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


(Ray Bailey) #121

Mike, I give you credit for being honest. I must admit I can’t actually think like that for myself. As you say, it is actually impossible. But some of us feel freer (or are stupid enough) to speculate. I can understand where you’re coming from. So don’t feel bad. No harm, no foul. I have enjoyed my first day (in about three years) on BioLogos. Your Posts were informative too. Thank you.
Blessings to you!


(Mike Gantt) #122

Since some might want to participate in that conversation, and others might want to observe it without necessarily participating, why don’t you just start a new thread rather than do it PM. If it turns out no one else is interested and it’s just the two of us, that will be ok, too.

You could title the topic “The Problems with Bill_II’s Idiosyncratic View.” :slight_smile: Just kidding. You can title it whatever you want.

As I explained above, no attempt to understand things from a point of view that is outside time and space is going to help me over a hurdle. I know systematic theologians routinely do this sort of thing but I honestly don’t know how to think or talk about God that way. Again, I’m not arguing that God is not outside time and space; I’m just saying I don’t know to think about an issue in those terms even if it’s true. Just me listening to you and @RLBailey is like one fish listening to two other fish talking about what life must be like for a land animal.

P. S. Maybe it’s more that I feel like a rock listening to two fish talking about what life must be like for a land animal. :slight_smile:


The Problems with Bill_II's Idiosyncratic View
(George Brooks) #123

@Mike_Gantt

In the context of this discussion, the use of the single word ‘Creationist’ would be a general reference to adherents of Creationism in general.

When a BioLogos supporter uses the word “Creationist”, it is almost invariable used as part of a two word phrase to be clear what is meant (or clear as can be expected when a non-Creationist describes himself, even in part, with that word).


(GJDS) #124

Are you referring to a specific doctrine regarding God’s creating as never ceasing, and is this the same as your previous statement that God’s creation is incomplete? I am finding it difficult to understand who, and where, theology refers to an incomplete creation. It may help this conversation if you pointed out such a doctrine.

I will say this, although I would prefer a clear answer from you before I offer a detailed answer - I do not think there is an atom in the universe that is “half-done”, so to speak. The main reason why science can be done is that the creation “is” and we can confidently believe a measurement done on a specific object would be correct no matter how many times that measurement is made.
EDIT. Perhaps I should try and clarify my question to you, by pointing out the phrase you use:

              God's creative activity did cease

is, to me, incomprehensible, as I cannot see any creative activity by God to cease, in the sense this phrase portrays (if it were so, all would cease and disappear) :grinning:

I am thinking more along the lines of doctrine such as creation from nothing, or another doctrine that I may not have heard.


(Mike Gantt) #125

Yes: creatio continua. See here.

Are you then saying that Genesis 2:1-3 is incomprehensible to you? Because that’s where I’m getting the idea.


(GJDS) #126

The doctrine that I am familiar with is Creatio Ex Nihilo and Creatio Continua; my background is Eastern Orthodox, and my belief is the entire creation (heaven and earth) are totally dependent on God as Creator. We have agreed that Gen speaks of a complete creation, and the doctrine is that of God creating in the beginning, and sustaining all from beginning to all ages. The usual terms are God created and sustains His works. The doctrines that are opposed to this are process theology and offshoots (including TE/EC which implies something is added by random events or chance).

An informative discussion can be found in: KOINONIA XXII (2010)33–53, “Creatio Continua Ex Electione: A Post-Barthian Revision of the Doctrine of Creatio Ex Nihilo”, by DAVID W. CONGDON. The following is a useful summation:

“In his Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher critically examines the received wisdom that distinguishes between creatio originalis and creatio continua. The former is defi ned as the originating act of bringing the cosmos into existence, while the latter is God’s providential preservation of this creation throughout history. Schleiermacher questions the logic behind this distinction: on the one hand, since the progressive creation of what presently exists reveals “the active continuance of formative forces,” there is nothing which cannot “be brought under the concept of Preservation”; on the other hand, since preservation “is equivalent to that alternation of changes and movements in which their being perdures,” the entire process of preservation in fact “falls under the conception of creation.” Depending on which perspective you take, creation or preservation becomes superfluous.
Schleiermacher criticizes the tradition for giving the impression that God alternates between activity and rest, as if God were active at some moments but not at others—a view deriving from an overly literal reading of the creation account in Genesis 1. This movement between activity and passivity runs counter to his theology, which begins with the absolute dependence of all things upon God. If God is not eternally actus purus, then our dependence upon God is not absolute, and our entire relation with God is threatened.”

I am no closer to understanding your objection, since I cannot see a difficulty between reading God completed His creation and rested, to sanctify the Sabbath, and God sustaining His creation.


(Mike Gantt) #127

I only know enough about creatio ex nihilo and creatio continua to discuss them in general terms. As for “process theology,” I don’t even know enough to discuss it.

I completely agree with this point. That is, for the person who believes in progressive creation it is hard to find a meaningful dividing line between creatio originalis and creatio continua. However, for the person seeking to find out if progressive creation is true, I trust you can see that it would be putting the cart before the horse to say that any distinction between creatio originalis and creatio continua is superfluous.

I agree with the primary point being made here, too. To be specific, I do not think that Genesis 2:1-3 teaches that God alternates between activity and rest. Rather, I think it teaches that God ceased activity on the heavens-earth creation project, if we can call it that; and that He ceased it not because He was getting worn out but rather because He had completed the project. I do not see the text saying that He had nothing else to do with His time. On the contrary, I assume His project was like most of mine - seeming to require far more energy to maintain than to have created in the first place. To be very specific, I believe God’s “rest” spoken of in Genesis 2:1-3 to apply strictly to the unique foundational acts described in the preceding verses - not all divine activity.

You and I may be structurally inhibited from getting any closer than we are on this point simply because I think as a Protestant, tending to rely more on the Scriptures themselves than on doctrines derived from them. I recognize that EO’s and RC’s feel they are on firmer ground than I am, but I have to “dance with the one that brung me” to Christ.


(GJDS) #128

It seems that we agree on many points, and the article I sited is Protestant (discusses Barth) - so unless you wish to continue, I will make this observation - I cannot comprehend where you find tension between the six-day account and the subsequent writing in Gen 2.


(Mike Gantt) #129

At the risk of prolonging a discussion I think both of us are ready to conclude, I must say that I do not understand this statement from you. In all this thread I have said nothing about any tension between the six-day account and the subsequent writing in Gen 2" so I cannot figure out what causes you to speak of it. My whole focus in this thread is on the tension I feel between Genesis 2:1-3 and creatio continua.


(Peaceful Science) #130

@Mike_Gantt I know you are thinking about this, but this does require a little clarification.

I brought up creatio continua for a specific reason. Not to subordinate Scripture to it, but to highlight that traditional interpretations of scripture and theology do have concepts consonant with the reading I take of Genesis. I, however, do not adopt these readings because of creatio continua, nor did I even know of creatio continua when I first understood Genesis

If you do not like creatio continua , but the reading I offered makes sense, that is great. That is all you need to resolve your key questions about evolution and the Bible.

You will probably hate process theology. It is not necessary to answer your questions. It’s probably a distraction.

Not fair @gbrooks9. @Mike_Gantt is clearly on an honest exploration. Do you really think he is close-minded? I think we have even seen him change is mind in this thread, and appears to only want an honest path to affirm evolution. Maybe he will find it, or maybe not. But talking about theology like this is supposed to be fun; and it has been with him.


(Lynn Munter) #131

Thanks, I know you probably have a lot of comments to keep up with so I didn’t want to be pushy, but I appreciate your thoughtful response!

I don’t think this quote actually supports your position all that well, if we examine it. You would have to insist that by “all things in (the world)” it means God created it all before Gen 2:1, when in fact there are many easy examples of things in the world that ancient Hebrews would have known to be of more recent origin: plants, animals, humans and their souls, tools, houses, cities, etc.

The way it is clearest to think of it for me is that there is a progression that can be observed in the first six day of what kinds of things are being created. First are the large-scale but not as complex/close to us things (sea, sky, land) and then more remote/dissimilar (astronomical bodies) going towards things closer to us: fish, birds, land animals. It’s like zeroing in from a wide focus to a very specific one, only there’s more detail and intricacy the more you narrow in on humans. And God’s saying He didn’t continue to create even more advanced humans, or other beings more God-like. If He did not call creation finished, we would have to wonder what the next level of creating He would be doing was, as opposed to just more of the same kinds of things Genesis has already described him as creating.

I like the idea of the noosphere, that the realm of ideas is where we see the most continuing change and growth; but that is change and growth driven by humans, with input from God (and as you say, God gets final judgement) but God is not the sole driver anymore: He deliberately relinquished complete control over what people would say or do.

A lot of very interesting concepts to wonder about, to be sure! Sorry it took me a little longer than I hoped to get them written out in a hopefully sensible sequence!

EDIT:

Brings to mind this one: “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end!”


(GJDS) #132

My mistake in interpreting your comments; I will leave our discussion still unclear in my mind why you feel the tension. Nonetheless to my way of thinking, Gen 2:1-3 is in perfect accord with God creating and sustaining all that is. I have read G2:1-12 just to make sure, and if I were pedantic I would say the Genesis account as it is written states God continues His creative activity by creating the garden and placing Adam and Eve there - all of this activity is written down as after the six creation days and after the Sabbath.


(George Brooks) #133

@Swamidass

Please re-read my sentence again. I went to the extraordinary measure of comparing “die-hard” Evolutionists guilty of the very same thing. I even did a little word-play with the word “designed” ! (It’s all fun and games until someone loses their designer glasses …)

I do not doubt Mike’s sincerity. But I do doubt his logic. But this is why I brought up Hume. Hume brilliantly points out that the great majority of humanity is made up of people who do not think like machines … they have beliefs and feelings … and those two things are pretty much in the driver seat!

I’m quite sure I’m guilty of the very same thing in my own adherence to Theism in general. I do not need any additional layerings of logic to feel comfortable with my decision. Nor does Mike.

Please see this post - - it discusses the very same thing:


(Benjamin Kirk) #134

Me: Why not go to the original Hebrew, if this is really important?

Going to what someone else says about the Hebrew in English is not going to the original Hebrew.


(Mike Gantt) #135

Strong’s Concordance is as close as I can get to the original Hebrew.


#136

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep…Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people…Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death…It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth”. (Exodus 31:12-17)

You see everyone, not only is it a figurative ‘6 days’, it’s also a figurative capital punishment, just like it’s a figurative death penalty in the following:

“The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)

“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

“If a man mates with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal.” (Leviticus 20:15)


(George Brooks) #138

@Ron

If this is a minimum wage position, rounding up everyone who works on the Sabbath, I’d be willing to start next week.

But wait … did you say this penalty is a figurative penalty ? So we just pretend to put them to death?


#139

Exactly. If it’s a figurative, metaphorical, poetic, non-real…6 days, then logically why can’t we take the whole proscription against working on the Sabbath, a man sleeping with a man, animal…as figurative, metaphorical, poetic, non-real…whatever!!!


(Phil) #140

Ron, what criteria do you use for determining whether something in the Bible is figurative? It is not always clear cut, but seems to be related to what your experience has been with similar writings. Any thoughts?


#141

A seminary professor strongly (sorry for the pun I really didn’t mean it) suggested that you should never do a concordance word study. I go with comparing parallel translations or a good technical commentary. Also remember that if you are looking at a Strong’s you are really only looking at the various ways words were translated in just one translation. Not the way they might have been translated by other translators.