Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Seven Days that Divide the World by John C. Lennox

Lennox has written this book for people who have put off considering Christianity because of the questions surrounding creation, perhaps thinking Christianity is unscientific. He has also written for those who take the Bible seriously but are unsure about the creation account.
To understand the nature of the creation controversy Lennox goes back to Copernicus. The Bible seemed to teach the earth was fixed and the sun moved but the church eventually accepted the heliocentric model of the universe. Why did Christians change their interpretation of Scripture?
Lennox suggests that when looking at Scripture we need to ask several questions such as the author's intent, use of metaphors, etc. He reviews early church fathers on Genesis.
Lennox explores the Hebrew words used in Genesis 1. He concludes that day 1 starts at verse 3. “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...” (53) The text allows one to believe in an ancient universe and twenty-four hour days of Genesis.
Genesis tells us God specially created humans. That is supported by the New Testament. He notes that from the genealogical records in the Bible, “the dating of the age of humanity is indeterminate.” (75)
That human life is younger than animal life brings up the issue of the existence of death before the entrance of sin into the world. Lennox suggests Paul asserts that death passed to human beings as a result of Adam's sin. He notes that animals eat other animals and must have done so before the Fall. He also notes the presence of the serpent in the Garden, a being clearly opposed to God. He makes the point, “evil in the universe appears to antedate the sin of Adam and Eve.” (84)
The best way forward, he says, is to consider: the current scientific evidence for an ancient earth and that Scripture does not require a young earth, and, we do not know everything.
He reminds us that we should not miss the important points of Genesis 1: God exists, God created, God is personal, God has a goal in creating, etc.

This is a slim but powerful book. As a Christian with a degree in science (physics), I have read scores of books on the Genesis creation/science controversy. In this one, Lennox has added insights I have never considered before. I highly recommend this book for those interested in the subject.

John C. Lennox (PhD, Dphil, Dsc) is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He lectures widely on the intellectual defense of Christianity and has publically debated atheists such as Hitchens and Dawkins. He and his wife live near Oxford.

Zondervan, 117 pages with an additional 70 pages of appendices.

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