146 of 155 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book primarily makes a biblically based case for an old earth, or at least that the Bible does not preclude an old earth. The book begins with a well-developed analogy between the current young-earth/old earth debate and the 17th century fixed earth/moving earth debate. He concludes this portion of the book with a final lesson from the Galileo affair: "The Galileo incident teaches us that we should be humble enough to distinguish between what the Bible says and our interpretations of it. The biblical text might just be more sophisticated than we first imagined, and we might therefore be in danger of using it to support ideas that it never intended to teach. The Bible could be understood to teach that the earth was fixed. But it does not have to be understood that way. At least, Galileo thought so in his day, and history has subsequently proved him right." (p. 35)
Lennox continues the analogy with the fixed-earth controversy: "There we saw that, although Scripture could be understood as teaching that the earth did not move, that was not the only logically possible interpretation. Here we see that, although Scripture could be understood as teaching that the earth is young, it does not have to be interpreted in this way." (p. 53) Along the way, he makes a number of points, including "it is Scripture that is inspired and not my particular understanding of it" and the importance of distinguishing between the facts and how to interpret them.
Lennox has a nice, brief summary of the three main interpretations of the days of Genesis 1: the 24-hour view, the day-age view, and the framework view. He then presents his case for the fiat days view, a variation of the day-age view in which "the six creation days themselves could well have been days of normal length ... in which God acted to create something new, ... spaced out at intervals over the entire period of time that God took to complete his work." He also has a brief discussion of the four different meanings of the Hebrew word yom (day) in Genesis 1 & 2, and the obligatory discussion of death before Adam's sin.
The book has five appendices which cover (1) the relationship of the Genesis account of creation with other Ancient Near East accounts, (2) John Walton's functional interpretation of Genesis (in which he disagrees with Walton's insistence that Genesis 1 has nothing to do with the material origin of the universe), (3) the beginning according to Genesis and science (the Big Bang), (4) the two accounts of creation (Genesis 1 & 2), and (5)a 28-page discussion of his views on theistic evolution. In this discussion, Lennox comments on the versions of theistic evolution described by Francis Collins, Michael Behe, Simon Conway Morris, and Denis Alexander. While he accepts biological evolution, he makes a case for the special creation of Adam and Eve as another intervention (singularity) in history, along with the Big Bang, life from nonlife, the Incarnation and the Resurrection. He winds up by suggesting that, just as science and the Bible have converged on the beginning of the universe, science and the Bible may also converge on the origin of life.
All in all, this is a very worthwhile book, both for non-Christians who has been put off by the young earth creationism of some Christians and for Christians "who are disturbed not only by the controversy but also by the fact that even those who take the Bible seriously do not agree on the interpretation of the creation account."
64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2011
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.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2011
John C. Lennox (PhD, Professor of Mathematics Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science) in "Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science" aims to offer an interpretation of the Book of Genesis that demonstrates that a conflict between science and Christianity doesn't really exist. Lennox provides answers that are easy to understand without the naiveté of simple answers to difficult and complex issues. He delivers what he views as a scripture-grounded case for the old earth interpretation of Genesis (and science).
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
In "Seven Days" Dr. Lennox:
* Employs the lessons learned during the Galileo situation
* Holds to the notion that the infallibility of scripture should not be confused with one's interpretation of scripture
* Offers a succinct survey of the chief interpretations of Genesis One
* Analyses the Hebrew word for "Day" (Yom)
* Evaluates the work of Collins, Behe, Walton, and others
* Provides his view of humanity's special creation
* Analysis of the "Cosmic Temple View"
The good doctor holds various views that many readers may reject, including a sort of theistic evolution. This is a small hardback book that gives the reader many concepts to ponder, but it is too short to offer any exhaustive or conclusive contentions. Additionally he holds to a form of the framework theory while encouraging the reader to appreciate the many parallelisms in Genesis.
"Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20).
The author affirms a robust view of the enormous amount of scientific and philosophical evidence for a Creator; many of these arguments Lennox has used with great success in debating atheists. Since he affirms a unique creation of life by God, he is not a strict Darwinist, but holds to a form of macro-evolution; he supplies some fine critiques of Dawkins and a godless creation.
* C. John Collis
* Paul Copan
* Ravi Zacharias
* Doug Groothius
* Alvin Plantinga
"Seven Days" is written in non-technical language and is an admirable volume as it can serve as an introductory study of Genesis One. This is the rare apologetic book that leaves one wanting to read further. The reader can turn to videos on the internet to see more of Lennox. He clearly puts forth his version of a scriptural picture of integrating all of Genesis in an apologetic for a Creation by God. This subject often divides Christians and one should do the proper due diligence in faithfully forming one's Biblical view of Genesis and Creation. I prefer a much more conservative view, yet I received a lot of notions to contemplate.
Mike Robinson Author of:
"Truth, Knowledge and the Reason for God: The Defense of the Rational Assurance of Christianity"
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
For over 30 years I made an appoint that the books I buy on science and/or evolution be strictly from atheists with some kind of college PHD or most recognized individuals; Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Simon Conway Morris and those of this sort. That way I couldn't be accused of reading "Creationist" books and being "mislead" as far as anything scientific or evolution. This was my first book in breaking that rule and I'm glad I did!
I've seen videos of John Lennox debating the most well-known atheists like Peter Atkins, Michael Shermer, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. He doesn't bat an eye while the atheists are squirming in their seats. His scientific knowledge impressed me so much that I broke my "rule" and bought "Seven Days That Divide the World".
A very pleasant and enjoyable writing style, Prof Lennox has a compliment for nearly every atheist he mentions. A small book packed with more new thoughts than many of the bigger books I've read. His interpretation of the Bible's creation account in Genesis is very comparable to the Jehovah's Witnesses interpretation, although with a lot more scientific info and biblical background. This is the first time I've ever seen a scientific explanation for the incorrect belief that God uses evolution as a means to create everything including man. Many new thoughts obviously not considered by those that believe so. A small but powerful book and quick read. I'm moved to follow up my studies with more books from Prof. Lennox.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2011
John C Lennox is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. His first three books focused on the arguments of the New Atheist's. Now he looks at the Genesis account of creation, using the lens of both science and theology. I am an old earth creationist and I adopt the framework view on Gen 1 which Lennox discusses. He has five chapters and five appendices.
1. But does it move? A Lesson from history.
2. But does it move? A lesson from scripture.
3. But is it old? The days of creation.
4. Human beings: a special creation?
5. The message of Genesis 1
A. A brief background to Genesis.
B. The cosmic temple view (Gen 1 as a temple)
C. The beginning according to Genesis and science.
D. Two accounts of creation?
E. Theistic evolution and the God of the gaps.
The book is also endorsed by Alvin Plantinga, Ravi Zacharias and Paul Copan among others. This book will suit Christians who have a science background and/or have an interest in science and religion.
NB. Appendix E has an extended discussion on theistic evolution. I would regard myself as a theist evolutionist and Lennox discusses this issue at length. He does refer to Paul Davies, Dennis Alexander and Francis Collins. His analysis on theistic evolution is worth the price of this book.
Appendix E. On the cosmic temple view on Gen 1-3, i.e. it is God's sanctuary. I think that there is some truth to this, in that Rev 21-22 shows the New Jerusalem as a place in which God dwells. The parallels with Eden should be obvious.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
How nice to spend an afternoon with Dr. Lennox. After reading his comfortable, yet concise prose, I am confident that I would enjoy having him over for Sunday dinner...with some spirits and some spirited discussion afterward. Dr. Lennox, please consider you and your family invited!
I particularly enjoy the objectivity and open-mindedness he displays when discussing various points of view, especially with regard to scriptural interpretation. I chuckled when he noted that the first two biblical occurrences of the word "day" (both in Gen 1:5) had different meanings.
To me, credibility is one of the most important attributes of a modern faith. Prof. Lennox has done his part admirably.
Thank you, Prof. Lennox!
44 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I would like to say that I like John Lennox. I read his book "God's undertaker" a few years back when my interest in theology and apologetics first sparked. I've seen him debate Dawkins and hold his own pretty well from a scientific and reasoned standpoint. I say all this to say that regardless of this negative review, I would encourage people to hear Lennox out elsewhere. He's brilliant.
I don't wish to fully review every aspect of the book in a point by point layout. I thought the user "R. G. Tallon" 3-star review was sufficiently helpful enough. With this said, I would like to point out where I'm coming from and the main areas I disagreed with the book.
I'm a student (sophomore) in college that is currently on track to teach Old Testament and history classes. Naturally any subject involving Genesis perks my interest, and having read and seen Lennox in the past, I wanted to see what he said.
Lennox is an Old Earth Concordist. He has little aspects from multiple views, but he's mostly defined as Old Earth concordist. As far as the chapters go 1-5 is more of the same information for those who keep up with the genesis debates. He does a decent job discussing the Hebrew and context, even though I disagree with his conclusions on various things. He discusses what "the beginning" means, the "days," and so on. He seems to end up with a view that supports literal days forming a 7-day lineup, but with potential spaces in between. He uses terminology like "god's" workweek as appose to man.
I understand his viewpoint, respect it, but I disagree that He's taking everything into account. I also have no problem with evolution, which he seems to reject. My problems come in the first two appendixes of the book. In "A" he spends his time discussing the Ancient Near East documents and how they differ from Genesis, as well as the fact there is no proof of Genesis "copying" off of these other account such as Enuma Elish or Atrahasis. I would agree on these points, but he spends no time on the parallels between these documents and Genesis. Ancient Israel had a cognitive environment with their neighbors wherein they shared many ideas, and also contrasted sharply in others. I wish he would have spent more time on this, however, I realize it's an appendix and not entirely necessary.
Appendix "B" shows why Lennox did not spend much time on ANE concepts in appendix "A." In appendix "B" Lennox discusses his disagreements with John Walton's "Cosmic Temple View." In this appendix Lennox misunderstands Ancient culture (or at least doesn't show he has much research in this area). He spends his time pointing out alleged flaws in Walton's book "The Lost World of Genesis One." He mostly interacts with this book only from Walton. I have read the book, I also own Walton's "Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament," "Genesis One as Ancient cosmology (the scholarly version I feel Lennox should have interacted with)," and his "NIV Genesis Application Commentary." With that said, I know a bit of where Walton's coming from, and am biased to his views. I'm willing to change my mind, but Lennox is unsuccessful for several reasons. I wanted to then point out some faulty arguments Lennox made of Walton's view in the following since the "temple view" is the basis I judge the rest of the book.
1. Lennox states, "...If ancient readers thought in functional terms, the literature would be full of it, and scholars would be very aware of it."
The ancient literature and the biblical text are full of functional representations. One needs only to read scholars on the issue. Walton is one of the first to comprehensively apply it to Genesis one, but it built off many others work in the field (both Christian and non). That's what footnotes are for. One glaring example is that the Enuma Elish was debated for a while whether it should be considered a "creation text" because it was claimed nothing was actually "created (see Walton, Genesis One as Ancient Cosmology)."
2. Lennox says, "...the biblical account differs significantly from those [ancient near eastern accounts]...it is hard to see just what weight to attach to this argument."
The biblical account does differ significantly, but in what way? Israel had the same perceptions and viewpoints of their neighbors (such as structure of the world), but differed in theology. ANE comparative studies are immensely important. Walton explains how they parallel in his book.
Furthermore in the first appendix Lennox, correctly, asserts that the idea that Genesis copied off of other creation texts is no longer widely accepted. This would imply then that the similarities support a cognitive environment (such as Walton suggests) in viewing things. For instance the separating of waters in Genesis and Enuma Elish are not copied, but derive from a similar view that the sky was solid and a heavenly ocean was placed up there (hence rain and weather). The difference is that Tiamat, a deity, did not make up those materials. In addition Walton's view seemed to be that there wasn't even anything physical taking place, but a designation of functions for the separating of waters (as evident in Enuma Elish). One can disagree with this viewpoint, but they need to interact with the evidence and say why. Lennox never really interacts with how Israel viewed ancient cosmology.
3. Lennox states, "Genesis 1:1 refers to the creation of the heaven and earth. There is no hint here of a functional dimension "in relation to society and culture."
This is a telling statement in that I don't think Lennox fully understood Walton's argument. But to address the particular argument Lennox made, Walton does not believe "beginning" is a material beginning. He says that it's a kind of "first occasion" referring to the creation week. This is supported by Egyptian and Akkadian linguistic comparisons as well. It also makes more sense of the "formless and void" state, and then the ordering commences for seven days. If Walton is right, God started ordering a formless (chaotic state) earth "in the beginning." This is more likely, especially after looking at other ANE comparative studies and the Bible itself.
Lennox shows he misunderstands Walton's argument because the opening statement "in the beginning God created (ordered/assigned functions) the heavens and the earth and it was void and without form," is describing a state void of order and functions. Then the ordering commences to designate functional dimensions "in relation to society and culture."
4. Lennox says, "...great sea creatures. Here again there is no functional dimension."
Clearly he missed the point that watery chaos encompassed the great creatures of the deep in ANE thought, but in the biblical account they are not portrayed as chaotic, but part of an ordered system. The temple view makes more sense of the text.
5. Lennox said, "The linguistic evidence...undermines his case, rather than support it."
Lennox never showed, except by misunderstanding, that the linguistic evidence undermined Walton's position
6. A further objection is that Lennox seems to neglect, or is unaware, of how ancient Israel viewed the cosmos. In an earlier chapter Lennox talked about phenomenal language in the bible. While there certainly is some, at the end of the day we have to ask, "How did ancient Israel view the structure of the cosmos?"
Mesopotamia and Egypt, with some variety viewed the world differently than now. The sky was hard, or a canopy. Water was above the firmament, around the flat disc of the earth, and under. They believed in pillars of the earth. They believed in windows or gates of heaven letting water down. I could go on and on. Did Israel think differently? Did they understand science in any other way than perception? They certainly viewed the world somewhat differently from God's revelation. We can play linguistic and metaphor gymnastics all day long, but they believed something of the structure of the universe, and it seemed to have made it into the biblical text. The bible isn't confirming the positions, but Joshua, for instance, really did think the sun went around the earth (furthermore that it was under the firmament).
It frustrates me with all the talk of phenomenal language. What did they actually believe then? I have seen no biblical revelation of modern science or science 100 years from now. Scientifically ignorant peoples (Israel more so than their neighbors) would not use "phenomenal language" for things they thought were realities.
7. Another objection is on Lennox statement, "no sources are cited to demonstrate that this is what the ancient readers would instinctively have thought." In this he is referring to genesis as a temple text. He seems to disagree that creation is to be understood on ground of understanding the temple. He also says,"...The word temple occurs nowhere in the text..."
This shows even more ignorance Lennox has of ANE comparative studies, as well as biblical scholars. The entire basis of what Walton (and others) has shown in the temple parallels is that the temple analogy is assumed by the original audience (Ancient Israel). This is hardly a stretch to find assumed information in the bible. There are countless assumed cultural aspects we have to figure out in the bible from circumcision to scapegoat ritual in Leviticus to baptism. Not everything is specifically clear; hence we do historical backgrounds as part of exegesis.
8. Lennox says, "...far from seeing the heavens as a temple where God dwelt, Solomon's perception appears to have lead him...that the heavens cannot contain the Almighty." Here he seems to imply that Israel did not hold to the idea that God reigned from his heavenly temple because the heavens couldn't contain Him. So it seems Lennox is saying they didn't have a "temple" view when it came to creation. The problem is he misunderstands the designation of "heavens" in 1st kings 8:27. Also the eschatological temple visions in Ezekiel and Revelation are referred to as heavenly temple visions for a reason. They envision God in his heavenly temple. G.K. Beale has an entire book on near-undisputable temple parallels to creation in his book The Temple and the Churches Mission.
Overall if Lennox is rejecting the temple understanding he's going against much scholarship in biblical and ANE studies. This whole Appendix "b" seems like a scientist was let out of the lab to comment on things he hasn't studied in depth. Walton could be wrong, but the temple parallels are still there.
9. Lennox says, "...the climax of Genesis 1 would appear to be, not God taking up his residence in a cosmic temple, but human beings, created in the image of God, taking up residents as God's vice-regents on earth."
The problem I have with this is that the point of everything God does is for His glory. This is not a pious point, but Genesis is about God, not humans. The humans are parallel to the temple as well in that they are given priest-like duties and told to "fill the earth and multiple." G.K. Beale even puts forth that this implies expanding the boundaries of the Garden of Eden. The temple view makes more sense of everything in creation and the temple, especially as God taking up his place in sustaining. God doesn't need rest. His rest implies sustaining after ordering so we (then it was Israel) can "rest" and focus on God's role in the universe.
10. Lennox says, "A puzzling feature of Walton's work is that he does not appear to tell us in the end what the days of Genesis 1 actually represent."
Lennox either didn't understand or didn't read the end of the book (appendix) where Walton clearly walks through this. Walton suggests that if you were an eye witness watching, a 7-cycle would pass and the material would already be in place prior. The text is assigning functions, not materials.
11. Lennox also seems to dance around the issue slightly of what Israel believed in terms of physiology of the mind. He takes up Walton's analogy that the mind was viewed in terms of entrails, but its translated "mind" in English. Lennox says that the terminology would still be scientifically correct because we get "gut feelings." So again I ask what did ancient Israel believe? Did they have the scientific understanding Lennox presents? We can impress science on the text, but one is left asking if scientifically ignorant peoples believed our explanations back then? There is no revelation from God on such issues of what we see as modern scientific explanations. It's a stretch.
Furthermore that is one of hundreds of examples Walton could have used to illustrate how God communicated to Ancient Israel on their own level. God asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" whether one takes the question as metaphor or conveying an ancient mindset, the point is that its one of numerous examples where God communicates in terms they understood.
Lennox claims not to be pressing science on the text, but he seems to do so at nearly every turn, especially in bringing up Parker's "the Genesis Enigma." Everything Lennox and Parker may put forth, the question needs to be asked, how would ancient Israel have understood this? That's proper exegesis: understanding what it would have meant to the original audience, which if Walton is wrong, Lennox view certainly does not make more sense.
12. Finally the most telling statement Lennox says is his last in the appendix, "It [Walton's view] leaves the bible without an account of that origin in the very place where it would be expected to occur, and where generations of both ordinary people and of scholars have thought it to be."
There are a couple aspects of what Lennox is saying here that are telling. The first half of the statement seems to be that he would be upset to find that the bible doesn't have an "account" of the beginning of the universe in Walton's view. Walton believes scripturally that it confirms God created ex nihilo, but Genesis 1 "is not that story." There really is no problem except Lennox wants the bible to include what he wants it to say because that's where it would be "expected to occur." I would love for the bible to explain how God did things and spell it out, but those are my concerns, not the texts. So this point is irrelevant.
The second half of the statement seems to be saying that generations of bible scholars and scientists have been saying "this is the beginning" when Walton overturns it and says that it [Genesis 1] actually isn't of the material terms we think of. In the first case, Genesis has not always been perceived Lennox way either, but there has always been some debate as Lennox said earlier in the book. Second Walton is historically demonstrating this is what they would have originally believed, so it's not anything new. It's what Israel would have thought.
These are the main issues I took with how Lennox dealt with Walton's view, and in turn what it made me think of the rest of the issues raised throughout the book.
Overall Lennox book is well written. My starting point is the face value of the text, which I believe Walton and others have nailed. So with my understanding of the "cosmic Temple View" I naturally disagree with much throughout Lennox book. I think Lennox is orthodox and sound on all fronts; I just disagree with his conclusions.
I recommend reading this book though for understanding of the perspective. I also recommend reading The Lost World of Genesis One, or the scholarly version Genesis One as Ancient Cosmology. Another Good book on the Temple theology is G. K. Beale's The Temple and the Churches Mission. For a good book on Ancient Near East comparative studies I recommend John Walton's Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2012
Is the earth millions of years old or only a few thousand years old? Does the Bible teach that the earth is young, or is there another possibility? I've always wondered how the Bible seemed to teach a young earth, and yet science seemed to point to the universe being millions of years old. Obviously, as followers of Jesus, we should trust the Bible, but we can't just ignore the evidence that says the universe is much older than Bible interpreters have traditionally led us to believe.
In his book SEVEN DAYS THAT DIVIDE THE WORLD, John C. Lennox explores Genesis 1 and 2, and provides some incredible insights about how science and the Bible actually complement one another. Lennox shows how Genesis can be interpreted to show that the earth is only a few thousand years old, but that isn't the only interpretation that Genesis leaves open to us. Looking at what the Bible actually says, Lennox shows that the days in Genesis 1 may be put forth in such a way to show that they are six important and significant days in God's creative activity, but may not be six days of one earth week. Each day may be the inauguration of an undefined amount of time, until the seventh day when God rests from his creative activity. When Genesis is read with this in mind, several of the findings of science actually correlate with what the Bible says.
Lennox also points out several of the failures of evolutionary theory to show that human beings were a significant and special creation. An added appendix points out the flaws of theistic evolution. Another great feature of this book is the chapter where Lennox reveals what Genesis 1 has to teach us about God as Creator.
I read this book in a matter of two days. Lennox has given us a great and insightful book about the relationship between science and the Bible. It's a short book that packs a lot of information in a concise manner. Any Christian would benefit from reading this book.
I read this book for free for review from Zondervan, and the opinions contained in this review are completely my own
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science by John C. Lennox addresses that controversial subject of the age of the earth. However, Lennox's gracious manner goes a long way to avoid stirring the pot of controversy. Instead, Lennox writes five chapters to explain the controversy, apply principles of biblical interpretation, interpret the Genesis days, discuss the origin of humans, and explore the relevance of Genesis. It should be noted that the author emphasizes that this book is not meant to be exhaustive, but a response to the many questions he has received over the years.
In Chapter One: But Does it Move? A Lesson from History, Lennox introduces the controversy by recalling another controversy of the past. He takes a look at the shift in science from a fixed-earth view to the moving-earth view. This is the story of Galileo and the heliocentric view, from which some parallels are drawn to today. Lennox relays this story then asks:
"But now we need to face an important question: why do Christians accept this "new" interpretation, and not still insist on a "literal" understanding of the "pillars of the earth"? Why are we not still split up into fixed-earthers and moving-earthers? Is it really because we have all compromised, and made Scripture subservience to science?" (163)
In Chapter Two: But Does it Move? A Lesson About Scripture, Lennox makes the point: "The issue at stake in the Galileo controversy is, of course, how the Bible should be interpreted." (183) And so this second chapter explores principles of biblical interpretation before applying them to the moving earth controversy. Some of these principles: "...the first question to ask is, how does the author who wrote it wish to be understood?" (186) "Next, one should in the first instance be guided by the natural understanding of a passage, sentence, word, or phrase in its context, historically, culturally, and linguistically." (191) Lennox expands and adds to these, noting that sometimes there can be more than one natural reading for a word, and that in many places a literal understanding will not work. He again notes that for those who shifted their belief to from a fixed-earth, "Did the moving-earthers necessarily compromise the integrity and authority of scripture?" (270)
Lennox spends time discussing the relationship between faith and science (his forte), as well as emphasizing the importance of distinguishing between matters that are central to faith and those which there is freedom to differ upon:
"It is Scripture that has the final authority, not our understanding of it. It is a sad spectacle, and one that brings discredit on the Christian message, when those who profess to believe that message belie their profession by fighting amongst themselves or caricaturing others, rather than engaging in respectful discussion through which all sides might just learn something." (342)
The author points out that "The Galileo incident teaches us that we should be humble enough to distinguish between what the Bible says and our interpretations of it." (376) He notes that we should avoid two extremes: "The first is the danger of tying interpretation of Scripture too closely to the science of the day, as the fixed-earthers did [...] The opposite danger is to ignore science."
Chapter Three: But is it Old? The Days of Creation is where Lennox works with the principles of biblical interpretation discussed earlier and applies them to Genesis. Then he also explores the current scientific data to see what sort of model arises. But first, Lennox notes that both old-earth and young-earth perspectives go back a long way, so one can't judge between the views based on who held the view historically. Instead, the reasons for the views must be evaluated. Lennox discusses three main views: the 24-hour view, the day-age view, and the framework view. The 24-hour view sees the days of Genesis as 24-hour days, one earth week, six thousand years ago or so. The day-age view sees the days a a chronological order of periods of time of unspecified length. The framework view sees the days a simply a logical order, not a chronological order.
Lennox begins to unpack Genesis, reading it as if for the first time. He looks at the various meanings of the word "day." He discusses the various articles used in the Hebrew. He considers the nature of the creation week. "Here we see that, although Scripture could be understood as teaching that the earth is young, it does not have to be interpreted in this way." (632) Lennox's own view emerges through the discussion:
"However, there is another possibility: that the writer did not intend us to think of the first six days as days of a single earth week, but rather as a sequence of six creation days; that is, days of normal length (with evenings and mornings as the text says) in which God acted to create something new, but days that might well have been separated by long periods of time." (642)
Of course, Lennox unpacks this view much further, giving more reasons and answering common objections. Those points will not be explored in this review. Lennox's main point is not to advance his own view so much as to say: "The main thrust of my argument so far, then, is that there is a way of understanding Genesis 1 that does not compromise the authority of Scripture and that, at the same time, takes into account our increased knowledge of the universe, as Scripture itself suggests we should (Rom. 1:19-20)." (764)
Chapter Four: Human Beings: A Special Creation? looks at the origin of human beings. As making man was the pinnacle of God's creation, this issue carries deep significance. Lennox also notes that Genesis indicates a special creation act of God to create man. It is here where the author has some critiques of some other Christian views that would suggest otherwise, such as those held by Denis Alexander. Lennox also tackles that theological objection of death before Adam's sin. He points out that Paul "says that death passed upon all human beings as a result of Adam's sin; he does not say that death passed upon all living things." (1005) He also points out that animal predation also poses a significant problem for the no-death-before-Adam view. More could be said about this chapter -- which raises more questions than it answers -- but again, Lennox's goal seems to be to expand the mind of the reader a bit: "It is simply false to suggest, as some do, that the only alternative to young-earth creationism is to accept the Darwinian model." (1115)
Chapter Five: The Message of Genesis 1 is a relatively lengthy chapter compared to the others. Here the author presents a strong (and non-controversial amongst Christians) basis for the biblical worldview. He explores the big picture that is presented about God, the world, and man. God is eternal, creator, personal, a fellowship, distinct from His creation, purposeful, etc. With this full and powerful chapter reflecting on the nature of God and His creation, the author ends with a personal note, emphasizing the spirit that believers should have on these topics: "What, therefore, should our attitude be to others who do not agree with us, whatever view we hold? Surely the old adage has got it more or less right: `In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.'"
For the reader who has completed the five chapters that comprise the main part of the book, there are five more appendices waiting to be read. These will not be reviewed here, but here is what these appendices cover. Appendix A: A Brief Background to Genesis: this explores the Hebrew language usage in Genesis, as well as some of the ancient Near Eastern context. Appendix B: The Cosmic Temple View: this looks at one of the views of Genesis that was not explored in the main part of the book. Appendix C: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science: this looks at the overlap between the Bible and science, arguing that they are not separate. Appendix D: Two Accounts of Creation: this chapter addresses the argument that says that the early chapters of Genesis give two different creation accounts. Appendix E: Theistic Evolution and the God of the Gaps: here Lennox presents some criticisms of theistic evolution.
In sum, Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox is a good brief look at some of the key issues involved in evaluating views of the age of the earth and our interpretation of Genesis. The book is concise, clear, and charitable. Lennox doesn't answer all the questions or explore all the details, but he does offer a good set of principles and insights to work with in considering one's own view. One would do well to learn from Lennox, whatever view the potential reader may currently hold.
Page numbers from Kindle version. More reviews at Apologetics315.com
28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2011
Having heard and read John Lennox, and greatly appreciated his good humour and eloquent rhetoric, I picked up this book with great anticipation. But I was soon to be disappointed - astonished by his approach, which despite his protestations came across as being frankly concordist, and ignoring of his own rules for scripture interpretation.
The introduction presents an Eastern university professor who was taught "that the Bible starts with a very silly, unscientific story of how the world was made in seven days." Lennox's purpose in writing "Seven Days" is to correct that impression; however, far from succeeding, I believe he only reinforces the assessment that, it may not so much be the Genesis creation story that is silly, but the concordist interpretations of the Bible by some Christians. (For scholarly analyses of Concordism, see [...] )
1.Chapter one presents the Geocentric versus Heliocentric controversy of Copernicus and Galileo, with the Christian Church having allied itself with the former - the prevailing Aristotelian/Ptolemaic concept, with which the Bible seemed to concur - an immovable earth set on it's foundations and pillars, and the sun rising, and moving across the sky, and setting.
2.Chapter two outlines the main considerations required in Bible interpretation. a. "The first question to ask is how does the author who wrote it wish to be understood?" b. Next - what "would have been the natural meaning for those to whom the text was originally addressed."
c. Next, one must distinguish what is meant to be taken literally from what is meant metaphorically. In the context of chapter one Lennox concludes that "we know now that the earth does not rest on literal foundations or pillars. We can therefore see that the words 'foundations' and 'pillars are used in a metaphorical sense." But this assessment conflicts with the primary interpretive rules of a. and b. The authors and readers throughout biblical times would all have taken these words and concepts literally. The prevailing material cosmology was of a 3-Tier Universe - with the Celestial Heavens separated from the Earth and sky by the solid dome of the 'firmament' on which the sun, stars and planets moved. The disc of the Earth was supported on its foundation pillars, and beneath lay the 3rd level - the underworld. Lennox's failure to abide by his own hermeneutic rules sets him on an error laden course. As Alberta Professor of Science and Religion, Denis Lamoureux warns "It is essential to understand that statements in Scripture about nature are from an ancient phenomenological perspective. What the biblical writers and other ancient peoples saw with their eyes they believed to be real, like the literal rising and setting of the sun." Instead Lennox believes in a concordist "convergence between interpretations of Scripture and science" which leads him to the claim that what he states are metaphorical 'foundations' and 'pillars' concord with modern understandings that "God the creator has built certain very real stabilities into the planetary system - that the earth is stable in its orbit....the moon stabilises the earth's axis" etc. Even St Augustine would have considered this dangerous ground, as Lennox should have been aware from his quotes of Augustine's warnings, p. 30-31.
3.Chapter three deals with the 'Seven Days', and includes a useful detailing of the difficulties the early Christian fathers had in treating them literalistically. Lennox then outlines various views on the days of creation, the possible meanings of the word 'day', and the nature of the creation week. But here again he completely overlooks the context of the prevailing paradigm of the 3-tiered universe. His conclusion is that Genesis 1: 1-2 antecede the creation 'week' and therefore are consistent with the (10 billion) years which we now understand preceded the creation of life. Next, that the creation days were not consecutive days but normal 24 hour days of fiat creation separated by unspecified long periods of time. "One consequence of this is that we would expect to find what geologists tell us we do find - fossil evidence revealing the sudden appearance of new levels of complexity, followed by periods during which there was no more creation" other than micro-evolution. This is a most dramatic attempt at concordism. But does the fossil record really accord with three dramatic bursts of new life forms separated by two prolonged ages of stasis? Clearly it does not. On the 3rd Genesis day land Plants including fruit trees were created, even though the sun was not shining on earth until day 4. On day 5 fish and birds were created, though the fossil record shows that fish appeared 100 million years before land plants, and 400 million years before birds. On day 6 land animals were created, even though they predated birds by nearly 300 million years. Recognising such difficulties Alan Hayward's proposition is advanced, that the 'days' were simply consecutive days when the fiats were pronounced, and their outworkings covered the subsequent billions or millions of years. This sounds more like evolution than fiat creation! While Lennox recognises the valid objection, that no reader in ancient times would ever have thought of these interpretations, he is not deterred, despite the conflict with the rules of interpretation he accepted in Ch 2. He closes chapter 3 with an unconvincing attempt to justify the blatant scientific concordism of his conclusions. These fertile hermeneutic machinations would have been unnecessary if Lennox had followed his own rules and accepted that the Holy Spirit, in guiding the author of Genesis, had accommodated to the ancient understandings - a 3-tiered material cosmos, creation over a period of literal days, and an initial paradisal state. Acknowledging this enables the eternal theological Message to be separated from the Incidental, though interesting, ancient phenomenological perspective. (Lamoureux). Baylor Social Sciences Professor, Rodney Stark, states it clearly (in "Discovering God'): "One of the most fundamental, yet remarkably neglected, of all Judeo-Christian premises, is that of Divine Accommodation, which holds that God's revelations are always limited to the current capacity of humans to comprehend - that in order to communicate with humans, God is forced to accommodate their incomprehension." The theological Message of the Genesis creation account is clear and eternal. The ancient science is interesting, but Incidental, and to attempt to make it compatible with current scientific understandings is totally unwarranted and invites only continued ridicule of our faith. As Billy Graham put it clearly in 'Doubts and Certainties', "I think we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we've tried to make the Scriptures say many things that they weren't meant to say, and I think we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption. God did create man......whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God."
4.Chapter four deals with the creation of Human Beings. Here Lennox continues to flout both his own rules and the basic principles outlined by Graham, Stark and Lamoureux. God making humans from the dust of the earth "implies a direct special creation act, rather than suggesting that humans arose, either by natural processes or by God's special activity, out of pre-existing hominids", is one example of his ignoring the principle of Divine Accommodation, and making scriptures say more than was intended. Lennox does not even consider the possibility that the Genesis account of Human creation, and NT references to it, were the Holy Spirit's accommodation to the understandings of the people of biblical times. Concepts of evolution or common descent would have been meaningless to them, not being evident to them in their everyday experience and philosophical paradigms. A proper understanding of Divine Accommodation could resolve forever the conflicting views of origins and of such theological constructs as 'original sin' and the origin, nature, and scope of 'death'.
5.Chapter five deals with the nature of God as revealed in Genesis 1, and in NT creation references, and includes a fine example of Lennox's eloquence in a 9 page digression on Jesus as the Light of the World. He then concludes that "the material creation was originally perfect" despite having in chapter 4 conceded the problem of the existence of millions of years of carnivorous predation prior to Adam and Eve's sin.
6.Appendix A deals with the nature of the Genesis writings. Lennox justly defends Genesis against claims it is just a reworking of the Babylonian Enuma Elish myth, but surprised me by not recognising the Genesis creation accounts as being written purposely to present a revealed Monotheistic account specifically in contrast to the prevailing Polytheistic accounts. Tremper Longman, Prof of Biblical Studies, Westmont, in "How to Read Genesis" gives a more comprehensive and measured reading of these issues. In his opinion "It appears that Genesis itself is not interested in giving us a clear understanding of the nature of creation days. It is not concerned to tell us the process of creation. Rather it is intent on simply celebrating and asserting that God is Creator."
7.Appendix B deals with the 'Cosmic Temple' view of the Genesis creation account as proposed by John Walton, OT Prof, Wheaton College in his "The Lost World of Genesis I". I agree with Lennox in finding Walton's arguments, that the 7 days represent the inauguration of the cosmos as God's temple, less than convincing. However Walton's arguments for embedding the Genesis account in the prevailing ancient near eastern cosmology appeared to me convincing and essential for a proper understanding of these scriptures. Lennox makes no reference to this first section of Walton's book. Walton warns that Genesis 1 does not attempt to address modern cosmology. Even so Lennox continues his concordist approach - "God by his Word imparts energy and information to create and structure the universe - this converges with some of the deepest insights of modern science." Lennox again lauds the "correspondence between the sequence given in Genesis and that given by science" despite the clear conflicts with the fossil record as I have outlined in section 4.
8.Appendix C deals briefly with how science now accepts the universe had a beginning, as Genesis had proclaimed. Lennox can't resist another concordist stretch by claiming the absence of the definite article in the opening phrase "In (the) beginning.." indicates that the beginning is shrouded in mystery, concurring with modern cosmology where what preceded the Big Bang remains a mystery. However Lennox concedes with C John Collins that the definite article is missing only because the the word 'beginning' is definite on its own.
9.Appendix D seeks briefly to get around the obvious differences in chronology between the two creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2, particularly that Genesis 2:4-7 appears to place Adam's creation (day 6 of Genesis 1) before that of plants (day 3). Collins (OT Prof at Covenant Seminary, St Louis, and Fellow of the ID's Discovery Institute) attempts to resolve this by the remarkable suggestion that Adam must have been created during the dry season when there would have been no plants around, rather than plants not having been created yet. Then what would Adam have eaten before God planted the Garden of Eden and moved Adam there? Also verse 6 states that though "God had not caused it to rain on the land" yet "a mist was watering the whole face of the ground." This hardly equates with the dry, brown ground required by Collins. An alternative explanation offered is that Genesis 2 is not meant to be chronological. However, Lennox admits that the use of the word "when" in 2:4-5 counters that argument. A plain reading of Genesis 2 also suggests that Adam was created before animals, contradicting the clear statements of Genesis 1. Collins here suggests that "God formed" in 2:19 could be translated "God had formed" in an effort to resolve the conflict. But 2:18 states clearly "Then the Lord God said 'It is not good for the adam to be alone. I will make a helper for him." Here one cannot manipulate the meaning of the text - clearly Genesis 2 contradicts Genesis 1 -and requires one to use the straightforward Message/Incident principle of hermeneutics as expounded by Lamoureux. Chronological details are incidental to the message, and do not allow the faulty sort of bible/science concordism so strangely loved by such as Hugh Ross and now, it seems, by John Lennox.
10.Appendix E considers Theistic Evolution and seemingly makes plain Lennox's opposition to this. "According to Genesis, creation involved a sequence of several discrete creation acts, after which God rested. This surely implies that those processes are not going on at the moment." Yet we know that new galaxies, stars, planets, and moons continue to be created in the universe, and that new living species have continued to arise. Lennox then makes the mistake of believing that Theistic Evolution necessitates a naturalistic Origin of first Life. Evolution and the Origin of Life are quite distinct processes as even Darwin was anxious to make clear (and as Lennox accepts later in this Appendix). Some in the Theistic Evolution persuasion believe that God used natural processes to originate life; others believe it required a special act of creation. Later, Lennox reasonably raises the enigma of the origin of 'information' - "the nature of life itself militates strongly against there ever being a purely naturalistic theory of life's origin." I certainly agree, but prefer to keep an open mind on this issue. If a natural-process explanation is ever found it will only cause theological problems for those who take a literalistic approach to the Incidental components of the Creation story. Then follows a seemingly pointless debate about the difference between 'supernatural activity' and 'miracles', before a final section rejecting the evidence for Common Ancestry.
Common Ancestry has many lines of evidence. Of these, Gene similarities have the weakness of difficulty distinguishing 'common descent' from 'common design'. But Genes comprise less than 2% of the human genome, and it is from other components such as ERV's and non-functional pseudogenes that the strongest evidence comes. Lennox makes no mention of these, either from ignorance or deliberate avoidance. Even Le High University Biology Professor, Michael Behe, of the ID movement, and certainly not a Theistic Evolutionist, is convinced about common ancestry. He states that "It's hard to imagine how there could be stronger evidence for the common ancestry of chimps and humans. That strong pseudogene evidence points well beyond the ancestry of humans. Darwin had this point right, that all creatures on earth are biological relatives. Common descent is true." ("The Edge of Evolution",Pages70-72). Lennox finishes his book with quotes from several biologists who are critical of the cavalier way in which Natural Selection is credited with achieving far more than is possibly justified. This criticism is undoubtedly justified, and demands less hubris and more humility; but while it reveals that much of the mechanics of evolution is yet to be understood it does not discount the mass of evidence that evolution has indeed occurred.
11.One subject featuring in most sections has been the concept of Humans being made in the 'Image of God'. This is a critical concept, and central to many of Lennox's arguments. Yet nowhere does he spell out what he thinks it means. From Lennox's own Rules of Interpretation it is likely that the Genesis author and the original readers took the 'Image of God' to refer to a physical likeness! One is left wondering, has Lennox even thought it through? Or is it just a nebulous, unexplainable spiritual concept, like the unsustainable dualistic belief in a soul as some nebulous entity separate from the body. (See Fuller's Prof of NT Interpretation, Joel Green, in his "Body, Soul, and Human Life".)