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Thursday, 17 June 2021

Evolution and creation - a reading list

I have often considered writing a book on evolutionary creationism from a Christadelphian perspective and for a Christadelphian audience, but a number of good friends have advised me against that. Given the number of excellent books on the subject that already exist and the relatively few Christadelphian-specific theological points that such a book would make, there is much wisdom in that advice. Besides, as the author of Ecclesiastes noted, of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. What I believe is useful is providing a selective bibliography of books which I have found helpful.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Even more ancient hominins from Europe

Two recently published articles caught my eye today. One reports on the analysis of Initial Upper Palaeolithic human remains from Bulgaria that showed recent Neanderthal ancestry [1], the other reports on the analysis of a skull from the Czech Republic which showed the individual to have been one of the earliest people in Europe following the expansion out of Africa [2]. Dating between 42,000 to at least 45,000 years, it is worth noting that we have here yet more evidence for the antiquity of modern humans far outstripping the ~6000 years limit given by a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.

Monday, 10 May 2021

The Case of the Missing Isotopes - The Ultimate Proof of an Ancient Earth

Given that the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old, we would not expect to find any radioactive isotopes with short half-lives in the crust of the Earth as they would have long since decayed away. Conversely, if the Earth really was six thousand years old, then we'd expect to find these short-lived radioactive isotopes as insufficient time would have passed for them to have decayed away. When we examine the Earth's crust to look for short-lived radioactive isotopes, apart from those naturally made, we find no short-lived isotopes, just what we'd expect if the Earth was ancient.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

The NIV mistranslation of Genesis 2:19

The order of creation in Genesis 2 differs from that of Genesis 1. Genesis 2v19 informs us that after creating Adam, God then created the animals and later created Eve. In Genesis 1, the order is animals, then humans. This has been long recognised by the scholarly community. However, if you read the NIV you would not see that as Genesis 2:19 has been deliberately mistranslated in order to 'harmonise' both creation narratives.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

The people who can trace their ancestry to before Adam

Cheddar Man, found in 1903 in a cave in Somerset is Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, having been dated to 9100 years of age. Not only does he bear eloquent testimony to the reality of human existence well before the 6000 year figure fundamentalists assign to the creation of Adam, he also has living relatives not too far from where he was found. The fundamentalists belief in universal  human descent from two people created no earlier than 6000 years ago is difficult to reconcile with these facts.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

How a 10,000 year old basket (and the whole archaeology of Neolithic and Chalcolithic Palestine) falsifies the fundamentalist belief in a Seven Thousand Year Plan

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a 10,500 year old woven basket in the Judaea desert. Discoveries both of human artefacts and human remains that are older than six thousand years pose a fundamental challenge both to the the belief that humans are only six thousand years old and the concept of a ‘seven thousand year plan’. Given the prevalence of both of these ideas in the Christadelphian community, it is worth spending a little time looking at the archaeological evidence that rules out both these ideas.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Book Review: Ben Stanhope (Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible.

Book Review: Ben Stanhope (Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible. 2020 Scarab Press. $46.98 (Paperback) $7.86 (Digital) 

Young Earth creationist organisations such as Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and the Institute for Creation Research in asserting that Genesis 1-11 should be interpreted literally inevitably end up pitting the Christian faith against what the past few centuries of historical and scientific research have taught us about natural and human history. The inevitable tension between the YEC worldview and the robust nature of the scientific evidence for an ancient, evolving universe too often results in believers abandoning their faith, having assumed that if the YEC worldview is wrong then the Bible cannot be trusted. 

The problem of course lies in the flawed hermeneutic by which the YEC interprets the first eleven chapters of Genesis. It has been noted that a fundamentalist is someone who doesn’t recognise that they have a hermeneutic. The YEC simply assumes without justification that the chapters must be read literally. The question of how the original audience would have read these chapters is ignored or fudged. 

Biblical scholar Ben Stanhope’s Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible ably summarises its thesis in its title. As Stanhope notes in his introduction: 

As someone who deeply values the Hebrew Scriptures, I have written to engage the average churchgoer and curious secular readers. My thesis is that archaeological and linguistic discoveries about the Bible’s original context clearly show that a great deal of mainstream young-earth interpretation of biblical creation texts is wrong. I also aim to demonstrate that these archaeological and linguistic discoveries should correct our understanding of the biblical authors’ core intended messages. [1] 

Stanhope divides his book into three sections. In section 1 “Proposed Claims of Extinct Animals in the Bible” he rebuts the YEC belief that passages such as Job 40:15-24 and Job 41 are describing dinosaurs. In section 2 “Reading Genesis Like an Ancient Israelite”, Stanhope tackles the questions of whether Genesis 1:1 describes the absolute beginning of the universe, ancient Hebrew cosmology and their conception of the Earth, the nature of Eden, what the seven days of creation really meant, the long lives of the antediluvian patriarchs, and the question of animal death before the Fall. This comprises the main part of the book. In his final section, “Section 3 A Path Forward”, Stanhope, writing primarily for an evangelical audience rebuts the belief that the Holy Spirit functions as a supernatural Bible commentary. He also argues that fundamentalist views on inspiration actively work to stop the believer from properly understanding Genesis 1-11. In the appendices, Stanhope critiques the YEC belief that there is evidence for human and dinosaur coexistence, rebuts the misuse of flood legends across ancient cultures to support belief that the Noachic flood was global, and analyses several cosmogeographical views to show that ancient cultures believed in a flat earth covered by a solid firmament, providing the cultural context against which to understand ancient Hebrew cosmogeography. 

 The main strength of (Mis)interpreting Genesis is in its focus on interpreting Genesis 1-11 in its original context rather than getting sidetracked into irrelevant scientific questions. Section I, which ably demolishes YEC claims that the Bible refers to now-extinct animals such as dinosaurs, and chapters in Section 2 on ancient Israelite cosmogeography and the temple theology behind the seven day creation motif alone make the book worth obtaining.

Recommended.

 References

1. Stanhope, Ben. (Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible (p. 12). Scarab Press. Kindle Edition.