The biggest problem with ideas that compromise God’s Word in Genesis (which I’ve pointed out many times before) is that they make the Bible untrustworthy—so it’s an authority issue. Over at BioLogos (an organization known for promoting compromising Genesis with evolutionary beliefs), Jim Stump, who has a PhD in philosophy and serves as the organization’s content manager, has written an article to explain how BioLogos deals with the long lifespans of those people listed in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies.
Now, BioLogos teaches a form of theistic evolution—basically, that evolution and millions of years can be mixed with Scripture. And their agenda is clear in Stump’s opening paragraph:
Furthermore, it is charged, people living for more than 900 years stands in conflict with BioLogos’ acceptance of contemporary science. On this latter point, I should note that our acceptance of science does not at all imply that we think God never performs miracles. If God wanted to make Methuselah live to be 969 years old, we certainly believe that God could intervene in the natural order of things and make that happen. The question rather . . . is whether that is really the message of the text.
First off, see how Stump confuses the word science with evolutionary ideas. He makes it sound like anyone who believes in a literal Genesis has rejected “contemporary science.” In reality, people who accept a literal Genesis have only rejected evolutionary ideas, which are historical science (i.e., beliefs about the past—origins science). While historical science is not testable or observable, observational science is. If it were true that biblical creationists had rejected all of science, there would be no creation scientists! But there are plenty of biblical creationists who hold PhDs in their fields all around the globe—and they can perform observational science as well as (and in some cases better than) evolutionist scientists. (You can read a full-length article on this issue on our website.)
Really, though, what Stump is getting at is that a literal reading of the Genesis genealogies really doesn’t fit with what BioLogos teaches. To get around having to understand the text for what it says, Stump claims that the overall message of Genesis 5 and 11 overrides the need to understand the genealogies as literal history.
So what’s the message that Stump believes the genealogies are communicating? Well, it’s really a series of mathematical formulas. He believes that Ancient Near Eastern culture influenced the use of numbers in Scripture, so that the lifespans in the genealogies aren’t really lifespans at all. But Stump admits that he doesn’t really know what mysterious message these numbers are communicating!
Now perhaps it might be claimed that you can come up with most any number if you let the combinations get complex enough. . . . Doesn’t this prove that numerology is contrived and capable of showing whatever you want it to show? Maybe. . . . The truth is that we don’t really know what it meant to the ancients to attribute these numbers to the lives of the patriarchs.
Actually, we do know what these numbers meant—they mean exactly what the text says. The patriarchs lived for hundreds of years, because the lifespan of humans was longer shortly after the Fall (Genesis 3).
Although the book of Jude doesn’t refer to the ages of people in these genealogies, there is a reference there to Adam and Enoch—and where Enoch appears in the list: “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam . . .” (Jude 1:14).
Stump also doesn’t explain how other long lifespans play into his theory. For example, what about the lifespans of people like Noah or Moses? Noah is listed in the genealogies. Moses was 120 years old when he died. Now, is that just a symbolic number? When do the genealogies become trustworthy again?
You see, the message in the Genesis genealogies centers on one particular phrase: “and he died.” With the exception of Enoch, all the people listed in the genealogies died. The message is that the consequence of death carries on in the world because of sin. And the fact that this literal history is so distinct from the Ancient Near Eastern myths and writings confirm its trustworthiness.
I urge you not to be taken in by such elaborate ideas, which are nothing more than fallible sinful man’s attempts not to take God at His Word! How arrogant is finite man in thinking he can tell God what He got wrong. How sad so many Christian academics think they can put themselves above the infallible Word!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Steve Golden assisted in the writing of this blog.