Hi AJ, thanks for taking my question. What would be your response to someone who claims the long ages of people in Genesis proves the Bible contains legend? I’ve read Ross on the subject, but clearly while there might be age extending things like restricting calorie intake…surely there is no current science suggesting ages like that are possible right? So how do you respond to that?
What would be your response to someone who claims the long ages of people in Genesis proves the Bible contains legend?
Hi, Ted, et al. Thanks for your question: "What would be your response to someone who claims the long ages of people in Genesis proves the Bible contains legend? I’ve read Ross on the subject, but clearly while there might be age extending things like restricting calorie intake…surely there is no current science suggesting ages like that are possible right? So how do you respond to that?
I’ve hardly spent any time or much thought on this topic, but I have some thoughts I’ll share. And maybe more helpful, I’ll include an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Who Was Adam? and all of Chapter 7 for your consideration. (The PDF link to download is at the end of this response.) Fuz (and Hugh) have spent much more time thinking about this in the context of RTB’s creation model (Ch 3), and Chapter 7 is devoted to scientific considerations bearing on human life span.
I would probably start with a question. Try to find out what their scientific objection is based on? I have written and thought a lot about the state of sequencing the human genome, and find that most people believe it is a done deal. It is not, and never has been a complete sequence. There is still about 8-10% of the human genome missing from the human reference genome. These sequences include highly repetitive regions and constituitive heterochromatin. These types of sequences are poorly understood and often considered silenced after embryonic development. But the reality is we are still incredibly ignorant about the complexities of the human genome (DNA), all its relevant functions and elements, and especially in these missing and/or unassembled sequences. And we are even more ignorant about the complexities of the variable transcriptomes (all cellular RNAs that are and are not translated into proteins) in cells and tissues during embryogenesis–a time of rapid differentiation and development.
So my comment would likely follow that train of thought and sound something like: we don’t have a nearly complete picture yet of what is involved at a genomic and epigenetic level in aging. We know some genetic elements that contribute to aging (and these are addressed in WWA Ch 7) but we have no idea the extent of what regulates or what can preserve telomere length and genetic integrity and cellular capacity to reproduce. And until we finish assembling and annotating the human genome and various developmental and tissue specific transcriptomes, we remain in the infancy of human genomics. So to assume that it requires an inconceivable (improbable/impossible/etc.) change at a genomic, epigenetic, or regulatory level to extend cellular viability is pure speculation.
If I was willing to grant that this is a significant challenge (and I’m not) to the Biblical account of very long life spans–slowly shrinking post-flood to roughly modern day time spans–I would then look at it as a current scientific challenge that presents great opportunity for us to test over time through further scientific discoveries how well the challenge stands up. Fuz has given an excellent talk on this idea of how some of science’s greatest challenges to a biblical worldview and understanding of creation actually presents us with the greatest opportunities to share our faith and to press further into scientific discoveries, learn more, and see how well the biblical account stands firm. (That’s why I included excerpts from Ch 3 as well).
I have a couple of blog posts that touch on some of these themes and our understanding of the human genome. (Actually I’m working on a much longer article about the status of the human genome project. Would love to finish that soon and get that posted too. So keep an eye out for it.) Here are two blog posts that might be of interest:
- Exploring the Human Genome: Can We Make Predictions from Infancy?
- Too Little Knowledge or Infinite Potential for Discovery?
You may also want to take a look at Fuz’s presentation at AMP Conference 2016
“How the Greatest Challenges Can Become the Greatest Opportunities for the Gospel.”
Excerpts-Rana-2015-WhoWasAdam.pdf (422.4 KB)
Thank you for your answer AJ