Q & A Page
West Side Christian Church
Feel free to Email your questions that arise during these class sessions. The teacher, Dr. Rich Knopp, will offer some responses on this page. (For the teacher's bio information, click here.) Please note that these answers express my own responses to submitted questions; they do not necessarily represent the official views of Lincoln Christian University or of West Side Christian Church.
Here are the four session topics:
(By Dr. Richard A. Knopp)
- Session 1: Creation (Gen 1-9)
- Session 2: God Builds a Nation (Gen 12-22)
- Session 3: Joseph: From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh (Gen 37-50)
- Session 4: Deliverance (Exodus 1-14)
Question #1: Great Class....looking forward to this week. A couple of questions....Were there other people besides Adam & Eve in the early going? Seems when Cain was told to leave, that there would be no other people around for him to live with. Just know of Seth & Abel. Also, when Noah & his family got off the ark....did they just produce a lot among themselves to keep the human race going? Just wondering....
Answer 1: This question is frequently asked, and Bible skeptics and the media sometimes use it to bring suspicion on the biblical account. In the movie Contact, the science character played by Jodie Foster claims that this is one reason she abandoned her faith at one point: the preacher could not answer this question to her satisfaction.
I think the apparent problem primarily stems from a false assumption--that when Cane was sent away, some group(s) of people (or at least one wife prospect) was “out there” who were totally unrelated to the family of Adam and Eve. So where did they come from?
I think I can confidently say that Cain did not his get his wife through eHarmony or Christianmingle.com. It seems fully reasonable to me, given God's command to “be fruitful and multiply” and the apparent longevity of (reproductive) life in the earliest times of those created in God's image, that Adam and Eve had numerous children, who had children, who had children, who had children, etc. Genesis 5:4 indicates that they had “other sons and daughters.” Cain would simply have found one of his own relatives to marry.
While this would be biologically and legally problematic today, it would not necessarily have been problematic back then. In fact, even by the time we get to Abraham, we find that Abraham married his own half-sister, Sarah. this was before the time of the law of Moses when such close family intermarriage was prohibited.
QUESTION #2: First allow me to say thanks for the "Origins" presentation. It has been educational. It has brought a depth of detail and understanding on the beginning I have not heard before.
As we go through the Origin and Beginning there is a question that comes to mind. Do we know why God decided to start things in the Middle East? I am sure there were some plush areas because the Bible speaking of vineyards. And I would imagine that "The Garden" was plush for Adam & Eve. But our thought of the area is desolate and baron with water only around the major rivers and the rest sand.
Naturally we look at the US and other countries full of lakes, vegetation and so on.
This perhaps is a silly question because my lack of knowledge and it can be easily answered but I have never heard anyone speak on it.
ANSWER 2: I think any answer to this question would be largely speculative. I suppose God could have put the garden in many possible locations around the globe. But Genesis 2 says 8 "Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden." It also says that a river watered the garden and it separated into four named rivers. I take it that the garden was a localized area that benefited tremendously from these natural resources and from God's providential and direct provision.
While we today may have a perception that much of the Middle East is barren desert, there is no reason to presume that this perception applies to what is described as the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, the land promised to Abraham and to the children of Israel when they left Egypt is repeatedly described as a land “flowing with milk and honey.” While this was undoubtedly not the five-star garden of Eden, it was described in very positive terms.
Of course, the actual reasons why God selected this part of the world are known only to him. But the historical developments in Scripture (and perhaps even since) seem to bear out that God knew what he was doing. His promise through Abraham in Gen 12:1-3 and 22:15-18 (geographical, national, and universal) seems to have worked its way out quite nicely.
QUESTION #3: You make mention of light and darkness on day 1 of creation and the sun and moon on day 4. What's the significance of that? I never caught that before and you've peaked my curiosity.
ANSWER 3: Thanks for your contact and for your interest in the series. In case you are not aware, I have some handouts that are available for this series. See http://www.worldvieweyes.org/westside.html.
The issue you raise is an interesting one, and I suppose it has several legitimate explanations. I did not take much time during my presentation to development my ideas. If you want considerable more detail on various interpretations of this and other matters related to creation, I would recommend that you listen to a podcast series by William Lane Craig, a notable Christian philosopher and apologist. He has an entire series dealing with "creation," but the first two episodes in the series would be most pertinent. Episode two briefly summarizes episode one and then specifically discusses issues like those you have raised. I think he has some valuable insights, but I disagree with him at some points. See http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/s8.
In essence, Craig contends that Gen 1:2-4 refers to the creation, not only of the earth, but of the sun and moon. Verses 14-18, he argues, do not refer to the creation of the sun and the moon as physical entities, but rather emphasize the purpose for their creation (e.g. to be signs for seasons; to give light on the earth; etc.). This particular interpretation would resolve the apparent difficulty of having light created (v. 3) on day one, while not having a sun or moon created until day four.
I think this is a commendable way to take it. For one thing, it rightly points out that the creation passage is not just about bringing things into existence per se, but about emphasizing the function of what God created. One of the things that makes Genesis unique among other creation accounts is that God is not only the exclusive creator of what is, but what exists is not itself divine but rather exists for the purposes that God intended.
Another helpful point is that Craig is suggesting that the different "days" of creation do not necessarily refer to God creating something different each day (at a different time). In his case, versus 2-5 (day one) refer to what was created; while versus 14-19 (day four) describe how God used what was created for the purposes indicated: to make earth a habitable place for humanity.
Nonetheless, I do not believe that Craig's interpretation is the only, or even best, understanding. One of the problems that I see is that it makes too sharp of a distinction between the "form" of what was created--physical things--and the "function" of what was created. If the sun and the moon are created on day one ("form"), then I do not see why it would take another "day" for them to "function."
I believe that a fundamental problem with many interpretations of Genesis 1 is that they interpret the different days as necessarily sequential in nature. If one takes the days as sequential, and if one does not take versus 2-5 to refer to the sun and moon, then there is clearly a problem: light is created (day one) before the sun and the moon (day four). I think the best resolution to this problem is to interpret days 1-3 as referring to God creating different "environments" or "domains"; and days 4-6 talk about what God creates to fill those domains. This means that there is a correlation between days 1/4, 2/5, and 3/6. There is not really six distinct and sequential days; rather the creation days identify what God does more generally (days 1-3) and what God creates more specifically (days 4-6).
Specific to your question, then, Genesis 1:2-5 refer to God's creation of light itself (and darkness by consequence), while Genesis 1:14-18 focus on God's creation of the sun and the stars as the primary sources of that light--as the particular objects that fill the universe endowed with light. This does not mean, however, that days one and four were separated by any particular amount of time, whether it be approximately 72 hours or billions of years.
I would caution against trying to read too much modern science back into Genesis 1. For example, one might claim that versus 2-5 refer to God's creation of light at some initial Big Bang, while the sun and moon are not created until billions of years later. While this would fit with contemporary cosmology, I doubt seriously that the author of this passage had any notion about what we would call the Big Bang or about any time gap between the creation of light and the existence of the sun and stars.
So, to summarize, my intent for pointing out the oddity of having light created on day one, while the sun and moon do not come into existence until day four, is to emphasize the problem with taking these creation days as sequential days. If, however, we interpret these days as I have suggested--as nonsequential--this problem disappears.
I hope this sheds some "light" on the issues. :-) If you have more questions, please let me know. If you are interested in a relatively short book that deals with the creation days, I would recommend a work by John Lennox entitled Seven Days That Divide the World (Zondervan, 2011).