease. It is the reconciliation of the conflict between these two understandings (interpretations) of mine that this thread is about.

I don’t think, by any means, that I’m the only one who understands creatio continua the way I do. Nor do I think I’m the only one who understands Genesis 2:1-3 the way I do. In this thread, however, I appear to be the only one who understands both of them the way I do.


(Ray Bailey) #111

Good day to all! I am new to BioLogos, and this is my first post.
I have avidly read these posts.

Most everything I say has been said before, except, unless I have missed something I haven’t seen a reference to Colossians 1:17 “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together”.

I think the idea of the Cosmic Temple (Walton) is the work that he does is holding the cosmos in existence. The aspect of creation is that creation is not a static or clock-work mechanism that he created one day (or time or epoch) and let go.

I want to add something here. If you look at Time and how if function in space (both perceptually and mathematically) there is a past (high-entropy - and memory), the present (active thermodynamics - and current action) and future (lower entropy and “dreams”, plans and so forth). There is not a future other than the “potential” in the mind of God, and there is no past except in our memory and observations and record-keeping.

My summary to the theological, is there is no cessation of creation because it exists. The “Rest” of YHWH on the 7th day from Walton’s view is more like “Open for business”. God (as a King/god in his temple) oversees and accepts worship and our service while he sits in rule on his throne. He’s not working at creating. His ab-initio work was done when the cosmic temple was put into place. But his “non-finito” work (Creatio Continua operations) is still continuing. This is ongoing in our everyday lives as we interact with him and each other. Culmination is to come in the future (according to his word).

I don’t know if I’ve added anything, but that’s my take.

Ray


(George Brooks) #112

@Mike_Gantt,

You are living proof that some Creationists are just not “designed” to change their minds. Hume considers this perfectly normal; nor is it surprising when we encounter Evolutionists who are not equipped to change their minds either.

Despite the fact Genesis 2:1-3 doesn’t actually require the belief that any “changes” in Creation are doctrinally impossible - there will always be some who feel this is required … even in the face of new creations:
A. The rainbow
B. The aftermath of the Flood
C. Both sides of the coin of suns going super novae vs. Star formation all around the Cosmos.

Those who cannot imagine supporting Creationism will continue to explain their position with:
A) geology and Old Earth
B) 100,000 years of polar ice "rings"
C) the otherwise inexplicable specificity of fossil layers (marine whales vs. Marine dino’s as well as Australia’s distinctive dispersion of marsupial speciation) that only makes sense in rock layers formed millions of years ago, not 4000 years ago.
D) the nearly real time speciation found in Ring Species.


#113

Since God created time and exists outside of time to Him there is no past, present, or future. He exists in an eternal “now.” Wish I could remember where I read that. In fact to say that God did something at a particular point of time is only true from our perspective. For God there is no particular point in time. Yes @Mike_Gantt I know the Bible is written as if time applies to God but our interpretation should be based on the fact that time does not apply to God. Which means from God’s viewpoint He hasn’t started creation yet, He is creating, and He is completing creation all in his eternal now.


(Ray Bailey) #114

Thanks Bill,
I think you have a good observation, but I don’t think that is a valid application to the question at hand (though I appreciate it).

As your post indicates, we don’t even have the vocabulary to speak about the infinite, eternal, almighty, and so forth. So we are reduced to speaking as if God is somehow “slowed down” to our speed or limited to time…

But yes, he is! That is why Yeshua (as I prefer) became a man. How a man can be both a god and a man at the same time…well, above my pay-grade! So we can indeed speak as if God is on our time. Because Jesus is, even if he currently in Heaven. In fact, though, I believe Jesus “slowed himself down” in time whenever he intervened into our past from the initial creation on through his pre-incarnate appearances until birth. I believe after that he has stayed “hooked” to our time somehow.

This time thing, I’d like to discuss further as it applies to the “sleep of the saints” but I think it is off-topic for here.

Ray


#115

I would like to hear what you consider to be problems with my position. But since others on this thread are probably not interested perhaps we should take the discussion to private message.

Do include those in the private message if you desire.

See my reply to Raymond and see if that helps you over the hurdle.


#116

Just click on the time stamp on the upper right and select New Topic and create one. Then it would be on topic. :wink:


(Ray Bailey) #117

Thanks. I will, but not today. I am new and I have much reading to do before I stick my foot into too much hot water!


(Mike Gantt) #118

Yes, of course.

I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I’ve read it several times.

I understand what you’re saying and why it works for you. In fact, if creatio continua were described as you describe it here to me - “just a caveat to this story that the end of creation on the 7th day is not a total end” - I would probably not be struggling with it. I do struggle with it, though, because the first five definitions I found for it when googling (including the one you gave me) never even mention Genesis 2:1-3, much less that creatio continua is to be regarded as a tempering adjunct to it. Instead, creatio continua is defined without even Genesis 2:1-3 being given as a tempering adjunct to it! Thus creatio continua stands alone to, in essence, displace Genesis 2:1-3 in our worldviews. And this troubles me, as it always troubles me when it seems the Bible is being subordinated to theology. The latter is man’s thoughts about God, the former is God’s thoughts to man. Both are valuable, but one is superior.

I am not finished with your answer. I will continue to mull it over until I come to some sort of conclusion about this matter. I recognize that you are a serious man who loves our Lord. Your inputs to me are much appreciated.


Is Communion Figurative?
(Mike Gantt) #119

I thought BioLogos people were creationists, too - “evolutionary creationists.”


(Mike Gantt) #120

Earlier in this thread (comments # 32 and # 42), @GJDS and I had an exchange that went like this:

@GJDS: The point that I wish to make is that whenever we discuss God, we are bound by the doctrine that God transcends time and space.

@Mike_Gantt: I have no argument with this point, but neither do I know how to put it to practical use. That is, I live in time and space and can only speculate - and sometimes I can’t even do that - about life outside of them. When this point is made, I feel like a fish trying to imagine life outside of water.

@GJDS: I am unsure what you mean by “putting it into practice”.

@Mike_Gantt: I mean contemplating how thinking would be different outside of time and space. I can only think in time and space. I don’t know how my thinking would change if I existed outside time and space. When someone says “God is not bound by time and space as we are,” I have no argument with that person but neither do I have any idea what thinking outside time and space is like. I could speculate, but such speculation feels utterly futile to me.

This exchange will help you and @RLBailey understand why I can’t be a conversational partner with you on this subject.