Models of the Biblical Cosmos, Part 1

[A note to the reader.  This post is authored by AMW, not Steve.]

I have been having a debate with Arv Edgeworth on the scientific merits of the Deluge narrative from Genesis, chapters 6-9.  You can read our ongoing debate on the comment thread here.  While most of the discussion has been around the scientific questions, it has become apparent to me that the Scriptural side of the debate is important as well.  In fact, I suspect that for most folks on the creationist side of the evolution/creation debate, the Scriptures are the very heart of the debate.  If the first three chapters of Genesis had never been written, most evangelical Christians would be more than happy to accept the existing orthodoxy of the biological sciences.

I originally planned to post what follows as a comment, but it turned out that I just have too much to say.  If brevity is the soul of wit, I’m a dunce at heart.  Nevertheless, Steve has been kind enough to let me hijack his home page so I can share my thoughts.  Because this post is going to be long I’ve decided to put it into an outlined format.  Theological discussions (and debates in general) can have a tendency to roam hither and yon and get out of control if one isn’t careful, so I think it’s important that I keep my arguments neat and orderly.  Here we go.

1. Road Map and some Background

In numerous comments Mr. Edgeworth has used Psalm 104 to argue that the Bible teaches there were no mountains before the Flood of Noah (i.e., the “Deluge”).  I have briefly noted that Psalm 104 can also be interpreted as a reference to the creation story, rather than the Deluge, but I have yet to seriously defend this claim.  In this post, I will argue that the Bible does not describe his model of the cosmos.  I intend to lay out and support four arguments.  First, that the translation of Psalm 104:8 is equivocal, and may refer not to the raising of mountains and lowering of valleys, but to waters traversing mountains and valleys, and that this is a more sensible reading.  Second, that Psalm 104 is more properly interpreted as referring to creation than to the Deluge.  Third, that even reading Psalm 104 as a reference to the Deluge there is Biblical support, in that passage and others, for mountains to have been a feature of the antediluvian earth.  Fourth, that a straightforward reading of the Bible suggests that the earth was not radically altered by the Deluge.

In an upcoming comment, I will argue that the Bible’s descriptions of the universe are drawn from the Ancient Near East (ANE) model of the cosmos, which is very different from what we can observe through modern science.  The fact that it does so should guide us in Biblical interpretation, and discourage us from reading the Bible as though it were meant to teach us science.

One final note.  In my quotations of Scripture below, the NASB is used unless otherwise noted, and all emphases are my own.

2. Psalm 104, Creation and the Deluge

Mr. Edgeworth’s argument from scripture (in this forum at least) rests on Psalm 104:6-8, which reads: “You covered [the earth] with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains.  At your rebuke they fled, at the sound of your thunder they hurried away.  The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which you established for them.” On the basis of these verses he argues that the Bible teaches that prior to the Deluge, the earth was relatively flat (on a local scale), with shallow oceans and hills, but no mountains, and no ocean trenches.  He backs up this claim with the statement that Genesis makes no mention of mountains in the creation week, and the ark coming to rest on the mountains of Ararat are the first time mountains are mentioned in that text.  I offer four arguments against this interpretation.

2.1 The ambiguous translation of Psalm 104:8

Psalm 104:8 looks pretty cut and dried in the NASB translation.  The mountains rose, the valleys sank down.  The ESV translates the relevant passage in the same way.  The NIV, on the other hand, translates verses 7-8 as, “But at your rebuke the waters fledthey flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them.”  The NIV is not alone in interpreting the Hebrew to say that it was the waters that moved, and not the mountains and valleys.  The KJV, NRSV and Young’s Literal Translation all download Looney Tunes: Back in Action download Alien Autopsy give complimentary translations.  The reason for this disagreement among translators is simple: the underlying Hebrew phrase is cryptic.  In Hebrew, the phrase translated “the mountains rose, the valleys sank down” consists of four words, which literally say, “[they are ascending] [the mountains] [they are descending] [the valleys].” (Phrases in brackets represent a single Hebrew word; interlinear translation is available here.)  The obvious question is, does “they” refer to the mountains and valleys, or to the water that was covering them?  I believe that the latter interpretation is stronger.

The NASB/ESV translations demand one of two uncomfortable readings.  First, you can take the “they” in verse 7 to refer to the waters, (they hurried away), then the “they” (in the Hebrew) of verse 8 to refer to the mountains and valleys (they rose and sank), and finally for the “they” in verse 9 to refer to the waters again (they may not pass over their boundary).  Alternatively, you can take all of the uses of “they” to refer to the mountains, in which case you must read verse 9 as saying that God set a boundary that the mountains and valleys may not pass over to cover the earth.

The NIV/KJV/NRSV translations, on the other hand, have a very natural reading.  The uses of “they” all refer to the waters which covered the earth.  In that case, the waters ran up the mountains and down the valleys either to be gathered in one place (creation week) or to return to the sea (the Deluge).  Moreover, this translation is harmonious with other verses in scripture (e.g., Proverbs 8:29, Job 38:7-11) wherein God is said to have fixed the boundaries of the seas at their creation.  On this reading, of course, we would understand the mountains to be pre-existing features of the earth’s geography.

2.2 Creation Week vs. the Deluge

In order to determine what events verses 6-9 are referring to, we have to look at the context of the entire Psalm.  Psalm 104 is essentially a litany of the works of God.  The psalmist recounts a number of the things God has made, then lists some of the ways in which God sustains his creation, and gives him praise for this.  Notice that verse 2 states that God covers himself with light, and stretches out “heaven like a tent curtain.”  These compare favorably with the first two days of the creation week, in which God created light and separated the upper and lower waters.  Verses 3 and 4 seem to embellish day two, with God building chambers on the upper waters, using clouds as a chariot, the winds his messengers and so on.  Verses 5-9 move on to the earth; God’s foundation of it, and removal of the waters from it, which compares favorably with the third day of the creation narrative.

Psalm 104:10-35 does not strictly follow the chronological order of days four through six of the creation week, but it contains their elements.  God causes the grass and vegetation to grow (verse 14) and planted the cedars of Lebanon (verse 16).  He created the moon and showed the sun its setting (verse 19).  Verse 25 says that the animals of the sea, are among his works.  Verses 11 – 24 discuss various land animals, birds, and mankind.  All in all, the impression on the reader is one of God’s creative and sustaining power.  Reading the Deluge account into the middle of all this seems out of place and strained.

In addition to the general context, notice that in verse 7, the waters are said to have fled at God’s rebuke.  This suggests that the psalmist is saying that the recession of the waters was due to a verbal prompting from God, and that it happened quickly.  Genesis 1:9 fits both of these criteria: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so.” According to Genesis 1:10-13, God had enough time left to create the entire plant kingdom before the day was over.  In contrast, consider Genesis 8:1-14, which recounts the end of the Deluge.  In that account, God does not speak, or rebuke, but simply sends a wind and restrains the waters from the sky and sea from continuing to inundate the earth.  It takes more than seven months for the waters to recede and the ground to thoroughly dry.

Contrary to the above, there are two textual bases for looking at Psalm 104:6-9 as referring to the Deluge.  The first is that in verse 6 the psalmist says that God covered the earth with water, which could be read to correspond to the advent of the flood waters.  To this, I respond that the psalmist could easily be read to be crediting God with the primordial condition of the earth as covered in water.  Genesis 1 tells us simply that the earth was covered in the waters, while the psalmist may be going back a step further in time and adding that this was because God made it so.

Second, verse 9 says that the waters will not return to cover the earth, which compares favorably to God’s promise to Noah in Genesis 9:11.  To this I will simply respond that the psalmist is not engaged in a strict recitation of the creation week.  Much of the Psalm is dedicated to extolling the ongoing providence and protection of God.  Hence, verses 10-11 credit him with sending forth springs for the beasts of the field, verses 14-15 credit him with causing grass and vegetation to grow, so that man can eat and make wine, etc.  Verse 9 may therefore be read as the first in a list of ways that God cares for his creation.  Thus, it echoes the sentiments of Genesis 9:11, but it is not necessarily linking that sentiment to the events described in Psalm 104:6-9.

2.3 The Mountains in Psalm 104, Genesis and Elsewhere

Even if we were to conclude that Psalm 104:6-9 refers to the Deluge, it need not follow that the psalmist is giving us an account of the origin of the mountains.  As I showed in 2.1 above, the most natural reading of verse 7 is not that mountains and valleys were formed, but that the waters flowed over the existing geological features.  But even if we reject this reading, it is inescapable that at some point during the Deluge, the floodwaters are said to have completely covered existing mountains, not just hills.

The most obvious evidence comes from the Psalm itself.  Verse 6b clearly states that “the waters were standing above the mountains.”  (NASB, emphasis added.)  Thus, if we read verse 7 to say that the mountains rose and the valleys sank, this can only be seen as an accentuation of the existing geological formations, not the creation of mountains and valleys de novo.  But even more important than the disputed verses in Psalm 104 is the undisputed account of the Deluge in Genesis.  In Genesis 7:19-20 the author states that “The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.  The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.”  (NASB, emphasis added.)  Here we clearly have the waters of the Deluge covering mountains.  The most straightforward reading of the text is that the mountains were pre-existing; but even if we accept that they were formed during the Deluge, the text clearly indicates that these recently-formed mountains were covered by the flood waters.

Just as importantly, the Genesis account gives us no ground to believe that changes in the earth’s topology were responsible for the recession of the waters.  Genesis 8:1-14 recounts the drying of the land.  Notice that in verse after verse the author states that the “water subsided,” the “water receded”, the “water decreased,” the “water was dried up” and the “water was abated.”  (NASB, verses 1, 3, 5, 7 and 11 respectively, all emphases added.)  No mention is made of ocean floors dropping, valleys sinking, or mountains rising.  The wind sent from God and the shutting of the “fountains of the deep” and “floodgates of the sky” are the only causes given.

But the Biblical evidence for antediluvian mountains goes beyond the Deluge account and Psalm 104.  For instance, Moses refers to “the ancient mountains” (Deuteronomy 33:15) and in Habbakuk 3:6 the prophet declares that at a look from God, “the perpetual mountains were shattered.”

Perhaps more importantly, in at least two Biblical passages the authors link the mountains with the creation of the world.  In Psalm 90:2 the psalmist says, “Before the mountains were born or you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”  In Proverbs 8, wisdom is presented as a female assistant to God.  In verses 8:24-26 she says, “When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.  Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth; while he had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world.”  Moreover, when the mountains are discussed, they are never referred to as the result of a cataclysmic event, but as the handiwork of God, or a natural part of the created order.  They are said to have “foundations” (see Deuteronomy 32:22 and Psalm 18:7), or “roots” (Jonah 2:6).

2.4 The Unchanged Creation

The reader who comes the Deluge account looking for evidence of a massive reordering of nature will be sorely disappointed.  God’s stated purpose in sending the flood is clearly limited to wiping out life from the earth (Genesis 6:17) and that is all that the account claims that he accomplished (Genesis 7:21-23).  The means by which he did it are said to be (in addition to normal cloud rainfall) the “fountains of the great deep” and the “floodgates of the sky,” both of which would have been understood by ancient near east readers as literal, pre-existing structures.  (I will discuss this in more detail in a later post.)

As noted in 2.3 above, Genesis 6-9 gives no indication whatsoever that the features of the earth changed significantly during the Deluge.  The floodwaters come, they recede, Noah and company disembark from the ark, and life goes on more or less as normal.  The only explicit changes are the addition of the rainbow to the clouds (Genesis 9:13-14) and the addition of meat to the list of foods that God will allow man to eat (Genesis 9:3).  Neither the narrator nor Noah remark on any newly raised mountains, a sudden change in temperature, all the strange sedimentary deposits, the disappearance of a vapor canopy, or any other radical change in the natural order.

In fact, so minor have any physical changes to the earth been that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers appear to have been unaltered.  Genesis 2:10-14 refers to four rivers that flowed through the Garden of Eden.  They are the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris and the Euphrates.  Notice that all four of them are said to flow in the present tense, suggesting that all four were assumed to still be extant at the time of authorship.  But even if we assume that the Pishon and Gihon (which are not known to currently exist) had dried up by the time of writing, there are explicit postdiluvian references to the Tigris and Euphrates.  In Daniel 10:4 the titular character says that “On the twenty-fourth day of the first month … I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris…”  Genesis contains three postdiluvian references to the Euphrates; as one of the boundaries of Abraham’s possession of land (Genesis 15:18), as a barrier through which Jacob crossed when he fled Laban (Genesis 31:21), and as the water source for a city or region called Rehoboth (Genesis 36:37).  And besides this, the Euphrates is referenced an additional 26 times in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah and Revelation.  Surely we would expect that the rasing of mountains, lowering of valleys, and laying down of thousands of feet of sediment would wipe something as insignificant as a quartet of rivers from the face of the earth.  But the text never suggests this for any of the rivers, and explicitly contradicts it for two of them.

3.0 Concluding Remarks

There is simply no credible argument that the Bible supports the notion of radical natural changes as a result of the Deluge.  One passage, questionably translated and read out of context suggests the possibility of changes in the heights of mountains and the depths of valleys.  A thorough reading of the Genesis account of the Deluge, Psalm 104 and many additional passages rebuts even this modest hypothesis.

In my next post I will endeavor to lay out an alternative model of the Biblical cosmos, and explain why I think it does a better job of fitting in with the whole of scripture and the notion of a static world, even in the face of a global flood.

Thoughts and comments (critical and otherwise) would be much appreciated; especially from Mr. Edgeworth.

Tagged with:
Recent Posts:
  • AMW,

    I must say, this is a devastating critique. It’s something not done nearly enough: pointing out how the Scriptures’ own testimony problematizes the fancy creationist construct. I think any honest (and even mildly intelligent) creationist will have to remove Psalm 104 from their arsenal when presented this evidence, although there’s no doubt they’ve got dozens more waiting at the ready. To your knowledge, is this passage the sine qua non for any YEC dogma, or just a convenient corroboration?

  • AMW,

    I must say, this is a devastating critique. It’s something not done nearly enough: pointing out how the Scriptures’ own testimony problematizes the fancy creationist construct. I think any honest (and even mildly intelligent) creationist will have to remove Psalm 104 from their arsenal when presented this evidence, although there’s no doubt they’ve got dozens more waiting at the ready. To your knowledge, is this passage the sine qua non for any YEC dogma, or just a convenient corroboration?

  • AMW

    Steve,

    Thanks for the compliment. (I’m sure Arv will have a contrary view and plenty to say about it, though.) I agree that going to the Scripture is a very important part of combatting YEC, since Biblical interpretation is at the heart of the matter for most of them. And when debating the issue with lay YECs, I think it’s even more critical, since one could do a lot of damage to a YEC’s faith by pulling out the rug on their science without also presenting an alternative interpretation of the relevant Scriptures.

    As for Psalm 104, I doubt there is a sine qua non for the YEC position. Of course, Genesis 1-3 and Genesis 5-9 are pretty much essential, but their apparent confirmation in other parts of the Bible (the NT in particular) also drive the Biblical case for YEC. I honestly don’t think that the lack of a credible mechanism within the text will put off many YECs. As Arv has pointed out a couple of times in our scientific discussion, he accepts that God did what was in the Bible even if he can’t explain how it was done.

  • AMW

    Steve,

    Thanks for the compliment. (I’m sure Arv will have a contrary view and plenty to say about it, though.) I agree that going to the Scripture is a very important part of combatting YEC, since Biblical interpretation is at the heart of the matter for most of them. And when debating the issue with lay YECs, I think it’s even more critical, since one could do a lot of damage to a YEC’s faith by pulling out the rug on their science without also presenting an alternative interpretation of the relevant Scriptures.

    As for Psalm 104, I doubt there is a sine qua non for the YEC position. Of course, Genesis 1-3 and Genesis 5-9 are pretty much essential, but their apparent confirmation in other parts of the Bible (the NT in particular) also drive the Biblical case for YEC. I honestly don’t think that the lack of a credible mechanism within the text will put off many YECs. As Arv has pointed out a couple of times in our scientific discussion, he accepts that God did what was in the Bible even if he can’t explain how it was done.

  • Dan

    I myself was unaware of this issue until I read this as I was never very deep (no pun intended) into YEC issues. (I was more of an Old Earther.) Very convincing and can’t believe they would lean so much on passage.

  • Dan

    I myself was unaware of this issue until I read this as I was never very deep (no pun intended) into YEC issues. (I was more of an Old Earther.) Very convincing and can’t believe they would lean so much on passage.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    You are right, the scriptures are at the heart of the debate, but not just for YECs apparently. You have indicated they are important to OECs as well. The first problem I see is the Bible versions you are using. The KJB is the only English Bible we have that was not translated from corrupted manuscripts. But that is another issue for another time.

    You state: “First, that the translation of Psalm 104:8 is equivocal, and may refer not to the raising of mountains and lowering of valleys, but to waters traversing mountains and valleys, and that this is a more sensible reading.” Let’s see if it is a more sensible reading.

    The word “They” in verse 8 goes back to verse 6, “the waters stood above the mountains.” It is obviously referring to the waters. So the waters are above the mountains, then God speaks, and something happens. In verse 8, when it says: “They go up,” the Hebrew word for “go up” is “alah” (aw-law). It means to ascend. The word for “go down” in verse 8 is “yarad” (yaw-rad), which means to descend. You have admitted you believe these verses show water action, I do not disagree. It appears you are agreeing with me that these verses are not just describing standing water. God speaks and there is water action.

    First question: If the waters were already above the mountains, how could they now “ascend up” by the mountains? Are you saying they just went up into the air? That would fit if this passage was referring to the establishment of the water canopy above the earth on day two of the creation week, but it doesn’t fit for another reason. The promise of no water again covering the earth.

    Second question: If there were already ocean basins, and the waters were resting in them, how could the water action have them suddenly descending downward into the ocean basins? Do you really think that is more sensible?

    Verse 9 goes on to say that God has now set a boundry so that the waters will never again return to cover the earth. Genesis 9:11,15; Job 26:10, and Jeremiah 5:22 all speak of the promise God made that He had set a boundry so that the waters could never again cover the earth to destroy it.

    Question three: If this passage is referring to the creation week, are you saying that God is a liar? Waters did ascend as God separated the waters and placed some above the earth to form a water canopy. However, in Psalm 104 this action is connected to God’s promise He would never allow the waters to again cover the earth. It would seem the only sensible interpretation would be that this is referring to the time of the flood, and God’s promise afterward.

    You point out the conflict between the different Bible versions regarding verse 8. The KJB (King James Bible) indicates the waters “go up by the mountains” and “go down by the valleys.” The NASV (New American Standard Version) says: “The mountains arose; the valleys sank down.” You accept the interpretations that indicate water action, and not the interpretations that indicate movement of the mountains or ocean bottoms. Actually, both are correct. If the mountains and valleys did not move, the water action makes no sense. You have water resting above the mountains and in the ocean bottoms, but that doesn’t explain the water action. God spoke and something began to happen, as waters ascended and descended.

    In the Hebrew it does literally indicate that mountains rose and valleys sank down, and it indicates a splitting apart, but water action is also indicated. We seem to agree on one basic thing: God spoke and something happened; waters began to ascend and descend.

    Question four, what caused the waters to flee, if the mountains or valleys didn’t move, and where did they go?

    If you combine all three ingredients we have: God speaking, mountains began rising and ocean bottoms descending, water action ensued.

    Day three of the creation week does say that the dry land now appeared for the first time, but that has nothing to do with God setting a boundry that the waters would never again cover the earth. That not only makes no sense, it makes God a liar.

    I never said there were no mountains before the flood, just not high mountain ranges that would provide a boundry so that the waters could never cover the earth. But the higher mountain ranges were only part of God’s promise, the valleys also sank down. The combination of the two provided the necessary boundry.

    Part of the physical evidence that supports the rising up of mountain ranges toward the end of the flood is the existence of the marine fossils on the top of all the highest mountain ranges.

    You believe we should be discouraged from reading the Bible to teach us science. I believe the opposite is true. The Bible described the water cycle, the fact that the earth was round, the infinite number of stars, ocean currents, types of flesh, etc. long before man made his “discoveries.” If we started with the Bible first we could have saved a lot of time and money.

    Of course the windows of heaven and the fountains of the great deep were previously existing structures. God made a canopy of water above our atmosphere on day two and the Bible says He stretched out the earth upon the waters.

    I disagree with Psalm 90:2 and Proverbs 8:24-26 necessarily linking mountains with creation, but as I said before, I did not say mountains did not exist before the flood, they obviously just did not form a boundry so that the earth could not be flooded. They also would not do this by themselves, without the lowering of ocean bottoms, considering the increase of water upon the earth.

    You said: “Moreover, when the mountains are discussed, they are never referred to as the result of a cataclysmic event, but as the handiwork of God, or a natural part of the created order.” I never said the mountains were the result of a cataclysmic event, but the handiwork of God before and after a cataclysmic event. I think you are trying to create a strawman.

    Was the Euphrates River which man speaks of after the flood, the same river that existed before the flood; or did Noah name it that because it was similar to the river he saw before the flood? Why are the other two rivers never spoken of again? You can speculate, but that isn’t proof of anything.
    In His Service,
    Arv Edgeworth

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    You are right, the scriptures are at the heart of the debate, but not just for YECs apparently. You have indicated they are important to OECs as well. The first problem I see is the Bible versions you are using. The KJB is the only English Bible we have that was not translated from corrupted manuscripts. But that is another issue for another time.

    You state: “First, that the translation of Psalm 104:8 is equivocal, and may refer not to the raising of mountains and lowering of valleys, but to waters traversing mountains and valleys, and that this is a more sensible reading.” Let’s see if it is a more sensible reading.

    The word “They” in verse 8 goes back to verse 6, “the waters stood above the mountains.” It is obviously referring to the waters. So the waters are above the mountains, then God speaks, and something happens. In verse 8, when it says: “They go up,” the Hebrew word for “go up” is “alah” (aw-law). It means to ascend. The word for “go down” in verse 8 is “yarad” (yaw-rad), which means to descend. You have admitted you believe these verses show water action, I do not disagree. It appears you are agreeing with me that these verses are not just describing standing water. God speaks and there is water action.

    First question: If the waters were already above the mountains, how could they now “ascend up” by the mountains? Are you saying they just went up into the air? That would fit if this passage was referring to the establishment of the water canopy above the earth on day two of the creation week, but it doesn’t fit for another reason. The promise of no water again covering the earth.

    Second question: If there were already ocean basins, and the waters were resting in them, how could the water action have them suddenly descending downward into the ocean basins? Do you really think that is more sensible?

    Verse 9 goes on to say that God has now set a boundry so that the waters will never again return to cover the earth. Genesis 9:11,15; Job 26:10, and Jeremiah 5:22 all speak of the promise God made that He had set a boundry so that the waters could never again cover the earth to destroy it.

    Question three: If this passage is referring to the creation week, are you saying that God is a liar? Waters did ascend as God separated the waters and placed some above the earth to form a water canopy. However, in Psalm 104 this action is connected to God’s promise He would never allow the waters to again cover the earth. It would seem the only sensible interpretation would be that this is referring to the time of the flood, and God’s promise afterward.

    You point out the conflict between the different Bible versions regarding verse 8. The KJB (King James Bible) indicates the waters “go up by the mountains” and “go down by the valleys.” The NASV (New American Standard Version) says: “The mountains arose; the valleys sank down.” You accept the interpretations that indicate water action, and not the interpretations that indicate movement of the mountains or ocean bottoms. Actually, both are correct. If the mountains and valleys did not move, the water action makes no sense. You have water resting above the mountains and in the ocean bottoms, but that doesn’t explain the water action. God spoke and something began to happen, as waters ascended and descended.

    In the Hebrew it does literally indicate that mountains rose and valleys sank down, and it indicates a splitting apart, but water action is also indicated. We seem to agree on one basic thing: God spoke and something happened; waters began to ascend and descend.

    Question four, what caused the waters to flee, if the mountains or valleys didn’t move, and where did they go?

    If you combine all three ingredients we have: God speaking, mountains began rising and ocean bottoms descending, water action ensued.

    Day three of the creation week does say that the dry land now appeared for the first time, but that has nothing to do with God setting a boundry that the waters would never again cover the earth. That not only makes no sense, it makes God a liar.

    I never said there were no mountains before the flood, just not high mountain ranges that would provide a boundry so that the waters could never cover the earth. But the higher mountain ranges were only part of God’s promise, the valleys also sank down. The combination of the two provided the necessary boundry.

    Part of the physical evidence that supports the rising up of mountain ranges toward the end of the flood is the existence of the marine fossils on the top of all the highest mountain ranges.

    You believe we should be discouraged from reading the Bible to teach us science. I believe the opposite is true. The Bible described the water cycle, the fact that the earth was round, the infinite number of stars, ocean currents, types of flesh, etc. long before man made his “discoveries.” If we started with the Bible first we could have saved a lot of time and money.

    Of course the windows of heaven and the fountains of the great deep were previously existing structures. God made a canopy of water above our atmosphere on day two and the Bible says He stretched out the earth upon the waters.

    I disagree with Psalm 90:2 and Proverbs 8:24-26 necessarily linking mountains with creation, but as I said before, I did not say mountains did not exist before the flood, they obviously just did not form a boundry so that the earth could not be flooded. They also would not do this by themselves, without the lowering of ocean bottoms, considering the increase of water upon the earth.

    You said: “Moreover, when the mountains are discussed, they are never referred to as the result of a cataclysmic event, but as the handiwork of God, or a natural part of the created order.” I never said the mountains were the result of a cataclysmic event, but the handiwork of God before and after a cataclysmic event. I think you are trying to create a strawman.

    Was the Euphrates River which man speaks of after the flood, the same river that existed before the flood; or did Noah name it that because it was similar to the river he saw before the flood? Why are the other two rivers never spoken of again? You can speculate, but that isn’t proof of anything.
    In His Service,
    Arv Edgeworth

  • AMW

    Hi, Arv. I’m glad you posted a response; I was beginning to worry that you’d left the conversation. I’m at work right now and can’t respond to all of your questions. A lot of them will be addressed in my next post on what I think the truly Biblical model of the cosmos is.

    However, I did want to clear up one point. In your comment above you seem to suggest that I’m an old earth creationist. That is not correct. I am not a special creationist of any stripe; I accept the theory of evolution. In a previous comment on another thread, you said something to the effect that you were pretty sure that you and I both agree that the Psalm 104 text is accurate. I assume that by “accurate” you mean a literal account of historical events that actually occured on our planet. If that is your working definition, I believe that Psalm 104, and the Genesis account of creation and the Deluge, for that matter, are highly inacurate. I don’t think that God’s purpose in those Scriptures is to educate us in science or history any more than the Parable of the Sower was intended as a lecture on horticulture.

    In any event, I’ll try to get my next post up for your review later this week, and any of your questions that aren’t covered there I’ll try to respond to in this thread.

  • AMW

    Hi, Arv. I’m glad you posted a response; I was beginning to worry that you’d left the conversation. I’m at work right now and can’t respond to all of your questions. A lot of them will be addressed in my next post on what I think the truly Biblical model of the cosmos is.

    However, I did want to clear up one point. In your comment above you seem to suggest that I’m an old earth creationist. That is not correct. I am not a special creationist of any stripe; I accept the theory of evolution. In a previous comment on another thread, you said something to the effect that you were pretty sure that you and I both agree that the Psalm 104 text is accurate. I assume that by “accurate” you mean a literal account of historical events that actually occured on our planet. If that is your working definition, I believe that Psalm 104, and the Genesis account of creation and the Deluge, for that matter, are highly inacurate. I don’t think that God’s purpose in those Scriptures is to educate us in science or history any more than the Parable of the Sower was intended as a lecture on horticulture.

    In any event, I’ll try to get my next post up for your review later this week, and any of your questions that aren’t covered there I’ll try to respond to in this thread.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    You say you are not an Old Age Creationist, but you mentioned in your posting on the 11th the importance of combatting YEC, doing damage to their faith, and pulling out the rug on their science. Now you say you are not a creationist of any stripe and have accepted the theory of evolution, yet you claim to believe in God. You state you don’t think God’s purpose in Genesis or Psalm 104 is to educate us in science or history. So, you think God did have a purpose in those scriptures? Of course you think they are highly inaccurate. If you think they are highly inaccurate, while try building a model from them? It appears your whole purpose is just to try to “damage the YECs faith,” as you called it, and you are not really searching for truth, just interested in protecting your own belief system. Your so-called belief in a god appears to be meaningless, since you admit you don’t believe in creation. Why even believe in a god at all? If the scriptures are highly inaccurate, they certainly couldn’t be trusted to provide answers concerning our eternal destiny.

    I do have a question AMW. If you had not been brainwashed into believing in the lie of evolution, would you still feel a need to disprove the account of Genesis as being historical or accurate? I’m signing out AMW. I believe you are dishonest, and your feigned belief in a god is a sham. Good bye.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    You say you are not an Old Age Creationist, but you mentioned in your posting on the 11th the importance of combatting YEC, doing damage to their faith, and pulling out the rug on their science. Now you say you are not a creationist of any stripe and have accepted the theory of evolution, yet you claim to believe in God. You state you don’t think God’s purpose in Genesis or Psalm 104 is to educate us in science or history. So, you think God did have a purpose in those scriptures? Of course you think they are highly inaccurate. If you think they are highly inaccurate, while try building a model from them? It appears your whole purpose is just to try to “damage the YECs faith,” as you called it, and you are not really searching for truth, just interested in protecting your own belief system. Your so-called belief in a god appears to be meaningless, since you admit you don’t believe in creation. Why even believe in a god at all? If the scriptures are highly inaccurate, they certainly couldn’t be trusted to provide answers concerning our eternal destiny.

    I do have a question AMW. If you had not been brainwashed into believing in the lie of evolution, would you still feel a need to disprove the account of Genesis as being historical or accurate? I’m signing out AMW. I believe you are dishonest, and your feigned belief in a god is a sham. Good bye.

  • AMW

    Arv, if you’re still reading, let me try to clarify a couple of things.

    First, my comment on the 11th is not in support of damaging the faith of YECs (or OECs for that matter). The point that I was making in that comment is that from the YEC perspective, if creation science turns out to be wrong, then Christianity is wrong. That means that, if one doesn’t wish to destroy a YEC’s faith (and I don’t), one would do well to address the scriptural and theological foundations of YEC in addition to its scientific claims.

    Let me put it this way. If you come across someone with a large shard of glass sticking out of his thigh, you don’t just pull it out of him, or he’ll just bleed to death before your eyes. The shard has cut his tissues (bad), and might cut them more if left in (also bad), but at the moment it’s also stopping up some of the bleeding (good). If you have a turnicate handy, you can remove the shard and apply the turnicate, thus forgoing further tissue damage and stopping the bleeding. If you don’t have a turnicate handy, it’s probably a good idea to leave the shard where it is.

    In the above analogy, the shard is YEC, and the turnicate is (what I would consider) proper exegesis. I realize that this isn’t a flattering comparison, and I don’t intend to cause offense, but I think it’s a useful analogy to explain where I’m coming from.

    I think you illustrate my point when you say

    Your so-called belief in a god appears to be meaningless, since you admit you don’t believe in creation. Why even believe in a god at all? If the scriptures are highly inaccurate, they certainly couldn’t be trusted to provide answers concerning our eternal destiny.

    You ask if I would feel the need to disprove the Genesis account if I had not been “brainwashed into believing the lie of evolution.” First, allow me to address your assertion that I was brainwashed. I was raised in a YEC family, taught YEC science in homeschool and as a supplement during my years in public school, and firmly, wholeheartedly accepted YEC through my undergraduate education. I have, throughout my life and to this day, always attended churches that advocate a YEC or OEC position. Just last week, in a sermon on the 6th commandment, my pastor asserted that the theory of evolution is incompatible with placing a high and special value on human life.

    My acceptance of evolutionary theory came through being willing to examine the claims and evidence of the viewpoint with which I was raised (and am still surrounded) and the claims and evidence of the scientific community. I found the latter more compelling. If I have done anything, it is to reject the “brainwashing” I received throughout my childhood and early adult life. You can, in good conscience, argue that I am wrong in my positions. But you can not argue, with any degree intellectual honesty, that I accept evolution because I have unquestioningly swallowed the tripe I was fed by trusted figures of authority.

    Now allow me to address my motives in disproving the Genesis account. On that score I count myself with Paul: “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” My conscious reasons for my stance on Genesis are 1) that I think the truth is important in its own right, and reason and evidence convince me that a literal interpretation of Genesis is impossible; 2) that I think that a literal interpretation of Genesis in the Evangelical community at large is a source of scorn for the faith; and 3) that I think that a literal interpretation of Genesis will be dangerous to the faith of the believer should he find the evidence against it without also finding a satisfying alternative interpretation of scripture. I consider my motives pure, but I’m just as prone to biases and frailties of mind as the next person. So God may well disabuse me of that notion some day. For the record, I take as given that your motives are pure as well.

    Finally, let me extend a sincere request that you not leave the discussion at this point. I offer the following two reasons. First, if you are now convinced that my belief in God is “feigned” and “a sham,” then I think it is more incumbent on you to try to expose to me my errors, not less so. You are part of (in charge of?) an organization called Truth and Science Ministries. Surely a discussion with an evolutionist is more of a ministry (from your perspective at least) than discussing a few points of contention with an OEC. If arguing with a fellow theist is a waste of your limited resources then I understand, but if your next best alternative is arguing with another creationist then I submit that your time would be better spent here.

    Second, allow me to briefly don the role of Moses, when God threatened to destroy the Israelites. What will people think? You claim that you are “signing out” because I am dishonest, and I don’t have a genuine belief in God. Hopefully my explanation above defends me against the accusation of dishonesty. As for my belief in God, even if you are correct, how does this acquit you of a moral responsibility to rebut my claims? Walking away now may very well look to current and future readers of this exchange as a convenient excuse to dodge a full and open debate that has not yet reached a natural concluding point. Understand that I am not accusing you of this; I am merely saying your decision could be interpreted as such.

    In any event, I still hope to put up another post later this week. I hope you will provide feedback, but even if you don’t, it will have been a good exercise in organizing my thoughts.

    All the best.

  • AMW

    Arv, if you’re still reading, let me try to clarify a couple of things.

    First, my comment on the 11th is not in support of damaging the faith of YECs (or OECs for that matter). The point that I was making in that comment is that from the YEC perspective, if creation science turns out to be wrong, then Christianity is wrong. That means that, if one doesn’t wish to destroy a YEC’s faith (and I don’t), one would do well to address the scriptural and theological foundations of YEC in addition to its scientific claims.

    Let me put it this way. If you come across someone with a large shard of glass sticking out of his thigh, you don’t just pull it out of him, or he’ll just bleed to death before your eyes. The shard has cut his tissues (bad), and might cut them more if left in (also bad), but at the moment it’s also stopping up some of the bleeding (good). If you have a turnicate handy, you can remove the shard and apply the turnicate, thus forgoing further tissue damage and stopping the bleeding. If you don’t have a turnicate handy, it’s probably a good idea to leave the shard where it is.

    In the above analogy, the shard is YEC, and the turnicate is (what I would consider) proper exegesis. I realize that this isn’t a flattering comparison, and I don’t intend to cause offense, but I think it’s a useful analogy to explain where I’m coming from.

    I think you illustrate my point when you say

    Your so-called belief in a god appears to be meaningless, since you admit you don’t believe in creation. Why even believe in a god at all? If the scriptures are highly inaccurate, they certainly couldn’t be trusted to provide answers concerning our eternal destiny.

    You ask if I would feel the need to disprove the Genesis account if I had not been “brainwashed into believing the lie of evolution.” First, allow me to address your assertion that I was brainwashed. I was raised in a YEC family, taught YEC science in homeschool and as a supplement during my years in public school, and firmly, wholeheartedly accepted YEC through my undergraduate education. I have, throughout my life and to this day, always attended churches that advocate a YEC or OEC position. Just last week, in a sermon on the 6th commandment, my pastor asserted that the theory of evolution is incompatible with placing a high and special value on human life.

    My acceptance of evolutionary theory came through being willing to examine the claims and evidence of the viewpoint with which I was raised (and am still surrounded) and the claims and evidence of the scientific community. I found the latter more compelling. If I have done anything, it is to reject the “brainwashing” I received throughout my childhood and early adult life. You can, in good conscience, argue that I am wrong in my positions. But you can not argue, with any degree intellectual honesty, that I accept evolution because I have unquestioningly swallowed the tripe I was fed by trusted figures of authority.

    Now allow me to address my motives in disproving the Genesis account. On that score I count myself with Paul: “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” My conscious reasons for my stance on Genesis are 1) that I think the truth is important in its own right, and reason and evidence convince me that a literal interpretation of Genesis is impossible; 2) that I think that a literal interpretation of Genesis in the Evangelical community at large is a source of scorn for the faith; and 3) that I think that a literal interpretation of Genesis will be dangerous to the faith of the believer should he find the evidence against it without also finding a satisfying alternative interpretation of scripture. I consider my motives pure, but I’m just as prone to biases and frailties of mind as the next person. So God may well disabuse me of that notion some day. For the record, I take as given that your motives are pure as well.

    Finally, let me extend a sincere request that you not leave the discussion at this point. I offer the following two reasons. First, if you are now convinced that my belief in God is “feigned” and “a sham,” then I think it is more incumbent on you to try to expose to me my errors, not less so. You are part of (in charge of?) an organization called Truth and Science Ministries. Surely a discussion with an evolutionist is more of a ministry (from your perspective at least) than discussing a few points of contention with an OEC. If arguing with a fellow theist is a waste of your limited resources then I understand, but if your next best alternative is arguing with another creationist then I submit that your time would be better spent here.

    Second, allow me to briefly don the role of Moses, when God threatened to destroy the Israelites. What will people think? You claim that you are “signing out” because I am dishonest, and I don’t have a genuine belief in God. Hopefully my explanation above defends me against the accusation of dishonesty. As for my belief in God, even if you are correct, how does this acquit you of a moral responsibility to rebut my claims? Walking away now may very well look to current and future readers of this exchange as a convenient excuse to dodge a full and open debate that has not yet reached a natural concluding point. Understand that I am not accusing you of this; I am merely saying your decision could be interpreted as such.

    In any event, I still hope to put up another post later this week. I hope you will provide feedback, but even if you don’t, it will have been a good exercise in organizing my thoughts.

    All the best.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    I apologize, I misread the part about pulling out the rug. Okay, I’m back for the present. Your position on the Bible appears a little confused, as you seem to accept some parts of it as being historically accurate, but not others. The problem in most evangelical churches is, the children are taught to believe in creation, but not taught the scientific failures of evolution theory. When they get out in the world and hear alternative explanations from people they trust, they either reject what they are being taught, or tend to reject most of what they were taught about creation and become skeptical of the Bible’s accuracy. I am somewhat curious as to what part if any you allow God to have in your theory of evolution. You know of course that the Big Bang and abiogenesis have already been disproven scientifically.

    I would appreciate a response to my last observations of Genesis 1, and Psalm 104, before you give any further model of the Cosmos. I think your interpretation of those scriptures is faulty.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    I apologize, I misread the part about pulling out the rug. Okay, I’m back for the present. Your position on the Bible appears a little confused, as you seem to accept some parts of it as being historically accurate, but not others. The problem in most evangelical churches is, the children are taught to believe in creation, but not taught the scientific failures of evolution theory. When they get out in the world and hear alternative explanations from people they trust, they either reject what they are being taught, or tend to reject most of what they were taught about creation and become skeptical of the Bible’s accuracy. I am somewhat curious as to what part if any you allow God to have in your theory of evolution. You know of course that the Big Bang and abiogenesis have already been disproven scientifically.

    I would appreciate a response to my last observations of Genesis 1, and Psalm 104, before you give any further model of the Cosmos. I think your interpretation of those scriptures is faulty.

  • AMW

    I’m glad to see you’re sticking around a while longer, Arv. I assume that the last observation of Gen 1 you are referring to is about the rivers of Eden. You ask:

    Was the Euphrates River which man speaks of after the flood, the same river that existed before the flood; or did Noah name it that because it was similar to the river he saw before the flood? Why are the other two rivers never spoken of again?

    If the modern Tigris and Euphrates were named by Noah due to their similarities to the ancient rivers, this is not recorded by the author of Genesis. Rather, the author refers to all four rivers in the present tense in chapter 2, and refers to the Euphrates three more times without bothering to specify that this is a new Ephrates river. I find it ironic that you go on to say that “You can speculate, but that isn’t proof of anything.” I am taking the text at face value; you are speculating on how the text might be read so as not to conflict with a global flood.

    You are right that the Pishon and Gihon* are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. But there are extra-biblical references to them. In the first book of his Antiquities, Josephus references the Gihon and Pishon, and says that they correspond to the Ganges and the Nile. (I do not endorse his analysis of the rivers to which they correspond.) Also, both rivers are mentioned in the book of Ecclesiasticus 24:25-27: “He filleth all things with his wisdom, as Phison and as Tigris in the time of the new fruits. He maketh the understanding to abound like Euphrates, and as Jordan in the time of the harvest. He maketh the doctrine of knowledge appear as the light, and as Geon in the time of vintage.”** Neither of these references amount to Biblical endorsement of an extant Pishon or Gihon. But they do demonstrate that readers of the Bible in the second century B.C. and first century A.D. took Genesis 2 at face value, and accepted the existence of all four rivers in their time.

    Moreover, the Bible may make no further mention of the Gihon and Pishon because very little of the events described in its 66 books take place in the regions of Cush (usually identified as modern-day Ethiopia) or Havilah (the word apparently literally means “stretch of sand,” indicating a large desert area, but there is no consensus that I know of on where exactly it may be referring to.)

    As for your last observations on Psalm 104, could you clarify which one(s) you are talking about specifically? You asked me a lot of questions about that passage.

    *Actually, the word Gihon appears 5 more times, twice in 1 Kings, three times in 2 Chronicles. But these are all references to a freshwater spring near Jerusalem. I don’t think many scholars believe it to be the same Gihon that is mentioned in Genesis 2.
    **The Hebrew letter “peh” can be read as a “p” or a “ph” and the Hebrew letter “shin” can be read as “s” or “sh,” while Greek has no “sh” sound. Hence Pishon is transliterated “Phison.” Additionally, the “h” in Greek comes only at the start of a word, and is indicated by an aspirate mark, not a letter of its own. Thus, “Gihon” is transliterated “Geon,” without an internal aspirate.

  • AMW

    I’m glad to see you’re sticking around a while longer, Arv. I assume that the last observation of Gen 1 you are referring to is about the rivers of Eden. You ask:

    Was the Euphrates River which man speaks of after the flood, the same river that existed before the flood; or did Noah name it that because it was similar to the river he saw before the flood? Why are the other two rivers never spoken of again?

    If the modern Tigris and Euphrates were named by Noah due to their similarities to the ancient rivers, this is not recorded by the author of Genesis. Rather, the author refers to all four rivers in the present tense in chapter 2, and refers to the Euphrates three more times without bothering to specify that this is a new Ephrates river. I find it ironic that you go on to say that “You can speculate, but that isn’t proof of anything.” I am taking the text at face value; you are speculating on how the text might be read so as not to conflict with a global flood.

    You are right that the Pishon and Gihon* are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. But there are extra-biblical references to them. In the first book of his Antiquities, Josephus references the Gihon and Pishon, and says that they correspond to the Ganges and the Nile. (I do not endorse his analysis of the rivers to which they correspond.) Also, both rivers are mentioned in the book of Ecclesiasticus 24:25-27: “He filleth all things with his wisdom, as Phison and as Tigris in the time of the new fruits. He maketh the understanding to abound like Euphrates, and as Jordan in the time of the harvest. He maketh the doctrine of knowledge appear as the light, and as Geon in the time of vintage.”** Neither of these references amount to Biblical endorsement of an extant Pishon or Gihon. But they do demonstrate that readers of the Bible in the second century B.C. and first century A.D. took Genesis 2 at face value, and accepted the existence of all four rivers in their time.

    Moreover, the Bible may make no further mention of the Gihon and Pishon because very little of the events described in its 66 books take place in the regions of Cush (usually identified as modern-day Ethiopia) or Havilah (the word apparently literally means “stretch of sand,” indicating a large desert area, but there is no consensus that I know of on where exactly it may be referring to.)

    As for your last observations on Psalm 104, could you clarify which one(s) you are talking about specifically? You asked me a lot of questions about that passage.

    *Actually, the word Gihon appears 5 more times, twice in 1 Kings, three times in 2 Chronicles. But these are all references to a freshwater spring near Jerusalem. I don’t think many scholars believe it to be the same Gihon that is mentioned in Genesis 2.
    **The Hebrew letter “peh” can be read as a “p” or a “ph” and the Hebrew letter “shin” can be read as “s” or “sh,” while Greek has no “sh” sound. Hence Pishon is transliterated “Phison.” Additionally, the “h” in Greek comes only at the start of a word, and is indicated by an aspirate mark, not a letter of its own. Thus, “Gihon” is transliterated “Geon,” without an internal aspirate.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    You said I asked you a lot of questions about Psalm 104, I actually numbered them one through four. Should be easy to follow.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    You said I asked you a lot of questions about Psalm 104, I actually numbered them one through four. Should be easy to follow.

  • AMW

    Yes, but do you want me to address all of them or just #4?

  • AMW

    Yes, but do you want me to address all of them or just #4?

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    All four please. I would also like a response to the fact that Psalm 104:6-9 indicates both water action and mountains rising and valleys sinking. It is not one or the other as you have indicated.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    All four please. I would also like a response to the fact that Psalm 104:6-9 indicates both water action and mountains rising and valleys sinking. It is not one or the other as you have indicated.

  • AMW

    Hey, Arv. I’m going to have to beg your indulgence a little longer, as it looks like I won’t be able to have the next post up this week. Writing it up is proving more time intensive than I anticipated. In the meanwhile, below are my answers to your four questions. Most of my answers are all variations on the following central theme: the psalmist had a very different view of nature than we do, and he would have had no idea what you’re talking about.

    First question: If the waters were already above the mountains, how could they now “ascend up” by the mountains? Are you saying they just went up into the air?

    If the waters were deep enough to cover the mountains, a lot of that water would have had to be lower than the mountain tops. Hence, as the waters fled, the water which was below the surface would be traversing geological features, going up mountains and down valleys. I think the image the psalmist is trying to evoke is like the old Road Runner cartoons (see, for instance, 0:50 – 0:55 and 1:20 – 1:22 here).

    Second question: If there were already ocean basins, and the waters were resting in them, how could the water action have them suddenly descending downward into the ocean basins? Do you really think that is more sensible?

    I don’t think Psalm 104 is “sensible” at all in our modern model of the earth, but it would have been plenty sensible to the psalmist. He wouldn’t have known anything about ocean basins and the like. In his model, the waters were where they were because God put them there and told them to stay put. He credited God with restraining the waters, not ocean basins and water’s natural tendency to find its own level.

    Question three: If this passage is referring to the creation week, are you saying that God is a liar? … [I]n Psalm 104 this action is connected to God’s promise He would never allow the waters to again cover the earth. It would seem the only sensible interpretation would be that this is referring to the time of the flood, and God’s promise afterward.

    As I said in the post itself, Psalm 104 is not a strict recounting of the creation week, but it does follow it as a general pattern. The overall context is of God’s creation and sustenance of the cosmos. The psalmist is very likely invoking the promise of Genesis 9:11 that the waters will not return. My counter-question to you is, why, in the midst of a Psalm that, in all other respects models the creation week, and that takes as its theme the creative, sustaining and life-giving power of God, would the psalmist recount God’s wiping all life from the face of the earth?

    And no, I’m not calling God a liar. I’m saying he accomodated the scientific ignorance of ancient peoples.

    In the Hebrew it does literally indicate that mountains rose and valleys sank down, and it indicates a splitting apart…

    Does it? The inter-linear Hebrew Bible I cited indicates no such thing that I can make out. Then again, I know a little Hebrew, but I’m no scholar, so I’m open to evidence that you are correct. Please provide some analysis of the Hebrew text.

    Question four, what caused the waters to flee, if the mountains or valleys didn’t move, and where did they go?

    The waters fled by divine fiat, they went to a place divinely appointed, and they stay there because God divinely sustains their separation from the surface of the earth. That, at any rate, is consistent with the text and the cosmological model of the ancient near east; I don’t think that it is literally true.

  • AMW

    Hey, Arv. I’m going to have to beg your indulgence a little longer, as it looks like I won’t be able to have the next post up this week. Writing it up is proving more time intensive than I anticipated. In the meanwhile, below are my answers to your four questions. Most of my answers are all variations on the following central theme: the psalmist had a very different view of nature than we do, and he would have had no idea what you’re talking about.

    First question: If the waters were already above the mountains, how could they now “ascend up” by the mountains? Are you saying they just went up into the air?

    If the waters were deep enough to cover the mountains, a lot of that water would have had to be lower than the mountain tops. Hence, as the waters fled, the water which was below the surface would be traversing geological features, going up mountains and down valleys. I think the image the psalmist is trying to evoke is like the old Road Runner cartoons (see, for instance, 0:50 – 0:55 and 1:20 – 1:22 here).

    Second question: If there were already ocean basins, and the waters were resting in them, how could the water action have them suddenly descending downward into the ocean basins? Do you really think that is more sensible?

    I don’t think Psalm 104 is “sensible” at all in our modern model of the earth, but it would have been plenty sensible to the psalmist. He wouldn’t have known anything about ocean basins and the like. In his model, the waters were where they were because God put them there and told them to stay put. He credited God with restraining the waters, not ocean basins and water’s natural tendency to find its own level.

    Question three: If this passage is referring to the creation week, are you saying that God is a liar? … [I]n Psalm 104 this action is connected to God’s promise He would never allow the waters to again cover the earth. It would seem the only sensible interpretation would be that this is referring to the time of the flood, and God’s promise afterward.

    As I said in the post itself, Psalm 104 is not a strict recounting of the creation week, but it does follow it as a general pattern. The overall context is of God’s creation and sustenance of the cosmos. The psalmist is very likely invoking the promise of Genesis 9:11 that the waters will not return. My counter-question to you is, why, in the midst of a Psalm that, in all other respects models the creation week, and that takes as its theme the creative, sustaining and life-giving power of God, would the psalmist recount God’s wiping all life from the face of the earth?

    And no, I’m not calling God a liar. I’m saying he accomodated the scientific ignorance of ancient peoples.

    In the Hebrew it does literally indicate that mountains rose and valleys sank down, and it indicates a splitting apart…

    Does it? The inter-linear Hebrew Bible I cited indicates no such thing that I can make out. Then again, I know a little Hebrew, but I’m no scholar, so I’m open to evidence that you are correct. Please provide some analysis of the Hebrew text.

    Question four, what caused the waters to flee, if the mountains or valleys didn’t move, and where did they go?

    The waters fled by divine fiat, they went to a place divinely appointed, and they stay there because God divinely sustains their separation from the surface of the earth. That, at any rate, is consistent with the text and the cosmological model of the ancient near east; I don’t think that it is literally true.

  • Dan

    I was on vacation when I first read this post. (Part of my vacation, btw, was at the Beidlers’, where we had a great time!) So I couldn’t find out what John Goldingay, an eminent OT scholar at Fuller, had to say about this Psalm, until I got back. Well, he didn’t disappoint. The section on this psalm is entitled “Yhwh in Relation to Creation Then and Now”. Regarding v. 5 he writes: “The earth needed to be set on a secure foundation because it, too, stands over expanses of water, the waters that stream through the earth as springs and rivers and surround the land mass; the earth is thus a kind of floating island. To make it secure, then Yhwh sank down pillars into the solid ground that eventually lies beneath that. Being a skilled engineer, Yhwh could make sure of doing this work really well.” This is just one verse among many in the bible reflective of ancient science. Regarding v.9 he writes: “Yhwh had appointed a place where the waters were now to be, as firmly ‘founded’ as the earth itself (v.5). They were therefore secure, but more to the point, the earth was therefore secure from their encroachment. Verse 9 thus nuances v. 8b. The sea can pound the shore, but it can never cross it so as to overwhelm the earth again.” As far as the flood I don’t see a contradiction, at least in the worldview of the Psalter. The flood was caused by the fountains of the great deep and the floodgates of heaven, not by the sea directly encroaching the land as it had during creation.

  • Dan

    I was on vacation when I first read this post. (Part of my vacation, btw, was at the Beidlers’, where we had a great time!) So I couldn’t find out what John Goldingay, an eminent OT scholar at Fuller, had to say about this Psalm, until I got back. Well, he didn’t disappoint. The section on this psalm is entitled “Yhwh in Relation to Creation Then and Now”. Regarding v. 5 he writes: “The earth needed to be set on a secure foundation because it, too, stands over expanses of water, the waters that stream through the earth as springs and rivers and surround the land mass; the earth is thus a kind of floating island. To make it secure, then Yhwh sank down pillars into the solid ground that eventually lies beneath that. Being a skilled engineer, Yhwh could make sure of doing this work really well.” This is just one verse among many in the bible reflective of ancient science. Regarding v.9 he writes: “Yhwh had appointed a place where the waters were now to be, as firmly ‘founded’ as the earth itself (v.5). They were therefore secure, but more to the point, the earth was therefore secure from their encroachment. Verse 9 thus nuances v. 8b. The sea can pound the shore, but it can never cross it so as to overwhelm the earth again.” As far as the flood I don’t see a contradiction, at least in the worldview of the Psalter. The flood was caused by the fountains of the great deep and the floodgates of heaven, not by the sea directly encroaching the land as it had during creation.

  • AMW

    Brilliant, Dan. I’m ashamed I didn’t have your answer because 1) it fits in so well with the cosmological model I intend to lay out, and 2) my brother went to Fuller. (He studied NT, though, so maybe I should go easy on myself.)

  • AMW

    Brilliant, Dan. I’m ashamed I didn’t have your answer because 1) it fits in so well with the cosmological model I intend to lay out, and 2) my brother went to Fuller. (He studied NT, though, so maybe I should go easy on myself.)

  • Arv Edgeworth

    So you are saying you could somehow make a distiction between the waters in the original seas (plural), and the enlarged sea that covered the whole earth during the flood? Could you explain how that worked, especially with the water action involved?

  • Arv Edgeworth

    So you are saying you could somehow make a distiction between the waters in the original seas (plural), and the enlarged sea that covered the whole earth during the flood? Could you explain how that worked, especially with the water action involved?

  • Dan

    The question is, what does Psalm 104:6-9 most closely correspond to in terms of its language, Genesis 1:9-10 or to the flood account. Psalm 104:6 has similar language to Ge 1:9, and Psalm 104:7-8 has the same concept of gathering the waters under the sky in one place. This is different than the flood account where it is about waters above the sky and underground flooding the land. No mention of the waters from the sea come into play, giving no direct link to Psalm 104:9. It’s also worth examining Job 38:4-11 where Yahweh puts prescribed limits as to where the sea may go during creation. Compare Psalm 104:5 to Job 38:4. Establishing the earth on its foundations is creation talk. Compare Psalm 104:9 to Job 38:8-11 as to how the waters have prescribed limits that cannot be crossed.

  • Dan

    The question is, what does Psalm 104:6-9 most closely correspond to in terms of its language, Genesis 1:9-10 or to the flood account. Psalm 104:6 has similar language to Ge 1:9, and Psalm 104:7-8 has the same concept of gathering the waters under the sky in one place. This is different than the flood account where it is about waters above the sky and underground flooding the land. No mention of the waters from the sea come into play, giving no direct link to Psalm 104:9. It’s also worth examining Job 38:4-11 where Yahweh puts prescribed limits as to where the sea may go during creation. Compare Psalm 104:5 to Job 38:4. Establishing the earth on its foundations is creation talk. Compare Psalm 104:9 to Job 38:8-11 as to how the waters have prescribed limits that cannot be crossed.

  • AMW

    See also Job 26:10 and Jeremiah 5:22, as noted in the post, for discussions of boundaries placed on the sea.

  • AMW

    See also Job 26:10 and Jeremiah 5:22, as noted in the post, for discussions of boundaries placed on the sea.

  • Dan

    Correction: I said “Psalm 104:6 has similar language to Ge 1:9” when I should’ve said “Psalm 104:6 has similar language to Genesis 1:2 where the same term for watery deep is used”

  • Dan

    Correction: I said “Psalm 104:6 has similar language to Ge 1:9” when I should’ve said “Psalm 104:6 has similar language to Genesis 1:2 where the same term for watery deep is used”

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    In recently taking a new look at this passage in Psalm 104 I had started to consider the possibility that the water movement suggested in verses 6-8 was at a slower pace, but I can see this action happened rapidly by the terms “fled” and “hasted.” I have had to adjust my thinking on that.

    You mentioned in an earlier post that in Genesis 8:1-14 “God does not speak, or rebuke, but simply sends a wind and restrains the waters from the sky and sea from continuing to inundate the earth. It takes more than seven months for the waters to recede and the ground to thoroughly dry.” But you don’t believe it is literally accurate, remember?

    I agree that was taking place. But God does say in Genesis 9:11: “And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” In Job 26:10 the Word of God also says: ” He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.” Jeremiah 5:22 mentions a similar promise. How would God accomplish this feat?

    Now we read in Psalm 104:8 “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.”

    Although Psalm 104:6-8 is describing water action, the majority of translations makes mention of mountains ascending and valleys descending. Why did the majority of Bible translators, who were experts in the Hebrew, believe the text was also suggesting movement by the mountains and valleys? You admit you don’t know much Hewbrew, but then accuse those who do of making a faulty translation.

    You also said: “when the mountains are discussed, they are never referred to as the result of a cataclysmic event, but as the handiwork of God, or a natural part of the created order.” If God spoke, and mountain ranges rose up, and the deeper ocean basins sank down, because of a promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood, wouldn’t you say that was the handiwork of God? But what difference does it make if it is not literally accurate anyway?

    You also said: “There is simply no credible argument that the Bible supports the notion of radical natural changes as a result of the Deluge.” That is only if you reject that Psalm 104 is referring to the flood of Noah, and of course those passages are highly inaccurate. Remember?

    The main problem with your thinking is to reject the divine inspiration of the scriptures. The Bible indicates God gave them the words He wanted written. The Psalmist himself said: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Jesus said that not even the smallest letter, or mark on a letter, would change until all of God’s Word was fulfilled, and He mentioned the importance of every word of God. The book of Revelation indicates this was the end of God’s Word. If you add to it after that, or take something away from it, you would be cursed.

    You seem to be quite confused regarding the Word of God in general. You say you don’t believe it is literally true, but then try to line up Psalm 104 with the 6 days of creation. You also seem to believe there was a flood, yet the Word of God isn’t literally true. What difference does it make if the flood account doesn’t mention mountains rising or valleys descending if it isn’t literally true. You said you believe the Genesis account, Psalm 104, and the deluge account are highly inaccurate, yet think it is important that the flood account doesn’t mention mountains rising or valleys ascending. It is kind of like you want it to be true, but realize you can’t believe that it literally is.

    There are still several problems with your associating Psalm 104 with the days of creation. On what day of the creation week does it indicate mountains were created? On day two when God separated the waters and created a water canopy, were the mountains created at that point? Highly unlikely, since the dry land couldn’t be seen yet. How about day three? He gathered the waters into different places called seas (plural), and the dry land appeared, but it doesn’t mention mountains does it?

    Problem number one: You say what took place in Psalm 104:7-8 was the same as what took place on day two when God divided the waters. The problem is Psalm 104 says the waters were above the mountains, as far as we can tell there were no mountains formed on day two.

    Problem number two: You claim there was an original boundry for the seas so they could not cover the earth. It rained for 40 days, and waters were also coming up from down below, and the waters upon the earth kept rising until the whole earth was covered. Psalm 104:9 says: “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.” What does it mean to “turn not again to cover the earth?”

    Problem number three: Why would the majority of Bible trasnslators all say mountains ascended and valleys sank down if that was not indicated in the Hebrew?

    Problem number four: On day three, all we have are “seas,” smaller bodies of water that are completely surrounded by land. Where do you find the great oceans in the text.

    Problem number five: If your model is correct, and these high mountain ranges were already created on day two, how did the top of all the high mountain ranges get covered with marine fossils like triolobites?

    Problem number six: If the deep ocean basins were already established, how do you explain cities built on the continental shelf. There is a lot of physical evidence of that being true. Where did the last 1,000 feet of ocean water come from that exists above the continental shelf. My model explains all of these and I don’t have to explain them away.

    Problem number seven: You still haven’t explained where all these waters fled and hasted away to so the highest mountains were no longer covered.

    If mountains rose up, and valleys sank down, as the majority of Bible translators who actually do know Hebrew have said, that wouldn’t be a problem, but should be expected. The waters of Noah’s flood had to not only subside, but it was in connection with a promise it would never happen again.

    On the seventh month the ark touched down on the top of the Ararat Mountains. The ark was 45 feet high. On the tenth month the tops of the highest mountains could just barely be seen. So it took three months to go down about 50 feet or so. Two months later the whole earth was completely dry. Do you think that much water evaporated in two months? That’s about 5 miles deep around the whole world. So it takes three months to go down about 50 feet, but in two months it goes down over 5 miles. That was some evaporation process, since the ground was now completely dry. Plug in Psalm 104 and it makes sense.

    By the way, try typing Fuller Theological Seminary into a search engine and add false doctrine and see what you get.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    In recently taking a new look at this passage in Psalm 104 I had started to consider the possibility that the water movement suggested in verses 6-8 was at a slower pace, but I can see this action happened rapidly by the terms “fled” and “hasted.” I have had to adjust my thinking on that.

    You mentioned in an earlier post that in Genesis 8:1-14 “God does not speak, or rebuke, but simply sends a wind and restrains the waters from the sky and sea from continuing to inundate the earth. It takes more than seven months for the waters to recede and the ground to thoroughly dry.” But you don’t believe it is literally accurate, remember?

    I agree that was taking place. But God does say in Genesis 9:11: “And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” In Job 26:10 the Word of God also says: ” He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.” Jeremiah 5:22 mentions a similar promise. How would God accomplish this feat?

    Now we read in Psalm 104:8 “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.”

    Although Psalm 104:6-8 is describing water action, the majority of translations makes mention of mountains ascending and valleys descending. Why did the majority of Bible translators, who were experts in the Hebrew, believe the text was also suggesting movement by the mountains and valleys? You admit you don’t know much Hewbrew, but then accuse those who do of making a faulty translation.

    You also said: “when the mountains are discussed, they are never referred to as the result of a cataclysmic event, but as the handiwork of God, or a natural part of the created order.” If God spoke, and mountain ranges rose up, and the deeper ocean basins sank down, because of a promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood, wouldn’t you say that was the handiwork of God? But what difference does it make if it is not literally accurate anyway?

    You also said: “There is simply no credible argument that the Bible supports the notion of radical natural changes as a result of the Deluge.” That is only if you reject that Psalm 104 is referring to the flood of Noah, and of course those passages are highly inaccurate. Remember?

    The main problem with your thinking is to reject the divine inspiration of the scriptures. The Bible indicates God gave them the words He wanted written. The Psalmist himself said: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Jesus said that not even the smallest letter, or mark on a letter, would change until all of God’s Word was fulfilled, and He mentioned the importance of every word of God. The book of Revelation indicates this was the end of God’s Word. If you add to it after that, or take something away from it, you would be cursed.

    You seem to be quite confused regarding the Word of God in general. You say you don’t believe it is literally true, but then try to line up Psalm 104 with the 6 days of creation. You also seem to believe there was a flood, yet the Word of God isn’t literally true. What difference does it make if the flood account doesn’t mention mountains rising or valleys descending if it isn’t literally true. You said you believe the Genesis account, Psalm 104, and the deluge account are highly inaccurate, yet think it is important that the flood account doesn’t mention mountains rising or valleys ascending. It is kind of like you want it to be true, but realize you can’t believe that it literally is.

    There are still several problems with your associating Psalm 104 with the days of creation. On what day of the creation week does it indicate mountains were created? On day two when God separated the waters and created a water canopy, were the mountains created at that point? Highly unlikely, since the dry land couldn’t be seen yet. How about day three? He gathered the waters into different places called seas (plural), and the dry land appeared, but it doesn’t mention mountains does it?

    Problem number one: You say what took place in Psalm 104:7-8 was the same as what took place on day two when God divided the waters. The problem is Psalm 104 says the waters were above the mountains, as far as we can tell there were no mountains formed on day two.

    Problem number two: You claim there was an original boundry for the seas so they could not cover the earth. It rained for 40 days, and waters were also coming up from down below, and the waters upon the earth kept rising until the whole earth was covered. Psalm 104:9 says: “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.” What does it mean to “turn not again to cover the earth?”

    Problem number three: Why would the majority of Bible trasnslators all say mountains ascended and valleys sank down if that was not indicated in the Hebrew?

    Problem number four: On day three, all we have are “seas,” smaller bodies of water that are completely surrounded by land. Where do you find the great oceans in the text.

    Problem number five: If your model is correct, and these high mountain ranges were already created on day two, how did the top of all the high mountain ranges get covered with marine fossils like triolobites?

    Problem number six: If the deep ocean basins were already established, how do you explain cities built on the continental shelf. There is a lot of physical evidence of that being true. Where did the last 1,000 feet of ocean water come from that exists above the continental shelf. My model explains all of these and I don’t have to explain them away.

    Problem number seven: You still haven’t explained where all these waters fled and hasted away to so the highest mountains were no longer covered.

    If mountains rose up, and valleys sank down, as the majority of Bible translators who actually do know Hebrew have said, that wouldn’t be a problem, but should be expected. The waters of Noah’s flood had to not only subside, but it was in connection with a promise it would never happen again.

    On the seventh month the ark touched down on the top of the Ararat Mountains. The ark was 45 feet high. On the tenth month the tops of the highest mountains could just barely be seen. So it took three months to go down about 50 feet or so. Two months later the whole earth was completely dry. Do you think that much water evaporated in two months? That’s about 5 miles deep around the whole world. So it takes three months to go down about 50 feet, but in two months it goes down over 5 miles. That was some evaporation process, since the ground was now completely dry. Plug in Psalm 104 and it makes sense.

    By the way, try typing Fuller Theological Seminary into a search engine and add false doctrine and see what you get.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    Corrections: The ark would be partially underwater when afloat, so the water would only have to subside about 25 feet or so for the top of the mountain to be seen, and the time between then and when the whole earth was dried would be three months not two.

    The Hebrew word for mountains also is a broad term ranging all the way from a 50 foot hill to thousands of feet high.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    Corrections: The ark would be partially underwater when afloat, so the water would only have to subside about 25 feet or so for the top of the mountain to be seen, and the time between then and when the whole earth was dried would be three months not two.

    The Hebrew word for mountains also is a broad term ranging all the way from a 50 foot hill to thousands of feet high.

  • AMW

    Arv,

    I haven’t time at the moment to go step-by-step through your comment, but I wanted to address three things.

    1. I’m sorry if my approach to the texts is confusing to you. I don’t believe there was an actual global flood, and I don’t think the world looked like the ancient near eastern authors of the Bible thought it did. But when I discuss their texts I often try to “get inside” their heads, and talk about the world as though their model were scientifically accurate. Moreover, just because I don’t think the texts are scientifically accurate doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re coherent. Hence I can compare Psalm 104 to Genesis 1 or other passages to get some sense of what the authors were thinking. Even though I think they’re scientifically wrong, I think they are scientifically wrong in the same direction. I don’t think homeopaths have an accurate medical model, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take what one homeopath says and use it to shed light on the words of another.
    2. You say repeatedly that the majority of translators say the mountains and valleys were rising and falling in Psalm 104. I’d like some evidence for this, if you please. Reading through the translations at Biblegateway.com I found 9 translating geological activity and 9 favoring only water activity. Admittedly, they aren’t all independent translations. There are a number of NIV and KJV translations, all of which are water-only. The ASV and its descendents tend to favor geology. The NRSV (which isn’t at Biblegateway.com) favors water only. Moreover, looking at the Hebrew and its interlinear translation, the NIV/KJV/NRSV seems most sensible to me. Can you provide some analysis on the Hebrew itself to suggest otherwise? As I said (and you repeated), I’m not a scholar on the subject; I am open to correction.
    3. You make much of the fact that mountains are not mentioned on day two of creation week. But surely you don’t expect an exhaustive description of what was made each day. Hills aren’t mentioned on day two either, nor are caves, plains, or continental shelves. On day four there is no mention of black holes, pulsars, quasars, comets, meteors or planets in the creation of the heavenly bodies, nor fungi or bacteria in the creation of plant life (here I use the term “plant” rather loosely, to mean “non-animal”). Bats aren’t mentioned on day five. And viruses don’t make an appearance anywhere. Does this suggest that none of these things existed in the creation week, and were later additions? And if the mountains and valleys are later works of God through the flood, what are we to make of the assertion that God rested from all his work of creating?

  • AMW

    Arv,

    I haven’t time at the moment to go step-by-step through your comment, but I wanted to address three things.

    1. I’m sorry if my approach to the texts is confusing to you. I don’t believe there was an actual global flood, and I don’t think the world looked like the ancient near eastern authors of the Bible thought it did. But when I discuss their texts I often try to “get inside” their heads, and talk about the world as though their model were scientifically accurate. Moreover, just because I don’t think the texts are scientifically accurate doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re coherent. Hence I can compare Psalm 104 to Genesis 1 or other passages to get some sense of what the authors were thinking. Even though I think they’re scientifically wrong, I think they are scientifically wrong in the same direction. I don’t think homeopaths have an accurate medical model, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take what one homeopath says and use it to shed light on the words of another.
    2. You say repeatedly that the majority of translators say the mountains and valleys were rising and falling in Psalm 104. I’d like some evidence for this, if you please. Reading through the translations at Biblegateway.com I found 9 translating geological activity and 9 favoring only water activity. Admittedly, they aren’t all independent translations. There are a number of NIV and KJV translations, all of which are water-only. The ASV and its descendents tend to favor geology. The NRSV (which isn’t at Biblegateway.com) favors water only. Moreover, looking at the Hebrew and its interlinear translation, the NIV/KJV/NRSV seems most sensible to me. Can you provide some analysis on the Hebrew itself to suggest otherwise? As I said (and you repeated), I’m not a scholar on the subject; I am open to correction.
    3. You make much of the fact that mountains are not mentioned on day two of creation week. But surely you don’t expect an exhaustive description of what was made each day. Hills aren’t mentioned on day two either, nor are caves, plains, or continental shelves. On day four there is no mention of black holes, pulsars, quasars, comets, meteors or planets in the creation of the heavenly bodies, nor fungi or bacteria in the creation of plant life (here I use the term “plant” rather loosely, to mean “non-animal”). Bats aren’t mentioned on day five. And viruses don’t make an appearance anywhere. Does this suggest that none of these things existed in the creation week, and were later additions? And if the mountains and valleys are later works of God through the flood, what are we to make of the assertion that God rested from all his work of creating?

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    I didn’t really expect anything to change your mind, nor did I expect you to admit you might be wrong in any area. I’m sure the historical evidence in almost every ancient culture wouldn’t phase you. The Bible says in the last days there will be scoffers walking after their own lusts that will scoff at the evidence for the original creation, the great flood, and the coming Judgment of God. It also indicates they will look for teachers that will tell them what they want to hear. Good luck with that when you stand before the creator of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ someday. That same passage in 2 Peter 3:10 talks about a big bang and global warming, I hope you are prepared. Satan always tries to counterfeit God, I’m sorry you are one his victims. I hope you someday will embrace God’s truth instead of Satan’s lies. Eternity is a long time to be wrong. Good bye AMW, I won’t be back.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    AMW,
    I didn’t really expect anything to change your mind, nor did I expect you to admit you might be wrong in any area. I’m sure the historical evidence in almost every ancient culture wouldn’t phase you. The Bible says in the last days there will be scoffers walking after their own lusts that will scoff at the evidence for the original creation, the great flood, and the coming Judgment of God. It also indicates they will look for teachers that will tell them what they want to hear. Good luck with that when you stand before the creator of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ someday. That same passage in 2 Peter 3:10 talks about a big bang and global warming, I hope you are prepared. Satan always tries to counterfeit God, I’m sorry you are one his victims. I hope you someday will embrace God’s truth instead of Satan’s lies. Eternity is a long time to be wrong. Good bye AMW, I won’t be back.

  • Arv,

    What a disgusting cop-out. At the same time, I’m grateful you allowed everyone to see what the creationist must resort to when evidence is clearly laid out.

    BTW, slap me for being a lazy blog-runner, but I only just now thought of checking the Septuagint. It reads, “[They] went up the mountains, [they] went down the plains into [a] place where you laid a foundation.” Unambiguously. “Mountains” and “plains” are in the accusative case, meaning that they can’t be construed as the subjects. It’s not that the LXX can’t be wrong (heaven knows it’s got some atrocious translations), but given that it certainly stands as an early (c. 200 B.C.) witness to the cosmogonic beliefs of its translators, it’s virtually a deal-sealer for AMW’s argument.

    But don’t let that stop you! There are books to sell to the gullible, and other resistant non-YEC people to abandon to the flames. I had much more respect for you before you (twice) pulled that stunt.

  • Arv,

    What a disgusting cop-out. At the same time, I’m grateful you allowed everyone to see what the creationist must resort to when evidence is clearly laid out.

    BTW, slap me for being a lazy blog-runner, but I only just now thought of checking the Septuagint. It reads, “[They] went up the mountains, [they] went down the plains into [a] place where you laid a foundation.” Unambiguously. “Mountains” and “plains” are in the accusative case, meaning that they can’t be construed as the subjects. It’s not that the LXX can’t be wrong (heaven knows it’s got some atrocious translations), but given that it certainly stands as an early (c. 200 B.C.) witness to the cosmogonic beliefs of its translators, it’s virtually a deal-sealer for AMW’s argument.

    But don’t let that stop you! There are books to sell to the gullible, and other resistant non-YEC people to abandon to the flames. I had much more respect for you before you (twice) pulled that stunt.

  • AMW

    Dear Arv,

    I’m sorry to see you’ve left the discussion once again, but that is your decision to make. I won’t try to persuade you to stay a second time.

    You accuse me of scoffing at God’s truth, and of having a closed mind. I suspect you have found other proponents of evolutionary theory equally “scornful” and “close-minded” in conversation. I think I can shed some light on how your own conduct encourages both characteristics in your counterparts.

    When you first began commenting on this site, you billed yourself as “Dr.” Arv Edgeworth. In fact, you have no earned degree in anything remotely related to the natural sciences or biblical studies, as Mike Beidler pointed out. An honorary Doctorate of Divinity is not a relevant credential. Yet you referred to yourself with this honorary title, and your motive seems obvious: to establish yourself as an authority figure the rest of us ought not to question. You were making a thinly veiled argument from authority, and it was both absurd and in poor taste.

    For the record, I happen to have a PhD. A real one, with actual classes and a dissertation and a graduation ceremony; the works. But you will notice that I never signed my comments “Dr. AMW,” nor did I make mention of my degree in our correspondence. Primarily, this is because my education is in economics, not biology, geology, theology or any other relevant field. But of nearly equal importance, even in my field of study my doctorate adds no weight to any arguments I may offer. There are thousands of people in the world with terminal degrees. Some are brilliant, some are of average intelligence, and some simply had the money and fortitude to sit through three years of classes and write a very long paper. At most, a degree gives you a seat at the table in academic discussion. It does not give your arguments validity; they must stand or fall on their own.

    In addition to flaunting your meaningless credentials, you also stole the work of another creationist to make your arguments here, pasting his words verbatim without attribution, without quotations marks, and removing a reference in the text that would have been out of place in a comment thread. When Mike Beidler called you out on this chicanery, you claimed that you were facing time constraints, and so you did not take the time to give attribution. If that is the case, you must be a busy man in general. At Positive Atheism, the editor has posted a brief e-mail correspondence with you. He introduces the correspondence by saying, “This man submitted, for publication, the copyrighted work of another which he had lifted from the victim’s web page. We replied with our standard boilerplate regarding copyrighted material. Here is his response.” That’s two independent instances of plagiarism, whether intentional or not (and I strongly suspect the former).

    Later, in a discussion of geological strata, you quoted from C. O. Dunbar’s Historical Geology in support of your assertion that missing strata were a problem for the mainstream geological model. The relevant portion said, “the total thickness of the stratified rocks now recognized would exceed 500,000 feet (95 miles) if all the beds were directly superposed.” Your implication was that the mainstream geological model predicts the earth’s crust to be much thicker than it actually is. Yet your quotation left out some previous relevant sentences. Perhaps you were short on time again.

    In the relevant section, Dunbar is talking about correlation of strata, or matching the strata in various formations. Immediately before the sentence that you quoted, he says “no single area contains a record of all geologic time, and if it did, the section would be so thick that its base would be buried beyond our reach; but deposition has always been going on in one place or another, and we need only discover and correlate enough of the scattered fragments to build up a composite record of all geologic time.” That is, geologists do not expect to find all strata in one place, but are able to match disparate sections like the pieces of a puzzle. In short, his work flatly contradicts your position, yet you selectively quoted him as supporting you. I can’t decide if this is a step up from plagiarism, or a step down.

    Finally, you repeatedly resorted to ad hominims and innuendo. You said that I was “brainwashed,” “dishonest” and my faith “a sham.” In response to actual scholarship from a respected professor at Fuller Seminary you suggested that we “try typing Fuller Theological Seminary into a search engine and add false doctrine and see what you get.” These are not reasoned arguments; they are paltry substitutes for reasoned arguments.

    In sum, you masqueraded as a scholar above your peers in debate, stole the work of one man to save face, distorted the work of another to support your claims and made liberal use of personal insults.* With each of these offenses you excused yourself from polite discourse. Indeed, in response to any one of them I think a dispassionate reader would agree that I could have justifiably responded very simply:

    Dear Arv,

    Get bent.

    Most Sincerely,

    AMW

    But that was not my response. Instead I tried repeatedly to focus on the questions of fact and interpretation at hand. I did so because I truly value discourse, and I think that conversing with people of opposite opinions is a constructive and necessary prohylactic against a dangerously closed mind. I also did so because I have taken offense at many comments on evolutionist websites (though not this one) to the effect that discussion with a creationist is pointless, because they’re all close-minded rubes who don’t pay attention to evidence. As a former YEC myself, I find this attitude both wrongheaded and distasteful. I believe that the majority of YECs (your conduct not withstanding) simply haven’t been privy to the arguments against their science and biblical exegesis. I will be glad to engage any other YEC who happens upon this website in a polite and respectful manner.

    I sincerely hope that, if you’ve read this, you’ve done so with a measure of introspection. You have a ministry to look after, and if you continue to conduct yourself as you have done for much of our conversation, you will find one evolutionist after another completely unresponsive to your line of argumentation. You will be closing many minds, and causing yourself a great deal of frustration and irritation. What’s more, it will all be in vain. As the Apostle Peter asks, “how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it?” (1 Peter 2:20)

    All the best,

    AMW

    P.S. Get bent.

  • AMW

    Dear Arv,

    I’m sorry to see you’ve left the discussion once again, but that is your decision to make. I won’t try to persuade you to stay a second time.

    You accuse me of scoffing at God’s truth, and of having a closed mind. I suspect you have found other proponents of evolutionary theory equally “scornful” and “close-minded” in conversation. I think I can shed some light on how your own conduct encourages both characteristics in your counterparts.

    When you first began commenting on this site, you billed yourself as “Dr.” Arv Edgeworth. In fact, you have no earned degree in anything remotely related to the natural sciences or biblical studies, as Mike Beidler pointed out. An honorary Doctorate of Divinity is not a relevant credential. Yet you referred to yourself with this honorary title, and your motive seems obvious: to establish yourself as an authority figure the rest of us ought not to question. You were making a thinly veiled argument from authority, and it was both absurd and in poor taste.

    For the record, I happen to have a PhD. A real one, with actual classes and a dissertation and a graduation ceremony; the works. But you will notice that I never signed my comments “Dr. AMW,” nor did I make mention of my degree in our correspondence. Primarily, this is because my education is in economics, not biology, geology, theology or any other relevant field. But of nearly equal importance, even in my field of study my doctorate adds no weight to any arguments I may offer. There are thousands of people in the world with terminal degrees. Some are brilliant, some are of average intelligence, and some simply had the money and fortitude to sit through three years of classes and write a very long paper. At most, a degree gives you a seat at the table in academic discussion. It does not give your arguments validity; they must stand or fall on their own.

    In addition to flaunting your meaningless credentials, you also stole the work of another creationist to make your arguments here, pasting his words verbatim without attribution, without quotations marks, and removing a reference in the text that would have been out of place in a comment thread. When Mike Beidler called you out on this chicanery, you claimed that you were facing time constraints, and so you did not take the time to give attribution. If that is the case, you must be a busy man in general. At Positive Atheism, the editor has posted a brief e-mail correspondence with you. He introduces the correspondence by saying, “This man submitted, for publication, the copyrighted work of another which he had lifted from the victim’s web page. We replied with our standard boilerplate regarding copyrighted material. Here is his response.” That’s two independent instances of plagiarism, whether intentional or not (and I strongly suspect the former).

    Later, in a discussion of geological strata, you quoted from C. O. Dunbar’s Historical Geology in support of your assertion that missing strata were a problem for the mainstream geological model. The relevant portion said, “the total thickness of the stratified rocks now recognized would exceed 500,000 feet (95 miles) if all the beds were directly superposed.” Your implication was that the mainstream geological model predicts the earth’s crust to be much thicker than it actually is. Yet your quotation left out some previous relevant sentences. Perhaps you were short on time again.

    In the relevant section, Dunbar is talking about correlation of strata, or matching the strata in various formations. Immediately before the sentence that you quoted, he says “no single area contains a record of all geologic time, and if it did, the section would be so thick that its base would be buried beyond our reach; but deposition has always been going on in one place or another, and we need only discover and correlate enough of the scattered fragments to build up a composite record of all geologic time.” That is, geologists do not expect to find all strata in one place, but are able to match disparate sections like the pieces of a puzzle. In short, his work flatly contradicts your position, yet you selectively quoted him as supporting you. I can’t decide if this is a step up from plagiarism, or a step down.

    Finally, you repeatedly resorted to ad hominims and innuendo. You said that I was “brainwashed,” “dishonest” and my faith “a sham.” In response to actual scholarship from a respected professor at Fuller Seminary you suggested that we “try typing Fuller Theological Seminary into a search engine and add false doctrine and see what you get.” These are not reasoned arguments; they are paltry substitutes for reasoned arguments.

    In sum, you masqueraded as a scholar above your peers in debate, stole the work of one man to save face, distorted the work of another to support your claims and made liberal use of personal insults.* With each of these offenses you excused yourself from polite discourse. Indeed, in response to any one of them I think a dispassionate reader would agree that I could have justifiably responded very simply:

    Dear Arv,

    Get bent.

    Most Sincerely,

    AMW

    But that was not my response. Instead I tried repeatedly to focus on the questions of fact and interpretation at hand. I did so because I truly value discourse, and I think that conversing with people of opposite opinions is a constructive and necessary prohylactic against a dangerously closed mind. I also did so because I have taken offense at many comments on evolutionist websites (though not this one) to the effect that discussion with a creationist is pointless, because they’re all close-minded rubes who don’t pay attention to evidence. As a former YEC myself, I find this attitude both wrongheaded and distasteful. I believe that the majority of YECs (your conduct not withstanding) simply haven’t been privy to the arguments against their science and biblical exegesis. I will be glad to engage any other YEC who happens upon this website in a polite and respectful manner.

    I sincerely hope that, if you’ve read this, you’ve done so with a measure of introspection. You have a ministry to look after, and if you continue to conduct yourself as you have done for much of our conversation, you will find one evolutionist after another completely unresponsive to your line of argumentation. You will be closing many minds, and causing yourself a great deal of frustration and irritation. What’s more, it will all be in vain. As the Apostle Peter asks, “how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it?” (1 Peter 2:20)

    All the best,

    AMW

    P.S. Get bent.

  • Arv Edgeworth

    Dear Steve and AMW,
    Thanks for the typical evolutionist response, name-calling and character assasination. I apologize if I have done that in any way, I should not have. But I honestly hope you guys are genuinely saved. From your last response one would tend to doubt it. Not the type of ending a Christian would normally use. I’m surprised you wanted to post that on your website. But I hope you guys have a great eternity. I actually have never visited your website, I just get Google alerts. I will probably never post again, not because of any animosity toward any of you, it just seems that nothing will change in any way from either side, although I know it is an exercise which we both probably benefit from.

    I would be interested though in what you think about one aspect of the Noah’s flood account. Do you think there is a reasonable explaination why from the seventh month to the tenth month the waters only receded about 25 feet or so, then over the next three months the waters receded from the tops of the mountains to ground level and the ground actually dried up? But if you choose not to respond, I understand. I won’t just assume you have no answer, although that may be the case.

    I actually have no idea what the atheist fellow was talking about my trying to publish the work of someone else, I would never intentionally do that. But to put things into perspective, when I used the statement about the so-called junk DNA not being junk, no admission was made by anyone that the people who stated it was junk were wrong. I was doing research on the subject in a different window, had closed it down in my haste, and couldn’t remember what website I got it from. And that is no excuse. I should have not made the post until I returned home, and could do follow-up before I posted then on the following day, saying where I got the statement from. It would have been more to my advantage to wait and give the guy’s name who refuted the idea of human’s having junk DNA, he actually has an earned Ph.D. in that field of science.

    As for my degree. There are many pastors from many denominations that only have honorary degrees. If a college chooses to honor someone in such a manner, most pastors would accept that and show them a certain degree of respect. It also would show a lack of appreciation for this degree if the recipiant of said degree would never acknowledge they had received it. In England it has often been the case that honorary degrees are held in higher esteem than earned degrees. I have often used this degree in correspondence with other pastors and had gotten used to signing my name that way.

    Realizing what high importance is placed on earned Ph.D.s by evolutionists, I will try to remember not to use an honorary degree in my correspondence with them, especially since it is from theology. However, if they choose to correspond with me about things of a spiritual nature, I would see no reason for them not to call themself “Dr.”, whether their degree is earned or honorary. Actually, evolutionists don’t give any credibility to people with earned Ph.D.s either, if they have rejected Darwinian evolution, regardless of where the degree was received from, or why they have rejected it. I personally believe Darwinian evolution is so flawed it cannot be repaired, as do thousands of scientists.

    Despite our differences, I hope you really do have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. If so, we will meet again someday when we will actually know the exact truth about God’s creation, although we will undoubtedly be more interested in just the Creator Himself at that point in time. I want to say again, I hope you guys do have a great eternity, and have a personal relationship with the Eternal Creator. Sorry, about any misunderstandings we may have had. Remember, there is no conflict between biblical creation and science, just with a world view that does not include a creator. I believe you have been misguided in your attempt to reconcile the two.
    In His Service,
    Arv Edgeworth
    Psalm 146:5-6

  • Arv Edgeworth

    Dear Steve and AMW,
    Thanks for the typical evolutionist response, name-calling and character assasination. I apologize if I have done that in any way, I should not have. But I honestly hope you guys are genuinely saved. From your last response one would tend to doubt it. Not the type of ending a Christian would normally use. I’m surprised you wanted to post that on your website. But I hope you guys have a great eternity. I actually have never visited your website, I just get Google alerts. I will probably never post again, not because of any animosity toward any of you, it just seems that nothing will change in any way from either side, although I know it is an exercise which we both probably benefit from.

    I would be interested though in what you think about one aspect of the Noah’s flood account. Do you think there is a reasonable explaination why from the seventh month to the tenth month the waters only receded about 25 feet or so, then over the next three months the waters receded from the tops of the mountains to ground level and the ground actually dried up? But if you choose not to respond, I understand. I won’t just assume you have no answer, although that may be the case.

    I actually have no idea what the atheist fellow was talking about my trying to publish the work of someone else, I would never intentionally do that. But to put things into perspective, when I used the statement about the so-called junk DNA not being junk, no admission was made by anyone that the people who stated it was junk were wrong. I was doing research on the subject in a different window, had closed it down in my haste, and couldn’t remember what website I got it from. And that is no excuse. I should have not made the post until I returned home, and could do follow-up before I posted then on the following day, saying where I got the statement from. It would have been more to my advantage to wait and give the guy’s name who refuted the idea of human’s having junk DNA, he actually has an earned Ph.D. in that field of science.

    As for my degree. There are many pastors from many denominations that only have honorary degrees. If a college chooses to honor someone in such a manner, most pastors would accept that and show them a certain degree of respect. It also would show a lack of appreciation for this degree if the recipiant of said degree would never acknowledge they had received it. In England it has often been the case that honorary degrees are held in higher esteem than earned degrees. I have often used this degree in correspondence with other pastors and had gotten used to signing my name that way.

    Realizing what high importance is placed on earned Ph.D.s by evolutionists, I will try to remember not to use an honorary degree in my correspondence with them, especially since it is from theology. However, if they choose to correspond with me about things of a spiritual nature, I would see no reason for them not to call themself “Dr.”, whether their degree is earned or honorary. Actually, evolutionists don’t give any credibility to people with earned Ph.D.s either, if they have rejected Darwinian evolution, regardless of where the degree was received from, or why they have rejected it. I personally believe Darwinian evolution is so flawed it cannot be repaired, as do thousands of scientists.

    Despite our differences, I hope you really do have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. If so, we will meet again someday when we will actually know the exact truth about God’s creation, although we will undoubtedly be more interested in just the Creator Himself at that point in time. I want to say again, I hope you guys do have a great eternity, and have a personal relationship with the Eternal Creator. Sorry, about any misunderstandings we may have had. Remember, there is no conflict between biblical creation and science, just with a world view that does not include a creator. I believe you have been misguided in your attempt to reconcile the two.
    In His Service,
    Arv Edgeworth
    Psalm 146:5-6

  • RBH

    I must say (writing as an atheist who follows a number of evolutionary creationists’ blogs) that this was an … erm … interesting conversation. I admire your patience, AMW.
    .-= RBH´s last blog ..Mr. Mystery =-.

  • RBH

    I must say (writing as an atheist who follows a number of evolutionary creationists’ blogs) that this was an … erm … interesting conversation. I admire your patience, AMW.
    .-= RBH´s last blog ..Mr. Mystery =-.

  • AMW

    Arv,

    With regard to the Christian (or otherwise) tone of my last comment, I would say that it falls well within the bounds of the tone set by your last few comments. It also falls well within the bounds of the tone set by Galatians 5:12. I think your conduct has left much to be desired, and I am reluctant to accept your explanations, though I do accept your apology as genuine.

    Regarding your doctorate, if you will find that academics in general, and not just evolutionists in particular, bristle at the use of an honorary doctorate. Perhaps they do things differently in Britain; conferring honorary degrees may be more stringent there. But in the American academy it is generally considered tacky to refer to oneself as “Dr.” on the basis of an honorary degree.

    As for evolutionists not respecting creationists with earned degrees, this is for two reasons. First, it is all too common for a creationist with a PhD in one natural scientist to speak on all manner of scientific phenomena outside his field of study. Second, even if one is speaking within one’s field of study, the posession of a PhD does not automatically give one credibility. For instance, there are Marxist economists with PhD’s. They don’t get a lot of respect from other economists because their theories are far outside the mainstream and they don’t have much in the way of evidence to convince non-Marxists. (Steve will be sorry to hear that, by and large, economists of the Austrian School don’t get a lot of respect, either. But I think that’s for somewhat different reasons.) Creationists have the same problem. The evidence they offer simply does not convince much of the scientific community. I understand that, from your perspective, it’s easier to explain this as bias and denial on the part of the scientific community. But keep in mind that the vast majority of scholars who look at the evidence every day find evolution to be an extremely useful theory that fits the data.

    Regarding the recession of the waters in Genesis 8, I think the likeliest explanation is that the account we have in Genesis is a splicing together of two separate Deluge accounts. One says that the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat in the seventh month (Genesis 8:4), the other says the mountains weren’t visible until the tenth month (Genesis 8:5). One says that the ground was dry in the first month of the following year (Genesis 8:13), the other says it was dry in the second month of the following year (Genesis 8:14).

    I’m sure you do not accept multiple authorship for the Deluge account, but it does explain the repetition of scenes with somewhat different details (and switching between referring to God as Elohim and YHWH). So, for instance, in Genesis 6:5-8 YHWH sees that man is wicked and decides to wipe out humanity. In verses 12-13 we have the same story, but with Elohim talking to Noah. In Genesis 6:19-20 Elohim tells Noah to take two of each kind of animal on the ARk. In Genesis 7:1-3, YHWH tells Noah to take two of each kind of unclean animal, but seven (or seven pairs) of each kind of clean animal. Note that I’m not claiming that YHWH and Elohim are two different deities. Rather, I’m saying that the author of one of the parallel narratives refers to God as YHWH, and the author of the other narrative refers to him as Elohim.

  • AMW

    Arv,

    With regard to the Christian (or otherwise) tone of my last comment, I would say that it falls well within the bounds of the tone set by your last few comments. It also falls well within the bounds of the tone set by Galatians 5:12. I think your conduct has left much to be desired, and I am reluctant to accept your explanations, though I do accept your apology as genuine.

    Regarding your doctorate, if you will find that academics in general, and not just evolutionists in particular, bristle at the use of an honorary doctorate. Perhaps they do things differently in Britain; conferring honorary degrees may be more stringent there. But in the American academy it is generally considered tacky to refer to oneself as “Dr.” on the basis of an honorary degree.

    As for evolutionists not respecting creationists with earned degrees, this is for two reasons. First, it is all too common for a creationist with a PhD in one natural scientist to speak on all manner of scientific phenomena outside his field of study. Second, even if one is speaking within one’s field of study, the posession of a PhD does not automatically give one credibility. For instance, there are Marxist economists with PhD’s. They don’t get a lot of respect from other economists because their theories are far outside the mainstream and they don’t have much in the way of evidence to convince non-Marxists. (Steve will be sorry to hear that, by and large, economists of the Austrian School don’t get a lot of respect, either. But I think that’s for somewhat different reasons.) Creationists have the same problem. The evidence they offer simply does not convince much of the scientific community. I understand that, from your perspective, it’s easier to explain this as bias and denial on the part of the scientific community. But keep in mind that the vast majority of scholars who look at the evidence every day find evolution to be an extremely useful theory that fits the data.

    Regarding the recession of the waters in Genesis 8, I think the likeliest explanation is that the account we have in Genesis is a splicing together of two separate Deluge accounts. One says that the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat in the seventh month (Genesis 8:4), the other says the mountains weren’t visible until the tenth month (Genesis 8:5). One says that the ground was dry in the first month of the following year (Genesis 8:13), the other says it was dry in the second month of the following year (Genesis 8:14).

    I’m sure you do not accept multiple authorship for the Deluge account, but it does explain the repetition of scenes with somewhat different details (and switching between referring to God as Elohim and YHWH). So, for instance, in Genesis 6:5-8 YHWH sees that man is wicked and decides to wipe out humanity. In verses 12-13 we have the same story, but with Elohim talking to Noah. In Genesis 6:19-20 Elohim tells Noah to take two of each kind of animal on the ARk. In Genesis 7:1-3, YHWH tells Noah to take two of each kind of unclean animal, but seven (or seven pairs) of each kind of clean animal. Note that I’m not claiming that YHWH and Elohim are two different deities. Rather, I’m saying that the author of one of the parallel narratives refers to God as YHWH, and the author of the other narrative refers to him as Elohim.