The Moon: Its Creation, Form and Significance

Written by John C. Whitcomb and Donald B. DeYoung Reviewed By Samuel J. Schultz

In the wake of the Apollo moon project and the popular interest as well as unprecedented research efforts into astronomy comes this volume by J. C. Whitcomb and D. B. DeYoung. In Winona Lake, Indiana, the former is professor of theology and Old Testament and director of postgraduate studies at Grace Theological Seminary while the latter is associate professor of physics at Grace College.

After a brief summary, tabulation of lunar explorations and photographs reflecting man’s scientific achievements three naturalistic theories of the moon’s origins are delineated: (1) the fission or break-away theory (splitting off from the earth), (2) the capture theory (by earth’s gravitational field), and (3) the nebular or condensation theory (condensation from nebulous gas and dust at the same time the earth was formed).

In the chapter entitled ‘The Genesis Record of the Moon’s Creation’, the authors of this volume identify ‘the double-revelation theory’ concerning special (or Biblical) and general (or natural) revelation. According to this theory, many Christian theologians and scientists maintain that ‘God has given to man two distinct and ultimate revelations of truth, each of which is fully authoritative in its own realm … the theologian is the God-appointed interpreter of Scripture, and the scientist is the God-appointed interpreter of nature …’ In addition, the authors assert that those who endorse the double-revelation theory maintain that in case of apparent conflict, ‘the theologian must rethink his interpretation of Scripture at these points in such a way as to bring the Bible into harmony with the scientists’ consensus since the Bible is not a textbook of science, and these problems overlap the territory in which science alone must give us the detailed and authoritative answers,’ pp. 54–55.

Then follows an appropriate discussion of the limitations of the scientific method and a fatal neglect of Biblical revelation. The case for considering Genesis 1–11 as well as 12–50 as authoritative and historical is basic to proper interpretation by well informed Christian theologians and scientist. However, the case for the instantaneous creation of the moon rests on interpretation of Scripture. It may have been sudden and instantaneous—which I would admit readily—but to assert that it must have been instantaneous is here projected on a discussion of miracles and interpretation of the word ‘day’. Miracles in the Old Testament as well as in the New, however, were performed as signs in the course of God’s revelation to man that people might believe, as for example, in Exodus 4:29; 14:29–31; John 20:31 and others. The creation of the moon may have been an instantaneous creation is based on ‘the fact that God’s work of creation was completed in six literal days demonstrates that the creative work of each day was sudden and supernatural’. Here it would have been appropriate to point out the limitations of the grammatical/historical method of interpretation used by scholarly interpreters of the Bible. ‘Six days’ is a biblical fact. ‘Six literal days’ is an interpretation. Here the basic fact that the word day is used in at least three separate senses in Scripture should caution the theologian as well as the scientist in equating interpretation with fact. Francis A. Schaeffer stated it succinctly indicating the limitations of science and theology:

Therefore we must leave open the exact length of time indicated by day in Genesis. From the study of the word in Hebrew, it is not clear in which way it is to be taken; it could be either way. In the light of the word as used in the Bible and the lack of finality of science concerning the problem of dating, in a sense there is no debate because there are no clearly defined terms upon which to debate. (Genesis in Time and Space, p. 57.)

Two interesting chapters follow on lunar geology and transient lunar phenomena. The concluding chapter portrays the value and beauty of the moon in the solar system.

To these authors we are indebted for assembling both biblical and scientific information on the moon. Critical evaluation of their interpretation can prove stimulating for the scientist as well as the theologian.

Samuel J. Schultz

Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois