Six Days of Creation

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This is a popular topic for everyone today.  Though I have never seen any official studies on such statistics I think it would be fair to assert that a large majority of Christian apologetics in our day addresses the topic of creation.  This will probably be my first and only post on the this as I don’t really think this is as complicated as some make it out to be.

 

Many who deny the traditional view of creation discount the book of Genesis altogether.  The problem with that is Jesus and the Apostles always referred Genesis in a historical context.

 

(Matt 19:14)(Mrk 10:6)(Jhn 8:44)(Rom 4:1-2)(Jhn 8:58)(Jude 1:7)(Jhn 5:46) (2 Ptr 2:5-7)(Matt 24:37)

 

Because of this, if you reject the Book of Genesis then that means you on some level reject the words of Christ and the Apostles.  The ramifications of such a theological foundation are quite severe if taken to their logical conclusion.

 

A growing Biblical alternative to the traditional view on creation is “Old Earth Creationism”.  It is the only one that I consider an honest contender to the traditional view.  I have spent a great deal of time studying it, particularly in the works of a man by the name of Hugh Ross.  If you are interested in studying this doctrine I recommend starting with his materials.  Though I would not rebuke his work as heresy I still believe it is wrong.  I would simply classify it as heterodoxy.  For those unfamiliar, heterodoxy is something that is wrong but not necessarily outside of the visible Christian faith.

 

To sum it up, Old Earth creationism is the belief that each “day” in genesis is an indistinct period of time.  One who holds to this belief would argue that each creation day happened much as it is laid out in the first chapter of Genesis but that the days themselves are actually ages consisting of millions or even billions of years.  This belief actually rejects both secular and theistic evolution which is why many on the fence find it appealing, it mostly just adds a great sum of time to the creation account.  Ultimately they believe that the universe is 13.5 Billion years old, or however old they are saying it is these days as this does change from time to time.

 

I am going to present their argument on the creation days and then explain why I came to reject this doctrine in favor of the traditional understanding.

 

“Yom”

The nuts and bolts of the argument for both Young Earth Creationists (YEC) and Old Earth Creationists (OEC) centers around the Hebrew word for “Day”.

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Gen 1:5 KJV

An OEC will rightly point out that the Hebrew word has more than one possible usage.  Below is a quote from another blog that I think explains this dynamic well.  You can find the source written by the Institute of Creation Research HERE.

“It is recognized, of course, that the word “day” can be used with a number of variations. It can have any of five meanings:

1) a period of light;

2) a period of 24 hours;

3) a general, vague time;

4) a point of time;

5) a year.

The context determines which of these is intended by the writer. The English language also can have up to 14 definitions for the word “day.” The reader should be reminded that the purpose of language is to communicate. Moses wrote in a language that was meant to communicate to his readers. Words must be defined by their relationship to one another.

As the writer I quote indicates, the word “Day” in English can also vary in its usage.  Because of this I think turning to Hebrew here does very little theologically speaking.  Sometimes it is helpful to learn more about the original languages at play as there are nuances that can be enlightening.  The overall teachings of Genesis 1 are clear enough on the days that turning to the original language yields little for any argument.

The OEC argument is that the Bible and the “Book of Nature” are equal sources of authority.  Thus, since there is so much evidence for an old universe in the “Book of Nature” that means the word for “Day” in Genesis must mean “age”.

It is on the premise that I reject the OEC argument.  While God did in fact create the universe it is not the Word of God.  While I respect a great deal the findings of modern science and recognize them as authoritative in general, I believe we are to place this beneath the Word of God in matters of faith and theology.  Putting it bluntly, only the Bible gets a vote when it is speaking clearly.  Without the OEC system of interpretation I am left with only scripture, going forward I will analyze the passages in dispute on the principle of scripture interpreting scripture.

Simply because a day can be a long period of time doesn’t mean that it is.  One has to look at the context to rightly discern how much time is in view.

“And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six daysAnd it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.” Joshua 6:14-15 KJV

 

I have never seen anyone try to argue that Joshua marched around Jericho for millions of years.  Why is this? Well that is simple, the context reveals that a calendar week is in view.  First of all you see a total of 7 days which in the Jewish calendar was a single week.  Second of all you see that these days are associated with the rise and fall of the sun by the use of the word “dawning”.  Any rational human being will rightly discern that normal 24 hour days are in view here in Joshua.  If YEC is correct then we should see a similar pattern in Genesis 1.

 

Evening Morning the next Day

 

In each and every creation day we see the association of the word “Day” with evening and morning.

“5 ... And the evening and the morning were the first day.

8 ... And the evening and the morning were the second day.

13 … And the evening and the morning were the third day.

19 … And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

23 … And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

31 … And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” 

Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 KJV

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:11 KJV

 

Attempting to force this into an OEC view would mean that either there was a single evening and morning delineating each age, or that these evenings and mornings are to be understood in a poetic figurative sense.  The reason I reject such a notion is because it is begging the question.

 

First of all, to insist that an evening and morning is drawing the difference between ages lacks intellectual substance.  This is because in an OEC model each age bleeds into the next.  You have plants for example growing, maturing, and evolving in a horizontal sense all throughout the history of the earth and well into the sixth day.  There would be no logical reason to separate them as each would be progressive in nature.  Such a notion would make the separation of days entirely meaningless which is absurd seeing as they are the only thing in the entire chapter conveyed with clarity.

 

Secondly, Genesis is not a poetic work but a historic one.  To insist that dual genres are in play would require that I make up my mind before approaching the text.  There exist no examples in scripture of any genre mixing poetic narrative with historic.

 

The only logical conclusion is that each day was intended to be associated with a literal evening and morning with another evening and morning following right afterwards.  Hence 24 hour days are the only option.

 

Cardinal Numbers

 

My above argument standing by itself could leave a tiny chance of OEC being true if I’m incorrect on discerning genre.  But when you add this next fact there is only one Biblical conclusion.  Moses often used cardinal numbers in the books he wrote so we can draw a comparison on these various texts and reach a sound conclusion.  This is a technical mathematical term, so if you want to look it up  please click HERE.

 

Essentially Cardinal Numbers are counting numbers, they tell you how many of something there are.  A good example would be counting the number of apples you need for a Pie.  The argument is as follows:

 

  1. Since the days of creation are Cardinal Numbers,
  2. and all other uses of cardinal Numbers in the books of Moses are associated with 24 hour days,
  3. it follows that there are precisely six 24 hour days of creation.

 

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:11 KJV

 

Above we see Moses referring back to the creation account he wrote in Genesis 1 as six total days and then relays a prescriptive command where the final day in a single week is observed as the Sabbath.

 

 

“Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;” Num 11:19 KJV

 

“In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover.” Lev 23:5 KJV

 

“And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.” Lev 23:6 KJV

 

“And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.” Lev 23:15-16 KJV

 

Above is just a small example of Moses use of Cardinal Numbers to identify days.  There are well over 100 in the first five books of the Bible .  In all 5 books there are no uses of the word Day along with cardinal numbers that ever refer to long periods of time.  In every single example a 24 hour period is accepting by theologians, even those who confess OEC.  This is compelling, if you have morning and evening associated with the word “Day” along with cardinal numbers that have a clear pattern of use by the same writer as referring to 24 hour days why would you interpret them as anything other than a single rotation of the Earth upon its axis?

 

The only place being called into question is the first chapter of Genesis and that is because millions of years are necessary to make the chapter compatible with prevailing secular thought on the age of the universe.  I would argue that this simply isn’t a good enough reason, one has to make their argument from the text and the fact is that there is no stand alone Biblical reason to read millions of years into the text.  That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t address or consider modern science, I’m simply saying it is inadmissible on matters of theology.  I would have to say I concur with Martin Luther’s advice below.

 

“But if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are. For you are to deal with Scripture in such a way that you bear in mind that God Himself says what is written. But since God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His Word in the direction you wish it to go.” Martin Luther – Ewald Martin Plass, What Luther Says: An Anthology (St. Louis: Concordia, 1959) 3:1523.

 

Conclusion

My concern with OEC isn’t so much their conclusions on the age of the Earth.  Point of fact, for some reasons I am glad that it is out there because it is a semi Biblical view and if that is what someone needs to hear to start taking the Bible seriously then perhaps OEC has some redeeming qualities.  My concern with it however is that if one is intellectually honest with their approach to scripture that means they will use the same general methodology for interpretation throughout.  It is the methodology of OEC that I have the biggest problem with.

If one were to play fast and loose with other passages in the same manner that they do with Genesis 1 suddenly the Trinity, Deity of Christ, Salvation by Grace, and Penal Substitutionary Atonement are all up for serious debate as well.  Do you think the Body of Christ is divided now?  Check back in a few hundred years after this one plays is course.

That said, though I do not consider secular science as having a vote on matters of theology I have to at least address it in a philosophical sense.  So rather than bend the Bible to science I am going to take the reverse approach.  How do I explain the apparent age of the Earth and Universe?   Personally, I think that the heavens and earth must have been created in a state by and large how we find them today, minus the curse of course.

For example, when trees were created on the third day do you suspect they had rings?  I don’t see why they wouldn’t, after all Adam was created as a fully grown man.  As far as I am concerned universes must just come out of the oven fully cooked at 13.5 billion years old.

I have heard different theories but that is the one which I believe stays intellectually honest while placing man in theological subjection to the Word of God.  Some I have read online take different approaches, and I ask the reader to study and discern for themselves if this is something that troubles you.  My only caution that I will leave you with is to always place the Word first.

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About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
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10 Responses to Six Days of Creation

  1. You said, “The OEC argument is that the Bible and the “Book of Nature” are equal sources of authority. ”

    However, that is not the OEC argument. The argument IS that when multiple interpretations of scripture are reasonable, scientific knowledge can help us choose between them. For example, in regards to the nature and meaning of the Atonement, science has nothing to say.

    But when straight matters of history are the question, where/what/when/how/who questions, without science we don’t have history. Without science we don’t know which manuscripts are earlier. Without science we don’t know where old Jerusalem was, where the temple was, or a thousand other facts of biblical history which the Bible mentions but doesn’t give us enough information to really understand. Without science, we don’t know enough history or geography to understand where Assyria was, or Babylon, for example.
    Without science we don’t even know what a world IS, in considering what was covered by a flood. Without science, we have no idea what “the heavens” might be. And so on.
    i hope you’ll consider how much science informed your discussion of meanings of yom, since scientific knowledge underpins every claim about ancient history, language and culture.
    If you don’t trust scientific thinking to aid you in choosing from multiple possible interpretations, then you don’t know that when Jesus calmed the storm, it was an extraordinary event.

    Science is a particular, logical way of thinking about human experience. No more. But no less.

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    • Armchair Theologian says:

      I’m not dismissing science. I just don’t employ it magisterially over clear scripture either.

      To clarify, I would argue that it is better practice to employ science and philosophy in a ministerial sense when pertaining to theology over and against a magisterial usage. To opt for the later is basically confessing that the Word of God is some kind of rubix cube.

      Second, my source on the OEC argument being an equality of nature with scripture is actually Hugh Ross. I consider him the authority on this doctrine but let me know if there are others.

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      • What’s the quote from Hugh Ross? I’ve read most of what he’s written…. Not convinced you’re taking him in context.

        I confess to not understanding the 2nd paragraph in your comment, e.g., it didn’t clarify for me.

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      • Armchair Theologian says:

        It’s not a word for word quote, but it is what I gathered from his comments in this “debate”. It’s not a real or even professional debate. But I did enjoy it as questions that I had for Hugh Ross were brought up and I got to see how he handled them.

        My second paragraph was sadly the most important to why we disagree. I think it would be helpful for us to discuss that in person sometime. I’ll demonstrate what I mean by addressing other doctrines with the methodology I speak of.

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  2. Sorry, I can’t spend the hour watching the video at the moment. But your categories of “ministerial” and “magisterial” strike me as artificial in themselves. It’s impossible to be “ministerial” without reference to what’s true. Ministry that isn’t based on truth doesn’t exist, though I suppose there are therapies of illusion in the secular world. I’m not sure of the sense in which you use the word “magisterial”, but I suspect it is related to what are the sources of authority for what’s true, in your usage, at a guess. What I’m trying to communicate is that there is only truth, wherever we find it, and it is quite impossible to interpret the Bible without underlying presuppositions about the nature of language, about logic, about philosophy, about what it means to be a human being in the world with a God-given mind, about the nature of reality and the nature of history, how we know what we know, and so on. You employ science and philosophy constantly when you interpret the Bible from any perspective whatsoever…. the only question is which scientific knowledge and which philosophical perspectives you are willing to use, whether or not you recognize them as such. Part of this may be a too-narrow concept about what science is. In any case, without science, there is no history except rumor (and we can’t even be very sure how ancient the rumor is). Without science, literally, there is no authoritative Bible, nor historically informed understanding of what the Bible is referring to in its narrative. God has not given each of us an individual special revelation. God gave us minds and reason along with the Bible, and expects us to use them fully, not with one eye closed pretending not to see what is plain before us.

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    • Armchair Theologian says:

      By ministerial vs magisterial I mean simply this:

      Magisterial is placing one self above the scripture. It’s a reference to Roman Catholicism in which the Magisterium are the only ones allowed to interpret scripture. Thus in practice if not in confession they employ a model some call “Sola Ecclesia”. So using science and/or philosophy in a magisterial sense one would limit the options of the interpretation of a passage of scripture based on either scientific discovery or philosophical reasoning. To fully meet the definition of the term I am using, one would exclude the teachings of the text in their methodology or at the very least not use it as the authoritative source of interpretation. I would argue that the above model is generally used in protestant circles by those coming from an evidentialist framework. This is how I categorize your theology based on our conversations, please correct me if I am wrong.

      Ministerial is placing one self beneath the scripture. It is based on a Presuppositionalist framework. This is the school of thought I subscribe to and in doing so I am not allowed to bend the teaching of the text to fit any interpretation, especially when the teaching is clear. That said, I can use science and philosophy to fit complex or even paradoxical teachings together in ways that make sense. It is not a complete denial of science or philosophy, its more of a downgrade.

      If you want to have a more valuable conversation about this I would recommend we discuss evidentialism vs presuppositionalism. If I were an evidentialist I would agree with you Phil, no joke. I am not because I believe it is wrong to be quite honest. And to be honest I hope you are equally convicted against my argument.

      How does one explain the Faith that is given to them by God in a way that makes sense? I think both evidentialism and presuppositionalism attempt to do this. I opt for the later as I feel it is more intellectually honest and does not arrive at a point in which one must conclude that God clearly lied to them in his written Word, or that it is a puzzle we must figure out. I have attempted to outline my reasoning supporting presuppositionalism, if there is a specific item you would like to focus on let me know.

      1) God Does in fact exist

      2) Being that he does I would expect to find creation in a created order,

      3) Thus I trust that reason does exist based on #1

      4) I am allowed to use reason

      5) At this point I use arguments such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument and others to reasonably justify #1. This is dabbling in evidentialism but I am okay with that.

      5) Now I am allowed to ask if God can communicate clearly?

      6) Did he communicate clearly?

      7) I argue that he can and did based on Jesus Christ. At this point I actually do appeal to evidentialist arguments for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and other things of that nature, it’s just not where I start. Classic presuppositionalists do not, they focus more on #6 and argue using philosophy in the affirmative.

      8) At this point I take the words of Christ seriously and look especially close at how he handled the scripture.

      9) If you want a list of the verses I use for this I can send them to you, but Jesus Christ affirms the Old and New testaments as being the Word of God in a handful of very clear passages.

      10) That being the case, I do not believe God would lie to me. As you yourself have stated we find funny things in scripture like bad grammar for example. Also the dialect of Greek was the common tongue. It would be like the Word being conveyed to man in slang today.

      11) Because of this I assume that plain speech was the overall intent and that the themes and teachings prioritize the actual words themselves. This means looking at the scripture as a puzzle or rubix cube is not an option. Putting it bluntly I believe the Word was designed to be translated, and that while the teachings are of course comprised of words it was the teachings that he intended for us to receive.

      12) Because of that I prioritize clear teachings over unclear ones. I wrote a blog post on this very concept.

      This comment is the first time I have attempted to break down the chain of thought that leads me to this conclusion. It’s still something I am mulling over though so it might be a while before it becomes a post.

      A good evidentialist we are both familiar with would be Dr. William Lane Craig for example, where as a good presuppositionist would be Dr. James White. As I recall we both follow and respect their work a great deal.

      Something that might be helpful for you to understand, is a cultist believes in belief itself. It is not something they really understand or have spent much time thinking about. It doesn’t mean they don’t have faith, they just are under the impression that faith and belief are the same thing. This is the way of thinking that I started out with and was how my mind worked when we first met. As you are aware much has changed since then and some of it I am still working on. Please take a look at the breakdown I gave you, I think if you understand where I am coming from it will make our conversations more interesting.

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  3. Elisabeth Williams says:

    As an ex SDA I have, like you, looked at the days of creation in more detail. And besides reading the word day, the passage tells us what that day consists off. An evening and a morning. Now that seems to suggest that there is something a little different about these days because later on in Leviticus we learn that a Jewish day runs from even till even. And has remained like that ever since. Now when I look up evening in the Websters dictionary it can also refer to the end of one state. And when I look up morning, it can refer to the beginning of a new state. Which is exactly what God did, He took a dark place and changed into light. He created harmony after chaos. He brought order out of disorder. He brought vegetation when before there was mud. Now do not get me wrong. If my interpretation is incorrect and God created the world in 7 days, then I will not have a problem accepting that. Our God is a powerful God. But right now I am undecided based on the language of Genesis 1. We never again meet with such strange description of days anywhere in scripture.
    As ex SDA we get pulled into proving every part of scripture against the old SDA teachings. Often because of SDA family members who will throw all sorts of questions at us. We therefore often get sidetracked from the one and only aim of the Bible, to reveal God to us and who we are and how we can enter into a relationship with Him and then reflect Him to the world.

    I do enjoy reading your blog by the way.

    Like

    • ACTheologian says:

      Hey thanks for the comment and thanks for reading. And yes you end up restudying everything. I even held to an old earth creationism model for a while because it made sense. I even considered what you’re saying with the evenings and mornings being demarcations between ages.

      And I also understand your need to back up what you believe. So I’m glad this has helped you. In truth SDA really only hold to six day creation because Ellen White did. So you end up needing new reasons to believe things!

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  4. Rita K says:

    You quoted Exodus 6:11 several times. That should be Exodus 20:11 shouldn’t it?! I looked it up ….

    Like

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