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Friday, September 05, 2008

A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, by Snoke, part 1

I intend, God helping me, to present a critique of A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, by David Snoke. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), in several posts. In the past, I have treated two other important books relating to both science and religious issues in this way. For the last post on The Language of God, by Francis Collins, go here. For the last post on Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator, go here.

May I say at the outset that I have two problems with Snoke's book. First, he doesn't seem to understand evolution (by which I mean change over time, due to selective processes), or at least he doesn't write very much about it. This is not surprising, since Snoke is a physicist, I guess. The second problem is related. Snoke is a believer in Intelligent Design. So am I, depending on how you define it. (See the second paragraph of this post.) However, I have serious problems with the Intelligent Design movement, and I'm not alone in this. A number of Christians with scientific training have expressed similar concerns. Snoke doesn't seem to have these problems. I wish he did.

In spite of my reservations, Snoke has written an excellent book. He is a good writer, and a careful one. He examines scripture carefully, knows it well, and takes it seriously. He deals with possible arguments against his position, gently demolishing most of them, in my view.

Snoke's book is best summarized by its title. Snoke recognizes that many Christians have serious reservations about his thesis, in particular, they believe that there was no death before the Fall, and that the days of Genesis 1 were literal days. Snoke discusses these reservations carefully. He makes, I believe, a compelling case that the Bible does not teach that there was no animal death before the Fall, and a compelling case that the Bible does not teach that the days of Genesis 1 were consecutive literal 24-hour days.

Thanks for reading.


BruceA said...

It sounds intriguing. I don't know what I might get out of the book, since I'm already convinced that the Bible doesn't teach that the days of Genesis 1 were literal 24-hour days, nor that there was no animal death before the fall. (Maybe that's my mainline background giving me a different perspective.)

I'm curious about the book's title though: Does Snoke go so far as to say the Bible makes the case for an old earth, or merely that an old earth is not incompatible with biblical teaching?

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, brucea. I think that your second alternative is what Snoke wants to accomplish. That is, see the last sentence of my post. However, he also argues that, if we are careful, non-Biblical evidence can, and should, influence our interpretation of the Bible, and that, in the case of origins, the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of an old earth.

BruceA said...

Thanks for the clarification. Yes, I agree that the extra-biblical evidence points overwhelmingly to an old earth and an old universe.

Martin LaBar said...

Snoke is writing for the large group of people who are convinced that the Bible teaches unequivocally that the earth is but a few thousand years old, and are mostly convinced that there is a necessary conflict between Christians and science.