Friday, December 18, 2009

Greg Boyd and the Gap Theory

So, I found out today, a bit to my disappointment, that my favorite theologian, Greg Boyd has gone in for the gap theory. In an article written for the book Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science, Boyd undertakes to show how evolution can be thought of as cosmic warfare.

I have not yet finished Boyd's article, but I think the premise is rather good. If the gap theory is true and before the creation of man there were millions of years of evolution, viewing that evolution in terms of cosmic warfare would be the single best way to view it.

But I just have some problems with the gap theory. It doesn't seem to fit a normal reading of the Bible. I agree with gap theorists that the Hebrew yom does not necessarily mean a day of twenty-four hours (take a look at all the word uses). But the phrase "there was evening and there was morning, one day" (as it should literally be translated) seems to suggest an actual period of twenty-four hours.

This is not nearly my biggest problem with the gap theory. One of my biggest problems is that the gap theory is usually formulated to accommodate evolution into the Bible. I have no problem with evolution in general. I agree that species adapt and change, even from species to species. I do note, however, that there are genetic limitations on how much a certain kind (that is the biblical term) of animal can change. Evolutionists know this, which is why they usually posit mutation as the means by which animals evolve. Mutation, though, does not add genetic information. There's simply no way to add genetic information to the genome, as opposed to changing or destroying it. (Watch Richard Dawkins try to answer this question.)

But that is a tangent. The main problem is that the literal reading of the Genesis account is destroyed by the gap theory. In Genesis 3:20, Adam names his wife Eve, because "she would become the mother of all the living". In the gap theory, she would not indeed become the mother of the entire human race.

Now, here is the kicker. We note in Gen 1:14-19 that the lights in the sky are only created on day four. Some evolutionists scoff at this, but it's up to them to show that the sun's and star's light was needed before day four. Was it needed for the plants on day three? Not really. If you read Genesis 2:4-7 it is quite obvious that while God planted the seeds on the third day, they didn't sprout up until after the sixth day. (Even if full-grown plants had been created on day three, they would not have needed light for at least another day.) Sure, on day one God created light (as in, the concept), but did not create actual lights until day four. Wavelenths still function in the dark. But this poses a problem for gap theorists. Evolution typically supposes that the sun evolved long before plant and animal life.

There is also a problem in that, as I noted, per Gen 2:4-7 it does not appear that plants God created actually sprouted until after the sixth day. If the yom represent long periods of time, such as millions of years - that's one long sprout.

Overall, I just don't think the gap theory fits well with the book of Genesis. I've never been impressed by the "evidence" for evolution, and from my limited reading I am quite happy with a literal six twenty-four hour day reading of Genesis.

I still like Boyd, and while I recommend his books and will not drop him off the list as my favorite theologian, I rather disagree with him on this issue. I don't think it's a salvation issue at all, though, and though he certainly seems to be wrong here, in general I love the work he is doing for the kingdom.

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