Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Denis Lamoureux's Evolutionary Creation, Part II

Back to Denis Lamoureux and his book Evolutionary Creation.

I have taken so long to speak of his book again because I find the things he says so difficult, even, to acknowledge, much less talk about.

In my last post on this subject, I concluded with a series of examples of how Lamoureux views the specific content of Genesis chapters 1 through 3. In each case, he says, we need to ignore the history and science the Bible presents--they were, he says, the best history and science available to the people of that time and place (when and where the Scriptures were written), but they don't come close to matching what we know today. Instead, Lamoureux urges, we need to focus solely upon the spiritual messages contained in these passages: that, for example, God is the Creator (Genesis 1); that human beings are "the only creatures in a personal relationship with the Creator," "men and women were made to enjoy the mystery of marriage," and "God sets limits on human freedom, and failure to respect these boundaries has serious consequences" (Genesis 2); and so forth.

Lamoureux says we ought not--because we cannot (and still do justice to the Scriptures as written)-- . . . we ought not to reinterpret these passages as if they were intended as anything but literal history referring to literal (what we might call "scientifically verifiable") events and structures. Clearly, Lamoureux asserts, let us not pussy-foot around this:
  • The human authors of these portions of Scripture really and truly did intend for their readers to believe in (because they themselves believed in) a flat, immoveable/stationary, circular (not spherical!) earth that is set on (literal, physical) foundations and is surrounded by water.
  • They expected their audience to believe in (because they themselves believed in) a three-tiered universe composed of the flat, circular world in which we humans live, the underworld (beneath ours), and the heavenly realm (above).  
  • They spoke of the raqia or "firmament," a solid, dome-like structure held up by (solid, physical) foundations--a structure in which God has embedded the sun, moon, and stars and upon which He has placed a body of water "above" (the ancient explanation for why the sky is blue) . . . --They spoke of this raqia or "firmament" as a literal, physical, real entity because they really and truly believed it exists; its existence was questioned by no one; that was the "science of the day."
Lamoureux continues in this vein when it comes to history.

As far as he is concerned, it is clear that
  • The author/editors of Genesis chapter 1 had absolutely nothing to say about a slow, progressive, multi-million-year creation process. They didn't believe in such a creation and they didn't expect their audience to believe in such a creation . . . because it wasn't the science of the day.
Rather, he says,
  • The science of the day was, as the young-earth creationists urge it: carried out in the equivalent of six, 24-hour days. . . .
--I have been galloping along, here in my exposition of Lamoureux's teaching.

I want to take a break to note some places where I think Lamoureux probably failed, adequately, to do all his homework. Or, if he did his homework, he failed, adequately, to express what I believe he should have.

But let me do that in another post.

1 As Lamoureux writes (p. 106),
Never once is earth referred to as spherical. Nor is a globular shape implied by the context of any passage. Indeed, if it was God's purpose to reveal in Scripture the scientific fact that the earth is a sphere, then there were nearly 3000 opportunities to do so. He could easily have done this by comparing the earth to something round like a ball or an orange. [But He did not.]
Return to text.

2 The raqia or "firmament" is not an "expanse" as some modern translations try to soften it--a translation or interpretation that is wholly unsupported either by philology or history. Lamoureux is very detailed in his development of this point (p. 123):
The root of this noun [raqia] is the verb raqa which means "to flatten," "stamp down," "spread out," and "hammer out." That is, this Hebrew verb carries a nuance of flattening something solid rather than opening a broad empty space. . . . The verb raqa is even found in a passage referring to the creation of the sky, which is understood to be a firm surface like a metal. Job 37:18 asks, "Can you join God in spreading out [raqa--JAH] the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?" (cf, Exod 24:10; Job 22:14; Ezek 1:22).
Return to text.
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