Thoughtful and helpful
I very much appreciate Frank Hasel’s December 2018 article “Dealing With Suffering and Loss.” It was authentically candid yet very thoughtful and edifying. He speaks not as a victor who has emerged a conqueror, but as a struggling combatant in the trenches of doubt and temptation. I feel that this approach can help me in my pastoral ministry as I seek to encourage my parishioners to cope with their suffering and loss.
—Jonathan Chitwood, pastor, Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Helpful and respectful
I always appreciate Sven Östring’s articles on Creation, not least of all “Our Miraculous Planet Earth” (December 2018). Comments on Genesis and Creation inevitably seem colored by the preconceptions we bring to the study. Theistic Evolutionists bring their view that science carries a higher authority than Scripture. On the other hand, Young Earth Creationists also bring their preconceptions to the study on creation. Sven points out some of these issues and also brings his own lens through which he is looking at the Creation passage.
Much of what he says is very helpful. He rejects the creation of the whole universe necessarily being the subject of Genesis 1 but assumes our planet’s creation ex nihilo is the subject of the weekly Creation account. The problem is that Sven understands the earth to mean planet Earth, but that ignores Genesis 1’s own interpretation of the expression the earth and the heavens. Verses 8–10 explain the terms: “the earth” is the dry land and “the heavens” is the sky above or what we see when we look up (the expanse). Let us be respectful, allowing God to describe what He wants to and what He views as being most important and not impose our agenda on Him. If that leaves a doubt that God did not create the universe ex nihilo some time before Genesis 1, then that is our problem and not His.
A number of commentators (Frank Marsh among them) have noted that Genesis 1 appears to be describing the events of Creation from the point of view of an observer on the surface of the earth. If that is so, then planet Earth was created with the rest of the sun and solar system and perhaps the whole universe, sometime back in the past prior to the Creation account in Genesis. If the criticism is made that this view of Creation only involves a “bit of gardening and landscaping” over the seven days on the part of God, then it could be that what God wished us to draw out of the Creation narrative, and His priorities for us, could be different from our intents and demands.
—Kerry Hortop, DMin, retired pastor, New South Wales, Australia (Edited letter)
Possible but not plausible
The arguments used in the article to support a young earth and universe (see Sven Ö̈string, “Our Miraculous Planet Earth,” December 2018) are logical and perhaps even possible. However, a good argument also needs to be plausible, and that is where the article comes up a little short.
Sure, God could have chosen to create the earth and universe a short time ago and intentionally made them with the appearance of old age, implying that was a period of time in which many of the “geological and astrophysical laws that we currently observe” would have had to be made invalid on a universal scale and then made invalid again around the time of the flood so as to account for the age of the fossil record.
But is that likely? Maybe yes, if one is approaching this from the discipline of apologetics and merely trying to collate evidence that appears to defend their preexisting worldview and discard anything that doesn’t; but for anyone else who is open-minded and willing to accept the possibility, they may need to adjust their world-view based on evidences found. The case made for short time frames is unconvincing.
—Calvin Chan, by website
Response from author
(Edited—for full response, see the article comments at www.MinistryMagazine.org).
Thanks for the thoughtful response to my article. I’m glad that it is logically possible that planet Earth recently came into existence. This logical possibility is also recognized by great thinkers like the logician Bertrand Russell and the analytic Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga as well as the less well-known, non-Christian Australian geologist Justin Payne.
Unfortunately, the notion of plausibility is a decidedly slippery and subjective concept. It depends more on the psychological capacity of a person to grasp various physical possibilities rather than true logical possibility. It also depends significantly on the constraining principles that can be buried deep within their worldview.
There is no objective and universally agreed criterion for what is plausible. What is more rigorous and analytical is the concepts of strict logical possibility and broad logical possibility, but there is no logical contradiction to be found in the proposition that God recently cre-ated this world with all of the empirical evidence that it has.