Genesis: Introduction創世記導論 The Book



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Application


  • To the vast universe beyond human comprehension, we can only say: how magnificent is our Creator God and how insignificant is man! To the perfect planning of God in creation, we can only say: how infinitely wise is our God. God is truly worthy of our worship.

  • We need to affirm that there is no conflict between the Bible and science. There are many reasonable and acceptable answers to the questions about the antiquity of the Earth. We need to humbly admit that there may not be any definitive answers.

  • While evangelical Christians may hold different views on the antiquity of the Earth, this is not a question of essential belief. After examining all the arguments, we can tentatively subscribe to any of the 3 views but at the same times allow the possibility that the other 2 views may be the correct explanation. Furthermore, we should encourage evangelical scientists and theologians to work together despite disagreements.



  1. STUDY: Earth as Habitat for Man專題:地球為人的居所

Introduction


  • The known universe has a radius of over 15 billion light-years, and the Milky Way Galaxy alone has over 100 billion stars. Because the universe is so vast, some people speculate that there may be another planet with intelligent living organisms similar to man. As insignificant human beings, we cannot know God’s reason for creating this vast universe. Some say the universe is there simply to proclaim God’s glory. In any case, it is very unlikely that the conditions on Earth can be found in another planet because both the sun and the Earth were so uniquely suitable for human inhabitation.

  • Isa 45:18 clearly says that God “fashioned” or “formed” the Earth to be a habitat for man. The word has the meaning of planning and designing. Job 38:1-8 describes how God designed the Earth. He “laid the foundation of the earth” (v.4) which involved “measurements” (v.5), and He “prescribed limits” for the clouds (atmosphere) (v.10). Ps 74:17 describes how God “fixed all the boundaries of the earth.”

  • In April 2007, after searching for many years, astronomers discovered the first planet that is potentially habitable because it is of the right size and might have water in liquid form. The planet is named “581c” and is 120 trillion miles away (20.5 light-years). It is thought to have an average temperature of between 0°C and 40°C but astronomers cannot be sure. Until now, all 220 planets astronomers have found outside our solar system have had the “Goldilocks problem.” They’ve been too hot, too cold or just plain too big and gaseous, such as uninhabitable Jupiter.

  • However, there is another giant obstacle: how will life begin? Life cannot begin with spontaneous chance occurrences as evolution is proved to be an impossibility.

  • Can life form exist on other planets or somewhere in the universe? We don’t know and we cannot restrict God’s planning and work. If God decides to create other life forms, it will be according to His purpose. Of course a host of other questions can be asked: What kind of life will it be? Will they be intelligent like man? If they are, will they be corruptible and experience the Fall? Will they need a Saviour? All these can generate boundless speculations which we will not deal with here.



Explanation


Is our sun just an average star?

No. The following special characteristics of the sun make life possible on Earth.



[1] Mass— The mass of our Sun helps determine its life span which is very important and it is among the 4-8% most massive in the galaxy. If it was of higher or lower mass it would probably deliver more frequent intense radiation events.

[2] Composition—The composition of the Sun is atypical of similar stars. Among stars with a similar age as the Sun (most of which do not have giant planets), the Sun has a higher amount of heavy elements. Among stars with giant planets, the Sun has a lower amount of heavy elements. The Sun’s composition is reflected in the composition of the Earth which has the right proportion of heavy elements for the requirement of man.

[3] Stability— Our Sun is highly stable which provides a very stable climate for the Earth. The uncommon brightness stability of the Sun is at present unexplainable.

[4] Location— Our Sun has an excellent position in the galaxy in between spiral arms and in a circular orbit. A location very close to the corotation circle preventing it from crossing the more dense spiral arms of the galaxy too frequently, minimizing catastrophic encounters with objects from other systems of our galaxy.

[5] Planets— [a] The Solar System has a very uncommon mixture of orbiting planets: inner rocky planets and the large outer gaseous planets which have uncommonly stable orbits which act as a shield to minimize the number of space objects that impact the Earth. The planet Jupiter has been described as a cosmic vacuum cleaner, attracting asteroids and comets that might otherwise strike Earth. [b] All planets revolve around the Sun in their precise individual velocities to allow stable orbits, balancing the centrifugal force of planetary movements and the gravity of the Sun as well as all other planets.
In what characteristics is the Earth fit for human inhabitation?

The following is an enumeration of the many special characteristics of the Earth that makes human inhabitation possible. With the accumulation of these evidences, it is practically impossible that these characteristics could occur by chance.



[1] Stability of the sun:

Our sun burns its fuel at an unusually constant and reliable rate.

If the sun’s luminosity and Earth’s biomass and biodiversity fall out of sync by even a slight amount, the result would be either a runaway greenhouse effect or a runaway freeze.

[2] Distance from the sun:

The distance from the sun determines the mean temperature of the atmosphere and the Earth. The pliable materials of which living tissue is composed are made up of chains of molecules which retain their physical characteristics within a comparatively narrow range of temperature variation. If the temperature becomes too cold, these chains become inflexible, and if the temperature becomes too high, they lose their bonds and disintegrate.



[3] Size of the Earth:

The size of the Earth determines the constitution of its atmosphere, and the constitution of its atmosphere determines the nature of the living forms upon it. If it were much larger, it would have retained a large percentage of gases inimical to life. If it were much smaller, its gravitational forces would have been insufficient to retain virtually any atmosphere at all. The best comparative examples are Jupiter, a gaseous giant, and Mercury, a small planet with no appreciable atmosphere surrounding it, its gravitational field being too weak to retain nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapor.



[4] Rate of rotation:

The rate of rotation of the Earth is just right for the continuous renewal of the atmosphere for animal life. Nothing gets too cold or too hot over most of its area, and plants have just sufficient times of light and of darkness to perform their function of regenerating the air (since the unique stability of carbon dioxide depends upon alternating light and darkness).

If the rotation of the Earth took longer than 24 hours, temperature differences would be too great between night and day. If the rotation period were shorter, atmospheric wind velocities would be to great.

The slowing down of Earth’s rotation rate means calmer wind velocities which in turn mean significantly less efficient sea-salt aerosol production. The result was the thinning of Earth’s cloud cover in the creation week.



[5] The existence of the satellite the Moon:

The Moon is the largest satellite relative to the size of its parent body. From this point of view it is, in fact, huge. The moon has sufficient mass to cause tides, and tides are of great importance in keeping the oceans fresh.

With the help from the moon, the land to sea surface ratio and the placement of continents yield tides strong enough to enrich the seashores and continental shelves with nutrients while cleansing them of pollutants, but not so strong as to devastate them.

If the Moon-Earth gravitational interaction were greater than it currently is, tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe. If it were less, orbital changes would cause climatic instabilities. In either event, life on Earth would be impossible.



[6] Thickness of atmosphere:

The rule of thumb in planetary formation is that the greater a planet’s surface gravity and the greater a planet’s distance from its star, the heavier and thicker its atmosphere. Theoretically, Earth should have an atmosphere heavier and thicker than that of Venus, but in fact it has a far lighter and much thinner atmosphere.

If the atmosphere were less transparent, not enough solar radiation would reach the Earth’s surface. If it were more transparent we would be bombarded with far roo much solar radiation down here. (In addition to atmospheric transparency, the atmospheric composition of precise levels of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and ozone are in proper proportions for life.

[7] Composition of atmosphere:

[a] Proportion of oxygen: On Earth, oxygen comprises 21% of the atmosphere. If oxygen were 25%, fires would erupt spontaneously, if it were 15%, human beings would suffocate.

[b] Carbon dioxide level: If the CO2 level were higher than it is now, a runaway greenhouse effect would develop (we’d all burn up). If the level were lower than it is now, plants would not be able to maintain efficient photosynthesis (we’d all suffocate).

[c] Water vapour levels: If water vapour levels in the atmosphere were greater than they are now, a runaway greenhouse effect would cause temperatures to rise too high for human life. If they were less, an insufficient greenhouse effect would make the Earth to cold to support human life.

[8] Ozone balances:

After a long period ranging from thousands to millions of years, enough oxygen had diffused into the upper stratosphere to permit, under certain precise conditions, formation of a thin and delicate layer of ozone. The ozone layer offers essential life protection. It absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun. However, if there is too thick a stratosphere ozone, there will be too little ultraviolet radiation getting through the Earth’s surface, then plant growth is inhibited and certain vitamins will not form in certain animal species. Therefore, the ozone layer needs to be just right to not impair the Earth’s biomass, biodiversity, and biovitality. In addition, the stability of the ozone shield throughout history is another miracle.



[9] Atmospheric Discharge:

If the atmospheric discharge (lightning) rate were greater, there would be too much fire destruction; if it were less there would be little nitrogen fixings in the soil.



[10] Movement of the Earth’s crust:

Plate tectonics and volcanic activity cause the wrinkling of a planet’s surface. Compared with other planets, Earth experiences an extremely high level of both kinds of activity.

Seismic activity: If there were more seismic activity, much more life would be lost; if there were less, nutrients on the ocean floors and in river runoff would not be cycled back to the continents through tectonic uplift. (yes, even earthquakes are necessary to sustain life as we know it).


  • Continental Drift: The Genesis wording suggests that continental land began as a conglomerate, one mass in one locale, with the ocean surrounding it. In 1912, Alfred Wegener proposed the theory of continental drift. About 150-300 million years ago, there was one huge supercontinent named by geologists Pangea. Later, this supercontinent was broken into 2 large pieces—Gondwanaland in the south and Laurasia in the north. The movement, as proposed by Arthur Holmes, was caused by convective currents within the Earth’s mantle which were driven by the radiogenic heat produced by radioactive minerals within the mantle. The large pieces were further broken into smaller pieces and drifted at about 1/2 inch per year to form different continents.

[11] The constitution of the Earth’s surface:

If the thickness of the Earth’s crust were greater, too much oxygen would be transferred to the crust to support life. If it were thinner, volcanic and tectonic activity would make life impossible.

The abundance of water on Earth makes life possible.

The proportion of Earth’s surface area covered by land compared to oceans plays a crucial role in the development of life. This ratio determines the amount of biodiversity and biocomplexity possible on the planet. The current ratio of 29% land surface to 71% water surface has been theoretically and observationally demonstrated to provide the maximum possible diversity and complexity of life. If this ratio is different, the land may be dried out through insufficient precipitation or may be turned into a swamp through excess precipitation.



[12] Balance of carbonates:

Plants had some help in removing carbon dioxide and water vapour from Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide easily reacts with atmospheric water to form carbonic acid. This carbonic acid reacts with the crustal rocks to form carbonates. If it were not for some mitigating factors from tectonic and volcanic activities, these carbonates would have leached enough carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere to turn this planet into a permanently frozen, arid wasteland.



[13] A stable water cycle:

Advanced life can survive only if the evaporation and precipitation average between 25 and 60 liquid water inches per year, and only if snow and rain condense in the right proportions. A water that meets exacting requirements demands intricate balancing of multiple factors: the physical characteristics of the sun and Earth; atmospheric composition, temperature, and pressure; wind velocities.



[14] Comet influx:

Earth’s gravitational pull is not quite strong enough to hold onto all of Earth’s atmospheric water indefinitely. An independent phenomenon largely unknown until the 1980s and unproven until the late 1990s replaces the lost water in just the right quantity to maintain the balance life demands. This phenomenon is an ongoing influx of water-rich extraterrestrial material in the form of comets. The comet influx rate changed with time but it must have been accurately compensating throughout the Earth’s history.



[15] Seasonal variations:

The seasonal variations which take place throughout the year, due to the 23.5° axial tilt of the Earth, are very important for the continuance of human life. Were it not for these changes, microorganisms which cause diseases and which are favored by certain environmental conditions, would multiply so extensively that the human race might very well suffer extinction because of them.



[16] Combination of optimal conditions:

Even if the universe contains as many as 10 billion trillion (1022) planets, we would not expect even one, by natural processes alone, to end up with the surface gravity, surface temperature, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure, crustal iron abundance, tectonics, vulcanism, rotation rate, rate of decline in rotation rate, and stable rotation axis tilt necessary for the support of life.


What is “scientific creationism” and Flood Geology?

A group of science-trained Christians support a literal reading of Genesis, that is, a 6-day creation of not more than 10,000 years ago. It is therefore called “Young Earth (YE) Theory”. They sought to discredit widely accepted scientific notions and reestablish science in terms that would appear to be in concordance with their interpretation.

The founders of scientific creationism were initially drawn together in defense of the Genesis Flood account. The first book was The New Geology written by George McCready Price published in 1923. He believes that Gen 6—9 reports a relatively recent Flood inundating all the land masses of the whole planet. According to him, the Genesis Flood could account for all the geologic features on all the continents, all the fossils ever found, and all Earth’s limestone, coal, oil, natural gas, and mineral deposits. The sediments, fossils, and fossil fuels were laid down quickly in the great Flood. He believes that radioactive dating methods are neither accurate nor well founded on scientific principles. Because of the heavy emphasis on the effects of the Flood on all areas in geology, it is named Flood Geology.

In 1961, theologian John Whitcomb and civil engineering professor Henry Morris published The Genesis Flood. It was written by professors with earned doctorates from accredited institutions. The arguments follow the same line as Price but are supported by numerous references to the scientific literature. It tried to establish both Flood Geology (explanation of all geologic phenomena by the global Flood) and a recent 6-day creation.

In 1963, the Creation Research Society (CRS) was formed to publicize Flood Geology and recent creationism. It was successful in getting acceptance in the majority of American conservative churches. In 1972, Henry Morris founded the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) to promote “scientific creationism” on university campuses. The effort was quite successful. Even today, scientific creationism is still supported by many well-known scientists and evangelical theologians.
What are the main problems with Flood Geology?

There are many problems with Flood Geology. However, flood geologists have come up with answers to all these problems, though some of them are speculative.



[1] Number of species in the ark:

With the acceptance of a truly global Flood covering the whole Earth, the only land and sky animals left were the ones in Noah’s ark. The 8 people on the ark would not be able to look after all the animals (an estimated maximum of 35,000 to 50,000 kinds of animals).

But the more serious problem is the large number of species in the world today. Even if all the animals aboard the ark hibernated for the entire duration of the Flood, the maximum carrying capacity is estimated to be about 50,000 pairs of land animals. But the fossil record indicates the existence of at least half a billion species before the Flood. Even today, we have at least 2 million species living on Earth. [Flood geologists try to provide an explanation by suggesting that Noah took only pairs of each family, order, or genus rather than a pair of every species. However, this creates other problems described below.]

[2] Super-rapid diversification of life:

Flood Geology requires the introduction of a huge number of new species of animal life in just a few hundred thousand in two areas: [a] the super-rapid diversification of animal life from a few thousand post-Flood species into millions of species, and [b] the super-rapid adaptations from pre-Flood animals that were completely herbivorous into a wide variety of carnivorous animals; such adaptations also include the new weather and environment, e.g. from warm grassland into subarctic forest.

The theory teaches that all animals ate only plants until the Fall of Adam and Eve. Because carnivorous activity involves animal death, they presume it must be one of the evil results of human sin. They propose that meat-eating creatures alive now and evident in the fossil record must have evolved in just several hundred years or less, by natural processes alone, from the plant-eating creatures.

[3] Rapid evolution after the Flood:

Shortly after the Flood, many species (such as dinosaurs, trilobites, etc.) went extinct; so the remaining few thousand species must have evolved by rapid and efficient natural processes alone into millions of species. For example, Morris and Whitcomb suggest in their book The Genesis Flood that zebras, horses, and other horselike species evolved from a single pair of horselike creatures on the ark. However, animals, especially animals as advanced as horses or zebras, do not and cannot evolve at this rapid rate. If such rates of change exist after the Flood, biologists could witness thousands of newly developed animal species through human history, even today.

Ironically, creation scientists propose an efficiency of natural biological evolution greater than even the most optimistic Darwinist would dare to suggest. If naturalistic evolutionary processes actually did proceed at such a rapid rate, they would, of course, be observable in real time today. Because of this, flood geologists actually support “short-timescale macroevolution.”

[4] The use of a blanket answer:

Any challenges to the validity of flood geology can of course be answered by invoking God’s miraculous work. For example, “short-timescale macroevolution” is definitely possible if God wishes it so. However, we have to ask why God would perform such a large-scale miracle (which the Bible does not speak about, which objective evidences do not support, and which causes His children so much trouble in explaining) if there are easier ways to complete His plan.


Can evangelical Christians support Flood Geology?

There is little doubt that a literal reading of Genesis 1 will support a recent 6 day creation of 24 hours each. Flood Geology is a genuine attempt to maintain literal reading of the Bible and therefore has a noble objective. However, there are also great difficulties in the theory. The present state of the theory does not satisfactorily resolve all the difficulties. If one is truly convinced of the explanations, Flood Geology is as supportable as other theories on creation.

Since the Word of God has not given us clear answers, we should accept our ignorance and wait for the definitive answer in heaven.
How does the Young Earth (YE) Theory explain scientific evidences that show an old universe?

[1] Light of stars billion of light-years away:

The explanation is called Gravitational Time Dilation Effect. According to Einstein’s Theories of Relativity, gravity distorts time. Time passes slower for objects closer to the source of gravity. The result is that time recorded on a space satellite is a little faster than time recorded on the Earth surface.

This distortion across the vast universe will be significant. Light could travel billions of light-years (distance) in billions of years (time) from stars far far away in what we on Earth would perceive to be a much shorter period of time.

[2] Geologic column:

Fossils found to be unique to certain strata are called “index fossils.” If an index fossil is thought to be 70 million years old, then the rock layer in which it was found must also be 70 million years old. The “Geologic Column” is a sequential catalog of these layers, the fossils they contain, and the assigned ages of geological eras. Biologists then turn around and use the evolutionary progression organized by the geologists as evidence for evolutionary progression. This is a circular logic.

A circular argument arises when authorities maintain that evolution is documented by geology, and then geology is documented by evolution. Similarly, they use rocks to date fossils, and fossils to date rocks.

The problem is that sometimes the strata are not always found in the predetermined order, e.g. rock layers containing supposedly older fossils are found above rock layers which contain supposedly younger fossils. Sometimes, we find discrepant fossils in the same rock layers when land animals, flying animals, and marine animals are fossilized side-by-side in the same rock. Most evolutionists and textbooks systematically ignore discoveries which conflict with the evolutionary time scale.



[3] Radiometric dating:

Radiometric dating is a method which scientists use to determine the age of inorganic matter. Uranium-238 (U238, parent element) is an unstable radioactive isotope which decays into Lead-206 (Pb206, daughter element) naturally over time. It takes 4.46 million years for half of a sample of U238 to decay into Pb206; this is called half-life. By measuring how much parent and daughter are present in any given specimen, scientists believe they are able to accurately determine the age of a specimen.

The technique depends on 3 key assumptions: [a] that the rate of decay has remained constant throughout the unobservable past; [b] that the specimen is not contaminated, and [c] that we can determine how much parent and daughter were present before the decay process – some Pb206 may have been part of the original specimen.

Recent research has revealed that the decay rates may have been drastically different in the unobservable past. When uranium decays to lead, a by-product is helium. In one specimen, the zircon crystals contain decayed uranium as well as helium. The radioactive decay of the uranium showed an age of 1.5 billion years but the amount of helium showed an age of 4,000 to 14,000 years.

Another example: the Potassium-Argon method was applied on volcanic rocks from an eruption in Hawaii in 1800, and concluded that the rocks are from 160 million to 3 billion years ago.

The conclusion is that the accuracy of radiometric dating remains ambiguously suspect at best.



[4] Evidences indicating young Earth:

[a] Continental Erosion: If not for tectonic uplift, meteoric dusting and volcanic influx, natural erosion would flatten all mountains in less than 25 million years.

[b] Subterranean Fluid Pressure: Subterranean fluids kept under pressure include oil, natural gas, and water. Since the rock above many deposits are relatively permeable, the pressure should have escaped in less than 100,000 years. And yet these deposits remain highly pressurized.

[c] Global Cooling: In the 19th century, the renowned physicist Lord Kelvin pointed out that if the Earth began in a white hot molten state, it would have cooled to its current temperature billions of years sooner than the 4.6 billion years accepted today.

[d] Lunar Recession: The moon is slowly moving farther away from the Earth. This is because the Earth’s spin is slowing down due to tidal friction and other factors. Physicists have determined that the Earth-moon system could not have existed beyond 1.2 billion years.

[5] Concluding observation: All these evidences rightly lead to questions about the age of the Earth. However, they will not fully support the 10,000 years limit in the Young Earth Theory.



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