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  1. #1
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    YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    People who study the Bible disagree about how to interpret the creation account found in the first chapter of Genesis. They can generally be divided into two groups: those who believe the earth was created only a few thousand years ago and those who believe it is much older. Anyone familiar with this controversy will know the meaning of the first two groups of letters in the title. YEC stands for Young Earth Creationism, the belief that the Bible account of creation is to be interpreted literally and the age of the earth should be expressed in thousands of years rather than millions. OEC stands for Old Earth Creationism, the belief that the earth is much older. Generally adherents of this belief fall into one of two groups: those who think the days of creation aren’t literal days but much longer periods of time and those who believe that the days are literal but that what is described isn’t the actual creation of the earth but its restoration after it had been reduced to a state of chaos. But what does UAEC mean?

    UAEC stands for Unknown Age Earth Creationism and is what I have come to believe as a result of my study of this subject. The Bible doesn’t give enough information for us to know for certain which of the other two beliefs is the correct one.

    I agree almost completely with the YEC position. The earth was formed in six literal days and this took place only a few thousand years ago. The fossil record which many people point to as evidence that all life developed over millions of years by a process of evolution is in fact one of the results of the world wide flood which took place during Noah’s life. But there are two YEC beliefs which I believe might be wrong.

    One is about the nature of the six day creation in Genesis 1. Verse 2 says,

    The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
    The earth already existed but was in a chaotic state before the week of creation began. The six days were actually a transformation of the earth to make it suitable for supporting life. Nothing is said about how long is existed in this state. It is possible that it was created this way and the first day began immediately. On the other hand it could have existed in this condition for a long time. It is also possible that the earth was created perfect at some time in the past and this state of chaos was the result of some catastrophe that it experienced in the past. Either view is compatible with what the Bible tells us.

    The second possible error of young earth creationists is the interpretation of Genesis 1:14-16.

    And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.
    Many people think that this describe the creation of the sun, moon, and stars but that isn’t necessarily the case. It only says that God lights in the sky, not that he created the bodies that were the source of those lights. It is possible that the lights appeared because he did create the sources at this time, but there is another possibility. We have all known times when clouds made it impossible to see the sun but there was still plenty of light. It is possible that this condition existed on the earth prior to this time and God simply removed the clouds so the sun and moon could be seen. The Bible doesn’t give us enough information to enable us to determine which of these explanations is true.

    In interpreting the creation account we need to keep in mind Psalm 115:16:

    The heavens are the LORD’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.
    Since the earth is the only part of creation that is given to us there is no reason for us to know anything about how God created the rest of the universe or what happened on the earth before the time God began to prepare it to be our home.
    The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    The fossil record is not a record of the flood. In fact a worldwide flood appears no where at all in the fossil record. It simply never happened so far as any physical evidence says. There are plenty of regional floods, we know what floods look like in the geologic record, and there are none that are world wide. They are all pretty much the sorts of floods we see today, regional ones caused by swelling river systems.

    The physical evidence simply doesn't in any way shape of for support Young Earth or the biblical creation story. Not all of it is as incompatible as the 6 days or the flood, but those parts are not only unsupported but directly contradicted by what we can observe.

    ----

    My question is why you think the story has to be literal in its description of days. The bible has plenty of bits where even the most strident faithful take it as metaphor or parable. Jesus himself uses those devises. It doesn't mean the bible is wrong, it could just mean people in ancient times didn't fully understand its meaning. I don't get why that is such a hurdle for folks.

    --- On to your actual points ----

    The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
    Your contention is possible. I would say that it leads off with "in the beginning" and this part follows. So your saying there was a lot of days between the beginning and "the first day" which is counter intuitive.

    And you say "chaotic" but it says formless and void. Those are not the same things. Formless is... well without form. Just a sort of blob at best. Indeed the earth once probably was just a cloud of gasses, though to call it the earth at that point is like calling a vat of dough a birthday cake. The form is really what makes it what it is and the gasses that formed the earth formed the other planets and the sun as well.

    I think saying the earth was perfect before, then formless... that is pretty out there.

    And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.
    I think the obvious answer is that if there were clouds then the bible could have just said as much. Clouds are pretty well known though out human history so its not going to be a point of confusion. It says "God made two great lights" not that "he revealed two great lights" If you are going to be completely literal, you can't honestly say that they were just covered with clouds.

    This part of the narrative is goofy anyhow. We had light and dark on day 1 but we all know for a fact the Sun is the source of all the illumination on earth of any note. (the stars are seen but do not really cast much luminosity that we can see by and would be seen both day and night. So the sun would have to be in play already yet its clear the sun is made on day 4. Its just a clue whomever wrote it didn't really understand where light comes from, which is no shocker for the time it was written.

    It just doesn't make sense to take a literal reading of this work and try to match it to the physical reality of our world as we have discovered it to be. This is text that believes in a magical reality where things happen because it is said so and not for any physical reason. Trying to treat the text as a literal description of a literal event only makes it look like nonsense. Treat it as a poetic imagining of early creation by someone who has little to know knowledge of the physical universe and its just fine. You can believe that god did something astounding in creating the universe and the bible is ancient mankind's best attempt to understand it with the limited knowledge they had at the time.
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  3. #3
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    I see absolutely nothing in the Creation narratives that requires a belief in a literal 24-hour day structure for the epochs of God's work of creating the Heavens and the Earth. Could God have done it in 6 literal 24-hour days? Of course... He's God.

    Did He do it that way? I have no reason to believe that, and the preponderance of scientific evidence points away from this conclusion.

    My issue with YEC and this previously unknown-to-me school of UAEC (as you have described it) are that they don't seem to have any real connection to a meaningful and useful understanding of the Bible, God's nature, or our existence as human beings here. Accepting YEC or UAEC as true doesn't enhance my ability to relate to the moral truths of the faith, and it doesn't help me in my daily life as a Christian. YEC and UAEC just start out with a premise that, while certainly possible, doesn't seem likely... and run with it despite a fairly large body of conflicting evidence. Ultimately, I believe that YEC is destructive to the propagation of the Gospel, if only for the reason that it strains the bounds of credulity for people who have never heard of God or Jesus and approach our belief system from an analytical and reason-based perspective. Furthermore, there are points made in the Bible that seem to lean against the idea of YEC simply by virtue of God's nature as an eternal being.

    Quote Originally Posted by Psa 90:4
    For a thousand years (some say ages) in thy sight are like yesterday as it passes, or a watch in the night.
    So... even by a literal interpretation of 1000 years passing as a watch in the night, we have some indeterminate amount of time between 6,000 and 18,000 years (given 3 watches per day) for God to create everything. I don't even go this far, and I hold to the belief that each delineation of time expressed in the story of Genesis represents an epoch of some unknown - but extremely long - duration that was not able to be comprehended fully by the person that received the revelation and so was expressed in the best way he understood, given God's eternal nature... as a single day and night.... which it may well have seemed to God anyway.
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  5. #4
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    The fossil record is not a record of the flood. In fact a worldwide flood appears no where at all in the fossil record. It simply never happened so far as any physical evidence says. There are plenty of regional floods, we know what floods look like in the geologic record, and there are none that are world wide. They are all pretty much the sorts of floods we see today, regional ones caused by swelling river systems.
    How do you know what kind of results a world wide flood would produce? You can't discover that by the study of regional floods because this just wasn't a regional flood on a larger scale. It was part of a greater cataclysminc event that completely changed the apperance of the whole world.

    In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.
    (Genesis 7:11 ESV)
    The fact that the water covered the whole earth shows that the topography was completely different then and the surface was much flatter than it is today. The flood was ended by the rise of the continents so that they were above the level of the water.

    The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
    to the place that you appointed for them.
    You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.
    (Psalm 104:8-9 ESV)
    The physical evidence simply doesn't in any way shape of for support Young Earth or the biblical creation story. Not all of it is as incompatible as the 6 days or the flood, but those parts are not only unsupported but directly contradicted by what we can observe.
    If scientists did discover evidence that supported the Bible account would they even recognize it? Most of them begin their research believing that everythin can be explained by natural means alone and that God has never interfered in the physical universe. Once people have made up their mind that something is true they will interpret whatever data they obtain is such a way that it conforms to what they already believe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    I see absolutely nothing in the Creation narratives that requires a belief in a literal 24-hour day structure for the epochs of God's work of creating the Heavens and the Earth. Could God have done it in 6 literal 24-hour days? Of course... He's God.

    Did He do it that way? I have no reason to believe that, and the preponderance of scientific evidence points away from this conclusion.
    As I pointed out above scientists usually begin their research with a bias against the Bible's account. If they were truly unbiased they might reach different conclusion.

    this previously unknown-to-me school of UAEC
    UAEC is merely a term I invented to describe what I believe. I don't know whether or not there is anyone else who holds the same beliefs I do.

    Accepting YEC or UAEC as true doesn't enhance my ability to relate to the moral truths of the faith
    What about this truth?

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
    (Romans 5:12-14 ESV)
    For this to be true Adam must have been a literal man and since there was no death before he sinned he must have been created directly by God and not be descended from some lower form of life. Can you believe this while rejecting YEC? And the next verse compares him with Jesus Christ.

    But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
    (Romans 5:15 ESV)
    Do you believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ actually took place as the Bible describes them? Then in order to be consistent you must also accept that the account of the creation and fall of Adam took place as they are recorded in the Bible.
    The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus View Post
    How do you know what kind of results a world wide flood would produce? You can't discover that by the study of regional floods because this just wasn't a regional flood on a larger scale. It was part of a greater cataclysminc event that completely changed the apperance of the whole world.
    There are a great many reasons. We know what a normal flood would do, and we can easily imagine the effects of a global flood and the sorts of things that would happen as a result of it. A massive global flood would cause all kinds of incredible damage and the sediment from it would lay down strata of material by size and density and it would be relatively uniform through the whole of the earth. The only universal sediment we have like that does not contain the bulk of the fossil record as you are claiming, only a tiny slice of it and it is nowhere near when humans lived. None of that evidence contains any human remains. All human remains appear long long after any global sediment does (and the content of that sediment confirms it was from an asteroid impact and not from a flood).

    The geologic record does not have anything even remotely looking like a global flood in it. It has ice ages and it has meteor impacts, and it has many ages of flora and fauna, but no massive earth covering flood. If there ever was such a thing then god covered his tracks by manufacturing false evidence that no such flood ever happens and that is a rather ridiculous thing to presume.

    The fact that the water covered the whole earth shows that the topography was completely different then and the surface was much flatter than it is today. The flood was ended by the rise of the continents so that they were above the level of the water.
    No, that is just one of the excuses apologists invented to explain how we could cover the earth without the additional water that would be needed. The geologic record of the earth also shows that the mountains and valleys of the world were made that way over eons of time. We can see the step by step structures of the rock that made them the way they are. We can watch mountains rise up out of the ocean due to volcanic action and see the subduction zones where the continental plates meet and create mountain ranges. If the earth had been flat and then was suddenly transformed during the period of human history there would be physical records of that in the earth, and there are none. It the earth was once flat the sediment would be the same on the oceans and on the land but it is not. The flat earth thing is just a simple minded attempt to deny the truth that we have discovered in favor of a legend they want to cling to as fact.

    If scientists did discover evidence that supported the Bible account would they even recognize it?
    Yes, they would. Scientists have been trying to confirm the bible for centuries, the problem is they have failed to do so. They have discovered they were wrong in their initial assumptions and had to face facts. Lay people have the luxury of just ignoring the evidence if they choose to. Scientists have to face facts and as a result they no longer accept ancient legend as absolute truth.

    Scientists have confirmed some events from the bible. They have debunked others. They are largely impartial in that regard. Their discovery of the truth has not kept them from being Christians, they just had to come to terms with the fact that some of the bible stories are not to be taken as literal history but as symbolic legends and traditions of ancient faithful people who lacked the means to test the truth of such legends.

    Most of them begin their research believing that everythin can be explained by natural means alone and that God has never interfered in the physical universe. Once people have made up their mind that something is true they will interpret whatever data they obtain is such a way that it conforms to what they already believe.
    No, most scientists are theists and in america most are Christians. They do not think everything can be explained by natural means. What they think is that they can use reason to learn about the world around them.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus View Post
    As I pointed out above scientists usually begin their research with a bias against the Bible's account. If they were truly unbiased they might reach different conclusion.
    Can you show me raw data or hard evidence where there is a controversy or obvious discrepancy in how it was interpreted that might be better explained if we allowed for the reality of God and the literal interpretation of events as they are narrated in the Genesis account?

    Assuming bias simply because someone has reached a conclusion you disagree with seems ... unreasonable. If you can show me where there is a solid, strong, evidence-based argument to support your claims, I will agree that perhaps there is bias. Certainly, there is a materialistic bias... but that doesn't necessarily affect the sterile recounting of hard data like pollen samples, fossil records, and the like that indicate a certain pattern of events.

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus
    What about this truth?

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
    (Romans 5:12-14 ESV)

    For this to be true Adam must have been a literal man and since there was no death before he sinned he must have been created directly by God and not be descended from some lower form of life. Can you believe this while rejecting YEC? And the next verse compares him with Jesus Christ.
    What about it? I don't necessarily think that a belief in the Scriptures necessarily requires a belief in a literal Adam, though I do personally believe that such a person existed. It's all the stuff that happened before Adam that I find fault with in the YEC theory. There's simply no Biblical reason to suggest it's a necessary dogma, no evidence to support its objective truth, and not even really a whole lot of reason to suggest that it's in any way an accurate interpretation of the Scriptures at all. There are so many parts of the Bible that are metaphorical that it's difficult to say which ones actually happened and which didn't, except where we have a historical record to confirm it.

    As far as I'm concerned, it could have happened that way if God wanted it to... and maybe it did. My point is that it doesn't really matter one way or the other... the truths outlined by the Scriptures and the moral implications of those truths are greater than the literal accidents of their occurrence in the world. They are cosmic principles, as much as they are literal narratives. Getting hung up on the literal reality of the Genesis story seems to me to be missing the forest for the trees.

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus
    Do you believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ actually took place as the Bible describes them? Then in order to be consistent you must also accept that the account of the creation and fall of Adam took place as they are recorded in the Bible.
    I do believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead as explained in the Gospels, and I strongly disagree with your assertion that this necessarily requires a belief in YEC. Numerous and diverse religious scholars, holy men of faith, and sects of the Church find enough cause to dispute YEC that they suggest that it's either untrue altogether or, at best, a matter of personal faith which has no bearing on Salvation (this last from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church). So, who are you to insist that a belief in some form of YEC is somehow necessary for salvation? What actual evidence to you bring to support this argument? Your use of two bible verses, out of context and with a different interpretation than the one I use, hardly qualifies as a compelling case.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    Assuming bias simply because someone has reached a conclusion you disagree with seems ... unreasonable.
    I do not assume that people are biased because they disagree with me. I know that they are biased because everyone is biased in some way. Someone who grows up in an environment where it is taken for granted that everything came into existence by natural means and who has never been exposed to any evidence that God has ever intervened in natural processes won't even consider the possibility that what he has been taught may be wrong. Here is a good explanation of why it is possible that the majority of scientists can be wrong.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/arti...tists-be-wrong
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus View Post
    I do not assume that people are biased because they disagree with me. I know that they are biased because everyone is biased in some way. Someone who grows up in an environment where it is taken for granted that everything came into existence by natural means and who has never been exposed to any evidence that God has ever intervened in natural processes won't even consider the possibility that what he has been taught may be wrong. Here is a good explanation of why it is possible that the majority of scientists can be wrong.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/arti...tists-be-wrong
    So in a country where atheists number around 10%, all the scientists grow up in families where they never are taught about religion? That seems awfully far fetched to me. Knowledge about God is far more common than knowledge about science yet when people become scientists they often shed elements of the faith they grew up with. Could it be that when you acquire real knowledge of the world the ancient superstitions of the past start to look less like literal truth?

    Perhaps you should study science and find out.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus View Post
    Someone who grows up in an environment where it is taken for granted that everything came into existence by natural means and who has never been exposed to any evidence that God has ever intervened in natural processes won't even consider the possibility that what he has been taught may be wrong.
    I'm sorry, but this is an utterly untrue thing to say.

    I grew up in an environment where it was indeed taken for granted that everything came into existence by the hand of God exactly as described in Genesis, and I was taught that there WAS no evidence that everything came into existence by natural means, and eventually I DID consider the possibility that what I had been taught may be wrong. In fact, only while immersed in that environment did my mindset preclude such a possibility. It wasn't until I got away from the people teaching me day in and day out about God did I even begin to consider that perhaps Genesis meant something other than 6 literal days only a few thousand years ago in the matter of Creation.

    So (and I say this with great respect; forgive me if it comes out as harsh, but I only know how to be direct in such things) for you to suggest that all people are simply set in their ways for now and forever more betrays a profound level of ignorance of the world outside your own frame of reference.

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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus View Post
    I do not assume that people are biased because they disagree with me. I know that they are biased because everyone is biased in some way. Someone who grows up in an environment where it is taken for granted that everything came into existence by natural means and who has never been exposed to any evidence that God has ever intervened in natural processes won't even consider the possibility that what he has been taught may be wrong.
    Sorry... I agree with Dionysus. I am Christian, and I was brought up to believe that God created everything. I was never taught specifically that God created the earth by any specific means or that the earth is 6,000 years old or anything like that, but there was certainly not a materialistic or overtly empirical bias in my training. Many important people in my life believed - and still believe - in the power of prayer, of miracles, and other things that simply cannot be verified or even tested by science as we understand it today. For that matter, I do, too. That doesn't mean that I'm biased when I use the training I have received through my education and my God-given ability to reason when I come up with the conclusion that your arguments about YEC are totally unreasonable. It just means that I disagree with you, and you don't like that, so you attempt to assert that you have a somehow superior understanding of Scripture to my own (wholly unsubstantiated, so far, IMO, given only 2 out-of-context quotations you've used) in an attempt to establish that I "can't" believe in Scripture and not hold to a YEC viewpoint. Sorry... you're just wrong. The majority of Christian organizations state either explicitly through specific doctrines or statements or implicitly through their silence on the matter that a person's belief about the "how" of God's creation of the universe is utterly irrelevant to their Salvation and has no bearing on the doctrines of Christ's Salvation of mankind through His sacrifice.

    You have not addressed any of my assertions in any meaningful way except to level a baseless accusation of bias and to imply that my understanding of Scripture is somehow flawed because it disagrees with your own, without ever citing any Ecclesial authorities or any other recognized bastion of the faith. I, on the other hand, have cited no less than the Roman Catholic Church - the largest and most internally consistent body of the Church - as one of my primary sources.

    Until you can address these things, I see no further reason to comment on your points.


    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus
    Here is a good explanation of why it is possible that the majority of scientists can be wrong.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/arti...tists-be-wrong
    I understand that you just gave a brief summation of what the link contains, but I believe this constitutes a violation of our "Linkwarz" policy. If you want to bring up a specific set of arguments from this article, I suggest you quote them in your next post on a point-by-point basis so that we can follow your argument's key points without having to refer to an off-site source.

    Thanks.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    I don't really have an intention to engage with the full scope of the question at hand. However, to those who are Christians in this thread, I do think that this is a serious issue that has to be dealt with. I'm, in fact, less concerned with YEC, as such, but more concerned with a specific point which Theophilus raised which has not received its proper treatment, in my opinion. (I apologise to the non-Christians in the thread if this is a bit exclusionary, but I think it is pertinent.)

    The question of whether the days are literal 24 hour periods (though this is BY FAR the majority opinion of the Fathers and Doctors) is of less importance to me than the question, already raised, of death before the Fall (that is, with respect to evolutionary science). The intersection of the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ and the conquest of sin is intimately tied to the Adamic reality of sin's entrance into the world through man's disobedience and death as its accompaniment, for as it is said in the Wisdom of Solomon, God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living, for he created all things that they might exist.... the dominion of Hades is not on earth. It seems quite obvious that if this reality is allegorised out of existence, then the question of Christ's physical resurrection and its eschatological ramifications (our own bodily resurrection, the new heavens and the new earth, etc.) becomes extremely dicey.

    Furthermore, I don't think that the Church's Magisterium is so humdrum as Talthas is presenting. The universal Catechism, for instance, states: "Catechesis on Creation is of major importance. It concerns the very foundations of human and Christian life..." It specifically goes on to state that the teaching of Original Sin is an "essential truth of the faith", that it is the "reverse side of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men" and that we "cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ." In discussing how to read the account of the Fall it states: "The account of the fall in Genesis uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man."

    It goes on: "Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image--that of a God jealous of his prerogatives. The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject 'to its bondage to decay.' Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will 'return to the ground,' for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history." (Italics in the original.)

    I'm not asserting--and nor is the Church, by any means--that a reconciliation of the data of Revelation and that of science (insofar as it discloses the truth) can be harmonised. But it is frustrating when I see people act as though the Church isn't interested in the question or as though it doesn't really matter. In fact, Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Humani Generis, in which he opened up the doors to theological speculation regarding the rise of the material matter of man's body from previous lifeforms, stated the following:

    "36. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.[11] Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question."

    So, basically, I'm just asking for clarifications from Christians, particularly non-YEC, regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve, the question of sin and death and the relation of all of this to salvation through Jesus.
    "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." - St. Theresa of Avila

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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Breearg View Post
    So, basically, I'm just asking for clarifications from Christians, particularly non-YEC, regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve, the question of sin and death and the relation of all of this to salvation through Jesus.
    I believe I've already answered the question about my beliefs of the historicity of Adam and Eve in the affirmative (that is, I do believe that a literal Adam and Eve existed), and I don't know that there's any doubt about the means by which sin entered both human nature and the world itself. It is, of course, as you have quite adequately summed it up, as far as I understand. As for how this relates to Salvation, it seems quite evident to me that Jesus, as the Second Adam, essentially blotted out the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, thus removing from us our propensity to sin and therefore our inevitable death... and in so doing, made us heirs of eternal life with Him.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    I believe I've already answered the question about my beliefs of the historicity of Adam and Eve in the affirmative (that is, I do believe that a literal Adam and Eve existed), and I don't know that there's any doubt about the means by which sin entered both human nature and the world itself. It is, of course, as you have quite adequately summed it up, as far as I understand. As for how this relates to Salvation, it seems quite evident to me that Jesus, as the Second Adam, essentially blotted out the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, thus removing from us our propensity to sin and therefore our inevitable death... and in so doing, made us heirs of eternal life with Him.
    You certainly did affirm that you believe in the literal existence of Adam and Eve (I might add that Catholics are obliged by the Magisterium to believe in monogenism, that is to believe that all mankind is descended a single original couple); however, I think this response skirts the issue at hand. I noticed that you said "I don't know that there's any doubt about the means by which sin entered both human nature and the world itself." But there was no mention of death, which I consider to be the question of primary importance, since it seems that the way you interpret Genesis in this regard would have to be directly related to the way in which we interpret the Gospels (whose historicity the Church unhesitatingly affirms). However, this would seem to raise issues with questions like evolutionary science, which simply cannot be ignored as if they did not exist, but rather must be explored theologically. So the primary thrust of my question pertains to death before the Fall.
    "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." - St. Theresa of Avila

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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Breearg View Post
    You certainly did affirm that you believe in the literal existence of Adam and Eve (I might add that Catholics are obliged by the Magisterium to believe in monogenism, that is to believe that all mankind is descended a single original couple); however, I think this response skirts the issue at hand. I noticed that you said "I don't know that there's any doubt about the means by which sin entered both human nature and the world itself." But there was no mention of death, which I consider to be the question of primary importance, since it seems that the way you interpret Genesis in this regard would have to be directly related to the way in which we interpret the Gospels (whose historicity the Church unhesitatingly affirms). However, this would seem to raise issues with questions like evolutionary science, which simply cannot be ignored as if they did not exist, but rather must be explored theologically. So the primary thrust of my question pertains to death before the Fall.
    I do not believe that death as we understand it existed prior to the Fall. I had intended to say, "I don't think there's any doubt about the means by which sin and death entered the world, but I must have forgotten to type the words.

    Now, I'm not so sure about things like leaves dying and falling to the ground to rot into soil, fruit rotting, things like that.... those don't necessarily ring true to me as an actual manifestation of death as much as they are a transition from one state to another and fully within the natural cycle of things. Also, they don't result in the death of the actual being from which those things came, so I'm not even sure it can really be called death at all. I believe that was one of the issues we touched on in a different thread. Perhaps you might weigh in.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    I do not believe that death as we understand it existed prior to the Fall. I had intended to say, "I don't think there's any doubt about the means by which sin and death entered the world, but I must have forgotten to type the words.

    Now, I'm not so sure about things like leaves dying and falling to the ground to rot into soil, fruit rotting, things like that.... those don't necessarily ring true to me as an actual manifestation of death as much as they are a transition from one state to another and fully within the natural cycle of things. Also, they don't result in the death of the actual being from which those things came, so I'm not even sure it can really be called death at all. I believe that was one of the issues we touched on in a different thread. Perhaps you might weigh in.
    If you will direct me to the name/location of that thread, I'll take a look at it. I suspect that the consumption of fruit would not be contrary to the text of Genesis since God gives them the fruit of all the trees of the garden to eat, save the one. I actually have my doubts that plant "death" even falls into the question at all, really, since the Biblical text often refers to the fact that the life is in the blood, which is figurative. It's a question I want to research more, especially regarding the opinions of the Fathers, etc. before I make a specific judgment on the matter. That said, my initial judgment would be that, at the very least, the consumption of fruits, for instance, because they do not kill the organism with which they are associated (as you said), would not be subject to this kind of question (though I do have my doubt that that fruit would fall and rot on its own).

    Anyway, I think we have a problem here, however. Because you just said that you think that death entered the world through human sin and your scrutiny regarding whether fruit could rot before the Fall seems to indicate that you extended that question to plants (at their core) and therefore, probably, by extension animals as well. Now you are in conflict with the data which is offered by evolutionary biologists about death being the guiding principle of the creation of life, basically, for millions of years prior to the existence of man, let alone his sin. So how are we to struggle with this theological difficulty? How do you reconcile your belief in science (particularly evolutionary science) with the idea of death entering the world through human sinfulness?
    "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." - St. Theresa of Avila

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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Breearg: I don't think Talthas thinks life came about by purely natural evolution so your challenge is probably misplaced.

    The fossil record is crystal clear that animals lived and died before humans were upon the earth in any location where we have evidence of either. Whatever you believe or the church thinks the bible says doesn't really have much impact on anyone looking at the empirical evidence.

    The idea that there was no physical death in the world prior to Adam's fall seems rather unfounded to me. Gods threat that Adam would die would have absolutely no meaning what so ever were tehre no death in the world prior to his disobedience. The purpose of a tree of eternal life is pretty nonsensical in a world where there is no such thing as death. God indicates clearly that adam eating of the fruit gives him eternal life.

    You could rationalize the difference by considering Eden to be not exactly of the earth, aka its a place we cannot look (since its guarded by his agents). So while on "earth" there was death and many generations of animals prior to adam, in Eden there was not death due to the tree of eternal life, then humans entered the world and there, without the tree, died as individuals.

    I think the Catholics over the years added on a lot of claptrap to the story of Adam and Eve reading in all kinds of meaning and consequence that simply isn't in the story while at the same time ignoring very straight forward elements that are part of the story. Try reading the thing while setting aside all the things you were told were supposed to be true about it and just focus on the actual words and narrative.

    Of course you could also consider there is rather strong genetic evidence that human beings evolved from primates, specifically the viral DNA we share with them which was picked up by distant ancestors and passed to their descendants along with our more functional genetics. The creation story doesn't really offer any explanation of that, likely because its ancient authors had no understanding of that as they did of suffering, death and obedience, the themes which the story most strongly addresses.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Breearg View Post
    If you will direct me to the name/location of that thread, I'll take a look at it. I suspect that the consumption of fruit would not be contrary to the text of Genesis since God gives them the fruit of all the trees of the garden to eat, save the one. I actually have my doubts that plant "death" even falls into the question at all, really, since the Biblical text often refers to the fact that the life is in the blood, which is figurative. It's a question I want to research more, especially regarding the opinions of the Fathers, etc. before I make a specific judgment on the matter. That said, my initial judgment would be that, at the very least, the consumption of fruits, for instance, because they do not kill the organism with which they are associated (as you said), would not be subject to this kind of question (though I do have my doubt that that fruit would fall and rot on its own).

    Anyway, I think we have a problem here, however. Because you just said that you think that death entered the world through human sin and your scrutiny regarding whether fruit could rot before the Fall seems to indicate that you extended that question to plants (at their core) and therefore, probably, by extension animals as well. Now you are in conflict with the data which is offered by evolutionary biologists about death being the guiding principle of the creation of life, basically, for millions of years prior to the existence of man, let alone his sin. So how are we to struggle with this theological difficulty? How do you reconcile your belief in science (particularly evolutionary science) with the idea of death entering the world through human sinfulness?
    Honestly, I hadn't really thought about the question much before now... either of death in the animal or plant kingdoms before the fall or its relationship to the fossil record. My initial stab at the question is to modify my theological stance on the matter, since it was the conclusion I came to most recently and with the least consideration. I did say that it was "death as we know it" that entered humanity through sin. It's entirely possible that people might have chosen to quit their flesh and dwell with God in Heaven at some point if we had persisted in the Edenic state long enough to make such questions relevant. I know that this is rampant speculation, but it would solve problems of overpopulation that would likely have existed given no deaths and a continuously accelerating birth rate.

    It's also possible that predation still occurred. I mean... were we all vegetarians before the Fall? If not, then predator and prey were still a part of a natural cycle that occurred... and this must have resulted in the death of the animal preyed upon, at the very least. Perhaps it was only human death - or spiritual death - that entered the world through human sin.

    In short, I don't really have any good answers about this question at present and must do some more contemplation on the subject before I can give you anything approaching a firm personal opinion.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus View Post

    I agree almost completely with the YEC position. The earth was formed in six literal days and this took place only a few thousand years ago.
    Here is my major issue with the literal six day theory. A day is the amount of time it takes for a planetary body to completely rotate on it's axis. If this is the case, how could we possibly assign the word 'day' to the creation of the universe before there was a earth or before it rotated on its axis? Or, another way to think of it, how do we know the speed at which the earth was rotating at the time? Was it massively fast? Unbelievably slow? There is no way to know. What is a day to God? If it was a day from the modern earth perspective, then the 6 day creation cycle lasted 144 hours. If the days were based off of Venus' rotation, then we would be looking at a 34,992 hour creation cycle.
    I will no longer be replying to any post from a Liberal going forward. I will continue, as normal, to discuss topics and engage in intellectual exchanges with non-leftist

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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    were we all vegetarians before the Fall?
    Yes.

    And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
    (Genesis 1:29-30 ESV)
    Quote Originally Posted by Someguy View Post
    If it was a day from the modern earth perspective, then the 6 day creation cycle lasted 144 hours.
    Only if the earth rotated at the same speed it does now. The worldwide flood in Noah’s time involved more that just covering the world with water. The fact that the water in the oceans once covered the whole world shows that the surface of the earth was much flatter before the flood. After the flood the continents and islands rose up so that they were above the water.

    The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
    Psalm 104:8-9 ESV
    Changes of this magnitude could have changed the speed of the earth’s rotation and thus changed the length of the day.

    The earliest calendars that we have any record of are based on a 360 day year with extra days added to bring the calendar into alignment with the seasons. Why didn’t they simple develop a 365 days calendar to begin with? One possible explanation is that before the flood there were only 360 days in a year and the first civilizations after the flood retained the old calendars instead of making new ones.

    To calculate the possible length of a preflood day I first found the number of minutes in the extra 5 1/4 days. The result was 7,560 minutes. I then divided this by the 360 days and got 21 minutes. If our days were 21 minutes longer there would be 360 days in the year and the earliest calendars would have been accurate and not needed any adjustments. It seems possible that the days of creation were actually 24 hours and 21 minutes long. If this is the case the creation actually took 146 hours and 6 minutes.
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    Re: YEC, OEC, or UAEC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Breearg: I don't think Talthas thinks life came about by purely natural evolution so your challenge is probably misplaced.
    I should hope that he doesn't, but that doesn't really change the nature of the problem, whether you believe that evolution was purely natural or God directed, you still run into the problem of the existence of death before the Fall.

    The fossil record is crystal clear that animals lived and died before humans were upon the earth in any location where we have evidence of either. Whatever you believe or the church thinks the bible says doesn't really have much impact on anyone looking at the empirical evidence.
    I would like to say, that it could be entirely true that the evolutionary biologists account of the fossil record is accurate, but I do insist on a caveat with respect to what you said. The 'fossil record' is in no way crystal clear. Physical evidence doesn't say anything. All physical evidence is subject to interpretation. This is certainly true with archaeology and its true with respect to paleontology as well. And not just on minor points. On points that offer radically different, contradictory interpretations. And this applies as much to dating geological/archaeological strata as to anything else. So while I think it is entirely possible that the mainstream evolutionary biologist model is correct, I don't consider it a crystal clear given. Furthermore, if the evolutionary biologist model IS correct, that is the beginning of the work and not the end. That simply means that a proper understanding of Genesis and the truths of the faith must be compatible with evolution because two true things cannot be mutually exclusive of one another. But that's the beginning of the work and not the end. Then it is the work of theologians to figure out how it can be so, which is where my question lies. But I certainly have more trust in the authourity of God, interpreted according to the methods given by the Church, than I do in the fallible interpretation of physical data by scientists who are, frankly, entirely fledglings in the mysteries which they are trying to explore, given the youth of the field. Now, the Church considers this to be an open theological question, which is to say that the Magisterium has not ruled upon the issue, so faithful Catholics can have divergent opinions on the problem. I'm simply attempting to explore those issues.

    The idea that there was no physical death in the world prior to Adam's fall seems rather unfounded to me. Gods threat that Adam would die would have absolutely no meaning what so ever were tehre no death in the world prior to his disobedience. The purpose of a tree of eternal life is pretty nonsensical in a world where there is no such thing as death. God indicates clearly that adam eating of the fruit gives him eternal life.

    You could rationalize the difference by considering Eden to be not exactly of the earth, aka its a place we cannot look (since its guarded by his agents). So while on "earth" there was death and many generations of animals prior to adam, in Eden there was not death due to the tree of eternal life, then humans entered the world and there, without the tree, died as individuals.
    I think the exegesis of the first three chapters of Genesis is significantly more complex than you are giving it credit for. Putting aside the fact that the Church has already stated that symbolic language may be employed in the Genesis account, I think you have much more fundamental problems if you are going to be so literalistic about your interpretation as all that. For starters, the question of the word "death" having meaning seems pretty insignificant next to the question of... any words having meaning for a person who just came into existence a moment ago. How exactly does Adam understand ANY of the words of God? Does he have an infused knowledge of language? If so, why should the meaning of a particular word be so problematic? His language is clearly not based on emperical observation, creating or linking words with things in his experience, because his experience is basically non-existence.

    Furthermore, the position is a bit more nuanced than you are giving it credit for, I think. The idea is not that things have a natural state of being immune to corruption that is then destroyed in the Fall and so now they die. The Fall does not destroy nature, only wounds it. Rather, in the state of pure nature, composite things fall apart into their constituent pieces. However, the problem is that a state of pure nature is NOT what is encountered in the Garden of Eden. God creates the world in a graced state, including the gift of sanctifying grace to Adam and Eve and the actual grace of physical immortality to the world.

    As for the fruit of the tree of life, Adam and Eve are not partaking of eternal life is the strict sense. Their physical endurance throughout the ages is not the same as beatific eternal life. Which is clearly shown in the text by means of the expression that eating of it makes one like God, a partaker in the divine nature. However, to enter into that state in the condition which their disobedience has rendered them would be nothing but perdition. For God is a consuming fire--to those who love him and have communion with him, a fire of endless joy; to those who hate him, eternal suffering. This doesn't seem problematic in the least, quite frankly. It only seems so if one is a naturalist, which the authour of Genesis most certainly was not. It is a perenniel choice which arises time and again in the Biblical text--the question between wisdom and life, taking and receiving, etc.

    I think the Catholics over the years added on a lot of claptrap to the story of Adam and Eve reading in all kinds of meaning and consequence that simply isn't in the story while at the same time ignoring very straight forward elements that are part of the story. Try reading the thing while setting aside all the things you were told were supposed to be true about it and just focus on the actual words and narrative.
    Your complaints about different ways of reading Genesis and particularly regarding a Catholic approach to the text I think really only betrays an ignorance of any form of exegetical understanding--either scientific or otherwise. Taking the text of Genesis in isolation in the way you are suggesting would be contrary to all good scientific exegesis because Genesis wasn't written in a vacuum. There is a continuity between Genesis and other Biblical texts (or even portions of the same, depending on how trustworthy you consider source criticism to be) and those texts must be included in developing a full picture of the authourial intent of the writer of Genesis. This can be derived from both a proper examination of all the texts of that authour as well as an examination of the cultural milieu in which the text arises. What that includes is an examination of the cultural environ of ancient Israel, the Near East, etc. The list goes on an on, but nowhere includes just taking random shots in the dark about what I think makes sense about the text in total isolation from its cultural, historical and linguistic context. Beyond that, proper Catholic exegesis--which you probably don't care about--includes making appropriate use of the scientific exegesis mentioned above, combined with the three principles of canonicity (taking the Biblical text as a single, coherent work, while still observing all the question of literary genre, etc. uncovered in scientific exegesis), within the living Tradition of the Church (this includes how the text has traditionally been interpreted by the Fathers and the Doctors), and the analogy of faith (which is to say, interpretation must be in conformity with the entirity of the revealed truths of the Christian religion since the Magisterium, guided by the Holy Spirit, is the authentic interpreter of the revelation contained therein).

    All that being said, I have in fact examined the text of Genesis, entirely in isolation, without access to the tradition of the Church or to the necessary knowledge of cultural background, simply as a text presented as such. And I have done this not only as a private exercise, but in an academic environment of a doctoral seminar examining texts from antiquity to the present which deal with the notion of disaster as it appears in texts. Furthermore, I did more than simply bracket my knowledge and my faith and the Catholic tradition, but I did the examination before I even was Catholic so I didn't have access to those things even if I wanted to have them. The text does not really present the difficulties which you are trying to ascribe to it, even though we briefly entertained difficulties identical to them and more like them beside. But this is a meaningless exercise anyway, because if the text is just a text that I can examine in that form of isolation then what do I really care what it means anyway? If that were the nature of the text, it doesn't raise theological questions of any import, because it's just some ancient scribble. If, however, it is part of the revelation of God, received and given through his Holy Church, then I have to receive it within the bounds of the dictates of Catholic exegesis, which does not include treating in the fashion described. So why would I read it that way for any kind of theological enquiry?

    Of course you could also consider there is rather strong genetic evidence that human beings evolved from primates, specifically the viral DNA we share with them which was picked up by distant ancestors and passed to their descendants along with our more functional genetics. The creation story doesn't really offer any explanation of that, likely because its ancient authors had no understanding of that as they did of suffering, death and obedience, the themes which the story most strongly addresses.
    Once again, the point that I'm trying to raise is not that evolution is false or YEC is true, but examining the theological questions raised by the varying propositions.
    "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." - St. Theresa of Avila

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