Biblical Creation And Science: A Review Article -- By: Paul Elbert
JETS 39:2 (June 1996) p. 285
Biblical Creation And Science: A Review Article
An Israeli physics professor who is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society, Nathan Aviezer, has brought into focus the possibilities of a budding relationship between science (accessible to Biblical students) and the historical reliability of the descriptive creation narratives in his recent book, In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science. 1 Working from his theological background as an observant Jew and Torah student, Aviezer has done a considerable amount of work in disciplines other than his own in an effort to determine whether there is consistency between the findings of contemporary science and the literal interpretation (assisted by Torah scholars) of creative events described in Genesis. More than one creative event—not just a high-energy cosmic fireball but creative action (as contrasted with passive inaction) at various later times—is contemplated and diagnosed here.
The book carries an introduction by C. Domb, formerly Clerck Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of London King’s College. Domb gives the distinct impression that he, like a very small number of other physicists, realizes that new scientific discoveries have implications for the possible existence of God and for possible activities of that invisible God. He clearly recognizes that Aviezer brings modern scientific knowledge (in the fields of cosmology, astronomy, geology, meteorology, paleontology, anthropology and archeology) to bear in an understandable manner upon the hermeneutical task with respect to phrases whose meaning is obscure.
The six days of creation refer to six specific phases in the development of the universe. Phases, not twenty-four-hour days, is the perspective here, following a number of rabbinical commentators (no Christian OT scholars and no Jewish Torah scholars who lived after 1880) and sages of the talmudic era. Aviezer is obviously indebted to Rabbi E. Munk’s etymological study of Genesis 1 and the interaction therein with traditional Jewish commentators. 2 Since geological, paleontological and astronomical evidence for an old universe did not accrue until the middle of the nineteenth century, Aviezer may have decided to look at interpretive output before that time where thinking could not be influenced by later science. But to imply that scientific or other knowledge has no role in Biblical hermeneutics would indeed be wrongheaded, and Aviezer’s position is diametrically opposed to
* Paul Elbert is assistant professor of physics at Lee College, Cleveland, TN 37311.
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