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Relativistic Creationism – the Tree of Life and Adam’s Curse

One critical question raised by both Relativistic Creationism and the separation of the human creation events in Genesis 1 and 2 is an obvious ramification we must address: what do these views mean for understanding Adam’s Curse and the “coming of death” to humankind in Genesis 3? Just as with other topics, I believe with a reexamination of these passages of Holy Scripture, many things which seem mysterious or confusing in the traditional interpretation will be made clearer; they will be seen to be the amazing accounts they are, when wiped clean from problematic interpretations.

If the ramifications of Relativistic Creationism seem to conflict with each other, with clear teaching from Scripture, or with proven facts, it will be a marker for us to abandon or revise the theory. But on the other hand, if those ramifications shed light on previously mysterious or confusing passages in Scripture &/or scientific facts, that will be a signpost that we are on the right track in this line of thought.

We’ll begin first with a corollary which comes out of what has been discussed in my earlier articles in this series about Genesis 1 and 2, before turning to ramifications from reexamining Genesis 3.

Plant and Animal Death was part of God’s Creation from the Beginning

From Relativistic Creationism we understand that in day six of Creation in Genesis 1, approximately 500 million years elapsed on earth. Ocean life, initially created on day five, would have gone through even more generations. Clearly a food chain was in operation throughout all those generations; large carnivores were devouring smaller carnivores and herbivores, who in turn devoured plants. To assume otherwise presumes that an enormous change was made to the laws of physics and biology at the time of the Fall, which is nowhere mentioned in Scripture…

Further, there is no provision in the Genesis account for plants or animals to have been initially immortal, only made mortal after the Fall. In the Curse, God mentions only the serpent, Eve, Adam, and the ground:

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it’, cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” — Gen 3:14-19

In the traditional Young-Earth interpretation, God Himself ends the first animal life when He makes skins to clothe Adam & Eve. But this assumes an enormous amount which is just not present in Scripture – not even “between the lines”: there is no mention whatsoever of any impact on animals of the Curse, nor of the major physical changes which carnivores would have had to undergo in that moment in order to be able to sustain themselves from that point forward. In fact, the entire physiology of carnivores like lions and tigers is based on their consumption of meat to survive. Neither is there any support for the idea that no animals died before the Fall in any other Scriptural references…

Romans 5:12 declares that “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people.” By saying “all people” rather than “all life”, and by specifying “death through sin”, Paul here clarifies that Adam’s Fall did not inaugurate animal death. — Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis

Having dealt with this corollary relating to animal mortality, let’s turn our attention now to the question of humankind’s mortality and our impact from the Curse…

The Existence of the Tree of Life, Largely Ignored by the Traditional View, Shows us that Humans were Created Mortal

The traditional view of Adam’s Curse and the mortality of humankind focuses on God’s threatened punishment for Adam & Eve should they eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” — Genesis 2:16-17

Traditionally theologians have claimed that God’s “to dust you shall return” statement in Genesis 3:19b is the fulfillment of this threat. They use the combination of these two passages as proof of two significant claims about Adam & Eve, that:

a) Adam & Eve were created immortal, and
b) they were made mortal with the Curse after the Fall

I believe both these claims are wrong, and even problematic to our understanding the rest of Scripture. Let’s take them one at a time…

a) on whether Adam & Eve were created immortal: There is a clear aspect of the account of the Garden of Eden which helps us see that this is false. The very existence of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden is proof to us that Adam & Eve were not created to be physically immortal. Consider this simple fact: if humans had been created immortal, there would have been no purpose for that tree. By extension, since the same word is used in the Genesis 1 Creation of “man & woman”, we can know also that early man was likewise created mortal.

Strangely, in the traditional interpretation of Genesis 2-3, the Tree of Life is largely ignored. But God surely included this important aspect of the account for a reason! Note that we can also know from the text that Adam & Eve never partook from the Tree of Life to obtain immortal life. After the Fall, this becomes the reason God removes them from the Garden in Genesis 3:22: “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever”. So, while eating of the Tree of Life had been allowed prior to the Fall, they clearly did not indulge in eating from it; after the Fall, God acts quickly to remove their access to it altogether.

b) on whether Adam & Eve were made mortal by the Curse: not only do we know from the commentary above that Adam & Eve were created mortal originally, but the portion of the Curse on which the traditional view hangs actually lacks the indications that it’s a change to anything about the current order or Adam & Eve’s situation at all. God is clearly describing their (continuing) condition and not invoking a change…

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” — Genesis 3:19

This is in sharp contrast to ALL the aspects of the Curse God applies a few verses earlier…

  • The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you
  • To the woman He said, “I will surely multiply your pain
  • And to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife… cursed is the ground

In all of these aspects of the Curse, God is clearly changing the current state of affairs significantly, and He leaves no room for confusion over that fact. This contrasts sharply with Genesis 3:19b. In saying for out of it you were taken, for you are dust…” it seems clear that God is describing their condition as created, mortal, beings. The Hebrew word used for “man” when God creates Adam in Genesis 2:7 is “ha·’a·dam” – closely related to the word for ground “ha·’a·da·mah”.

God is not telling them that because of the Fall only NOW must they one day die, but only that the Curse will apply to them all the days of their life, UNTIL they die. Adam & Eve (and all the men and women created in Genesis 1, who are called by the same names “man” & ‘woman”) have been made from the ground – made mortal, intended to return to dust – from the moment they were created!

So if humans had been mortal from the moment they were created, and they didn’t physically die after eating the forbidden fruit, in what sense did they “die” in the day they ate of it, as God promised?

The Fall Brought Spiritual Death, not Physical, to Humankind

We see from the points above that the traditional interpretation – that the Fall made humankind mortal – is actually not supported by Genesis. As noted above, the existence of the Tree of Life, along with the phrasing of Genesis 3:19 itself, prove that humans were created mortal. And yet Adam & Eve were told they would die “in that day” that they ate of the forbidden fruit, and surely God means what He says there…

…of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. — Genesis 2:17

What changed when they ate of that fruit? They were banished from the Garden of Eden, and from the presence of the Lord:

therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. — Genesis 3:23-24

With the phrase “in the day” it is clear that this can only refer to spiritual death – separation from God, which did occur that very day. Consider that Adam did not physically die until 930 years later! The word “die” is used for a reason, and it is clear that Adam & Eve must have passed from life to death in some sense on the very day that they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – i.e. they literally “died” spiritually that day.

Consider that if physical death was intended by God’s promise, would that not make a liar out of God (as they did not physically “die that day”, and were already mortal)? – and make a truth-teller out of the serpent in Genesis 3:4-5? – But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The absolute impossibility of those implications makes it clear that the “death” that came to Adam & Eve from the Fall was spiritual death.

Clear Understanding of the Spiritual Death of the Curse makes Sense of Christ’s Payment on the Cross

I believe that truly understanding the Fall and the Curse in Genesis is key to understanding Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. It may very well be that this worked wrongly in reverse for centuries – with the misconception that his physical death was what paid the price for us contributing to the misunderstanding that the Curse brought physical death. But as we adopt a right understanding of the Curse and of what kind of death the Fall brought to humankind, we are enabled to grasp the full truth of Christ’s sacrifice in a way that is mysterious or confusing otherwise..,

Consider Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Are we truly to believe the traditional view that this prayer, and Christ’s sweat “like great drops of blood” was due to fear of physical pain or of death? Contrast this with what we know of the martyrs’ praises and singing when taken to their deaths in the coliseum and elsewhere. Clearly we cannot believe that Jesus had a fear of physical death at all, much less a fear of it so much stronger than His later believers! He knew that He would be resurrected in a matter of days! Clearly, understanding that the “wages of sin” are spiritual death is the only thing that makes sense of His prayer. He sweated like drops of blood in considering His upcoming spiritual death (separation from God), and this is “the cup” that He prayed might be removed from Him.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. — Luke 22:42-44

Consider also whether spiritual death does not better explain Christ crying out that God the Father had forsaken Him on the cross. If physical death is the only thing in view here, what sense does it make for Christ to feel that God abandoned Him simply by completing His plan for him? – the plan Jesus Himself had prophesied and promised would occur? Again, understanding that Christ was being brought to spiritual death (I believe in this very moment) makes so much more sense of His anguish…

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ — Matthew 27:46

This doesn’t mean that Jesus became sin or became a sinner, but that He paid the price of sin on our behalf. This understanding also makes clear why Christ stated “It is finished” while still physically alive on the cross (John 19:30). He does not say “it is about to be finished” or “when I cease to breathe it will be finished”. For such an important moment – in fact the turning point of all human history on earth – it seems that Christ would ensure the communication would be precise.

And finally, does it not seem clear that Christ’s sacrifice for us would indeed actually save us from the death we would otherwise deserve for our sins? We are promised so throughout Scripture (e.g. Rom 5:8, 1 Pet 3:18, 1 Jn 3:16, Jn 10:11 and many more). It seems abundantly clear which kind of death we have been saved from. All human lives, both for the saved and unsaved, still come to an end physically. But for those whom He has saved, we are spared from spiritual death and separation from God. Not to make too facetious a point of this, but spiritual death is the only death from which we are saved! Shouldn’t that inform our understanding of what kind of death was brought on us by the Fall, and for which kind of death Christ paid our penalty on the cross?

Clear Understanding of the Spiritual Death of the Curse Aligns with Other Scripture about the Wages of Sin

Reviewing the references to death as the wages of sin later in the Bible, we see that in every instance it is certainly possible, and in many cases clearer, to understand this as a spiritual death – not physical…

– Colossians 3:3 – Paul writes to the “dead”: “you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Clearly Paul’s readers have only died in a spiritual sense or they would be unable to read his epistle.
– Ephesians 2:1-2 – Paul reminds his readers they were once dead. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience..”
– Romans 5:8 – Christ died “for us”: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
– Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Although this text does not require us to understand death as spiritual, as in Colossians 3, clearly it can be understood to mean just that. This is a verse often referenced by Young-Earth believers as proof that neither man nor animals could have physically died prior to the Fall, but in doing so they are assuming the physical meaning of death which is not clear in the text itself. In particular the extension of this verse to anything related to animal death is a stretch. Overall though, it is completely coherent to read the “death” referenced here as spiritual.
– 1 Corinthians 15:21-22: “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Just as in Romans 5:12, this verse can also be interpreted coherently to refer to spiritual death. This verse actually goes further and references spiritual resurrection, which believers receive when we repent and accept Christ. This makes more sense of the phrase “made alive” – as something which God does in the hearts of physically living people. Romans 8:11b confirms this: “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” In case the earlier phrase “resurrection of the dead” may be referring to our glorified bodies, that is addressed with the next verse…
– Philippians 3:21 – We will be raised with glorified bodies: [Christ] “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” In this and other verses it is made clear to us that believers will receive new glorified bodies at some point after our souls have been sent to Heaven. This makes it clear that in a physical sense the bodies of believers will go through the same stages of physical death as Christ did: dying physically and then being raised physically in glory. This seems to prove the point convincingly that the “death” which is the wages of sin – the penalty which Christ paid for us by His sacrificial atonement, the “cup” which He prayed might be removed, the “death” He suffered “for us” – cannot mean physical death but only spiritual. For if we all drink from the same cup as Christ, as we do in physical death, how have we been “saved” in any sense? Some may argue here that we wouldn’t ever be raised physically if not for Christ’s sacrifice. This is clearly true, but as shown above this does not lead to the conclusion that physical death entered the world only after the Fall as a result of the Curse, or that it is the type of death referenced as the “wages of sin”.

Scripture Passages Focusing on Jesus’ Physical Death Do Exist

Of course, Christ did die physically on the cross as well. This is referenced in several passages in Scripture seemingly as the only death He suffered:

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. — Hebrews 10:10
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood… — Romans 3:23-25a
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. — 1 Peter 2:24
For Christ also suffered (or died) once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit… — 1 Peter 3:18

The last of those verses is particularly out of sync with the rest of Scripture regarding what happened to Christ on the cross. Surely Peter cannot mean that Christ was previously spiritually dead as He walked the earth, and was “made alive” on the cross… These several references are admittedly out of sync with the interpretation of the Curse and Christ’s sacrifice that I am proposing. But we wisely use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and these few exceptions hardly seem sufficient to wipe out the clarity this view gives us of the meaning of God’s promised penalty from the Fall, the wages of sin, Christ’s anguish and words on the cross… Without that view, a good number of those passages become problematic themselves.

Why then were the Israelites instructed to shed physical blood for their sacrifices?: Animals have no souls and therefore cannot be in or out of the presence of God, so their sacrifice shed blood but included no cup of suffering of being separated from God. Rather than assume that Christ’s sacrifice must parallel these sacrifices (focused on physical death) we must understand that His sacrifice was perfect, and the animal sacrifice only an imperfect symbolic picture to show the Jewish people that Christ was indeed their Messiah. In addition to the sacrifices, we see clearly how the Old Testament Levitical law demonstrates man’s separation from God in the Tabernacle and the Holy of Holies, whose veil was torn in two after Christ’s sacrifice was finished.

Of course, the Resurrection was also a physical act, bringing Christ “back to life” in His human form. But it followed a spiritual resurrection which must have occurred right after the Crucifixion – which enabled Christ to promise the thief that he would be with Him in paradise that very day. And consider this key fact: that the Ascension itself represented a death of Jesus’ physical body! We are not yet in the New Heaven and Earth, with resurrected glorified physical bodies, so we know it was only Christ’s spirit surviving on at that moment to go to the right hand of the Father. We do not mourn, or even particularly notice, the physical death which occurred at the Ascension; nor should we. His spiritual being is the main thing in view, and it should be likewise in the Crucifixion.

The Comparative Strength of the Spiritual Death view of the Curse and Sacrifice

It is clear that a spiritual death – separation from God – is meant throughout the Bible as the true penalty for sin and the true result of the Curse. From its references in Genesis to its ramifications throughout the rest of the Bible, this is the clearest understanding of the Scripture’s teaching on this topic.

We have been saved by Christ from the penalty of spiritual death which we all deserve because of our sin. From the moment we are saved, we are no longer separated from Him, and for the rest of eternity we never again leave His presence. The Holy Spirit comes to live in us, and when our bodies physically die, our souls are immediately placed in the presence of God in Heaven. (Our physical resurrection to glorified bodies comes later.)

Our being reconciled to God and enabled to enter His presence is possible only because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, a sacrifice which echoed but perfected the Old Testament Levitical law of sacrifices, paying a penalty which was first charged against humankind at the Fall. It is a sacrifice paying a penalty which could have been paid in no other way and by no other person who has ever walked on this earth. Truly we serve a holy and righteous God!

I will continue to layout what I see as the ramifications of Relativistic Creationism in other posts. I believe I’ve shown in this post one clear ramification – that the Fall brought spiritual death to humankind, a penalty paid for our sins by Christ’s sacrifice of spiritual death on the cross. As different as this theory is from the orthodox traditions of our faith on the topic of the Fall and the Curse, I believe it aligns best with the clear teaching of Scripture viewed from the perspective of Relativistic Creationism.

Please continue to keep an open mind, and continue this journey with me.

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Relativistic Creationism – Humankind and Genesis 2-4

Of the many ramifications of my belief in Relativistic Creationism, possibly the most important is what it means for Genesis 2-4, the stories of Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel. Actually I believe the Relativistic Creation theory solves many mysteries about these accounts which traditional views do not.

God inspired Holy Scripture; not necessarily translations and traditions

It is daunting and humbling to re-open a question which Christian tradition already considers settled. Why is it called for here? Because without a revised interpretation of Creation such as Relativistic Creationism, there is a conflict in one of the most fundamental questions facing humankind. And the ramifications of that new interpretation should be followed all the way through to their ends, both to judge the coherence of the theory AND to determine whether other passages should be re-interpreted to align for better consistency and truth. In doing so we should follow what Scripture actually says, and not what men have said about it – no matter how long it has been said. Scripture is our bedrock, and interpretation is only the work of men, no matter how long-established.

If the ramifications of Relativistic Creationism seem to conflict with each other, with clear teaching from Scripture, or with proven facts, it will be a marker for us to abandon or revise the theory. But on the other hand, if those ramifications shed light on previously mysterious or confusing passages in Scripture &/or scientific facts, that will be a signpost that we are on the right track in this line of thought.

Along this line relating to the question of human origins, one thing jumps out from the Genesis 1 timeline of Relativistic Creationism – that the creation of man (Gen 1:27) occurred thousands of years (Earth time) earlier than would be indicated if we begin human history with Adam & Eve. And that gives us an opening to make this challenge to the traditional interpretation: if Adam & Eve were the humans created in Genesis 1:27, why does the Bible tell the story twice, and in such different ways?

Genesis 1 is its own account – not a summary overview which Genesis 2 zooms back into

Then God said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. — Gen 1:26-27

What is meant by “man”? I define “human” as “homo sapiens“, for which evidence and fossils have been found as much as 275,000 – 300,000 years old (near the end of day 6 of the Creation week, in Relativistic time from Earth’s Frame of Reference). I believe this is the most consistent definition, as there are literally no physical differences between early homo sapiens and any of us living on the planet today. Fossil evidence for other species has been found reaching back further, including homo australopithecus, homo erectus, and homo neanderthalensis, but these I consider extinct animal species and not truly “human”. God does not tell us about each and every species He created in Genesis 1, nor does He need to. But He does tell us about man.

In this framework, these humans created in Genesis 1:27 were the people known to scientists as Early Modern Man or Cro-Magnon man. They painted beautiful murals on cave walls, created jewelry and tools, and left behind significant evidence of a complex society from prior to a date when Adam & Eve could have been created (based on the lineage records provided and the arrival of metallurgy with Tubal-Cain within just 8 generations). These early humans were the same as us anatomically and genetically, and we living today are their descendants. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that these first men & women were created in sub-Saharan Africa, and went on from there to populate the whole earth. This is called the “Out of Africa” theory. It is not the only theory for the spread of homo sapiens, but I see it as the most coherent theory which explains the momentous fact that there is more genetic diversity found between neighboring tribes in sub-Saharan Africa than between any other compared people groups anywhere else on earth. Note that Genesis 1 says nothing at all about where on earth these first men and women were placed; so it is completely aligned with Scripture to follow where scientific evidence leads us in answering that question.

I want to clearly state these first men and women were created, not evolved (I’ve written about the myriad problems with Evolution in a separate post). Interestingly, we are not given details of how God achieved His creation here in Genesis 1. Were these first men perhaps descended from some earlier form of hominid, whose DNA God altered supernaturally? Or altered perhaps with a complex contagious virus to add and remove the large amounts of genetic information needed to yield a completely new species with the DNA differences we see between homo sapiens and earlier hominid species? Or were these first men and women created de novo “from the ground”?

We are not told how He achieved this creation in Genesis 1, and we don’t need to know, in order to know they were created. Even if these men and women “descended” from earlier hominids, the genetic differences God caused in this act of Creation make it a chasm which Evolution could not have hopped across with one, or even multiple, random mutations – no matter how much elapsed time is postulated. The differences are that numerous, and that clearly and exclusively advantageous, that without question they were designed and purposeful.

What is meant by “in God’s image”? A lot of thought and study has been put into this question over the centuries, with no clear Scriptural basis for any specific answer. It is clear that it cannot be our bodies – either their function or their appearance, as God is not a physical being. Note: Some have suggested that since Christ would later come to earth in human form, this image might be of His physical human form; but John 1:14, Hebrews 1:3 and other passages make it clear Christ “took on” flesh in the Incarnation, that this is not His original/permanent state of being.

What do we share with God, which other parts of His creation do not? One thing comes to mind: our identity as spiritual beings – the fact that man has a soul (“nephesh”) which survives after the death of our physical bodies. I believe this is the most likely explanation for the meaning of “God’s image”. And these early humans had them too, being created in the image of God… thousands of years prior to Adam & Eve…

Genesis 2-4 give us the account of some key advances in Humankind – and the family tree of one particular bloodline

Let’s walk through Genesis 2 verse by verse to consider its alignment with this idea. Does the text require that we interpret Adam & Eve’s creation in Genesis 2 to be one and the same creation as Genesis 1:27, as so many generations have assumed across Christian history? Or is it possible – or even helpful to the clarity of the text – to interpret Genesis 2 as a completely separate Creation of a particular bloodline of humankind? One which God had special plans for…

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation. — Gen 2:1-3

It is somewhat of a challenge for the traditional interpretation of Genesis that the day of rest is presented prior to the creation of Adam & Eve. They must claim that Genesis back-tracks on itself to do so. On the other hand, if we consider Genesis on its own terms, and are willing to question the traditions and works of men in interpretation, we can see no conflict in considering that God undertook another work after this day of rest. Multiple Biblical accounts obviously attest that He has undertaken miraculous action at multiple points in history…

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. — Gen 2:4

This is an unusual introduction of a history (“Toledoth”) – first, in being “of the heavens and the earth” rather than a particular man or family. It’s unusual also in using the phrase “in the day” that the Lord God made… If it’s referring to any particular day of Creation from Genesis 1, it’s most likely the first day (“heavens and earth”), and not the sixth, which is the claim of the traditional model that this account is “zooming in” on the creation of man. I think both unusual aspects of this introduction point to a more likely scenario: that it is simply introducing an account of further actions God took in His Creation – that “the generations of the heavens and the earth” are simply a record of the next things God did in our world…

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up — for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist (or spring) was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground… — Gen 2:5-6

I believe these verses hold the key to understanding the whole of the Genesis 2-4 account. Not only is the phrase “of the field” used, but also “working the ground”. The passage doesn’t say there were no men on earth, but that there was “no man to work the ground”. These two phrases together indicate that the passage is about agriculture specifically, something which began only recently in the history of homo sapiens (right around the likely timeframe of the Creation of Adam & Eve), and for which our earliest evidence comes from exactly the region of earth where Eden must have stood (see below). Followers of the traditional account are forced to assume these agricultural references are incidental, i.e. that the account would mean the same thing without them included… Surely, though, these are odd details to have been recounted for no reason…

…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. — Gen 2:7

Unlike in Genesis 1:27, here we are told explicitly how God performed His creation – “of dust from the ground”, breathing into him the breath of life. The Hebrew word used for “man” is “ha·’a·dam” – closely related to the word for ground “ha·’a·da·mah”. This verse is the only reference to the creation of Adam. We are not told that he is the only one of his kind. The traditional conception of Adam arriving in a world with no other humans is a construct of interpretation, not from Scripture itself. What we truly know at this point is only that there is “no man to work the ground” on this particular land.

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. — Gen 2:8-14

Because the nearby rivers are named specifically, we can actually specify where the garden of Eden was located – in what became known as Mesopotamia, known today as Iraq. Not coincidentally for our new conception of the meaning of Genesis 2, there is significant evidence that this region is not only the “birthplace” of agriculture, but of writing (Cunieform), both dating from a timeframe very consistent with the Creation of Adam & Eve in the 4th millennium B.C. Very soon thereafter, this region became the heart of the Sumerian empire, which is considered the “cradle of civilization” on earth due to both these innovations. Intriguingly, significant portions of the ancient histories of Sumer align well with the Genesis account. This is not a coincidence.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. — Gen 2:15-20

Once again we see the clear indication of the focus on agriculture in this account, as Adam is put into the garden of Eden “to work it and keep it”. We also see in this passage a real mystery in the traditional interpretation. All of these events are occurring prior to the Creation of woman, so they would all be occurring on the same day when Adam was supposedly created. If this is a 24-hour day 6 from Genesis 1:26-27, Adam must have kept up a breakneck pace coming up with names for all the animals and birds, while still leaving time later in the day for God to create Eve. Old Earth traditional views have an answer here, but there is no real explanation for how that would have been possible in the traditional Young Earth model. Here again, though, this difficulty disappears if we understand that these events are occurring after the initial Creation in Genesis 1. (I will deal with the account of the Trees in the garden, the Fall and the Curse in a separate followup post.)

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. — Gen 2:21-25

We find here another challenge for the traditional view in explaining why Adam would exclaim “This at last…” if in fact this event occurred on the same day when he himself was created. Could Adam not even wait a few hours for a mate? Here again, Scripture in itself seems clearly to indicate that a significant amount of time had passed – something explained completely if we understand that these events are occurring after the initial Creation in Genesis 1.

The Mysteries of Cain’s Mark, Cain’s Wife & Cain’s City

Looking now beyond Genesis 2 to compare this framework with the traditional model, let’s turn our attention to the next section of Genesis, particularly to the account of what happened to Cain after he killed his brother Abel.

And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. — Gen. 4:10-16

There is really only one explanation available to the traditional interpretation of the creation of man to answer the question – of whom was Cain afraid? The only possibility is that he felt fear of Adam & Eve, or of other sons & daughters of Adam & Eve – yet unnamed, more likely unborn. This can fairly be called a traditional “mystery” because this explanation defies not only reason, but the normal usage of language. Would Cain really have said “whoever finds me will kill me” speaking about his own parents, or of unborn (or even if we generously allow hypothetically, just unnamed) brothers and sisters? Would “a mark” from the Lord have really been necessary to communicate God’s protection of Cain from his own immediate family – a family with which God had interacted directly since their Creation?

Consider how much more sense is made of this passage if we first assume that other men and women had been created in Genesis 1, thousands of years (Earth time) prior to Adam & Eve – sufficient time for their progeny to spread out from Africa into the Middle East, including into the area near Eden and Nod… Sufficient time for a place other than Eden even to obtain a name at all. It makes Cain’s fear, otherwise mysterious and confusing, into something very reasonable and understandable. Equally importantly, it validates God’s actions to appease that fear, which otherwise seem equally mysterious.

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. — Gen 4:17

Adhering to the traditional model remains just as problematic in this very next verse, in which Cain’s wife and future neighbors are introduced. Where would these people have come from? Once again there is only one answer which accords with the claim that Adam & Eve were the men and women created in Genesis 1. They would have had to be other children of Adam & Eve. Traditional explanations revolve around the fact that Biblical lineages often skip daughters, meaning that a sister could have been born to Eve to be available to Cain as a wife. This is theoretically possible, although it seems strange that in exiling Cain, God wouldn’t have mentioned his wife as well. Even more troubling is the serious conflict here vs. the prohibition on incest in Moses’ Law (Lev 8:8-18), where the act itself is said to “dishonor” any who do it. The distinction often attempted is that genetic purity in Adam’s line would have allowed this to be acceptable to God; but this claim is just not supportable from Scripture at all.

Moreover, even if we generously allowed that Cain’s wife could be claimed as an unnamed sister who shared in his curse of exile, it strains credulity to consider that within Cain’s lifetime, AND after the birth of Seth, who in Gen 4:25 is clearly identified as their replacement child for Abel, that enough of his other brothers & sisters would have likewise been married, AND exiled (without any mention of any such people or exile events or voluntary departures from the presence of God between Genesis 4:16 and 4:17..??), to populate a city…

Consider how much more sense is made of this verse knowing that for thousands of years beginning from day 6 in Genesis 1, generations of men and women had spread out from Africa and populated parts of the Middle East, including Nod, from whom Cain married a wife and found future neighbors interested to settle a new city with him…

The Mystery of the Nephilim

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. — Gen 6:1-2

A lot of ink has been spilled trying to explain the mystery of the identities of the “sons of God” and “daughters of man” in Genesis 6. The traditional model holds that there is only one bloodline of humankind, descending from Adam & Eve, and so some serious theological gymnastics have been attempted, including claiming that the “sons of God” are somehow fallen angels given human bodies. But other passages (Heb 1:14, Mark 12:25) make it clear angels do not have mortal bodies or marry; also if they were truly fallen it seems unthinkable they would be called “sons of God”. Due to the confusing traditional explanation, conspiracy theorists here find their opportunity to insert alien DNA into our genome. The most common traditional explanation seems to be that the “sons of God” are male descendants of Seth, and the “daughters of man” female descendants of Cain. But does it make sense for Moses to use this kind of language to explain intermarriage among the offspring of Adam & Eve, given that this is the only explanation for the marriages mentioned earlier in Genesis?

Consider how much more likely that this passage is a clear reference to the general further interbreeding of the different human bloodlines created in Genesis 1 and 2. Considering that in Genesis 6:3 God goes on to limit human lifespans, Genesis 6:1-2 seems to be an explanation as to why the ultra-long lifespans of Adam’s family were shortened, possibly falling more in line with lifespans of the bloodlines created in Genesis 1.

The Nephilim (or giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. — Gen 6:4

Traditional theologians have jumped through significant hoops to explain the identity of the Nephilim, with the most common orthodox position being that they were descendants of the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” a few verses earlier. But this seems a very strange contortion not at all supported by the text. How could these be “mighty men of old” if they were just newly born as offspring of the pairings mentioned a few verses earlier?

Avoiding that contortion we can use Scripture to interpret Scripture. We are told again of the Nephilim in Numbers 13, in a passage much clearer in its explanation…

So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” — Numbers 13:32-33

The Nephilim are also referred to as Anakites, Anakim, and Rephaim elsewhere in Scripture, but are always clearly presented as human. So here again with a clear grasp of truth, we take away a favored entry point of many conspiracy theorists; there is no reason for mystery to surround the Nephilim. They were just a particular tribe of men, albeit one of great height, who lived in Canaan. What are we to make of the statement that this tribe were “mighty men of old, the men of renown”? As with the other passages referenced above, the most straightforward understanding is a simple confirmation of our entire premise – that the two accounts of creation of man occurred at two different times, and that this group must have descended from the earlier Genesis 1 creation account, to be called “mighty men of old”. Intriguingly, a good number of Cro-magnon skeletons appear to be quite tall, even when compared to modern man.

(Note: there clearly are ramifications to our understanding of the Flood that the Nephilim appear in both Genesis 6 and Numbers 13; in fact this is the reason for the contortions of orthodox theologians on this passage. I will deal with those in a followup post…)

Paul’s Mysterious Reference to Sin Before Adam

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned — [ for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. ] Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. — Romans 5:12-14 (brackets added)

This passage was the driving force of the first man to theorize that some men were created prior to Adam, a 17th century theologian named Isaac La Peyrère. He was convinced, not by science but by the Word of God alone, that Genesis 1 must have been an earlier event of the creation of humankind than Genesis 2. He deemed that Romans 5:13 (bracketed above) would be rendered nonsensical if there were no such earlier event. For in saying sin was in the world before the law was given, Paul is confirming there were men and women alive before the Law (only humankind can sin). But this cannot be if Adam & Eve were the first man & woman, because they were given God’s Law immediately after they were created.

The traditional interpretation of Romans 5:13 pivots the reference of Law to Moses’ Law, which obviously was given later in time. But this was unacceptable to La Peyrère, because Paul is clearly referencing Adamic Law, with his very next verse mentioning that death reigned from the time of Adam. We can follow La Peyrère’s line of reasoning to see that Romans 5:13 must then mean that there was sin, and therefore humankind, alive prior to the creation of Adam & Eve. Thus the Genesis 1:27 creation of men & women must have been a separate earlier event from Genesis 2.

This passage also answers some basic questions which arise about the spiritual status of the men & women created in Genesis 1:27. From it we understand that they did sin – as evidenced by the signs of violence found in their fossils – but that until Adam, they were not subjected to God’s judgment. Since the Fall, though, they have been encompassed in the curse, despite the fact that their “sinning was not like the transgression of Adam”.

Reconciling the Theory of Pre-Adamite Man with Other Verses About Adam & Eve

We’ve built up a really good head of steam with the preceding analysis, possibly to the point that readers may wonder how this conclusion wasn’t adopted as the orthodox view long ago. The answer is that, unfortunately, while this theory sheds incredible light on so much of the early sections of Genesis, there are two verses which seem to lock in a view of Adam & Eve as the first man and woman. I believe just these two verses, and the rigid interpretation they seem to force, have caused theologians to adopt this as the traditional position. In short, they have weighted these two passages above all of the passages and resolved mysteries mentioned above. Let’s read these two verses:

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. — Genesis 3:20

I believe one key insight to understand this comment is to realize how Adam & Eve are different from other men & women, (not genetically, but vocationally), and why God likely chose to create them as a separate act of creation, to begin the bloodline in which God’s work of redemption will take place across the millenia of history. She was indeed the mother of all living within that very special bloodline. I acknowledge that this verse in no way limits her scope to just that bloodline, but with all of the foregoing I believe that is the clearest of all possible interpretations of who Eve actually was.

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”… — 1 Cor. 15:45a

This is an interesting quandary: Paul is quoting Genesis 2:7, but HE ADDS THE WORD FIRST AND ADAM’S NAME TO THE QUOTATION. The passage in Genesis does not say Adam was the first man. As verified from multiple source documents and the best Biblical analysis made through the present day, the original text actually reads:

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and [ the man became a living creature. ] — Genesis 2:7

It’s hard to know what to do with this problem. Paul is clearly citing Genesis here; there can be no other understanding of his introduction “Thus it is written”… But he also clearly misquotes the passage. And in so doing he gave centuries of theologians reason to doubt that another (better) interpretation was possible… Yet all Scripture is God-breathed, including Paul’s misquotation….

Many commentators note the addition of “first” and “Adam” in Paul’s quotation, but are not troubled by it, feeling he did so just to make clear to whom he was referring. This is not in the least way helpful to clarity, because without exception, these same commentators have accepted that Adam was indeed the first man created, despite Genesis not saying that, and despite our foregoing analysis of the difficulties and mysteries it creates to do so.

In many ways this article boils down to a challenge of this traditional trade-off. In the end this becomes a balanced judgment of whether a misquotation ought to carry more weight than the clear understanding of scripture that we gain from seeing the two chapters as describing two different creation events of humankind. In some ways it is similar to our acceptance of the book of Jude as part of the biblical canon, despite the fact that it references the apocryphal book of Enoch (Jude 14), which was excluded from the canon. We have to draw our lines somewhere; we cannot have it both ways. As you can tell, I believe the wrong trade-off has been made for thousands of years. And I believe that in this article I have at least given reasons why the question should be considered deeply.

Several writers have explored – and some have misused – the idea that Genesis 1 recounts a separate creation of “Pre-Adamite” man

This view is far from common, but a few writers have come to this conclusion in studying Genesis 1-2. Some have found this theory after earnestly seeking resolution of the mysteries of the traditional interpretations, understanding Cain’s fear, Cain’s mark, Cain’s wife, the Nephilim, Romans 5:13, etc., while at least one recent author was much influenced by science.

  • As mentioned above, Isaac La Peyrère wrote the earliest full articulation of the concept in the mid 17th century in his book Prae-Adamitae (Men Before Adam). La Peyrère arrives at the conclusion through a well analyzed theological progression and analysis of Genesis and other books of the Bible, with a goal to arrive at a reconciled understanding of the true meaning of Romans 5:13.
  • In the late 90’s, Dick Fischer’s The Origins Solution presents this theory with the added context of scientific knowledge about human origins up to that point. Fischer seems to support a Theistic Evolutionary model, but despite this fact, his book is nonetheless thought-provoking and in alignment with many of my views on this topic and in this post.
  • The Lost World of Adam & Eve, by John Walton, with portions contributed by N.T. Wright, is the latest and without doubt the best work on the subject that I have found. Although he opens some amount of doubt that Adam was a historical person and a few other liberal concepts, Walton is on solid ground denying that evolution can fully explain the origin of life and humankind, and also embracing the concept that Genesis 1’s human creation is likely separate from Genesis 2’s.

Tragically, the “Pre-adamite” concept has also been misused by some writers for racist theories in an effort to separate the creation of white/Caucasian man from other races. None of these books are worth reading, but David N. Livingstone’s Adam’s Ancestors is a good survey of all of the scholarship on the topic, both good and bad. The fact that this idea has been misused by some authors through time is not a disproof of the theory, of course, but merely a result of the fact that the separation of the creations of man can be made to serve the purposes of those seeking to separate the nature of the races.

In a separate article, I explored how other Bible verses have been misused to justify slavery in the past, but of course this does nothing to damage the truth of those verses, but only shows the falsehood of those who seek to misuse them.

I will continue to layout what I see as the ramifications of Relativistic Creationism in other posts. I believe I’ve shown in this post one clear ramification – that humankind was created two different times by God – once in Genesis 1 (beginning in Africa), and again with Adam & Eve in Genesis 2 (in Mesopotamia). As different as this theory is from the orthodox traditions of our faith on the topic of human origins, I believe it aligns best both with Scripture and scientific evidence. And so I have published it here for your consideration.

Please continue to keep an open mind, and continue this journey with me.

Next Step: an analysis of the ramifications of Relativistic Creationism to the Fall and the Curse.

The Six Days and 14 Billion Years of Relativistic Creationism

As a followup to my post introducing the concept of Relativistic Creationism, I want now to lay out a description of each day viewed both from the Universal Frame of Reference (UFOR) and Earth’s Frame of Reference (EFOR). The UFOR is the perspective from which I believe Genesis 1 is written – most likely written from the perspective of the gravitational center of the universe, the point of the start of Creation, what scientists call “the Big Bang Singularity“, a place which experienced near-infinite “gravity well” space distortion so unimaginable that the laws of physics broke down (something scientists are quick to acknowledge – an interesting fact).

As a theory unifying the Young-Earth and Old-Earth Creationist views of Genesis 1, I believe this understanding makes the best explanation of how the events outlined in that chapter could occur in 6 sequential 24-hour days, as the text seems to intend to convey, within that singularity AND how those same events could appear to have occurred over billions of years when viewed from our frame of reference on earth. As you will see below, the sequence and timing from the Genesis 1 account aligns remarkably well with the measured dates of key events in Creation. Let’s explore each day one at a time…

DAY 1: 13.7 Billion years ago to ~ 8.1 BYA EFOR

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. — Gen 1:1-5

There is significant evidence that the Big Bang occurred a little more than 13.7 Billion years ago (as perceived by us today from EFOR), with the formation of space, time, energy, and matter (in the form of a plasma of sub-atomic particles). Soon thereafter the subatomic particles had cooled sufficiently to form hydrogen gas; this formation released radiation which is still measurable today in every direction in the universe, called the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, and also enabled the universe to shift from being opaque to transparent. Contrary to popular misconception, visible light wasn’t immediately created but came as a second step after the Big Bang – just as described in Genesis; the universe was dark for the first ~ 400 million years, less than 1/10th of “Day 1”, until “first light”, when hydrogen clouds cooled and coalesced in sufficient quantity to form stars, with enough gravitational force to initiate fusion.

These first stars in the universe were massive and burned quickly until they reached supernova status. As stars age, heavier and heavier elements (those with more protons and neutrons in the nucleus) are forged in their interior, progressing from Hydrogen to Helium, then Carbon, Oxygen, Neon, Magnesium, Silicon, and finally Iron, which does not release energy when fused. When a star fuses its core into Iron, energy generation from fusion stops, and the entire star collapses in on itself, until the density is so intense that it explodes into a supernova, spewing the newly formed larger atoms into the surrounding interstellar space and leaving behind incredibly dense neutron stars. Elements heavier than iron are formed when neutron stars later collide in very powerful explosions. These initial supernovae and neutron stars formed the raw materials of planets, and began the formation of galaxies, including our Milky Way, beginning about one billion years EFOR from the Big Bang. The processes of star formation, fusion, supernovae and neutron star formation continue to this day.

The length of day 1 EFOR ~ 5.6 billion years would have been experienced in the UFOR – the frame of reference I believe Genesis was written from within – as 24 hours of time, yielding an average time dilation factor ~ 2 trillion. In that period of time God created from nothing all space, time, energy and matter, including the types of elements and molecules which would form the earth, although at this time it was still “formless and void”.

DAY 2: 8.2 BYA – 4.7 BYA EFOR

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. — Gen 1:6-8

Around 4.7 billion years ago, our solar system was formed by the gravitational attraction and subsequent collapse of a cloud of molecules, including gas and heavier elements from previous supernovae (in fact the additional gravity causing this cloud to begin spinning as a disk may have been triggered by a supernova). In time, the vast majority of the material had fallen into the center of the spinning disk, eventually creating sufficient gravity to initiate fusion and light our sun. Other local collections of molecules had sufficient centrifugal force from the spin that they avoided being pulled into the sun, but instead were pulled together by gravity with other molecules at a similar radius from the center. The heavier elements in the cloud ended up at shorter radii, and formed the “rocky” planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars). Further away, the “gas giant” planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus) formed in more distant orbits around the sun. There is also a rocky asteroid belt between Mars’ and Jupiter’s orbits, which was apparently too far from either planet to be pulled into their formation, but was nonetheless blocked from coalescing as a planet itself due to their gravities – particularly Jupiter’s, which is enormous.

The length of day 2 EFOR ~ 3.5 billion years would also have been experienced in the UFOR as 24 hours of time, yielding an average time dilation factor ~ 1.25 trillion. In that day God created the “expanse” – our solar system – and separated the earth out of it, as it was still in the final stages of forming at the close of this day, as a water-covered sphere of iron and other heavy elements, with a surrounding atmosphere far more opaque that today, both thicker and with a significantly higher ratio of CO2 to oxygen (something closer to Venus’ opaque atmosphere).

Technical note: For the purposes of this article, I’ve used a logarithmic time dilation curve with a ratio of 0.618 for the length of each subsequent day to its predecessor. It’s clear from Relativity that the time dilation must slow progressively, as the gravity-well distortion at the point of the Big Bang lessened, (or as the velocity of the edge of the universe slowed). There are myriad ways it might be modeled; that question is outside the scope of this article, and outside my expertise. Dr. Schroeder used a ratio of 0.5 in a logarithmic slowing dilation, beginning 15.75 billion years ago with day 1 lasting 8 billion years. This happens to be the inverse of the Golden Ratio, but I’ve chosen the factor 0.618 because it elapses time down from 13.74 billion years EFOR (a more accurate/recent estimate of the age of the universe) with day 1 lasting 5.6 billion years, across 6 days UFOR, and in doing so, actually aligns the timing of each day to the measured evidence scientists see today for each major event of Creation. I am supremely certain the actual Time dilation deceleration is not as simple as a daily reduction at a flat rate; no doubt the slowing would have occurred on a curve, possibly punctuated by varying effects. The main point is not the exact math, but the concept that a logarithmically slowing Time dilation can absolutely explain the differences in the experience of time from the universal frame of reference vs. earth’s.

DAY 3: 4.7 BYA – 2.6 BYA EFOR

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. — Gen 1:9-13

Scientists believe that the Earth was completely covered in water after it was formed, until 2.7 billion years ago, when dry land first appeared. In the world’s oceans, simple life began even earlier, around 3.5 BYA – right in the middle of day 3. There is evidence that early life “colonized” land soon after it appeared, but it must be admitted that these were simple organisms e.g. prokaryotes, and not “vegetation, plants yielding seed” or “trees bearing fruit” until many years into day 4.

Hugh Ross notes in Navigating Genesis that the Hebrew nouns used here: zera‘, ‘ēṣ, and perî, mean, respectively, “semen” or “the embryos of any plant species”, “any large plant containing woody fiber” and “the food and/or embryos produced by any living thing”. zera‘ and perî could refer to any plant species that has ever existed. When God said “Let the earth sprout vegetation”, He was initiating a process which eventually yielded trees bearing fruit and other large plant life.

(I admit that lack of maturity in early plants on Time-dilated day 3 is a weakness of the theory, and one which Dr. Schroeder also found in his model. He tries to mitigate this issue by referencing a medieval Jewish scholar, Nahmanides, who states that “there was no special day assigned for this command for [land vegetation], since it is not a unique work.” This timing issue is not enough to dissuade me of the larger truth in view, but it is one on which I hope further scientific study or a more detailed mathematical model for the Time dilation might cast more light…)

The length of day 3 EFOR ~ 2.1 billion years would also have been experienced in the UFOR as 24 hours of time, yielding an average time dilation factor ~ 775 billion. In that day God separated the dry land from the seas, created the first life in the world’s oceans, and the earliest forms of plant life on land.

DAY 4: 2.6 BYA – 1.3 BYA EFOR

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. — Gen 1:14-19

At first glance, this day of Creation might seem to present problems for the theory. After all, science has strong evidence that the sun, moon and stars had already been created, as parts of the “expanse” in the timeframe we’re placing within day two. In reality, though, this day aligns elegantly with the sequence of events measured and theorized by scientists. The key is the transparency of the earth’s atmosphere…

Scientists believe a planet or enormous asteroid smashed into the earth soon after it was formed, forming the moon (also giving the earth our axis-tilt which has been key to stabilizing our climate). The impact also blew the vast majority of earth’s initial atmosphere out of our gravity into space. Also, regardless of how simple plant life was on day 3, it had certainly become fully developed by day 4, and via photosynthesis, had proceeded to generate enormous quantities of oxygen, dropping the CO2/oxygen ratio significantly.

These factors worked together to make the earth’s atmosphere transparent for the first time in this day of creation, meaning also that for the first time, there were lights in the sky which could be used for signs and seasons, days and years. “Let there be” (yehi in Hebrew) can mean to “create” or to “fashion”… Also it helps to realize how poetic this part of the account is, with the descriptions of the sun and moon “ruling” the day and night. It is possible to claim that the sun rules the day, but the moon is visible equally often in daytime and at night, and the moon is not visible during half of all nighttime hours. Certainly God did not misunderstand how the moon orbits the earth! He simply inspired a poetic description of what was, after all, a beautiful set of actions! From the perspective of the earth, this unveiling on day 4 would have appeared exactly as the creation of the sun and moon.

The length of day 4 EFOR ~ 1.3 billion years would also have been experienced in the UFOR as 24 hours of time, yielding an average time dilation factor ~ 479 billion. In that day God cleared the earth’s atmosphere to give visibility to the lights in the expanse of the heavens, and to the sun and moon, which are regular in their appearance cycles to enable us to use them for signs and seasons, to measure days and years.

DAY 5: 1.3 BYA – 501 MYA EFOR

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let [flying things] fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every [flying thing] according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let [flying things] multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. — Gen 1:20-23

Days 5 and 6 may be the very strongest evidence of the elegant alignment of this theory to scientific evidence. Beginning about 541 million years ago, scientists find compelling evidence of an incredible increase in the forms of animal life in an era they call the “Cambrian Explosion”. This represents the most amazing evidence of Creation in earth’s history. Scientists are still baffled in searching for natural causes to such an increase in the variety of forms of life, which began in the world’s oceans. Consider how amazing this fact is – that our scientists today can see fossil evidence of a major explosion of life, first in the oceans and later moving to land (on day 6) – and yet they have no explanation of why or when it occurred.

Gregory Wray, in the journal American Zoologist, stated: “The Cambrian explosion of body plans is perhaps the single most striking feature of the metazoan fossil record. The rapidity with which phyla and classes appeared during the early Paleozoic, coupled with much lower rates of appearance for higher taxa since, poses an outstanding problem for macroevolution.”

The time alignment of the Cambrian explosion, both in the seas and on land, to this theory, is a unification and explanation for the first time of one of the most amazing acts of Creation and one of the most powerful and mysterious scientifically measured events of Creation. It is only when viewing Genesis and science through Relativistic Creationism that the Cambrian Explosion can be understood as the fossil evidence of what God did on days 5 and 6, two 24-hour days, while at the same time understanding that those events occurred hundreds of millions of years ago from earth’s frame of reference.

There is one difficulty with the reading of the text from this perspective though. The reference to “flying things” is the Hebrew word “ser” which is usually translated as “birds”, but the only “flying things” which would have appeared in this timeframe in the scientific record are insects. (Up to now, at least, evidence for birds, which are similar to dinosaurs and appear after them in the fossil record, will not appear until well into the next day.) There are some exceptions (e.g. the Christian Standard Bible and International Standard Version) which translate the word “ser” in Genesis 1 as “winged creatures” or “flying things”, but this is not the orthodox translation. Also, only a few early insects possessed wings.

Insects are not specifically referenced in Genesis 1, and there is plentiful scientific evidence that they appeared on this day of Creation, but those facts alone seem insufficient to wipe away the difficulty, so I acknowledge this as a weakness in the theory. Having said that, this issue is not enough to dissuade me of the larger truth in view, and particularly the power of the prediction of the Cambrian explosion, complete even with a day break at the ideal spot between the creation of ocean life and animal life on land. Maybe there was confusion among early scribes about the meaning of “flying things” and they assumed this must mean birds, OR maybe eventually we will one day find earlier evidence for the appearance of birds on earth. To me, viewed alongside the larger truth clearly visible in this day of Creation, the issue of the arrival date of birds shrinks in importance.

The length of day 5 EFOR ~ 810 million years would also have been experienced in the UFOR as 24 hours of time, yielding an average time dilation factor ~ 296 billion. In that day God created all kinds of complex life in the world’s oceans, as well as insects, including some flying insects.

DAY 6: 501 MYA – 10,000 years ago EFOR

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. — Gen 1:24-25

Building on the Cambrian Explosion which began the previous day in the oceans, scientists see evidence for the first amphibians who moved onto land 370 million years ago, followed by the first reptiles 320 MYA. Dinosaurs appeared 225 MYA, followed by the first mammals around 200 MYA. Evidence of the first birds dates from around 150 MYA. Again, it it amazing testimony of God’s authorship of Genesis 1 that it correctly describes the sequence of these events millenia before there was any method of studying fossils or determining their relative ages. Further, I believe it’s strong evidence of the truth of Relativistic Creationism that it aligns the Genesis 1 timing with the relative measured ages so clearly.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. — Gen 1:26-31

I define “human” as “homo sapiens“, for which evidence and fossils have been found as much as 275,000 – 300,000 years old. Here some may take issue with calling all homo sapiens “human”, but I believe this is the most consistent definition, as there are literally no physical differences between earlier homo sapiens and any of us living on the planet today. (I take up this question in a followup post about the ramifications of Relativistic Creationism to Genesis 2-4, and in turn, to many Genesis mysteries, including why Genesis 2 is a second Creation account, who Cain could have married, for whom the mark of Cain was intended, the identity of the “giants” and the Nephilim, and why evidence for writing (Cuneiform), advanced tools, agriculture and shepherding all appeared right at the time of Adam & Eve.)

Fossils of other similar species have been found reaching back further, including homo australopithecus, homo erectus, and homo neanderthalensis, but these I consider extinct animal species and not truly “human”. God does not tell us about each and every kind and species He created in Genesis 1, nor does He need to. But He does tell us about man. These Genesis 1 humans, which were the same as us anatomically and genetically, known to scientists as Early Modern Man or Cro-Magnon man, were very different from God’s other creations – including earlier species of hominids – because they were made “in God’s image”, meaning that they had a soul (“nephesh” – this is also addressed in detail in the next post in this series.)

The length of day 6 EFOR ~ 501 million years would also have been experienced in the UFOR as 24 hours of time, yielding an average time dilation factor ~ 183 billion. In that day God created all the varieties of animal life on land, and then created humankind, homo sapiens.

The Alignment of the Days of Creation with Scientific Measurements of Creation Events becomes clear when viewed Relativistically, factoring in Time dilation

Consider that the words of Genesis 1 have been stored in ink for thousands of years, but only in the last 100 years have we gained enough knowledge to see clearly how true they actually are, and to find confirmation of the account in scientific study! Prior to that point, atheist scientists generally believed that the universe had existed for an infinite period of time. The fact that science eventually found evidence for a unique moment of creation – even if they call it the “Big Bang” – is amazing.

Since then the great debate has raged on the vastly different ages implied for the universe by science and Genesis 1. I believe Relativity – something only understood by humankind for the last century – likewise sheds lights on the scientific evidence we see from EFOR and how it might very well indeed align to a MUCH shorter age of the universe, when compared to a different Frame of Reference, such as the gravity well of the Big Bang singularity…

The Genesis 1 account was sufficient and understandable for early Jews and Christians. As a result of scientific advances in recent centuries, the traditional interpretation of Genesis has come under attack. As Christians, we should not be surprised that as we take a fresh look at the chapter from a position of awareness of modern science, an interpretation presents itself which harmonizes with science, and increases our amazement that words inspired 3000 years ago can hold such a depth of truth. Any questions about whether God inspired this account just melt away; He is the only one who could have!

Keep an open mind, and we will explore further. Check back for other followup posts about the ramifications of Relativistic Creationism of our understanding of other aspects of Creation.

Next Step: a consideration of ramifications on this view to Human origins and Genesis 2-4.

Relativistic Creationism – Genesis 1 in 6 Days AND 14 Billion Years

How old is the earth? Untold numbers of books, essays and articles have been written, arguments and debates held on this subject, dividing even the Judeo-Christian world. Opinion among believers is divided into these categories, among others…

  • Young-Earth Genesis literalists
  • Old-Earth Day-Age Theorists
  • Old-Earth Gap Theorists
  • Old-Earth Framework Hypothesists

Names have been called. Churches have been ripped apart. Whole ministries have been formed on separate sides of the question to advocate for their position. The conflict is real, and it comes from well-meaning intent. Young Earth believers feel that Old Earth Creationists are compromising with science and the secular world in taking anything but a literal 6 24-day interpretation of Genesis. Old Earth believers feel that in one way or another, the language of Genesis is special, as it conveys historical events of the sweeping impact of Creation, and that due to this fact and/or the significant amount of evidence science has stacked up for an older universe, Young Earthers are naive in their insistence on the 6 24-hour duration of the Creation events; some believe it may later be seen to be as misguided as the Catholic Church’s treatment of Galileo.

My deep study of Creation has strengthened my Faith

I have struggled with this question for my entire adult life. I’ve been writing this blog for over six years; I’ve sat down to write this article multiple times, only to pull back and delete my drafts because of my lack of certainty. Finally, after all these years of study, and after reading 20+ books on the subject, I have found an answer to this question which I believe is the best explanation BOTH of what we see in the evidence in the world and universe around us, AND what is written in the book of Genesis.

In fact, coming to this view has strengthened my faith and my awe at the proof it represents that God is the author of the Creation account in Genesis 1. Those words have been stored in ink for millenia, but only since the 20th century have we gained enough knowledge to see clearly how true they actually are. Less than 100 years ago, scientists believed that the universe had no beginning; their view couldn’t have been further from the Judeo-Christian view of Creation…

Advances in scientific knowledge over the last 100 years have brought science more in line with Genesis than ever before

“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.” — Werner Heisenberg

In the last century, this perceived gap between scientific and religious views on Creation has been closing significantly; discoveries about the universe’s beginning and its fine-tuning for Life make it increasingly difficult for scientists to hold a view that the universe came into being due to random chance. I believe taking a Relativistic view of Creation closes the gap completely, proving beyond a doubt that the words of Genesis must have been inspired by God Almighty. It proves that they are true in a straightforward reading, right alongside straightforward scientific evidence.

This view actually encapsulates both Young- and Old-Earth Creationist views. It is not a perfect explanation for all questions on the table from both sides, but I do feel that people holding any of the four views from the list above can probably agree with much in this concept. That’s not a proof that it’s true, but it’s a positive aspect. It doesn’t align to everyone though; anyone who believes that God used Evolution for His creation will likely reject this view, given that I reject Evolution. But I DO believe I can agree to the core beliefs of ALL the groups in the list above, and that they can align to mine.

How is this possible? By utilizing the expanded view of Time and the concept of Time dilation we’ve understood since the publication of Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity – 1905 & 1915. And beyond appealing to differing Creationist views, I hope that reconsidering the question in this light might be good food for thought for those who have rejected God completely due to perceived conflicts between Genesis and science…

Stop here until you understand Einstein’s Theories of Relativity and their impact on the concept of Time

Please read about Relativity before proceeding much farther, because unfortunately my position is impossible to grasp without understanding the true nature of Time, particularly Time dilation, the concept that observers in two different frames of reference will experience the passing of time differently – potentially VERY differently, depending on their relative velocities and local gravitational fields. This has been so well proven that many believe we should shift to calling Einstein’s work the “Laws” of Relativity, not just “Theories”.

To be clear, I am not the first person to apply this science to Creation and Genesis, although I haven’t found any writers with whom I completely agree either. The two authors closest to my view are:

  • Gerald Schroeder, who articulates his analysis of the Time dilation in the 6 days of Creation in the book The Science of God and elsewhere. I was very much influenced and inspired by Schroeder on the topic of Time Dilation; but sadly he is a non-Messianic Jew and a Theistic Evolutionist, so I cannot endorse his book or his views completely.
  • Hugh Ross, founder of Reasons to Believe, who is a Creationist who denies Evolution, but who espouses both the Gap Theory and Day-Age Theory to explain Genesis in an Old-Earth view in his book Navigating Genesis and elsewhere, without consideration of possible impact of Relativity or Time dilation.

Other authors have published related ideas referencing Relativity, targeted at a solution specifically of distant starlight measured to be billions of years old, including:

In my view, these books make an error in narrowing the impact of Relativity only to distant starlight. To me it’s clear not just when we look at distant light, but also at evidence of the age of our local star, the sun, that it becomes clear that a relativistic view of time is needed to understand the entire alignment between Genesis and the universe. (Some geological proof on earth seems convincing, and some is not, but the age of our sun seems far more clear-cut because the physics is so much simpler there…)

Shockingly though, of all the ink that has been spilled on the topic of Creation and the age of the universe, there isn’t much more than a few works written on the topic of the impact on Relativity on Time in Creation. As much as Relativity has been proven over and again to be an accurate model of space & time, views on Genesis continue to generally rest on an earth-focused view of time, with no Relativistic effects taken into consideration.

It’s an interesting omission – a proven truth about the space-time comprising our universe, mostly missing from the myriad intense conversations about the most widely acknowledged account of one of the most important aspects of that universe – its creation.

The key of Time dilation is that the “relative difference” between the velocities and/or gravitational fields at two difference points of reference cause the experience of time to differ. In the course of our normal lives on earth, this difference is rarely noticed, because our relative speeds are so small compared to the speed of light, and the variance of gravity across any of the places humankind has ever visited is very moderate compared to other places in the universe and other points of time.

At higher speeds or higher gravitational fields, the dilation becomes more significant. But small differences in time have even been noticed in identical clocks compared after one has made an airplane trip, such as in the famous Hafele–Keating experiment. In fact, over time, a clock at the top of a tower will always run very slightly ahead of one at the tower’s base because of the small difference in gravity fields.

Time dilation explains that there are different experiences of the passing of time during the Creation events

Time dilation is a proven fact, and is absolutely an aspect of Time as God created it. In fact, it’s an aspect which holds the key to understanding Creation from both the perspectives of science and Genesis. This is the key insight that was really a breakthrough for me. This is the insight which enables me to reconcile Young- and Old-Earth positions. It explains how Genesis 1 could describe Creation as six 24-hour days, while at the same time evidence viewed on and from earth clearly indicates that our universe and solar system are billions of years old.

Genesis 1 is written from God’s perspective, or more technically, since He is outside space-time per se, I believe it is written from one particular frame of reference in the universe. It’s possible this is the advancing edge of the universe, which would have experienced extreme velocity, but I believe it’s far more likely written from the perspective of the gravitational center of the universe, the point of the start of Creation, what scientists call “the Big Bang Singularity“, a place which experienced near-infinite “gravity well” space distortion so unimaginable that the laws of physics broke down (something scientists are quick to acknowledge – an interesting fact). The “Universal Frame of Reference” (UFOR) could be either of these points, because the effects of Relativity in dilating time occur both from large gravities and large velocities. So either way, from the UFOR, the events of the Creation occur over six 24-hour days. AND because of Relativistic Time dilation – i.e. the (almost incalculably) smaller gravity/velocity on earth – those same events seem to have taken millions or billions of years when measured or theorized from earth’s frame of reference (EFOR)…

Young-Earth Creationist, consider in what you’ve placed your faith about the time-table of Genesis 1

You desire to keep the most straightforward reading of the first chapter’s Creation account, holding that the events described there occurred as described, in the order described, during 6 adjacent 24-hour days. This theory achieves this goal, and adds to it the strengthening of a tremendous amount of scientific evidence you can fully grasp and align with. Is it difficult to believe that the account of the Creation of the entire universe was written from the perspective of a different point of space than earth, or that Relativity proves to us that this means far more years have elapsed from earth’s perspective?

Hopefully your commitment to Truth stops with the goal of a straightforward reading with 24-hour days, and does not extend to make you purposefully adversarial to how science sees the world. While it is true that Evolutionists have used older ages of the earth as a basis for their claims, the falsehood of Evolution does not imply any particular age for the universe (as measured by us here on earth).

Old-Earth Creationist, consider in what you’ve placed your faith about the time-table of Genesis 1

You desire not to view God as a God of deception, but that everything we see around us in nature should be expected to align (to the extent we see it rightly, through the lens of correct scientific theory) with the account of God’s Creation in Genesis 1. This theory achieves this goal, and adds to it the strengthening that it enables a straightforward interpretation of the length of the days in the Creation account. Is it difficult to believe that the account of the Creation of the entire universe was written from the perspective of a different point of space than earth, or that Relativity proves to us that this means time would have elapsed much more slowly there, meaning far less time has elapsed, from that perspective?

Hopefully your commitment to Truth stops with the goal that science should align with God’s Creation account, and does not extend to make you purposefully adversarial to a reading of Genesis 1 as six 24-hour days. While it is true that Relativistic Creationism is a very unusual theory, ask yourself whether it’s not perfectly reasonable that Relativity would have been in effect the same from the beginning of time as it is today.

Atheist, consider in what you’ve placed your faith about the creation of our universe

You desire to stand on truth, and not simply accept an account of creation which has been handed down through the generations. You desire to have evidence to which you can point for support of your position, measured and proven by scientists. But consider how amazing it is that writings over 3000 years old align so amazingly well to the actual sequence of events of creation (see below). There is no other ancient writing like it in the world, and the advancing wave of science has done nothing but align it more closely over the last century. Consider also, how fine-tuned our universe is for our planet even to be here – a series of coincidences which requires a enormous “leap of faith” to attribute to random chance. And finally, consider the implausibility of Evolution in explaining the creation of Life – something Darwin himself did not even believe.

Hopefully your commitment to truth makes you equally willing to throw off scientific paradigms, just as you’ve thrown off religious ones, when they fail to align with the best synthesis of all the facts in front of you. Consider whether this theory might not make more sense than a reliance on random chance in explaining the undeniable things you know to be true

Genesis 1 comes to us from the Hand of God

In reviewing the days of Creation alongside the best information scientists have in their hands currently about our measurable universe, I hope you’ll feel the awe that I feel at the absolute marvel of Genesis 1 – the incredible alignment and sequencing of this short account to what we have taken millenia to learn about the universe around us. It is a creation account so different from all of the other cultures and religions (see here for a summary and comparison) that it leaves no doubt that it was written by the God of Creation…

I believe viewing Genesis and the universe through this “Relativistic” model makes sense of both better than any other theory or model. It is not perfect, but it is 99%+ aligned to the best scientific evidence and theories of our time (literally hundreds of points aligned to the timing and sequence of Creation events), while also aligning to the core beliefs of both Young-Earth and Old-Earth Creationists.

Of course there are ramifications of this view on our understanding of every other aspect of Genesis, of Creation science, and our understanding of the origins of mankind. I have considered many of these in conjunction with my adoption of this view, and will be treating each of them and giving more details in followup posts; I hope you’ll join me in those next steps exploring this way of understanding both Genesis’ and science’s account of how our universe came to be.

Next step: a detailed analysis of each “day” of Creation from both frames of reference.

The Counter-Cultural Courage of Homeschooling Homemakers

We are promised in the Bible that if we live out our Christian faith – truly put Christian teachings into practice in our lives – we will be persecuted by society at large, and not accepted…

You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. — Matthew 10:22a

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. — 2 Timothy 3:12

Notice that we’re not promised persecution for merely professing Christ; that is something perceived as harmless by most unbelievers in the world, unless coupled with real action in how we live life.

Homemaking and homeschooling are great cases in point. Homemaking in general has come under fire by everyone from Hillary Clinton to Kyrsten Sinema. And young girls get the message loud and clear that to really “make something of your life” you must go out and get a job… It is tragic, and it is killing our national character.

Contrast this with commentary from a few centuries ago. Have we “progressed” in our views on the trade-offs of salary vs. maternal childcare? Or is the postmodern world the side who has gone far far off the track? Francois de Salignac de La Mothe Fenelon (a man with quite a name, eh?) in his 1687 classic known as The Wisdom of Fenelon, says this about the primacy of mothers and their education of children at home…

It is the home that lays the foundation of a child’s future. It is a woman who holds the key to her children’s heart in the early years of childhood. She has the privilege of weaving God’s eternal truth into the daily lives of her children while they are still young and tender. A woman who is a mother, is she not greater than he that ruleth a city?… A judicious woman, who is diligent and virtuous, is the soul of her family… What will become of children, who will in the end form the human race, if their mothers spoil them in their early years? Behold, then, the duties of women, which are not less important to the public than those of men… The vices of men can for the most part be traced back either to the evil influence or lack of influence of their mothers…

I am sure there are talented, devoted childcare workers and nannies out there, geniuses even, who take every opportunity to pass on their knowledge to the children in their care. Even those children, though, will never have the benefit, the deep-seated knowledge in their soul, that their mother loved them so much she made their upbringing the focus of her life during their childhood years. Knowing that no arbitrage of paycheck to daycare cost was sufficient to tempt her away, to outsource their upbringing and the discipleship of their young soul to someone else, no matter how devoted or talented they might be.

It cannot be conceived that anyone in the world could be better to raise a child than a dedicated mother

C.S. Lewis gave this great quote on the topic:

The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.

Fathers, for our part, should see it as the wisest trade-off imaginable to forego extra money in the bank account for the deepest, most child-tailored, long-term focused, loving training possible for his children. Indeed this is so critical that I felt this was one of the most appealing attributes of my wife – an attribute which in no small part caused me to want to make her my wife – that she saw child-rearing and homemaking as the highest best use of her time, once that season of life would arrive.

Homemakers and homeschooling moms, don’t give a care for the “baking cookies” and “leeching” comments of feminist Democratic candidates, or from Hollywood or anywhere else. Know instead, along with Fenelon, that you have the privilege of weaving God’s eternal truth into the daily lives of your children! It is the ultimate act of love, and indeed the only vocation with eternal significance.

The Beauty and Mess of 21st Century Christian Courtship

The beauty: brides and grooms who’ve never kissed anyone but their spouse, who entered marriage with no relationship scars or baggage, giving that purity as a gift to each other.

The mess: 35 year-old single women desperate to be married and have children, who can’t find any prospects interested in more than fun and pleasure; 35 year-old men not desperate to be married or have children, who are focused on their careers and “playing the field”.

Both extremes are happening today in purity & courtship-minded Christian families. It’s wonderful; and it’s frightening.

The beauty: Parents in these families are part of a growing wave of Christians who are throwing off the world’s hookup culture; they are teaching their kids about purity and encouraging them to wait to “date with a purpose” or “court” until they’re within sight of being able to start their own household.

The mess: The median of young people’s romantic interactions has been degrading consistently since courtship ceased being the norm in western civilization in the 1800s. In the first half of the 1900s, “dating” entered the scene, although initially, “dates” were often between friends rather than to kindle romance. After WW2, dating became much more intimate, although usually in the context of an exclusive relationship (“going steady”); teen pregnancies began to occur with more frequency. And we’ve slid far from this point through the later 1900s and early 2000s into the “one night stand” hookup culture that is the norm today.

Today’s parents attempting to train their children according to Biblical principles are doing so without any example of social norms at all. We are experimenting with these concepts even as we’re extremely intent on helping our children both stay pure AND eventually find someone with whom they can spend their lives.

Without social norms to guide us and normalize expectations, even families who share a commitment to courtship often develop different standards and approaches, which can cause tension and pressure on young people

The beauty: Today there is a growing number of families whose parents are committing to courtship for their children, and most (but not all) kids in these families seem to embrace the concepts. They see what is so clear in the world around us – broken hearts and a cheapening of physical intimacy, leading to increased depression and even suicide, especially among young ladies. These families are standing up, not just against mainstream society, but often against their own extended families and neighbors as well, for a better way to approach the exploration of possible future spouses – a way that honors the individual, which opens a window on their major life philosophies and priorities before emotional attachment and physical attraction take over. Often, but not always, parents and siblings also interact with the young person’s potential mate, and are able to give their own (more level-headed) input as well. The concept is that by the time emotional bonds have grown and hormones flood the minds of the young people (and oh yes, that still happens in courtships! That’s how God made us!), they have much more of an understanding of the other’s interests, plans, strengths and weaknesses, and have had an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether they might be a good fit for marriage in the future. Thus are avoided myriad risks (and the resulting divorce rates) from the blind following of physical attraction as practiced by 99% of young people in America today.

The mess: Because there are no standard practices or guidelines, there are often points of tension between families, and even between the young people who come to the relationship with their own set of expectations not only for the role they will play, but the roles their suitor/girl will play, and how the parents & families will be involved. Sometimes the father of the young lady dictates how the entire process should go, which can cause some resentment for obvious reasons, particularly if he holds out the threat of blocking or canceling the courtship if others won’t abide by his rules. (I wrote a blog post on the topic of fathers with expectations too high of young men interested in their daughters.) In other cases, including one my family recently concluded with a joyous wedding, the young people and families work through differing expectations and find common ground.

Other issues have arisen in cases I’ve heard about, in which the young man “plays a role” during the initial exploration period, possibly learning a family’s beliefs and expectations for a suitor, falsely claiming those beliefs and faking those behaviors, in order to get access to the young lady, whose heart he intends to win by any means necessary. When those hormones start to flow, she is sometimes so smitten that he can convince her that her family’s rules about courtship and other matters are overly burdensome. (After all, they are significantly more stringent than the lack of rules enjoyed by 99% of the world around them. She can sometimes forget that those rules were for her own good.) These are tragic situations because the courtship process itself can become a reason for her to leave the family – all at the urging of a manipulative young man who knows unless he rips her from her family he will not be allowed to have her as his wife. (And I’m sure there may be cases where the young lady is the one doing the manipulation…)

The Bible gives us general guidelines, and we should hold any specific processes or criteria beyond that point very loosely.

The beauty: the Bible contains many verses encouraging purity and avoiding intimacy outside the bounds of marriage:

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. – 2 Tim 2:22

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. – Heb 13:4

Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. – Prov 4:23

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. – Songs 8:4

There are verses about father’s authority over a daughter’s vows until they are given in marriage to a husband:

If a woman vows a vow to the LORD and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her. – Num 30:3-5

Proverbs, written to sons, warns of loose women who seek only pleasure. The same warnings can surely be given to young ladies about young men with the same “hookup” mindset:

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. – Prov 11:22

The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit; a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it. – Prov 22:14

This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’ – Prov 30:20

The mess: the Lord has not given us Bible passages about HOW relationships leading to marriage should be sought or conducted. Abraham send a servant to find a wife for his son Isaac (Gen 24:4), but passages like the ones above and throughout the rest of the Bible make it clear this is not the norm God would have us follow. The absence of specific commands doesn’t mean that anything goes, but that Christian young people and their parents must find a way to apply the general principles above to the postmodern society in which we live.

  • Clearly there is wisdom in getting parents’ and even siblings’ input on a potential future spouse before things are too late, when a young person’s heart is tied to someone else, at which point if the family waves warning flags, it may more likely lead to separating the family from the couple than the couple from each other. Hopefully, of course, the young people themselves will want their families to meet the person they’re growing close to, but if parents stand back waiting until that moment arrives, it’s likely going to take awhile (this is an awkward thing, after all, “meeting the parents”, so why put someone through it unless you’re really getting serious), and is extremely likely to be offensive to the son or daughter to receive anything less than a resounding seal of approval of their intended.
  • There seems to be an equally large risk of parental and family involvement too early in the process, when young people have just met and are getting to know each other as friends; this could be viewed as domineering by the other young person, and “scare away” someone who might otherwise be interested in a son or daughter. A father’s authority over her vows is the Biblical basis for a young man asking her father for permission to propose to a young lady; but does that authority extend to controlling who a daughter can date or court, when no “vow” is in view? And let’s remember, the most important approval is of the young people to each other. Parents’ wisdom will be more level-headed looking for alignment on major life philosophies about religious beliefs, gender roles, parenting styles, etc. – but alignment on those topics alone is insufficient to ensure a happy match, and if tested too early in a relationship, may actually deflect its trajectory.

And so, we find ourselves with two ditches to avoid: involvement too little/late, or involvement too much/early. We must steer the best course we can, understanding that our hand is not really on the steering wheel, and we don’t have a roadmap to know the route the road follows.

One final passage of scripture gives us our best guidance on the topic. We must go to the Lord in prayer on this topic for our sons and daughters, that God would bring the right person into their lives and would guide their steps in getting to know new acquaintances in a way which honors God, protects their hearts and purity, but in the end will lead them to find that person with whom they’ll spend the rest of their lives…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Phil 4:6

What the Proverbs Say about Wisdom and Foolishness

Another installment of my series on What the Proverbs Say

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 4:20-22
My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. 5:1-2
At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.” 5:11-14
My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. 6:20-22
My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 7:1-3
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. 1:8-9
Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt. 27:11
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 2:1-5
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. 2:6-8
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. 3:1-2
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. 3:3-4
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 3:5-6
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. 3:7-8
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. 3:11-12
My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 3:21-24
Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 4:10-13
Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. 19:27
My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. 23:15-16
Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. 24:13-14
Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials, for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring? 24:21-22

Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it? 17:16
It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury — how much worse for a slave to rule over princes! 19:10
A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. 14:3
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. 1:7
How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? 1:22
For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” 1:32-33
The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace. 3:35
The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. 10:8
The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin. 10:14
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. 12:18
The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense. 10:21
Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise. 11:29
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. 12:15
Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. 12:16
The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly. 12:23
All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly. 13:16
Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. 14:7
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. 14:8
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. 14:14
The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure. 14:16
Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known. 14:33
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. 15:2
A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence. 15:5
The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright. 15:7
The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. 15:14
Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools. 16:22
A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool. 17:10
Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly. 17:12
A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. 17:24
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. 17:28
Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. 18:2
The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating. 18:6
The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives. 18:7
Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words. 23:9
Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths. 24:7
Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool. 26:1
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools! 26:3
Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison. 26:6
Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. 26:7
Like tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honor to a fool. 26:8
Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. 26:9
Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by. 26:10
As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. 26:11
Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them. 26:12
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. 26:4-5
Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both. 27:3
Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them. 27:22
Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. 28:26
Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy. 29:1
If a wise person goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace. 29:9
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. 29:11
Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. 29:20
Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat, a contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress. 30:21-23

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes. 13:1
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9:8
Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools. 19:29
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer. 9:12
The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning. 14:6
Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise. 15:12
When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge. 21:11
Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge. 19:25

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge. Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” 8:1-11
Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks. 1:20-21
“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” 8:12,22-31
Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city, “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” 9:1-6

Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. 4:5
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 4:6
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown. 4:7-9
If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. 1:23
Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. 23:12
So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you. 22:19
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. 19:20
Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. 22:17-18
Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well. 23:23
If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit. 25:16
It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep. 25:27
Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles. What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame? 25:6-8

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives. 11:30
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. 16:20
A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the family. 17:2
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. 22:1
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. 11:2
Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor. 15:33
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. 24:3-4
One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust. 21:22
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. 16:9
To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 1:2-6
Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. 1:24-28
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. 3:13-18
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew. 3:19-20
Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death. 8:32-36
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. 9:9
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. 9:10-11
Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead. 9:13-18
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense. 10:13
Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. 10:17
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. 10:19
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. 11:14
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. 12:1
A person is praised according to their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised. 12:8
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. 13:3
Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded. 13:13
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. 13:14
The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. 14:15
The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. 14:18
Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. 14:26
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. 14:27
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. 14:29
Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. 13:18
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. 13:20
A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury. 14:35
Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course. 15:21
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. 15:22
The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead. 15:24
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. 15:31
Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. 15:32
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver! 16:16
The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. 16:21
The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. 16:23
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. 16:31
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. 16:32
The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream. 18:4
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. 17:27
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. 16:33
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. 18:13
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. 18:15
From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. 18:20
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. 18:21
Desire without knowledge is not good— how much more will hasty feet miss the way! 19:2
A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord. 19:3
The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper. 19:8
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. 19:11
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. 20:5
Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. 20:15
Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance. 20:18
A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way? 20:24
It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows. 20:25
The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old. 20:29
Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead. 21:16
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. 21:23
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. 22:3
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 19:21
The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. 24:5
Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. 25:12
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. 25:15
Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers. 24:6
The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. 19:23
If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable. 28:9
Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. 28:23
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. 27:12
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. 29:18
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. 27:2
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. 29:25
Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know! 30:4
The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance. This man’s utterance to Ithiel: “I am weary, God, but I can prevail. Surely I am only a brute, not a man; I do not have human understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One. 30:1-3
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. 30:5-6
The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry. There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ 30:15-16
Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces. 30:24-28