A Day Is a Day Is a Day of Course: Unless That Day Challenges Darwinism!

July 16, 2014

by Ronnie Rogers, pastor
Trinity Baptist Church
Norman, Okla.

Part II

This is the second part of this series of articles, which looks at the strengths of interpreting the word “day” in Genesis chapter 1 as a normal lunar day. The fourth and final article answers objections to this normal reading of the text. See my post under the same title, Part I published 6/4/14.
5      Genesis 1 pattern: the first day is called “one day” (“day one”); the others say “first day,” “second day,” and day two through five also lack a definite article; then days six and seven have an article before the numbers. Consequently chapter 1 reads like this: day one, a second day, a third day, a fourth day, a fifth day, the sixth day, and the seventh day.

A     This pattern allowed the text to define the meaning of “day” in this context (verse 5). “But if the days of creation are regulated by the recurring interchange of light and darkness, they must be regarded not as periods of time of incalculable duration, of years or thousands of years, but as simple earthly days.”[1]

B     The normal meaning of the passage, without the intrusion of evolutionary postulates and necessities, lends itself to being read as normal day; hence, it is not the language employed or context that precludes these from being normal days but rather, it seems a prior commitment to the sufficiency of the theory of macroevolution and/or science of the day.

6      Yôm appears 2300 times in the Old Testament, 1450 in the singular, 845 in the plural and five in the dual form (two days).[2] The normal way it is used is to mean a normal 24 hour day or a part of a normal day; thus, it seems quite clear that one should at least be inclined to use it in its normal way unless the biblical context is preclusive of such an understanding, which Genesis is not.

7      Context should determine the meaning of a word rather than superimposing an exceptional meaning, or defining it by what the word can or does mean at times in different contexts. D.A. Carson refers to the fallacy of interpreting according to the full semantic range of a word rather than the immediate context. He says, of the “unwarranted adoption of an expanded semantic field [that] the fallacy in this instance lies in the supposition that the meaning of a word in a specific context is much broader than the context itself allows.”[3] This seems to be precisely what those who seek to find evolution in the passage do.

8      Days, yamim, the plural of days with a number in front of it, always means normal days. This is the word translated “days” in Exodus 20:8-11, which refers directly to the creation week.

9      The fourth commandment for keeping the Sabbath only makes sense if they were normal days, Exodus 20:8-11. The six days of work for man and the seventh for rest is based upon the fact that God created in six days and rested on the seventh; thus, establishing the work week for man based upon the week of creation. In addition, the plural for “days” of God’s creation week is the same as for man’s work week.

10   The repeated phrase “God said” conveys majestic instantaneous creative power beyond anything humans can either imitate or imagine, and this understanding is repeated throughout the Scripture (Nehemiah 9:6; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:16). To read into that phrase the requirement of billions of years of time in order to stir the primordial soup long enough to produce an amoeba is a convolutional explanation that actually strips Genesis 1 of its majesty. It seems to me that the only thing more ridiculous than assuming that to be the teaching of Genesis 1 is to think anyone would ever reach that interpretation by the text alone; or to put it another way, if Darwinism was not the scientific paradigm of the day, would anyone seeking to be faithful to the Scripture be able to find evolution in Genesis 1?

11   Genesis 1:14 gives the normal time measurement units still in use today; further, it clearly distinguishes between a regular day, periods of months (seasons), and years. I am amazed how some take the clear wording of God creating in “days” and turn it into years, when the text clearly distinguishes years from days; further, some who do this are also, and not unexpectedly, uncomfortable with the longevity of life spoken about in the genealogies (Genesis 5 for example) and therefore, seek to make the years non-years.

12   In evolution, death is not only an essential but it is actually wonderful because survival is the result of natural selection, which takes place through the elimination of the weak; consequently, evolution is a theory of progress via pain, brutality, destruction, and death of the weakest members.

However, in the creation account, creation precedes death and is in no way dependent upon death. In Scripture death is the extraordinary and ghastly horror that resulted from man’s rebellion against God; further, day-age theorists must place death before the fall of man, thereby turning the biblical text upon its head, and making God proclaim death to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Dr. Werner Gitt notes four basic tenets of evolution concerning death that make it irreconcilable with the creation account in Genesis:

“1. Death is an essential prerequisite for evolution;
2. Death is an invention of evolution;
3. Death is the creator of life;
4. Death is the final and absolute termination of life.”[4]

Of course Scripture is clear that death is neither from God nor evolution, but is the product of the man’s misuse of his freedom, which is sin, and sin is the progenitor of death (Genesis 2:17, 3:17-19; Romans 3:23, 5:12, 6:23); further, according to the clear and consistent declaration of Scripture, death is something to be delivered from by faith in Christ (John 5:24), the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26,55), something that caused Jesus to weep (John 11:35), a penalty for further sin (Exodus 21:12ff), and something that will be conquered in the resurrection (Luke 20:34-46); further, death is not the absolute termination of human life (John 14:1-6; Revelation 20:11-15); moreover, God is not the God of the dead or death (Luke 20:38), and death will be totally eradicated in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:4).

13   Do those who view Genesis as describing an evolutionary process with death, eating flesh, etc., believe that is what God will restore when He restores all things (Acts 3:21-22; Romans 8:20-22)?

God remarked after describing phases of His creation, “it was good” in verses 10,12, 18, 21, and 25, and He said concerning “all” that He had made “it was very good” verse 31. Now, according to the day-age theorists, this is a description of creation that happened according to the evolutionary process of which survival of the fittest and elimination of the weakest through death is an essential element; therefore, if they are correct, God is calling death “very good.” If death is “very good,” then why was it a consequence for sin in Chapter 3, and considered an enemy that Christ had to destroy (1 Corinthians 15:26,55)?
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[1] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 32.

[2] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 67.

[3] D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Book House, 1984), 62.

[4] Dr. Werner Gitt, Did God Use Evolution? Observations from a Scientist of Earth (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, Inc., 2006), 33-35. He gives explanation and evidence for these conclusions.

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Nina Dunton

Once again, I want to clarify that day-age creationism is not synonymous with evolutionism. I quite agree that macro-evolution is not supported by the biblical text. However, there are some problems with a 24-hour interpretation of yom.

Even in a six 24-hour creation period animal death would have occurred prior to Adam’s sin.

How do you get a “lunar” day on days 1-3 when you interpret scripture as saying the Sun and Moon weren’t created until Day 4?

Scholars such as Walt Kaiser see justification in the text for long days. Exodus 20 simply denotes a pattern. The 7th day is not closed out, implying that we are still in it; this makes sense in light of no more animal speciation occurring, plus extinction is occurring now at a rapid pace; Hebrews, where God says unbelievers will not enter His rest seems to support this view of a long 7th day.

In his book “Why the Universe is the Way It Is,” Hugh Ross makes the point that the reason God gave us the laws of physics we have, including the law of decay, is this is the best universe in which to eradicate evil. God seems willing to put up with some short-term pain and suffering for the coming eternal creation where these do not exist.

    Norm Miller

    (Posted by Ed. on behalf of Pastor Rogers.)

    Hello Nina
    You said, “Once again, I want to clarify that day-age creationism is not synonymous with evolutionism.”
    Although your point is well taken, I feel that I sufficiently addressed this when I referred to Ross as a “progressive creationist” and I did not attribute such things like lower life forms evolving into higher…to him in my previous response, but maybe it would have been helpful had I included a disclaimer such as, “Any evidence or arguments I make that are not relevant to a particular position should not be considered a misrepresentation of the position, but rather my attempt to consider various views that in one way or another view the days as long periods of time.”
    As stated earlier, referred to in my articles, and you illustrate in this response, Ross does accept a number of unprovable evolutionary postulates like a Big Bang cosmology, theory of time, etc., which he uses to interpret the Scripture. He approaches the text with a presupposition, based upon certain scientific theories he accepts, that the creation week of Genesis covers billions of years; this creates some of the same textual problems for Ross as it does a theistic evolutionist. Their views, the lens through which they view Scripture, is not derived from the text, and I would argue actually undermines the biblical text.
    You said, “The 7th day is not closed out.” I will address this in my fourth article.
    You said, “Even in a six 24-hour creation period animal death would have occurred prior to Adam’s sin.”
    No we do not have that problem. We do believe that death occurs because of the fall. There is no death recorded in Scripture prior to the fall. All death is associated with the fall, sin, and is not good. It is in fact the enemy that Christ defeated. I have addressed this in my two articles.
    You said, “How do you get a ‘lunar’ day on days 1-3 when you interpret scripture as saying the Sun and Moon weren’t created until Day 4?”
    I believe I sufficiently address the grammar in my two articles. Further, nowhere are we told that the sun and moon were necessary for day and night. It would seem clear that the only things needed are darkness (vs 2), light (vs. 3), and a separation (vs. 4). To wit, the existence of light and the earth rotating equals a normal day.
    You said, “Scholars such as Walt Kaiser see justification in the text for long days.”
    As I said, I am not trying to build my cosmogony based upon using words within the “semantic range of a word rather than the immediate context.” I am quite sure you are aware that we can make the Bible say almost anything if we merely use word definitions that are within the semantic range with insufficient regard for context. This is a serious hermeneutical issue that can affect any teaching of Scripture. We can all find “justification” for many things in passages, which is quite different from finding what seems to flow from the normal reading of the passage. Rather than arriving at a semantic possibility, I would rather consider the preponderance of evidence gleaned from the normal meanings of words as used in context. I seek to do this everywhere in Scripture; although, I know I utterly fail the Lord in this endeavor more than I am aware.
    You said, “In his book Why the Universe is the Way It Is,” Hugh Ross makes the point that the reason God gave us the laws of physics we have, including the law of decay, is this is the best universe in which to eradicate evil.”’
    I do not believe this is deduced from Scripture, but it is absolutely consonant with evolutionary science and theistic evolutionary readings of Genesis. This is an example of a day-age-creationist arguing something that is not derived from the teaching of Scripture, but is reflective of evolutionary cosmogonies. God’s Word says that death came from man’s choice to sin, and death is not called good.
    I do appreciate Ross’s esteem for the Scripture, and that he is not a theistic evolutionist; however, his approach to Scripture seems to be clearly from the vantage point of clarity regarding the truthfulness of certain cosmogonical theories that he accepts. I am attempting to approach science from the vantage point of the clarity that comes from a normal reading of Scripture—the perspicuity of Scripture. Consequently, we can love and respect each other as followers of Christ, but agreement seems unachievable indeed. Thank you for your exchange of ideas, for which I am the better.

      Nina Dunton

      Hi again, Ronnie. Yes, the exchange of ideas makes us both better. I agree that reasoned debate within the Christian community is appropriate. Division that focuses on what I want instead of the truth is not. Thank you for your reasoned approach!

      I sense a disconnect in our dialogue. For example, you say, “Ross does accept a number of unprovable evolutionary postulates like a Big Bang cosmology…” The Big Bang has nothing to do with evolution. In fact when it was first proved by the COBE satellite data media made statements like “It’s like looking at God.” Fourteen billion years is considered much too short for evolution to have occurred. Proponents of evolution wanted an infinitely old universe. Now we know through evidence like the Cambrian explosion that there’s much less time than billions of years, even, for life to have evolved naturally. Through science we know that 85% of the time life has existed on Earth it has been single-celled. Only in the last 500 million years has there been animal life, and when it occurred it was sudden, like the Bible implies.

      There is no need for Christians to fear science. The Belgic Confession speaks of a two books approach to truth: God’s special revelation through Scripture, and his general revelation through nature. IF our God wrote the Bible and created the universe they should agree. If they don’t seem to, the interpretations need to be examined.

      This reminds me of the most obvious problem in the young-earth interpretation: how do you get days 1-3 when there’s no Sun or Moon until 24-hour day 4? You said you only need darkness, light and a separation. Dr. Ross has addressed this, saying that the Sun provides more. Without it you have to account for its gravity, mass and position to have plant life to the extent that God would have needed to create Sun A identical to ours, then replace it with Sun B on the 4th day. See Navigating Genesis, Page 55 for details.

      Sometimes in following the details of an argument we lose the big picture. I have never understood the “no death before the fall” argument, mainly because it implies that animal blood can save us from our sins.

      It’s my opinion that young-earth Christians are missing a great opportunity to witness to unbelievers who just might reconsider Christ if they only knew that there is no conflict between the Bible and science.

Ray

Hi Nina,

A few of quick questions.

1. What evidence from the Scriptures do you have that “even in a six 24-hour creation period death would have occurred prior to Adam’s sin?”

2. Do not old earth creationists have issues with maintaining the biblical order of creation? Are we supposed to accept millions of years of darkness with vibrant life prior to the Sun and Moon’s (and lights in the expanse) creation during day age 4? It seems old earth creation relies on big bang cosmology which conflicts with the Genesis order.

3. Is it possible the “laws” of physics we know today were not necessarily the “laws” of physics before the fall?

Thank you.

Nina Dunton

Ray, I’m traveling today and must be brief.

1. As scripture is silent on the age of the earth, it is also silent about death of creatures before the fall of Adam. YECs interpret Romans 5:12 to mean all death, but it seems to be talking about death of Adam, spiritual death. I don’t see a conflict with animal death prior to the fall.

2. Big Bang simply says the universe came into existence from a singularity in the finite past. Bara is used in Gen 1:1 for the creation of the physical universe: all matter, energy, space & time. That means the subatomic particles, not the tables & chairs. The old-earth order works when you realize the perspective shift in verse 2. Light was in existence before Day 1. On Day 1 sunlight began to peek through the heavy cloud layer, see Job 38. Bara is not used again until the soulish creatures of Day 5 which were given mind, will & emotion.

3. No. The laws created at the Big Bang are the same today. Jesus will have new laws in the new creation, since evil will be done with. Dr. Ross says we would know if the laws had changed because God always leaves evidence behind; an example is the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. He showed his scars to the disciples.

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