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Nature Identifies Events during the “Gap” in Creation: Authors’ Response

On May 23, we published a perspectives piece by Col J. Gibson and D. Stuart Letham titled "Nature Identifies Events during the ‘Gap’ in Creation." Many readers responded with questions and comments to which the authors of the original piece have responded in depth below. -Ed.

Apologies for the delay in responding to readers which is mainly due to our desire to complete a draft for the next article in this series: "Nature Confirms a Recent Creation Week." —Col J. Gibson & D. Stuart Letham

Comments Addressed to Specific Readers that also Impact Other Readers:
(Click on the user's name to view original comment.)

Brizy (Brian Hull)
Some facts, perhaps, you should consider include these:

The Bible does not give an age for the Earth; the 6,000 years back to Creation Week is not an age for the Earth. Because many, possibly including E.G. White, believed the Earth was created at Creation Week, an age of 6,000 years was concluded (the modern YEC view).

However, Ellen White states that we can expect to receive new truth (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34), and science has provided new knowledge in relation to the age of the Earth and, hence, Creation. In the days of E.G. White, the age of the Earth was unknown. The true age (4.5 billion years) changes our perception of Creation and reveals a Creator who transcends time and maintained our planet for eons.

Billions of years: Some are saying that means evolution. Not necessarily! There is no evidence that macro-evolution ever occurred. In the primeval world, evolution of the first living cell would require formation of over 300 complex interacting genes produced from only simple chemicals like methane, ammonia, and water. It requires a Creator.

The age of the earth probably means that some aspects of the preparation of the Earth for Creation Week required time to reach the optimum. One of several possible examples is the development of an oxygen-containing atmosphere essential for life, and during its formation, the oxygen content was observed to change from almost zero to a probable maximum of 33% followed by a decline to a stable 21% (the optimum for humans). When we look at the planet Earth, we see optimization and perfection everywhere, from the genetic code and the structure and function of living things, to the geometry of the Earth's orbit and the tilt of its axis. Evolutionary biologists agree that evolution by natural selection can never achieve optimization in biology, only a localized solution. In the observed optimization and perfection and in the great age of the Earth, we see the signature of the Creator. It should never be assumed that people who believe in an old Earth also believe in evolution.

Before Creation Week, we see God's glory from the abiotic creation of stars and planets apparently over eons of time. It is this component of God's glory that YEC would close from view. The recent creation of life during Creation Week reveals God's glory in the beauty of the creation, in the mystery of the creation of human life, and in the Sabbath when we can meet with God in worship. It is our privilege to celebrate the glory of Creation as part of our [Adventist] message to the world, God's last message. If the Creation is described just as recorded in Genesis 1, as a two-stage creation involving an ancient Earth, God will truly be glorified.

The comments of James J. Londis should be helpful to you. That being comment #13 of 25 on the original article.

gordonjura
This respondent states that according to the Sabbath commandment the heavens and earth were created during the six days of creation. One is tempted to ask this: on what particular day does scripture say that? We also recall that YEC often use Exodus 20:11 to support their doctrine.

That text says: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them . . . ."  (YEC usually omit "the sea," to make it sound more like Genesis 1:1). However, it is clear Exodus 20:11 refers to the three habitats of life associated with the earth (the atmosphere, the biosphere of earth or land, and the sea). This is the "official" position of the Adventist Church (see comment related to revised FB #6 in Adventist World, September, 2015, by C. Wahlen). Creation Week is limited to creation on and around our planet.

In support of this view Wahlen quotes Rev. 10: 5-6. Verse 5 is particularly relevant in ESV:

"The angel's stance—one foot on sea, one on land, and right hand raised to heaven—unites three spheres of created order (see Rev. 5:13) as their divine creator is involved to witness the angel's oath."

The three orders of Creation originated in Genesis 1:8-10, viz. heaven, earth and sea, referring to creation on the planet. Reference to these habitats occurs throughout Scripture including Exodus 20:11.

The Church quotes Rev. 10:6, quite appropriately, but a much more meaningful reference could be Ezekiel 38:20:

"So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence." (KJV, emphasis added).

Again, we find heaven, sea, and earth mentioned, but the heaven has birds. In 24 out of 47 other English versions of Ezekiel 38:20, the word given as heaven in the KJV is translated as sky or air.

If this biblical assessment is unconvincing to any reader, may we suggest consulting God's Book of Nature as amplified by modern science. This reveals an ancient Earth created eons ago before Creation Week and Exodus 20:11 is clearly referring to the three habitats of life on Earth.

rodneybda  rodney smith
The water was created before Creation Week. Genesis 1:2, Psalm 104:6. You are right, there are indeed millions of planets, but God chose one, designed it specifically for humans, and it became our home. Once it was an infinitesimal rock in the infinity of the cosmos. Now it is covered in the glories of Creation (note those six photos of New Zealand!) which were initiated during the "gap" period.

Elouie
"Each creative 'day' could have been thousands of years in length." That appears to be your view. However, the thousands of years came before the Creation Week days. Please consider the next story we expect soon to appear on Spectrum.

Harry Elliott
Harry here is quoting Gen. 2:4 which speaks of "the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens" and concludes all was created at Creation Week. One might ask this: Which day?

However, the Ancient Hebrew expert, C.J. Collins (ref. 4 in Spectrum article) states the expression translated in the KJV as "in the day that" only means "when." 17 Bible versions including NIV express it as "when." It cannot be a single day because it relates to Creation Week.

agingapes Joe Erwin
Very much agree Joe. We are encouraged by the fact that the science we presented accords with Scripture and so does our next article about a recent Creation Week.

wresch  R Wresch, MD
Thank you for your comment regarding how in an earlier age, Christian geologists concluded the Earth was old. Why cannot YEC look at our six photos and reach the same conclusion?

How did the geologists of a bygone age reach this conclusion? A possible answer: The old geologists read their Bibles and correctly interpreted Genesis 1:1-2 ("In the beginning" = old Earth) and noted Creation Week only concerned creation of life forms and their habitats. They then looked at the majesty of the mountains and rocks which also conveyed a sense of age.

HalfNelson
Some brief comments to questions relevant to the original article.

At Creation Week, Scripture frequently states that living creatures were created when God spoke (fiat creation). We believe that. You suggest everything in the physical world has always functioned in the same way. The laws of Nature (e.g., the speed of light) have always remained constant. The claim by some YEC to the contrary regarding the speed of light, for example, has no basis.

You state scientific inquiry is "nothing more than man's understanding of the world." True, but God has often revealed important truth in this way. See our next article regarding the time of Creation Week.

Genesis not being literal does not make evolution possible. There is no evidence to support macro-evolution.

GraemeSharock Graeme Sharock and TimP Tim Page
Both raise the question of life forms before Creation Week (CW). This is not related directly to our article; consequently, we had intended not to respond. However, Graham considers that life forms prior to CW "weakens the apparent role of CW."

We have discussed this already in detail in relation to plants (Spectrum, March 4, 2016). Conclusion: Some plants were present prior to CW, but CW was essential to give the 400,000 species suitable for post-CW conditions.

Graeme also speaks of a "fully-diversified world of animals and humans" before CW. Below is a graph (human population/time); population increases after about 6,000 years ago (i.e. after CW).

To derive some certainty from the data that varies appreciably between investigators, the above graph was calculated by averaging the data of McEvedy and Jones 1978 (prior to 7,000 years ago), Durand 1967, Gallant 1990, and Goldewijk et al 2010. The first definite increase in population occurred at about 6,000 years ago.

Some final points:

(a) The pre-CW human-like creatures (hominids) were not created in the image of God;
(b) A global flood may have occurred before CW (Ps. 104:6, and Gen. 1:2), and CW might be a new beginning:
(c) The Bible says nothing regarding life pre-CW. It is not an issue to become obsessed with;
(d) The life forms we have today originated at CW. They were designed for the great climate change that preceded CW and is discussed in our next article.

AND
(e) "The 99% of species that Graeme talks about will probably be largely insects and bacteria, the dominant living things of today. These adapt readily to changes in environment, giving new related species.”

vandieman jeremy
There appears to be some misunderstanding as to how the ages related to Zealandia were determined.

The ages quoted are not calculated using an annual rate of change determined in modern times and then applied to a situation that occurred eons ago. The ages are based on geomagnetic anomaly data concerning the Tasman Sea floor. This gives a reliable age as explained in the references quoted. No ages reported in our paper (including the age of the Southern Alps) are based on modern tectonic rates. The criticism presented has no basis. No "unprovable assumptions" are involved. See also ref. 8 and Gaina et al (1998), J. Geophysical Research, V. 103, No. B6: The tectonic history of the Tasman Sea. Several independent geomagnetic studies yield essentially the same ages, and geomagnetic results have been confirmed by radiometric methods.

End.

 

D. Stuart Letham was awarded a PhD (Birmingham, UK) in organic chemistry in 1955. His subsequent research work included the purification, determination of structure and synthesis of the first naturally occurring cytokinin, compounds that induce cell division in plants. They occur in plants at the level of 1 part per billion (see Letham, Annual Review of Plant Physiology 1967, 1983). He is the author of over 190 refereed papers in biochemistry and plant physiology journals. He retired from the Australian National University in 1992 as Professor Emeritus.

Col J. Gibson worked in accounting in industry for a decade before taking an academic position as a senior lecturer in accounting at universities in Australia, New Zealand, and the University of South Pacific (Suva, Fiji). As a natural naturalist from an early age, he has been active, as a hobby interest, in helping many professional scientists in fieldwork and, now in retirement, still acts as a citizen scientist which includes field observations and bird photography.

Both authors have discussed the Science/Creation subject for the past few years and thought it was time to put some of their thoughts on this interface into the public arena for others to consider and comment.

 

See also: 
"Perspective: Clarifying 'Understanding Ice Core Science," 
"Ice Core Editorial Authors Reply to Respondents," 
"Perspective: Ice Ages Research Demolishes Young Earth Creationism,"
"Ice Age Research Demolishes Young Earth Creationism: Reader Feedback & Authors' Response",
"Ice Age Research Demolishes Young Earth Creationism: Authors; Second Response",
and
“Nature Identifies Events during the ‘Gap’ in Creation”

 

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