"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20
"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." Exodus 20:11
In Six "Days?"
The Scriptures above are two of the most popular passages in the Bible used to help defend two opposing views. Old-earth creationists use Romans 1:20, arguing that God is clearly understood in what He has made, that the unsaved have no excuse because of the evidence of creation alone. They also claim that the clear and consistent findings of scientists who explore this creation have concluded that our world is billions of years old. Therefore, how can the young earth interpretation be justified? How do we expect anyone to be saved, unless they have a Bible, seeing that God's creation appears so old?
The young-earth creationists, on the other hand, take the literal reading of passages such as Exodus 20:11, to demonstrate that The Bible clearly has only one view concerning the ages of His creation. Our planet is young, less than 10,000 years, the six days mentioned in Genesis 1 are literal 24-hour days. To the YECS, the age of God's creation is ambiguous only because of the naturalistic, presuppositions of our modern generation.
So, the central issue, in the creation debate, is the proper interpretation of the six-days of Genesis. Creationists (in the literal sense) maintain that it is crucial that Genesis 1 is interpreted as a straight out, word for word history of the universe. Many young-earth creationists believe that any deviation from this position, leads only to compromise and eventually apostasy. They hold that any other rendering weakens the entire structure of the Bible and key doctrine will be put in jeopardy. They have made the choice to hold to the Bible against whatever science may claim to dispute "creationism." (Though they are convinced that objective science supports their position.) A Christian in "good standing" is quickly apprehensive not to agree. They are warned: "The Bible says: 'God created the heavens and the earth in six days less than 10,000 years ago. '" I have been made to feel so second rate by some of these people.
The majority of young-earth creationists I've dealt with are wonderful people and they mean well. But I believe they are wrong. A literal reading of Genesis CAN be understood so that science and the Bible DO agree. St. Augustine warned us to "be on guard against giving interpretations of Scripture that are farfetched or opposed to science, and so exposing the Word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers." We must remember, proper exegesis is a man-made tool and errors can still arise in spite of our best efforts.
I wish to admonish Christian readers at this time that we cannot be seekers of truth if we hide under the umbrella of one group's debatable teaching. A famous "young-earther," Dr. Kent Hovind, stated: "If you only hear one side of the evidence you are not being educated you are being indoctrinated." Please heed the challenge of the skeptic Carl Sagan: "I hold that belief systems that cannot survive scrutiny are probably not worth having." Is it insecurity that prohibits us from examining our position?
One thing I am sure of, if there is any model I am well rehearsed in, it's "young-earth" creationism. I am well aware of the arguments that they offer to confirm a young earth. I have studied the works of Morris, Whitcomb, Huse, Humphreys, Oakland, Hovind, etc., for more than 10 years. It was shocking how fast their impenetrable arguments disintegrated under scrutiny and it's embarrassing when I think about how much I thought I knew! What a ninny! I believe that the so-called evidence, proving that the universe is in fact young, is wrong. Spend a little time with the scientists that have dedicated their lives to explore their world and you may see what I mean.
The Age of the Earth
I have known since grade school that light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second and that galaxies are billions of light years away and that this did not agree with the fact that the universe was 10,000 years old. But when it was explained to me that God created the heavenly bodies for man's enjoyment and therefore He created the light already having reached the earth, I said, "how profound, yes, I buy that!" But they failed to explain the contrary evidence and that it was not nearly that simple. Light displays distinct variations of color, relative to the distances traveled, which are testable and demonstrable. These hues would not exist if light did not travel these immense distances from other stars. On February 23, 1987, the world witnessed a supernova (an exploding star) that was approximately 160,000 light years away. Are we to claim that this star never existed, but that God created the flash of a supernova, in space, less than 10,000 light-years away to be observed by us today, just so that scientists can believe the universe is very old? Isn't that a bit deceptive? Surely this is not a very "bright" idea.
A classic defense raised to "prove" that the earth is young are polystrate fossils. (Which I held as one of the most impenetrable arguments.) How do we explain petrified trees running through multiple layers of strata? Are we to believe that these trees just stood there for millions of years while the layers slowly formed around them? Isn't a flood the best explanation? Yes, a flood is the best explanation, many floods not just one. Believe it or not geologists accept floods and these fossils are caused by flooding and mud slides. Polystrate trees show every sign of extremely rapid burial, generally when rivers flood over their banks. "(Eldredge, 1982, p.105). They are NOT a mystery to geologists and this argument does not "stack up." (When I heard that one I went "duh.")
I find it rather ironic that young-earth creationists will spend so much time and effort in order to persuade the incredulous that the Mt. Saint Helen's eruption and the "mini" Grand canyon it formed, are irrefutable proof that the Flood of Noah is the explanation for the geological strata, polystrate fossils and other phenomenon. Did I miss something? Wasn't this a local event? Didn't Dr. Kent Hovind use the argument of Spirit Lake to demonstrate how the layered forests of Yellowstone formed? This seems to prove to me that all these formations are the result of natural and isolated events through time.
This was the case with all their evidence. I only received part of the picture and I needed to listen to what others had to say about astronomy and geology. If the Christian community would take the time and have the courage to examine the evidence as it is, I believe they would discover as I have - the moon dust debate, has no "depth," the shrinking sun squabble, is not so "hot," the earth's magnetic field fact, does not "stick" and the carbon 14 contention, is "dated." I'm convinced - the earth is billions of years old.
God is the author of the Bible and He is also the author of the heavens. The Bible is His book of words, and the creation is His book of works. The truth that is discovered in both MUST agree! If they do not, something is amiss in our interpretations. As previously stated, science just does not agree that the earth is young. The only option left is that we have interpreted the creation account incorrectly. Can Genesis be understood so that eons of time can be found in its text? Yes! Would we be compromising the integrity of God's Word to do so? Absolutely not! If we allow the Hebrew to speak, and if we allow the various meanings of key words in our reading; by proper exegesis we will find harmony.
The core of the debate centers on the interpretation of the word day. "Yom" is the Hebrew word translated as "day" in Genesis 1. If you check any lexicon, you will see that this word has many PROPER meanings including, a day = 24 hours, daytime, age, forever and eternity. These various translations are found throughout the Old Testament. "Ereb," translated as "evening," also means night, sunset or ending of a day. "Boqer," translated as "morning," also means sunrise, dawning or beginning of a day. Creationists who hold to the "day-age theory," see these variations as the proper interpretation.
Not only does the Bible give allowance for long days, I believe the Scriptures also prohibit a 24-hour interpretation. The events that transpired on the sixth-day seem impossible to squeeze into 24-hours. God makes all the land dwelling animals, then He creates Adam who has to till the garden and then, give names to all the . . . cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field . . . Finally, God puts Adam to sleep, removes a rib and creates the woman. Some claim Adam had supernatural abilities being sinless (with absolutely no Scriptural support). The Seventh-Day constitutes a problem as well. God never mentions this day as coming to an end as He so clearly did to each of the previous days. Also, Hebrews 4:1-13 tells us that God's rest has continued through the days of Joshua, the writing of the Psalms (Psalm 95:11), and is still in effect today. We are all welcome to enter His rest by faith. Therefore, if the Seventh-Day consists of thousands of years, how can we justify a different interpretation for days one through six? Ironically Moses, the writer of Genesis, mentions in Psalm 90:4, . . . For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night . . . Peter repeats the same idea, . . . But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day . . . It seems the only rendering that cannot be correct is the 24-hour view.
The solution to this debate is really a lot more simple than we make it out to be. Our problem is that we try to read into the Genesis account our modern understanding of the universe. The Bible IS God's Word, yet God has condescended to us in His Word, the infinite mind reaching down to the finite one. The Holy Spirit worked through simple men, using their life's experience to get across to us what He desired for us to learn of Him. The Lord never changed their personality nor did He turn them into scientists in order to write the Scripture. Genesis is written in very primitive language, in very primitive times. The narrative is not in error, but it was never intended to be a scientific critique. A very important step, to interpret the Bible literally, is to understand the intent of the author. The substance of what Moses is explaining is that God is the creator and that He did His works in an orderly fashion. So now, let's look at the creation event from a new perspective and see what God has to say, okay.
Genesis Chapter One
Gene. 1:1,2 - . . . In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep . . . In a flash of light, in an instant, God created mater, space, time, energy and the laws of physics! Hardly a scientist today doubts the truth of the Big Bang theory. Its discovery did not sit well with naturalists because the Big Bang indicates a beginning. I believe, with God's direction, the laws of physics went to work, leading to the organization of the universe. Eventually, nebula dust formed our solar system, still in darkness waiting for the sun to ignite . . . and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters . . . It is critical to get the proper perspective here. The Spirit of God is at the surface of the earth, indicating that the observer of the creation event is looking up and all around from the earth, not out in space looking in as we usually envision it. (+/- 17 to 4.5 billion years ago.)
Gene. 1:3-5 - . . . Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light . . . The immense gravitational forces soon ignite the sun as nuclear fusion begins to take place and the solar wind begins to dispel the dark nebula dust cloud allowing light to reach the earth . . . and God separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day . . . Soon, the solar wind clears most of the debris in the solar system away. Night and day become more defined as less light is refracted about. (+/- 4.5 billion years ago.)
Gene. 1:6-8 - . . . Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day . . . Volcanic steam begins to condense. A gaseous atmosphere is present. The waters below are separated from a thick cloud covering above. Day and night are visible but the sun, moon and stars cannot be perceived as of yet. The word translated as "heaven" here also means "sky." (+/- 4 billion years ago.)
Gene. 1:9-13 - . . . Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good . . . The primitive earth is totally covered by water. Huge granite blocks begin to emerge and eventually the continents are formed . . . And God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day . . . Each "day" of Genesis 1 is an indefinite period of time, so also, each "day" has indefinite borders. Each "day" represents the beginning of a certain event and not necessarily it's entire account. One of the earliest known life forms is blue-green algae, a "plant like" single-celled organism and by the process of photosynthesis, oxygen begins to form. Notice that God commanded the "earth to bring forth . . . ," this implies time and as eons pass more complex plant forms appear. Evolution? I don't know, but I don't believe the text prohibits it. (+/- 3.5 -? billion years ago.)
Gene. 1:14-19 - . . . Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth ";and it was so . . . God had created the heavenly bodies, now He ordains that they will be time keepers. A key event for the Jewish festivals. Our earth-bound observer beholds the spheres for the first time as the thick cloud cover dissipates . . . And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; [He made] the stars also . . . (Better translated, "God HAD made.") . . . And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day . . . The term "placed" also means "presented" and I believe gives a better sense. God "presented" the sun, moon and stars in the "sky." (+/- 1 billion years ago?)
Gene. 1:20-23 - . . . And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky . . . If birds are created here we have a problem. Birds show up much later in the fossil record. "Owph" translated as "birds" simply means "winged" and is translated as insects elsewhere in the Bible (e.g., Lev. 11:21) and bugs belong in this period! . . . So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving things with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day . . . Here "winged bird" are fowl. Notice in this passage it says "God created . . . " I believe this indicates special creation and correlates with the Cambrian explosion. All major body plans of animals and their complex systems (e.g., eyes, circulatory, etc.) appear suddenly in the fossil record. (+/- 560 million years ago.)
Gene. 1:24,25 - . . . Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good . . . "Remes" translated as "creeping things" is referring to small mammals (e.g., rodents). This is the beginning of mammals, domestic animals, wild animals and small mammals. Notice, again it says "let the earth bring forth . . . " suggesting long periods of time. I believe the fossil hominids are part of this "day." The genus Homo were very intelligent creatures but they lacked the "inbreathing" of God and were not truly human. (+/- 65 million years ago.)
Gene. 1:26,27,31 - . . . Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them . . . And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day . . . Without a doubt, man is last in God's creation and once again the text says "God created man, male and female . . . " Man was created, not evolved. What separated Adam and Eve, what made them in the "image" of God? It was not their material body. It was the "neshamah." God created man having a spirit. Only Homo sapiens sapiens can fellowship with The Lord and only we are accountable to Him.
One of the best known Old Testament scholars, Dr. Gleason Archer, a vehement defender of the faith and the infallibility of the Bible, said: "On the basis of internal evidence, it is this writer's conviction that yom [the Hebrew word for day] in Genesis one could not have been intended by the Hebrew author to mean a literal twenty-four-hour day." Indeed there are still problems that need to be worked out, but through the digging of the geologist or the digging of the scholar, like former questions, answers will be found. Genesis remains true. We do not need to fear science, science has been a great servant to mankind and we should learn to embrace the truth wherever it abides. Most important is that we need to stop condemning so quickly those who disagree with our traditions. Traditions are not cannon, they are man made and we each need to check ourselves first . . . Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye . . . Mathew 7:3-5