Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [2]

I began evaluating the responses put forth in this lengthy post.  The author, J.W. Wartick, attempts to provide old earth creationist responses to arguments made by young earth creationists. I gave a brief introduction with my first post, so I would encourage folks to read it in order to get the gist of what I am wanting to accomplish.

Wartick outlines 16 or so responses to YEC arguments that I will group together in categories so as to help keep my evaluation focused. With this second entry, I want to look at what he claims regarding the meaning of yom, or “day” in Genesis 1 and 2.

The Exegesis of “Day” in The Creation Week

daysLet me begin by offering some preliminary remarks.

One of the more frustrating experiences I have when engaging OEC is their woeful lack of interaction with the exegesis of the Hebrew text in Genesis 1. Even more is when YEC provide their exegesis, the OEC either ignore it, or dismissively wave it off, and rarely, if at all, offer any meaningful response as to why the YEC exegesis of Genesis 1 is incorrect, or mistaken, or whatever. And keep in mind here I am talking about exegesis of the language. That’s a bit different than interpreting what the exegesis is communicating, though I recognize that there is overlap between exegesis, hermeneutics, and interpretive conclusions.

Because there are a number of online resources in which YEC have provided full studies of Genesis 1, I will merely keep my responses short and specific and direct readers to a hand full of articles that provide more specialized detail regarding the meaning of yom in Genesis. My exhortation, especially to my critics, is to please avail yourself of these articles. You must be informed with what YEC believes rather than just repeat cliched strawmen arguments about what YEC doesn’t believe.

How Long were the Creation Days of Genesis 1? – Russell Grigg

The Days of Creation: A Semantic Approach – James Stambaugh

A Summary of Evidence for Literal 24-Hour Days in Genesis 1 – Andrew Kulikovsky

A Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week – Robert McCabe

Echad as an Ordinal Number and the Meaning of Genesis 1:5 – Andrew Steinmann

Answering Dr. Norman Geisler’s Comments on Genesis [Part 1] [Part 2]  – Jason Lisle

Now with that in mind, let me move to what Mr. Wartick writes,

The Meaning of Day

The Argument

The Hebrew word used in Genesis one, yom, means day. It literally means a 24 hour period.

Often this argument is presented in a fairly demeaning and/or ad hominem way to the opponent: “Why do you insist on reading man’s fallible ideas into the text? It says day, it means day. I trust the Bible.”

Response

Actually, the Hebrew word yom has several different literal meanings. For example, according to Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon, yom can mean “day, time, or year”; day as opposed to night; a 24 hour day; a time or period of time; a year; an age. Thus, if someone reads the text and argues that in Genesis 1 the days mean “ages”, they are still reading the text literally.

He is correct in that the Hebrew word yom, translated as “day,” does have a number of meanings other than just a 24-hour day, or what would be better understood as one rotation of the earth on its axis, day time to night time and day time again, or sun rise to sun rise.

Where this response errs is with failing to consider what yom means in the context of Genesis 1. He commits the error that D.A. Carson has termed an “Unwarranted expansion of an expanded semantic field” [Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, p. 60].  In other words, while it may be true that a particular word has different meanings in other contexts and those contexts maybe can shed light upon its meaning elsewhere, what is important is determining the word’s meaning in the immediate context under examination.

Certainly yom can mean “a period of time” as in “back in my father’s day,” or “in the days of Noah,” but is that what it means in the context of Genesis 1? The point is that we don’t rush off to other instances where a word may mean something different, and then bring that definition back to the passage we are studying and assume that different definition has any relevance to our study. Other exegetical factors in the immediate context must be weighed to determine what the proper definition may be. In the case of Genesis chapter 1, there are a number of those exegetical factors that narrow the definition of yom down to meaning an ordinary, 24-hour day.

Moving along to the next point,

Evening and Morning

The Argument

When the Genesis 1 text refers to the days, it applies the terms “evening and morning” to each one of days 1-6, which means that each day is indeed a 24 hour period. That’s what evening and morning means.

Response

The delineation of time periods for days was not possible until the fourth day. As it is written, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,  and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth” (Genesis 1:14-15, I italicized “days”). Thus, the text itself tells us that the sun did not serve as a specific indicator of the length of days until the fourth “day.”

The repetition of evening and morning is an indication of the metaphor for the work week used throughout Genesis 1. Notice that evening and morning are reversed from the order in which they occur in a 24 hour day.

With this response, Wartick seems to miss the main point of what is being presented. The fact that Moses marks the passage of days by saying the “evening and the morning” X day, only solidifies the ordinary, calendar view of yom. Whether or not there was a sun that rose and set is irrelevant. He also concludes his comment by saying “notice that evening and morning are reversed from the order in which they occur in a 24-hour day,” but so, what? It is still indicating an ordinary, calendar day. Modern descriptions of a 24-hour day with the sun rising and then setting is of no matter.

He also appeals to a typical argument raised by OEC by saying “The sun and moon weren’t created until day 4, so this isn’t a normal day.” But again, so, what? Is the presence of the sun necessary for one to know about the passage of time and to count off one day, two days, etc.? Of course not. During the winter in Alaska the sun doesn’t rise for a number of weeks. The same during the summer when it never sets. Are days being experienced when that happens?

All that is needed is a light source, which in the case of the first three days of creation could very well had been the Lord Himself.  Genesis 1 is clear that on day 4 God created the luminaries, or light holders, into which the light was gathered and those luminaries took over the function as serving as the light source for the earth. Those luminaries came into existence on day 4 and did not exist prior to that day.

Moving along to a third point,

Day is not a long period of time

The Argument

Sure, there are other literal meanings of “yom” and in poetic literature it says that a day is like a thousand years for the LORD, but Genesis is a narrative and so the days mean literal 24 hour periods.

Response

Actually, in the very same account the word day is used in order to refer to the whole time of creation. As it is written, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4). I used the ESV translation here because the NIV translation translates yom as “when” here. In this text, the word “day” refers to the entirety of God’s creative work. Thus, the text itself utilizes the same word, yom, to mean a longer period of time than a 24 hour period in the same context of creation. And because this is “narrative” it can’t be dismissed as “mere poetry.”

Again, as I already noted in the first response above, there are other meanings for the word yom. In the case of Genesis 2:4, the context would make the yom speak to the whole creation week. But, once again, Wartick is ignoring the earlier context when yom specifically described events that took place on one calendar day. So yom can mean a longer period of time than 24-hours like in Genesis 2:4, but yom means 24-hour day in the creation week because the immediate context demands it.

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16 thoughts on “Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [2]

  1. Fred
    You say Genesis is to be interpreted in a literal sense, so this means that Genesis must make sense in a literal way not literal as in pertaining to the type of literature but according to the grammatical historical system.The problems with this view are so clear that you may not even see them, for instance. Moses says “evening and morning the X day” well this is only night, even if you are in Alaska. Wouldn’t a literal 24 hour period be described as “there was evening and morning and then evening again” that’s a day and a night. You may not appeal to a Hebrew way of looking at the text because that is not in your interpretive system. The “7 days of creation” isn’t even literal in your system by your definition God worked nights too. The context of “yom” is “morning and evening” not a description of a full 24 (23hr 56min 4.1sec) hour day.

    Either the Bible is inerrant or it is not, if you believe in a literal / grammatical / historical interpretive system of Genesis you can’t believe in inerrancy and be consistent.

    Augustine and Calvin didn’t view Genesis as literal in your sense because, they viewed Genesis as allegorical, reasoning that God through Moses made Genesis understandable for the people of that time.

  2. Donavan.

    I think you wildly overestimate the ability of your so-called defeater point here. I’d encourage you to take the time to thoughtfully read through the links I supplied. The concept of “evening and morning” is found in numerous places in the OT and it means just as I state, a normal, chronological calendar day. I seriously don’t think you are understanding what it is you are criticizing.

    If we take your thinking here about historical-grammatical exegesis, then we can say Jesus really didn’t rise from the dead after 3 days, because days are just long periods of time. That the resurrection isn’t really a bodily resurrection, but was a metaphor for Jesus rising in the hearts of the apostles who made a story about a real Jesus so as to communicate to those who wouldn’t understand.

    Your view does havoc upon a real, historical Adam, upon the early history of Genesis, a global flood, and the tower of Babel, which are all historical events the NT makes reference to as being real. I really wonder if you have thought about the ramifications of your argument here.

    Augustine believed creation happened in one day and the the 6 days equated to 6 thousand years, which he believed would come to an end in the year 1,000 when the millennium would start. So there really is no help for you there. Calvin, if you would take the time to read him, taught a literal, historical Genesis and that creation happened in 6 days. That was the view of all the Reformers that was eventually affirmed in the WCF.

  3. Fred
    I admire you because you stick to your view without even a hint of bending, someday maybe. Look just a bit closer at what I wrote above I didn’t say Calvin didn’t believe in ” God using the space of 6 days to create” I said he held a non literal view, he stated that “Moses adapts himself to the ordinary view” , Calvin did not believe God created ex nihilo he believed that for instance God created the animals out of “that shapeless and confused mass” from pre existing materials, fish on the other hand were created ex nihilo because “the waters were in no way sufficient or suitable for their production are nevertheless resorting to rationalization”. He would get in trouble for such non literal views on your blog. More important than that Calvin says that Moses described creation for for those on a low intellectual level. Knowing this fact allows you to see the bigger story the cultural history and polytheism that the Hebrews has just come from in Egypt. Your literal system does not allow this. Audience relevance is most shot down in “Sunday School” passages like the creation story.

    Calvin
    “God has stretched out his hand to us to give us the splendor of the sun and moon to enjoy. Great would be our ingratitude if we shut our eyes to this experience of beauty! There is no reason why clever men should jeer at Moses’ ignorance. He is not explaining the heavens to us but is describing what is before our eyes. Let the astronomers possess their own deeper knowledge. Meanwhile, those who see the nightly splendor of the moon are possessed by perverse ingratitude if they do not recognize the goodness of God.”

  4. In the end, there is as little use in trying to convice Old Earth advocates that we have a Young Earth as there is in trying to convice Young Earth advocates that we have an Old Earth. The only people likely to change their minds about the issue are new Christians who accept the word of mature Christians by faith (the wrong place to place your faith, by the way). As a Young Earth advocate, I have never argued the point with someone who changed his/her mind based on my arguement, even when I used these well defined arguments.

  5. Donavan,
    I guess in return I have to admire the fact that you dig in your heels in spite of the fact you are so disastrously wrong. If such a virtue was admirable. Read here, http://creation.com/calvin-said-genesis-means-what-it-says, and here, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/gtp/biblical-interpretation if you are inclined. I truly wonder if you have actually read Calvin’s commentary and sermons on Genesis. Deep time people cheer-pick citations to the point they revise what he actually says. It’s similar to how the gay apologist do the same with various comments from church history.

  6. Wherever a person “digs one’s heels” in a creation-evolution debate is going to be in the ground of their ultimate authority. Whatever that person’s authority is, it well behooves one to make certain that such an ultimate authority is accurate, logical, consistent, well-constructed and able to withstand serious challenges. As for myself, I find that a straightforward reading of Genesis 1-3 meets the above criteria.

  7. Joe
    Honest students of the Bible do change their views, that’s why Fred’s blog is valuable because when a Christian sees that their personal view is not lining up with the Bible they need to change or else they are making themselves God. This blog,( which I agree with 95% of the time) changes peoples views, we should never dig in our heels concerning our personal view, we should always be willing to change if the Bible / Holy Spirit shows us we are wrong.

    Don’t give us Joe.

  8. “Bursting the Limits of Time: the Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution” by Martin J.S. Rudwick, and “The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth’s Antiquity” by Jack Repcheck, are both good sources for understanding where the idea of “deep time” and an “old earth” came from and how it developed during the so-called ‘Age of Reason’.

    The upshot for today’s Christian old-earther is that the Church for almost 18 centuries believed in the short timescale as outlined in Genesis, and then was led down the primrose path of compromise by theologians capitulating to the secular naturalists of Europe during the – certainly a misnomer and misguided label – “Enlightenment”.

  9. Pingback: Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [3] | hipandthigh

  10. Interestingly enough, two of the oldest English Bibles from the 1500’s (Matthew’s & Geneva) contain tables that show the age of time from the creation to their publishing. It’s in the back, right after the tables for finding Easter for a given year. Like you said, for most of the history of the church (dare I say the world) a young earth was understood.

  11. Pingback: Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [4] | hipandthigh

  12. Pingback: Evaluating Old Earth Responses to Young Earth Arguments [5] | hipandthigh

  13. Pingback: Refuting Theistic Evolution and Old Earth Creationism | hipandthigh

  14. Supposing a day in Genesis one is one rotation of the earth, day and night, … first of all, did it start with day, or start with night, and if so, from which part of the earth, and why? But forgetting that for the moment, a miraculous God is perfectly capable of making one rotation last billions of years while still sustaining his work on earth, so that one or several of the first six days could have been very long, even of differing lengths, before the current day length of approximately 24 hours. (Even the length of a day changes from year to year as the earth’s rotation slows.)

    Both ideas have a supernatural element and a secular scientific element, with a literal interpretation. Literal interpretation one: six rotations of the earth. Supernatural element one: a supernatural God doesn’t have to do things the way we see them today, he can make all the universe in a very short time. To doubt this is to doubt God. Secular scientific element one: The earth has been spinning at the same speed every since the beginning, and God would never make the earth turn at any different speed by supernatural intervention.

    Literal interpretation two: six rotations of the earth. Supernatulr element one: a supernatural God doesn’t have to do things the way we seem them today, he can make the earth turn very slowly if he wants to, even sustaining life on the earth during a billion years of night or a billion years of day. To doubt this is to doubt God. Secular scientific element two: the creation of the many species on earth takes an extremely long time, as does the formation of the mountains, etc.

  15. Pingback: Weekly Links (5/9/2014) | LBC Beacon

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