By Stephen Leonard
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”…..etc. Job 38:1-4
A fascinating book just came out by the well-known Evangelical apologist, philosopher, and scholar William Lane Craig, entitled “In Quest of the Historical Adam.” Craig is only one of many who have written a book with this same title and topic. Many books in this genre attempt to bridge the gap between modern science’s own “dogmatic” findings, though actually hypothesized, and what the Bible claims about the same topics.
Of course, the subject of beginnings are controversial: man’s origins, creation or evolution or both, science claims compared to claims of the Bible, everything comes from nothing, or matter has always been, and on and on with every variable in-between.
Craig’s book is a large one as he tackles both sides: what the Bible says or claims to say as he sees it and the claims of modern science. He tries to make a place for both and consequently suggests his own positions, which causes many believers to question his conclusions or ponder them.
To accomplish his task, he concludes that the Bible sometimes uses metaphor language and what he labels “mytho-history” to reveal things that he believes must not be taken literally or as straightforward history. But he does desire to protect the existence of a historical Adam and Eve, but in a far different fashion, primarily because of this truth’s clear implications on Bible doctrine and accuracy, even Jesus’ own words.
He wants to do this in a way that bridges the gap between the perceived claims of modern science, which, to be fair, are continually changing and evolving, and the claims of the Bible though understood variously depending on your own Bible interpretation.
Of course, this entails a cosmology dealing with millions and even hundreds of millions of years; time, no matter how long, is determined by many as necessary for things to evolve and develop into what your eyes see today.
Which brings us to Job’s conversation with God recounted in Job 38: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” A conversation Job declares as God-revealed. “Where were you, Job, when the world was created?” A question that can be asked of any scientist or ordinary person today.
But, I also think the Bible is not restricted to the understanding of only scholars who must be trained in particular ways over the years to read and rightly interpret it, but rather that the Bible is quite available to any layman reader. It can be understood and believed by them with confidence in its Author.
Not that we can all come to the Bible “willy-nilly,” but the layperson, the Bible’s ordinary reader, who knows how to read and understand words can take to heart Paul’s admonition, “Study (the Word) to make yourself approved unto God, rightly discerning the Word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The common laymen know when the Bible in the Psalms speaks about the “windows of heaven” that it is not talking about the windows of your home. And if God created Adam out of the dust of the ground and Eve from the rib of Adam, it is not necessary to understand this truth in the Bible how God actually did it, scientifically step by step, just that He did it. After all, God’s acts are both natural and supernatural; however, He chose to accomplish them.
The point is falsely taken that the Supernatural God must be beholden to kowtow to scientists’ evolving assumptions and hypotheses before He can rationally be believed of doing anything; or that it must be explained within an “acceptable” concept of science or it just did not happen. Can God never do anything unless it can be described according to modern science’s own man-devised constructs? No. Once again, God’s legitimate question of Job and to all of us: “Where were you when…?”
God is not constrained by time, matter, man’s understanding, or any other theory of man. Where were you when? This is the necessary truth. You did not see it, neither can you truly know it simply by your own devices and hypotheses. You only darken counsel with a lack of knowledge.
“The spacious firmament on high, with all the ethereal blue sky, and spangled heav’ns, a shining frame, their great Original proclaim, Th’ unwearied sun, from day to day, does his Creator’s pow’r display, and publishes to every land the work of an almighty hand.”
(1st verse of Joseph Addison’s hymn, “The Spacious Firmament on High,” 1712)