A new book, details forwarded by secretary Jill Abery, written by SIS member David M Barker – 'Science and Religion: reconciling the conflicts' and published by Tate Publishing of Mustang in Oklahoma (2013) has arrived through the letter box. There are chapters on carbon dating, scientific ages, on comets asteroids and meteorites, on continental drift or shift, on the flood, geochronology, history or myth, evolution or creationism, astronomy and cosmological curiosities etc. It is a book I will return to at a later date – but might make somebody a nice christmas present.
I suspect it will involve the issue of Young Earthers and Old Earthers (two sides of the Creationist coin). A lot of biblicists are able to cope with the idea of an earth that is very old and a humanity that is equally much older than a superficial reading of Biblical numbers as they revolve around chronology. The idea of a young earth has popped up on some occasions in SIS articles – most notably Steven Robinson in the Proceedings of the First Cambridge Conference. Electric Universe theory as expressed at www.thunderbolts.info also has a Young Earth dimension – but this is not a universal requisite for a EU advocate. It is especially evident on the Forum. However, a young Earth is not a prerequisite of Christian belief – but I suppose it must depend on the denomination one engages with. William Thompson, SIS member, makes the point that Dr Arthur Custance (reviewed recently on In the News) made the claim there was a gap between Genesis 1;1 and 1;2 – and as a scientist he clearly had to weigh this in the balance and a young Earth appears to have been rejected. The idea revolved around translation from the Hebrew into Greek and into English, in particular the phrase 'without form and void'. In a nutshell was the world created without form and void or did it become without form and void as a result of a catastrophe. This is quite important as the Genesis account has been described in the pages of SIS journals as a post-catastrophe 'creation' myth – and there are many examples in a variety of cultures around the world. The idea that it refers to the actual creation of the world prior to the rise of humanity is unlikely – unless you accept the Bible was divinely inspired (and then any argument is pointless). See Arthur C Custance (1970) 'Without Form and Void: a study of the meaning of Genesis 1:2' in Doorway Publications (reprinted 2008 by Classic Reprint Press, Windber, PA (ISBN 9781934251331) and see also www.custance.org and http://classicreprintpress.com or read it online at www.creationdays.dk/withoutformandvoid/Articles.php
He also wrote Arthur C Custance, 'Some Pagan Traditions of a Like Catastrophe' (see also the same sources).
William Thompson is fascinated by this area of Biblical research and has been for over 30 years, compiling a huge list of documentary sources on catastrophism in the process. This is so far reaching it amounts to a valuable resource for today and in the future. Basically, the idea of catastrophic incidents recorded as a backdrop to Biblical events is something most people within SIS can tune into as after all the Biblical narrative is possibly the oldest running historiography that has survived the centuries of conflict and upheaval. He suggests Gen:2 could be reinterpreted to mean 'but the earth had become a ruin and a desolation …' etc. rather than the contrived English translation. He suggests commentaries and lexicons other than the English should be taken into account – research into linguistics, such as the Targum of Onkelos, the Book of Jasher, the Septuagint and the Vulgate, and works of the early church fathers (he has 40 volumes) and the writings of various medieval scholars (largely ignored nowadays). He goes on to say he has not set down his conclusions simply to argue with others but is prepared to leave the matter to sort itself out with time, in the firm belief that the truth will ultimately become apparent. Some wrong conclusions are to be expected as no claim to finality is made. As somebody who spent part of his working life in scientific research he knows that nothing is certain – and being sceptical of others input is a good thing. He is aware of sharper criticism by others looking at the same subject.