I appreciate that you are making explicit how you arrived at your conclusions. You implicitly demonstrate that the Scripture we revere does not speak unambiguously about a timeline; rather, to get to a timeline you have to derive implications based on certain assumptions. As we have learned in this and other interesting threads you have started on Biologost, these assumptions include but are not limited to:
- assumptions about what kind of history different passages present to the reader,
- assumptions about the nature of the genealogies,
- assumptions about the extent to which God might have accommodated His revelation to the cultural state of the original audience
- assumptions about the role of ontologies, and what kinds of questions they should be answering
Since you have, by using the word “implied,” acknowledged that you are bringing a variety of assumptions to your reading of the Scripture…
…and since you have implicitly acknowledged that a drawing of implications must take place by some process of reasoning…
…I’m wondering why you seem to have such a deep adherence to the assumptions and reasoning process you had before you came to Biologos.
As various ones of us have presented alternative frameworks for you to consider, you have rejected them all on the basis of the fact that they disagree with the assumptions and reasoning process you started with. I honestly don’t see how you are going to make any progress on this issue while you fiercely defend your starting assumptions and reasoning process. No one could. If you insist on not allowing any assumptions to be questioned–and I would argue that many of your assumptions are molded by the eyeglasses of culture that you (like anyone, including me) wear–then you will inevitably end up in the same place.
With such a mentality, you will not even be able to acknowledge that strong contradictions can result from applying your assumptions to the Scripture. Instead, you might claim that, for example, that the Nephilim must have both been destroyed by the flood and reconstituted as a people that branched off from Noah’s descendants. Is this the best way to treat the inspired text? The Bible simply says that the Nephilim existed both before and shortly after the Genesis 7 flood. Ancient Jewish scribes concluded that the flood must have been local, given the contents of the text. What you regard as necessary implications look extremely ad hoc to someone who doesn’t hold your assumptions. In fact, they seem quite forcefully inserted into a Scripture that does not actually contain them.
I believe that the same thing is happening with respect to the question of the age of the earth. You hold assumptions that others, including Augustine 1600 years ago and the rest of us on this thread today, do not hold. Moreover, you reason from those assumptions in ways that are not even required by your assumptions. (As just one example, it is possible to maintain a highly literalistic hermeneutic while viewing the Genesis flood as local rather than global, based on the indisputable fact that the Hebrew word 'eretz almost always has a local rather than global frame of reference.)
Learning to identify what one’s own assumptions are, and questioning whether they are really essential to pleasing God, is not an easy task. Most people never even start down that path at all. And you can certainly please God and serve Him effectively without starting down that path. If you wrap up your time here at the Biologos forum without changing your mind about anything, please do not think that I or anyone else here will think badly of your faith and how you are practicing it. We are servants of the same master, and He is the one who judges us.
At the same time, in certain situations and in certain kinds of ministries, identifying and questioning assumptions is an important skill.* It was certainly an essential skill when I served the Lord in West Africa. And it is very important for those who must deal with modern science in some way, if they want to maintain a robust faith in God and a reverence for the Scripture. Perhaps you could view your conversations here at Biologos as an opportunity to develop that skill, and to see how you might apply it with respect to Genesis.
Grace and peace,
*Or perhaps I should say, an important gift?