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 2 – Introduction: Preconditions of Truth and Knowledge
12 Oct 1995
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
This course is part of looking at the Bible as an entire framework that addresses every area of life. We are going to combine elements that usually aren’t combined in a Bible class. We’re going to deal with (1) Biblical events as actual historical events, things that occurred and are just as real as any other historical event you could read about in history. (2) With the revealed truths that God has given through those events. (3) We’re going to see how it is a coherent message that God has given man throughout Scripture, throughout history, and we want to look at that coherence and see that He is an organized thinker and He speaks in an organized way. We dealt a little with the apologetic strategy, trying to clarify what we mean when we say we are approaching the Scripture through presuppositions. In other words, we begin up front with the authority of Scripture. We’re not pretending we’re coming from some neutral ground and then trying to reason our way across that neutral ground to God. We’re confessing up front where our authority lies.
Chapters 1-3 of the notes deal with the first of these four events in Scripture. First we’ll deal with the event of creation, the doctrines that are associated with this, and the struggles that come out of this first part of the Scripture. There’s a quotation on the introduction of page 21 from A. W. Tozer, a great preacher in Chicago for many years. He’s written a number of devotional books, one of the highly recommended books by Dr. Tozer is The Knowledge of the Holy in which is an excellent text on the attributes of God, a very good devotional approach to the attributes of God. Tozer was more than a devotional writer, he was also a theologian. In the beginning of that book he makes the point that every time the church, in its 2,000 year history, has gotten screwed up it’s always been over the same problem—it’s got the wrong answer to the questions of who is God and what is God like. Every time we get a wrong answer to those questions we’re in deep spiritual trouble, which catapults down through area after area. This is why I cite Tozer’s statement: “Essentially salvation is the restoration of a right relation between man and his Creator, a bringing back to normal of the Creator-creature relation. God was our original habitat and our hearts cannot but feel at home when they enter again that ancient and beautiful abode.” A marvelous way of putting it and that in a nutshell is what we’re talking about. So while we pursue different things and go off into details, be assured the details are things that have come up in my experience and the experience of Christians again and again and again. Particularly young people who are in the educational part of their lives and development are going to run into this, so I decided to meet it head on. You’re going to run into a lot more than what we cover but I think I have at least covered the basic structure of the issues that you will run into.
I want to emphasize by several passages how crucial the event of creation is for defining who and what God is. If we are wrong here, everything else falls out of kilter. Revelation 4 is looking into the future; the Apostle John has this vision of what happens at the throne of God, the very throne of God, in the presence of God He is praised. Look at the content of that praise in Rev. 4:11, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” See the emphasis? This is at the end of history, and it’s remarkable that the content of the praise of God reverberates with the beginning of history, and that sets God off. That’s why He is praised and not the archangels; that is why He is praised and not people, because God and God alone is the One who created, and that is remembered forever and ever and ever, through the halls of eternity, that God created. It was a sacred act and it must always be remembered. It sets God apart.
Turn to Rev. 21:1. When we get into Genesis you’ll see why Revelation is structured this way. At the very end of the Scripture it’s like the Holy Spirit has closure, i.e. He began the Scriptures by telling us the story of God’s creation, now at the end of the Scriptures He ends the Bible by referencing the new creation. He says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,” and he goes on in verse 4, “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain: the first things have passed away.” There the marred first creation is removed. But notice, creation is important, and it’s immediately succeeded by another universe. The Bible speaks of a new universe, an entire re-creation, and that takes place at the end of history as we know it.
Filled with the same story, the same shapes and images of the book, Rev. 22:1-3, “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” When we get into Genesis you’ll see there’s a river that comes out of Eden and flows east, and apparently it came out of the then-throne of God. So the new heavens and the new universe are structured very similarly to the present universe. Notice a careful reference in verse 3, “And there shall no longer be any curse,” so it is an uncursed, really uncursable universe. It’s remarkable that the Bible has this symmetry to it. That’s something we want to come back to again and again as Christians, God is a coherent thinker, and one of the proofs (if you want to call it that), one of the evidences of the inspiration of the Bible is its coherence. As you study it more you begin to see the levels of coherence throughout the text and that is an evidence of God’s revelatory work.
I want to go over the importance of origins to make sure we understand some of the points, and we’ll go through some texts that are in the exercise. I’m trying to point out that the subject of origins is a very sensitive subject. Creation is a very volatile topic, a very sensitive topic to talk about and we must observe this. It may bother us, but we need to think about it, why is creation a sensitive topic? Why do people get upset by this? The answer is that the reason people get upset is because it underscores that their very getting upset is truth; it is an evidence of the fact that they’re dealing with something that goes to the very root of their being. People don’t get upset over trivial things. People get upset when you’ve pressed a hot button with them. Everyone basically is emotionally and deeply committed to a view of origins and this is why it’s a hot topic, why it gets everyone agitated. Before we’re through with Genesis we’re going to have geologists, astronomers, physicists, and biologists agitated, the feminists will be agitated, there are not too many people left unagitated by the time you get to Genesis 3. It literally goes against the grain of every area of thought, and because it does I’m warning you that people react to this. The key in Genesis 1 is that whenever you discuss origins you’re really discussing a person’s ultimate belief, and that ultimate belief is wrapped in parcel with their view of God. Show me a person’s view of origins and I will show you the person’s view of God, they are that closely related. This is why as we go through this we want to remember that Genesis starts with origins, the Holy Spirit organized it this way because He’s addressing the heart of men, and origins is the starting point of all.
As I went into the importance of origins some of you may have wondered why I go through all this business about language. Because it controls everything else, that’s why. Let me illustrate. You cannot talk about any subject, I don’t care what the subject is, pick any subject you want to, you cannot discuss that subject, talk about it, think about it or act on the basis of your thoughts about it unless you have already established basically a view of the universe, a view of yourself, a view of truth, and a view of language. You can’t start without presupposing things. This goes for the Christian and the non-Christian. I want to explore that some more and that’s why we want to go with this issue of language. I said in the text that if you want to classify something, think of a little child learning and one of the first things babies learn when they begin to talk, besides all kinds of odd sounds and how to make sounds into something, they learn nouns. One of the most fascinating things about a child is watching them learn language. Dr. Mortimer Adler, who for years was one of the editors in Encyclopedia Britannica, made this statement: “Do you realize that every one of us have performed the greatest intellectual act we will ever perform for the rest of our life by the time we are six years old.” What did he mean? He meant that from a way still unknown a child learns language without having known a previous language. From that point on we learn language but it’s always because we’ve known another language and we’re moving from one language to another, but that’s not true for a little child. A little child sits there and somehow is able to learn language. I don’t know if you’ve thought about how miraculous that is, that is an amazing thing that is going on.
As we get into Genesis and creation I hope this wonder of a little child learning will become a very motivational thing for you as a parent. As made in the image of God, a child has been preprogrammed for his environment, and he starts to learn, say a noun, which classifies some subject. How would a child learn a noun? He has to learn that noun stands for something by developing an idea of a class. So he has certain objects that he fits in that class, maybe a dog. But isn’t it interesting that a child has to learn that a terrier and a collie and a Great Dane are all dogs. And yet you could have an animal the same size in there, a sheep, throw in some other animals, and the child is going to, without too much difficulty, learn that there are a set of things called dogs, and sheep aren’t one of them, cats aren’t one of them. There’s a category there.
There is built into all of us a need to classify. We classify again and again; we can’t talk without classifying. What’s so important about this is that it is one of the preconditions for knowledge, that the universe around us is classifiable. Imagine for example if a little child is sitting here learning and he’s just learned that there is a terrier, a cocker spaniel, a collie, and the cat is not a dog, the sheep is not a dog, he knows what d-o-g means. Then during the night the animals transmute their forms. What happens to the learning process? Obviously it stops in confusion. You can’t have knowledge, you can’t even speak unless you can classify, and classification presupposes that the universe and the world are classifiable.
How do we connect this with Scripture? It implies that to know anything I have to know that there is stability in the real world outside of me that I can genuinely learn about. Turn to a text of the Bible where this happens. For those of you studying English literature, notice that the Bible has a philosophy of language, it does not permit any view of language. The Bible has a very restrictive idea of what language is all about, and that’s what we’re looking at. Gen. 1:5, the creation story. As God creates the universe He begins to name. In verse 3 “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.  God saw that the light was good;” etc., God is moving on the surface of the waters, verse 2, etc. He does all this and then in verse 5 is the first naming in history. What was the first thing ever named? Light. Who named it? God did. In other words, the universe from the very start was structured to be describable by language. Verse 5, “God called…,” verse 8, “And God called the expanse heaven.” Verse 10, “And God called the dry land earth.” God is naming. If you were to study this chapter carefully and observe, you would see He stops naming. He only starts naming a few things. Then when it’s all over, Gen. 2:19, notice the assignment He gave man and notice the way He gave man the assignment. He said “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to see what he [the man] would call them;” so now the man is given this task of naming.
Here’s the Biblical view of language. First you have God beginning the language at some point in time; He initializes the language, if you want to use a computer term. He is initializing language by beginning to name. It says He comes to Adam and He says Adam, I did this; that is that, that is that, that is that, He names a few things. Then He says to Adam, now fellow, the rest is up to you, you finish what I started. I want you to learn about Me by learning about what I’ve made. You learn about a craftsman from the craft the craftsman crafts and we learn about God through His creation, through His word yes, but also through His creation. So Adam is given an assignment to begin to name. Now that’s the lofty view of language in Scripture.
Why do I keep going back to language? Because when you are getting into a conflict with a non-Christian, the non-Christian likes to think that he can sit in his house of language and fire at you. What I’m going to show you is a little tool to handle things when it gets that way. What we’re going to show you is that he can’t sit impermeable in his house of language because he has got to justify the language that he’s using to attack Scripture with. We come and say the Scripture gives you a view of language, and if you don’t accept the Scripture you can’t inherit that view of language and that makes you in trouble, so it puts the shoe on the other foot. Understand that language and thinking need something to work with, and one of the things that language needs to work with is stability of categories and classifications.
How do we know that God does this? In Romans 1 Paul deals with the pagan environment, he’s trying to teach the pagans to learn to think about their environment. In 1:20 he says certain things of God since the creation of the world are seen, the invisible attributes, and one of the invisible attributes in the text is called “His eternal power.” If you do a word study on that eternal power its more emphasis on ever present, ever working power; we would translate it a constantly sustaining power. Notice what he says about it, he says that “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen,” notice the adverb, “clearly seen, being understood … so that they are without excuse.” Every man, woman and child is in contact with God from the time of the beginning of their existence. Everyone comes into contact with God’s structure every time they speak a word, every time they think, because language presupposes an orderly environment.
The second thing we want to cover in the section on the importance of origins for meaning is how you learn words after you start to classify them. Suppose you have the word, “dog,” we all know that we don’t learn that abstractly, that there is a connotation to it, there’s something, a dog bit me, something happened. In other words, you have an experience that defines the meaning of that word, there’s a mode of content to it, there’s context to it, “dog” means something in a context. You can see that. If you use a word and a child that is learning language comes up and says, Mommy, what does _____ mean? He’s heard you say the word, so he says what does that mean? You get in a position where you can’t really tell him what it means because he has no experience of it, and so you spend 5-10 minutes in a big discussion about what this word means, and after that he still doesn’t know what it means because he doesn’t have any context, he has no place to put it in his head, there’s no way to organize it. So the second thing that we have to have to make things work in language is context. How do you define a word in the dictionary? You have to define it with other words, so meaning comes from context. That’s why when we read Scripture we have to be so careful that we always interpret Scripture in context, but that’s not just true of Scripture, it’s true all over. We have to have the stability of these classifications and the second element that we have to have is a context. This process of a child learning language is how they’re coming into contact with God, all during this language learning process they’re profoundly coming into contact with God.
I gave a reference in the notes to Ecclesiastes 3, we’ll come back again and again to this because it’s a central passage and the reason it’s so important is that it was written as part of a corpus of literature called the wisdom literature in the Bible. Solomon wrote it. Ecclesiastes is a fascinating book to read because Solomon tried every false pathway you could think of and he’s done it. He has done about everything a person can do, he had a lot of wealth so he could afford to do experiments, and basically he came up with a conclusion that the world doesn’t satisfy, only a relationship with God satisfies. Part of his explanation of this is in Eccl. 3:11, a key passage in the Bible. Something is asserted in this passage that is a puzzle, a powerful puzzle. Notice what it says: God “has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart,” whose heart? Men’s hearts. What has God set there? Not eternal life, that’s knowing Christ. He has “set eternity in their heart.” There is a sense of eternity in every human being, whether the person is an atheist or a Christian. Where does it come from? From the fact that God has placed His image in our hearts and if you want to think in terms of context here’s what happens. Go back to the dog idea, you have a circle of context around him, and then around him you have the idea of human society in which the dogs are used, then you have the context of history in which human society lives, and you have this expanding circle of ever widening context until you get out as far as you can think, the meaning of history and the origin of history. It’s that drive, verse 11, where he says He has put eternity in their heart, that is something of passion that He puts in our hearts that we want a foundation for our lives. So we keep on pushing outward, pushing outward, outward, pushing forever and ever greater circles of contexts, until we can get meaning for our life.
Some day read some of the 20th century literature that our young people have to read in literature class. It amazes me that we always start literature classes with 20th century writings, it’s backwards. What we should be doing is starting literature classes back in the days when there was a high and lofty view of language, moving forward from that time into the 20th century when people could care less, have given up all hope for meaning and they write literature that’s profoundly despairing. It’s despairing because when they go to push the walls out to try to get meaning, there is nothing there. In philosophical circles that is what is ultimately broadly labeled as existentialist. We don’t bother with the big questions any more, we just describe, describe, describe, hoping that we write enough stories, enough poetry, enough here, enough there, have enough experiences that somehow it will satisfy things. It won’t, because God has set eternity in hearts, and until we push the context out to eternity we won’t be satisfied. It’s like we’re little marbles rolling around a big box. When you pack a box you fill it with Styrofoam peanuts because the box has to be filled. If you can think of that imagery, that’s what happens in the human heart. When we begin to know things and learn things we want it not to just bounce around in an empty box, but God has given us in our hearts a sense of eternity. That’s how big our hearts are. Not that the hearts are eternal, the hearts are not infinite, but there’s a sense of infinite, we are created to have fellowship with an infinite God and we’re not going to be satisfied until we have fellowship with Him.
Notice further in verse 11 the other side of the mystery. The first part of the mystery is that God has put eternity in our heart, but then look at what He does in the next clause, “yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done,” that is something we’ll get into called the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God, a very important idea of Scripture. We didn’t say we couldn’t know Him in a personal way, but to fathom His being is an impossibility. That’s a great comfort because every idol that man makes, by definition, isn’t incomprehensible, it’s comprehensible. All idols are comprehensible because man made them, so the mark of the true God is that He is not comprehensible, He lies beyond the power of reason to capture. All we know about God is what He chooses to show us, and if He does not choose to show us something, we do not know anything about God. That’s why this Book is so important. If God did not speak the Scripture we would know nothing. The modern theologian and the modern church have washed themselves clean of an authoritative Scripture and in so doing they have cut themselves off from ever comprehending God, because God is incomprehensible.
God has structured the universe to tease us into a relationship with Him. On the one hand He shows us His magnificence, and you can study tremendous things in science and literature, you can study unfathomable things, and we should because God told Adam to go out and name these. But a funny thing happens on the way. As we begin to get involved we begin to see these glorious things, and we begin to probe beyond them and beyond them and beyond them, and we finally realize that this goes on endlessly. It goes on forever and ever. Think of the physicist. First it was the atom, then it was the electron and the proton, then subatomic particles, now it’s going to be the grand theory of the strong force and the weak force in the nucleus, so we go on and on and on, it never stops.
Yet we have to come to know God. You can’t postpone knowing God now by saying in five more years if I take enough courses, if I read enough books, if I increase the volume of my knowledge, I’m going to know God better. No, that’s five years from now, what are you going to do at T+5, this is this year, at Y+5 you’re going to be here, you’re going to have that much knowledge. I can say, well, can’t you say the same thing at Y+5? But there’s so much more to know, so I need to read more books, I need to think farther, etc. etc. etc. etc. and we can perpetuate this argument forever, and there’ll never be a resting place. That’s what God is saying in verse 11, He says “I have given you people a sense of My presence and My eternity, but I’ve also structured the universe in such a way that you will never, on your own, get it unless you come to Me, and then you can only come to Me as I have chosen to reveal Myself.” People do not like that.
This is an extremely offensive idea that I just dropped, extremely offensive! A real modern person, a modern pagan, just flies off the handle at this—I will not accept a universe in which I can’t dictate the terms of knowing. We’ll see why this insidiously creeps into every subject we learn, every part of our education has subtlety inbred in us this wrong idea that we dictate the terms of knowing. We do nothing of the sort. God says, I have made this, so you will not find it, you are not lords of knowledge, I am the Lord of knowledge and you learn as I show you, period. The idea that there’s an authority external to the heart of man is the essence of what we’re talking about in salvation and redemption. The essence of sin is that I will not accept an authority outside of ME, I want to be the authority. And so we come, whether it’s in math, science, literature, anything else, we come back to sin. This may be new to think of sin in these other contexts.
In the exercises I asked you to look at Mathew. 19. Under the importance of origins Jesus talked about divorce. I use this passage because I want you to see how origins come into almost every discussion imaginable. The Pharisees came and they had a big argument about divorce. We’re not getting into marriage and divorce, I’m just looking at the logic of the way Jesus met the opposition. What was the way Jesus reasoned? We can learn something here just sitting and listening to Jesus. He talked, He had a discussion with people, and how did He handle these things? They asked Him the same questions they ask us, how did He do it? They come to Him and He’s going to deal with the issue of marriage. Verse 3 “And some Pharisees came to Him,” and they started “testing Him, saying, Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all.” And the word “divorce his wife” harks back to the Mosaic Law, they’re citing some of the Greek translations of the Hebrew word, so we know what they have on their mind when they come to Jesus is, what does the Old Testament say? They’ve studied that Torah, they’ve gone through verse after verse, they know it cold. So we’re going to get this Jewish carpenter, we’re going to nail Him. Notice that Jesus doesn’t answer on the basis of an obscure Mosaic Law code. Look at the context again and see what Jesus does. Here’s the discussion, notice what He said.
[blank spot] … they set divorce inside the Law, thinking in terms of the technicalities, much as today’s lawyers, it’s not whether you’re guilty or innocent, it’s whether we have a slick deal on this particular line of reasoning about laws of evidence, on this particular issue in this particular court, blah blah blah, all technical questions that obscure the substantive questions. So here the Pharisees are, and Jesus does an end run around them. This is a lesson that I have to learn again and again, I don’t know how many times the Lord has had to show me this lesson and I screw it up again and again, I still haven’t learned how to do this as well as I would like. When we’re trying to communicate the gospel don’t accept the agenda of the other side. It is so easy to do this, because someone will ask you a question and you want to present a good testimony for the Lord, so you try to think how do I answer this, what’s the best way to say this, and all the while you’ve just bought the question. What you did in your head was to accept the question at face value, you went ahead and started to answer that question, but what we should learn to do is to say, wait a minute, is that the right question I should even be answering? It gets back to the old joke, how many times last week did you beat your wife? How do you answer that without incriminating yourself? It’s a loaded question. Before we go charging forward to answer something on the basis of Scripture we’d better just stop, “Lord, is this really the right question we ought to be answering?” Learn to do that, it will save you grief.
This is not something abstract just for evangelism and apologetics; ultimately this is how we deal with temptation. Did you ever notice how temptation is? Satan is slick, the way he did it in the Garden, he always deflects us. Temptation wouldn’t be a temptation if there wasn’t some truth to it. What he does, he gets us to look over there, meanwhile he slips it to us over here, and we just march on, taking in the whole thing like Eve did in the Garden, never noticing that we just bought into the agenda about two steps earlier. Now all of a sudden we find ourselves in a ball of wax, wondering how did I get here; because you took a wrong turn back here. I will demonstrate that as we go through the Genesis text again.
What Jesus did with the Pharisees, He said I know what you lawyers are after, you’re after techniques, but let me put it to you this way. You guys say that you believe in the Torah, why don’t you go back to the origin of the Torah, you have to because the document you’re citing, the Torah, in which you find the Law, testifies to the God who created the universe. You can’t have law in a lawless universe, obviously. Jesus goes back and deals with origins. He says get the big picture guys, verse 4. I can’t help throwing this in, if you have a study Bible you should see that vs. 4-5 are marked as a reference to the Old Testament. At least two students came to me in the last month because a teacher in school had told them in a lecture that there are really two stories of creation, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and that they conflict. It’s the same old documentary hypothesis, been around since the 19th century, so they come out with this two-ideas-of-creation view. It’s interesting that verse 4 is a quote from one of the creation stories; verse 5 is a reference from the “other” creation story. Poor Jesus, He just didn’t know, He should never have quoted from two conflicting stories to build a coherent doctrine, not having the benefits of modern PhD studies He didn’t really understand there is a conflict between Gen. 1 and 2. So carelessly this man from Nazareth randomly quotes from here and He quotes over there and He builds a whole doctrine of marriage on it. That’s one of the proofs that there isn’t a conflict. Jesus knew there wasn’t a conflict, He was perfectly relaxed with the Scripture and He built a whole doctrine of divorce out of it.
What is He doing? In a nutshell He goes back to origins to set the context, He enlarges the discussion away from the technicalities to the big picture. And we’ve got to do that, because it’s as you enlarge the discussion of the big picture that we get into the depth of what’s going on. Part of the exercise was what Paul did in Acts 14. Paul had to chop off the pagan framework, and the only way he could do it was push the walls of the discussion out, all the way back to origins, then he wiped the slate clean so he could deal with the issue.
In Acts 17 it’s the same approach. What does Paul do at Athens? He comes back, and notice, he doesn’t argue the case. Watch how Paul did that. This is one of the central passages in the New Testament about how evangelism worked on the mission field, and this was in the heart of the educational center of the ancient world. Paul said in verse 22-23 something that I would never have thought of this. Imagine, here you are in Athens, what is the Greek culture in Athens known for? What’s the educational prestigious feeling about Athens, who were the great guys that worked in Athens centuries before, but surely set up the Greek culture? Plato and Aristotle. You had all these little sub schools of philosophy there. Notice what Paul says, this is the “Reader’s Digest version” of probably what really went on. “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all aspects,” now you can just about hear them say “What?” The Epicureans? The Epicureans were atheists at the time, they basically believed in sensation, they had completely discarded the idea of a religion in the sense that we’re talking about. Paul, what do you mean we’re religious? Why do you suppose Paul labeled the so-called secular philosophers as religious? Because he was dealing with a point that they have profoundly religious beliefs about the universe around them. They go back to origins.
Anytime you talk about origins you’re showing your ultimate belief system, your ultimate presuppositions and every person has them, so every person is religious. It gripes me when I hear stuff about how we have to be religiously neutral. How can you be religiously neutral? What they really mean is we have to keep you religious people off the boat, the only people allowed on this trolley are the atheists, or the naturalists, they don’t bring God in here, but that doesn’t make you less religious, it doesn’t make you have known ultimate presuppositions. He goes on, he says you guys, you’re agnostics, you worship an unknown God, and then in verse 24 he confronts them with creation. He did the same thing in Acts 14, he does the same thing in Acts 17, “The God who made the world and all things in it,” bang, right there, does he start with Jesus, or the Gospel of Mark? No, he starts with creation. Why does he start with creation? Because he’s got to get at the guts of ultimate presuppositions, what is it that defines your highest belief?
Turn to page 4, the last section of the notes. I want you to master this. Don’t ever let people sell you on the idea that you can be neutral. If we don’t get anything else out of this course it’s going to be this point, no one is ever neutral, it’s an illusion, and here’s why. Look at the paragraph on page 4 that begins “The religious neutrality theory.” When I first did this series a Christian lady who got all A’s through her PhD in English literature taught me the power of setting up a sentence and using a little word here and there. And one of the devices you can use, I used it in the first line, I brand their thing as a theory, “The religious neutrality theory says….” What have I done when I did that? What happens immediately when I call the other person’s belief system a theory? Now all of a sudden we’ve isolated this thing, we’ve pulled it out of the woodwork so it doesn’t become something that everybody accepts. All of a sudden it’s a theory. We’ve got to look at this, we don’t accept it as a fact, we bring it out as a theory. They do it to us all the time, you Christians and your theory, your Bible theory. Turn the language around and say what about your beliefs that you keep insisting on shoving down my throat all the time you talk, two can play the game of language. Just do it graciously, you can be very gracious about it, but you don’t compromise the truth. It’s a battle for language. You can often lose the whole point of the discussion because you got sloppy, they stated something, you bought into it and went on, never examined it. What we’ve got to learn is let’s not buy into the questions. Hold it, are we doing right by ever accepting that way of phrasing it. This is not arguing technicalities now, this is arguing substance.
I want to show you three truths in that paragraph on page 4 about why you cannot be neutral and nobody can answer this. This is a proof that’s been around for 20 years. It was started by a guy who had gotten his doctorate at Harvard in theoretical math. He put forward this evidence and no one has ever been able to disprove this. Everybody kites around it or ignores it but they never have disproved it. Those of you who have dealt with logic know that if you have a premise, let’s call it “P”, if something is true, then something else is true. If P then Q, everybody knows this. If it is a clear day outside, then it is not raining, says the implication. Now there’s a little sneaky thing that goes on here, you can reverse this logic and write it this way. Put that little wriggle sign before Q and little wriggle sign before P it means, if it is not, then this is not. If I disprove this, I’ve automatically refuted P, because if this Q can’t be true, then P can’t be right, because P always implies it. So if it isn’t there, then P must be false.
Watch how this applies. First, the neutrality theory denies that God could have any fundamental role in structuring the universe. Here’s what the argument is. Here’s our argument from Genesis, if God is there as Creator, then He is important for every subject. Let’s think about that logic. If God is who the Bible says He is, has He not structured the universe this way, does the universe not reflect His character and His being? Then isn’t God important for every subject? What does the neutrality theory start with? If somebody believes in the neutrality theory, they’re trying to say math is math, whether or not God exists; history is history whether or not God exists; English literature is literature whether or not God exists. But if that’s so, already by implication you’ve denied that the God of the Bible can exist, because if God did exist He would be important for all these subjects. You’re saying He’s not important for these subjects because you say the subjects don’t change, whether or not He’s there. The moment you said that, you denied the existence of God. Ironically, the neutrality theory is not neutral. The neutrality theory itself denies the existence of God. It’s not just being neutral; it’s actually an affirmative denial of the existence of God.
Notice the second thing it does, “It insists that each object in the universe does not bear testimony to Him, (otherwise He’d be present in every subject).” Thirdly, and this is most insidious, “It elevates above God an ethical standard that justifies ignoring His presence.” We “ought” to learn the subject this way. The moment I say I ought to do something I’ve just made a moral judgment, and I am saying that I ought to teach in such a way that I ignore God, have I not said that my ethical standard is here, and God, if He is existing, is down here. That doesn’t look neutral to me. So what we are saying is that there “ain’t no such thing” as neutrality. Impossible! The best we can hope for is a dialogue of two conflicting viewpoints, but we cannot buy into the existence of a neutral zone. The neutral zone itself denies and undercuts Scripture, and this is why later on you’ll see why things are structured the way they are.
I want to show you what we’re going to do next week. On Page 7 of the handout is a long text. Read Genesis in context. What better way do we have of reading Genesis in context than to read another book, sort of like Genesis, written by pagans, uninspired by the Holy Spirit. Wouldn’t that be a nice control experiment? If you could take two people living in Moses day, here’s Moses and all the Jews, inspired of the Holy Spirit, Genesis is compiled and written, probably from records handed down from Adam and Noah. There’s the Bible. Over here we’re going to take a sample of what the surrounding people believed at that time in history. Read that text carefully and note your observations. Go through that text with your Bible open to Genesis. Read Genesis, then read Enuma Elish, the title of the document, read Genesis, then Enuma Elish, etc. Find out the parallels. There are some similarities; circle them, just as an observation exercise. Then go back a second time and look at all the differences. After you do this, I hope it will show you a renewed respect for how the Holy Spirit controls, sovereignly, in history, corrupt man because what you’re looking at is what happens when the Holy Spirit did not restrain a corrupt mentality. We’re going to take the incorruption next to the corruption. There’s a dramatic contrast between pagan literature and the Bible. Out of this we’ll discover there are principles because just as we go through Genesis and we say Genesis teaches us certain things about God, and we draw conclusions out of the Genesis text, then do the same thing, start drawing conclusions out of that text. Then we’ll take the conclusions of Scripture and the conclusions of the pagan text, put them together and say hey, look at this. Modern paganism does the same thing.
Here’s the irony. You go to school and they tell you you’ve got this ancient book, full of old ancient beliefs. But isn’t it funny that when I compare this book of ancient beliefs with a pagan book of ancient beliefs, I come out with a sense of differences that modern pagans still believe. Modern cosmic evolution believes the same premises and the same central propositions that Enuma Elish does. So now who’s related to the ancient books? Now who’s related to the ancient text? We’re going to make that flypaper stick to the other guy’s feet. We’re going to look at how God teaches this truth and why there’s an insidious spiritual power behind the pagan mind that wants to put a twist on Genesis, always the same twist. We want to get a handle about why is it that there’s always the same twist that happens in the pagan mind. It’s tied into our walk with the Lord, and we want to demonstrate that.
So tonight we’ve talked about basically the preconditions of truth and knowledge, and every man has to have an ultimate set of presuppositions to supply those preconditions. I can’t speak, I can’t think, I can’t do without the universe being structured in a stable way that allows me to think about it, and I’ve got to learn from context all the way out to eternity for the big meaning. Everybody has that. No one is neutral; we all bring those preconditions to the table. Next week we’re going to discuss the difference in those preconditions. What supplies the precondition from the Bible standpoint, what supplies the precondition of knowledge on the pagan view, and we’re going to get into the structures of these things, as we go deeper into the Genesis text.