I will be doing a rolling review of Hugh Ross’ controversial book The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis (Navpress, 2nd edition, 2001).
As I noted this is a review and any comments I personally deem negative, inappropriate or divisive will immediately be deleted. I won’t kill every negative comment – it will be on a case by case basis. I know the book isn’t perfect and if there is something I come across I may disagree with (which will be hard since I am not a scientist) I will try to address it.
So, Hugh Ross is a PhD in Astronomy and did his undergrad in Physics. He is a one time minister of evangelism and founder of the ministry Reasons to Believe. In this book he deals with Genesis 1-11 and in process interacts with various scientific discoveries and advances as they relate to the Genesis Narrative and help us understand the text.
This is interesting but I think we all need to recognize that the ancients did not have a sense of time as we do and did not necessarily think of the creation event in the detailed way we want to do today. Their approach was less exact than what many moderns want out of the text. That said, it is interesting to think about. At the same time we really do neec to be careful not to stake ourselves into a position and then make that position as though it were the very heart of the gospel itself – both sides of the YEC v. OEC debate need to watch for this – there is much about the creation event we do not know – not all the details are there (oops, are those “gaps”?)
But it does bring up an issue I wanted to share from the book. Ross writes the following at the end of Chapter two on “Reasons for resistance” to letting science in one form or another influence how we might understand the creation event:
….intellectual questions about Genesis are understandable, even expected. If they are genuine, the person who raises them will show a willingness to listen and explore possible answers. However, not everyone who raises questions really wants a response. Some seem interested in arguing. Some just walk away. Why?
How a person interprets the first eleven chapters of Genesis may be determined by how that person responds to some other part of the Bible. For example, if a person has been badly hurt or mistreated by someone bearing the “Christian” or “biblical” label, objectivity probably has been lost. If a person objects to biblical teachings (rightly or wrongly interpreted) on moral issues, objectivity probably has been lost.
Other fears come from misunderstanding the biblical definition of of faith. The prevailing view exalts “blind” faith and rejects the principle that facts are the crucial foundation for a meaningful faith. The misapplied mandate to “walk by faith, not by sight” frequently causes problems. Perhaps a deeper fear, more difficult to express, is that connecting faith to scientific facts subordinates the Bible to human endeavors or places Scripture at risk of contradiction by new discoveries that could overturn previously developed interpretations.
Herein lies a paradox. People who seem most concerned with defending biblical inerrancy may be the most resistant to any information, not derived from the Bible, that might help illuminate its meaning. Logically, taking Scripture seriously means being passionately concerned about interpreting it correctly and this welcoming any evidence that exposes erroneous understandings of the biblical text. Unfortunately, many zealous Bible students and teachers confuse their favorite interpretations of the Bible with the Bible itself (15-16).
Yay!! This is a slam dunk! A Home Run!! This is exactly the issue and addresses the problem of “circling the wagons” that has been going on lately especially among more conservative Christians – they are confusing their favorite interpretations of the Bible with the Bible itself – even God himself. I suppose too this can happen on both sides, but right now I see a lot of that “bunker mentality” among conservatives and it’s sad really.
We have to remember, creation may be an element of the gospel message, but it is not the gospel itself, Jesus Christ and him crucified is the gospel message. If creation has an element of the gospel in it, we see it in verses 2-3 where God’s first act of redemption is in overcoming the chaotic and void darkness of the earth to bring light and life into the creation. God saying “Let there be light” was his first speech act of redemption in the created order.
All for now.