The Biblical Narrative: What Is Now, Isn’t What Was Then

Mount St. Helens-1980Science has messed up an understanding of history. For example, back when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, scientists predicted an unrecoverable blow to the ecosystem. The devastation caused by the blast–“hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland”–could not be overcome for hundreds of years. Or so they said, with the same authoritative voice that all scientific pronouncements are made. Imagine the shock when nature didn’t cooperate with science. The predictions of ecosystem disaster were simply wrong: “For example, within just three years, 90% of the original plant species were found to be growing within the blast zone” (from “After devastation … the recovery”).

The point is, science thinks things thousands of years ago acted the same way researchers have observed them to act today–as if the intervening time did nothing to change the way things work. Consequently, things like people who were nine feet tall or who lived for nine hundred years simply get filed in the “just a myth” category. So does a worldwide flood and talking animals. We know these things aren’t true, the scientific rationale goes, because we’ve never observed these things.

One more problem–the basic idea of evolution, of survival of the fittest, suggests that the strongest survives, the smartest or most capable. In essence, in practice if not in philosophy, evolution suggests that people are getting better.

So how could there have been a period of time in which men were taller, stronger, smarter, and lived way, way longer than we do now? Science simply says it didn’t happen that way.

But what if the Bible is true? What if God did create Adam and Eve and all the plants and animals and called all He made good because it was all at optimum capacity? That scenario doesn’t leave much room for the natural order getting better. Unless God’s “good” was simple a good start.

How are we to make sense of the Bible in light of the observations of science? Or do we simply dismiss science as ineffectual in understanding history? Do we accept the Bible with no attempt to integrate scientific discovers? Take the existence of dinosaurs for example.

There are actually a number of theories that Biblical scholars have postulated through the years to explain dinosaurs. One is the gap theory–the idea that the dinosaur age existed in a period of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Another idea is that dinosaurs were corrupt and not taken onto the ark, so they died in the flood. Still another theory is that they were taken onto the ark but became extinct after the flood.

My own theory is that dinosaurs were in the serpent family, falling under God’s curse:

The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life (Gen. 3:14)

Really, there are all kinds of possibilities if a person first accepts the Biblical account as true. And by “accepting the Biblical account” I mean the entire Bible.

Consequently when Scripture says, in God’s way of reckoning time, a day is like a thousand years (see 2 Peter 3:8), that’s something to consider when contemplating a “six day” creation. So also is the fact that no way of measuring twenty-four hours existed until God created the sun on “day” four.

But what about the giants and living for hundreds of years? Isn’t all that far-fetched?

Keep in mind, we’re starting with the premise that the Biblical narrative is true. The discussion, then, would be how do we explain these phenomena, not how do we prove them.

According to the Bible, in those early days there was one land mass, there was no rain, but a mist watered the earth, no animals were carnivores, and a person’s natural life-span was over eight centuries. And then there was a worldwide flood, a division of the land, people stopped living for hundreds of years, and they started speaking different languages. In other words, everything changed.

Is there a reasonable explanation for all this? Actually there is a possibility tucked into Genesis 1. Verses 6-10 discuss land separated from water, but also water separated from water by an “expanse,” or “heaven,” which we now call space.

What if our earth’s atmosphere once contained a layer of water that protected the inhabitants from the harmful rays of the sun? Wouldn’t it be possible to imagine people living far longer lives? And animals living on a different diet, not needing meat? Wouldn’t it also be possible to envision a worldwide flood if that layer of water gave way?

Some people also postulate a layer of water under the crust of the earth that protected the inhabitants from volcanic activity.

Johnston_Ridge_Mount_St_Helens_1980Which brings us back to the lessons of Mount St. Helens. Because things are the way they are today, we cannot assume to know what the world was like thousands of years ago, unless we have written records preserved miraculously by the One who knows exactly how those records and scientific observation fit together.

Mt_st_helens_Johnston_ridge_25_years_laterIn short, science doesn’t have to be feared or ignored, but it does have to be understood in light of the infallible record given to us by our omniscient, all powerful God.

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Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm  Comments (8)  
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8 Comments

  1. This is good reading, Becky! I heartily agree with both premises: that today’s landscape and environment are quite different and that we should account for that, when studying history, and that, if we study the earth’s nativity, we should consider the most consistent, earliest written records of that history, with respect to what they assert. This is especially true, since there is no way we can go back to that time, with any sort of comparative measurements.

    These are just some passing comments in response to some of your questions. Most are not original ideas; just logical ones I have read. In regard to the mass exodus of the dinosaurs, I think your explanation might work, except that there were many dinosaurs that did not go about on their belly, especially those in the oceans. So my personal bent is to say that, while dinosaurs are in the serpent family, they are not serpents, per se. However, they are reptilian, and as such, they continue to grow, as long as they live. Dr. Murphy suggested that, perhaps, all dinosaurs are NOT extinct, since we have a wide variety of reptiles that grow larger with age, still on the planet. A case in point, of course, is the tortoise, who can live for hundreds of years and continues to grow.

    In Oklahoma, there is a horned toad, which looks like a miniature dinosaur, if I ever saw one! In the 1900’s, off the coast of Japan, a dinosaur was found, apparently a Plesiosaurus, proving that not all the dinosaurs of that size were gone so long ago. (He proved to be a little too much for the nostrils, too, so they threw him back, before the scientists studied him.) For that matter, doesn’t the armadillo look like a prehistoric creature? Or the rhino? Some people think that the Biblical allusion to the “horns of the unicorn” in Job refer to the rhinoceros.

    The latest sightings of the “Loch Ness Monster” are summed up by the local fisherman who has spent many years on the lake as possibly 2 or three creatures, perhaps a family.

    Interestingly, on the same islands that Darwin studied, there are dragons! Now, they look nothing like the mythical ones–much more like a large lizard–but I am sure they drag their tummies in the dirt.

    This is what I think happened to the large number of dinosaurs that died and those that are now extinct: I think there was a cloud cover over the earth, initially, and, that when Noah and his family were ready to go aboard the ark, somehow God triggered (or prepared for an event He knew was coming as a result of the fall) a burst in the cloud cover. which brought rain and a great, instant, cooling of the earth’s surface ( explaining the wooly Mammoth they found frozen in ice, off the coast of Greenland, a few years back, still with flash frozen tropical greens in its stomach).

    The rapidly cooling earth’s crust could have caused that subterranean water to shoot up, through the places that buckled and broke, adding to the flood waters–and the cooling effect.

    Finally, I think that continental drift from the great cracks in the earth’s surface, that form the giant puzzle on the earth’s surface, began in the days of Peleg, because the Bible says that it was in his days that the earth was divided.

    Someday, I hope to visit with Noah. Will we need translators in Heaven?

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    • Love reading all this, Peggy. Your thinking is similar to mine, but you have a lot more facts. Re. the dinosaurs, I actually think the serpent God cursed may have been the dragon, and what we have now as a snake is the “on the belly” version, void of fire. It’s always interested me that Satan apparently inhabited the serpent, but God actually cursed the serpent. Makes me wonder if animals, or some animals, were once sentient. After all, God first looked for a helpmate for Adam from among the animals. And Eve was not perturbed at a snake talking to her. Then there are all those stories about dragons and thought-communication.

      It’s fun to speculate, that’s for sure. And how much more fun will it be to learn the way things actually happened.

      Becky

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    • Forgot to say, I heard one person postulate that the entire earth was an even, temperate climate before the flood. We didn’t have arctic poles until after we lost the water layer of the atmosphere. Another point that makes sense to me, and may as you suggest have contributed to the break up of the single land mass.

      Wow, what scientists couldn’t do if they’d study our world with these ideas as possibilities.

      Becky

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  2. Took the words outta my mouth… 🙂

    When I was growing up, my mother liked to tell a story from her college days. She was a geophysics major, and took a class that required students to examine a valley and explain its geological history. She was proud of her grade in this class, because she was the only one who aced this field work. Having looked at ALL the evidence, she figured out that the rock bed was upside-down. The other students came up with convoluted explanations based on partial evidence.

    A lot of people (on either side of the argument, let’s be honest) do that. They choose evidence based on what they believe and ignore anything that threatens those beliefs. The concept of evolution as an improvement is completely contrary to the second law of thermodynamics (entropy–things fall into disorder, as it is easier to collapse or disintegrate than to force a new, more complicated order). The math doesn’t hold up. But science as a social belief system isn’t bothered by pesky details like math.

    Or let’s take the speed of light. Which is slowing down. A hundred years after it had been established, a group of university students reproduced the same experiment that had given us current numbers, and their data was off to a degree that did not account for normal error. Repeated experiments and studies have demonstrated that the speed of light isn’t constant, but slowing down in a rough tangent curve. If the speed of light is measurably slower within a hundred years, then it used to be faster. So when God said “Let there be light,” it would have been asymptotically close to instantaneous. What we understand as “the laws of physics” would be a little different. (And there are physicists and whatnot who can argue and demonstrate these differences. The short version is that it’s like turning on a faucet in your sink: when the stream of water hits the surface, everything sprays straight out until the initial force of that water is dissipated and gravity turns the water into a “normal” gentle trickle down the drain.) This isn’t a popular teaching, as it gives measurable, testable evidence that is contrary to current politically correct teaching AND requires defenders to take the math more seriously.

    How blessed are we, that God doesn’t give exams to get into heaven?

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    • Fascinating, Lex. Between you and Peggy, I’m learning so much! The speed of light is slowing down! Wows! Imagine what that does to all the calculations about the distance of things! I’ve argued the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as opposed to evolution, too, but usually as evidence against the concept of a Big Bang coming from random movement of mass and energy (never mind organizing into life in such a way that it could continue to develop into more and more complex forms.

      I realized there’s actually some Biblical evidence for my theory that when God created, He made a mature earth and universe that looked far older than it was. Think about Jesus’s first recorded miracle. He make wine from water, but not just any wine–the best wine they’d served at the wedding. As I understand it, wine becomes good when it is aged, but of course that wine was newly made, yet tasted as if it had fermented for untold years. If Jesus could produce aged wine with a word, then why couldn’t the Father produce an aged universe? Is anything too hard for Him?

      Becky

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  3. “Keep in mind, we’re starting with the premise that the Biblical narrative is true. The discussion, then, would be how do we explain these phenomena, not how do we prove them.”
    Love that! It all boils down to whom we choose to trust. No one can “prove” their position on origins because the conditions aren’t right today to repeat it.
    As for dinos: they most likely made it, otherwise, why did so many people make up stories and draw them so accurately 1,000s of years later? http://creationscience4kids.com/2013/01/08/book-review-dire-dragons/

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    • I agree, Cheri. And who we choose to trust depends on our what we think about God. If we discount Him or the possibility of a Supreme Being, then we are taking things into our own hands, saying there’s a key to the universe that we can understand. Ultimately, nothing and no one is higher than we. It’s such a bizarre conclusion.

      Becky

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