Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1995
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 1: Biblical Creation vs. Pagan Origin Myths
Lesson 4 – Biblical Creation vs. Pagan Origin Myths:
Creator/Creature Distinction vs. Continuity of Being
26 Oct 1995
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
[begins in middle of sentence] church’s lesson in the past 200 years is to think through why, what went wrong with our defense, why have we permitted the non-Christians to seize the initiative and so discredit Scripture like they have? Where are the flaws in the argument? It’s questions like these that force us to come down to this material where we say it boils down to presuppositions. The heart is desperately wicked, the heart controls how the mind thinks. On a small scale we intuitively know this. You know when you’re upset you have certain moods, and you think certain ways, and you know at heart that’s wrong, but you can’t help it, that is the way you feel today. That’s just an elementary depiction of heart over mind. People who are convinced of certain ideologies will reinterpret everything in terms of that ideology. So presuppositions are important, and that’s why I am going to go through the handouts and summarize the key points, and I want to give you some extra notes on some of these points. These are just observations but be careful to think through with me, because sooner or later you’re going to run into these things.
One of the things that is a cliché out there is that there are hundreds and hundreds of different versions of creation. And the reason we can’t, for example, teach creation in the public school is because (they say) if we let the Christians teach creation we would have the Hindus, the Ba’hais, the Buddhists, the Shintos and 101 different varieties and we haven’t got time for that so we solve the problem by eliminating all of them. That’s common. So the answer to that is that there aren’t 101 varieties of creation stories, when you look at the basic core principles, the basic beliefs underlying these stories, there are only two kinds. Yes, there may be 101 physical stories, but as far as the basic principles there are only two kinds, ONLY two kinds, the pagan kinds and the Biblical kinds. The pagan kind makes all reality one level, we talked about the Continuity of Being, which we’re going to get into again. I come back to this difference, a fundamental difference here. In the Christian view we live in the creation ex nihilo, creation out of nothing, so that God and the creature are different. Christians believe in two levels of existence: the Creator and the creation. This is a profound point, don’t miss this point. We are going to go over it again and again, week after week, we’re going to deal with language, science, Genesis 1, 2, 3, with all these things and this theme will reverberate in your soul after 8-10 weeks of this.
Christians believe in the Creator/creature distinction, that the world is not the same as God; God is not the same as the world. Those are two distinct entities and it’s the most profound difference that exists. It’s conceivable to have God existing without any universe, no physics, no mass, no language, no creature language, nothing, except God and God alone. That’s the fundamental existence, and in addition to that, at a point God speaks the universe into existence and we now have two existences, the Creator/creature distinction. ALL other views, ALL other views believe that there’s only one level of existence, that there’s “reality, the world, the universe, the cosmos,” call it whatever you want to, 101 different names but it’s always the same idea, again and again and again.
For example, the Greeks believed there was this world in which there were gods, men, trees, minerals, water, fire, etc., all part of the same thing, the cosmos. They view the cosmos as a big house indwelt by gods and man. That’s not the biblical view. The biblical view says that before the house was, God is. The biblical view has two levels of reality and the pagan view has only one level of reality. We will see that this has tremendous impact, this color your whole view of language and logic, which in turn controls how you set up paths for truthfulness and falseness. You can’t even define truth unless you define it in terms of that, or you define it in terms of this. This is why we’re going to get into some very radical things that Genesis calls us to as Christians, where the church has become sloppy here. We’re just learning, it’s taken us 200 years to think this through. I have listed the areas where the Creator/creature distinction exists in the world, where you can find this kind of distinction. Obviously you find it in the Bible. Historically it existed in ancient Israel, historically it existed in those ancient monotheisms that I have those quotes from. Historically today the only place you find it is in fundamentalist circles.
Fundamentalists are the only people left in society today that seriously believe this, no one else believes this. We’re in a house by ourselves. Everyone has given up this belief, fundamentally, today, everyone else in the world believes that fundamentally there’s just one level of reality, God, man, and everything else in that level of reality. And where do you find this? You find it in ancient myths, you find it in Eastern religions, New Age, it’s coming out of Eastern religions. You find it in Western philosophy, and you find it in modern theology. The church itself, in its liberal version, spawned this thing. So this is a distinction that we’re getting at and we’ll go over it again and again.
Also, since we have this overhead, this diagram, there’s one thing down at the bottom that I want you to see: that if this is so, then the Creator/creature distinction is a defining thing. God is infinite but He is personal. This is such a core thing, this is not just abstract and philosophical, this is going to impact you spiritually right where you are at, because what this says is that the furthest back you go, down to the basic, basic, basic, basic levels, you find that there is a person there. Truth ultimately is not a naked principle or an abstract principle that’s sitting there floating. Truth is a Person, and the dramatic thing we will learn in the next chapter is that the idea of logic is derivative of the attributes of God. It’s not the other way around, you don’t have your logic principles and think about God, you first have God who defines what logic is, and then after that we discuss things. It’s not the case that we have language and we use language to talk about everything including God. No, no, it’s the other way around. First we have the Creator, and the Word, who is the second personality of the Trinity, and what we call language is a creature version of Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God. Language originates out of the second person of the Trinity. So all these things are derivative of the character, the nature, being, and attributes of our God. He is fundamental, everything else is derivative.
But if you believe in this side, since all reality is one, God, man and everything else, then the thing is ultimately impersonal. If you go further back and back and back and back, you come out to a “force,” an “it,” Lucas’ Star Wars, the epic film of the last decades. It was a perfect depiction. That epic series is wonderful, it’s adventurous and it’s philosophically the same thing as an ancient pagan myth, because ultimately you go back to “the force.” Not a person, a force. And that’s precisely always the call of paganism, if you get furthest back there is lurking this shadowy mysterious force, or Fate, that’s another favorite Latin term, fatus, Fate, capital F. Horoscope people believe in this sort of thing, it’s sort of a Fate and the horoscope becomes a means for ascertaining this mysterious fatus that’s behind the universe. So you can see that from the things you read in the paper it’s all mythological, it’s all part of this thing on the right side [of the overhead he has up], and it’s all a defiance against the Triune, sovereign personal authority speaking God of the Trinity. It’s all an act of rebellion against Him, because here we have to do with a Creator to whom we are all held responsible. On the right side, we along with God, share the universe together, He is bigger than we are, but He’s only bigger than we are, He’s only quantitatively larger, but over here God is qualitatively different, God differs in kind. The pagan view of God differs only in degree, He’s like a superman, He’s like us but He’s stronger, but He’s still like us, He’s just a bigger version of us. That’s not so scripturally. So this thing we come back to again and again.
Let me make another point here. I use the word presuppositions; some of you have asked if I could explain it a little better. Don’t confuse presupposition with premise. If you argue logically – and I don’t know how many of you took a course in plane geometry and you had to do little proofs, and you always had to start out your logic, one line, then the next line, and you always started with a premise and then you had your derivations. A presupposition can be a premise, but that’s not the way we’re using it. Presupposition means your basic world view that underlies your premises. In other words, underlies your very view of language, underlies your use of math, underlies everything in life. That’s what we’re talking about by presuppositions, a basic world view. And here are some things that you may want to take down.
Another way of looking at this is this way: everyone brings it to the table, we’re sitting down to a discussion at a table, everyone that sits down at the table comes to the table with baggage. You, I, and every other human being comes to the table with an agenda and with baggage. That baggage and that agenda is your world view, your presuppositions, that’s what we’re talking about. And where the church over the last 200 years has not been careful, it’s as though we Christians have come to the table, the non-Christian on the other side of the table, and we’ve said Oh, we basically are here in neutrality and we are here to discuss an issue. There’s where we’ve lost it, we keep losing it every time because we start buying into their agenda. We start saying if you ask me a question Mr. Unbeliever I will give you an answer. What we should say is, maybe we won’t give you an answer because your question is wrong. Maybe, when someone comes with, “how many times last week did you beat your wife” say is not an appropriate question and we do not answer those questions, because they are questions that already have the answer set up so you can’t answer them without buying into the agenda of the question. Think how many times we do that.
This is how Satan does it. How did Satan trap Eve, ultimately? He sucked her into his own little logical vortex, and once the woman was in there she just flew down the line logically, but she bought into his agenda. For example, what was the one thing he came to Eve and said? The first thing, right out of the bag, that should have been the signal that he was asking the wrong question, “Has God said?” In other words, here’s God’s Word, He has said it, but has God said it? Now what is the baggage that’s come to the table in that question? Think about it. What is the baggage that sets up the question so every time you answer it you’ve sucked it up and you’ve become absorbed into his agenda? The implication of the question, get this, the implication of Satan’s question to Eve “Has God said?” is that it’s so unclear that God has said it we have to question it! That’s the implication. In other words, Satan’s agenda is that God, if He has spoken, hasn’t spoken clearly, there’s a doubt whether what He said He really meant.
Then we start saying, well now, let’s see, how can I prove that “God said,” and boom, we fall right into the trap, because there’s the wrong premise in the argument. The argument started by assuming that what God said was unclear, and we have no right to do that. To say that what God said is unclear is to say that God mumbles. Think about it. Isn’t that amounting to the fact that God is a poor communicator? A source of language is a poor communicator; we can’t tell whether God said something? Friend, if we can’t tell whether God said something when He speaks, how do we know anybody says something when they speak? Do you see what we’re saying? You have absorbed an agenda when you went to answer the wrong question. Do you notice when you watch trials like the O. J. Simpson trial how the attorneys try to ask questions and the judge will stop it, shut if off. The judge is forever stepping on the lawyers for asking questions. Why do you suppose the judge does that? Because the attorneys are asking questions with agendas in them, they’re trying to influence the court by the way they ask the question.
So, big point to remember here—presuppositions stick to everything you say, including questions. And before you go out of here and try to answer a question from someone, be careful of what kind of flypaper you have hooked onto the bottom of this question. Or we’re going to repeat the same thing Adam and Eve went through in the Garden, all over again, hundreds of times we do this, again and again. I do it still; it’s a maturity and wisdom that takes time to develop. And most of all what it takes is spiritual sensitivity of a quiet prayer to the Lord, Lord, is this truth? Is this You, do I hear Your voice in this, no matter what the question is. No matter what the question is, always look to Him for truth. Don’t shut things off and then immediately start answering questions like a machine, without talking to God about the question you’re being asked to answer. Students particularly have to do this.
You are living in a world that is 99% oriented against everything you believe, and you have got to develop while you’re a young person so you don’t get 50 or 60 years old before you get these habits started. While you are young you want to develop the skill of going to your conscience and going to God before you open you open your mouth. Before you start wildly thinking stuff, think “where is this coming from?” And if you get a red light in your conscience, you say whoa, hold it, I want to run this one by again. Sometimes you’re going to be rushed, for example, in a classroom situation where you’ve got an assignment you’ve got to get done for the test. But I learned a little trick, good Christian students learn, yes you have to get your assignment done but write a note to yourself, there’s something wrong here, I don’t understand this, I’ve got to come back to this, I know what the teacher wants, I know the answer they’re after, so we’ll go through the motions, but there’s something that smells in this thing and I don’t have time right now to study it through, I don’t have the books to go to, but something stinks here and I want to find out what’s going on. In some courses you may have 15 or 20 notes to yourself, and if you want to grow spiritually, take 1 or 2 of those notes and start doing research, pray that God would lead you in His Scripture and what other Christians have thought about in those Scriptures and it will transform your life, because now all of a sudden you are doing something that is rarely done in the church, you’re connecting Bible believing truth to real world issues, and it’s dynamite to do that. But it doesn’t come without a lot of sweat and a lot of work, and often times it takes time and we’re all rushed.
I’ve summarized this kind of thing under four points, so let’s try to get these in your notes. One, everyone is carrying around presuppositions. Everyone, your teacher, the author, a journal article, the script writer of a TV show, everyone has presuppositions, no person is neutral. The references on that, I give you the proof for a non-neutrality on page 4 of the handouts, the proof, there’s no question that there is no neutrality. That proof is a proof in the formal sense of the word, I can defend that as a proof, I can prove to you there is no such neutrality, and that proof is on page 4.
Point two, how do you discover presuppositions? By listening to people. Here are some things to listen for. Listen for universal language. Examples: the word “all,” whenever someone says “well, ALL people believe…, or “it’s ALWAYS true,” always, adverb of universal, all—a universal adjective, always—a universal adverb. “Should,” or “ought” statements are very crucial. Do you know why? When you hear those words, “should” or “ought,” what are you really hearing? You’re hearing somebody’s ethical standard coming out. Somebody has a standard…oh, I thought we were neutral, we didn’t have any standards, but we’re bringing standards in, where do those things come from? “Should” or “ought,” they are the sign, the language pieces, the signals, flashing lights that here comes somebody’s standard, here comes their absolute, here come their presuppositions, watch it.
A negative universal, “never,” “this never should be done.” Oh, why? Now sometimes it takes 10 or 15 more questions to figure out what’s beneath that, sometimes this is very slippery and slimy, but at least these words will give you cues, in your own thinking, think of your own conversation. When you use these words are you using them such that these universals always reflect Scriptural principles? Be careful.
Another couplet of words, two nouns, whenever someone uses “right and wrong,” particularly the word “right.” That is so used today. I just heard the other day there was a group of philosophers and scientists that got together and are petitioning the United Nations to make it a standard for the entire world that chimpanzees and certain gorillas will have human rights, based on the fact that the chimpanzee’s DNA is by chemical similarity 97% like people, therefore they should enjoy full legal rights. Of course, we don’t worry about the human fetus; we just throw that in the ash can out in back of the hospital. But we worry more about the chimpanzee, delicate little creature, and because he is 97% similar, what do you hear? What’s this? Continuity of Being. On the Continuity of Being who’s most similar structurally in his DNA to a human? The chimpanzee. So who therefore should share the same rights as a human? Chimpanzee. What is the idea operating in that statement? Continuity of Being, pagan idea. See how these ideas start out and they just start multiplying themselves all across the board, and we as Christians have to have the discernment to say wait a minute, something’s lurking here.
Another couplet to think about is “truthfulness” or “false,” anytime you heard the word “true,” “that’s true,” or “that’s false.” How do you know that? What are your standards for determining truthfulness and falseness? So my second point in our notes is watch for universal terms in language. That is one of your big clues that when you hear these things you are face to face with somebody’s presuppositions and they are going to be biblical or they are going to be pagan, but they are going to be lurking there.
Point 3, this is really slick. Because of points 1 and 2, it follows that regardless of the destructive claims of any viewpoint you hear, the viewpoint always makes positive claims. Or I could say it another way: regardless of the negative claims of any viewpoint, it always makes positive claims. Let me give an example, so no one gets confused. I come to you and I tell you, “Ha, you fundie, you right wing religious fanatic, look, you have your opinion, the Muslim has his, the Hindu has his, and all truth is relative.” Now what I’m trying to do is to smash your claim to truth, I’m trying to put you down, and I’m trying to sell you on the idea that I’m being very neutral and objective about it and you’re the bigot, because you have all these little beliefs over here. But in trying to put you down with the statement that “all views are relative,” what have I done? What claim positively have I made? Namely the claim that I know that all truths are relative. That’s a positive claim. I’ve tried to destroy you, but if you’re slick you’re going to come right back and countermove me, because you’re going to say to me, “Excuse me, since when is all truth relative?” Do you know how you can use this? The judo technique, the jujitsu technique of carrying the strike further than the opponent wanted to, they throw a punch and you use the momentum, take them down. Do you know how you can use a little jujitsu here? Turn right around and say, “Ah, well then, your view that all truths are relative must be relative, in which case I can go my way and it doesn’t matter.” You turn their own position against them and you wipe them out. They intended to destroy you and your dogmatic assertion, and all you’re doing is saying, well, “if everything is relative, then your view that everything is relative is itself relative!” Right? They never want to do that, because finally in the last analysis everyone has a presupposition and everyone must make a positive claim.
The second example of this, this comes out in English literature, there’s a thing going on, it’s the in thing in the last five or six years, called deconstruction. Basically the idea is that pieces of literature are products of human thought, human thought is always contaminated with environmental causes, so you always have to deconstruct these things away from what the literature is saying. Example being the American Constitution was written largely by white property owning males, so when you read the U. S. Constitution you’re not reading a document that’s giving objective ethics, you’re really reading the arguments of a certain subclass of the human race, therefore the U.S. Constitution is not really true, it’s just a reflection of a… a spastic ejection, or a linguistic thing that happened in the 1700s. Now what are we going to do to answer that? Very simple. We apply deconstructionism against the deconstructionist and say, well then, your lecture, since you are a ThD, white, male, must be contaminated, we’ve got to deconstruct you. But they don’t really want to deconstruct themselves, it’s always they want to deconstruct someone else! That’s my point: regardless of the negative claims of the viewpoint, it always has its own positive claim. You look for that positive claim and go for it, turn it right around on their own positive.
If somebody comes to you and says everything is evolving… everything is evolving? Now if everything is changing, then the statement that “everything is changing” is changing. So what does that do? That makes you totally where you don’t have truth at all. But they don’t want that, there has to be at least one thing that isn’t changing, namely the statement that everything is changing. So in spite of the negative statements, they always have a positive, and the positive statement is the betrayer of their presuppositions. That’s the jugular vein, that’s what you go for, and sometimes it takes time to see this. But the church, for 200 years, has allowed liberalism to set the agenda, has absorbed all these negative hits, and never fired a shot at the positive targets. And we’re tired of this and we’re going to stop it.
The fourth point is that the viewpoint of neutralism, the claim of neutralism, is an attack upon Biblical truth. Neutralism is not neutral; it is an assault on the very foundations of the Bible. Proof, that’s what I give on page 4 when I go through that. Turn to page 3, I want to illustrate this point about neutralism, presuppositions, etc. I said that no matter what view you have, you have to say something that’s true. Not to scare people but on page 3 I put in that little equation. I did that deliberately because people always think that math is objective. I always love it when you get some engineer unbeliever. Engineers who are unbelievers are fascinating people to work with because basically all engineers have to buy into the biblical worldview to make their arithmetic work, then they turn around in their pride and try to attack the Scripture and then I know I got them nailed every time they do that, because I come back and I attack the foundations for their arithmetic. Oh, you can’t do that, that’s what saves engineering; I’ve got to have my math. Yeah, but you have to have something to make your math work, and let me show you. Let’s take this equation, simple linear equation, when you plot that equation you get a straight line. That’s why it’s called linear, it makes a line. Now, these variables, x and y, y = a x + b, are related, are they not? And what makes the relationship? Those little letters that you see, a and b. Now what do you suppose would happen to that equation if a and b changed every second and a half? What happens to the equation? It falls apart; I can’t make that sucker work if I don’t have a constant in there. How do I make my math work without constants? You tell me! Unanswerable question. I’ve got to have a constant to make any mathematics work, and 99% of science today is mathematical modeling. And later we’re going to deal with the age of the universe, and what about all the scientific proof of the age of the universe.
Let’s just think about the tools that they are using to answer the question first. One of the tools is this, we’ve got to look at the tool or we are coming to the table, sucking up the agenda off the table and then winding up getting faked out because we didn’t say whoa, wait a second. What are the tools that we’re using to deal with these questions? Are we thinking through whether the tool is being misused? What’s the basis for this tool? What’s the basis for using math? We’re going to show mathematics can only be used as a tool intellectually if the universe exists the way the Bible says it exists, with structure, form and orderliness. If the universe is not designed the way the Scripture makes it and claims it, that doesn’t work. Here’s the paradox, that people are using tools built on the Bible to destroy the Bible, and we have to point this out.
Let’s come to something, I want to go over this because it’s too crucial to let go, and those of you who were here last time, it’s good to review. You never can review enough. Read Genesis 1:1-3. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light. If you look at this text, what do you see different, what do you see the same or very similar? In Genesis 1:1-3 the earth, the universe, everything in it, the heavens and the earth are water, a formless chaos, verse 2. What do you notice in Enuma Elish, a typical piece of literature from the ancient world, in the first few lines, “they mingled their waters together.” Think about what that text is saying. What has the text just got through saying in the previous two lines? “When Apsu primeval there begat Mummu and Tiamat, she who gave birth to them all, still mingled their waters together,”… that is asserting something about the nature of those three primal deities. You find that they are water deities; you find that God has a material nature in paganism, that God and the universe are one. These aren’t spiritual deities distinct from water molecules; they are somehow the water molecules, what we call that dipole strange molecule that’s so necessary for life turns out to be part of God. So nature becomes part of God.
The similarity is that both speak of a watery chaos, the difference is that the pagan sees God and nature as one, Continuity of Being, here it is, and in the Bible God exists, He creates outside of Himself from nothing. God isn’t the water in Genesis 1, “In the beginning God created” all things. The water is something He created, the water isn’t Him. He’s distinct from the water, He preexisted the water, He put the water molecule together with a verbal command.
Let’s go further down through the text, notice again as we look at similarities. You’ll see that immediately after this there are a set of verses that talk about the gods coming into existence. After that primeval god, look at these next lines, when the gods were not called by name, when they had not been brought into being, when they had not been called by their names and their destinies had not yet been fixed. Now this is interesting, here’s a mark of paganism. The gods come out of a prior universe. In the Bible who preexists? God does. In paganism what preexists? Water, in this case, fire in other cases, some other primeval element yet in other cases, but it’s always the same theme, the gods are secondary to the universe. They come out of the universe. [blank spot] … Baalism in the Old Testament, those diatribes of the prophets against Baal are diatribes against this, this is Baalism, and we must understand why God is so careful to curse it, because it has toxic consequences to your spiritual life.
Notice one further thing about all these verses. If I were to ask you of those first ten lines in that piece of literature, what is the mechanism that is being used to generate? You see it in the phrase “when none of the other gods had been brought into being,” and then notice about four lines up, it says Mummu and “Tiamat, she who gave birth to them all.” What is the process of generation? Sexual propagation, sex! That’s always a mark of paganism, it’s the generation, the self-generation, in this case the sexual process is a “natural” process, and they’re explaining origins by natural processes. And sex to the ancient world was obviously, in the field and elsewhere, was the source of fruit, it was the source of population, it was the source of workers, it was economically important. So that became a process, they conceptualize the creation by conceptualizing it in terms of processes they were familiar with. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
Now come back to the Word of God. Look at the text of Genesis 1:3, learn to be good observers. I’m teaching you a method and I hope I’m modeling it correctly for you. Here is one way to study Scripture so it becomes fresh to you. Take a pagan piece of literature that troubles you, that you have to do school work on, or that you’re thinking through in your home or your home schooling, and pit it right next to the Bible and compare them, side by side. This is a method that’s godly because it brings us back to the authority of Scripture in a concrete way. We look at this and we see the generational process is explained as sexual production, but how is it explained in Scripture? There’s a gigantic difference here. Look at what the Scripture says in verse 3, what is the means of the generation of pieces of the universe? Language, the Word of God, He speaks. We’re going to come back and see the neat things in that. God speaks these things into existence.
Just to give you a tantalizing two applications, when you read John’s Gospel in John 1, how does John rephrase this? John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then it goes on to say that nothing was made without the Word. Jesus Christ is the Word. Jesus Christ in John’s Gospel is equated with this speech process. Every time God says “Let there be light,” that’s Jesus Christ in that process. That’s the Word of God, the living Word, not a process, not a natural principle, it’s a Person. The universe was decreed into existence by the Word of God, that’s the high lofty view of Jesus. He’s not just a Jewish carpenter that walked around in the 1st century; He is the incarnation of that person who spoke the physical universe into existence. That’s who He is.
Another little tantalizing application that is awesome to think about, particularly in the 21st century because it’s been under such great attack is language. Everybody wants to explain language. They want to explain it away. For example, here’s a science book club and they have some really good stuff but it’s always slanted to the evolutionary viewpoint. Listen to this. This is a book they’re reviewing: “Then Dickerson [sp?] considers how language might have evolved, proto language, a clumsy stringing together of symbols, created bigger brains, and aided in survival, but did not make us human. In fact, brain sizes within the modern range were first attained a million years ago before seriously enhanced intelligence showed up in the fossil record, etc. etc. etc.” What they’re trying to do is make language derivative of physical processes. What does the Bible do that’s exactly reverse? Genesis 1:3. Do you see what Genesis 1:3 is saying? It is wholly against, wholly against our modern world. What the Bible says is that language precedes all existence. In fact, language brings existence into being. It was God speaking, not propagating, God speaking that brought physics into existence. Why do we have scientific formulas? Because it’s the mathematical reflection of what God spoke into existence. Why can the scientist make his mathematical formula? Because prior to the scientist it was put together that way by a speaking Deity. This has powerful implications for the structure of reality around us.
When we claim Scripture and we pray Scripture, this isn’t a magical formula he’s talking about by praying the Scripture, he’s trying to get us to come back to the text of the Word of God because the text of the Word of God is from the same person who spoke every physical formula into existence, who spoke the moon, the earth, the planets, the universe, the chemistry of the DNA, it all an expression of the Word of God. And so when we pray using the words that God has told us, we are coming into contact with the fundamental structure of the universe. It’s not a magical formula. It’s the structure of everything, the Word of God. This is the mighty picture we want to paint of what this little “ancient religious book” is. This is a depiction of the very [not sure of word, may be codes] that structure the universe. See the difference between that and Genesis 1:3.
Look down at the bottom of this text, one other thing, the section where it talks about “he strengthened his hold on the captive gods,” and then “Marduk split Tiamat open like a muscle into two parts, and half of her he set in place and formed the sky, he fixed the crossbar and posted the gates,” compare that to verse 7 and you’ll see a similarity. In Genesis 1 God makes the heavens separate from the waters above and the waters below, and sure enough in the pagan sense you have the same kind of thing trying to be explained; however, it’s explained as a result of combat, conflict, sinful strife, evil. What do you see in Genesis 1:7? Is there any strife going on in Genesis 1:7? Or is everything just simply being spoken into existence?
If you were not here, what we did, if you look at the exercise on page 8, I gave you two passages. Last week we turned to 1 Kings 22, this week I want to turn to Job 1, because I hope I’m modeling a process for you to learn to do this. This is how you sanctify your mind and become strong thinking Christians. Take your situation and dig into the Scripture until you find a counterpoint. In Job 1:6-12 you have a meeting that is done in heaven. God is peeling aside, just for a moment, His secret counsels. Can you imagine if on the 6:00 news every night for just three minutes we could glimpse what the angelic meeting of the universe was for the day? Just use your creative thinking for a minute. In three minutes CBS reports on what went on in the angelic counsels for the day. Here’s what Job 1:6-12 says: verse 6, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, Satan also came among them.  And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.  And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” And Satan answered the Lord, yeah, but it’s because You always hand out candy to him, take away his candy and he’s going to curse you. , “Then Satan answered the LORD, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?  Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.”]
Verse 11, “But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face.  Then the LORD said to Satan,” now look at verse 12, what I want you to do as you read verse 12 is bounce it off of this text, what do you see happening here? Here you see the gods attacking each other. Who’s in charge? The strongest guy for the moment, that’s the guy who’s in charge, he’s not really in charge, but until another bully on the street rises up that’s stronger than he is and then he’s going to get beat up, so no one is really in charge, and so what we have here in this grand structure is chaos and chance. Paganism always has chaos and chance. You’ll see it in ancient paganism, you’ll see it in modern paganism, it’s always there, it has to be there because what does paganism want to do? It wants to eradicate a personal sovereign God. I was talking with someone today about what a blessing it is just to think of a sovereign God, that He is attractive. A lot of people think ugh, He makes us responsible. But He’s attractive. You know why a sovereign God is attractive? Because in the chaos and ghoul of life somebody is in charge around here…nice to know that when everything is falling apart. Somebody is in charge!
In verse 12, notice, God says to Satan, “all that he has is in your power,” except, don’t put your hand on him. His possessions but not him. How could God restrict another deity, Satan if you will, how could He do that if He weren’t sovereign? Do you see the difference? That’s what monotheism is all about, that’s what Scriptural faith is all about. There’s an ultimate power that decides destiny, it’s not a tablet, it’s a person.
We come now to review tonight the two fundamental differences, and I want to conclude by having you turn in your notes to page 12, reconciling Genesis and the evolution origin. This is what we want to do for next week and next week’s key question is on page 16, there’s a whole list of verses there and I want you to read through those because I want to begin to prove to you that it’s not we fundies in our little store-front churches that are making up this interpretation of Genesis. I what to show you that if you read all these verses, what these verses are, are New Testament authors talking about Genesis. How do they interpret the literature? All we’re doing is reproducing what the New Testament authors say about the Old Testament. When the New Testament authors talk about the Old Testament, if you want to write in the margin question 1, write this verse, Galatians 4:24-31 in the margin of question 1. Before you read those verses go to Galatians 4:24-31 because that’s the passage where a New Testament author speaks about the Old Testament and he tells you he is using it allegorically. So Galatians 4 is a passage that tips you off what it looks like when the New Testament allegorizes the Old Testament. And I want you to see that because the rest of the verses don’t have that signal in them, and therefore you see all the other verses the New Testament authors (use) are taking Genesis literally. Because a little squeamish thing is that some Christians want to try to avoid issues here by making it seem like we’re to interpret Genesis 1 and 2 kind of allegorically. But if that were the case, how come the New Testament authors aren’t doing that? In this lead up to this exercise what I’m going to try to point out in this section, it’s going to be a little review of church history, because when we get into the Genesis text proper I want you to be convinced that you’ve got to watch key issues. I review how Genesis has been interpreted, and largely what’s happened the last 100 years. Largely in the Genesis text the church has had a history of trying to avoid controversy by backing up, backing up, changing this interpretation, changing that interpretation, to try to keep making the Scriptures fit the latest scientific theory.
I want you to see where that leads, because we just went through that pagan text and I said there are two big things that characterize paganism from Biblical faith, one is chance and the other is that Continuity of Being. I give you some quotes and we’ll look at these next week, but I just show you these quotes because I want you to see it’s not Clough making this up, this is a well-known thing that I’m telling you. These are quotes by historians of science, and why these quotes are important for us is that they are admissions by scholars who have spent hundreds of hours examining both modern scientific writings and ancient pagan writings, and they will admit that the same doctrine that underlies the structure of ancient paganism underlies the structure of modern evolution. There it is; those are the statements.
Comte de Buffon who was one of the early thinkers 200-300 years ago reveals himself as an exponent of the doctrine of the Chain of Being. Lamarck, who is at conflict with Darwin, held a version of the ancient doctrine of the great Chain of Being. Olroyd: the Chain of Being is a notable traceable back to Plato, it formed part of the general mental furniture of most educated men from the Renaissance until the end of the 18th century. And we have quotes like this: “Far eastern philosophers thought of creation in evolutionary terms, a belief in an inherent continuity of all creation and second a reference to merging of one species into another.” What does Genesis say? One species reproduces after its kind, no merging, sorry, no merging. The universe was evolved (this is a Buddhist statement, modern Buddhist creed), it was not created, and it functions according to law, not according to the caprice of any god. And this is amazing because that quote by Henry Fairfield Osborn, he was a curator of the American Museum of Natural History at the beginning of the 20th century and look what he says: “When I began the search for anticipation of the evolutionary theory I was astonished to find how many of the pronounced and basic features of the Darwinian theory were anticipated as far back as the 7th century B.C.”
This is going to shock some of you because all your life you’ve been told that evolution is a product of 19th century science. And I’m here to say that it’s nothing but the old paganism regurgitated and being used to interpret data with. And this is going to raise some interesting questions. But in the handout, do the exercises; you’ll also see I’ve given you some notes of the references where I’m getting some of this material from. Next week we’ll go further, we’ll take some of these ideas and show you how they impact us spiritually.
Question asked: Clough replies: Do you all understand what he asked. This question that he asked is a very critical question into the psychology of Satan himself, and of course we can only speculate because we don’t have a lot of Scriptural data to go on, but this question is handled in great detail in a book by Henry Morris, called The Long War Against God. That’s where I got some of these quotes on the Continuity of Being. The bibliography in that book is awesome. It’s a result of 50 years of that man going around debating in this country, 50 years of teaching at a university level, 50 years of being systematically challenged and 50 years of taking notes. I’ve known him personally and I never cease to be amazed at his method. This guy is the most organized guy I’ve ever run across. He walks around, he’ll walk through a library and look at science magazines, etc., and just scribbles titles off, and for many, many years he had his elderly mother type, she’d go to the library and she’d get these quotes, and he must have thousands of quotes in a file. But this book deals with this. The question that is being asked is, do you suppose that Satan, when Jesus says Satan speaks out of his own nature, do you suppose that Satan himself convinced himself that God was a creature too, except He was there before Satan, etc.? Think of this because there’s substance there. Put yourself in the position of Satan before his fall as an angel. What would have been the first moment of consciousness for Satan? He comes into existence, as he comes into existence he’s seeing other creatures come into existence, he suddenly is there, but as Satan comes into existence who has preceded him, so to speak? God has. So he comes into an environment that’s already there, like we come into an environment that’s already there.
Can you think through as a human being back to your first consciousness as a child? I don’t know how old I was, but it’s interesting to try to think about the earliest thought that you ever had in your life. How old were you? Can you remember your most early, early, early thought? I don’t know how old I was, but I remember distinctly in my childhood being in a high chair and listening to the ranting and raving of Adolf Hitler, it was during WWII and I can remember my mother telling my dad to listen to this man on the radio. I don’t know what he was saying, I just remember in those days it was broadcast on short wave radio and the short waves went up and down, up and down and it made it even more eerie to hear. That is just the memory I have of that. But Satan, when he came into existence, had his first conception of God already being there and he says in Isaiah, “I will be like Him.” In other words, as a creature coming into existence, the mystery of sin, we don’t really know…. You know, sin is a mystery, Ezekiel talks about that, sin is a strange, strange thing. And Satan decides, I came into existence, and he got himself to thinking that he could evolve, basically, and rise to become like God. God was so magnificent, Satan was a servant, Satan was one of the key servants of God, and “I will one day be king too.” A very scary human thing.
One of the stories that Chuck Colson in the book The Body tells, it’s an eerie story, but it reflects the strange thing of sin. He tells a story of a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz who was an elderly man who was brought into the courtroom when Adolf Eichmann was there. Eichmann had been hijacked out of Argentina by the Israeli Mossad, they captured him and brought him to Israel for trial for his crimes at Auschwitz, and here was the grand day of the trial and Eichmann was seated with the Israeli police behind a bulletproof glass in the courtroom. They called for the witness because here in the formal Jewish strict justice system they had to have an eyewitness to the murders. So in comes this man, I think he was an American citizen, a very elderly man, and he walks into the courtroom, and he looks through that glass panel at Adolf Eichmann. What happened next was an amazing thing; he suddenly collapsed and lay screaming on the floor. He was later interviewed, I think by Mike Wallace, and the interviewer asked this man why he reacted that way, was he terrified, did Eichmann’s presence remind him of the awfulness of that slaughter? He said no, it wasn’t that at all. He said, I walked into that courtroom and all the years of my life, ever since I was a little child in Auschwitz I conceived of those Nazis as monster people, and that day when I walked into the courtroom and I looked through the glass he was a normal person, like me, and it dawned on me, he said, that anyone of us could do what he did. And that’s what terrified me; I collapsed on the floor in terror of the power of evil. Isn’t that a dramatic story, and how Biblical. Because it shows us that any person could have been an Eichmann, ANY person … but for the grace of God. And that’s the mystery. Why did Satan say “I will become like the Most High?” Nobody knows, but there’s a point here, that it’s a very plausible speculation that he thought in terms of what he saw, he thought in terms of his environment, and of course, if he was thinking that way he was abandoning submission to God as the absolute authority, the Creator over the creature. He was at that point including God in the universe. He was at that point coming to the Continuity of Being where God was just a little higher up the scale, and all Satan had to do was go up five rungs on the ladder and he could be like God. So that was a very good question.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s also a good point, Henry Morris in his book makes it far clearer than I have done, it’s not that there was a myth out there floating in the air that Satan latched onto and thought gee, that’s a good idea. It’s more complicated than that because sin distorts mental thought. Our thought life is not like a computer program. We have this myth that goes on because we can program computers and we have this language, and we say oh gee, the code is still there, and we code it and it works, and it works tomorrow and the next day, and the day after. That’s not how real language works. That computer code is just an abstract symbol. Real language has meaning and you have to get meaning into the symbols. P & Q and that term in computer code, all the little variables, have to have meaning, and a human being has to give that the meaning. And the computer code itself is the product of someone who is a human being who thought the way the code is expressed. I’ve looked at a computer code and “who wrote this, that man is confused,” and you spend hours trying to work through this computer code, thinking… I spent two years in graduate school working on a code that some Chinese guy had done and he never documented it. But that’s not the way language works, that’s in a way naïve. Real language is always influenced by this presuppositional stuff which is in turn influenced by our volition. And this is why the Bible also says that our learning is not neutral, our learning is not objective. Jesus says when you obey Me, then I’ll show you more of Myself. In other words, greater revelation is contingent on obedience. And a corollary is that deception is the product of disobedience.
So what we are saying here in Satan’s situation is, (and that’s the mystery of which comes first, the chicken or the egg), that when his fall happened, his perception of himself, God and the universe changed instantly. Sin distorts thought. Thought is not neutral, hearts determine heads. And if we don’t believe this we don’t believe in total depravity. Total depravity is a doctrine that even the computer code, what’s going on up here, is being manipulated, and this is one of our apologetics in defense of the Scripture. This is why the Scriptures become the only norm and standard that we thinking creatures have. We have no other standard. Experience, I will show in a few weeks, we’ll build a chart and take the time and space dimensions of all experience, and we’ll show you that experience cannot be the basis of truth. We’ll show you also from the basis of logic that logic can’t be the basis of truth. If logic and experience aren’t the basis of truth, then what is the basis of truth? And it turns out only the God of the Scripture can be the basis of truth, He controls both the logic and the experience. So what Satan did, as one person said, think of a moment in time, if we diagram this as a timeline of Satan’s life, and here’s the point of the fall, PF, prior to this point, less than PF, during this time interval Satan knew something about God. After PF, after this interval, there’s a mystery that happens. In the one sense does he know more about God, + knowledge of God? Well, yes, because now He sees God’s wrath, probably in a different way than he ever saw it before. Now he sees not just that God is holy, but now that God is wrathful, something has stirred in the soul of God, in the Spirit of God. So Satan gains knowledge he did not have before as a result of this sin.
But there is another strange corollary, that now he has less knowledge than he had before in another aspect. And that’s because as a result of his sin he now… what does the Bible always say about sin, what it does to the heart? It hardens it and darkens it. What does Paul say in Romans 1; hat their reasoning becomes vain and the heart becomes dark. That’s why when the gospel comes in and you personally believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, one of the passages I have you look at in exercise 1.3 is 2 Corinthians 4:4, and in that passage do you know what the illustration that Paul gives of the gospel? Genesis 1:3. In Genesis 1:3 the universe is dark and God says “Let there be light.” Paul says that day of light is like the gospel dawning in our hearts. When God the Holy Spirit opens our heart to who Jesus Christ is, what happened on the cross, that act, whatever that act is, is of equal importance and depth as that act when He brought into existence light into the universe. Isn’t that awesome? Paul uses the first day of creation to be an analogue to the evangelization of the heart.
Now when Satan sinned, his knowledge splits, in one sense it becomes quantitatively greater. He does know, as a result of his sin, more about God. But qualitatively something happens to that knowledge, that now he’s alienated personally in an impersonal hostile animosity toward God. And we have an analogous experience in all of our lives, anybody that’s been married more than five minutes knows that when you’re close to someone, you know what it means, you don’t have to say words, you know what it means when you’re on the outs with that person, there’s just bad vibes. Right? Now doesn’t our relationship with a person color how we think? You bet it does. And we all experience this. Why do we have this theological difficulty understanding this problem? In a far more profound way after we sin our thoughts, our emotions and everything else have been affected now. And we can’t get it right.
I had a great discussion today, we were talking about this principle that ultimately this revolves on a personal relationship with God, and when our knowledge goes dark, because of our sin, when we feel alienated from God, what we try sometimes to do is crank out a replacement righteousness. And it becomes a sterile, dead principle of legalism, and we offer this up as a fig leaf to cover our nakedness. It doesn’t cover our nakedness, because that’s fake, it’s phony, it’s the product of a counterfeit relationship. So the knowledge becomes fakey but it becomes greater. So wrapped up in the ball of wax here is somehow apparently Satan’s knowledge becomes greater but I think the part of the darkening of his heart is that he too becomes subservient to this Continuity of Being idea. And the reason I would defend that is because if you look at the text in Isaiah 14, “I will become like God,” it’s a perfect depiction of climbing a ladder. He’s claiming there there’s no distinction, ultimately, no unbridgeable chasm, there’s no Grand Canyon that separates God from him, it’s just a matter of a mountain, God’s higher right now but there’s a pathway up the mountain and I will climb the pathway. That’s a different picture isn’t it, of God being on the other side of the Grand Canyon and I’m over here and I have a bridge. Now the Grand Canyon is the truth, that’s the true picture of what’s going on. The mountain with the mountain trail on it is the false one. And the mountain trail is what is depicted in Isaiah 14.
Question asked, something about Jesus says in John 8:42. Is there any truth in Satan, and I said yes there is, but not in terms of the relationship to truth, that truth is a person. Clough answers: Yes. What he’s talking about is that when Jesus says Satan has no truth in him, that must not be talking about this, this is the quantitive increase in the knowledge of God brought by sin. Anybody that’s been disciplined by God has an additional appreciation for His character. So Satan knows more about God, but this thing down here, this new counterfeit information, this distortion that occurs, really isn’t even worthy of the name truth. And in that passage Jesus says there is no truth here. And of course we know in John’s discourses of Jesus truth is very personal, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” So John is arguing that this is a personal thing, and what’s lost here at this point is that sin destroys the personal nature of truth. And if you think about it, that’s not a mystery, is it? Because what’s the fundamental testimony of Scripture? What is sin? Sin is my arrogance and pride against God. I have ruptured the personal relationship. So if truth is personal, if real knowledge is personal, and sin enters, it’s all gone. It becomes this mechanical kind of counterfeit stuff. So the personal nature of God is very, very important, and I think we have some exciting stuff to show you where you can show that logic, right and wrong, law, arithmetic, everything derives from this person that we know, and we call the Lord whom we love, the Triune God. It’s amazing. Very good question.
The question is in what language did God speak? What is His language? And we want to deal with that question as we go on in this series, but let me give you a little preview and this will have to be the last question. There were a number of 19th century Christian scholars who asked this question. In the 20th century the Christian scholars kind of laugh at the question. In the 19th century this was a serious question, what was the language that God used to speak to Adam? The answer that came out of those studies in the 19th century was that the language that God used was a basic Semitic-like language, and this was not just a guess. Here’s the logic behind that answer. The Semitic language corpus, there’s a number of languages which happened at Babel and the human race was fractured into various linguistic categories but the Semitic tongues, i.e., Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic, those Semitic languages are very conservative with time. When I was starting to study Hebrew, this professor that I had told me that if Moses rose from the dead and walked down the streets of modern Jerusalem today, he could converse with any child in the street, and would be understood. In other words, the Hebrew language has not changed that much with time, they’re borrowing words, like autobus, and we know that that’s the word for bus and they’re getting that out of our English language, so there are some borrowings, but the Semitic core has not changed with time.
What is intriguing is that in the Semitic languages the word for man and woman, the Semitic language as I understand the argument, and I may be wrong but I think this is the argument, that it’s one of the few areas where the word for man and woman is the same noun with a feminine ending on it in its stem, its archetypical stem, ish and isha. And when God made man, there’s certain ways that that is structured in the text and spoken of. The word for Eve, Chavvah, for life. If you have a Jewish friend sometime you’ll see them like we wear crosses on our jewelry, a Jewish friend will have this on their jewelry, in place of the cross they’ll have something that looks like this, which is the Hebrew He, and that’s the first of this word for life, and that’s what that means on their jewelry. And the pun on the name would be meaningless in any other language except Semitic. So these scholars argued that there are structures in the stories of the Old Testament that would be nonsense in any other language than a Semitic type language. So the idea is that it’s the Semitic language today that closely approximates whatever happened pre-Babel, the pre-Babel language and time. And we also know another interesting fact about language is that language cannot be learned except another person teaches it. You’ve heard stories about feral children. Feral children are children in weird cases that have been, so to speak, raised by … [message quits]