One thing I have appreciated about Lennox’s approach to this topic is that he is a science advocate. What I mean is that he acknowledges that science is a legitimate way of investigating the world and data collected and conclusions and interpretations made by scientists shouldn’t be just dismissed. Of course there is a place for scrutiny, peer review and humility to be ready to change our thinking and theories when the need arises. The “fixed-earth” verses “moving earth” debate of the 17th century is a good reminder of this (Chapter 1). Lennox is not trying to avoid the science and the questions it raises but instead he engages with it. As he puts it, “the major thrust of my argument so far, then, is that there is a way of understanding Genesis 1 that does not compromise the authority and primacy of scripture and that, at the same time, takes into account our increased knowledge of the universe”. This is a relief for me because I cannot ignore the findings of science, but I also take the Bible seriously.
Which brings us to the first of the two main questions he deals with: what is the age of the earth? However, this chapter is more about showing how you can be faithful to Genesis 1 and hold an old-earth view. I am a speed reader. I don’t generally look at the details. Descriptions are wasted on me. Give me fast-paced action and dialogue and I am a happy woman. I think that I have glossed over the details of Genesis 1 for years. But this book has made me stop and look. Really look at what Genesis 1 is and is not saying. Because the heart of the argument for a young-earth (approximately 6000 years) is the view that an old-earth (4.5 billion years) is unbiblical, Lennox’s main concern is showing that a close reading of Genesis 1 actually allows for a broader interpretation of the timing of creation. In fact this chapter seems to collect a range of reasons why six 24 hour days of creation is only one of several ways of interpreting the Genesis 1 passage. And it is not the only way to read it faithfully.
As an example of this (and something that has really struck me by Lennox’s analysis) is that the days of Genesis 1 immediately follow the acts of creation, at least in the text. This is something I have never thought about before. I suppose I have always thought that “and there was evening, and there was morning- the _____ day” was more of a summary of the preceding paragraph. However, if you were reading it carefully you could come to the conclusion that creation didn’t occur on a day but there were days that marked the different stages of creation and creation occurred for some unspecified length of time in between these days.
I’m still in the process of reflecting on Lennox’s ideas, to some degree it feels like a “fudge factor” to keep everyone happy. But he has some helpful points.