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

June 4, 2014

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

Part I

Genesis has been a battleground for some time, and today is no different. This is particularly true of Genesis 1-3, which is the account of the creation and the fall. When I first began studying the Scripture, I recognized the importance of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, but in retrospect I did not fully appreciate the magnitude of their significance. As I studied other areas of the Scripture and began learning the breadth and depth of God’s revelation, I saw that without the truthfulness and perspicuity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, every major theme of Scripture lay in jeopardy.

Probably the most hotly debated issue is whether or not the days of Genesis 1 are lunar days or indefinite periods of time or even actual days that are representative of longer periods of time. In other words, did God create the world in six days (closely approximating our days) or is the simple language of Genesis concealing a deeper esoteric meaning only fully revealed to scientists quite apart from the Scripture? Even some evangelical scientists like Hugh Ross, who describes himself as a “progressive creationist,” still accept certain cosmological theories as fact and seek to interpret Genesis through that prism. In doing so, they seem to undermine what is otherwise the clear teaching of Scripture. In this article, I am only addressing the two perspectives mentioned, and I use the term “evolution” to encompass such approaches that undermine interpreting the days in Genesis as a normal day.[1]

The place to start is always the Scripture rather than psychology, sociology, evolution, etc. We should evaluate the teachings of man in light of the unadorned teachings of Scripture rather than seeking to harmonize the Scripture with modern theories about man, God, and His world. I am not against learning from science or other disciplines, but I am against seeking to interpret Scripture in order to harmonize them at the expense of consistent and sound hermeneutics. That is to subjugate the Scripture irreverently to the speculations of man.

Consequently, I intend to write a series of articles that highlight the strengths of interpreting the word “day” in Genesis chapter 1 as a normal lunar day and answers objections to this normal reading of the text. The first three articles give reasons to support a normal reading of the text, and the last article seeks to address some of the verses used to undermine such reading. I address the issue of starlight travel in two articles on my blog entitled Is Starlight Travel Time Incompatible with the Biblical Account of Creation? Part I & II at www.ronniewrogers.com.

My plan is to publish one of the four articles each month. Each article will source the title and date of the previous articles. Consequently, it will be helpful to limit discussions, if possible, to the particular reasons in each article. I hope that they will serve as a helpful tool for considering the strength of interpreting the days of Genesis one as normal days.

I  Following are reasons for assuming that the word “day” in the six days of creation and one day of rest in Genesis 1 and 2 means a normal day.[2]

1  Genesis 1:5 is the first occurrence of the word “day” in the passage, and it is used in two different senses. The word actually defines itself in the second usage. “God called the light day, yôm,[3] and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:5).

A  God calls the light portion in distinction from the dark portion of the cycle “day” whereas the darkness He calls “night.” Of course this is common in both Scripture and modern English, and refers to the light portion of a normal day.

B  He then defines the duration of day and night by the phrase “evening and…morning” as “one day.” Consequently, one full day includes an evening and a morning (which is the transition between the light and darkness of a day) which means a normal lunar day.[4]

2  “The two words, ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ are combined with yôm 19 times outside of Genesis 1. Every time, they clearly mean that particular literal part of a 24-hour day, regardless of the literary genre or context. Also, even when ‘morning’ and ‘evening’ occur together without yôm (38 times outside of Genesis 1), it always, without exception, designates a 24-hour day.”[5]

3   Jonathan Sarfati says of the word day, yôm, “whenever …used with a number or the words evening or morning, it can mean only an ordinary day, never a long period of time.”[6]

The question must be asked, if God wanted to convey that He created the world in eons of time, through a long process of evolution, then why did He speak of creation in such a way that uses all of the normal devices and phrases that clearly picture it as happening in six lunar days? If Genesis contained just one characteristic of a week of real days, for example, the chronology of two partial days, or the word day without the word night, or no ordinals or cardinals, or no light before the first day, a partial rotation or….it might seem plausible that we are stretching it to conclude that God meant real days; however, what we find is a cohesive picture of one week of creation and rest that is supported elsewhere in the Scripture; we find the use of cardinals, ordinals, night, day, evening, morning, rhythmic sequence, chronology, distinction between seasons, days and years v.14, sun for day and moon for night v.16—same words for day and night as previous verses just as one would expect if God meant it to mean real days, a real week, and real seasons. There were Hebrew words at God’s disposal which clearly communicate long periods of time.[7]

Further, if the true identity of these words is indiscernible, where can one find certainty about anything else in Genesis? To wit, if God communicates in such an obfuscatory manner here by employing words, terms, and styles that picture real days but actually mean eons of time—whatever is necessary to fit the present theory of time needed to support evolution’s notion of nothing producing everything when coupled with unguided natural selection—then why not employ that same abstruse style elsewhere? For example, did God create man distinctly and uniquely, did man really sin, was there a garden to cultivate, was there a flood, law, redemption, crucifixion….or are all of these subjects of the same hazy nature as Genesis 1, thereby making biblical language mean anything and everything and therefore really nothing?

John MacArthur notes, “Their decision to accept the creation of Adam as literal involves an arbitrary hermeneutical shift at Genesis 1:26-27 and then again at Genesis 2:7. If everything around these verses is handled allegorically or symbolically, it is unjustifiable to take those verses in a literal and historical sense….Their belief in a historical Adam is simply inconsistent with their own exegesis of the rest of the text.”[8]

4  “When modified by a cardinal number (one, two, three, etc.,) or ordinal number (first, second, third, etc.,) as used 359 times in the Old Testament outside Genesis 1, yôm always means a literal day of about 24 hours, or the light portion of the day-night cycle….In particular, in 189 occurrences, a cardinal number with day (usually the plural yamim) denotes a specific duration of time.”[9] This fact stands in stark contrast to the supposed indefinite period of time proposed by the day-age theorists.[10]

_________________________________

[1] Evolution vs. Darwinism: Biologist Jonathan Wells, Ph. D., offers some vital clarifications concerning evolution and Darwinism. He notes, “Evolution means change over time,” “cumulative change through time,” “a change in gene frequencies over generations”….Darwin’s’ phrase “descent with modification” is ok in a limited sense, (from his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006, 1-2); “Even hypotheses that some closely related species (such as finches on the Galapagos Islands) are descended with modification from a common ancestor are not particularly controversial” (Ibid., 3) and of course no one doubts that. “But Charles Darwin claimed far more than any of these things. In the Origin of Species he set out to explain the origin of not just one or a few species, but all species after the first—in short, all the diversity of life on earth. The correct word for this is not evolution, but Darwinism.” (Ibid.)

He then gives three distinguishing characteristics of Darwinism:“(1) All living things are modified descendants of a common ancestor; (2) The principal mechanism of modification has been natural selection acting on undirected variations that originate in DNA mutations; and (3) unguided processes are sufficient to explain all features of living things—so whatever may appear to be design is just an illusion.” (Ibid.) Darwin’s theory specifically “applies only to living things….[even though he] speculated that life may have started in ‘some warm little pond’ but beyond that he had little to say on the subject.” (Ibid., 4; Also see in my book, The Death of Man as Man, under Darwin, where I give examples of statements by him, which either explicitly or implicitly have bearing on the beginning and/or the creator.)

[2] For a full and scholarly handling of the Scripture, science, and objections to Genesis 1 referring to normal days, I recommend the books, “Refuting Compromise” by Jonathan Sarfati and “Did God Use Evolution” by Dr. Werner Gitt; or go to the website http://www.answersingenesis.org/

[3] This is the Hebrew word for day.

[4] The argument that because the sun was not created until the fourth day prohibits these days from speaking of the normal lunar day cycle seems to be without merit. God can and does make light without the sun (Revelation 21:23-24). In Genesis, God created light v.3; in v.14 God institutes a new order via a secondary source for dispensing light. The only necessary requirements for having the day and night cycle is that the earth is rotating and light is coming from one direction.

[5] Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism” (Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross (Green Forest, AR.: Master Books, Inc., 2004), 81.

[6] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 67.

[7] Ibid., 327.

[8] John MacArthur, The Battle For the Beginning: The Bible on Creation and the Fall of Adam (USA: W Publishing Group, 2001), 19.

[9] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 74. Also see his handling and my later comments concerning the supposed exceptions to this statement in the fourth article in this series.

[10] The day age theories view each of the six days of Genesis 1 as extended periods of time rather than normal days, which allows for the passage of time inherent in Darwinism.

 

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Andrew Barker

As one who was brought up to believe the Bible verbatim, the days have always been days for me. Rather than seeing time as a restriction my attitude was more akin to what took him so long, if God simply ‘spoke’ the word and it came into being. I have a question which you may or may not be able to help with in regard to Adam and Eve. The narrative is quite clear that male and female were created on day six of creation. However, the expanded narrative shows that God made Adam first. It is at this point where I have questions regarding the time scale. God then gives Adam the task of naming the animals and they are brought to him so he can do this. Now I don’t know about you, but as a family we find it difficult to get round a zoo in one day. The animals are fascinating and one can only wonder what Adam thought as this array of animals passed in front of him. Surely he would have taken time to appreciate them. It is also at this point that observant Adam notices that God has paired all these animals up (at least that’s how I read it) but that he doesn’t have a suitable companion! So God puts Adam into a deep sleep and does a bit of surgery and Eve is created!

I have no issue with the timescale in as much as 24 hour days or not is no big deal for God in which to create. But it does seem that an awful lot is fitted into the 24 hours of the sixth day from a human perspective? If you or any of the readers/contributors have any light to shine on this matter I would love to hear from them.

Just to make things abundantly clear, I do not hold with with Darwinian evolution (or any of the other forms of evolution for that matter) and I have both spiritual and scientific reasons for rejecting evolution. But these are not dependent on whether or not the days of Genesis One are of 24 hours.

    Norm Miller

    Posted by Ed. on Pastor Rogers’ behalf:

    Hello Andrew:
    I appreciate your good question. I am not trying to put you off, but I will address your specific question in my 4th article where I deal with the problems associated with my view. These first three articles are meant to lay out the strengths. — Thanks, Ronnie Rogers.

    Robert

    Hello Andrew,

    You wrote:

    “As one who was brought up to believe the Bible verbatim, the days have always been days for me. Rather than seeing time as a restriction my attitude was more akin to what took him so long, if God simply ‘spoke’ the word and it came into being.”

    Interesting that you should say that: the notion that God created the whole world in an instant.

    While I do not agree with him on this, it should be noted that Augustine, like you, did not believe that it would take God very long to create the entire creation. Augustine took the position that God created everything instantaneously, but then revealed that He had created everything in the framework of days. So for Augustine the creation did not take 6- 24 hour days nor did it take billions of years, instead it happened in a single moment. Augustine’s view is an example of someone who does not question God’s power at all, nor does he question that God created everything. And yet Augustine’s view makes the length of the days irrelevant.

    Robert

Sam O'Neal

Whether “Old Earth” or “New Earth,” the vital element we continue to miss regarding Genesis 1-3 is that it was written to the Hebrew people in the ancient world. Therefore, we cannot attempt to interpret those chapters through the lens of post-Enlightment ideas about literal truth or scientific application. Genesis was written to a people who did not engage in “science,” as we define that term. For the ancient world, mythology was the pathway through which individuals interpreted and categorized their world — not the scientific method.

For these reasons, it’s harmful to approach the Genesis text carrying the question “How old is the universe?” Nobody in the ancient world was asking that question; therefore, the text does not seek to answer it. Genesis was never intended as a science textbook — it is a theological revelation of one God as Creator. It was written in the face of the other mythologies in the ancient near east, all of which involved multiple gods.

In short, the text of Genesis 1 answers the questions “Who?” and “Why?” It does not seek to answer “How?” and “When?” The more we attempt to shoehorn our own ideas into the text, the more damage we cause.

    Robert

    Hello Sam,

    You wrote:

    “Whether “Old Earth” or “New Earth,” the vital element we continue to miss regarding Genesis 1-3 is that it was written to the Hebrew people in the ancient world. Therefore, we cannot attempt to interpret those chapters through the lens of post-Enlightment ideas about literal truth or scientific application. Genesis was written to a people who did not engage in “science,” as we define that term.”

    I agree with you on this.

    In the circles that I have been involved, people are always emphasizing (as they should) grammatical historical interpretation of scripture (which means taking things in context and always seeking to find the meaning the author intended for the original readers). If grammatical historical interpretation of this kind is the goal, then Genesis has to be seen as not concerned with scientific issues (which includes HOW and WHEN these events occurred) but with theological issues (the WHO and WHY). In the context of Moses first readers this means the aim was to show how the God of Israel was the one true God (as opposed to the false gods of Egypt) the creator of all things (not recreating or refashioning already existing materials).

    Sam you are also correct in your assertion that:

    “For these reasons, it’s harmful to approach the Genesis text carrying the question “How old is the universe?” Nobody in the ancient world was asking that question; therefore, the text does not seek to answer it. Genesis was never intended as a science textbook — it is a theological revelation of one God as Creator. It was written in the face of the other mythologies in the ancient near east, all of which involved multiple gods.”

    A very good book that makes these same points, and brings out the historical context very well and emphasizes the grammatical historical method of interpretation is:

    In the Beginning… We Misunderstood: Interpreting Genesis 1 in Its Original Context by Johnny V. Miller and John M. Soden (Aug 14, 2012)

    Sam you also wrote:

    “In short, the text of Genesis 1 answers the questions “Who?” and “Why?” It does not seek to answer “How?” and “When?”

    Agreed.

    I have said for years that Genesis 1 and 2 is dealing with issues of “Who” and “What” rather than “How” and “When”. Unfortunately most people want it to speak of “How” and “When”. So it can then be used in discussions of science. I happen to love science and have many friends and acquaintances who are practicing scientists. But that does not mean Genesis is revealing Science to us. It is revealing the one and only true God who created all things ex-nihilo and who continues to maintain this creation in existence.

    Robert

    James Bowman

    “In short, the text of Genesis 1 answers the questions “Who?” and “Why?” It does not seek to answer “How?” and “When?” The more we attempt to shoehorn our own ideas into the text, the more damage we cause.”

    Couldn’t agree less, it is reapeated over and over again on _____ Day God created ____ The evening and the morning were the # Day. What I think is probably happening is that you have accepted mans teachings on long ages etc… and are now attempting to reconcile the Bible with your authority and that is man. Initially I started down this path being ignorant of the day age theory and making my own version. In the end the the long ages don’t even stand up to natural reasoning under any type of critical scrutiny.

    I will provide some examples, first human HIStory of which we have a records as evidence, none of which predates the Biblical timeframe. If man really existed for hundreds of thousands of years why did civilization arise independently in six locations around the globe at nearly the same time? None of which has hard solid empirical evidence to show being older. C14 dates under current assumptions will go back further, but gives monumental problems for those that adhere to them. The reason I believe they yield older dates is because there was very low concentrations in the earths atmosphere pre flood and until they reached saturation dates appear older than they actually are. Now here is the problem for those to claim to accept modern science… Dinosaur bones when tested always yield dates in the tens of thousands of years old in each and every case and many have been tested. Besides soft tissue in bones supposedly 70 million years old. Then there are ancient depictions from various civilizations of them also. Dinosaurs (Dragons) lived in the recent past and C14 dating shows that. The last C14 isotope would have dissapeared 200ka after they died off, which is off by 68.8 million years with 5730 year half life.

    Next if you calculate the rate of human population growth, we are so far from what it should be if humans really existed 300,000-1,000,000 years ago as to be unfathomable. Yet if you use Malthusian observations that brings us right back to Noah nearly perfectly. That is real science that poses another substantial conundrum for long ages.

    There are countless more but these should be sufficient to make one question the current dogma.

    The How certainly is addressed in that God created or Bara Elohiym. Which has nothing to do with Darwinism, or evolution of any sort. Even neo Darwinism which presumes genetic mutations are the source of biological diversity fails miserably. Those assumptions are not supported by facts. Mutations can’t account for the gentic codes origination what so ever. Next mutations are deleterious not bennefiscial. They never add complexity to an organism they damage existing functionality.

    Darwin did a really good job with natural selection and there is where I agree with him. Yet natural selection is environmental factors acting on the phenotype which then affects the genotype. Most important the bio- information affected by natural selection is already present in the organism for this to occur. You simply can’t select for something that isn’t in the code. Darwin was able to breed a great variety of pigeons of all sorts, and yet never has he or anyone else produced something other than a pigeon from pigeons, certainly not a fish or even a chicken. If you are not convinced about mutations open your windows registry and randomly change some bits, some 1’s to 0’s and so forth. Keep at it and you will be reloading software and will not improve your operating system in the least. Of course I don’t suppose anyone thinks the code wrote itself regardless. If that isn’t enough we could always take the doors off of our microwaves induce our own mutations and get an evolutionary advantage over our contemporaries….

    No the Bible is precise and trustworthy. Psalm 139:16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

    The Bible can be taken at face value, the word day was used not because they were ignorant or didn’t mean a day, but rather because it does mean a day and by this we know the when.

    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways achnowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    God Bless
    Jim

Richard Joiner

My seminary Old Testament prof used to say, “The Bible was never meant to be a book of science. For instance, most writers of the Biblical revelation believed the world was flat, and that the sun revolved around the earth. Instead, the Bible is the record of God’s revelation to mankind. There is more truth in the Bible in that reality than we can ever digest, understand, believe, and live.” We invite all manner of problems when we try to turn it into a book of science.

    Ronnie W Rogers

    Hello Richard
    I appreciate your reading the article.

    You said, “The Bible was never meant to be a book of science.”
    While I agree that the Bible was never intended to be a “book of science,” I do believe it speaks understandably and accurately (corresponding to actual reality when all the facts are known) when it speaks in areas of science—or any other area for that matter. Additionally, I did not argue that it was intended to be a book of science.

    You said, “Instead, the Bible is the record of God’s revelation to mankind.”
    I disagree with you regarding this statement because I do not believe the Bible claims to be a “record” of God’s revelation but rather God’s revelation to mankind. Therefore, it is accurate in everything it reveals, and the truth about cosmogony is no exception.

    You said, “There is more truth in the Bible in that reality than we can ever digest, understand, believe, and live.”
    I may be misreading you, and if so I apologize, but it appears to me that I believe there is more truth in the Bible than you do since I believe it is His revelation rather than a mere “record” of revelation. That is to say, I believe the Genesis revelation is precisely accurate in everything it proclaims, and this in a manner that can be understood according to the context and genre of literature, prose.

    Additionally, that “There is more truth in the Bible…than we can ever digest…” seems irrelevant to whether or not Genesis actually reveals the truth about Creation or whether God meant day to be understood as a normal day.

Nate

Sam, I think you make one of the crucial points in favor of seeing creation in a literal six day view and that, as you correctly noted, “is that it was written to the Hebrew people in the ancient world.” You are exactly right. Therefore, we have to take into account (in one believes in Mosaic authorship) that Moses is laying out foundational things. So that, when he gets to Exodus 20 and shares with the Israelites the Ten Commandments, we have a reference back to creation. “For just as I (the LORD) created the heavens, the earth, and everything in SIX DAYS and then rested on the Seventh Day, so too will you (the Israelites) work for SIX DAYS and then rest on the Seventh Day.”

It takes a great leap (in my opinion) to think that this analogy (which, by the way is used again in Scripture) is not comparing apples to apples. As you stated Sam, it was to help the Israelites know who Yahweh was and how they were to live in Covenant relationship. So, while in one sense you are correct that Genesis One answers who and why, it also answers the How so that the Israelites will know How to pattern their week after God’s creation week example. (Eons of time in Gen 1 metaphorically applied to lunar days in Exodus would not have the same effect).

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