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on 27 July 2017
There is much to commend in Seven Days that Divide the World. For example, the author points out that “it was Galileo (who believed in the Bible) who was advancing a better scientific understanding of the universe. He was doing so, as we have seen, not only against the obscurantism of some churchmen, but (and first of all) against the resistance (and obscurantism) of the secular philosophers of his time, who, like the churchmen, were convinced disciples of Aristotle. Philosophers and scientists today also have need of humility in light of facts, even if those facts are being pointed out by a believer in God! Lack of belief in God is no more a guarantee of scientific orthodoxy than is belief in God. What is clear, concerning both Galileo’s time and ours, is that criticism of a reigning scientific paradigm is fraught with risk, no matter who engages in it” (p35). The author rejects the idea that Adam & Eve originated from a race of Neolithic farmers (pp71-74), a view that, astonishing though it is, is nevertheless common among old earth evangelicals. He argues that the Genesis creation account is not a modification of the Babylonian account, but that the opposite is far more likely to be true. He also argues for an early date for Genesis, and rejects the view that the two accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict each other (pp122-127).

Professor Lennox rejects deism and uniformitarianism (which is distinguishable from the concept of uniformity in nature’s operation). Likewise, he rejects the naturalistic origin of life. He holds that God’s creative activity was completed on day 6. Thereafter, he upholds the finished creation (pp160-161). He accepts the chronological sequence of the Genesis days. Although he rejects much of what is claimed in modern evolutionary biology, as is evident from God’s Undertaker, yet he seems to accept the gradual evolutionary development of living things (p55).

Overall, the author demonstrates a much higher view of Scripture than the vast majority of old earth evangelicals. For that, I am grateful. Nevertheless, I do have a few bones to pick with the author, especially with regard to his handling of the issue of deep time.

On p23 the author says “when we are dealing with a text that was produced in a culture distant from our own both in time and in geography, what we think the natural meaning is may not have been the natural meaning for those to whom the text was originally addressed.” True enough, but how can we possibly determine what the text meant to the original readers, who died several thousand years ago? The best one could do would be to consult the views of today’s orthodox Jewish theologians, who are at least proximate in culture if not in time. I have not found evidence from the book that the author has done that. It would certainly be helpful to know how orthodox Jewish theologians of today interpret the Genesis days.

2 Peter 3:8 is commonly used to justify the day-age interpretation of Genesis 1. It seems obvious to me that Peter is there conveying the idea that God is not restricted by time and duration as we are, not that a day equates to a thousand years. To use this text to justify the day-age theory seems to me to be rather contrived. In any case, those who employ the day-age argument as a means to harmonise with an old universe would have to take each Genesis day to mean, not just a thousand years, but a few billion! This strained interpretation is lessened in the Lennox model, but not by much. The creation days, or at least the creation week, would still span a total of 4.5 billion years.

Suggestions by ancient authorities like Augustine that the days do not mean literal 24-hour days stems from their belief in instanteous creation, so it is not valid to infer that they held an old earth/universe view. Those who held the day-age theory might have done. Augustine, on the other hand, held firmly to a young earth (YE) view. In chapter 10 of City of God he criticises “those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.”1 An annotation explains that “Augustin here follows the chronology of Eusebius, who reckons 5611 years from the Creation to the taking of Rome by the Goths; adopting the Septuagint version of the Patriarchal ages.” Chapter 40 of City of God expresses a similar sentiment: “For as it is not yet six thousand years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, and contrary to, the ascertained truth?”2.

Given that Augustine questioned the 24-hour day, yet held a YE view, it is not unreasonable to suppose that many (most?) other ancient authorities did the same. I am not myself familiar with the works of the ancient authors, and therefore refrain from further comment. But creationist Jonathan Sarfati3, using documented quotes of Josephus, Basil, Ambrose, Lactantius, and Irenaeus, challenges the claim that these authors rejected a 24-hour interpretation of Genesis 1. Sarfati also provides a quote from Origen, which shows his belief in a YE. The onus is therefore on Professor Lennox to provide documented quotes from those who held an old earth view. Even in the case of those ancient authors who held the day-age theory, would they really have countenanced the view that a day could be interpreted to mean billions of years? I hardly think so. Indeed, can Lennox himself (who does take the Bible seriously) justify so extreme a hermeneutical approach?

The Professor suggest a 3-part structure to Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 (p48 + p52f). He claims that “day 1 begins in verse 3 and not in verse 1” (p52), and justifies it on textual grounds. “This implies that “the beginning” of Genesis 1:1 did not necessarily take place on day 1 as is frequently assumed. The initial creation took place before day 1, but Genesis does not tell us how long before. This means that the question of the age of the earth (and of the universe) is a separate question from the interpretation of the days ... quite apart from any scientific considerations, the text of Genesis 1:1, in separating the beginning from day 1, leaves the age of the universe indeterminate.” “It would therefore be possible to believe that the days of Genesis are twenty-four hour days (of one earth week) and to believe that the universe is very ancient.” (p53). So in the beginning, God did not create the universe instantly, but caused it to evolve over a period of about 9 billion years, up to day 1 when he started to create the earth. But wouldn’t the evolution of the universe have produced, not just the gas clouds followed by the galaxies and stars, but also the solar system and the earth? It seems somewhat contrived to exclude the earth (and possibly the solar system?) from that evolutionary development.

The Professor further suggests that “the six creation days could well have been days of normal length, spaced out at intervals over the entire period of time that God took to complete his work. The outworking of the potential of each creative fiat would occupy an unspecified period of time after that particular creation day” (p55). So God’s creation commands only initiated the process, which then took unspecified periods of time to evolve. He does not explain how he views the sudden appearance of novel body plans. Did these come about on each creation day, or during the unspecified period of time after that particular creation day? In any case, I cannot take seriously the assertion that this strained interpretation is not influenced by the modern scientific concensus!

Lennox sees a problem with day 4 (pp58-59), i.e. the phrase “evening and morning” deos not make sense because the sun had not been created, and we know nothing about another light source. Yet Genesis 1:4-5 clearly says that on day 1 God created light, and divided the light from the darkness. Hence “evening and morning” makes perfect sense to me.

In order to persuade readers that the sophistry commonly employed by old earth evangelicals is not an attempt to harmonise Scripture with the scientific concensus (pp60-61), the author claims a parallel situation arose half a millenium ago. Some church authorities took the foundations and pillars of the earth (Ps 104:5, 1Sam 2:8) to mean a fixed earth, instead of allowing the science of their day to guide their interpretation. I fail to see any parallel. If those church authorities had applied the principle of interpretating Scripture with Scripture (e.g. God hangs the earth upon nothing, Job 26:7) they would have realised that the pillars and foundations are to be interpreted as metaphors. This nullifies the claim that the metaphorical interpretation “relies on (new) scientific knowledge”. It does not.

On the creation of the sun, moon and stars on day 4, Professor Lennox says: “It is, surely, the purpose of the sun, moon, and stars that is being emphasised in day 4, not how and when they came into being” (p105). Allowing, for the sake of argument, that this is true, it still does not imply that they were not created on day 4. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

One common objection to the day-age, old earth view involves the question of animal suffering prior to the Fall. In order to avoid this problem, The author raises the possibility that the Fall of the human race was preceded by a fall in the animal kingdom, and quotes C. S. Lewis for support (pp82-84). I am puzzled by this. It seems to me that a “fall” in the animal kingdom would presuppose moral awareness and responsibility on the part of animals. But surely animal behaviour is driven by instinct, not guided by moral sensibility. The earlier “fall” must surely have occurred in the angelic realm, and has nothing to do with the animals. Satan can possess an animal, just as easily as he can possess a human being.

In spite of disclaimers, my overall impression is that the ultimate reason for resorting to the kind of sophistry so common among old earth evangelicals is their belief that the secular concensus must be right regarding the question of age, rather than a true conviction that Genesis 1 really is compatible with such vast time scales. This herd instinct is so strong that they never bother to invest the time and energy to investigate the technical literature produced by YE creationists (YECs) on this issue.They simply assume it must be wrong!

This leads me to, respectfully, ask the Professor whether he has made any serious attempt to research the scientific thinking of YECs on the question of deep time. Has he, for example, consulted the detailed research done by scientists at the Institute for Creation Research, i.e. “Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth”? This was published in two volumes in 2000 and 2005 respectively, totalling nearly 1,500 pages, and available as a free download. Has he consulted geologist Andrew Snelling’s two-volume work, “Earth’s Catastrophic Past”, published in two volumes in 2009 and totalling 1,100 pages? Has he read anything from the Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism, or the Journal of Creation, or the Answers Research Journal (the last is freely available online)? If the answer is no, then on what grounds did he exclude the YE view from discussion in his book?

Instead of interacting with the scientific model that creationists have constructed, Lennox contents himself with quoting the (totally unrepresentative) view of Paul Nelson, while ignoring the views of the vast majority of informed YECs. Many scientists who are now YECs have testified to the fact that they came from either a theistic evolutionist or an atheistic background, and came to embrace the YE view for scientific reasons. Of course, questions and anomalies arise within the YE model, and there is discussion and debate between YECs who are working at resolving them. Anomalies arise in any widely encompassing scientific model, and most certainly in evolutionary cosmology.

Professor Lennox is evidently convinced about the validity of the establishment view on cosmology. Yet John Barrow & Frank Tipler quote G.F.R. Ellis as follows:

We are unable to obtain a model of the Universe without some specifically cosmological assumptions which are completely unverifiable.4

Below is an extract from a Scientific American profile on George Ellis:

People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations", Ellis argues. "For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with earth at its centre, and you cannot disprove it based on observations." Ellis has published a paper on this. "You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.5

The effect of this philosophical straitjacket is illustrated by the recent experience of physicist John Hartnett:6

in early 2013 I published a cosmology paper in a special journal7, where I found that using a finite bounded expanding universe, with a unique centre and an edge, one could describe the observed large-scale structure of the universe very well.
And one could do so without including ‘dark energy’ or ‘dark matter’, the fudge factors assumed in the standard big bang model.
Soon I received a call from my university’s publicity department who wanted to write a press release on it. She asked me what I felt was important about the paper. I told her that the paper was consistent with the notion that our galaxy could be located in a privileged location in the universe.
This was contrary to the oft quoted cosmological principle which states that there are no privileged locations - that our location is purely random and the universe has no centre or edge. My paper suggested that that is not necessarily so.
Once she understood what I was saying, her facial expression told me everything. She said: “I don’t think we can do anything with this.” I never heard from her again.
I had published the science, passing secular peer-review, but the real story could not be told because it was contrary to the one the establishment promoted.
Modern day cosmology has developed a good ‘story’. The general public know it very well. ... The system adheres to the usual script. If you don’t depart from that you can get out your message. But if you suggest something different - for example, that our galaxy is in a special location in the universe - the response is deafening silence. You, the author, will be ignored. But those who accept the standard paradigm - the big bang story - won’t have any problem getting their message out.

I have to say that Professor Lennox’s confidence that ideologically driven evolutionary scientists “are prepared to modify their theories if evidence warrants it” (p86) is somewhat naive. Yes, they would modify individual theories held within their given paradigm, but they would never compromise on their evolution + deep time paradigm. That is non-negotiable. It is sacrosanct. It is the scientific equivalent of political correctness. And that is the intractable problem facing creationists when it comes to discussing the question of deep time. The Professor is surely aware of this?

Let me end by saying that, having previously read three of the author’s other books, I have come to develop a great respect for the Professor. Although I do not accept the central thesis of Seven Days, and am somewhat disappointed by the book as a whole, my high regard for him as a champion for the Christian faith has not in any way diminished. I wish him God’s blessing.

References

1. Can be accessed at Christian Classics Ethereal Library website
2. Christian Classics Ethereal Library website
3. Refuting Compromise, Master Books, 2004, pp110-116.
4. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford University Press, 1988, p434.
5. W. Wayt Gibbs, “Thinking Globally, Acting Universally”, Scientific American Oct. 1995, p29.
6. Creation Magazine vol.39 no.2, 2017, p48.
7. Hartnett, J.G., “A valid finite bounded expanding Carmelian universe without dark matter”, Int. J. Theoretical Physics 52(12):4360-4366, 2013.
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on 8 May 2017
Very interesting & clear discussion of the Genesis account in the bible
Presents a strong case for the Conservative old earth creationist view
Doesn't engage though with the young earth views specifically, just seems to dismisses them as ignoring the evidence.
So one would need to look elsewhere to find their arguments for ayoung earth
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on 1 August 2017
Great short book dealing with the issues of the creation. Easy to read and makes me want to read more from the same Author
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 October 2011
John C Lennox is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. His first three books focused on the arguments of the New Atheist's. Now he looks at the Genesis account of creation, using the lens of both science and theology. I am an old earth creationist and I adopt the framework view on Gen 1 which Lennox discusses. He has five chapters and five appendices.

1. But does it move? A Lesson from history.
2. But does it move? A lesson from scripture.
3. But is it old? The days of creation.
4. Human beings: a special creation?
5. The message of Genesis 1

Appendices
A. A brief background to Genesis.
B. The cosmic temple view
C. The beginning according to Genesis and science.
D. Two accounts of creation?
E. Theistic evolution and the God of the gaps.

The book is also endorsed by Alvin Plantinga, Ravi Zacharias and Paul Copan among others. This book will suit Christians who have a science background and/or have an interest in science and religion.

NB. Appendix E has an extended discussion on theistic evolution. I would regard myself as a theist evolutionist and Lennox discusses this issue at length. He does refer to Paul Davies, Dennis Alexander and Francis Collins. His analysis on theistic evolution is worth the price of this book.

Appendix B. On the cosmic temple view on Gen 1-3, i.e. it is God's sanctuary. I think that there is some truth to this, in that Rev 21-22 shows the New Jerusalem as a place in which God dwells. The parallels with Eden should be obvious.
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on 4 August 2017
As a follower and supporter of John's books and lectures, I though this was a very weak side-step. He attempts to rescue Genesis 1 by wanting to have his cake and eat it. He tries to appease the old/young earthers.
His sleight of hand has him stating that the 7 days were literal 24-hour days young earth creationists will smile) and then pulling the rug away by stating that the periods between the 24-hours were millions of years. So, we have 24-hours (day 1), then millions of years, then 24-hours (day 2), then millions of years. The creative act took the 6 days but not concurrently. Poor science and dishonest hermeneutics,
Shame on you, John.
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on 5 January 2012
This is my third John Lennox book, which I am reviewing on Amazon. Having read a few of his books before I find myself more familiar with his overall ideas. I'll summarise my comments on the same shortly. First it might be useful to give you a brief outline of what the book actually considers. Considering each chapter in turn:

1) Begins by considering the whole historical argument (Galileo affair) of whether the earth revolves around the sun or whether the sun revolves around the earth.
2) Carrying on from chapter 1 - John then assesses how the bible was used back then to confirm the so called `scientific view' that the sun travelled around the earth (it was more a philosophical argument than scientific - it wasn't religious). He then argues that this was making the bible say something it was not intended to say and warns people against making the mistake in future (evolution vs old earth arguments) because if it the arguments are proved wrong they'll make the bible look stupid.
3) Looks at the whole 6 day creation account and basically comes to the conclusion that the days, in actual reality, are indeterminate. He notes that on day 1 there was no sun - hence day itself was indistinguishable. He then considers the young vs old earth arguments and rejects both. He says that what Genesis intends to say is that there is a chronological order of events, i.e. that life/the universe is logical and moves towards a goal - i.e. a degree of telos.
4) Moving slightly away from the 6 day controversy, John considers the whole `special creation of humanity' issue. The upshot of this chapter is that whilst man maybe related to other creatures, but he is not other creatures and therefore remains separate from them. In short this chapter disputes the reductionist views to man as just another animal.
5) What's the point of genesis then? - So far we know that it shows us that the universe is logical, has order and that man is far more than just an animal - nothing special so far. So John says, the basic up shot of the Genesis story is that God exists (metaphysical starting point). As can be seen, each act of creation begins: `and God said' - therefore God must exist in order to say what he has said. So the upshot of Genesis is to proclaim that God exists, that he created the universe and has endowed it with the properties necessary for life to begin (i.e. the fine tuning argument).
6) Considers the argument that Genesis is just another prehistoric mythology trying to give an account of how life and the universe began (i.e. the primitive science argument Dawkins loves so much). However, John disputes this and says that actually mythologies usually have the universe starting from a God or being of some kind dying and the universe coming out of that event. Genesis holds no such similarity in that it proclaims that God created a natural-logical universe, which is completely separate from God and in turn is not God.
7) Considers the cosmic temple model in which Genesis is used as a form of science. Basically John rejects this - this chapter basically looked at or responded to other people's thoughts and comments on Genesis.
8) Really short chapter on Genesis and Science. Basically says that Genesis agrees that the universe was created by an act of God. It supports the ex-nihilo model of creation and says that this agrees with Big Bang Cosmology. One has to raise a question how long this will last if Roger Penrose's idea of the recycled universe begins to hold sway, which so far it hasn't.
9) Considers Genesis 1 vs Genesis 2. It basically argues that the two are not contrary but instead tell different stories with different focuses. As both are stories with points to convey they cannot be used as strict science, as the same would be illogical. The story of Genesis 1 is detailed above and the story is Genesis 2 is that man was an intended outcome of the whole creative process.
10) Is an assessment of Francis Collin's and C.S.Lewis' ideas regarding Theistic Evolution. It basically defines what this is and how it works, in principle. It argues that the current problems are not with evolution as a concept but rather with natural selection, which is used as an all encompassing paradigm. He does however say that God's special intervention may have been involved in the creation of life, and perhaps nudged humanity on its way (special creation of humanity). However, how he does this he doesn't know or say. Is this a God of the Gaps - he argues not and that we should beware of an Evolution in the Gaps counter issue.

So what to give the book? I wanted to give it 3 stars, but that seems a little low after writing this review and rethinking about what the book actually said. So, I'm going to give it 4 stars, but really I wanted to give it 3 and a half. Why? Well, the book read severely disjointedly. It's basically a bash against 6 day creationists and how their story is simply not science (I've got a Masters in Theology, this hardly comes as a surprise to me). It then looked at other peoples work and made random comments on the same. In this respect it felt like a massive pat on the back of other like minded authors, but saying: good job guys but don't forget X also. The logical progression of the book just didn't seem to be there. Apart from the first 2 chapters every other chapter was basically just an essay on a specific point in question.

Look, I might be being a little too severe on the book. Perhaps I know too much about the topic for this book to be useful. Perhaps the writing style of this specific book just didn't do it for me. Nevertheless, if you don't have a similar degree of knowledge on the topic to me and fancy a read on the whole creation issue and why 6 day creationism is simply false, and how Genesis can be read in other ways - then perhaps this book would be a good book for you. If you're over read on the topic then this book is highly unlikely to say anything that Alister McGrath and Francis Collins haven't already said in their respective books.
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on 9 August 2013
As a Christian I often consider this topic and am not sure what to believe. Scientists want one version, theologians another. This is a clear explanation and from a theologian scientist. Excellent!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 December 2013
In the introduction to this book John Lennox describes how he once met a brilliant professor of literature from a country where it was not easy to discuss the Bible publically. The professor was intrigued that John Lennox was a scientist who believed the Bible and very politely asked a question: "We were taught at school that the Bible starts with a very silly unscientific story of how the world was made in seven days. What do you have to say about that as a scientist?" John Lennox goes on to say that this book is written for people like her, who have been putting off even considering the Christian faith for this kind of reason. It is also written for many convinced Christians who are disturbed by the controversy and by the fact that those who take the Bible seriously do not agree on the interpretation of the creation account.

The first chapter draws lessons from history and looks at the challenge that the scientific theory put forward by Galileo that the earth was moving posed to the generally accepted biblical view of the sixteenth century.

The second chapter looks at some principles of biblical interpretation and applies them to the controversy. The third chapter looks more at the seven days and how they can be considered. In doing this the author carefully analyses the different ways that the creation account is interpreted, as well as considering the views of the church fathers. The conclusion is that the biblical text is probably far more nuanced than we usually consider it to be.

The forth chapter considers the place of humans in the creation account and more particularly the fall and the resulting entry of death. It becomes increasingly clear that we need to pay careful attention to what the biblical text actually says rather than what we think or even presume that it says.

The fifth and final chapter considers what the message of creation is, particularly from a New Testament perspective. It considers something of what God is like; that he is the Light and that he creates by his Word. It also contains some thoughts on the Sabbath day.

There are also some appendices including: cultural and literary background to Genesis; the cosmic temple view and theistic evolution. The latter contains the only disappointing part of the book in my opinion. Having spent a considerable time carefully discussing the possible interpretation of the biblical text in order to establish that an old earth as accepted by scientists is completely in accord with what the Bible says, John Lennox very quickly dismisses evolution without the same careful analysis. His approach to this element of the controversy is in marked contrast to the rest of the book.

The book is in general well written and readable. It is much easier reading than John Lennox's book God's Undertaker and I would highly recommend it. Indeed I have lent it to several people already.
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on 3 October 2011
This book focuses on the creation account given in the early part of the book of Genesis and seeks to interpret it treating the text as authoritative scripture. Professor John Lennox makes the case for allowing scientific knowledge to influence this, where different interpretations are possible. To illustrate this he spends a couple of chapters covering the historic case of how opinion changed to accept that the earth is not fixed in space and that this is consistent with scripture even though many people initially thought not. He then goes on to explain different models of how Genesis has been interpreted and to argue which view fits both science and the biblical text the best. He argues for old earth creationism with progressive literal 24 hour creation days separated by long periods in between. On these days he sees God as providing information and energy to get life started and cause major changes followed by periods of micro-evolution with human beings created as an act of special creation. His position therefore seems to be one of 'intelligent design.' He then goes on to give the theological message of Genesis 1. The main part of the book is then followed by 5 annexes covering some issues in more detail. The book is short and concise at 192 pages (smaller pages then normal) including the annexes and is easy to read and clear. In my opinion he certainly says a lot of wise and insightful things and I think most people would learn something from reading his book. However, I wasn't convinced by some of his arguments. One of the key problems with his interpretation is Origen's observation that the Sun was created/made on day 4. This is a problem for 'days' 1 to 3. As Henri Blocher points out in his book 'In the beginning' (p45-46) 'made' should not be changed into revealed just to fit an interpretive scheme when the Hebrew of Genesis has a perfectly good word for appear. Also, God commands the land to produce all the different types of plants and animals (1:11-12, 24). God empowers the land to do all this and this fits well with the modern theory of evolution (See John Hartley, 'New International Biblical Commentary - Genesis', p57). So the Genesis text seems to be consistent with macro as well as micro evolution by unthinking material process. Perhaps God had already supplied the 'information' required? Lennox does not explain how his model accommodates the several mass extinctions throughout the history of life on earth or the fact that most species are extinct. In stating a case for a special creation of human beings he does not explain what causes humans to have fossilized genes or why retroviruses are inserted at specific places in the human genome which are at the same place as lower life forms. Perhaps this is too much to expect in a short book like this. For those who wish to read more widely on this subject I recommend Denis Alexander's 'Creation or Evolution - do we have to choose' and Henri Blocher's book 'In the Beginning' (first 2 Chapters) both of which I learned a lot from. In summary, Professor Lennox's book is well worth reading but I'd recommend reading some other books on this subject as well and then critically reflecting on what you have read.
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on 10 August 2013
I'm usually great fan of John Lennox, but like many Protestants he proposes here an interpretation of the Genesis 1 creation story that seeks to rescue the 24-hour day creation steps to accommodate Intelligent Design type staged inputs of divine intelligence to account for the development of life, but in a way that does not compromise science's aging of earth and the universe. This is anthropomorphic, as God's fiats are issued from eternity and so he needs zero hours for his creative acts. Also, the anthropic principle means that the first three days need no such input except at Big Bang. Lennox fails to even mention the best interpretation of Genesis 1, viz. a creation event sequence deliberately fitted in to the framework of the Jewish week to hallow that week and the Sabbath Day, an argument supported by the fact that the Jewish week was required long before the creation story was written and by the fact that eight divine fiats are squeezed into six days.
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