Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Transmission of the Tablets in the Tablet Theory

The Tablet Theory, sometimes called the Wiseman Hypothesis, is that Moses had help when he compiled the book of Genesis from a series of clay tablets inherited from his ancestors. The original hypothesis has some difficulties in the text, but a modified version of the tablet theory as described in "Early Genesis, The Revealed Cosmology" addresses the main criticisms which have been leveled at it. I will not repeat them here, but these modifications to the theory make it much more palatable.

The competing "Documentary Hypothesis" that Genesis was written much later by scribes who falsely attributed it to Moses is strongly refuted by, among other things, the summation of each account with a phrase popular in clay tablets in Mesopotamia around the time of Abraham (around 1800-1700 BC). Perhaps some place names were updated, as was a common practice then and today, but the essence of the text is from great antiquity.

There is no doubt that there are similarities and common threads in many ancient stories from Mesopotamia and the words of Genesis. It would be a book in itself to lay all this out, and one better written by an archaeologist, but I see signs that those stories are distorted versions and mutations of the account in Genesis, and not vice-versa. Are the pagan versions the only ones found when we excavate temples and palaces? They simply had the advantage of being the "party line" of ruling dynasties who could give their version of events from a state sponsored platform. The accounts we have in early Genesis were those from the family history of the line leading back to Adam. And in the Christ-centered model that was not everyone.

One difficulty with the Tablet Theory is that writing seems to have only been around in a crude form for five thousand years or so. And that was in cuniform not the proto-Hebrew/Canaanite script likely used by Moses (which is basically Hebrew). So far as we know, early Hebrew didn't come into use until about the time of Abraham. 

Unfortunately the answer may be lost in the mists of time. We are therefore forced into speculation within the bounds of what is reasonable or possible. One possibility is that the clan of Adam had a system of writing among themselves which resembled Canaanite (who were of common ancestry with the Hebrews after all) for a very long time and we simply did not find any samples of it until around the time of Abraham. Another possibility is that the original tablets were written in an even more ancient script. In such a case someone would have to know that ancient language and translate them. 

Perhaps it was Moses, with all the learning of Egypt at his disposal. Perhaps he didn't have to because Abraham translated the old tablets into new ones using the then-current language of the land. It is mighty suspicious that of the eleven "generations" or accounts in Genesis, none are from father Abraham, greatest of the patriarchs. This lack would be explained if he were the translator of them all. None were called the "generations of Abraham" because it was Abraham's family library. His job was to put the old accounts into proto-Hebrew, not write one with his own name on it.















Monday, October 8, 2018

Nine Hundred and Seventy Four Generations Before Adam?

It was recently brought to my attention (thank you J.D. Everett) that there is some indirect support in the Talmud for the idea that Adam was not the first man. This is intriguing because part of the Christ-centered model is that Adam's biblical role is not to be the sole father of humanity, but to bring the line of Messiah- he is a figure of Christ (Romans 5:14). To be sure this connection is more tenuous than that suggested by the Two Powers Theology which was a significant minority position of first century Jews, but it is another data point which suggests that the Christ Centered Model for Genesis dove-tails nicely with ideas which have long been on the periphery of theological debate.

The Talmud is a book of ancient Jewish commentary on what Christians call the "Old Testament", I don't consider the Talmud authoritative. It is people commenting on scripture, not scripture itself. Still, I find it interesting that ideas which can be connected with the Christ-centered model from Early Genesis the Revealed Cosmology have been to some extent a part of the conversation for a long time. In this case the idea is that the Torah was given "1,000 generations" prior to its compilation by Moses. Moses is only twenty-six generations from Adam.

The basis for the contention of these rabbis is found in the 105th Psalm. They translate it a little differently than I have seen it in English Bibles. For example the NIV has verses eight and nine saying...
8 He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.
Their translation of verse eight reads....
He remembered His covenant forever, the word He had commanded to the thousandth generation,
And on the face of it their translation makes more sense than the NIV. Otherwise if taken literally it implies that God's promise to Abraham is limited to 1,000 generations. This doesn't seem to line up well with the attributes or character of God. Thus the Jewish rabbis translated the verse like they did. Since they viewed the giving of the Torah as the written delivery of that promise, and Moses - in the 26th generation from Adam - compiled the Torah, they reasoned that there must have been 974 generations prior to Adam.

Here is an example of their commentary on the issue...
"R. Joshua b. Levi also said: "When Moses ascended on high, the ministering angels spoke before the Holy One, blessed be He: 'Sovereign of the Universe! What business has one born of woman amongst us?' 'He has come to receive the Torah,' answered He to them. Said they to Him, 'That secret treasure, which has been hidden by Thee for nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created."
This is described by Shabbat as being done "before the world was created". That's time before the beginning and leads to some other logical and scriptural problems. If there was no creation and no people, how does it even make sense to measure time at all, much less time in "generations"? Note: this idea is not the same thing as I am saying when I point out that a close look at the text show that there was an unspecified amount of time before the first day.

Some of these scholars thought that the previous people were on a different "plane of existence" and with the creation of Adam there was also a new plane of existence created. I would argue that the Garden of Eden was the new plane of existence and after the Fall it was lost to Adam and Eve, forcing them into the same environment as the rest of mankind. Others thought the souls of the previous 974 generations pre-existed creation but were inserted into the world after it was created. See for example this quote from Chagiga 13b-14b:

"It is taught: R. Simeon the Pious said: These are the nine hundred and seventy four generations who pressed themselves forward to be created before the world was created, but were not created: the Holy One, blessed be He, arose and planted them in every generation, and it is they who are the insolent of each generation. "

All kinds of "odd" ideas were suggested by the commentators as to who the 974 generations were that in their view existed, yet did not exist. Modern Jewish scholars continue to try and reconcile the paradoxes in the text. Here is one that, after reviewing some of the more bizarre speculations, suggests, along with other speculations with which I disagree, that there were people before Adam:
The question is, if Adam had progeny who did not possess a Divine soul, could he have had ancestors who also were similarly spiritually challenged?12 
When the Torah describes a part of Adam's core as the dust of the earth, could this refer to people who "existed yet never existed"? Could it describe an existence that may have had a physical effect on this world but no spiritual effect? Could Adam have physically had a mother while spiritually the breath of God served as an impetus for a new world?13
That is not at all what I teach at all about the "host" created on earth (Gen. 2:1), but I do think they were there. His view of Genesis 6:1-3, like the Christ-centered model, recognizes that there were two groups of humans being discussed, but in my view gets things muddled after that. The commonality is that it recognizes in the text that there were other people walking around which were not the offspring of Adam and Eve:

The introduction to the flood story includes a description the forced relations between the sons of Elohim and the daughters of man-Adam: powerful brutes taking innocent, refined women. The result was the flood, and the eradication of the brutal species. The only survivors are Noach and his descendants. These verses clearly outline the strained co-existence of two types of people. Were these other "men" descendants of Adam, or vestiges of an earlier world?
 My point is not to endorse any particular part of the Jewish speculation on the problem as being correct. My point is that they realized there was a problem. In their view, the text pointed to, in some sense, 974 generations occurring prior to the formation of Adam. They tried to reconcile that with their belief that creation was only six thousand years old, but they never quite developed a clean resolution to the paradox. The Christ-Centered Model does so, without the potentially racist implications about the "brutal species" (which is all of us due to sin).

A generation according to scripture is most often forty years, but seventy years and one-hundred years are also used to describe a generation. The latter figure is a generation connected to a promise and thus might be more reasonable to connect to this verse about God's promise. Regardless of the lack of coherence of their proposed solutions to the paradox, there is a long history to suggest the Jewish people recognized in their scriptures the possibility of generations before Adam. The solution to the paradox is to adopt the Christ-centered model of Early Genesis which places Adam as a figure of Christ for the "host" of humanity created before him. Though by now he is likely to be found somewhere in the family tree of all of us (a view called "Genealogical Adam"), he is the father of the line of Messiah, not all of humanity.

Get the book.


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Neo-Darwinism is Dead. What Replaces it?

Classical Darwinism died about fifty years ago as we understood more about how genetics worked. Neo-Darwinism replaced it, but it too is dead. Not that you would know that from either what is taught to your children in government-run schools or the media, but scientists on the cutting edge of the issues (that's not Bill Nye or Neil DeGrasse Tyson) know it.

Here are just a few of the many quotes I could use to show this:

“Unless the discourse around evolution is opened up to scientific perspectives beyond Darwinism, the education of generations to come is at risk of being sacrificed for the benefit of a dying theory.” – Stuart Newman ( professor of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY)

“There is no consistent tendency of evolution towards increased genomic complexity, and when complexity increases, this appears to be a non adaptive consequence of evolution under weak purifying selection rather than an adaptation.” (Eugene Koonin, Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics, Nucleic Acids Research, 37(4), 2009, pp. 1011-1034) Note "Purifying selection" here just means that genomes have a weak tendency to 'heal themselves'. When there is a mutation that has reduced function in a population, it can sometimes get fixed and restored- thus "increasing complexity" by taking things back to where they were before the mutation occurred.

“The Altenberg 16 … recognize that the theory of evolution which most practicing biologists accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in explaining our existence [emphasis added]” (p. 19).

“A wave of scientists now questions natural selection’s role, though fewer will publicly admit it” (p. 20).

Both from "The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry by Suzan MazurNorth Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2010


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The evolutionary "Tree of Life" is also facing some serious challenges. It looks like "horizontal gene transfer" is a lot more common than we thought back when the evolutionary tree of life was developed. That is and for example, certain genes may be found in sponges and mammals- and nothing in between! Genes are found in two groups of creatures far apart in the classical evolutionary scenario and not found in vast gaps of creatures which are supposed to be between the two on the evolutionary scale. That doesn't fit the idea that a creature gets all its genetic information from its ancestors as modified by random mutations. Rather, it appears that a living creature is more like a cell phone that can download apps from vastly different sources to supplement and integrate with its main operating system.

But perhaps an even bigger challenge to the evolutionary tree of life is the work of Winston Ewert (see a rundown here). The idea of "nested hierarchies" has in recent times past constituted some of the strongest evidence for evolution. Oh it was not as clean and clear-cut as advocates tried to make it, but it is hard to deny that certain genes and mutations show up in what looks like nested hierarchies in a way consistent with the idea that all groups within them evolved from a common ancestor. And it is doubtless true to the extent which it applies: a group of similar species are a "nested hierarchy" within the same Genus for example. The problem for Neo-Darwinism is that efforts to extend that idea up the tree of life don't produce as good a fit at the higher taxonomic levels. What Ewert has done is used sophisticated mathematical analysis which shows that a "Dependency Graph" based on function is a somewhat better fit for the data than the idea of a Nested Hierarchy.

So "natural selection acting through random mutations" is not powerful enough to explain the complexity and diversity of all of Earth's biota throughout its history. It turns out chance dominates "natural selection". For example, humans have maybe 22,000 protein-producing genes. Each one of them is either more helpful than the average same gene in the rest of the population, or less helpful, or the same. Say one gene gets a hugely beneficial mutation and becomes three times as helpful as that same gene location in the average of the rest of the population. That is a huge leap. The vast majority of mutations are harmful. But even that huge leap would only help overall fitness increase by 3/22,000. Maybe other mutations that person has are more harmful and so overall fitness averages out. Maybe he gets eaten by a lion or steps on a snake and that mutation has no role in saving him. Chance overwhelms natural selection. This is true whether we are talking about weeding out mildly harmful mutations or spreading helpful ones.

Scientists are facing the probability that natural selection plays a minor role shaping life on earth. It weeds out only the most hurtful mutations and effects the details of creatures within their current forms. It's not the major player and perhaps not much of a minor player in increasing complexity and the arrival of new forms.

So if "Natural Selection" has been demoted to a minor player in the shaping of life on earth, what was the major player? "Chance" is all evolutionary scientists are left with. I have heard a couple respond to the inadequacy of natural selection by saying words to the effect of "but that's the old theory, the new one is that chance is the dominant change mechanism." Well, if that's what the data is pointing to then it's only honest to say so, but I am old enough to remember the days when creationists would say that it is not reasonable to assume that chance produced all the diversity and rise of complexity that we see in the earth's living things throughout time. And I remember the response "but we are not saying it was chance, we are saying that it was natural selection acting through chance." So it seems to me they are arguing in a circle, albeit one which has taken two decades to swing round.

Chance doesn't operate like this though. It may produce repeating patterns, but it doesn't drive increasing complexity and any increasing diversity it produces is through a loss of form and function into chaos, not exquisite adaptation. The explanation of "chance" is as unsatisfying now as it was decades ago when evolutionary scientists were assuring people like me that it was natural selection, not chance, driving evolution. 

Of course science is bound operationally by methodological naturalism. As scientists, they couldn't see God if God were standing right in front of them. Nor even acknowledge the gray areas between Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Special Creation. As men and women however, we ought to be able to take off that "science" cap which binds what we are allowed to consider (natural causes only) and realize that natural forces alone are insufficient to explain the diversity of life in Earth's history. To ascribe "chance" as the driving force of evolution is as close to ascribing life's diversity and complexity to God as science can get. And the scripture to some extent agrees. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 16:33 says...

We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.

Even the events we see as random are really ordered by Him.

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While scientists need to change some of their ideas about evolution, the church also needs to change some mistaken ideas about what the text of early Genesis is actually saying. It's a far more Christ-centered document than generally accepted theology accounts for.  The book below, available at no change for those with access to Kindle Unlimited, peels back the layers of misunderstanding and reveals the truth of Early Genesis and how it points to Christ. It takes some work, but for someone willing to do the work then the knowledge of the mystery of Christ in early Genesis is there for the having. 


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Quotes from Justin Martyr in "Apologia"



Justin Martyr believed that the Old Testament figure of Yahweh was the Son:

"Apology" Chapter 63:

"No one knoweth the Father, but the Son; nor the Son but the Father, and those to whom the Son will reveal Him."(7) The Jews, accordingly, being throughout of opinion that it was the Father of the universe who spake to Moses, though He who spake to him was indeed the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, are justly charged, both by the Spirit of prophecy and by Christ Himself, with knowing neither the Father nor the Son. For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign,(8) having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin, according to the counsel of the Father, for the salvation of those who believe on Him, He endured both to be set at nought and to suffer, that by dying and rising again He might conquer death. And that which was said out of the bush to Moses, "I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and the God of your fathers,"(9) this signified that they, even though dead, are let in existence, and are men belonging to Christ Himself. 

That Christ was the first born of God, as the Word. And this word "Logos" means rationality or reasoning principle, and thus he equates reasonable men as godly men of faith and unreasonable ones as wicked...

Chapter 46

But lest some should, without reason, and for the perversion of what we teach, maintain that we say that Christ was born one hundred and fifty years ago under Cyrenius, and subsequently, in the time of Pontius Pilate, taught what we say He taught; and should cry out against us as though all men who were born before Him were irresponsible—let us anticipate and solve the difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably(5) are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount, because we know it would be tedious. So that even they who lived before Christ, and lived without reason, were wicked and hostile to Christ, and slew those who lived reasonably. But who, through the power of the Word, according to the will of God the Father and Lord of all, He was born of a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, an intelligent man will be able to comprehend from what has been already so largely said. 

Christ is the Word and First-begotten

Chapter 23

that we claim to be acknowledged, not because we say the same things as these writers said, but because we say true things: and (secondly) that Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten, and power; and, becoming man according to His will, He taught us these things for the conversion and restoration of the human race: 


The whole work is here.

Is Two-Population Model more Christ-centered than Traditional Teaching on Adam?

An excerpt from a post I made on "Peaceful Science".

I very much enjoyed the office hours with Lutheran guests (and regulars) at Peaceful Science. If you have not read it, it is worth checking out for the distinctive 1 (and I think proper) way they have of looking at creation and the tension between tradition and exploring new ideas. The have a tradition of “Sola Scriptura” like Luther himself, but at the same time they have doctrine on some things which means that they don’t go only from the scriptures, but the scriptures through a lens of their own tradition. On matters such as this I think it creates a natural tension, which they are more comfortable with than some denominations. In looking at creation for example, they start with the Resurrection and look back to see what that says about Creation rather than starting with Creation. The beginning point is always Christ. And properly done He’s the ending point as well. 
Unfortunately the dialog ended just as they were beginning to explore the viability of the two-population model. That is, the idea that the biblical role of Adam is not to be the sole genetic progenitor of humanity, but rather to be the progenitor of the line of Messiah who would redeem humanity. There were other humans present outside the garden of Eden. 
It is my contention that this view of Adam is far more scriptural and Christ-centered than the traditional view. IOW, it should be a better fit for Lutherans than the traditional view. Romans 5:14 says of Adam that he is a “figure of Him who was to come”. That is, Christ. That’s his scriptural role. And of course Christ is portrayed in scripture as a brother to those of us who are believers, not a father. See Hebrews 2:11, 2:17, Romans 8:29. 1st Cor. 15 says that Adam was the first man, in the way that Christ was the last man! 
I could go on, but I’d like to start a conversation, not a monologue. The two-population model is more Christ-centered than the traditional view because it is a better fit at making Adam a figure of Christ than the traditional view. That this view of the text was not publicly supported in ancient Judaism is not surprising. Pandora’s family wouldn’t want to go around hollering that they were the clan that opened the box either. Best to pass over that part, especially given the history of persecution they endured. 
That it is hinted at but not discussed in the epistles is not so much cause for concern as one might think either because the epistles tell us that they didn’t tell us everything. Consider the last half of Hebrews Chapter Five and the first few verses of chapter six. 
1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrectionof the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits.… 
It was clear there was more the writer wanted them to know but they were hung up on the “milk of the word”. He had a lot to say (5:11) about the mysterious OT figure Melchizedek which he didn’t get around to saying. And if you go down that list in chapter six, that milk is pretty much all the Lutherans are talking about now. The other evangelical denominations don’t even talk about that! When is the last time there was “a lot to say” about Melchizedek from your pulpit? 
So let’s talk about the two-population model, any of them not just the one I am advocating, but Genealogical Adam or whatever else is out there.. Not just because it best matches what nature is saying to us about humanity, but because it is more Christ-centered than the version of events which the Christian church inherited from Judaism.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Professor of Hebrew and I Dialog over Genesis 1:26-27

Genesis 1
26: Let us make man in our own Image, according to our own likeness...and let them have dominion 27 So God created THE Man in his own image- In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.
- the Mark Moore translation.
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I have been a frequent visitor at the "Peaceful Science" forum. They are a highly educated group, and very opinionated. What a guy like me is doing there I have no idea. Anyway they have been telling me that my take on these verses must be wrong, and a real Hebrew scholar would easily refute my claims about the text. In particular the presence of the definite article before "man" in verse 27. For months I had been saying "Well, if there is one out there, come on and let's see." Finally, one kind soul stepped forward. I reproduce the relevant discussion below. Needless to say, I would not bother to put this up unless I thought it went very well. His turn is in green, mine in black. The shaded boxes are where one of us is quoting the other prior to commenting on it. The bold print is where I come back as an editor to try and keep straight for the reader who is talking and what is happening…. 
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I’m an OT/Hebrew Professor. You’re mistaken about the necessary reference of the singular pronoun in v. 27. As you note the antecedent (‘adam) is a collective noun (thus always grammaticlly singular, whether referring to an individual or group). If it’s is meant to be a group, then a subsequent pronoun could either be singular (to show grammatical congruity) or plural (to show conceptual congruity). Both are legit in Hebrew…only larger context can decide.
Also, be careful not to make too much of the article in v. 27. Though Hebrew is closer to Greek in the use of articulation, they are not identical. The article could simply be a reference back to the ‘adam in v. 26 (I.e., this ‘adam).
I reply citing him… 
You’re mistaken about the necessary reference of the singular pronoun in v. 27. As you note the antecedent (‘adam) is a collective noun (thus always grammaticlly singular, whether referring to an individual or group)
Well Professor I am glad to see you here. I do hope to pick your brain a bit about this and other passages. 
Now when I speak of a collective noun I am referring to verse 1:26*. That is a collective noun. I should think that the antecedent to the “o-tow” in the second segment of verse 27 is the ha-adam in the first segment of verse 27. After all the verb is different in verses 26 and 27. His intention is to make (asah) in verse 26. What He does to bring that intention to reality is create (bara) in verse 27. 
So is the antecedent to the “o-tow” in the second segment of verse 27 the “ha-adam” in the immediately preceding first segment of verse 27 or is it the “adam” back in verse 26?
*with the caveat that the Body of Christ is also collective and it too can be described with a singular pronoun. I do in fact think that’s what its saying here and in 1:27 but it is my guess that this is not what you meant when you were tying o-tow to a collective noun.
He answers…..
The pronoun goes back to 27a, but I’m suggesting that ha-adam in 27a need not be distinct from adam in 26. In fact I don’t see a good reason to separate them-neither by the change of verbs (the two do overlap semantically quite a bit) or the presence of the article in 27a. 
Btw I’ve enjoyed much of what you’ve written on this site (I’m one of those lurkers). Sorry for the first correspondence was on a point of disagreement. 
And I reply first citing him… 
You’re mistaken about the necessary reference of the singular pronoun in v. 27. As you note the antecedent (‘adam) is a collective noun (thus always grammaticlly singular, whether referring to an individual or group). 
Let me back up a bit and be more specific. We do speak loosely and say “this is a collective noun” but “Adam” is not a true collective noun. Examples of true collective nouns are things like “bunch”, “board”, “herd” etc. Collective nouns like that refer to a group of things and yet still have a plural form, while at the same time they always refer to a group of whatever is in the collective. 
This is not the case at all with a-dam. Rather this is just a noun which has the same form whether singular or plural. It is a case of an irregular noun where the single and plural forms are unchanging, like (the example I think I gave in the book) deer. 
So then I can say “In four days we can legally hunt deer” and this refers to the entire species. It is collective in that sense, just as 1:26 is referring to a collective. But should I say “Last year I got an award for the deer I shot” then the presence of the definite article “the” indicates that it is referring to a specific deer or (because singular and plural form is the same) a group of deer. The article clarifies that I was not claiming to have eradicated the entire species. Notice that my prior reference to the species deer (“we can legally hunt deer”) and my use of the definite article (“the deer I shot”) does in a sense refer back to deer as a concept or the whole group of them but it is wrong to say that this reference means the deer specified by the definite article is equal to the entire species of deer or even the concept of deer. 
Now it may still be unclear whether I have taken a single animal or a group of them, owning to the identical form of the noun in singular or plural. So if I follow on with this statement and say “He had the biggest antlers of any taken that year” then you know that I am referring to a single deer because I followed the reference to the deer I had taken with a singular pronoun. 
You are the expert in Hebrew, and therefore I accept that what you say is possible in Hebrew, but considering what I have written above, your point about what is possible in Hebrew sounds extremely awkward when you lay it all out in English. 
26: “Let us make Man in Our own image, and let them…” note a plural pronoun. Though I don’t think its in the Hebrew the context of the plural reference to God and 27c sort of demands it. That’s why the vast majority of translations give it a plural pronoun, though a few don’t use a pronoun here. The only one I can find that uses a singular pronoun is the Douay-Rheims Bible. Now you are aware that I don’t take translations as binding when they translate the Hebrew inconsistently, but here the use of the plural seems justified. 
I again cite him.. 
Also, be careful not to make too much of the article in v. 27. Though Hebrew is closer to Greek in the use of articulation, they are not identical. The article could simply be a reference back to the ‘adam in v. 26 (I.e., this ‘adam). 
And I reply, seizing on the fact that in asking me not to make "too much" of the article he is admitting that there is an article in the Hebrew text... 
27a. “So God created THE man in His Own image.” The article IS there. You are one of the few people on this board confident in your understanding enough to see what is there. Now you have suggested that the singular pronoun be “this” as in referring to the noun He spoke of creating in 26. That is, man as “mankind” or humanity. Consider how that reads. “So God created this mankind in his own image”. Is there another mankind out there that we might think He was referring to? Indeed, verse 26 is not even strictly the same object as that in 27a, even if it is a collective because 26 describes the idea of mankind. Until 27a there is no actual and extant mankind to refer back to. 
So while I understand that definite articles can be used to refer back to an already given example of something, this isn’t quite that. So one might say “King David went out to battle. THE king ordered his army to surround Moab.” Yes, in that case the definite article refers us back to David. But that’s because A) David was not the only king in creation so an article to make the ordering king more specific adds clarity to the text and B) There was already a David there to refer back to. He actually existed. Did Mankind already exist in 1:26? Does the article add any clarity to the text if it is only referring to humanity as a whole in this situation? 
The vast majority of translators (with good reason that’s the key) assign a plural pronoun to the adam in verse 26. The Hebrew explicitly pairs both a definite article and a singular pronoun with the adam in 27a-b. It is not until you get to 27c that the pronoun switches up to plural again, matching what is implied in 26. 
Look, you are the expert in Hebrew, and so if you say it’s possible, if one threads the needle just so, that I am mis-interpreting the passage then I accept that it is possible, if one threads the needle just so, that I am mis-interpreting the passage. But isn’t it also at least as likely that I am getting it right? That 27a and b refers to a single individual and 26 and 27c refer to multiple individuals? The grammar, as you are describing what it could be, sounds awkward and as forced as it can be in English. 
He replies… 
As you note, there are two types of collective nouns. I use the example “flock of sheep”–flock is the group collective; sheep is the other type (what you call irregular). Terminology isn’t the issue; it seems we basically see this the same way. 
He then cites me…. 
what is possible in Hebrew sounds extremely awkward when you lay it all out in English. 
And he replies…
Yes, that’s what happens in translation. As the old saying goes, “Translation is treason.” There is always a trade-off, a fudging that must take place from one the patient language to the target language. In this case, the use of the definite article is not exact between Hebrew and English (though it’s pretty close). The same goes for resumptive pronouns (i.e., a pronoun that refers back to an antecedent).
And he cites me again…. 
26: “Let us make Man in Our own image, and let them …” note a plural pronoun. Though I don’t think it’s in the Hebrew the context of the plural reference to God and 27c sort of demands it. 
But his answer actually gives support for what I am contending about the plurality of a’dam in verse 26…… 
Actually the verb “let them have have dominion” is plural in the Hebrew. 
He then cites me…. 
27a. “So God created THE man in His Own image.” The article IS there. You are one of the few people on this board confident in your understanding enough to see what is there. Now you have suggested that the singular pronoun be “this” as in referring to the noun He spoke of creating in 26. That is, man as “mankind” or humanity. Consider how that reads. “So God created this mankind in his own image”. 
And gives his contrary view…. 
I’m suggesting the article in 27a naturally refers back to the adam just mentioned in 26 (I used “this” as shorthand for “the one just mentioned”). There’s no need to force an awkward Engllsh translation. Assuming it is the same adam, the English translations are right to translate with “humanity/humankind” and not translate the definite article.
And cites me again….
Is there another mankind out there that we might think He was referring to? Indeed, verse 26 is not even strictly the same object as that in 27a, even if it is a collective because 26 describes the idea of mankind. Until 27a there is no actual and extant mankind to refer back to. 
And scores a point by saying…. 
This seems off base. A definite article doesn’t necessarily mean your choosing one of many. Even in English we can say “the universe,” “the earth,” “the sun,” “the messiah,” “the church,” etc. Still, a Hebrew definite article need not be translated with “the” or anything (see above). Besides, you have the something similar (concerning the article, not singular/plural) in Gen 2:5-7 – "there was no adam [no article; perhaps fits your “idea”?] to work the ground…“the LORD God formed the man [with article].” 
Your idea vs. object is too abstract for the Hebrew mindset (especially for it to show up in its grammar). It’s the general pattern in the creation days in Gen 1 for God to make a statement about intent to create (e.g., “let there be”), and then the description fulfilling that intent. Why break this consistency in the creation of adam? (I grant there are other discontinuities with adam in Day 6, but I don’t this as one of them.) 
He then cites me…. 
…isn’t it also at least as likely that I am getting it right? That 27a and b refers to a single individual and 26 and 27c refer to multiple individuals? 
Only to shoot the idea down as unlikely…. 
No, not likely. The grammar could be construed this way theoretically (or maybe I should say hypothetically, since we’re on a science blog), but its not the most natural reading to me. Thus, I would need strong warrant from other clues to consider it as a live option. But every angle I consider says otherwise–the general pattern in Gen 1; the poetic parallelism in v. 27; the later references to image in the Bible (against the ANE backdrop); the consistent translation and interpretation in the guild (and maybe church history, but I don’t know that); etc. 
I don’t know what the rabbis did with this, but it’s the kind of thing up their alley. You might find some support among them. 
He then cites me again… 
The grammar, as you are describing what it could be, sounds awkward and as forced as it can be in English. 
And replies... 
I hope I’ve cleared this up above. I was explaining the function of the article, not how the English should be translated. Our present translations are just fine. 
In my view this represents the high water mark of the case against my position. It is now my turn to respond. And I start by citing him, going back to something he mentioned but perhaps did not get the full significance of…. 
Actually the verb “let them have have dominion” is plural in the Hebrew. 
And of course this affects his arguments right down the line as I begin to point out… 
Thank you for pointing that out. This appears to strongly confirm the interpretation I am giving for these verses. You say it may be that ha-adam in 27a is only referring back to the adam in 26, but if so why is that adam is paired with a plural verb in 26 and the ha-adam in 27a is paired with a singular pronoun in 27b? 
Translation may be treason but that’s an awkward fit in any tongue. A much better fit is that 27 is a list of three things done to fulfill God’s intent in 26. 
I cite him again…. 
It’s the general pattern in the creation days in Gen 1 for God to make a statement about intent to create (e.g., “let there be”), and then the description fulfilling that intent. Why break this consistency in the creation of adam? 
Then reply that this is also amenable to my view… 
That is just what I am saying is happening too. As I see it you are going “He said He was going to do X and then it says He did X”. I am saying “He said He was going to do X and then it says the things He did in order to do X”. I see that as what the other days do as well. If there is any difference its that in the previous circumstances He ordered some part of creation to do something and then helped. With man, He did it Himself. 
I then cite him again…. 
I hope I’ve cleared this up above…Our present translations are just fine. …….. Thanks for the iron sharpening!
And reply…. 
As for our present translations- they are getting better. For example most of them shifted from the old translating ha-adam in chapter two as “Adam” to the more correct translation of “the man”. They just haven’t made that final step yet and moved to consistency by extending that to the ha-adam in chapter one. 
He then replies, and seems more conciliatory…..starting with him citing me…. 
why is that adam is paired with a plural verb in 26 and the ha-adam in 27a is paired with a singular pronoun in 27b? 
Good question. Assuming my position for now, one could argue that it’s simply stylistic (i.e., the narrator liked variety, and this would form a chiasm of plural [26], singular [27a], singular [27b], plural [27c]) (EDITORS NOTE: the chiastic structure fits beautifully with what the Revealed Cosmology says about this passage, but it was not discussed here) Or, one could add a theological nuance: Taking advantage of the collective noun, the narrator wants to emphasize that image of God applied individually and corporately (counter-intuitively, the plural focuses on individuals; the singular focuses on corporate). This is done elsewhere. One thinks of the “seed” (another collective noun) in Gen 3:15 and 22:17-18 (though this example may help your case), or in another vein the David’s “son” in the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7), which refers both to a succession of sons (i.e., dynasty) and to the greater Son. My own work in Deuteronomy shows the tension in the alternation of the singular “you” vs. the plural “y’all” (perhaps the only time Southern English is helpful!). The point is there could be a good explanation for the phenomenon within the traditional reading. 
He then cites me again… 
If there is any difference it’s that in the previous circumstances He ordered some part of creation to do something and then helped. With man, He did it Himself. 
I’d have to think about this more on whether there’s a real distinction intended. It’s also possible different phrases are being used without too much distinction (though, I admit, it’s possible depending on authorial intent). The main differences with Day 6B (humans) that I see are: more time/text spent on it; divine deliberation (“Let us”); the lacking “according to their kinds”; the status as image of God; the added “very good” which is also delayed as a reflection on all 6 Days and not just Day Six (though “good” lacking in Day 2 since, as Waltke quips, God hates Mondays too!); and the use of the definite article “the sixth” (it also appears on “the seventh” in 2:3, but not Days 1-5; though I’m not quite sure the significance of it; I wonder what this does to our previous discussion of the article). 
And I reply, beginning with citing him on his admission that something in the text may help my case… 
This is done elsewhere. One thinks of the “seed” (another collective noun) in Gen 3:15 and 22:17-18 (though this example may help your case) 
And I am quick to agree….. 
I do think it helps my case. As I suppose you know, Galatians 3:16 throws that collective noun thing out the window and says that because it says “seed” instead of “seeds” in Genesis 22 that it is referring to Christ and not all the physical offspring of Abraham. And that’s fine too because we know that the true sons of Abraham are those who have the faith of Abraham- the body of Christ is a collective even if Christ is singular. The spiritual reality of what is happening goes to the edge of what human language is able to convey, and perhaps beyond it. 
Genesis 3:15 helps my case too, for the same reasons. And as a bonus, it negates the claim that 3:20 is evidence against an adamic race before the man Adam. “Mother of all the living” is a strange thing to say about someone who had just gotten them both killed. But it makes sense if Yahweh-Elohim told them that the 2nd Adam would come, God’s only begotten son, through the seed of a woman and redeem mankind. All “in Christ” are the living. The Christ-centered model makes sense of what otherwise does not, either in context of the passage or bounced against the evidence from the natural world that there were people before the time period Adam must have lived in if the text is accurate. 
So we do see a pattern here in Genesis where the ambiguity in nouns being collective or singular are later discovered to point to Christ and Christ is both singular as the man and collective as in the believers which comprise His body. This is of course like the idea of the person of a king standing in to represent his nation. So really 1:26-27 fits into the same pattern. 
And I cite him again… 
The point is there could be a good explanation for the phenomenon within the traditional reading. 
Here it seems he has moved from my reading being “unlikely” to there “could be” an explanation that fits with the traditional reading…language which completely reverses the earlier probabilities…but I even question the weight of validity that goes with the “traditional reading” label….. 
Isn’t the real traditional reading the way that the Jewish rabbis would see it over thousands of years? I should think they would not have a problem with what I am saying about “the man” and the verbs and pronouns. They would be fine with the idea that “man” in 26 is a plural thinking ahead to the race as a concept while 27a and 27b were singular (Adam). That’s what they believed anyway. Of course where I take it from there is not something they would approve of, but I just mean structurally and what the words are saying. The “traditional” reading from 1611 to today may be different but I suspect if one goes before that it would not be. You are in a much better position to say than I of course. 
I also pointed out that his questions regarding the lack of “good” in day two and the lack of definite articles on all but day six could be answered by my book… 
No need to get side-tracked by these jewels hidden in the word here and it takes a long time to build the case where it all fits beautifully together, but I do think I have been shown the significance of these things and write about it in the book. 
In his reply to me he cites me…. 
Isn’t the real traditional reading the way that the Jewish rabbis would see it over thousands of years? 
Reference? That’d be interesting to study. 
And cites me again… 
The “traditional” reading from 1611 to today may be different but I suspect if one goes before that it would not be. 
Then questions me… 
Are you suggesting the Christian reading of Gen 1:26-27 changed in 1611?
So it is now my turn to reply and I start by citing him… 
but I myself am a bit cautious to start finding things in a text without warrant, nor do I want a Christological reading to dismiss/discount earlier layers. Perhaps we have different hermeneutical grids at play here. I prefer Christotelic to Christological, though I’ve shifted in the past couple of years to think more Christologically 
The issue then I suppose is the metric one uses to decide how many dots have to line up before something is “warranted”. I don’t discount the earlier layers. I am one of those here that does NOT ascribe to a straight-up sequential reading of Genesis. I am thus keeping more of the original layer and view than most here. There was an historical Adam and Eve and that is a part of what this text is talking about here. But Christ is also there in the text, as are the adamites outside the garden which makes the parallels between Christ and Adam stronger than it would be were his role the father of humanity. 
As for the different grids, we are many members but one body. I think we can each emphasize the thing that we do while still seeing and proclaiming value in the part that the other emphasizes.. 
And I cite him again…he is not disputing me at this point but just commenting on the text….. 
That’s a cheeky thing Paul does there …His point about Christ as the ultimate seed is a good Christological reading (already nestled in the ambiguity of the Hebrew text). This does not discount the original meaning, which also includes a plural referent. 
So I replied…. 
Well it is an indication that he valued the Septuagint relative to what would be the Masoretic text more than we do today. It is useful to consider both. This is the kind of thing I think an apostle can do that I can’t! That and the Gal. 4 comparison of the two women as two covenants being “what the law really says.” Still, if those are authoritative examples of how far the text can be stretched to insert Christ (while not denying the reality of the underlying events) then what I am doing is well within the bounds of sound handling of the word. Indeed it explains things that even an expert like you have some difficulty coming up with a better explanation for. 
And I cite him….. 
Are you suggesting the Christian reading of Gen 1:26-27 changed in 1611?
And reply… 
I am suggesting that this period saw the word translated from Greek and Hebrew to the King’s English and other European languages around this time so that the translation of the text went through the hands of a very small number of people who had only a fraction of the knowledge and documents we have available today. And these people were connected to one another in thought and culture so that if they got something a little off then it would be copied and repeated until it gained momentum as “tradition”. This would be so even if the underlying case from the text was not so strong as the tradition which supported it. This is, in my view, exactly what happened with the tradition to translate “ha-adam” as “Adam” in chapter two, as the King James and other early versions have done. It stood that way for centuries even though those with the right training knew what it literally said was “the man”. Finally, in the last 70 years or so the reality of what was in the text of chapter two overcame the tradition about how it was supposed to be interpreted. Most of the most recent translations properly translate it “the man” now. This momentum has not extended to 1:27…yet. 
All that was left was for me to provide a reference that the “traditional” reading supported a translation of 1:27a as “the man” instead of “man”. Below is what I found… 
The best I can do with five minutes of internet research with cartoons blaring and three year-old whining, page 33 of the document on this link references an apparently large school of Jewish thought which translated 1:27 as “the man”. See last paragraph of page 33 
The paper is called A Study of the Development and Significance of the Idea of the ‘Image of God’... 
PS- as near as I could tell no side in the debate at the time (5th century), Christian or Jewish, took 1:27a to refer to more than a single man (or maybe a single couple).
(****************************) 
And that was it. Not that I sold him or anything, but not the thrashing I had been promised by any means. If anything, it seems he was more open to it at the end of the discussion that at the beginning. Get the book.

Science and Perceiving God

That "science" doesn't see God isn't an argument. It's a rhetorical trick. Under methodological naturalism science can't see God even if God were standing right in front of it. Science is a procedure which is conducted to detect for laws only. It is incapable of detecting any lawgiver.

An analogy would be lawyers trained to go about the legal libraries looking in various texts with a mission of determining what the laws were. If they were constrained to that process, then by that process they could never detect the human beings- the legislators - who drafted the bills which became those laws. Even if the legislators wandered the halls of the libraries crying out "it was me, I drafted such and such a law" the process of looking at the text for what is written there could not detect them. If the lawyers doing the searching desired to be obstinate and deny the existence of the legislators, they could semi-honestly report back that their search of the laws gave them no indication that any legislators existed.

To see the lawgiver one must take off the "hat" of methodological naturalism and look at things as a human, not very narrowly as a "scientist". If it weren't for sin in our hearts this would be easy to do. This is because the order, diversity, interconnectedness and beauty of nature cries out "there is a Creator God" as mentioned in Romans chapter one. But the respectability of science and what it has done for mankind has allowed some hearts to use this as a shield to prevent them from perceiving that which they ought to see, not as scientists but as men. They can deny the Lawgiver exists because they have found, in their search for the laws, only laws and no Lawgiver. That they could not expect to find a  Lawgiver in a search only for laws is conveniently set aside for the temporary comfort that escape from accountability brings. The pity is that lasting comfort for escape from accountability is only available through that same Lawgiver in the mercy and atonement accessed via faith in Christ.

My book on Early Genesis